This must be the longest title of a blog post for me. But all these things came together in my head so why not combine them in a post?
We'll start with Thorzul. I should probably include a Thorzul tag as much as I have mentioned him here. He's easily had the most influence on my limited return to card collecting (with the 2008 Upper Deck X set (want list here)). The "problem" is that in the few years I've been back into collecting, no other sets have really struck my fancy, Upper Deck has vanished and Topps has turned into the gorilla who couldn't care less about collectors. So I've soured on the product that is available, and I don't enjoy collecting cards enough in general to just be picking up cards willy-nilly (in part because I don't have a favorite team) nor can I really afford to do so.
Despite this, Thorzul had a cheap group break at the end of last year which I took part in. I like to be a part of the community at least a little bit. In the post for the break he highlighted what he thought was the most interesting card for each team. I took the Reds and he highlighted this card:
I took a look at that card and said, "What a great way to get back into collecting. I'm going to try and build a 1967 Topps set starting with Art Shamsky".
This would be a great idea if I wasn't broke. I'm determined, though, and I thought that I could cut some corners to free up five dollars a month to put towards collecting these cards. Found a guy selling a lot of 1967 cards on eBay and I won them while staying in budget. This lot was a no-brainer for me because it had two of the most under-appreciated players of the 1970's, and two of my favorites, Jimmy Wynn and Mack Jones.
I've already written about Jones as part of the stagnant Group of 80 Project. Jimmy Wynn, though, is one of the best players ever. He's one of the reasons why you won't see me getting into Hall of Fame arguments with people. The Hall is so goofed up already with who is in and who isn't that I can't take it seriously. I have a Hall of Fame in my head and Wynn is in it. Andre Dawson and Jim Rice and Bruce Sutter and numerous others who do have plaques in Cooperstown are not.
How much do I like Jimmy Wynn? Last summer at the Hall, we interns had to staff the Hall's All-Star Game event. They sell tickets to the event and people come in after hours and get to watch the All-Star game in the big theatre. There's free food, fun events between innings, just a good time. The Hall has a collection of jerseys (although I don't think we ever got a definitive answer, there was talk that at least some of them were game used and judging from the randomness of some of the names and numbers on the back, some might have been) used for educational purposes and for events such as these. Here's a picture of me from the All-Star gala.
That's right, I'm sporting a Jimmy Wynn rookie season Colt 45's jersey. How do I know it was rookie season? Had the number 18. It obviously was not a game used jersey as I'm almost the size of two Jimmy Wynns and the jersey remained in one piece throughout the evening.
I think the reason Wynn is not appreciated is the low batting average. People see that and think he must have not been much of a hitter. He also played for some bad Astros teams which limited his runs and RBI's. He did walk a ton and had almost three hundred homers despite playing in the Astrodome for most of his career. Factor in that most of his career was also in a low offense era and his accomplishments are even more amazing. Check out baseball-reference's neutralized stats for him. .274/.395/.478, 331 HR, 256 SB. Maybe that still wouldn't have been enough to get inducted (he rarely played full seasons) but when you see how much his park and era deflated his numbers, you can maybe understand why he didn't even get a single vote when he became eligible.
What matters is that I like him, though, and it's really nice to have both him and Mack Jones in my 1967 card set fold.