Saturday, June 6, 2009

If This is His Topps Card, Then What Card is This?: Greg Maddux

On this edition of What Card is This?, we honor (again) a man who in five years be inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame. Why?:

  • He is a 300 game winner.
  • He is a 3000 K pitcher.
  • He is one of only two pitchers EVER to throw fan more than 3000 while walking less...LESS...than 1000 (he stopped right at's that for leaving a mark...).
  • He won four Cy Young Awards, consecutively.
  • He won a World Series.
  • He is an 8-time All-Star.
  • He is an 18-time Gold Glove Winner (winning it thirteen times straight before being interrupted in 2003, only to win it five straight years after that).
Need I say more about our man of the hour? He is Greg Maddux.

In the mid 1990's, there was nobody on the mound more dominant, nobody who could put fear in the hearts of batters stepping up to the plate, nobody more unhittable, and nobody more accurate than Greg Maddux. He could go for long stretches without issuing a walk. He knew exactly where to aim, and in almost every case, he hit the spot, causing hitter after hitter to look bad at the plate.

He started out his career with the Cubs, but after his first Cy Young season in 1992, signed with the Atlanta Braves. As Jeff Foxworthy once said when visiting Chicago, "Thank you very much for Greg Maddux." Alongside Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, he was part of a trio that put fear in the hearts of every team that were scheduled to meet the Braves. And you knew there had to be times that in every series, opposing teams had to face at least one or two of them (pity those who had to see these three guys in a row in a series). On an unrelated note, there is a card blog named Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz. Check it out when you can. Lots going on there because of the recent developments in the A-T-L.

But Maddux was the cerebral one. He studied hitters tendencies. He believed in studying videotape so he knew where to locate his pitches when it was his time to step on the mound. And during his later years, from his return to Chicago, to his LA to San Diego and back swing, he was somebody that EVERY other pitcher turned to for advice. Who needed a pitching coach? Then again, I'm pretty sure the pitching coaches weren't complaining.

He called it a career in 2008, leaving with a 355-227 record 3,371 K's, an ERA of 3.16 in more than 5008 innings of work.

So on to the cards. Topps decided to honor Maddux by including him in the Series 1 set:

Hey baby??! Have I told you lately that you're prettier than Greg Maddux??? Baby??! 2009 Topps Greg Maddux #287.

That should have been the end of the run of Topps Baseball cards for Greg Maddux. From 1987 Topps Traded to 2009 Topps, he appeared in more than 22 years worth of cards. And eventually, when the 2011 Topps Archives project gets back into full swing (it's coming back, I promise), we'll add the Topps Archives logo somewhere on this card. So if the above card was his Topps card,

What card is this??! Wait. He just retired. Why is there a Braves card of him in this set? And how do I have this card?

Well, thanks to frequent commenter and friend of the blog jacobmrley, I now have the SP Maddux card from series 2 Topps. Max, a package of cards is on its way to you as a thank you. Again, late, but it's in the mail.

It's only a couple of weeks since Series 2 came out, and I'm nearly a quarter of the way done with the SP set. Thank you all for your generosity. I can confidently say that if it weren't for the generosity of blogging community, this dream of collecting the SP cards would be just that...a dream.


JayBee Anama

1 comment:

Jeremy Roe said...

This Maddux card underscores the real question for a player collector. I have collected all of Maddux's regular issue cards in the regular Topps sets and the Topps Traded sets from 1987 through now. I would consider these SP Variation cards to be outside that core collection, especially for all of the other featured players (except Sabathia) who have been retired for a number of years (such as Sandberg).

But still, I consider several of these SP Variation cards to be must haves because they are numbered in the regular set and feature the regular design. While I'm not quite as ambitious as you to collect the whole lot, I will probably pick up the Variation cards for my player collections (Sandberg, Maddux, Ryan, and Ripken).