Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's he doing with a bat?

I've been collecting for about ten years now. Through the years I've collected baseball cards, I've gone from collection to collection. (There were times when I collected basketball, football, and hockey, but I'll leave that out of it.)

Some of my collections are fairly common themes (i.e. collecting Hall-of-Famers), but yet others are very obscure (i.e. only collecting cards of Pokey Reese that list his name as "Calvin").

But the first of these little mini-collections that I can remember taking an interest to was collecting cards of pitchers hitting. Although I haven't really focused much on these cards lately, they're still interesting.

In recent years, I've wondered why companies even make cards of pitchers hitting. I'd imagine that 95% of a pitcher's photos are of him on the mound. Plus, he's a pitcher, isn't he? So why not use a picture of him pitching?

As far as baseball cards go, this 1973 Topps Jim Kaat is the oldest in-action picture of a pitcher batting that I'm aware of. (Excuse the miscut.)

The DH was adopted for the AL in 1973, but this picture was most likely taken during the 1972 season. To be fair, Kaat did have a good hitting season in '72 (.289 average in 47 plate appearances). Kaat seems to have a decent follow-through judging from the shot on this card, perhaps it resulted in a hit.

I just don't get this one.

Bruce Sutter was a relief pitcher. He had a grand total of ten plate appearances in 1980 (this card is from '81 Fleer). With just one hit. One hit.

His career batting average? .088.

Whose genius idea was this?

I guess I can understand this one.

There's a lot of opportunities to get a shot of a National League pitcher hitting during the course of a season. I understand if a card company wants to give the collector a look at something different, as with this card.

Joe Nathan was a starter early in his career, taking 32 at-bats in 2000.

I fully understand these two.

Zambrano and Owings are probably the two best hitting pitchers in the game today. In Owings' case, he's more famous for his hitting than his pitching (I could see him as a future Rick Ankiel-type). The back of this card documents Owings' famous four hit, four RBI, and four run game in 2007. (He also hit two homers in that game.)

I may not have enjoyed seeing Big Z pitch in recent years, but it's always fun watching him hit. He doesn't have the greatest form, but he does know what he's doing with a bat in his hands. He's a little more famous for breaking bats over his knee though, not upon contact as shown by this card.

Then we've got the rare post-DH card of an American League pitcher at the plate.

This 2002 Topps Gold Label card of Mussina likely captures him during one of his seven total plate appearances in '01. It might also be the aftermath of the one hit he collected that year. See, he's got the batting gloves on and everything!

Then we've got the even rarer instance of an AL pitcher posing with a bat. I'm pretty sure that this is the only one of these that I have.

"El Presidente" wouldn't take a single at-bat in his first season as an Indian in 1994. He seemed pretty enthused to hit in that photo, though. Oh well.

A pitcher on base? Is that possible?

Even though this card is from 2004, I'm pretty certain that this photo wasn't taken during the 2003 season.

Marquis only got one hit in '03, and that was a double. He never walked either that year. The only way he could've gotten on first base in 2003 is if he was sent in as a pinch-runner.

Speaking of pitchers on the basepaths, this is my all-time favorite non-pitching pitcher card. (That was certainly an oddly-worded sentence.)

Here's Greg Maddux attempting to break up a double play, showing his all-out determination to win. And doing a great job of it, if I do say so myself.

You rarely see this great of an action shot from a position player, much less a pitcher.

I like these much better than most of the monotonous pitching poses that got old 30 years ago. Don't you?


moremonkeys138 said...

Batting pitchers are a mini collection of mine too. I also include them if they are baserunning or wearing batting helmets and such. That 2007 UD Zambrano is great too because I also collect broken bats, so that fits both.

Hackenbush said...

I guess you answered your own question. I'm a fan of pretty much any baseball card that has an unusual shot of the player, even if it's Hrbek on the phone or something silly. Hrbek making a face. As you said, how many ways can you show a pitcher pitching? This is especially true in this era of so many cards of each player. As far as your Kaat card goes the miscut is pretty much par for the course. 73's are terrible.

Laurens said...

I have those cards stashed away - thanks for pointing out the Kaat - it gives me something 'vintage' to chase for the particular collection.

Nick said...

I know there's a card of pitcher Joe Jay from (I think) 1959 that him in a hitting pose. The Kaat is the first in-action one I've come across.

I've been inspired by my own post, I think I'm going to start picking these out of dime boxes again. I'd usually only buy them if it's a guy I collect, but I think I'm gonna go with any I see now.

And I 100% agree with you Hackenbush, I love any unusual shots of players. It makes it a lot more fun and interesting!

Mike said...

Looks like Sutter thought it'd be a laugh....Hey dude,take one of me with a bat!

Nick said...

I bet he was surprised that they actually used that one!

babatundeamoda said...

I confess that when I'm walking through a dollar store, I really have a hard time passing up on grabbing at least one pack of their 20 for $1 groups of cards.

My most recent grab scored me one such card - 1997 Collector's Choice Mark Gardner. He's in the cage, practicing a bunt. A definite entry in my 'random cards I like' binder.