Friday, December 23, 2011

C.A.: 1956 Topps Ned Garver

(Do people know it's two days before Christmas? Great snowcones, I can't believe how many "what is WRONG with humanity?" moments I had yesterday! Be good, everyone. Santa is watching! It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 129th in a series. Oh, and stop being a jerk.)

I am doubling up my Cardboard Appreciation and '56 of the Month posts today. That's probably not a good idea, given how desperate I've been for post ideas all month. But it's my blog and if I want to do 2, 3, 16 Cardboard Appreciation or '56 of the Month posts in a row, no one's going to stop me.

Anyway, this card is here for one reason.

It's not because Garver is one of those pitchers that I learned about at a young age and always admired. It's not because he won 20 games for a 1951 St. Louis Browns team that lost 100 games. It's not because this is the 60th anniversary of that feat. It's not because he was a hell of a hitter. It's not because a video was made of him this year and, damn, he doesn't look 85 years old at all. Nice work dude!

No, it's here because Garver is one of those people who was born on Christmas Day.

As someone who has never left his childhood behind, this is endlessly fascinating to me. What luck/what a burden to be born on Christmas!

As a kid, I thought anyone born on that day would receive an unimaginable number of presents. Christmas dinner and birthday cake on the same day! Then, I realized (mostly because my mother was born very close to Christmas), that the opposite was true. In many cases, it's very difficult to get people to notice your birthday with such a giant holiday standing next to it. "Oh yeah, I guess I got to get a gift for the birthday boy/girl, too. Mutter, mutter."

The most famous player born on Christmas is Rickey Henderson. He's the first player I ever heard of born on Christmas, and I immediately wondered what the day was like for him. Did he get a ton of gifts? Did everyone ignore his birthday? Henderson grew up an African-American, in a large city, in the back of an Oldsmobile, without a father for almost his entire life. I grew up the opposite of that. So, really, I have no idea how Rickey celebrated his birthday/Christmas.

Also, as a kid, I thought it was rare to be born on that day. But it's not. It's just a day like the other 364 for a baby who is ready to be born. As evidence, here's a semi-decent team of players born on Christmas Day:

P - Pud Galvin, 1875-92, Hall of Fame
C - Gene Lamont, 1970-75
1B - Walter Holke, 1914-25
2B - Nellie Fox, 1947-65, Hall of Fame
SS - Joe Quinn, 1884-1901
3B - Manny Trillo, 1973-89
LF - Jo-Jo Moore, 1930-41
CF - Rickey Henderson, 1979-2003, Hall of Fame
RF - Ben Chapman, 1930-41

Rest of the starting staff - Ned Garver, 1948-61; Ted Lewis, 1896-1901; Charlie Lea, 1980-88; Lloyd Brown, 1925-40

Relievers: Jack Hamilton, 1962-69; Hideki Okajima, 2007-11; Steve Montgomery, 1996-2000

Bench: Gene Robertson, 1919-30; Willy Taveras, 2004-10; Frank Ellerbe, 1919-24; Tom O'Malley, 1982-90; Chris Krug, 1965-69; Rich Renteria, 1986-94

Three Hall of Famers!

OK, the lineup has holes. No real catcher other than a backup. The starting staff is suspect. Trillo is playing out of position. Any team willing to put Willie Taveras in a uniform has issues.

But that's all right.

Think of the combined presents they received on Christmas!


  1. That's actually a really good team when you are considering that that is 1/365 of all major leaguers. I wonder if Christmas is the only day which has three HOFers sharing a birthday?

  2. Not only was Ricky Henderson born on Christmas, he was born in the back seat of a car on the way to the hospital. He always joked about even being born fast! One of the best players in history too!

    I have never held a real 1956 Topps...many 57 and up...never a 56..Hoping for that Christmas miracle!