The moment has arrived. Have you ever wondered what some random collector thinks are the best Dodger cards in his collection? Have you ever wanted that random collector to assemble them in order and count them down?
Well, you might be as disturbed as that random collector, but I am here to serve you. This is the beginning of The Best Dodger Cards Ever Made Countdown.
A few words before the countdown begins. As mentioned before, I am including only Dodger cards in my collection. Why would I count down cards I don't have? Cards I don't have are automatically less great.
Also, my criteria for making the countdown isn't very strict, but there are reasons why I chose certain cards. Card image is important. Card set is somewhat important. Perspective is important. For example, if the card is a player's rookie card, did the player go on to achieve something notable? Did the card seem unimportant at the time, but looking back, grow in importance?
A card that is unlike any other card is important, too. A card that commemorates a moment is also notable. What was going on at the time in baseball, with the team or with the player? That plays a part in the greatness of a card, too.
Mojo factor is not important. A card can have seven signatures on it, but it probably looks like crap. So unless I find something uniquely special about a "hit" card, it's not going on the countdown. A piece of cloth or a signature doesn't make the card great.
OK, so that actually is quite a few rules. But I didn't use charts or graphs or calculations on this. Much like the way Don Mattingly or Joe Girardi manages, I am going by "feel." I'm sorry if that makes you groan, but it's my countdown, my blog, my cards, my free time. I do what I want.
Also, I reserve the right to change the countdown at any time. I will be acquiring great Dodger cards in the future, I'm sure, and if that acquisition belongs on the countdown, I will be updating it with an update post.
Finally, I am breaking up these Dodger Countdown posts at 10 cards apiece. And I will be not be featuring the countdown consecutively -- meaning this won't be an entire week of countdown posts. I will be spacing them out much like my other regular features, basically so the whole thing doesn't bore me.
Yup, this thing is all about me.
The countdown begins now:
100. Tim Wallach, 1994 Stadium Club
A card that has appeared on this blog a couple of times already, and was once featured in my blog header. This card is here solely for the intrigue of a photo taken in an underground batting practice facility. I am sure there are other cards like this, but this is the first one I saw and it's a terrific shot. The No. 52 patch memorializing departed pitcher Tim Crews adds a somber air to the photo.
99. Maury Wills, 1977 Topps, Turn Back The Clock subset
The first of several moment-in-time cards in the countdown and a sick scoreboard card. The card commemorates Wills' former season-stolen base record with the actual photo of Wills' 104th stolen base, achieved against the Giants. Great action. Great stuff.
98. Dodger Blue. World Champs, 1989 Fleer '88 World Series set
I'll get it out of the way right now. This is a crappy photo. I count the back of eight heads. ("Everybody wanna be in the picture? Get up and go to the other side of the table!") But the problem is that Topps shafted the Dodgers after almost every World Series win. No World Series subset in 1966 Topps (for the first time in seven years!!!). None in 1982 Topps. None in 1989 Topps. So this '89 Fleer offering is the first card to recognize a Dodger Series championship since the 1964 Topps set. I'll take what I can get.
97. Eric Gagne, 2000 Bowman Chrome
I believe Gagne's rookie card is the 1999 Fleer Tradition Update card (I don't follow rookie cards closely). It's a card I don't have. But somewhere along the line while I wasn't collecting cards, Bowman Chrome became THE rookie card to have. This is Gagne's first BoChro and that's good enough for me. Gagne gets a lot of flack for his confessed HGH use, as he should. But I still am not convinced it had anything to do with his amazing save streak and that's why this card is here.
96. Chan Ho Park, 1999 Stadium Club
You know me. I love quirky. I love bubble gum. Who knew Chan Ho could be so wacky? He seemed so uptight when he was with the Dodgers. This card breaks all kinds of barriers and makes me smile every time I see it. It's the best Park card of many, many, many Park cards.
95. Steve Finley, 2004 Fleer Ultra
Let's not be coy. This card is here because of the giant picture of Fernando's head. But the juxtaposition of the Valenzuela wall photo with Finley's posed "fantastic catch" is both odd and tremendous at the same time. It's nothing ever seen before and that's good enough for the countdown.
94. Johnny Podres, 1994 Upper Deck Heroes
There are plenty of great Johnny Podres cards, some of which you'll see on the countdown. And everyone has seen the Brooklyn Bums celebrating their long-awaited 1955 World Series title in archival film footage over and over. But until this set, the Dodgers' celebration hadn't been captured on cardboard to my knowledge. How unfortunate. And how nice of Upper Deck to right a wrong ... and add a floating head to tie it all together.
93. Raul Mondesi, 1992 Leaf Rookies
Mondesi's rookie cards, I believe, are his 1991 offerings. I have those cards. But I think this is the best of Mondesi's early cards because it captures the amazing promise that he offered at this time. Mondesi was the most naturally gifted baseball player to ever wear the Dodger uniform during my time as a Dodger fan. He could do it all -- a true five-tool player -- in the most exciting way possible. This card captures those expectations for me.
92. Jim Wynn, 1975 Topps
When your team makes a trade for a big-name player, it's a big day. As a collector, your mind goes immediately to that player's future first card in your team's uniform. The moment when you pull the card of that player is one of the greatest collecting moments ever. Unfortunately, I didn't get to pull this card of Wynn, an All-Star and Comeback Player of the Year in his first year with the Dodgers in 1974. But I coveted it for a long time, just because it was Wynn's First Card As A Dodger (Traded cards didn't count back then). Also, look at that crazy smile and them sideburns.
91. Pedro and Ramon Martinez, 1993 Fleer, SuperStar Special subset
Long before Pedro Martinez became part of Red Sox Nation lore, he was known as Ramon's little brother. It was super-cool to have both of them on a baseball card together. Ramon was the ace of the Dodgers at the time, despite some injury woes. Pedro was an up-and-comer, though few envisioned the kind of amazing career that he would have. This is when SuperStar Specials worked especially well. Not that "random players posed together" nonsense. (Plus, the dual blue gloves is awesome).
And that's your first 10.
The cards will get more exciting than this. But don't expect to be blown away. I'm just your random guy with a random collection.
Who likes the Dodgers and doing little countdown shows.