Ah yes, Jason Giambi. Prior to 2002, he was the long haired, bearded, scruffy, team leader and most visible player on the Oakland Athletics. For a team that was considered small market, the A's sure knew how to draft players and have them create an immediate impact. Think of the guys that even were on that 2001 Athletics team. I just have to say their last name, and you know how great a player he is: Dye, Damon, Tejada, Chavez, Hudson, Zito, Mulder, and not one, but two J. Giambi's. The A's had a plethora of future All-Stars on their roster in 2001, and this team could have won their division, had not the Mariners won more than 102 games in the same season. Relegated to being the Wild Card team, they had the daunting task of facing the reigning AL Champion NY Yankees. After winning the first two games at Yankee Stadium, the A's needed just one win in Oakland to move on to the AL Championship round. Sadly, they lost both games at home, and were soundly defeated in game 5. The Yankees moved on, and the A's were left to wonder what could have been.
The big offseason signing before the 2002 season was Jason Giambi to the Yankees. There was a catch though. Not only was he the man who was to help bring the Bombers back to the WS, he was going to be the man to help them win it all. But before he could put on the suit, there was a matter of grooming. You see, the Yankees at this time, had a policy of no facial hair or long hair. Which meant that Jason had to have a shave and a hair cut (which in NY, costs more than two bits). The press conference introducing the new Bronx slugger to the NY media was very memorable. For the first time in probably many years, Jason Giambi had short hair, and he was clean shaven.
Jason played for the Yankees from 2002 to 2008, and needless to say, there were lots of highs and lows in his NY career. He did help them back to the WS, only to lose to Florida in 2003. The team made it into the playoffs for the first five years of his tenure, only to lose series after series. And after the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1996, the Yankees decided to part ways with their Jason. Maybe he'll grow hair back and bring back the beard (the moustache didn't do him any favors...really).
So here we go. His 2002 Topps card somehow featured Jason in his new uniform, getting ready to swing for the fences:
It does look awkward doesn't it? I mean, it looks like he had his hair cut, but I think there's a hint of hair on that upper lip (I can't really tell, even after doing a close up scan). Do the Yankees even wear their Spring Training unis during the regular season? Anyway, on to card #2...
Wait...he's in his A's uniform. And he looks, well, normal for 2001. Now he didn't have two cards in 2002 Topps. The first card appeared in series 2 (#620). So now the question becomes...
This could be an easy one...maybe. I'll leave this up and see what happens from here. Good luck to all who want to guess in the comments section.
UPDATE: Wednesday, November 19, 2008.
To the anonymous poster, who guessed "series 1" in the comments...I'm sorry, that is incorrect. I even mentioned that the first card was the only Giambi card in the entire base set. Unfortunately, he (or she) was also the only person to give it a shot.
The second card was a promo card given to card shops so they had an idea what the 2002 Topps cards were going to look like. The card above was the second of three (the other two cards were of Sammy Sosa and Curt Schilling).
Thanks for playing. jba