Friday, January 2, 2009

36 Years of Red Sox Cards (Part III)

Let’s keep looking at some Red Sox baseball cards from years gone by.

2008 Upper Deck Season Highlights Clay Buchholz
One way card companies like to fill up their sets with popular players is with highlight cards. This gives them an excuse to put even more cards of players people want into their sets. In this case, the play is Red Sox bright star Clay Buchholz. Clay started the trend of young Sox starters throwing no-hitters by firing his gem in only his second major league start. I like the look of this card showing both his celebration, and the scoreboard in the background. It’s one of the things I said I like about collecting cards…it transports me back in time to an important event. Clay may turn out to be a bust, but his no-hitter will always stare me right it the face.

1973-Topps Carlton Fisk #193
I like this card for a couple reasons. For one thing, I’ve always liked Fisk. His battles with Munson alone are enough to move him up on any list of favorite Sox. Plus, our paths always seem to “cross”. I was at the All-Star game in ’99 when he was honorary captain. I was at the game where they retired his number. I happened to visit the Baseball Hall-of-Fame the year he was inducted. That sort of thing. This card is his first card where he’s pictured alone. His ’72 rookie card shows him with two other players crammed onto one card. It’s just a classic looking old card for a classic old ballplayer.

1991-Donruss Phil Plantier
I thought Phil Plantier was great. I loved the squatting batting stance he used. I could recognize it on a t-shirt from across a store. When he came up at the end of the 1991 season he was super-exciting. He was getting hits and smacking home runs left and right. He was sure to be a star. I wanted as many of his ’91 rookie cards as I could get my hands on. Donruss must have been listening to me. I seems that every pack of Donruss cards I opened that year had this card in it. I think I ended up with 11 of them by the end of the year. Of course, he never really became the star he was destined to be. So, all 11 of these Donruss cards are pretty much worthless. But, I still keep then, along with the other 100 or so of his cards I amassed during his two years with the Sox, to remember the excitement he brought.

1978 Topps Bill Lee
OK. I’ll admit it. I’ve never even seen this card. But, any discussion of the 1978 Red Sox has to include Bill Lee. If you’re making a set of 1978 Red Sox cards, this would be the first one to go after. He was one of the most colorful characters the Sox have ever employed. His battles with Don Zimmer are legendary. (Despite him being a certified Yankee killer, he wasn’t used late in the year while the Sox were collapsing. He was shipped off to the hole that is Montreal the next season.) While we may never know what actually happened in the clubhouse, any player who calls his manager a gerbil when he deserves it is OK in my book.

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