Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cardboard appreciation: 1976 Topps Jerry Reuss

(Here is a quote about appreciation: "Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering." The author of that quote was Winnie-the-Pooh. Or, more accurately, A.A. Milne. No wonder I liked Pooh as a kid. That's my kind of bear. Time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 49th in a series):

I have about 30 different cards of former major league pitcher Jerry Reuss. This card is my favorite one.

It's one of those cards from my childhood that I would marvel over while thumbing through my collection. The Pirates were an early favorite of mine. Plus, the card featured an action shot, something that was still a bit of a rarity in the mid-1970s. Throw in the all-star designation -- Reuss was the starting pitcher in the All-Star Game in 1975 -- and it adds up to a card that will suck a boy in until it's dinner time.

Those of you who know about Reuss' 20-year major league career know that he played for eight different teams. But he is mostly known for pitching for the Pirates and the Dodgers. He is one of my favorite Dodger pitchers. Last summer, I obtained his autograph on a couple of his cards sent through the mail.

You may wonder why my favorite card of Reuss would be one of him in a Pirate uniform, rather than a Dodger uniform. I have an answer for that.

Jerry Reuss reads my blog. I want to be as honest as possible.

OK, let me rephrase that: I am told by a very reliable source that Reuss read my blog, had nice things to say about it, and said he would save it in his favorites when he returned home.


Yes, you want details. OK, I got them.

I was contacted by our beloved Collective Troll, who told me about his meeting with Jerry Reuss. You see, Troll lives in a place of baseball and sunshine. It's nothing for him to run into ballplayers because he's surrounded by spring training sites there in Florida.

Reuss was in town for a fantasy camp with the Pirates and Troll spied him while at work. Then Troll, who I envision as the conversational sort, tracked down Mr. Reuss, who is a broadcaster with the Dodgers and always seemed like a funny and personable guy himself.

Well, Troll struck up a conversation and happened to steer the talk to this great baseball-loving, card-collecting community we have here on the intertubes. Troll then called up Night Owl Cards on his laptop and showed Reuss my site! Crazy. The Troll is awesome.

He said Reuss looked through the site for a long time, commenting here and there, and was complimentary about what he read and saw. He liked my Dodger devotion. Cool.

I can't believe I missed out on all this. While Troll was talking to one of my all-time favorite pitchers, I was probably sitting at work, trying not to fall asleep in the middle of editing a series of meaningless high school basketball games.

When Troll told me the story, I couldn't believe that a Dodger I had rooted for throughout the 1980s had been reviewing my blog. I mean, I know it's out there for anyone to read, but I never think that anyone but collectors find this thing. But Troll has been contacted by some Rays players. There's no reason to think that the same thing couldn't happen with this blog.

Anyway, the first thing I did after reading Troll's email was to look up my past posts that mentioned Reuss. You know, just to make sure my wry sense of humor didn't come off sounding unfriendly. To my relief, I did nothing but rave about Reuss the four or five times I mentioned him.

In the large scheme of things, this doesn't mean much. I'm a guy who likes baseball and baseball cards. Jerry Reuss is a guy who likes baseball and baseball cards. The only difference is he played baseball and I write about it. I've talked to enough ballplayers myself to know that.

But the 10-year-old who sat on his bed with his 1976 cards spread out before him, setting up the All-Star cards in the form of a fielding starting lineup with third baseman Ron Cey on the left side, first baseman Steve Garvey on the right side, and Jerry Reuss smack in the center on the imaginary pitcher's mound, cannot get over this.

He thinks it's pretty cool.


  1. Perhaps your next poll could be "best Jerry Reuss card." This one would probably get quite a few votes.

  2. I would vote for the '76 as best and the '74 (no hat) as the worst. I love the All Star star. It was thrilling chatting with Reuss and I was honored to call you a "buddy of mine" while your blog was called up. Reuss is very much into baseball cards as well. He has worked as a photographer for Upper Deck...
    Perhaps the next time one of us runs into him a baseball card themed interview should be in order...

  3. You never know who is reading...nice post and good candidate for Cardboard Appreciation.

  4. "Then Troll, who I envision as the conversational sort,"

    That has to be the most obvious statement I've ever read.

    You two do good work, and what a thrill to know that a childhood hero appreciates your work.

    That being said, I can't wait to be in Sarasota starting March 3rd. Maybe I'll bump into one of my heroes at a local Publix.

  5. Greetings Collectors,

    First of all, I do read your blogs. Thanks for all the kind words.

    For those interested, I've posted scans of most of my cards on my website http://www.jerryreuss.com/jrbaseballcrds.html. For those of you who use Flickr, check out http://www.flickr.com/photos/43289453@N03/sets/72157622957192473/. I still have some more to add, so bookmark the site.

    Also, there are pictures from my career as well as some of my own work. So, grab a chair, kick your feet up and enjoy the best of Jerry Reuss!


  6. ^ Awesome. Absolutely awesome.

  7. Wow, this just got even cooler.

  8. Dude that's so cooool....Jerry kicks ass and he knows it! That's it i'm sending him some TTM...