Thursday, October 2, 2014

Faces in the outfield

I found myself flipping through one of my Dodgers binders last week.

No particular reason. Just absorbing my collection, as usual. I've spent many a peaceful night plopped down on the couch with a binder of baseball cards in my lap.

When I came across this Steve Finley, I had to take it out for a closer look. Doing that brought back a lot of memories.

Tracking down a copy of this beauty was a major mission of mine for a long time. I first saw it on Night Owl's blog not too long after I started blogging. It was one of the first MUST HAVE cards I ever discovered via the blogosphere.

It sat on my "Dime Box Dozen" list for about six or seven months before I took the easy way out, ordering it from Just Commons late last year. A proud day.

The reason for my drooling over it should be obvious. Yes, it's a great "at the wall" shot. But Fernando Valenzuela's giant face on the wall behind Mr. Finley steals the show.

When I took this card out of my Dodger binder the other night, however, a question instantly popped into my mind.

A question I can't believe I'd never asked myself before.

How many other cards in my collection feature outfield murals?

My mind instantly shot to this one, another excellent Dodger Stadium image from the Ultra brand.

Though Mr. Owl (again) recently featured it on his blog, I've owned the Gold Medallion Everett parallel for as long as I can remember. (This base version just recently came into my possession.)

The chunk of old Dodger Stadium wall seen here commemorates Kirk Gibson's famous dinger in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

The Dodgers really need to bring these murals back.

I stumbled upon this one by chance the other day.

Former Rockie outfielder Ryan Spilborghs is seen here making what looks to be a leaping grab at Turner Field, right in front of the gigantic #44 Hank Aaron mural.

I knew there had to be more.

I remembered the murals on the Busch Stadium wall from when I went to a game there a few months ago, so I figured my Cardinals binder would be a good bet.

There, fresh from 2014 Topps, stood Matt Holliday in front of the immortal Bob Gibson mural. Since I've seen this card on so many occasions this year, I'm surprised it didn't instantly pop into my mind.

Funny how the brain works sometimes.

From what I've seen, having actual photos on outfield walls is a relatively new phenomenon.

However, other teams had honored some of their own greats in other ways before. I'm not exactly sure where the outfield mural idea originated, but this '94 Topps Tino Martinez was the oldest example I could find on cardboard.

In what has to be one of the most well-framed shots in baseball card history, Mr. Martinez is seen here catching a foul pop with the #19 Bob Feller mural in the backdrop at the now-defunct Cleveland Stadium.

Taka Tanaka also punched a hole through the Lou Boudreau mural in Major League II.

No card of that, though.

We get pieces of two different murals in this fantastic shot.

That's part of Nolan Ryan on the left, and Bob Boone's huge mug on the right.

Boone seems to approve of that Garret Anderson great grab.

Wrigley Field's iconic ivy often overshadows the outfield wall of their crosstown rivals.

Comiskey, I mean, uh, U.S. Cellular Field has perhaps the best outfield murals in all of baseball in left-center.

Considering they've been around for over a century, the club's nine retired numbers don't seem like a whole lot. (Make that ten, assuming the Sox retire Paul Konerko's #14 next year.)

Topps featured the bulk of knuckleballer Ted Lyons's mural in this terrific shot. They got part of the sleeve of Billy Pierce (#19) as well.

In a perfect world, I'd like to see every club have murals like these lining the outfield wall. They're certainly attention-grabbers, and I had a ton of fun digging for the few examples I could find in my card collection.

I know I probably shouldn't start another mini-collection at this point, but...


Stealing Home said...

A most excellent report. Loved it.
My faves are the Dodger murals :)

gcrl said...

nice post. i've got one in the works about the dodger murals as well, and i've reminisced about them on the blog several times - they look much better than the billboard ads in dodger stadium these days!

Fuji said...

Awesome post. Love the research you and Night Owl put into your posts. I'm definitely need to track down one of those Finleys. Very cool card.

Matthew Scott said...

Great post Nick!

madding said...

Last year's Jon Jay base card is terrific, although I can understand why Tony La Russa annoys a lot of people. The source image was my computer desktop background for awhile before Topps decided to use it for a card.