Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cardless Moments: Hall of Fame Edition

This is a new feature that I figured I'd roll out tonight, because this is an idea that's been vexing me for a while.

Not everything can be documented. No amount of card-making is perfect. Nothing is complete.

...Poetic, eh?

Sometimes I lie awake at night, thinking about moments in time that were never documented on cardboard. Moments, uniforms, last hurrahs, first awakenings. I know that people that make cards can only do so much to get things on time, or within a quota or something. But sometimes, if something goes in on the 1st of the month, something big could happen on the 2nd that could completely change everything...or just one thing.

This post will talk about some genuine Hall of Fame players, who wore a few different uniforms in their time, one or so in particular that was never truly recorded on a baseball card. Certain eras, such as the 1960's or 70's...or even the current era, where there's either exclusivity or no way of rectifying one set just for one player, or even a lack of photographs, fall victim to this more than others. In the 90's, if you switched teams for a split second, as Mike Piazza did, there would still be a few dozen cards in that uniform. There's a glass display in Cooperstown of Mike Piazza Marlins cards.

So, we're gonna go over some lost moments, players who were never depicted in certain uniforms...and how amazing it would be to see that. I'll start with the 1st one that came to mind:

Willie McCovey as an Oakland Athletic (1976)
A lot of people don't really know about this, but for eleven games near the end of his career, Willie McCovey strapped in for the opposite side of the bay's ball club. It wasn't spectacular, and as McCovey was dealing with some injuries, it wasn't his most memorable season, but it still definitely happened. Even if McCovey didn't hit any of his 500+ home runs there, it still counted, especially as the Athletics were still one of the more important teams of that decade. Again, I don't know how many photographs were taken of Stretch in Oakland, but I think it's worthy of a card, potentially in Archives or something.

Juan Marichal as a Los Angeles Dodger (1975)
Another tiny stint, but it definitely happened. Juan Marichal was at the end of his rope when he suited up for the Dodgers, and even if it lasted 2 games and left him with a bloated ERA, it still was a hell of a sight to see the legendary Giants hurler in the enemy garb. I'm pretty sure there's an oddball release of this, but it wasn't even an action shot. Lack of photos notwithstanding, I'd still like to see this on a card, just because it'd look really weird.

Hank Greenberg as a Pittsburgh Pirate (1947)
This is a classic story: Greenberg, noted for his service to his country during World War 2, did return and played some seasons with his Detroit Tigers. However, the owner discovered that during a pickup game in his Air Force days, Greenberg was spotted wearing a Yankees jersey, mostly because they didn't have any Tigers jerseys on hand. It was an honest mistake, but it cost Hammerin' Hank his employment in the motor city, and he spent his last season on the Pirates. With the exception of an American Pie release, which is debatable in whether or not it counts, this era of Greenberg's career never made it to cardboard, and it's a shame, as unlike many other people on this post, he still had a pretty nice season. It'd be a great addition in Gypsy Queen, or a similar set like that.

Tim Raines as a Montreal Expo (2001)
Before you all go screaming, there are plenty of cards of Rock as an Expo. I know of this fact. HOWEVER...with the exception of a game-used issue in 2001 Topps Update, I haven't seen many pieces of evidence, other than printed fact, that Raines spent his comeback season in 2001 with the Expos. He did end the season playing with his son Tim Jr. on the Baltimore Orioles, and sharing some playing time with fellow Hall of Famer Cal Ripken...and ironically that part WAS depicted on a card, but his Expos time from 2001 is largely missing from the record...even in a card-heavy period like 2001. Not sure what set this would show up in, as they'd all just choose 80's Expos photos, but I'll hold out.

Jeff Bagwell as a Boston Red Sock (1989)
Even if Bagwell never played in an MLB game as a Sock, it's still pretty important, as nobody really thinks of him in a Sox uniform. However, until he landed in Houston in exchange for Larry Andersen, that's exactly the one he wore, albeit in AA. It surprises me that Bowman or a minor league set never got a crack at this one back in the day-perhaps this was before the ultra-prospect card genre kicked into full gear. Maybe a modern Bowman set could tackle this one as a 'Bowman that should have been' subset.'

Rich Gossage as a San Francisco Giant (1989)
Lost in the shuffle of Goose's return to the Bronx was the first half of his season, arguably better, as he had more saves, more strikeouts, and a better ERA. Also, the sight of Goose as a Giant is one I'd really dig seeing, especially before their 1990's full of closers like Dave Righetti, Rod Beck and Robb Nen. This issue never happened, though, even in an era of Donruss or Fleer throwing one out for the hell of it. Would love to see it someday, though.

For right now, I'm capping it, but I'll open it to you: Are there any uniforms or moments in Hall of Fame careers that have never been documented on cardboard that you'd like to see? I'm sure I missed a few good ones, but I wanna know what else is out there.


  1. Interesting topic. The only one I can think of is Harmon Killebrew as a Kansas City Royal. He did play a full season in KC (his last), so I'm sure there are some oddball issues out there.. but I don't recall seeing any.

    1. Killebrew was going to be on this post, but I'm choosing to count his 1976 SSPC issue as a valid issue. I mean, it's technically an off brand oddball, but SSPC are like the Rolls Royces of Oddballs.
      Also, Donruss and Fleer may have put out a few KC-Harmon inserts.

  2. I have been trying to put together a "virtual Frankenset" of Mets players in non-Mets uniforms, and there are two longtime Mets who fit this category. Cleon Jones spent almost all of his career as a Met, but he finished up with a brief run with the White Sox, and no card was ever printed of it, although I've seen an online custom. And John Stearns was a Phillie when he first came up, before joining the Mets, and there's no card of that, either.

  3. I had the '74 traded of Marichal on the Red Sox, and I hate saying this but I do think that the '77 McCovey is him wearing an A's uni - albeit the airbrushed/magic marker treatment that they did back then. What about Chambliss returning to the Yankees for one at-bat in '88, or Willie McGee as a Yankee farmhand. Miss you -- Dad

    1. Yeah, I might have to release a Yankee edition of this post one of these days...mainly because Fred McGriff was a Yankee farmhand and lord knows I don't talk about him enough.