Thursday, April 5, 2012
The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 28: 1991 Ultra #296 Ozzie Smith
Year in and year out, some players always seem to have great cards.
Ozzie Smith is one of those guys.
Surprisingly enough, though, my favorite card from his playing days isn't from a Topps set. It's not from Upper Deck. It's not even from Bowman.
It's from Ultra. The first year of Ultra's existence, no less.
I never hear a lot about Ultra when the overproduction era is brought up. I guess it always flew under the radar at the time.
While the design is nothing to get excited about, the photography contains pretty much all in-action shots, which is always a plus. This particular photo captures "The Wizard of Oz" in all his glory, possibly in the process of making one of the great plays that made him a perennial Gold Glove award winner.
Another great aspect of this card is the backdrop. Although it has been the setting for many crushing losses over the years (including one this afternoon), Wrigley Field is still my favorite ballpark in the game today. I feel privileged that I've been able to set foot on the grounds on a handful of occasions.
It's an indescribable feeling.
This card is the only one I know of that features the padded walls that can be seen down either foul line at Wrigley. The fact that there's about a nine-inch area of foul ground near the foul poles has always been one of my favorite features of the stadium. Plus, as we see here, it serves as a great backdrop for a good ol' bubble gum card.
While it's always neat to see a spectacular play in the field or a big go-ahead home run, I still get a kick out of a lot of the smaller things that happen during the course of a baseball game. Something like a guy hitting without batting gloves. Or seeing the catcher drop down about ten different signs with a guy on second. Or someone hitting a ball near a nine-inch area of foul ground.
It's what makes the game so great.