Thursday, November 29, 2012
Into the Sunset, Pt. 10: Tim McCarver
Collecting sure is a lot of fun.
I probably don't have to tell that to any of you, though.
I've often thought about exactly why I get so much enjoyment out of collecting these innocent pieces of cardboard.
Personally, I think a lot of it deals with the sense of control.
We decide who and what we want to collect. We don't have to answer to anyone else.
We are the guiding forces behind our own collections.
Still, I'm sure we've all run into our fair share of dilemmas over the years.
I know I have. Take my "binder inductees", for instance.
Although it might sound strange, not every player in my binders is a player I officially collect. Although I don't specifically set out to get cards of guys like Todd Helton or Craig Biggio, I feel they should be recognized in some way.
As a result, any cards of theirs that I happen to pull go into my binder.
I might not like to admit it, but most of the "steroid" guys are in my binders as well. Even though I would never actually seek to collect anything of theirs, Bonds, Sosa, Palmeiro, and A-Rod have managed to eke their way into my collection.
I'm still not quite sure why. Although I'd have no problem with the Hall of Fame barring the entire "steroid" generation of ballplayers from Cooperstown, I just can't bring myself to do the same with my binders.
Then there's the whole ballplayers-turned-announcers thing.
A lot of clubs tend to give announcing jobs to, you know, ex-ballplayers. (And not George Costanza.)
Some have worked out quite well. I love listening to Gary Matthews (or "Sarge") during Phillies games. The Mike Krukow-Duane Kuiper combo is one of my favorites as well.
Then again, some have been train wrecks. A few have lasted longer than others.
Unfortunately, living in the Chicago area, I have to hear a lot of "Hawk" Harrelson. He's far and away my least favorite announcer in the game. Let's just leave it at that for now.
I have yet to hear a single baseball fan profess to actually enjoying Tim McCarver in the booth. I don't loathe him or anything, but I'll admit he's not the greatest broadcaster in the world. (It's probably a side-effect of listening to the "Hawk" so often.)
Therein lies the question.
Should I deny access to my binders for these horrific players-turned-announcers?
In the case of Harrelson, yes. I can't help but scoff every time I come across a card of his in a vintage stack at a show. He was a fairly good player in his time, but he'll never be a part of my collection.
It's the opposite with McCarver. He's a proud "binder inductee".
I can look past his announcing transgressions when it comes to my collection.
In fact, I rate this '62 Topps rookie of his as one of my all-time greatest cardboard acquisitions.
Thanks to a few creases and a slight bit of barely-noticable water damage, I was able to nab this one for a mere 33 cents.
That's right. I found it in a 3/$1 box.
Not bad for an unquestioned "cornerstone" of my Cardinals binder.
Between that acquisition story and the terrific brick backdrop on the card itself, I rate McCarver's rookie issue as his "peak year" of cardboard.
That's a rarity.
My Tim McCarver "sunset" collection is one of the more unorthodox I've seen.
Because it bridged the gap between the "vintage" and "modern" eras of baseball cards.
I consider the "modern era" to be anything from 1981 to the present, marking the year Fleer and Donruss broke into the market.
As far as Topps goes, McCarver just missed being a part of the "modern" Topps era. They gave him his final card in 1980, showcasing him during his second stint with the Phillies.
Here's where the odd part comes into play, though.
He still managed to be a part of the "modern era".
It's the best of both worlds.
Truthfully, I wouldn't have blamed anyone had McCarver not been granted a card in 1981.
After all, his '81 season consisted of just seven plate appearances over the course of six games in Philadelphia.
Still, while Donruss and Topps completely ignored him, Fleer was generous enough to include a card of McCarver in their inaugural base set.
McCarver's age certainly shows in that shot. Although he was only 40 at the time, Fleer managed to make him look about double that.
However, any card featuring those neat "powder blues" is awesome in my book. They're why I've come to love so many 1970's and '80s Phillies cards so much.
As I mentioned, I think most of us agree that McCarver isn't a very good announcer. I'm putting that a bit more lightly than most other bloggers probably would.
Still, I'm glad that he's become a vital part of my binders. After all, he was one of the better catchers of his time. His cards certainly do a good job of showing that.
Besides, if he wasn't in my collection, I would've had to pass on that '62 Topps rookie for 33 cents.
And that just wasn't going to happen.