It's interesting how athletes from the past are remembered and whether they remain in the public conscious or not.
Hall of Fame players usually survive in baseball conversations long after they've played because they've been immortalized in Cooperstown. Then there are players who didn't reach the Hall but were still very good and somehow, some way, are still remembered.
Players like Dick Allen, Rusty Staub, Vida Blue and Mickey Rivers live on decades later as younger generations pick up on their legacies. Then there are all-stars like Bert Campaneris, who almost never get discussed anymore.
There is just one memory of Campaneris that younger fans most assuredly know. I don't even need to mention it. You know what's coming, even if Lerrin LaGrow didn't.
But there was much more to Campaneris than one momentary loss of reason.
A couple of months ago, when watching old baseball games on youtube hadn't gotten old yet, I was watching a World Series game from 1974, the Dodgers vs. the A's. Campaneris was the starting shortstop for Oakland at the time and there he was on my TV screen.
Then, days later, I dialed up the Pine Tar Game, between the Royals and Yankees, in July 1983. Leading off for the Yankees? There he was again, Bert Campaneris.
Then, I found a random baseball game between the White Sox and Angels. I think it was from 1980. I started watching it and who was bunting away for the Angels? Bert Campaneris!
This guy was everywhere!
My observation was appropriate because that was Campy. He WAS everywhere. And it showed on baseball cards, too.
Campaneris appears four times in the 1974 Topps set. Keep in mind, this was long before the days of throwing five different cards of the same player in the same set to feed the player-collector itch. But he's in the set ...
... with a base card ...
... an All-Star card ...
... one of the greatest night cards of all-time ...
... and a second World Series card, the Game 7 card no less.
Yet while the A's of that era -- think Reggie, Vida, Blue Moon and Catfish -- are featured in collections of collectors who weren't even alive for the Swingin' A's, Campaneris remains forgotten.
Look. He made Game 7 World Series cards in consecutive years! This one even features his name in the caption. I'm telling you, this guy was everywhere.
Campaneris thrived in an era of scrappy ballplayers. Even after he had left the A's behind and was getting on in years, bunting for hits remained a regular part of his game. He stole 649 bases in his career and led the league in stolen bases four successive years in the '60s.
I couldn't avoid him when I was collecting cards as a kid.
This was the second All-Star card that I saw when I was buying those packs in 1975, coming only behind the Steve Garvey.
Both of those All-Star cards I pulled in mini form. And for that reason, the regular-size Campaneris card will always look strange to me.
It's quite the distinctive photo, showing an apparently happy Campaneris (that shadow makes it tough to tell), casually perched at the end of a spring training dugout. I've said before, this might be the only time this pose has appeared on a baseball card.
This is a more typical Campaneris photo and also one of the first All-Star cards I saw from the 1976 Topps set.
Is Topps telling you that Campaneris liked to bunt here?
I'd say they were.
The arrival of free agency in 1976 broke up the Oakland A's dynasty as players couldn't wait to get away from owner Charlie Finley. Campaneris was no exception, signing with the Texas Rangers and receiving one of the many airbrushed cards in the 1977 Topps set.
It's interesting that Topps gave Campaneris a card number ending in 5 or 0 throughout the 1970s. That's a testament to what '70s baseball followers thought of Campaneris, he certainly left an impression. Topps even went so far as giving Campaneris card number 620 in the 1979 set even though he batted less than .200 in 1978.
Campaneris' skills declined shortly after signing with the Rangers, but he lasted a few more years, then signed with the Angels so he could appear on cards in the '80s. And then he showed up with the Yankees on card in '83 and '84.
Then the Senior League came around at the end of the decade and there was Campaneris again! On cards again!
Then the retro set craze began and Campy started appearing in those sets, too. All-Time Fan Favorites and All-Time Heroes. Super Teams and Swell. Upper Deck Decade and the Ted Williams Card Company.
Campy bunting again.
I used to write a blog series called "Best of the '70s," dedicated to readers voting for the best Topps card of some '70s star. This would be the perfect opportunity to do that with Campaneris, give him a little more acknowledgement.
But my blog isn't that conducive to polls now. I'm not sure if people would go through the effort to find the poll. However, if you want to vote in the comments here, I'll show all of Dagoberto's 1970s Topps cards right now and you can choose which one you like best:
Campaneris actually can't be confined to his '70s cards. He was lucky enough to receive a monster rookie trophy on his 1965 Topps card and he has cards for half that decade, as well as for half of the 1980s.
But somehow we only hear about him once every Oct. 8th, when he threw that bat.