Saturday, January 28, 2017

Top Five: Tom Seaver

All this recent Hall of Fame talk led me to a question I can't believe I'd never asked myself before: who was elected to Cooperstown the year I was born?

Turns out the HOF welcomed four new inductees in 1992. The Veterans Committee put umpire Bill McGowan and longtime Tigers hurler Hal Newhouser into Cooperstown, while Rollie Fingers (2nd ballot) and Tom Seaver (1st) were elected by the writers.

Seaver, in fact, received 98.8 percent of the vote, a record that stood until just last year when Ken Griffey Jr. notched 99.3 percent of the total vote. (Though it's still hard to believe no one has ever been unanimously voted into Cooperstown.)

It's for this special birth-year link that I've decided to showcase my five favorite cards of Tom Terrific this week.

#5 -- 1981 Kellogg's #38 Tom Seaver

Tom Seaver is most well known as a Met, but he did have some fine seasons with the Reds later on in his career.

I've been lucky enough to find a few of his oddball issues over the years, but this '81 Kellogg's beauty has remained my absolute favorite. It represents the lone year Kellogg's decided to produce standard-sized cards, and seriously, how sweet are those yellow borders?

I say it time and time again: I really wish baseball cards came with my cereal when I was a kid.

#4 -- 1972 Topps #446 Tom Seaver IA

This is a favorite of mine for the pure oddity of it.

I've owned this card for years and I still have no clue what I'm looking at. What kind of "action" is going on here? What's Tom Seaver doing? Laughing? Expressing discontent? Doubling over in extreme pain?

You tell me, because I sure as heck don't know.

#3 -- 1976 Topps #5 Tom Seaver RB

A classic card of Tom Terrific, though not without its share of confusion as well.

This is Seaver at the top of his game -- hence the "Record Breaker" subset -- staring down a helpless soul in the batter's box. The hitter is what makes me scratch my head here. Specifically, his helmet, which looks airbrushed to the point of resembling a construction worker's hard hat. But why alter the cap of a mere bystander in the first place?

It's notable that Stadium Club used this same image for Seaver's card a few years ago, though the helmet didn't look in the least bit airbrushed that time.

Once again, a card of Tom Terrific befuddles me.

#2 -- 1971 Topps #160 Tom Seaver

No confusion here, just my oldest Topps card of Mr. Seaver.

I seem to have an uncanny ability to remember when and where I obtained many of my cards, but I can't for the life of me tell you where I got this one. All I know is that I've had it for a long time and that it was probably one of the first of the 200+ Tom Seaver cards I now own.

If only my collection could talk.

#1 -- 1974 Topps #80 Tom Seaver

The top slot for Tom Terrific wasn't a contest: I knew it'd be this one all along.

Between the full crowd, ready-positioned first baseman (Ed Kranepool?), and the ferocious follow-through, it's one of the best action shots ever produced by Topps, plain and simple.

This was also one of the last of its kind: it would be 17 years before Flagship would go horizontal again.

If there ever comes a day where a Baseball Card Hall of Fame becomes a reality, this better be one of the first inductees.


Tony Burbs said...

A terrific compendium of Tom Terrifics! On that '72 "in Action" card, I'd guess that he's expressing displeasure in the outcome of a play on the field, but that's just my best guess.

Anonymous said...

A fun post!

Two thoughts on the airbrushed helmet:
1) The 1976 is airbrushed to cover a flaw in the negative they had
2) The Stadium Club card also has something covered up, but photoshop covers stuff up tremendously better than an airbrush.

Hackenbush said...

I didn't know that fact about the horizontal cards. It's always been a mystery why Topps choses certain photos over others. Certainly Mr. Terrific is a good choice for a post. Some of the sting of celebrating any Met has been taken away by 2016. :)

night owl said...

I don't think Seaver was served all that well by his cards. A lot of clunkers overall. To me his best are the simple mugs from early in his career (that '68 card with the tremendous rookie trophy is awesome).

Brett Alan said...

Beautiful cards. Love me some Tim Terrific. I have a couple of these, but wish I had the 71.

I think that's John Milner at first base on the 74. Looks too dark to be Kranepool.

Let's see who made the Hall the year I was born....VERY nice, Casey Stengel and Ted Williams. Two absolute giants of the game, and it's amazing that one of them is associated with my Mets given that the Mets had only existed as a franchise for a few years. (Of course, he got in for stuff he did in other unis, mostly the Yankees, but I'll take what I can get.)

Fuji said...

That 74T card is a beauty. Great pick for #1. Btw... your post motivated me to see who was inducted the year I was born. Sandy Koufax, Yogi Berra, and Early Wynn. Damn... I feel old now.

Mike said...

Nice stuff...'74 is a good choice for #1...surprised the '77 Topps didn't make of my fave cards as a kid!

Chris said...

Night Owl is right, there arent many decent looking Seaver cards out there - but you found a few of 'em here. I remember reading an article about the five people who did not vote for Seaver on their HOF ballot... it seems he was closer to being a unanimous selection than the numbers would indicate.

Also, since everyone else looked up HOF inductees from their birth year I checked mine (1980) -- Al Kaline and Duke Snider (two of my faves), Tom Yawkey and Chuck Klein.

Mike said...

Wow...only one inductee in my birth year...but it was a doozy!

sg488 said...

No inductees my birth year 1960,and that is definitely John Milner playing first base on the 74 Seaver.

Don said...

I can solve the Weaver mystery. This was taken during a father-son game, which is probably why he is laughing. You can see a rope fence just beyond the infield, and if you watch the 1970 All Star game highlight film you can see part of a Met father son game with the same set up.