1959 Fleer Ted Williams Baseball Card Set: As Splendid As The Splinter

When Fleer entered the baseball card business 58 years ago, the first-year sports card manufacturer turned to the greatest hitter who ever lived.  Ted Williams not only established new slugging standards, he also changed the way the sports collectibles hobby was marketed.

During this era, Topps was the exclusive baseball card manufacturer, so Fleer — the only other major trading card producer at the time — had to take a more creative approach with its prWilliams52F#2oducts. Facing the daunting task of going head to head with the mighty Topps Co., Fleer, a longtime bublegum manufacturer, signed Ted Williams away from Topps. The result was 1959 Fleer “Life of Ted Williams” — an 80-card series capturing a medley of snippets detailing Williams’s legendary career.

One of the more popular cards of the set (#2) pictures Ted in his Red Sox uniform gripping a bat with his idol, Babe Ruth. The card back chronicles Ted’s time at Horace Mann Junior High School in California. Card #5 details Ted’s brilliant high school career for Herbert Hoover High School (San Diego, California). He was considered one of the top amateur players in California, drawing the attention of big league scouts.

Card #14 highlights his amazing rookie season (1939) in which he became the first AL rookie to lead the league in total bases. A favorite among collectors is card #41, which displays a head shot of Williams above the title “1941 — How Ted Hit .400”. The card back discusses how Ted played both games of a doubleheader on the last day of the season to raise his average from .400 to .406.

The Fleer set also features Ted’s distinguished military career. Card #24 titled “1945 — Sharpshooter” shows a concerned, but anxious Williams taking the Naval eye test. According to the card back, “Navy doctors said that eyesight like Ted’s occurred only six times per thousand persons.”
Williams52F#41
This set includes three of the hobby’s hardest-to-find All-Star cards. Card #34 pictures Williams sliding into second base in the 1947 All-Star Game. The card back details the new runs scored record established by Williams that year.

Card #40 shows Williams crashing against the wall to make a spectacular catch in the 1950 All-Star Game at Comiskey Park. The card back tells the story of how the catch destroyed the Red Sox Pennant hopes and nearly ended Ted’s career. Williams didn’t realize that he had broken his elbow and gamely played for 8 more innings, hitting a single and driving in a run.

Card #48 features Marine Captain Ted Williams throwing out the first ball and serving as an honorary member of the AL team at the 1953 All-Star Game in Cincinnati while still serving on military duty. The card back expressively reads, “Not only was he a baseball hero of the finest magnitude, but he was in two wars within the short span of one decade.”

The Williams set successfully put Fleer on the sports collectibles map, but not without incident. Card #68 pictures Ted preparing to sign a contract with Red Sox general manager Bucky Harris, who was one of the handful of baseball executives under contract with Topps at the time. Rather than face a lawsuit from Topps, Fleer withdrew card #68 by defacing the lower right corner of the card on the printing sheet, and then destroying the cards after they were cut from the sheet. A very limited amount of mint #68 cards were packaged before Fleer started its disfiguring process, making this one of the most sought-after Williams cards.
Williams52F#68
The back of the Harris card reveals just how much times have changed: “Ted signed his 1959 contract in Boston for a reported $125,000. He has been baseball’s highest paid player for several years.”

This affordable set details the extraordinary career of the legendary Ted Williams. Much of the history written about the Splendid Splinter came directly from the backs of these cards. Every card — except the Harris card, which commands $1,000 — can be found on eBay in decent condition
for under $25.

Red Sox Roll The Dice With Chris Sale and David Price

When I first heard that an ace Red Sox lefthander was heading to see Dr. James Andrews, I assumed the  absolute worse: Chris Sale’s left elbow had succumbed to the violent, herky-jerky motion that causes so many swings and misses, but appears to put tremendous stress on the elbow.  The trade that depleted the once fertile Red Sox farm system all for naught.

Fortunately, Sale’s elbow was not in question. It was David Price’s elbow that was cause for concern following a two-inning simulated game.  Fortunately, Price’s pain appears to be — as of now — muscular in nature, not structural.

Why did I assume it was Sale with the bum elbow?  The whipping side-arm delivery combined with a slender frame is often cause for concern. The high-elbow, low shoulder mechanics that make Sale so effective puts tremendous stress on the elbow, which can cause a torn ligament, which leads to visits to Dr. Andrews’ office, which often leads to season-endinChrisSaleg Tommy John surgery.

The White Sox were always aware of the warning signs, but never tampered with Sale’s unconventional pitching mechanics. White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper observed that most pitchers with pitching styles comparable to Sale stood more upright, causing the elbow to take the brunt of the stress.  Sale comes down a bit lower with his entire body, putting added pressure on the legs while relieving stress from the elbow.

The White Sox projection has been on the money to date.  Their former ace has landed on the disabled list only once in his seven-year career with a strained flexor muscle in his left arm.  The injury came one start after throwing 127 pitches, coincidentally, against the Red Sox in 2014.  An MRI revealed no ligament damage.

After sacrificing Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, two of baseball’s top prospects, among others to land Sale, the Red Sox have obviously bought into the White Sox prognosis.  Deception is a key ingredient to Sale’s success, so the Red Sox have no plans to change Sale’s arm slot.  He has proved to be durable throughout his career, so the Red Sox are willing to take a calculated risk.

As for Price, health has never been an issue and durability has always been a strength.  A smooth, flawless pitching motion seems to put minimal stress on his elbow, but a heavy workload may be catching up to Price.  The 31-year-old southpaw has logged 200+ inning in six of the last seven seasons.  He has thrown 698 ⅔ innings over the past three seasons, more than any other pitcher in baseball and mind boggling considering bullpen use in today’s baseball.  Perhaps an ailing arm has be been in the offing for the last few years, before he arrived in Boston.

The Red Sox are hopeful that Price’s elbow remains structurally sound.  Hopeful that rest and medication to reduce the swelling are the cure with no long-lasting effects.  Hopeful that he continues to be the workhorse that championship-driven teams crave.  Hopeful that he is past the first-season in Boston jitters.  In what was arguably Price’s worse season, he won 17 games while leading the league in strikeouts (230) and innings pitched (35).  He played a key role in the Red Sox first place American League East finish.

The Red Sox are taking calculated risks on two left-handed aces who came to Boston at a high price in terms of money and future holdings.  A calculated roll of the dice in what should prove to be a fascinating season.

Happy Birthday Babe Ruth

Happy Birthday to baseball legend and American icon Babe Ruth, born on February 6, 1895.

The discussion of two-way baseball players starts and ends with Babe Ruth.   In the years before the infamous sale that sent Ruth from Boston to New York, the man known as the “Sultan of Swat” was baseball’s premier left-handed pitcher. Ruth would later become the most prolific hitter in baseball history.

Before his powerful uppercut swing made home runs relevant and transformed baseball into an offensive game, the full-time pitching ace and part-time slugger led the Red Sox to three

baberuth1914frederickfoto

Babe Ruth 1914 Frederick Foto baseball card.

World Series Championships. Ruth put together a 94-46 career record with nearly all of his pitching appearances coming in a Red Sox uniform. His 2.28 ERA is 17th lowest in baseball history.

The Babe found his place on the pitcher’s mound at the St. Mary’s Industrial School, a boys’ reformatory school.  He developed his craft with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League under owner and manager Jack Dunn, who signed the 19-year-old southpaw to his first professional contract in 1914.  The first Ruth baseball card was included in the 1914 Baltimore News series.  Issued with red or blue fronts and black variation backs, the card displays a gangly teenager yet to make his major league debut.  A red PSA-1 version of the Ruth rookie sold at auction for $450,300 last year.

Struck with financial hardship due to the emergence of the Baltimore Terrapins of the short-lived Federal League, the Orioles unloaded Ruth, Ernie Shore and Ben Egan to the Red Sox for $16,000 later that year.  Pitching behind established hurlers Smokey Joe Wood and Dutch Leonard among others, Ruth was used sparingly.  But in 1915, he went 18-8 as the team’s third starter and helped the Red Sox to the AL Pennant.

In 1916, Ruth emerged as a dominant pitcher, winning 21 games while tossing nine shutouts and posting a league-best 1.75 ERA.  Helping the Red Sox to back-to-back World Series championships, Ruth pitched 14 innings for a 2-1 Game 2 victory over the Brooklyn Robins.

baberuth1914baltnews

Babe Ruth 1914 Baltimore News baseball card.

 

Still considered a top-notch pitcher, Ruth returned in 1917 with a 24-13 record and 2.01 ERA.  He finished 35 of the 38 games he started.  At the same time, Ruth’s offensive prowess was taking shape.  He finished the season batting .325, triggering an eight-year streak of hitting .300 or better.

Already an established pitching ace, Ruth’s transformation to iconic slugger hit full stride in 1918.  Primarily an outfielder, Ruth led the league in homers with 11, earning his first of 12 home run titles.  Appearing in 20 games as a pitcher, he went 13-7 with a 2.22 ERA.   The Babe pitched a 1-0 shutout in Game 1 of the World Series and won Game 4, as he established a 29 ⅓ scoreless innings streak, eclipsed by Whitey Ford decades later.

The Babe made 17 appearances on the mound in 1919, going 9-5 with a 2.97 ERA, but by this time pitching was merely a diversion for the future Hall of Fame slugger-to-be.  Ruth led the league in home runs (29), RBI (114) and runs (103).  Following the 1919 season, the Yankees purchased Babe Ruth the slugger, not the ace pitcher from financially-strapped Red Sox owner Harry Frazee for $100,000.

Ruth’s Red Sox-Yankees overlap is highlighted in his 1914 Frederick Foto card.  The unique card displaying a photo-quality image, pictures the Babe in a red Sox uniform, but reads “Babe Ruth N.Y.” in the upper left-hand corner.

In his first season with the Yankees Ruth set a new standard with 54 home runs, effectively introducing America to a new brand of baseball emphasizing power and brawn over speed and savbaberuth1962toppsvy.  Putting Ruth’s 1920 season in perspective: No other player hit more than 19 home runs and only one team hit more homers than Ruth did individually.

Laying the groundwork for what would become the Yankee Dynasty, Ruth’s 1921 season may have been the greatest in MLB history. The 26-year-old Ruth batted .376 while bashing 59 homers, driving in 171 runs, scoring 177 runs, and slugging a then-unthinkable .846. Riding Ruth’s prowess as a slugger, the Yankees became baseball’s most recognizable — not to mention most dominant — team, establishing new attendance records almost annually.

He eventually raised the bar to 60 round-trippers in 1927, a record that would stand for 34 years.  The Babe’s contribution to baseball was almost as significant as his contribution to the New York Yankees.  The new stadium built to house a growing fan base was quickly dubbed “The House That Ruth Built.”

Prior to Ruth wearing pinstripes, the Yankees neverwon a title of any sort.  In his 15 years in New York, the Yankees captured seven AL Pennants and four World Series titles.  Most baseball historians consider the 1927 Yankees to be the best team in baseball history.

Ruth returned to Boston in 1935 to play his final season with the Braves, hitting six homers to bump his career total to 714.  The Bambino held an amazing 56 major league records at the time of his retirement — including most career home runs.  In 1936 the newly formed Baseball Hall of Fame elected Babe Ruth as one of its five original inductees.  More than 75 years after his retirement, Ruth remains one of baseball’s first and America’s greatest icons.

The complete history of the Babe can be found in the 1962 “Babe Ruth Special” subset, which captures significant moments from his life and career, beginning with “Babe as a Boy” (#135) and ending with “Babe’s Farewell Speech”.  The special 10-card subset was issued one year after Roger Maris eclipsed the Babe’s single-season home run record.  Most of the cards can be found in good – very good condition for $8-$15.

A Place For Edgar Martinez And The DH In The Hall of Fame

The designated hitter is an actual position that has been debated, discussed, probed, and prodded since the 1890s.  Since the inception of the American League position 44 years ago, the DH has served it’s purpose ably: enhancing offense, while increasing fan interest.  Each year, the best DH  is honored with the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.  Somehow, the player who established the benchmark for excellence at the position has been kept out of the Hall of Fame and has just two remaining years of eligibility — a slight to one the finest hitters baseball has ever seen and to the position as a whole.  

Martinez did not become a full-time player until the age of 27, which limited his career hit total to 2,247 and home run total to just 309, well short of top sluggers from his era.  But looking deeper into the numbers, we discover that Martinez was actually one of the top and most consistent sluggers of his time — or any time period — culminating an 18-year career with an eye-popping .418 on-base percentage and .933 OPS.  Jayson Stark of ESPN describes Martinez as one of the “greatest hitters of his generation.”

Martinez was just one of eight players to have 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average above .300, a career OBP above .400, and a career slugging percentage above .500.  He is also one of six players to hit at least .320 for six consecutive seasons  alongside Stan Musial, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, and  Todd Helton.  All but Helton are in the Hall.

Sports edgarmartinezIllustrated’s Jay Jaffe, who spends endless hours crunching numbers to evaluate Hall of Fame candidates, says Martinez is one of the top 30 or 40 hitters of all time.  Martinez outdistanced David Ortiz in career WAR 68.3 too 55.4.  Most consider fellow DH Ortiz a clear cut Hall of Famer, steroid issues aside.  Martinez is one of 25 players with at least eight seasons with OPS+ greater than 150.  All who are eligible and not connected to steroids are in the Hall of Fame except two: Dick Allen and Martinez.  He also has the fourth best career OPS (.933) among right-handed hitters in the modern era … And still not enough Hall of Fame votes.

The anti-DH faction among baseball writers has weakened over the years, but is still clearly present.  There are several players who have appeared extensively as a DH already in the Hall, including Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield and Jim Rice.  But most of these players played the majority of their games at other positions — usually first base or outfield.

Elected in 2004, Paul Molitor served as his team’s DH for nearly 44 percent of the games he started.  Two years ago, Frank Thomas became the first HOFer to DH in the majority of his games played.  Martinez played DH for 71% of the games he started.  If Martinez is not elected before his expiration date, Ortiz will likely become the first almost-full-time DH to receive baseball’s highest honor.  Ortiz collected more hits, home runs, and RBI than any other DH.

The designated hitter first proposed during the 1890s as the designated pinch hitter. Connie Mack took credit for the idea in 1906. NL owners actually approved the DH rule in December 1928, but were ironically overruled by their AL cohorts. In 1940, the Bushrod League, a California winter circuit, adopted the DH. In 1969 the International League experimented with the DH for a year.

After nearly eight decades of debate between league presidents, owners, and players, the American League finally approved the DH before the 1973 season. On April 6, Ron Blomberg, became major league baseball’s first designated hitter when he drew a first-inning, bases loaded walk from Luis Tiant on a cold, windy Opening Day at Fenway Park.

A pulled hamstring forced the 24-year-old first baseman to his new position. If Matty Alou, batting third for the Yankees, didn’t stroke a two-out double in the first inning, the Red Sox Orlando Cepeda, the first player signed specifically for DH duty, would have made the history books.  Although the Red Sox won the game 15-5, Cepeda, the prototype DH, went 0-for-6, the only Red Sox starter to go hitless.

AL owners hoped the DH would increase offense, give aging sluggers the chance to extend their years of productivity, and increase attendance. The three-year experiment worked. AL teams were scoring more runs, league attendance rose from 11.4 million to 13.4 million, and older stars were extending their careers.

Cepeda was exactly what the AL owners had in mind when they adopted the DH. The 35-year-old former first baseman entered the season with bad knees and 358 career home runs, and had driven in over 100 runs five times in his career.

In 1973, Cepeda played all of his 142 games at DH for the Red Sox, hitting 20 homers and 86 RBI — excellent power numbers for the time — winning the first Associated Press Designated Hitter Award.

The DH helped sluggers such as Cepeda, the 1958 NL Rookie of the Year with the Giants and the 1967 MVP with the Cardinals, achieve Hall of Fame status. Cepeda, elected by the Veterans Committee in 1999, finished his career with 379 home runs (21 as a DH) and 1,365 RBI.

The DH is now widely accepted and used in some form in most leagues from high school to the majors. The final hurdle to its acceptance as an actual position may be a deservedly wider presence in the Hall of Fame.

Roberto Clemente: Hall of Fame Player, Great Person

On this day 44 years ago, the world lost a Hall of Fame baseball player and a great humanitarian.  Thirty-eight-year-old Roberto Clemente, revered as a national hero in Puerto Rico, was leading a relief aid team flying supplies to earthquake-ravaged Nicaragua when the small aircraft exploded and crashed into the ocean shortly after takeoff.  

Clemente’s untimely death occurred just a few months after he recorded his 3,000th career hit and prompted a special election that made the Pittsburgh Pirates great baseball’s first Hispanic Hall of Famer.  At the time, Clemente was just the 11th man in baseball history to achieve 3,000 hits and his lifetime batting average of .317 was the highest among active players.

Clemente used a unique inside-out swing to produce four batting titles, a 1966 roberto_clemente_rcNational League MVP, and 15 All-Star invitations.  Quick, powerful — almost Hank Aaron-like — wrists allowed Clemente to stand away from the plate and drive the ball with ferocity to all fields.  He also lead t
he Pirates to World Series Championships in 1960 and 1971, when he was named the Series MVP.

He got the most from his 5’-11”, 180-pound frame offensively and defensively.  Most baseball experts and historians still regard Clemente as the best right fielder in baseball history.  He patrolled Pittsburgh’s spacious Forbes Field for most of his career with speed and grace, earning 12 Gold Gloves and comparisons to Willie Mays as a defensive player.  A strong and remarkably accurate arm kept base runners at bay.

Known for his charitable tireless charitable work, Clemente was recruited by relief organizations to organize relief efforts from Puerto Rico.  He not only organized the efforts, but played a large role in gathering the goods and loading the plane.  He was on aboard the plane because many people thought the relief supplies were falling in the hands of profiteers.  Clemente wanted to ensure that people in need were receiving the goods.  The plane carrying a crew of three and Clemente crashed in heavy seas just under two miles from shore.

Clemente’s roberto_clemente_1972professional career started on the West Coast and if the Brooklyn Dodgers weren’t so careless, history may have been different.  The Dodgers originally signed Clemente out of high school with a deal that included a $10,000 bonus.  In 1954, his first season as a professional baseball player, Clemente played for the Dodgers’ minor league affiliate in Montreal.

Per rule of professional baseball at the time, all players signed for more than $4,000 had to be placed on the major league roster after one year of minor league service.  Any player not added to the roster could be signed by any other club for $4,000.  Instead of adding him to the roster, the Dodgers tried to hide Clemente in Montreal by not playing him.  Obviously, a player of Clemente’s talent could not be hidden.  He was scooped up by the Pirates for $4,000, making him one of the best bargains in baseball history.

In 1955, Topps issued the first Roberto Clemente baseball card. The colorful horizontal cards featuring portrait and action photos along with the team logo in the upper right-hand corner are considered one of the best-looking  sets ever produced.  Kudos to Topps for producing a card of a top prospect with no major league experience — a rarity in those days.  The final card featuring Clemente as a player, was featured in the colorful 1972 Topps set.

The Joy Of Collecting 1970s Hostess Baseball Cards

Drab, ordinary, jurassic are terms that come to mind when describing the Hostess Baseball Cards of the the mid-late ‘70s.  The sets were nothing more than marketing ploys to sell more Twinkies, HoHos, Suzy-Q’s and King Dons (Ding Dons if you lived on the West Coast) .  Big on errors and small on creativity, the Hostess  sets featured  the game’s biggest stars with simple head shots displayed against uninspired spring training backdrhank_aaron_hostessops and white borders.   

Yes, the Hostess sets were dull, almost cheerless, but just about every 40-something to 50-something
baseball fan/collector (like the guy I see in the mirror every morning) has fond memories of Hostess’s lame attempt at manufacturing baseball cards.  After all, this was the set that we assembled piece by piece while waiting for Mom to rummage through the produce isle at the local grocery store.  This is also the set that got us hooked on The Sporting News, which played a huge role in the development of our baseball fandom.

Back in the day,Topps dominated the baseball card hobby.  If the single Topps set — there were no premium, platinum or chrome releases — didn’t satisfy your collecting needs, the Hostess sets produced from 1975-1979 gave you another option.  Dealers and collectors couldn’t buy Hostess cards directly from the company, so they had to work and spend to complete these sets.

Beginning in 1975 Hostess cards were produced in three-card panels on  the back of each multi-pack Hostess box.  The best part of this new wave of collecting was seeing what you  were buying, which encouraged set building.  Hostess panels — complete with an offer for a free issue of The Sporting News — kept in tact are more valuable and coveted today that cards cut from the box.  Some cards were printed on not-so-tasty products and are more difficult to find today.  Cards printed on the back of the smaller HoHos multi-pack boxes are often creased at the corners from haozzi_smith_hostess-panelndling.

Proofreading, editing and reading the  daily box scores were not priorities for Hostess baseball card editors.  The initial set was loaded with mistakes.  Slugger Bill Madlock was listed as a pitcher, Rangers catcher Jim Sandberg was named Mike and outfielder George Hendrick became George Hendricks.  Robin Yount, a teenage phenom at the time, is one  of the more popular players in the set.  Unfortunately, Hostess did not include a rookie card of future Hall of Famer George Brett.

Despite the quality-control issues, the debut Hostess set remains popular today with over 3,000 listings, including a handful of graded panels, currently on eBay.  The 1975 panel set is worth  as much as $400 depending on the  condition.  The single-card set varies widely because of stain issues — creamy cake fillings sometimes seeped through the packages — and cards being miscut.

Celebratingyaz_hostess the  nation’s bicentennial, the Hostess 1976 set includes red, white and blue stripes surrounding the  player’s name, team and position.  Collectors familiar with the 1976 Topps set will recognize some of the same photos in the Hostess series.  The set is loaded with stars, including Brett, Nolan Ryan, Pete Rose, a Dennis Eckersley rookie and one of Hank Aaron’s final cards.

The 1977 Hostess set includes Hall-of-Famers-to-be Joe Morgan, Reggie Jackson, Carl Yastrzemski, Thurman Munson and Johnny Bench.  By this time, collectors learned to save the cards as complete panels.  The complete panel sets are valued as much as $300 with the single set selling for nearly three times as much due to scarcity.

Although Eddie Murray was considered just another player at the time, his rookie card in the 1978 Hostess sets remains highly coveted.  For the first time, a few action shots were used to liven up the product.  Unfortunately the cost of producing baseball cards out-weighed the marketing advantages.  As a result, the 1979 edition was the final Hostess set.  Hostess went out with a bang, featuring an Ozzie Smith rookie card on  the same panel as Nolan Ryan as well as Willie Montanez.

 

Curt Schilling Belongs In The Hall of Fame

Curt Schilling is a blowhard.  He talks and talks and talks and I’m not sure he always knows what he’s talking about, but he keeps talking.  I will never understand why he thinks people care about his views on politics, gender issues or anything else, but he keeps talking.

What I do understand is Curt Schilling was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history and belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  His social media rants have grown tiresome, but should not block his path to Cooperstown.  He was never suspended, never linked to drugs, gaschillinrcmbling, or anything else harmful to the game.  Not being able to control himself on Facebook should not keep him out of the Hall.

Naysayers claim Schilling’s 216 career wins don’t pass muster.  But wins are not the sole measure of a pitcher’s value.  Schilling proved to be dominant in most essential categories, ranking 15th all-time in strikeouts.  More important in today’s advanced metrics, Schilling ranked third in strikeout-to-walk ratio all-time and 26th in career pitching WAR, tied with first ballot HOFers Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton.  By not giving away bases or  allowing hitters to make consistent contact, Schilling put his teams in position to win as much or more than baseball’s all-time greats.

Doubters are also quick to point out the Cy Young Award missing from the mantle in the Schilling household. Schilling spent his best years in the shadows of teammates Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, but he was one of the best and arguably most dominating pitchers of his era, striking out three hundred batters in consecutive seasons (1997 and 1998 with the Phillies).

Schilling was also one of the best money pitchers in baseball history, leading three teams to World Series titles and winning some of the most memorable games in postseason history.  He finished with a 2.23 postseason ERA en route to an 11-2 record when the games counted most.  Schilling’s playoff heroics started in 1993, when he earned MVP honors in the National League Championship series by throwing a 147-pitch shutout, forcing a Game 6 in Toronto (when Joe Carter hit his memorable World Series walk-off homer).

Schilling was overpowering in the 2001 World Series, giving up just two runs in seven innings before Randy Johnson sealed the deal in the final two innings to end Yankees mini dynasty.  Three years later, he held off the Yankees — bloody sock and all — in Game 6 of the American League Championship, leading the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86  years. He closed out his career with another ring with the Red Sox in 2007.

It’s unfortunate that Schilling’s political and social rants cost him his job with ESPN.  He was thoughtful and insightful as a color commentator on the network’s Sunday night showcase. I’ve  heard more than enough of Schilling’s political views and will never vote for him for political office (he has threatened to run for senate), but he gets my Hall of Fame vote.


Schilling’s Topps 2005 World Series Game Worn Jersey card is a favorite among Red Sox fans.You can fine Schilling sporting his Baltimore Orioles uniform in his 1989 Donruss Rookie — a drab looking set with black and purple borders.