Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pack Eight

Pack 8 +12
406 Von Hayes
224 Charlie Hough
7 Jeff Ballard
322 Mike Scott
276 Dale Murphy
281 Rick Sutcliffe
252 Ed Sprague
164 Randy Bush
196 Walt Weiss
267 Mike Sharperson
145 Glenn Braggs
413 John Smiley

I've been talking a lot about these sweepstakes insert cards, and I think from here on out, when I pull one that I haven't seen before, I'm going to post it and talk a little bit about it.

This is a reprint of a 1951 Bowman Willie Mays rookie card. If you want one that may or may not be the real thing, and have $3,600 burning a hole in your pocket you can pick one up here, or you can buy an autographed copy of the '89 Bowman reprint here for the low low price of $135. $135 may not be a bad price for a Mays auto, I'm not an autograph hound so I don't know what they sell for, but the auction breaks several of my rules of buying success on ebay, so it's not one I'd bid on.

Moving right along.

There's a lot of people who want to see this guy in the Hall of Fame, but is it ever going to happen?

He has an impressive resume: seven All Star selections, five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers and, most importantly, two National League MVP awards (with five more top 25 MVP finishes). He racked up over 2000 hits and close to 400 home runs.

Murphy had a lot of good seasons, and a few very poor seasons. His two statistically worst seasons came ten years apart, in 1978 and 1988. The numbers for those years are remarkable similar: .226/.284/.394 with 23HR and 79RBI in 1978, and .226/.313/.421 with 24HR and 77RBI in 1988. Granted, those were two very bleak years for the Braves, and Murphy lead the team in RBIs both years (ouch). But he also struck out a lot over the course of his career, leading the NL in '78, '80 and '85 (his 1748 career strikeouts are 13th all time).

But when he was going well, he was a great player. Excluding 1981, Murphy put up consistently good numbers between 1980 and 1987, and all seven of his All Star selections came in that period.

Hall of Fame? On June 21, 2008 when opening pack ten of my 1988 Score box, I said yes, I think Murphy is a Hall of Famer. I still think he deserves more consideration than he's been given. Two MVP awards must say something about a player, and while his few poor seasons jump out like a pink flamingo on a lake of swan, he had more good seasons than not.

He received 62 votes for 2009 induction, falling well short at 11.5%. If he gets there, it'll be a struggle like Jim Rice endured. Time will tell.

Here's an interesting card. Notice that all the stat categories on the back are faded out. That's because Kelly had never seen a professional pitch at that point. I wonder where and when this picture was taken. He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the first round of the 1988 amateur draft and signed on June 22. So this picture was taken sometime after June, 1988, possibly in a minor league ball park (though he wouldn't play minor league ball until 1989).

Maybe we'll never know.