Skip to main content

Doors closing everywhere


I was ready to put a postscript on my childhood today and then Bob Welch died.

This is tough.

Welch was the first rookie sensation who I was aware of who played for my team. My brother had Fred Lynn. My other brother had Eddie Murray. And then, in October 1978, I had Bob Welch.

A lot of people are remembering Welch for his 27-win season and that '91 Score card that features just a ball and his two fingers. But, to me, Bob Welch will never be an Oakland A. He will always be a Dodger. In all of my memories of him, he is wearing Dodger blue.

Welch is the first person -- before Sparky Lyle, before Jim Bouton (I read those books later) -- who taught me that baseball players are people, too. They have the same hopes and failings as everyone else and there is no one who steps between those white lines who is a golden god of invincibility.


This is the book that told me that (I have the original hardback with the original sleeve).

This book opened my eyes wide -- to baseball behind the scenes, to alcoholism, to general adult behavior. In 1982, Welch could take credit for me growing up.

Ever since he struck out Reggie Jackson in Game 2 of the '78 World Series, Welch has been a favorite of mine. I already wrote that he appears on the best rookie card ever.

This card:


When I started blogging and noticed that others had success requesting autographs through the mail, Welch's name sprung to mind instantly. There are precious few autographs I want, but Welch was one of them.

I wrote to him maybe five years ago. I never heard a response.

But I was fortunate enough to receive an in-person autographed card from Spiegel a couple of years ago. It's one of my favorites. Because it's Bob Welch.


It's rough right now to read about how he's the most recent Cy Young Award winner to be deceased. Hell, it's tough to read that he was 57 -- not because he died at that very young age, although that's rough, too -- but because Bob Welch is not someone in his 50s.

Bob Welch is and always will be just shy of his 22nd birthday, standing on the mound in Dodger Stadium, preparing to gas Reggie Jackson.

RIP, Bob.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And now, if I can, let's address a happier matter.

This is what I was going to write about originally.

The other day I completed the 1982 Topps set. I received the four necessary cards from Max of Starting Nine.


And then I received them a couple days later again from blog reader Marc.


How about that? I completed the 1982 Topps set twice!

But the big momentous news from receiving these cards is that I have now completed all of the Topps sets from my childhood.

From 1974-83, I lived and breathed for baseball cards. The memories from these cards will stay with me forever and are the strongest of any cardboard memories that I have.

And now, those 10 sets are complete:


Here is the order in which I completed them:

1. 1975
2. 1974
3. 1980
4. 1978
5. 1983
6. 1976
7. 1981
8. 1977
9. 1979
10. 1982

After that, I moved into the era of cynicism. I bought complete sets in 1984 and 1985. I didn't care in 1986, 87 and 88. And then I returned to my roots in 1989 before an entire decade-plus of not caring about set completion.

Things would never be the same although I'm trying to get back there again.

That's why even though most of my childhood sets are completed, I'm not done finding cards from that time period or completing sets from then.

My next goal will be to complete some early '80s non-Topps sets, as well as the 1976 SSPC set.

I won't have want lists up for those for quite awhile. But I know which one will be first:


Get ready, 1981 Donruss.

One door closes, another opens.

Comments

My condolences to Dodgers fans of that era.
In the past decade, I have seen ex-Phillies Johnny Callison, Tug McGraw, Robin Roberts, and Jim Fregosi leave us.
He had a lot more career wins than I would have thought. I knew to check out your blog for some nice words.

Great 1981 Donruss. I love the set since it's mostly pictures at Wrigley and Comiskey. I look forward to you counting those for me some day.
Scott Crawford said…
Damn sorry to hear about Bob. Just seems way too soon, though life, of course, happens.

In other, happier news, I have a spare SSPC set just sitting here, waiting for the right trade bait still.
zman40 said…
I was shocked when my dad told me of his passing. Life is too short.

When you get to '81 Donruss, send me a want list. I have a decent stack of dupes sitting around. Maybe you can get me to get on the ball and get that set completed for myself.
Jeff said…
I have that book around here somewhere. Never read it, maybe I will...
Stack22 said…
They had a nice tribute to Bob Welch before the Isotopes game last night.

And not add to the Dodger outfield drama, but Joc Pederson should be starting in center field in LA, not Albuquerque.
BaseSetCalling said…
I always thought his 81 Topps was a very haunting baseball card.

Popular posts from this blog

Stuck in traffic with Series 2

In the whirlwind that has been my life this month, I found myself going absolutely nowhere for a portion of Thursday afternoon. I was in the middle of yet another road trip, the third one this week. This one was for work, and because it was job-related, it became quickly apparent that it would be a waste of time. The only thing that could save it was a side visit to the nearby Walmart to see if I could spot some Topps Series 2. I found it right away, which was shocking as I was pretty much in the middle of the country, where SUVs share the road with tractors and buggies. Who knew that the Amish wanted Series 2, too? The problem was getting back into civilization to open the contents of the 72-card hanger box I bought. The neighboring village is undergoing a summer construction project smack in the middle of downtown. It's not much of a downtown, but the main road happens to be the main artery in the entire county. Everyone -- and by everyone I mean every tractor trailer ha

Heading upstate

  Back in 1999, Sports Illustrated published an edition at the end of the year rating the top 50 athletes of the century for every state.   As a lifelong Upstate New Yorker, I braced for a list of New York State athletes that consisted almost entirely of downstate natives, that is, folks from the greater NYC area and Long Island.   We Upstaters are used to New York City trampling all over the rest of the state. They have the most people, the loudest voices. It happens all the time. It's a phenomenon unique to this state. Heck, there are still people out there who, when you tell them you're from New York, automatically think you're from NYC. They don't think of cows and chickens when they think of New York. But trust me, there are a lot of cows and chickens in New York State. Especially cows.   So, anyway, when I counted up the baseball players that SI listed as the greatest from New York State, six of the nine were from New York City or Long Island. I was surprised all

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 30-21

  I often call this current period of the television sports calendar the black hole of sports programming. The time between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of televised Spring Training baseball games is an empty void when I'm looking for something to watch on traditional television. I don't watch the NBA and I find the NHL on TV holds my interest for maybe a period. College basketball I can't watch until the tournament. This didn't used to be as much of a problem back when I could turn instead to my favorite sitcoms in February. Do you remember when February was "sweeps month"? (Maybe it still is, I don't know). Networks would make sure that every top show aired original episodes that month, no reruns. So you'd always have something to view during the week even when the sports scene was boring. (I know, people have multiple streaming viewing options now. But I find myself going weeks sometimes before I see something I want to view on Netfli