2007 Upper Deck #592 Daisuke Matsuzaka TC
I currently own 36 cards of "Dice-K".
This one is better than the other thirty-five combined, without a doubt. It's probably the greatest "checklist" card ever made, to boot.
I'm a huge fan of any cards of "pitchers at the plate". It was one of the new "themes" I was considering for this blog, but I've already shown most of the better ones I have.
There's pretty much four different "tiers" of these types of cards. From most common to the rarest, we have:
National League "pitchers at the plate". While not all that common, I still have quite a few of these in my collection. Most companies understandably opt for a shot of a pitcher on the mound. However, I'd say about one out of every 100 to 200 NL pitcher cards I own picture them in a hitting situation.
Next, there's NL "pitchers on the basepaths". Pitchers usually have quite a few at-bats during the course of the season. But given the meek hitting ability of most hurlers, chances to get a shot of them on the basepaths are few and far between. There's probably a dozen of these in my collection, at the most.
Even more rare than those are the elusive American League "pitchers at the plate". In the post-DH era of baseball, there's only two scenarios in which an AL pitcher has to take an at-bat. Interleague play and the World Series. (Three, if you count spring training.)
I'd guess that I own about six or seven cards of AL "pitchers at the plate".
Finally, we have the extremely rare AL "pitchers on the basepaths". As far as I know, there's only one of these in my collection at the moment.
This "Dice-K" is the only one I've ever seen, in fact.
Given the infrequency of their at-bats, American League hurlers are (understandably) not good hitters, for the most part. As a result, they're not on base that often, which this card highly desirable to a collector like myself.
I'm almost positive that this particular shot is from a spring training game in '07, back when the hype over Matsuzaka was nearing its peak.
Since "Dice-K" already had a regular card in their 2007 base set, Upper Deck decided to use one of these "out of the ordinary" shots for his other issue. I still don't think any player should appear more than once in any checklist. But if it has to happen, at least make the other card interesting. UD did a nice job in that regard.
It's no small feat for an AL pitcher to reach base. So take your fist bump proudly, Mr. Matsuzaka.
You deserve it.