Today, I started writing down names for future GOTT posts in a notebook. For the last few days, I've had dozens of names running through my head. So many that I've actually forgotten a few (hence the notebook).
The first name that I wrote down was Jose Cardenal.
Jose Cardenal is a perfect subject for a "Glory of Their Time" post.
He was a colorful character and seems to be a favorite among baseball card collectors. And he was on a lot of teams. And he had an Afro. Put those together and you've got a clear GOTT favorite.
1966 Topps #505 Jose Cardenal
If this card looks familiar, it might be because I've shown it before.
Jose Cardenal's major league career began in 1963, when he appeared in nine games for the Giants.
He'd appear in 20 games with the Giants in '64 before being dealt to the Angels.
(Note: There was never a card issued of Cardenal as a Giant. His '65 Topps RC has him as an Angel.)
1965 would be Cardenal's first full major league season. His first career home run came on April 14, 1965 off of Whitey Ford. It was also the first home run in California Angels history. (They moved from Los Angeles after the '64 season.)
Cardenal would go on to steal 37 bases in his first season with the Angels, which was the second-best in the American League.
He'd play in 154 games in 1966. Although his stolen base total dropped to 24, it was a much improved season. He'd hit 16 homers (the second-most of his career), improve his batting average to .276 (from .250 in '65), and post an outstanding .992 fielding percentage.
1969 Topps #325 Jose Cardenal
After an awful 1967 in which Cardenal hit just .236, he was dealt to the Indians.
Cardenal would set a career-high for stolen bases in his first year as an Indian, swiping 40 bags. He played in 157 games in '68, also a career high.
Cardenal posted the exact same batting average in his two seasons in Cleveland (.257).
He'd once again prove that he was a force on the basepaths in 1969, stealing 36 bases while only being caught six times.
1971 Topps #435 Jose Cardenal
In November of 1969, Cardenal was traded to St. Louis for Vada Pinson.
Jose Cardenal was now a Cardinal. It's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
He'd have his best season to date in 1970, batting .293 with a .348 on-base percentage while also tacking on 26 stolen bases.
Someone at Topps knew what they were doing by getting a shot of Cardenal bunting. (Yes, he's bunting, in case you can't see it behind the hurricane that apparently hit my copy of this card.) He'd set a career high with 14 sacrifices in 1971.
Eighty-nine games into his 1971 season, Cardenal would once again be traded...
1972 Topps #12 Jose Cardenal
...to Milwaukee. The Brewers were his fifth different team in his first nine major league seasons.
He'd play the final 53 games of the '71 season as a Brewer, batting just .258.
Cardenal's 1972 Topps issue is a landmark card because it's the first hint of anything odd going on with his hair. You can see that it's grown out a bit in comparison to his other cards.
1973 Topps #393 Jose Cardenal
Cardenal would once again be traded in December of 1971, this time to the Cubs.
His best days would come in Chicago.
In his first year as a Cub in '72, Cardenal would set a career-high by hitting 17 homers.
He'd also hit .291 in 1972. With an average like that, I'm not sure why Topps had Cardenal in a bunting pose for his '73 Topps issue.
He'd show them, though. Cardenal would have his best season to date in '73, hitting above .300 for the first time (.303) and posting an outstanding .375 OBP. It would also be the first of three consecutive years where Cardenal would hit more than 30 doubles, popping 33 in '73.
1975 Topps #15 Jose Cardenal
Now we're onto full 'fro territory. It matches so well with the 1975 Topps design.
Probably the best Jose Cardenal fact that I'm aware of is that he once missed a game in 1974 because his eyelid was stuck open.
Eyelids aside, 1974 was the final year Cardenal would finish with a double-digit home run total, hitting 13 dingers that year. He'd also hit .293, the third consecutive year he'd post an average above .290.
1975 was probably Cardenal's finest season. He'd set career bests in batting average (.317), on-base percentage (.397), walks (77), and hits (182).
1976 Topps #430 Jose Cardenal
Where's the fro? You can see slight glimpses of it gasping for air under either side of his helmet.
Cardenal gazes at the camera almost jokingly for his 1976 card. Unfortunately, he wouldn't be smiling for too much longer, because '76 would be his final good year in the big leagues.
He'd hit .299 in 136 games for the Cubs that year. He'd post 23 stolen bases that year. He wouldn't swipe more than five in any season for the remainder of his career.
1977 Topps #610 Jose Cardenal
1977. The 'fro is in full force. (Try saying that three times fast.)
I'd imagine that he had a hard time keeping the hat on his head with that large of an Afro. It rivals Oscar Gamble's famous 'fro. Any slight gust of wind probably blew the hat off.
Cardenal would play in just 100 games in 1977, posting an awful .239 batting average.
It was the beginning of the end.
1978 Topps #210 Jose Cardenal
In October of 1977, Cardenal would once again be traded, this time to Philadelphia for some guy named Manny Seoane.
Although his one and a half years as a Phillie were largely unspectacular (he hit just .248 in '78), there are a couple feats to note.
1) The 'fro is still happily intact.
2) He reached the playoffs for the first time in his career, getting one hit in seven plate appearances in the '78 NLCS (the Phils lost to the Dodgers in four games).
3) He was the last member of the Phillies to wear the number 1. It was retired in 1979 in honor of Phillies great Richie Ashburn.
1980 Topps #512 Jose Cardenal
The Phillies sold Cardenal to the Mets in August of 1979.
I didn't redeem a "Diamond Giveaway" code in 2011. I traded every single one I got. I redeemed almost every single one I pulled in 2010.
This 1980 Cardenal card was the only one I kept out of all the codes I redeemed that year.
Cardenal would play in New York for parts of the '79 and '80 seasons, totaling just 37 games.
He'd be released by the Mets in August of 1980.
1981 Topps #473 Jose Cardenal
Cardenal is just a shadow of his former self in his 1981 Topps issue. But the Afro is still there.
The Royals would sign Cardenal for their 1980 pennant push just eight days after the Mets released him.
Cardenal surprised everybody by hitting .340 in 25 regular season games for the Royals. He wouldn't play in the Royals' three-game sweep of the Yankees in the 1980 ALCS, but he was placed on the Royals' World Series roster.
The Phillies (Cardenal's former team) would defeat the Royals in six games. Cardenal would play in four of the games, collecting two hits in ten at-bats in the series.
It would be the final games he'd ever play in the majors.
Cardenal would later coach for a few teams after he retired. He'd get his first World Series ring as a coach on the 1998 Yankees.
1974 Topps #185 Jose Cardenal
If someone told me to describe Jose Cardenal, all I'd have to do is show them this card.
It speaks for itself.