Friday, June 6, 2008

An Open Letter to the Topps Company.

To Whom it May Concern:

Dave Winfield, Hall of Famer, and now serving as Vice President/Senior Advisor for the San Diego Padres, had this brilliant idea. To honor the memory of Buck O'Neill, and salute the surviving players from the Negro Leagues who were denied the right to play "organized" major league baseball, he proposed a ceremonial draft where the existing MLB teams would select a player from the Negro Leagues. While team participation was voluntary, all 30 teams agreed to be a part of it. So before selecting players who are to embark on their professional careers, Major League Baseball drafted 30 Negro League ball players to be welcomed into the MLB community.

So what should Topps do to commemorate this historic event? How about create an insert set for the 30 draft picks!!! It wouldn't be the first time the company would honor Negro Leaguers within their eponymous baseball cards. In 2001, Topps created a 10-card set called "What Could Have Been." Teeming with Negro League superstars like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Mule Suttles, "Judy" Johnson, and others, this set honored the men who SHOULD have been playing baseball in the majors at a time before Jackie Robinson. These were the men who paved the way for players like Robinson, Larry Doby, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, and all the others who made their way into the National Pastime. So why not a set honoring the men (and woman) selected in this special draft? Cast aside Presidential history for a minute, let's talk about BASEBALL HISTORY!!!

I want to open packs of cards with the following players in them (for a list of each player's accomplishments, click here:

  • Bob Mitchell, P, Arizona Diamondbacks
  • James "Red" Moore, 1B, Atlanta Braves
  • Bert Simmons, P/OF, Baltimore Orioles
  • Jim Colzie, P, Boston Red Sox
  • Walt Owens, P/1B, Chicago Cubs
  • Hank Presswood, SS/3B, Chicago White Sox
  • Charlie Davis, P, Cincinnati Reds
  • Otha "Li'l Catch" Bailey, C, Cleveland Indians
  • Mack "the Knife" Pride, Jr., P, Colorado Rockies
  • Cecil Kaiser, P/1B/OF, Detroit Tigers
  • Enrique Maroto, P, Florida Marlins
  • Bill Blair, P, Houston Astros
  • Ulysses Hollimon, P, Kansas City Royals
  • Neale "Bobo" Henderson, SS, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  • Andrew Porter, P, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Joseph B. Scott, OF/1B, Milwaukee Brewers
  • Bill "Lefty" Bell, P, Minnesota Twins
  • Robert Scott, P/1B, New York Mets
  • Emilio "Millito" Navarro, SS/2B/3B, New York Yankees
  • Irvin Castille, SS, Oakland Athletics
  • Mahlon Duckett, 2B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies
  • James Tillman, C, Pittsburgh Pirates
  • "Prince" Joe Henry, 2B/3B, St. Louis Cardinals
  • Walter McCoy, P, San Diego Padres
  • Carlos Manuel Santiago, 2B/SS, San Francisco Giants
  • John "Mule" Miles, 3B/0F, Seattle Mariners
  • Walter Lee Gibbons, P, Tampa Bay Rays
  • Charley Pride, P, Texas Rangers
  • Harold Gould, P, Toronto Blue Jays
  • Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, P, Washington Nationals

If you can't include them in as an insert set, why not include them in the base set. You can't create cards of the Beckham brothers, Pedro Alvarez, Eric Hosmer, et. al, for your eponymous Topps set because of the MLBPA rules (although I'm sure you will with the Bowman line...back to the point), I'm sure even they won't mind if you put the 30 people in the list above in the base set. For pictures, if you can't find any from their playing days (which in some cases is totally understandable), get your photographers to take new pictures of them NOW! With the team logos, caps, uniforms, whatever it takes to show that they're now part of the team.

As Dave Winfield envisioned, it would "serve as a bridge between baseball's past and its present." What better way to continue the theme by creating, and inserting, baseball cards of the legendary players who MLB paid tribute to on Thursday, June 5, 2008. I would definitely pay to see that.


JayBee Anama

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My company does video news stories on great people with awesome attitudes -- they don't get much better than some of the Negro League players who broke barriers in baseball!

You can see a video we did at MLB's recent symbolic draft of Negro League players, which includes Millito Navarro, Peanut Johnson, Charley Pride and Bill Blair as well as Ken Griffey and Dave Winfield.

I hope you enjoy it!