Monday, September 24, 2012

The Gems of Junk Wax, Pt. 45: 1993 Topps #633 "Three Russians"

There's a lot to love about this hobby.

Every collector has their own unique reasons for why they chase after these seemingly innocent pieces of cardboard.

Personally, the main reason I've been a member of the hobby for the last dozen years or so is because it continually finds ways to surprise me.

You can never know everything there is to know about baseball cards.

There's always more "gems" to be unearthed.

This particular subject in my "Gems of Junk Wax" series is a perfect example of that very sentiment.

I've seen thousands of 1993 Topps singles over the course of my life. I felt that I had a good grasp on all the novelty-type cards out there.

Yet, during all that time, this magnificent piece had flown under my radar.

I'll always be in debt to the blogosphere for making me aware of its existence. Specifically, it was a recent post over at "Play at the Plate" that first introduced me to this card.

Immediately after I saw it, I knew it was one of those cards that I absolutely had to have. As a result, I fell victim to yet another "impulse buy".

Luckily, this purchase only set me back about seventy cents on Sportlots.

It's among the greatest seventy cents I've ever spent.

I am honored to have this card in my collection.

Being the baseball nut I am, I dug for some background info about these three guys immediately after the card was in my grasp.

According to the back of this card, the player on the far left is Rudy Razjigaev. However, his baseball-reference page lists his name as Rudolf Razhigaev.

I have no idea which one is correct.

Razjigaev (or Razhigaev) pitched for the Angels' rookie league and Low-A teams between 1992 and '93, posting a 5.54 ERA in 13 career innings.

In the middle of this shot, we have third baseman Yevgeny Puchkov, who hit just .208 in 52 career minor league games between '92 and '93. (At least his BR page agrees with Topps' spelling of his name.)

The last of the "Three Russians" is shortstop Ilya Bogatyrev. He never made it out of rookie ball, hitting .241 in his two minor league seasons.

On that note, a quick Google Translate search shows me that the Russian text on the front of the card doesn't even translate to the words "Three Russians". I guess that just adds to the mystery of it all.

And, as if that wasn't enough, it's also listed as an uncorrected error (or "UER") by Beckett, due to the fact that Topps headed Bogatyrev's stats on the back with "1992 Pitching Statistics", despite the fact that he was a shortstop.

My research as to why the Angels all of a sudden signed three players out of Russia came up empty.

Had Topps not come along, I get the feeling that the "Three Russians" would be forever lost in the annals of baseball history.

For that, Topps, I thank you.

This is definitely one of the best "gems" out there.


BRod212 said...

I have heard people say before that Topps did the text on this card purposely to kind of look like "top prospects" using Russian characters. Dont know if it's true but it at least provides somewhat of a logical explanation

Bo said...

Either Razhigaev or Razjigaev is fine, because the only "correct" spelling would be in Cyrillic (Russian alphabet). There is not one "correct" English transliteration.

Eric said...

If you're still curious about these guys check this out

Unknown said...

I have this card and was a linguist in the Army 50 years ago...the front of the card is not Russian, but uses the (Russian) Cyrillic alphabet to spell out the english "Hot Prospects"!

Anonymous said...

I’m holding the card in my hand and I read Russian. They tried to spell HOT PROSPECT in phonetically Russian, but misspelled terribly. Instead is sounds like “ZHOT LROSLECT.” The uniqueness of this card is astounding.