Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Close, but no cigar
As many of my readers know, I have a huge fascination with "zero-year" cards.
If you don't know already, a "zero-year card" is a card of a player in a uniform that he never wore at the big league level.
I've even dedicated an entire series of posts to the topic. While my blog has certainly gone through many transformations, the zero-year posts have been there from the start. They've been among my favorites to write just because of how long I've collected those types of cards. (I've been interested in them ever since I was a kid.)
The first installment came on just the second day of this blog's existence.
Lately, the zero-year cards have been running thin. They are fairly rare in the hobby.
I've written about almost every card of its kind that I feel is deserving of a post. (After all, what am I going to write about a card of Adam Hyzdu with the Giants?)
There will be at least a few more posts on the "zero-year" theme, but I'll probably be introducing a new theme to the blog pretty soon once the zero-year cards run dry. I've thrown around a couple ideas in my head (even one that involves vintage), but nothing definite at the moment.
On a similar note, a recent post at "Cards From the Quarry" got me thinking about my zero-year collection, or specifically, some of my "near-miss" cards.
The post was based on "one-card wonders", or players who had only appeared on one Rockies card in his collection.
Thus, my thinking that I was the only one who cared about something like that went out the window.
I have a ton of these spread out across my binders. That's often because the player played with that team for an extremely short period of time.
They're some of my favorite cards.
It got me thinking about the cards I have that are close to being "zero-year" cards, but aren't quite members of the category. (Hence, the post of this title.)
Luis Tiant played in six games for the 1982 California Angels, totaling just 29 2/3 innings that year before hanging them up for good.
That's not even close to being my best "near-miss" card, though.
As you might be able to tell from the condition on it, I've had this card for a while.
Like I said, these types of cards have been prominent features in my collection ever since I was a kid. As a result, a lot of them have been "well-loved" on my part.
While Yogi Berra's tenure as the Mets' manager in the '70s is still pretty well known, his time as a Mets catcher is not.
The Mets coaxed him out of retirement in 1965, where he'd play in four games that year. (Final totals: 2-for-9 with one run.)
I also have Berra's final issue as a player that year, which lists him as a catcher as well as a coach.
I can't think of many other examples of something like that in the hobby.
This is one of those cards that is a great piece in my collection, but might get overlooked in the eyes of others.
One reason I liked Fleer is that their base sets usually covered a large part of every team's roster. Middle relievers, bench players, everyone.
In the case of the 1997 Phillies, outfielder Danny Tartabull. (Although I know him more from his Seinfeld appearances.)
While he was a three-time 30 homer/100 RBI guy in his career, he was nearing the end by 1997. The Phils picked him up as a free agent after the '96 season.
He'd play in exactly three games for the Phillies that year, going hitless in eleven at-bats to close out his career. Yet he still has a card with the franchise.
I wish Fleer was still in the industry.
Before becoming a huge star in Florida, Hanley Ramirez was signed by the Red Sox out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager.
He appeared in two games for the 2006 BoSox before being dealt to the Marlins that offseason. (It was the deal that brought Josh Beckett to Boston.)
In those two games, Ramirez (a September call-up) totaled just two at-bats, both strikeouts.
So close to a zero-year card, yet so far.
This still ranks as one of my all-time greatest dime box finds.
I've always liked these Galasso Greats cards. But then again, I'm a sucker for any set that features past greats, especially ones like "Lefty" Gomez who are often forgotten in today's world.
Gomez, a Hall of Famer, played from 1930 to 1943. Every single game he pitched came with the powerhouse New York Yankees.
His only non-Yankee appearance came with the Washington Senators on May 30, 1943. He picked up the loss, giving up four runs in 4 2/3 innings agains the White Sox that afternoon.
This one isn't just a "one-card wonder".
It's a "one-game wonder" as well.
Until this afternoon, I'd forgotten about the ultimate "almost zero-year" card in my collection, though. I was surprised that I could ever forget about a card as great as this...
We know the story.
One plate appearance in 1951. One walk. No official at-bat.
The other day, I thought that if I really took the time and sat down, I could probably make a list of my 100 favorite baseball cards. (However, I'd have to make a separate list for vintage. It would get too one-sided otherwise.)
This one would almost certainly rank near the top of that list. (Look at how oversized that jersey is!)
I don't know that Gaedel has had any other cards produced. There might be a couple other oddball issues of his floating around, but this is the only one I've ever seen.
Beckett says that this one is worth 60 cents. I could care less what they say, though.
This Eddie Gaedel card is one of the cornerstones of my collection.
I don't know why I have such a deep interest in cards like these. It's just something about the unfamiliarity of it all.
I'm sure there's dozens of cards of Lefty Gomez with the Yankees out there. But as far as I know, there's only one of him as a Washinton Senator. And I have it.
That's a special feeling.