A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.
Have a look at the scene on this card.
It's July. High noon. The sun is baking down on everything.
And there's Johnny Bench. He's either upset because a baserunner slid into home and beat the throw, or he's upset because a young, foolish rookie has just tried to steal second base, and Bench had to gun the poor kid down.
I like that second scenario better. Bench is surrounded by the dust that he himself kicked up during the throw. The glare is cast toward the other members of the rookie gang, and it says it all:
Don’t you ever try that again.
It's hard to deny that you're looking at a gunslinger on this card. In fact, if you swapped out that baseball uniform for a wild west getup and airbrushed out that metal fence behind him, Johnny Bench would look like a sheriff walking the streets of a Wild West town. He's the guy in the white hat. Protecting the townsfolk. The young rookie still lies there in the dirt at second base, and in the quiet that follows, you can almost hear Bench's spurs jingling as he silently walks back toward home plate.
Even the name Johnny Bench sounds like it could be a sheriff's name.
As for his baseball career, I don't think I need to list many of Mr. Bench's accomplishments here because they're so well known. World Series rings, All-Star appearances, Gold Gloves, MVP awards. Then there were the TV show appearances and commercials.
And the baseball card above really sums it up. You just can't mess with that guy.
For pairing up a legendary player with a legendary piece of cardboard, 1976 Topps #300 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.