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Cardboard convincing

I was looking through cards recently when something drew my attention and I thought, "that's a post." Maybe it wasn't a great post, but it was something a little bit interesting to me, and those are all the qualifications here.
Through my many years of being a Dodgers fan, my favorite catcher to wear Dodger blue during that time is not Mike Piazza. It is Mike Scioscia.
Scioscia was not the hitter that Piazza was, few catchers are. But he arrived during a more impressionable time in my rooting history -- my only experience with Dodger catchers up until that time was the light-hitting Steve Yeager. Plus Scioscia, unlike Piazza, can say he contributed some key hits to a Dodgers' World Series championship cause.
But Scioscia's most apparent skill was on defense, calling pitches and particularly the lost art of blocking the plate from oncoming runners. I was gaining an appreciation for the defensive side of the game during those early '80s, so Scioscia was noted.
Also, I think I was convinced by cardboard.
I don't think I ever realized until a couple weeks ago that Mike Scioscia's first five solo Topps cards are all catching shots.
Take a look at these beauties:

That is 1982 through 1986. How's that for your first five cards? Topps wants you to know that HE. IS. A. CATCHER.

I'm sure I noticed this subconsciously and it may have translated to me deeming him my favorite catcher. I do have a history of letting cards dictate my favorites, you know. And cardboard is not alone in this. I'm sure fans have chosen favorite players during their childhood based on posters or video games or TV shows.

Topps' habit of showing Scioscia in catching gear ended in 1987.

This would've been a shock to my system, if I was even collecting in 1987.

In 1988, it was another batting shot. Maybe this was his power source against the Mets that year! But from here on out, there were no streaks for Scioscia and Topps, just a mix of offense and defense.

Quite the way to go out.

I feel like I'm ignoring the other card companies that were around during Scioscia's playing days, so here's a selection of more Scioscia = Catcher cards.

Lots of good stuff there, maybe the best example of Scioscia's cardboard power is that his '91 Fleer card is one of the few times I've praised '91 Fleer.

I like this one, too. The black gold version, of course, not that boring silver thing Leaf kept putting out in the early '90s.

Another nice one.

If I take into account all of the Dodgers catchers in history, Roy Campanella is my favorite. But I never saw him play, so I can't say that with 100 percent certainty. It will probably always be Scioscia. I've moved past the period where I can select new favorite players I think. 

Oh, it helps that the team he managed beat the Giants in the World Series.


There is a new post up on the Upper Deck blog.

Also in other updating news, 1970 Nolan Ryan is free!


Nick Vossbrink said…
When I was a kid I remember Scioscia kept being listed as the toughest catcher in blocking the plate and holding on to the ball during a collision.
1984 Tigers said…
Night owl,

I believe the early 90s UD card with Sojo from Angels at home plate must have been from the freeway series or whatever they called the two preseason closing games played home and away in Anaheim and Dodger Stadium.

One of the mid 80s card with the batting helmet on the ground looks like vs the Expos.

Why was the Ryan graded only a 3. Looks pretty darn nice!
These cards were from the peak of my childhood collecting years (was 10 in 1986), so remember these years well. He definitely had a reputation as being one tough dude!
Old Cards said…
These look really nice lined up by year. So glad to see Nolan released. I am not a fan of those cases!
Anonymous said…

I remember returning home to Detroit via three days of driving from my final engineering internship in Houston in late summer 1985. One night at my hotel, I saw the highlights of Expos pitcher Joe Hesketh, who is from night owls neck of the woods, break his leg sliding into home plate with Mike S catching. Joe was having a fine career until that ill-fated slide. Poor guy had 6 career hits and 10 career walks over a 10 year career but was never quite the same after that slide.
Chris said…
That '83 Fleer Scioscia is a great card. Don't think I've ever seen that before.

I can definitely understand why you'd favor him over a pure power hitter like Piazza, and not just due to timing - although that surely helped. He was certainly a gamer, handled pitchers well, and could hit pretty well for a catcher of his era. "Old school" is probably the easiest way to describe him.

Also, it's good to see Nolan out of prison. And I say that as a collector of slabbed vintage.

Vrooomed said…
First of all, so happy to see the Ryan card "breathing" fresh air again. (I have broken out about a dozen "imprisoned" cards myself.)

I only briefly met Mike Scioscia during Spring Training 1990 or 1991 in Vero Beach. We picked up a bunch of baseballs that had been hit out of one of the practice fields, and after distributing a bunch to people with kids (we literally had armfuls), I asked Juan Samuel to sign a ball (told him we still missed him in Philly, he smiled and said thanks) and asked Scioscia to sign a ball. I still have both of them. Both players were very nice to me and the other fans who sought their autographs. I can certainly understand your fandom of Scioscia. Good guy and solid player. Also, a darn good manager.
GCA said…
Trendy flipper/collectors were just drawn in by the Scioscia story and then shuddered in horror at the end.

Card Liberators Unite!
Don said…
I really like the 83 Fleer card. For some reason I think 83 Fleer is one of the better looking sets of the 80s.

I just noticed that the 87 and 88 Topps cards look like they were taken during the same at bat.
Nick said…
Never noticed this before - Scioscia does seem to have more cards that show him catching than most other catchers out there. I'd be interested to see how his "catching percentage" stacks up against other catchers on cardboard.

(His '83 Fleer has long been a favorite of mine.)
Doc Samson said…
I have always appreciated photos of catchers “catching” on any card, regardless of the card brand. One of my all time favorite cards is the 1976 Topps card of Johnny Bench. With all that dust swirling around Bench’s legs, he looks like a superhero. Thanks, Mr. Owl.
Fuji said…
Scioscia's Topps run is pretty impressive. Not a single card I'd classify as boring or bad. His 1991 Fleer and 1993 Score cards are nice too. But my favorite is his 1983 Fleer card.