Friday, September 4, 2009

The next badass (but it's not who you think)

Well, I wasn't going to say anything, but I'm glad to see folks made the right call on the best Reggie card of the 1970s.

I think motherscratcher said it best in the comments. You've got to pick a Reggie that looks like Reggie. The 1970 card features a very nice photo and all, but that isn't the Reggie that anyone remembers.

The 1978 Reggie Jackson card features a Reggie that looks like Reggie, doing what Reggie does. Or did. And in a last-minute flurry of poll activity, the '78 Jackson card rallied from second place to overtake the '70 card by a single vote. I'm proud to say the 1978 card is the best Jackson card of the '70s.

The last time I did this, with Johnny Bench, the post segued into the "I'm Badass and You're Not" feature, and Bench was entered into the "badass" club. So, the question is, does Reggie gain entrance into the badass club now?

Well ... here's the thing. I want to add him. He was certainly badass in terms of his playing ability. There is almost nothing more badass than hitting titanic home runs (personally, I think striking 300 batters or gunning down someone at home plate is more badass, but to each his own). Reggie also featured the badass look with the mustache and shades.

But I can't put him in the club. He talked too much. All that whining and straw-stirring and babbling about me, me, me. Badasses don't babble. They barely talk. They certainly don't whine. They don't advertise their badassness (I'm just making up words on the spot now) with their mouths. They just go about their awesome business, and if others don't appreciate it, then it doesn't matter, because, well, they're badass and you're not.

So, Jackson's not in the club. Not yet, anyway. I won't rule him out for good. But it does mean I need to find someone else to fill the third spot. And I've got the perfect person.

Gorman Thomas didn't exactly look badass when I first encountered him on this 1975 card. Sure, he was a big boy, and you'll note what number he's wearing. I guess he gave up that number when Hank Aaron joined the Brewers in '75.

But despite the long hair and sideburns, us kids weren't impressed. His career .205 batting average at the time didn't help matters either. My brothers and I would line up our '75 cards in order by batting average and Thomas was right there at the bottom with Mario Mendoza.

But turn to the back of that card and there is a telling glimpse of the badassery to come:

Take a look at his name. His actual first name is "James." Thomas shunned the perfectly normal name of "James," for the less normal "Gorman." Now that is true badass genius. Pick a name that most would never live down and make it work for you. Would people remember someone who hit home runs named "Jim Thomas"? Certainly not as much as someone named "Gorman Thomas."

Thomas eventually changed his look to the more recognizable badass visage that you see here. By the late 1970s, he was sporting the facial hair that made him famous. Well, that and the home runs that started rocketing out of County Stadium at a more rapid pace beginning in 1978.

Thomas simply looked like a beer-drinking, softball-playing, truck-driving man. And if you want more proof, look at the back of his 1980 Kellogg's card.

Drag racing and rock music are definite badass hobbies.

Plus, Thomas could hit home runs like Reggie. In fact, he tied Jackson for the home run title in 1980 and won the AL title in 1979 with 45. He hit 51 in the minors for Sacramento in 1974. Thomas was part of the 1982 Harvey's Wallbangers team that reached the World Series, a squad filled with motley members, who I'm told had just as much fun off the field as on the field. Thomas was the last out in the '82 World Series. In other words, he was The Blob. But I'm willing to overlook that. Body of work, we're going with here.

Thomas was traded to the Indians the next year and his career ended in 1986. Now, Stormin' Gorman does appearances for the Brewers, and he's as popular as ever. Because he's Badass and You're Not.

Welcome to the club, Gorman. Fire up the Nugent and have a beer on me.


  1. Mr. Thomas is a well-deserving addition to the club.

  2. You just don't get much more bad ass than Stormin Gorman. A great addition to the club... I never realized that he started out with number 44 either. Good stuff!

  3. This is a fabulous club. And, the fact that I used the word "fabulous" pretty much ensures my lifelong exclusion.

    Gorman is definately badass. Good call.

    One thing about the post: Take the sentence "Thomas was traded to the Indians the next year and his career ended in 1986."

    Now remove "in 1986". The sentence makes just as much, if not more, sense. Ah, the 1980's Indians. Where careers went to die.

  4. Also, I'd like to think that I somehow helped affect the correct outcome of the Reggie decision, but I doubt it.