Big news for a lot of people's card collections yesterday, the Hall of Fame announced the selection of six players for induction.
My collection isn't nearly as exclusive as those that feature only rookie cards of Hall of Famers and such. My collection doesn't focus on Hall of Famers at all actually. I do need to update my "sets with the most Hall of Famers" series greatly now, although I'll wait until the BBWAA vote next month for a new post.
But as far as my collection, it reflects what I think about who has played the game, not who is in the Hall. There has been a lot of greatness, whether they're on a plaque in a building or not. I've written about stuff like this before. In fact, I already voted a bunch of the guys who the Hall picked yesterday into the Hall years ago.
"Small hall/big hall," "stats worthy/not worthy," I don't have time for those debates. What I do have time for is focusing on the players elected and see what's represented in my collection and what I like about those cards.
For four of the elected, I'm going to track the first card of theirs that came into my collection, the most recent card of theirs to make the collection, the most interesting card in my collection, my favorite one and the most notable.
For the other two, I'll just show the cards I have. Bud Fowler and Buck O'Neil don't have many cards. You just saw the one Bud Fowler card I own at the top of the post. Here are the three I have of O'Neil:
Good for the former Kansas City Monarch, who came into the public consciousness, for a lot of people anyway (including me), during the Ken Burns "Baseball" documentary in the '90s.
OK, now for the other four, saving the best for last.
FIRST: 1975 Topps Mini
Mini card shown alongside regular-sized card for perspective.
The mini Kaat was pulled during that first year of collecting in 1975. It is a rarity in my current collection as I've never upgraded it unlike the vast majority of the '75 minis pulled that year. I'm not sure why, I guess I figured it was in better condition than the others, but I really should upgrade it.
MOST RECENT: 1988 Pacific Legends (I think)
Some of these "most recents" will be guessing games as, with the exception of Gil Hodges, I have not focused on getting cards of all of the other elected specifically.
The Jim Kaat '88 Legends card arrived with a bunch of others in a package from reader Jonathan in June of 2019. In fact, two of the other Pac-Legend cards are Class of 2022 Hall of Famers as well!
Now you know why I like these legends sets so much.
MOST INTERESTING: 1973 Topps
One of the greatest cards of the 1970s -- it made my '70s Top 100 cards countdown -- particularly because this card came out the very year that the designated hitter was enacted in Major League Baseball. And in what I choose to believe is commentary on MLB's pending decision to rid all pitchers of the joy of hitting, the Hall has selected a noted hitting pitcher into the Hall.
FAVORITE: 1983 Fleer
I've always liked this shot of Kaat being interviewed by an ESPN reporter during the earliest days of ESPN, love that logo. It foretells Kaat's future as broadcaster.
MOST NOTABLE: 1965 Topps
The famed "KATT" goof that was never corrected by Topps, preventing legions of unscrupulous dealers from hiking the cost of either the corrected or uncorrected version (heck they probably still do simply because it's an error).
FIRST: 1977 Topps Record Breaker
The Bill Veeck stunt to get Minnie Minoso into the four-decade club is commemorated by this card.
The most interesting part for me is how when I saw this card in 1977, Minoso looked so old. Ancient, in fact. Then you turn over the back and read that he was 53 years old and ... that's it, I'm too depressed to continue this post.
MOST RECENT: 1954 Bowman
My most-recent Minoso card is either this '54 Bowman or the '56 Topps card. I'm too lazy to figure out when the '56 Minoso arrived (but not too lazy to dig out all these cards and do some of the other research).
This Minoso -- one of the few '54 Bowmans I own that is not a Dodger -- showed up in October 2019 from reader R.C. I have the best readers.
MOST INTERESTING: 1992 Bazooka Quadracard
These 1992 Bazooka "quadracards" are actually pretty annoying, but you get a lot of '50s star power on each one. It's the only example of Minoso showing up in my Dodgers binders.
FAVORITE: 1956 Topps
In most cases, if the the player appears in the 1956 Topps set, it will be my favorite.
This card was actually in my hand and about to be purchased during a card show six years ago. But then I decided finding 1972 high numbers was more important and I put the card back. Later that night, a deer ran into my vehicle as punishment for passing up on a Minnie card. But it's all smoothed over now as I've completed both the '72 and '56 sets.
MOST NOTABLE: 1957 and 1959 Topps
These cards showed up in a selection of old cards from the '50s and '60s that had been laminated. So, yeah, I have the '57 and '59 Minoso cards and they're in really great shape. But, uh ... about that shine.
FIRST: 1976 Topps
The first Tony Oliva card to arrive in my collection was also the final one of his career. He was exiting just as I was arriving as a fan. I liked this card a lot, and although the same things that I thought would make it cool seem positively ancient by today's standards -- I enjoyed the shadow across the face and the tight close-up -- it will never stop being awesome. More so now, in fact.
MOST RECENT: 1970 Topps Batting Leaders
This card arrived over the summer in a trade with Twitter pal and former blogger, Don. I'm sure it's been a little bit of a toughie to acquire because of the presence of Hall of Famer Rod Carew. Now there are TWO Hall of Famers on the card (and I'd argue there should be three). Glad I got one last summer!
This might be one of the most familiar Tony Oliva cards of all of them just because it appeared during the junk wax era -- I know I pulled this card at least a dozen times in 1989.
But I wonder how many collectors knew that the "card" Topps displays on its TBTC card actually doesn't exist. Much like the Fred Lynn treatment in the 1982 Kmart set, Topps took the picture of Oliva off of his '64 Topps card, which he shared with fellow prospect Jay Ward and turned it into a solo Oliva card. Oliva's first solo card wouldn't show up until 1965.
FAVORITE: 1974 Topps
Well, my favorite will always be the '76 Topps card because it was first, but in the interest of providing a variety of cards, I'll go with his '74 card, which shows Oliva's powers of standing upright while the entire world behind him is sliding out of the picture.
MOST NOTABLE: 1966 Topps
This card is most notable for me as it's one of the ones I "stole" for 7 cents at a card show seven years ago. You might remember the '61 Maris I got in the same stash and have bragged about too often. Also, there was another card that arrived for 7 cents at that time:
I wonder if that dealer is kicking himself right now?
FIRST: 1975 TCMA All-Time Dodgers
The first Gil Hodges card I owned was an oddball set produced by TCMA that I ordered through a catalog when I couldn't have been more than 12 or 13.
It is the first complete set I ever owned, at a modest 12 cards, and I have treasured it for a long time. This picture of Hodges would be used many times, but this is the first time I saw it.
MOST RECENT: 2021 Panini Absolute, Power insert
More on this later, but for now this odd 2021 Panini card, received over the summer, is my most recent Gil Hodges card. I have 79 Gil Hodges cards, which doesn't seem nearly enough for a player of his caliber, but it's more than all of the other Class of 2022 players combined.
I'm just not accustomed to seeing Gil Hodges amid a bunch of lightning bolts. (Also, there is nothing except the same photo and more lightning bolts on the back. I did go to the gilhodges.com site referenced and the web bosses might want to update the site with the latest news!)
MOST NOTABLE: 1990 R&N China The Hamilton Collection
To this day this is the only porcelain card in my collection. It's bizarre, yet incredibly pleasing at the same time. And part of the pleasing part is I own the card on which it is based.
You can use the R&N "card" as a coaster, but I wouldn't recommend it with '54 Topps Gil.
FAVORITE: 2001 Upper Deck Legends Of New York
I have so many favorite Gil Hodges cards in my collection that I could showcase a different favorite every month of the year. I also could boast until Maury Wills finally gets in the Hall about my 1952 Bowman Hodges and my 1955 Bowman and my 1956 Topps and my 1957 Topps, blah, blah, blah.
But sometimes you just need the awesome power of a guy standing with seven or eight bats. Because someday they're going to let him walk to the plate with all of those.
MOST NOTABLE: 1957 Topps Dodgers' Sluggers
The Dodgers' Sluggers cards is one of the greatest Dodgers cards ever made. Now it's even greater with three of the four sluggers Hall of Famers. I doubt we'll ever see Furillo in the Hall but when did we ever think some of those other guys would be Hall of Famers?
I am not ever going to say the Hall of Fame has become a "Hall of Very Good" or anything like that. I think the exclusive attitude is a bit much, feeds the Hall of Fame hype beast, and favor more the approach of anyone who made a significant impact on the game being recognized.
My opinions on Hodges' qualifications have been spoken. There's no question he was overdue (he was one vote away almost 40 years ago!). And I was thrilled that his name was announced Sunday. I was so happy that I went out and got my new "most recent" Hodges card.
This is not the exact card but it is in similar condition and it has shipped!
This '53 Bowman Hodges has been sitting in my ebay cart for weeks, looking for an excuse to be purchased. I couldn't think of a better one than Hodges finally being honored by the Hall. So I bought it.
The Dodgers will be retiring No. 14 now and I'll be looking forward to that and next summer's induction ceremonies.
Good things. All good things. Don't let anybody tell you different.