Friday, June 14, 2013

Random Topps Card of the Day: 1990 Topps Traded #107T John Russell

Thanks to the Topps Card Randomizer, introducing the Random Topps Card of the Day for Friday, June 14, 2013:

  • Official Card Set Name and Card Number: 1990 Topps Traded #107T.
  • Player Name, position, team: John Russell, catcher, Texas Rangers.
  • Major League Debut: June 22, 1984.
  • Last Line of Statistics: 1989 stats (Braves): 74 G, 159 AB, 14 R, 29 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 0 SB, .233 SLG, 8 BB, 53 SO, .182 AVG.
  • Any special information about player: Drafted by the Phillies #1st, June 1982. Signed with the Rangers as a Free Agent 05/09/1990. Bats: right. Throws: right.
  • Number of regular Topps Cards (includes regular and traded cards only): 7. This is his fourth Topps card.
  • Blurb on the back: "John caught Nolan Ryan's sixth No-Hitter, 6-11-90."
  • Commentary: The problem with the 1990 Topps set is three-fold. First, there was so much of it printed out, whether in box form (the traditional white cardstock) or in retail packs (I'm sure this was an experiment...and they used grey cardstock to boot). Secondly, although it uses the regular 1990 elements, the design's color scheme was just awful and inconsistent with how the regular set worked. Kudos to Topps for putting yellow to complete "the rainbow" but the transition to red was just not necessary. Third, short of hosting the rookie cards of Dave Justice and Scott Erickson, Cecil Fielder's first Topps card as a Tiger, there really isn't much happening in this set. Heck, even Cubs cult legend Hector Villanueva couldn't save this set from being valuable. As of now, box loads of this set could be sold for pennies on the dollar, and if I had to buy this set now, I wouldn't spend more than $5.00 on it...and even that seems to be a bit too much. But I digress. John William Russell was the Phillies' first round draft pick, eventually became their regular catcher in 1986. But other than that, he wasn't really used to his full potential. He never played more than 100 games in the majors during the season (the most he appeared in was 93 that magical year in '86, when he hit .241 with 13 homers and 60 rbi's). But he did manage to play well enough in the minors that when needed in Philly, his name was on the "must call up" list. After a season in Atlanta, the backup catcher signed on with the Texas Rangers. Eventually, he would be the mentor to Texas' budding superstar, Ivan Rodriguez. But finally, something good happened to John Russell. He was entered into a unique fraternity of catchers, joining the likes of Jeff Torborg, Art Kusnyer, Tom Egan, Ellie Rodriguez, and Alan Ashby (eventually joined by Mike Stanley). What did all these players have in common? Each one of them caught one of Nolan Ryan's seven no hitters. Russell caught the sixth one on June 11, 1990 against the Oakland Athletics. It would be the first of two no-nos for Ryan as a Ranger. For his part, Russell went 1-3 with a solo home run in the second inning off of Scott Sanderson. He finished the season appearing in 68 games, hitting a good .273 with 2 home runs and 8 rbi's...and one no-hitter. And although he would appear in a grand total of 115 games over the course of his Rangers career, the game on 06/11/1990 put him in the history books. Russell retired after the 1994 season, playing in two games for the Cardinals' AAA team in Louisville and turned to coaching. He was named manager to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 2008 season, a role he would hold until 2010.
  • Lo-Hi Beckett value: $0.01-$0.05.
  • How many cards of this player do I own?: 7.
Tomorrow's card will be: 2003 Topps Traded and Rookies #130T. Post will arrive at 1:00 PM CST. Flash back with the blog tomorrow.


JayBee Anama

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