A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.
Who else loves afternoon games?
To me, the fresh-cut grass smells better, the crowd feels more lively, the hot dogs taste better. Many would say it's simply baseball as it's meant to be. And I get all of that when I look at the 1981 Topps card of Manny Trillo above.
Put yourself in that ballpark and activate all your baseball senses. Fresh-cut grass, hot dogs, sunny afternoon, everything.
Now the batter has just hit a bloop toward short right field, and the crowd is holding its collective breath. Will it fall for a base hit? Will it?
With three-time Gold Glove winner Manny Trillo roaming the area, the likely answer is no.
Just look. He's about to flip down his shades, turn back, and give chase. I think he's got a pretty good bead on it.
And why wouldn't he? Trillo had some of his best years around that time. Along with the 1980 World Series championship and three Gold Gloves ('79, '81, and '82), you can add two Silver Slugger awards ('80 and '81) and three All-Star nominations ('81, '82, and '83).
As for a best overall season, you might look to 1980. He went .292 at the plate with a career-high 155 hits, 25 doubles, and 219 total bases. In addition, he was the MVP of the NLCS that fall, driving in 4 runs and going 8-for-21 at the plate for a nifty .381 average.
Mr. Trillo's fielding was solid that season too, leading the NL in putouts and finishing second in assists. And if it weren't for Doug Flynn of the Mets snagging the Gold Glove award for NL second basemen, Trillo would have added even more 1980 hardware to his trophy case. (Trillo topped Flynn handily in games played, putouts, assists, and double plays turned that year, but Flynn edged out Trillo in fielding percentage and committed fewer errors.)
Regardless, Trillo's Gold Gloves in '79, '81, and '82 were certainly enough to show who the real stud was.
And for wielding that glove like a stud on a classic sunny afternoon at the ballpark, tracking down just about everything hit to you—in a powder blue uniform no less—1981 Topps #470 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.