Friday, October 5, 2012

Dime Box Heroes: Triple the fun

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen #50b Miguel Cabrera VAR SP

Honestly, I never thought I'd see anyone win a Triple Crown during my lifetime.

Only a couple players, if any, have scratched the surface of the accomplishment in the dozen or so years I've been watching baseball.

With all the big-power, low-average guys in the game today, chances were slim to none that I'd get to see an actual Triple Crown winner.

It's a good thing no one told Miguel Cabrera.

Every time there's a glimmer of hope for a .400 season nowadays, it seems like the guy goes through a collapse near the end of the year. It happened to Todd Helton in 2000. John Olerud suffered the same fate in '93.

Surely the same thing would happen to Cabrera in his Triple Crown chase. He couldn't keep up that pace all season long.

Or so I thought.

I don't think it hit me until Cabrera's four-hit effort on the third-to-last game of the season. With about an eight point lead in the batting race at the time, I finally came to my senses.

I was actually going to see a Triple Crown winner.

Plus, I'd found a Gypsy Queen SP of Cabrera in a dime box at the flea market this summer. A short-print of a Triple Crown winner in a dime box. 

How neat is that?

After he came out of the Tigers' last game after a couple at-bats, it was official.

Miguel Cabrera had won the Triple Crown.

My dad was one year old the last time that happened.

Thinking about it along those lines really put it into perspective.

"Epic", "incredible", and "awesome" are just a few of the words to describe how great it is to be able to say that I actually got to witness a guy win the Triple Crown. They're also just a few words I'd use to describe how amazing this former dime box find is.

Being the baseball nut I am, a thought popped into my mind a couple nights ago.

Who was the first player to win a Triple Crown in baseball?

The answer surprised me a bit.

Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that I actually had a card of the guy.

In 1878, Paul Hines of the Providence Grays became the first player to win the Triple Crown.

Or whatever they called it back then.

Hines batted .358, swatted a whopping four home runs, and drove in 50 runs for the Grays that year, all of which led the National League. (They only played 60-game seasons at the time.)

This card comes from the 1994 Origins of Baseball set, which I still rate as one of my all-time best buys.

Baseball has only seen fifteen Triple Crown winners since Hines first accomplished the feat 134 years ago.

At just 29 years of age, Miguel Cabrera is the newest member of that extremely exclusive club.

Best of all, I got to see it first-hand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting note - RBI didn't become an official statistic until 1920, so Hines and 4 others (Lajoie, Cobb, Duffy, O'Neill) won it without really knowing they'd won it!