Saturday, December 10, 2011

BINDER #40: Detroit Tigers (Volume 1)

It's that time again! The random number generator spit out the lucky number 40 today, so we're reviewing the Tigers (Vol. 1) binder today.

No analysis of the Tigers would be complete without mentioning Mark Fidrych. My all-time favorite Tigers player. He gets his own section in this post. 

There should be a law stating that if you're going to seriously collect baseball cards, you HAVE to own a copy of the 1977 Topps Mark Fidrych card (on the left). It's easily the most iconic card of the 1970's, and one of the most iconic cards in history. Period.

It pains me that Fidrych would have his final card issued just four years later, in 1981 (seen on the right) after pitching in just 27 games from 1977 to 1980 (compared to his 31 games pitched in 1976). Just look at those two cards side by side. He looks so much more broken down in 1981. The cards could very well been issued twenty years apart and you wouldn't know. Even the back of his '81 card can't help but focus on past glories. "Mark was selected as A.L.'s Rookie of the Year in 1976."

I had the good fortune of meeting Fidrych at a card show a while back. I was just starting to get serious about collecting, and my dad noticed that he was going to be appearing at the local card show to sign autographs. After hearing my dad's stories from when he was younger about Fidrych and his wacky antics (as shown by a couple of the cards pictured above), I knew this was a guy I just had to meet. And meet him I did! I still have the baseball he signed for me sitting on my trophy case in my room. (It really ties the room together.)

Some baseball players just come and go. But there's those few that come along every so often that come to represent an entire generation. And for 1970's baseball, Mark Fidrych was just that.

Okay, back to the rest of the Tigers binder!

"Cardboard Fun":
1997 Topps #402 Brad Ausmus
2007 Upper Deck #118 Joel Zumaya

The Ausmus card is on here for a special reason. It's on here because of how much it cost me. "A dime?", you say? Nope. Two cents. Two pennies. At a garage sale. Finding anything halfway decent at a garage sale is enough of an accomplishment. But baseball cards? And non-"junk wax" baseball cards? For two cents? Now THAT'S a low-end collectors dream.

Whoever took that Zumaya photo was probably trying to set the record for most people pictured on a single baseball card. I've often wondered if some of the fans in that picture know they're on a baseball card.

"Short Term Stops":
2001 Topps Archives #165 Frank Howard
1998 Bowman International #410 Francisco Cordero RC
2010 Topps Gold #49 Aubrey Huff /2010

Topps Archives again! The 2001 Topps Archives cards are mostly reprints of a player's first and/or final Topps issues. They're great for a lot of these "short term stops" cards as a lot of guys finish up their careers in unfamiliar uniforms. Frank Howard is no exception. He spent 14 games in 1972 with the Tigers, then played for them in '73 before calling it quits. 

Francisco Cordero's a free agent this offseason. Seeing as Heath Bell and Jonathan Papelbon are off the board, he should get a healthy payday from someone. He started his career in '99, pitching in 20 games for the Tigers. He was traded to the Rangers that offseason. Fun fact: Cordero's agent's name is Bean Stringfellow (according to baseball-reference)!
I have to admit, I completely forgot about Aubrey Huff's short time with the Tigers when I mentioned him in an earlier post. He spent the second half of 2009 with the Tigers. I like the Topps Gold parallels, by the way. They make everything so much better!

"Best Of":
1959 Topps #149 Jim Bunning
1965 Topps #236 Denny McLain RC
2003 Topps Chrome Refractors #119 Randall Simon /699
2008 UD Masterpieces #32 Justin Verlander

I found the '59 Bunning card in the same $2 box that I mentioned earlier. Have I mentioned that I love older cards in bad condition? They're just SO much cheaper. Seriously, for something being over 50 years old, I don't think that Bunning card is too bad. The 1965 Denny McClain might well be my favorite non-Fidrych Tigers card. A guy at my local flea market has a box of old 1960's/1970's vintage cards he puts out every so often. You have no idea how much I'd look forward to going to the flea market every weekend, just to flip through that box! And he had new ones almost every week! Not a lot of them were in great shape, so you know what that means! They're cheaper! Just a quarter a piece for anything in it. And that's how I came to possess a Denny McLain rookie card for some loose change.

Yes, I collect Randall Simon because of the Miller Park Incident. If you don't know what that is, look it up on youtube. Just type in "Randall Simon" and I guarantee that it'll be the first thing that comes up. I'll bet that Randall Simon wishes he could go back in time and not have the "incident" happen. I'm just glad that the person inside the sausage costume was OK. That being said, I have to admit that it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen on a baseball field. The Verlander card is just plain awesome. If someone said to me, "Describe awesome", I'd show them that card. It commemorates his 2007 no-hitter against the Brewers. And did I mention it's awesome?

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