A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.
I miss the days when base runners would try real hard to break up a double play, and the infielder manning second base had to somehow catch the ball, transition it from glove hand to free hand, throw it to first base, and leap over the sliding (or barrel rolling) miscreant all in one quick, fluid motion. Granted, base runners still carry out the "hard slide" in today's game, but not with anything near the frequency and ferocity that once existed.
Enter Mario Guerrero's 1980 Topps card. It's certainly not the earliest to show the action of a double play being turned (for some stunning examples you can go all the way back to 1956 Topps), but it captures the moment in battle perfectly.
Have a look at the Detroit Tiger on the ground. His slide may have been so forceful that it took him completely through the bag. As for Mario Guerrero, the concentration and body control on display is terrific. You can be sure he's going to land on that right foot with the nimbleness of a cat.
And at 5' 10", 155 pounds, why wouldn't Mr. Guerrero be nimble? And agile? And quick? All the qualities you'd want in a middle infielder.
Over the course of an eight-year MLB career, Guerrero played shortstop and second base for Boston, St. Louis, California, and Oakland.
His best numbers came in 1978, when he played close to a full season's worth of games for Oakland (143). He put up 139 hits, 18 doubles, 38 RBI, and a .275 average.
He had pretty good numbers in the field that year as well, racking up 258 putouts, 330 assists, and helping to turn 67 double plays—all career highs, all at shortstop. Those 258 putouts put him in 3rd place in the American League and 5th in the Majors. Not too shabby for a guy who'd never played more than 93 games in a season up to that point.
Thankfully, a couple of years later Topps gave him a great-looking card to back it up.
For that special defensive ability only a middle infielder can display—and for the rugged nature of old-school baseball—1980 Topps #49 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.
Great spotlight of a card that might otherwise be ignored by collectors. I certainly had no idea that Guerrero was as effective as he was, so I learned something for sure. I'll view him differently now if I come across him in a stack of commons!ReplyDelete
Thanks Shoebox! (I learned the same thing about Guerrero while researching this post.)Delete
Nice photo! And those old-school stirrup socks are awesome. Trying to think of the last time I saw a player wear them!ReplyDelete
Agreed, Sumo! It's a pretty sharp uniform all around. Check out the double-stripe sleeves on his jersey.Delete
Maybe stirrups will make a comeback in the majors one day. Last time I wore them was Little League. Heh.
Fantastic card. I recognize the name, but couldn't really tell you anything about him. Now that I've read this post, I can at least tell people he has a great looking card in the 1980 Topps set.ReplyDelete
Right? The card just makes me want to run out to a baseball field on a sunny day with a few friends.Delete
This isn't my favorite era for baseball cards, and therefor haven't gone out of my way to see a lot of cards from these sets, but this one is pretty great, and was new to me.ReplyDelete
A much better effort by Topps on this card, for sure. Especially for the time period!Delete
I totally remember Guerrero. He played on some pretty rotten A's teams. I watched every bit of baseball I could back then, growing up in San Jose, CA, and I can remember the A's being cursed with many ground balls between the legs, and I can particularly remember a really egregious error by Guerrero himself. Great card for sure.ReplyDelete
Oof. Those memories of rotten sports teams do stick around, don't they? But I'm sure you've got some great memories of Rickey being Rickey, too! Thanks for reading, Jay!Delete