Yesterday after work, while strolling through youtube, I came across the first "This Week In Baseball" episode ever aired.
As a diehard TWIB fan in the late 1970s, I watched the episode fully enthralled. The first episode, from May 31, 1977, stuck entirely with highlights and Mel Allen's narration. There were no odes to baseball's funny side, which would later be a hallmark of TWIB. There also were no interviews.
The familiar part of that first TWIB that remained, aside from Allen's voice of course, was a recap of the past week's games, focusing on the most notable teams and events. This initial episode focused on the Dodgers and Reds, the Cubs, the Orioles, and the Red Sox and Yankees, who were a big deal when they faced each other even way back in the '70s.
Allen mentioned that every time the Red Sox and Yankees faced off it was an event, and it had been that way for a long time, ever since he could remember. (I started wondering when exactly did the rivalry start and maintain itself?)
This episode focused on two recent series between the two teams both at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. Among the highlights was a play in which the Red Sox's Butch Hobson barrels over the Yankees' Thurman Munson in a play at the plate, attempting to score the tying run. Munson recovers to tag Hobson out (about 10 feet behind the plate). And TWIB enjoys the action so much that it replays the collision.
That brings me to the winner of the first semifinal in Cardboard Appreciation the Review 4.
Pat Corrales' 1973 Topps card, depicting the aftermath of a collision with Cubs pitcher Fergie Jenkins, won the first semifinal eeeeeeeeeeeeasily. Even Don Mossi didn't have a chance.
The final totals:
1. 1973 Topps Pat Corrales, 39 votes
2. 1956 Topps Don Mossi, 15 votes
3. 1964 Topps Giant Tommy Davis, 6 votes
4. 1974 Topps Mike Schmidt, 5 votes
I totally expected this result. If there is any evidence that fans still love a home plate collision, even as a very vocal segment decries it as barbarity, it's the continued popularity of this card. "Running lanes" can be in effect in baseball for decades and I have a feeling people will still enjoy this card.
Or maybe people like me need to die off, so we can get a more intelligent group of humans in the world.
Anyway ... before going down that road any farther, let's take a look at the unfortunate group of four contending to face off against '73 Corrales in the big Cardboard Appreciation The Review 4 championship.
1. 1970 Topps Jose Laboy
"Coco" has stacked the deck with this card. A shopping cart filled with bats, a giant rookie trophy, a baseball fence and dugout, and a full and complete Expos uniform.
2. 1976 SSPC Joe Hoerner
A worthy contender to the Laboy card. How great would it be to learn that Hoerner isn't even aware he has this hat on his head, that some teammate planted it there carefully in a fit of hijinks?
3. 1972 Topps Traded Steve Carlton
Quite a few Phillies cards made it through to the semifinals, more than any other team.
4. 1976 SSPC Luis Tiant
The second SSPC card to advance to the semifinals. It has just as much character as the Hoerner card.
That is the foursome for the second semifinal. The poll is on the sidebar. You get almost eight full days to place your vote this time around (I'm not competing with the Super Bowl next Sunday). So take a few hours or days to mull it over before you kindly make your decision.
Since every one of the above cards came straight from the '70s, perhaps you would like to watch that first episode of TWIB before voting.
Avert your eyes for the home plate collision if you must.