Monday, February 20, 2012
The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 20: 1992 Topps #40 Cal Ripken Jr.
This might be the all-time greatest pose to ever grace the front of a baseball card.
As we all know, Cal Ripken Jr. is the record holder for consecutive games played (with 2,632), breaking Lou Gehrig's record of 2,130 games, a mark that many considered to be unbreakable.
In general, 1992 Topps is a very good set. Not too flashy, but not too boring like 1990 Topps or other offerings from the overproduction era.
Topps knocked it out of the park for Ripken's 1992 issue, having him pose with Lou Gehrig's monument at the famous Monument Park in Yankee Stadium. The pitch-black backdrop just tops it off.
What's interesting about this shot is that it was actually taken before Ripken broke Gehrig's consecutive games record. The "Iron Man" was well on his way to overtaking "The Iron Horse" by '92, but what if Ripken suffered some freak injury that forced him out of the lineup? If that had indeed happened, I don't think too many people would understand what Topps was hinting at for this card.
Thankfully, Ripken stayed healthy and wound up breaking the hallowed record. It's still the most memorable baseball moment of my lifetime, as far as I'm concerned.
In this day in age, I don't think anyone will ever come close to breaking Ripken's record. We rarely see guys play in all 162 games in a single season anymore.
Although Ripken was a fantastic hitter and a Gold Glove fielder, he will always be remembered for his amazing durability.
It's the same with his baseball cards.
Although he's had some great cards over the years, Ripken's 1992 Topps card is the first one I think of.
It's the one I'll always remember.