Friday, July 2, 2010

My favorite rookie card

One of these days, I should write a post that doesn't contain the words "Allen & Ginter."

This was going to be that post until I saw this:


I will KILL for this card. Well, not kill, like people or animals or anything. But I will kill bugs for this card. That's right, send me this card and I'll kill all the insect pests you like. I know how some of my female readers (and a few male ones) detest those crawly thousand-leg creatures that scoot out from under the couch when it's quiet and dark. I'll even kill those. I'll literally come to your home, camp out and wait until night falls, and then ...

OK, my wife might have a problem with that. I mean, who is going to kill bugs when I'm not there?

But rest assured, if you send me this card, not a single arachnid will be safe on my very own property. (Besides, I hear owls love bugs).

Seriously, get in touch with me if you want to send me this card. I'll even send you a card or two for your trouble. Dead bugs AND cards? Now that is a bargain.

All right, now on to what I was going to write about here.

A few months ago, the blog For Card's Sake issued The Rookie Card Challenge. Bloggers were asked to reveal their favorite rookie card and tell why it was their favorite. I thought it was a smashing idea. Then I promptly forgot about it.

Fortunately, others have responded, and I've enjoyed reading their stories. This post -- well actually the video -- is way too funny.

Like some others, my favorite rookie card is not one of the big ones like Rickey Henderson or Don Mattingly or Ken Griffey Jr. Well, actually it is a big one, but not for the reason everyone else thinks it's a big deal.

Here it is:

Don't even pay attention to the other three losers on this card, I want you to focus on the star of the foursome. Kevin Pasley.

Kevin Pasley was the last Dodger card I needed to complete the 1977 Dodgers team set. The fact that it was out of my clutches for so long had nothing to do with the card being Dale Murphy's rookie card. Nobody knew who Dale Murphy was back then.

It had to do with the fact that rookie prospects contained players from other teams and young collectors would forget that they needed a player on one of those cards to complete the team set. Many a time I even had a rookie prospects card of a Dodger player already in my possession, but I didn't know it because other players from other teams were mucking up the card.

In fact, the only reason that I became aware of this card is because Pasley was a catcher. The Dodgers' catching wasn't the greatest in the mid-to-late 1970s. Between Joe Ferguson's two stints with the Dodgers, L.A. was left with Steve Yeager as the starter. Yeager was terrific behind the plate, but his hitting at the time was gawdawful. He was only a fraction better than the pitcher. And when Rick Rhoden started, he wasn't better than the pitcher at all.

I don't remember how many rallies I saw die at the hands of Yeager and his 8th place in the batting order, but I do remember being endlessly frustrated by him. So when I became aware of Pasley, that was my hope that things were going to change. Pasley hit only .231 in 23 games for the Dodgers in 1976. But that was OK because Yeager hit .214 in 117 games!

The 1977 Topps Rookies card clinched it. Pasley was destined for great things. The other guys I blew off. Alexander? He was a stinkin' Giant. Cerone? I liked the crazy red threads but this was long before I had to suffer through Yankees fans declaring that Cerone would become the next Thurman Munson. And Dale Murphy? If he was so great then how do you explain this?

Murphy appeared on a rookie prospects card for a second straight year! When we were kids, that was a sign of someone who was destined to bomb. One appearance on a rookie card meant you were bound for greatness. Two appearances on a rookie card meant you didn't really want to be great. The train had left the station. The boat had left the dock. Vinny Barbarino had left "Welcome Back, Kotter." It was over.

Then, the very same year, I saw this card:

Oh, no. It was Pasley again. Except he was in a Mariners uniform. What the hell was a Mariner?

I had totally missed the fact that the Mariners purchased Pasley at the end of the 1977 season (in fact that photo looks airbrushed). What a crushing card. Not only had Pasley appeared on two straight rookie prospects cards -- instant death in our world -- but he wasn't even on the same team.

The years went on and I learned to live with Steve Yeager as the Dodgers' starting catcher. Yeager hit .193 in 1978, .216 in 1979, .211 in 1980 and .209 in 1981. But Yeager played well enough in the '81 World Series to be share the series MVP award with Ron Cey and Pedro Guerrero. And the Dodgers beat the Yankees, too. If the Dodgers could win with Yeager, then maybe he was OK.

Maybe you didn't need a Pasley or even a Murphy to win a World Series. None of those guys ended up with a ring.

But because of the year-plus that card #476 in the 1977 set was "the Kevin Pasley rookie card" and not "the Dale Murphy rookie card, " it is my favorite rookie card of all time.


  1. the owl card will be yours (i pulled it), but you will probably have to wait until the 17th because i am leaving on vacation and my ginter cards are back in my apartment. i am sure you will come up with something for me.