Sunday, October 1, 2017
'56 of the month: Gus Bell
Gus Bell's card is here for one reason and one reason only. He is card No. 162 in the 1956 Topps set.
He is among the better players to receive card number 162 in a Topps set. Some other notables: Gil Hodges was No. 162 in 1958 Topps. Bob Gibson's excellent World Series card commemorating him striking out 17 batters is card No. 162 in the '69 Topps set. The '72 Brewers rookie stars in which Darrell Porter is misidentified is No. 162. And Ozzie Canseco's first card is No. 162 in 1991 Topps.
But in general, 162 doesn't mean as much in baseball cards as it does in baseball.
Today, every team has completed its 162-game schedule, save for the Angels and Mariners, who played just 161. The season is now over for the Angels and Mariners, as well as the Orioles and Rays, the Tigers, Blue Jays and White Sox, the Royals, A's and Rangers. And the Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Pirates, Brewers, Reds, Cardinals, Padres and Giants.
Bell, shown making an excellent open-field stab, played for four of those eliminated National League teams, the Reds, Mets, Pirates and Braves.
He is now known as the patriarch of one of baseball's three-generation families, the grandfather of David and Mike and the father of Buddy.
But in his day, he was simply a pretty fine ballplayer.
Can you imagine being the first in your team's history to drive in 100 runs when the team had been around for more than 70 years already?
This was one of those 1956 Topps cards that I received as a youngster from my father's co-worker. I've mentioned before that most of the big stars of that time were not in the group of cards we received. Mid-level stars like Gus Bell were the best that we received.
Still, I treated cards like this one and Enos Slaughter with respect. They were the kings of the cards that I had.
Bell never played in 162 games in a season. He saw only one postseason in his career, going 0-for-3 for Cincinnati in the 1961 World Series.
But he is how I'm kicking off this postseason.
Welcome Dodgers, and you other nine teams, to the Stress Season.