Saturday, October 28, 2017
Top Five: Justin Verlander
I'm not sure there's a person on this earth I envy more than Justin Verlander.
Dude's been one of the best pitchers in the game during most of my baseball-watching life. He's won a Cy Young. He's won an MVP. He's thrown two no-hitters. He's engaged to Kate Upton. He just got traded from a team going nowhere to a team with a dazzlingly bright future. He's pitching in the World Series right now. And did I mention Kate Upton?
On top of all that, Verlander has been treated kindly by card companies during his career, which makes him a prime candidate for today's Top Five post.
#5 -- 2005 Topps #677 Justin Verlander RC
I'm not sure what my first Verlander card was, but there's a good chance this might've been it.
As is the case with most rookies I pull, I had no idea who this Verlander fellow was back when this one fell out of a pack I opened over a decade ago. It didn't take long for him to become a household name. Drafted in 2004, he'd make his big-league debut the very next year and win 17 games in '06, his first full season.
Judging from that smile, maybe Verlander knew big things were in his future.
#4 -- 2008 Upper Deck #394 Justin Verlander SH
As I mentioned earlier, Verlander has thrown two no-hitters, and both have been well-chronicled in the world of baseball cards.
His first -- spun against the Brewers on June 12, 2007 -- is documented on this gem from Upper Deck in the form of a good old ink-and-print newspaper Verlander appears to have just signed for a fan. (Note the lottery numbers and weekly weather forecast as well.)
Plenty of cards have borrowed designs from newspapers in the past, but how many can say they feature an actual newspaper?
#3 -- 2012 Topps #639b Justin Verlander SP
This neat photo-variation SP is the only card I own to honor both of Verlander's no-nos.
It's also one of the extreme few Flagship short-prints I've ever found in a dime box.
#2 -- 2012 Topps "1987 Minis" #TM-55 Justin Verlander
Need I explain why this card is so great?
#1 -- 2008 UD Masterpieces #32 Justin Verlander
Perhaps the biggest tragedy of Upper Deck's baseball card demise is the fact that we didn't get to see more of UD Masterpieces.
Even a decade later, the brand still gets talked about on a frequent basis, a legacy even more improbable considering it only lasted two years. This Verlander is one of the scores of, well, masterpieces included in those legendary checklists, using a scoreboard capture of the final pitch he'd throw in his first no-hitter as the backdrop for what remains one of the most aesthetically pleasing cards in my collection.
An easy choice for our generation's Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth.