Friday, April 17, 2009

36 Years of Red Sox Cards (Part VIII)

A few more minutes, so a few more great Red Sox cards…

1977 Topps Fred Lynn
Any discussion of the late 70’s Sox needs to stop on Fred Lynn. He broke in with the Sox unlike any rookie ever had. He capped his 1975 season with both the Rookie of the Year, and MVP awards. Teamed with Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, the Sox could boast one of the best young outfields…maybe ever. But, when free agency came to the major leagues, Lynn was one of the first to bolt Boston. While he came to regret the decision, it was too late. What seemed destined to be a long and glorious career never really materialized? But, boy, what a great few years. This 1977 card pictures Lynn smack in the middle of his Red Sox career.

1986 Topps Bill Buckner
Who else could I pick? Were it not for 1986, Bill Buckner would be remembered as being a great ballplayer. Not quite Hall-of-Fame caliber, but pretty darn good. But, once that ball went through his legs in the 1986 series, that was it. That was his claim to infamy. This card is a great headshot of Buckner, before he grew goat horns. The back of the card is probably the last one not to mention his error. It’s too bad. He didn’t deserve any of the grief he got. Luckily, this card still reminds everyone of the good days he had.

1997 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice Jose Canseco
I’ve mentioned it before, but the Sox did a lot of this in years past. They found a superstar who wasn’t quite living up to his past, and brought him in based on name alone. Andre Dawson and Jack Clark are two other examples of this that come to mind. These days, Jose Canseco is an interesting person. On the one hand, he became a laughingstock. His baseball career ended, he turned to the shameful celebrity boxing…the last venue of C-list stars. On the other hand, he became the steroid poster boy when he wrote a book filled with outrageous claims of players who used steroids. The funny thing is, that he appears to be absolutely right. None of the current steroid ballyhoo would exist if it weren’t for Canseco. By the time this card came out in 1997, Jose had already been shipped off to Oakland. His Red Sox career never became what fans hoped it would.

1974 Topps Fisk/Bench All-Star
I’ll say it again. Baseball card companies love stars. They know that collectors would rather have cards of stars than bench players. Back in 1974, companies thought they should also have cards of all the players on every team. So, one way to save space was a combo card like this one. This way, by only using one card they could appeal to Fisk fans as well as Bench backers. The fact that this tandem would end up being a marquee match-up in the next year’s World Series is especially nice. These days, cards like this aren’t especially expensive, and are a great way to collect Hall-of-Fame players two at a time.

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