Saturday, September 4, 2010
Awesome night card, pt. 100
I know I said that I would do something special on the occasion of the 100th night card, but you're going to have to wait until the next night card.
That's because this is really only the 99th night card that I have featured here that I own. One of the cards, I still do not own, and that's a requirement on this here particular blog.
In order for me to do something special next time, I need to get a certain two night cards posted. This is one of them.
I absolutely love this card. This is one of those night cards in which everything the player is wearing appears to glow in the dark. The cap, the jersey, the warm-up jacket under the jersey, the shirt under the warm-up jacket. I wish Norris was wearing the green glove that he was noted for featuring on the mound. That would have made it the best night card of all-time.
Anyway, Mike Norris came along during a time when there weren't a lot of African-American starting pitchers in baseball, although that's always somewhat of a rarity (I can think of only three current ones off the top of my head).
In the early '80s, African-American starters like Bob Gibson, Al Downing and John "Blue Moon" Odom had all retired in the last five years. Meanwhile, Dock Ellis and Jim Bibby were at the end of their careers, J.R. Richard was K'Oed by a stroke, and Dave Stewart was struggling to stay out of the minors.
So you had Vida Blue, Ray Burris (sort of) and Mike Norris.
The year before this card came out, Norris went 22-9 in 1980 with 24 complete games. He got screwed out of the Cy Young Award by Steve Stone, all because Stone had a couple more wins and a couple less losses than Norris (look at the stats, Norris is better in almost every way).
I was thrilled for the season Norris had and hoped it would be the start of a Gibson-liked career. Sadly, it wasn't. Twenty-four complete games can do things to an arm and Norris was never the same.
The mid-80's saw a modest boom in African-American starters with the rise of Dwight Gooden, Oil Can Boyd, Charles Hudson and Stewart (and I'll mention relief pitcher Lee Smith, only because he was so dominant).
Today, there is CC Sabathia, who I used to like a whole lot more, David Price and Dontrelle Willis (sort of).
It's been awhile since an African-American pitcher dominated for a long period of time like Gibson. That is my hope for Sabathia and Price. ... Well, Price anyway.