Friday, July 2, 2010

Favorite Rookie Card

Oh, I know, many of you may be sitting there thinking, "But I thought I would see Lofton or Thome or Charboneau here."  Choosing which card is my *favorite* rookie is like choosing which slice of assorted cheesecake to eat.  Each slice is great in its own right, but there is the one that just stands out.  When it comes to debut card appearances, my main struggle fell between this one and Jim Thome.  Ultimately, though, Roger Maris' card captures everything I want to see in a rookie Triber.  As it turned out, of course, Maris went on to have himself one of the most storied careers in baseball.

Many new collectors might think Topps started the whole "solid background" on cards in the last few years.  Ah, no, Topps has been doing that for a long, long time.  It is one of the features that helped set this rookie card apart from the others in my mind.  This was "Photoshop" before there was such a program, or even LONG before the Personal Computer would appear in television commercials.  And though the solid background is cool, it only serves as a means to focus the collector's eye on the man who sits just off center.

I'm not sure what he's watching, but his whole body posture says, "I'm only sitting here waiting because it's not my turn.  But, I'm ready. Put me in coach.  But don't wait too long.  I'm not a benchwarmer."  His eyes watch intently to whatever is happening in the distance.  He's not smiling.  His body leans slightly forward.  His hat sits squarely on his head.  His knee rests in the ready position.  He appears to be in the dugout, perhaps.  His right leg is propped on the step, ready to push off when he is called into action.  The moment is not far off, so he watches intently.  Or perhaps he is watching some of the team vets warming up or swapping stories of the off-season.

At the same time, though, he looks a little sick or nervous.  Look at the slant of his eyes, the downward curve of his mouth, his jawline.  He almost looks as though he could toss his cookies at any moment.  It is the look of a kid who suddenly realizes he is on the brink of living his dream.

Maris' rookie card shows us a kid who is excited, focused, and possibly on the brink of throwing up.  Perfect. 

I also like it because Barry Pepper, one of my favorite actors, looks so much like him:

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