June 17, 1948
Zack Cozart is having a career year, and it seems that he will be one of the Reds’ representatives at this year’s All-Star game (maybe even as a starter!), but he has quite a bit of catching up to do if he wants to be considered among the best shortstops in Cincinnati history. Consider these names: Roy McMillan, Leo Cardenas, Dave Concepcion, Barry Larkin. Only one is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but Concepcion has a borderline case. So what if he was the fifth-best player on his team? Look at who was ahead of him: Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Tony Perez! It isn’t difficult to pale in comparison to those names.
As an aside, how awesome is that “Perma-Graphics All-Star” card? I love oddballs!
One of the Opening Day traditions in Cincinnati is the Findlay Market Parade. Reds legend Dave Concepcion was the Grand Marshal of the parade this year, and TWJ contributor Patrick commemorated that with this “fun card” with the 1981 Fleer style.
Patrick recently dropped off a box full of Reds cards, including a ton of Dave Concepcion cards I didn’t have yet. You can see some of the bounty in the image above. One of the cards that really caught my eye was the 1985 Donruss Highlights…
This comes from the year-end set Donruss put out in 1985 (they also issued a Highlights set in 1986 and 1987). The front is pretty standard, an almost-too-dark-to-see photograph and a slightly altered design. But what really hit home with this card was the write-up on the reverse…
We all know that 3,000 hits is pretty much an automatic induction to the Hall of Fame, as long as you played cleanly. But Donruss seems to make a pretty big deal out of Concepcion’s 2,000th hit. The writer was so impressed with Davey’s hit record that he wrote…
The BBWAA did not agree, and so far neither has the Veterans Committee. I have always been a supporter of Concepcion for Cooperstown, but I will admit that statistically he does not measure up. Do I think his inclusion would diminish the importance of the Hall? Absolutely not. If nothing else, it would further celebrate the great Reds teams of the 1970s and show that the Hall is not entirely about statistics. Some players have more to them than numbers, something that might push them into legendary status even though a simple glance at their career line on baseball-reference.com does not seem as impressive as others.
Should Dave Concepcion be in the Hall of Fame? I still say yes, and hope the Veterans Committee one day agrees with me.
Patrick decided to take another crack at making a Dave Concepcion card with the Angels, this time using the 1989 Fleer design. Personally, I love 1989 Fleer…not as much as 1987, but it’s still pretty great.
One of the most beloved players to don the Cincinnati Reds uniform was Dave Concepcion, but all good things must come to an end. After his skills had deteriorated and with the emergence of future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, the Reds decided to cut ties with #13 following the 1988 season. But Concepcion thought he could still play. The California Angels decided to give him a chance and invited him to Spring Training in 1989. Concepcion didn’t make the team, and a card was never issued showing the shortstop wearing any jersey other than the Reds.
Using another original Topps negative, TWJ reader Patrick has created a fun card of Concepcion in Angels garb from 1989 Spring Training. I had previously made a fun card (in the 1989 Topps style), but Patrick’s photo is much better than the one I had found online.
One more submitted fun card from Patrick will be posted tomorrow, featuring a pitcher wearing a Reds uniform, even though he never pitched a game for the team.
One of TWJ’s readers, Patrick, sent me some of his own “fun cards” and I asked if I could post them here. I’m very excited to share these with you, starting with this “rookie” edition of Dave Concepcion on the 2013 Topps style, sporting an All-Star Rookie trophy cup. The photo is an original Topps negative that never made it to production that Patrick purchased on eBay. I think it looks great, and almost has a Topps Chrome look to it!
I’ll post the other fun cards that Patrick sent in tomorrow and Friday, one featuring Concepcion in a non-Reds uniform, and another featuring a dominant pitcher going back to the 1970s. Check back in the next couple days for a treat!
It’s easy to fill requests when I already have the card made. Someone commented on my George Foster post that they hoped to see Dave Concepcion in the 2013 Topps style; it just so happens that I had already made the card and was planning to post it this week.
I’ve been working on a little project in my “spare time”*, ranking players using statistics and formulas based on those stats to see how they stack up to others who played the same position. I started with a list of all the shortstops in the Hall of Fame (22 in all), then added eight other players who were stars in their own right. While it is heavy on the offensive side of the ball, I did also factor in some defensive metrics to come up with the total score.
Obviously, playing for the Big Red Machine, Concepcion did not have as many opportunities to drive in runners as others may have, but I was still a bit disappointed with the result: Out of thirty shorstops ranked, Davey came in 20th. In my system, at least for shortstops, I would say that a final score of 200 or higher is Hall of Fame-worthy; Concepcion’s score was 182.32. Absolutely respectable, but just short of a ticket to Cooperstown.
Fourteen shortstops scored better than 200 in my system; three of them are non-Hall of Famers. Those three players are the still-active Derek Jeter (227.63), Alan Trammell (208.25) and Bill Dahlen (202.51); eleven Hall of Famers fell below the 200-point threshold. Dahlen’s score is especially impressive, as he was a turn-of-the-century ballplayer, playing from 1891-1911, and is perhaps the greatest oversight in the history of the Hall.
The top scorer racked up 314.26 points, the only one at shortstop to exceed 300, and it wasn’t Honus Wagner (who I had always assumed was the greatest shortstop ever). Anyone care to take a guess at the best shortstop in history?
I’ll post the final rankings of each position when I get them all finalized; I’m still trying to figure out the best way to score pitchers (especially relievers).
* “Spare time” refers to time that should be spent doing something else, but I choose to goof off with baseball statistics instead.
Internet commerce sure has come a long way, hasn’t it? I’ve used eBay for years, but when it comes to trading cards and lower-end product, there are other options that are more cost effective than eBay. Last week I purchased cards from three different sellers on sportlots.com, and the first package arrived today.
It started out as a mission to buy as many different Kurt Stillwell cards as I could find from the fewest sellers in order to save on shipping. After finding about 20 cards, I branched out to Reds that were missing from my collection. In today’s package, I got six of those Stillwells and four Reds…
Dave Concepcion, Dave Parker, Mario Soto, Pete Rose. Four names that Reds fans revered in the 1980s. The Concepcion and Parker are 1987 Red Foley stickers. I have never seen these before, so wasn’t really sure what to expect. Kinda boring, and really too small if you ask me.
The Soto is a 1986 Fleer Mini. I swear I’ve seen it before, and if it is stuck behind another card in the binder I might be a little upset that I wasted eighteen cents on it.
The Rose is from the 1986 O-Pee-Chee set, card #1 in the issue. I am now only one card away from owning all the Reds cards from ’86 OPC, I think, and that should be arriving in one of the other packages.
I can’t wait to see the cards in the other two packages when they arrive this week!
Of these eight players, only two were elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, and only one of them was first-ballot. Two others gained entrance via the Veterans Committee. A reasonable case can be made for three of the remaining four for Cooperstown.
Larry Doby, Cleveland Indians
I was surprised to find that Doby was not inducted into the Hall of Fame until 1998 by the Veterans Committee. The first black player in the American League, Doby slugged 253 home runs and drove in 970 during a career that was shortened not only by racism, but also by war service. Doby started in the Negro Leagues in 1942, but served in the Navy in 1944 and 1945. He came back to the Negro Leagues in 1946 for one final season before signing with the Cleveland Indians to play in the majors.
Dave Concepcion, Cincinnati Reds
Ernie Banks, Chicago Cubs
Gil Hodges, New York Mets
Jim Bunning, Philadelphia Phillies
Jim Rice, Boston Red Sox
Ken Boyer, St. Louis Cardinals
Kent Hrbek, Minnesota Twins
Following the 1988 season, the Reds released longtime shortstop Dave Concepcion. The man who inspired countless Cincinnati youths to wear #13 on the little league fields had to make way for a couple of youths on the big league diamond — Kurt Stillwell and Barry Larkin. Concepcion was a nine-time All Star, a five-time Gold Glover, the definition of stellar defense prior to Ozzie Smith‘s arrival. The Veteran’s Committee recently voted on individuals from the “expansion era” for the Hall of Fame, and while no player received 75% of the vote for induction, Concepcion was at the top of the list. Perhaps in a few years he will be given the highest honor among retired ballplayers, the honor he rightly deserves: a permanent home in Cooperstown among the immortals.
In 1989, Concepcion was invited to spring training with the California Angels. There seemed to be some bad blood between Davey and his former Big Red Machine teammate Pete Rose at the time, as they had a minor war of words through the media. Rose questioned Davey’s ability, saying, “If we thought he could still play, he’d still be with us.”
Concepcion responded, “I thought Pete and I were friends. But I don’t think he knows what a friend is. He doesn’t have a friend.”
But when all was said and done, Angels manager Doug Rader tended to agree with Rose. The day before Concepcion was let go by the Angels, Rader said, “I think it’s tought to look at a player like Davey Concepcion. It’s really unfair because you keep looking for what was there before and it’s just not there. The question is whether there’s enough still there.”
His bid to make the team ended on a Tuesday–March 28–and Concepcion retired playing for no team other than the Reds in a regular season game.