You thought the countdown was over? It’s never over. I started this countdown with great enthusiasm. I thought that I would find the 72 best Fisk cards, and chronicle them. What I found was that over the countdown I even disagreed with myself. Cards that I thought were great at the beginning lost their value to me even in that short of a time span. Cards like the one to the left that for some reason I like were left off. I really have a soft spot for oddball cards that I haven’t seen too many of. With the internet I have found out that cards that I thought had to be rare really were not. Anyway the countdown is over, and the discussion can begin. What really is the best card of Carlton? I would like to hear some responses to this. I am sure that everyone does not share my memory of a day that would make the ’84 Team Checklist card the most valuable to them. Is it the rookie card? Could it be a relic card? Let me know what card that you like best.
Like I said yesterday. When things slow down, and summer is gone I will start the countdown of the worst Carlton cards. I am not saying that the cards are bad, but sometimes they seemed to catch him in bad positions or at a bad time. I would guess that countdown will be a while in coming. Then again after writing something everyday for this long I may miss the daily typing and start it sooner rather than later. I already have a few in my mind that will more than likely make the cut.
In the next couple of days I will take a look at some cards/sets that I have received during this countdown, but did not want to clutter the site with. I can now get back to some of the daily posting that does not involve Fisk. I am sure though that in some way it will end up involving him. I found a youtube video that I will post below that recaps Carlton’s career. While I was watching it I was laughing at how the moments shown recap the countdown as well.
Today is the last card of the countdown. I know someone is probably saying “That card?” This countdown was never about the most valuable, rare, or fancy cards. Some may have beat out others because of those qualities, but it was always about my favorite Fisk cards. This one tops the list because of how I feel whenever I see it. I have already talked on this blog about my first ever Sox game and how I was able to meet both Fisk and Dotson. This card ever since then has become a reminder of that day. This was part of the first Sox cards that I ever got a hold of as well. I had all of the guys from that 1984 team. I also tried to get the players that were listed on other teams, but actually were on the Sox. Tom Seaver was a great example of this. When I first traded for this card I did so because it was a Sox card, and also because it was a checklist. I started crossing off the players that I had until someone told me that you were not supposed to write on cards. I still have that card in with a partially crossed off checklist on the back.
Going through this countdown I had to leave off a lot of cards that I liked. I never thought that I would find 72 cards worthy of the list. What I found was that I had many more than that. I could have probably done the 144 best cards of Fisk. Maybe I will do a countdown of the worst cards that were produced of him later on.
Two more cards to go. Today’s card is the 1972 Topps Red Sox Rookie Stars card of Carlton. This card was signed with the previous two cards on the countdown. I used to have two of these, but one of them was stolen by someone who was a good friend at the time. Needless to say I do not talk to them anymore. They stole some other cards that were worth some money, but it really burned me that he would take my favorite players rookie card. That one was not signed, but it still meant something to me. I picked this card up at the Shipshawana flea market in Nappannee, Indiana. The guy just had a shoebox full of cards from the seventies very cheap. I picked up this card and the 1978 Topps card from him. Towards the end my collecting days this card went from booking at around $10 to being worth anywhere from $150-$200. Now it is worth about $80 according to the books. It sells for much less on eBay though.
Carlton appears with two other players on this card. The first is Mike Garman. Garman appeared in 303 games in his career over nine years for five teams. Mike pitched for the Red Sox, Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers, and finally the Expos. He was 22-27 in his career with a 3.63 era. Except for a couple of years in the middle of the decade with the Cardinals he just hung on with a few teams to stay in the show. Cecil Coooper is a little more well known. Currently he is the manager for the Houston Astros. His career spanned from 1971-1987. I knew him best as a Brewer because that is where he spent the majority of his time. He was drafted by the Red Sox, but taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Cardinals. In 1971 he was given back to the Red Sox. He played there until after the 1976 season when he was traded to the Brewers for George Scott and Bernie Carbo. He was a five time all-star who did most of his damage in the early 80′s. He was a solid first baseman for the Brewers. The third guy on the card is the one that has been talked about on here for the last month and a half. You might have heard of him.
My guess is that unless you have read this blog and know baseball cards you will never guess the number one card. I would venture to say that you will not guess the card anyway. If you can guess the number one card, you can have one of them. There is a story on the blog that corresponds to the card that sits at #1. I would be shocked if someone guesses it. Like I said though, if you guess it you own it.
We are now to the top 3. Today’s card is the 1973 Topps card of Carlton. He was voted onto the Topps All Rookie team so he has the trophy in the bottom left hand corner of his picture. This card was also signed by Carlton at the same card show as the #4 on the countdown. He not only won the Topps Trophy, but won the rookie of the year for his 1972 season. He was the first unanimous selection for the award. He also won the gold glove that season. With all of these awards just from his rookie season you would expect that everyone predicted great things for Pudge. Actually early in his career people thought that he was injury prone, and would not last. It must have been interesting for them to see him play all the way through 1993.
Okay earlier in the countdown I said that no other regular issue cards from 1985 would show up on the countdown. That clears the way for this one. It is a 1985 Donruss Leaf card of Pudge. I bought this card at a card show in 1986, and Carlton signed it that day. My dad bought me four tickets for Carlton, and two for Mike Boddicker who was also at the show. This was probably the best card for me to have him autograph. It has a large space on it much like a picture does. This was the second time that I had met my hero in person. I have an 8×10 that was also signed on that day. Of course it is an upper body shot of Carlton and what uniform do you think he is wearing. That’s right it is the pajama uniform from the early 80′s. I might have foreshadowed this card a little in an earlier post. I will try not to foreshadow any more cards. That sort of takes all of the fun out of what the next card will be. Half of the fun is trying to guess what card it will be. I will tell you that the next card is definitely a trophy winner.
Here we are. The top 5 cards. It seems like I have been doing this for months. Wait, I have been doing this for months. Today’s card is the 1974 Topps card of Carlton. It shows him getting ready to defend the plate. In a previous post I explained how he was hurt in 1974 blocking the plate. In his early days Carlton had some collisions at home plate that exemplify the Red Sox – Yankee rivalry. In 1973 Thurman Munson bowled over Fisk at the plate on a suicide squeeze play, and a bench clearing brawl broke out. Carlton slammed Thurman into the ground to start the affair. Both men were ejected from the game. Gene Michael (A former Cub manager) sucker punched Fisk, but was not ejected from the game. Fisk and Munson went toe to toe, and they hated each other from that day until the day that Munson died. Three years later Lou Pinella (the current Cubs manager) bowled over Carlton. Fisk hung on to the ball and Pinella was called out. Pudge had just come back from a couple of series injuries so he took exception to the move by Lou. He swung at Lou with the ball still in his hand. Another bench clearing brawl broke out. Bill Lee the Red Sox pitcher separated his shoulder in the incident. The Yankees – Red Sox rivalry turned ugly for the rest of the seventies. It seems that past and present Cub managers had a hand in these affairs. I wonder if Jim Frey ever had a run in with Carlton?
This card is great. It was great back when it came out, and it is great today. This is the 1990 Upper Deck special card with the label “ground breaking” at the bottom. At the time I always assumed that Carlton was showing Robin Ventura some features of the new ballpark. They were in their uniforms from the Turn Back the Clock game that was played in the old stadium. Knowing what I know now I think Carlton was really showing Robin where his statue was going to be in the outfield. I think that he was saying “In fifteen years they will have a likeness of me out there.” Either that or he is showing Robin where to run if Nolan Ryan ever came back to town. I guess one more possibility was that they were trying to find out where the shots were coming from. I would guess the first, but it could have been any of the three.
The Score company has not been well represented on this list. This is one of my favorite cards though. It is the 1991 Record Breaker card of Carlton. It shows him embracing his son Casey shortly after passing the home run record for a catcher. He hit the home run off of Charlie Hough of the Texas Rangers. Home run number 328 was a big deal, but I always liked the way he celebrated the feat. His son traveled with him once he was close so that he could witness the event. He wore the Sox uniform and sat in the Sox dugout. I loved the fact that Carlton thought enough of his kid to have him with them, and that the Sox organization let it happen. The Topps card had a stock picture of the event. I like the Score card because they found the emotional part of the day.
The record is no longer Carlton’s. It was broken in 2004 by Mike Piazza. Even though the record is not his I still like this card.
Card #8 on the countdown is the 1982 Topps In Action card of Carlton. How bad does your photography have to be for you to need to single out cards that have action in them? This picture is a home run though. It shows Carlton in the good uniform from the time period sprawling out to catch a ball. This is a great card that I have liked since I first picked it up. This is one of the first regular issue Topps cards of Carlton. They got off to a good start.
A side note: I received one of those gift packs as a kid that had cards of all different varieties, but no stars in them one year for Christmas. On the back of a Reggie Cleveland card from this set was the back of this card. A misprint more than an error it is one of the oddball cards in my collection.
I think that when I started this countdown everyone knew that this card would be on it. It is of course another card from the back of a Fleer set from the eighties. It may be the most well known of them all. It is the Steve & Carlton card. Or if you prefer the Carlton & Fisk card. I have always liked this card just because of the fun that they had with the names. For some reason they decided to shoot the pair from across the stadium in an awkward pose, but the message still gets across.
Earlier in the countdown I explained how much I like the away uniforms from this time period. Now I would like to explain my position on the home uniforms. Carlton really looks as if he may be going to workout, or is going to bed. That all white uniform really looks bad. It has not aged well over the years either. I guess that it was worth a try.