(Welcome to the Winter Olympics. They're a pretty big deal around here what being within a couple hours drive of Lake Placid. I'll be watching. Interested sometimes. Bored other times. Confused even more times. And still waiting for baseball. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 198th in a series):
I've started another project. Yup, I know. I've got a whole bunch of other projects going on and I've already whined about how I can't focus enough to pay attention to them all. But I've made a half-hearted effort to return to some of those projects, so there is hope for this one.
Besides, I think it's cool right now. And that's all that matters.
I've always been interested in players who enjoyed just a brief time in the major leagues, especially when it comes to baseball cards, right? And I've always enjoyed focusing on players who have received just a handful of cards, right? Well, the best thing of all is figuring which players have received just one card.
This is my project.
I've begun going through each set and determining the players in each set that received one -- and only one -- card. I call them the "One and Done Players."
By one card. I mean one card. The player can't have appeared on a previous 3- or 4-player rookie card. The player can't have appeared on another set issued at the same time (for example Fleer or Score). The only exception I'll make is minor league cards. They can have all the minor league cards in the world. I won't count it against them.
I'm starting with Topps, because that's what I know best, but I'll probably do this for other brands, too. As for the years, I'm not starting with 1951 or 1952 and working my way forward. I'm starting with the sets that I know the best, which would be cards from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. After that, I may jump around -- sometimes concentrating on a set in the 1960s and sometimes vaulting all the way to 2011.
I do know already that it will be more difficult to find a player with only one card the closer I get to the present. In fact, it may be impossible to find such an animal in the last 20 years or more.
For example, I've already gone through 1980 Topps. In that set, I found seven players that were featured in 1980 Topps and nowhere else.
But then I checked 1981 Topps.
1981 Topps has just one player issued in that set and no other set. There are eight other players whose only Topps card appeared in '81 Topps, but because of the arrival of Donruss and Fleer, most of them also appeared in those sets, too. So they didn't have just one issued card, they had at least two or three.
And that brings me to Denny Lewallyn, whose card you saw at the top.
He is the only player in 1982 Topps set with a card in that set and a card nowhere else. (There are 10 other players in the set whose only Topps card is in 1982 but appear in other sets).
Most of these "One and Done" players are interesting because when they pop up in a set it's someone completely foreign. Tony Brizzolara? Who the heck is he?
But Lewallyn I had heard of before.
He was a Dodgers prospect for a lot of years before he appeared in the 1982 set. Here, look at the back:
I'm sure I was annoyed that he pitched in seven games for the Dodgers in 1979 and didn't get a card, but he pitched for seven games for the Indians in 1981 and did get a card.
But the reason I was familiar with Lewallyn was because of my habit of ordering away for Dodger yearbooks at the time.
Lewallyn was one of those Dodger prospects in the back of the yearbooks. Here is his write-up from the 1977 Dodger yearbook.
I'll bet that picture makes him want to run and hide.
But when I pulled the Lewallyn card from '82 Topps, I chuckled and said, "finally Lewallyn, you have a card."
Just so you know I'm serious about this project, I'll show you the "One and Doners" for 1980, 1981 and 1982 Topps. But I'll save their actual cards for one of my future posts in the series.
Here they are:
#59 - Eddy Putman, Tigers
#72 - Fred Howard, White Sox
#156 - Tony Brizzolara, Braves
#221 - Joe Cannon, Blue Jays
#233 - LaRue Washington, Rangers
#291 - Randy Scarberry, White Sox
#347 - Harry Chappas, White Sox
#491 - Gordy Pladson, Astros
#356 - Denny Lewallyn, Indians
Lot of White Sox so far.
This is one of those projects where I could easily miss somebody. Or easily miss that someone has more than one card. So if you spot one of those people, let me know. I plan to put up a list somewhere on the blog so people can check out the "One and Doners" for as long as this blog lasts.
Let's just hope I can stay with this thing.