A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.
You know what I see when I look at the man on this baseball card?
Swagger. That's what I see.
Just look at Eddie Murray's posture in the main photo. His body language. It exudes confidence.
No matter who the pitcher might have been that day, I feel like he had absolutely no chance to throw his next pitch past Mr. Murray. Look at the card again and you'll see a man who's not shrinking back from his assignment. It's almost as if he's asking for the pitcher's best.
Come on, challenge me with that fastball.
And this isn't Murray's first piece of cardboard swagger. Just look at the pose he's striking on his 1981 Topps card. His 1985 Fleer card isn't bad, either.
I started to wonder how much of this was "natural Eddie swagger".
Well, I did some research and looked at a bunch of photos, and I've come to the conclusion that he had it all along. For example, just look at this picture from Locke High School, California, in 1973.
There's young Eddie on the right. The way he's standing and holding that bat in his right hand confirms it for me. The guy just had confidence in his game from the start. He's challenging you to throw a pitch past him. Yes, YOU. Right now. Come on. Get a baseball and stand on that mound and try it. (By the way, his teammate on the left? Just a guy named Osborne Earl Smith.)
And there's something I really enjoy about watching an ultra-talented athlete who radiates this sort of energy. It's not rude energy, or disrespectful energy, or cocky energy. It's just that even when they're standing around, or getting into their batting stance like Eddie Murray is on that 1983 Topps card above, you know there's potential for something special to happen at any moment. So maybe you watch more attentively. Because you like to see talent applied. And that guy is about to apply some talent.
Mr. Murray, as you likely know, did apply that talent quite well across his MLB career. He finished with 500+ home runs and 3,000+ hits (the only switch-hitter to accomplish the feat), won a World Series with the Orioles in 1983, and was an 8x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger, and 3x Gold Glove winner. Don't forget about the Rookie of the Year award in 1977, just a few short years after he struck that confident pose with Ozzie Smith.
And for a confidence and swagger so strong that it might even radiate off a baseball card and give you a little swagger of your own, 1983 Topps #530 has a place in my box of favorite cards.