ebay slug : 11991-upper-deck-rickey-henderson
Boy, Nolan Ryan and Rickey Henderson really knew how to seize the moment … to capitalize on a concept.
And put them together? Fugetaboutit!
Take their interpretation of “Mayday,” for example.
Now, “Mayday” is an international verbal symbol for distress, uttered across radio waves when a ship, for example, needs help.
And the homonymic “May Day” is a celebration of spring that dates to ancient times and today features such dandies as … well, celebrating spring, but generally in a non-specific, “hey, it’s spring!” sort of way.
On May 1, 1991, though, Ryan and Henderson (maybe) unwittingly teamed up to drive home both points of the day.
That afternoon, Rickey stole the 939th base of his career, against the New York Yankees at Oakland-Alameda County Stadium. In the process he ran right past Lou Brock’s all-time record of 938.
And Henderson had plenty of baseball in front of him.
That night, Ryan struck out 16 Toronto Blue Jays at home in Arlington Stadium to notch the seventh no-hitter of his career.
The dominant performance broke Ryan’s own record of six no-nos. Turns out, he had a decent bit of mound time ahead of him, too.
Together — though separated by miles and hours — Ryan and Henderson celebrated spring and the dawning of baseball’s second month in grand style.
And they put sufficient hurt on their opposition that you can almost hear the Mayday signals still trailing out across the universe from the Yankee and Blue Jay dugouts all these years later.
With the help of Upper Deck, Ryan and Henderson also put a cardboard spin on Mayday/May Day …
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Already among the two or three hottest names in the hobby heading into 1991, their early-season exploits helped turn just about every Ryan or Rickey card into a little hunk of ephemeral gold.
And, realizing they had just such a gold-printing machine at their disposal, Upper Deck wasted little time in capitalizing on the moment(s).
To wit, they created a special card of the duo to be included in packs of their Hi Series product. Dubbed “A Day to Remember” and numbered SP2, the Henderson-Express combo replaced the Michael Jordan baseball card (SP1) that has become a hobby classic over the years.
While it may not carry quite the hobby weight of His Airness’s baseball rookie card, the art card of Ryan and Henderson, created by Vernon Wells, Sr., (yes, that Vernon Wells’ father), is a timeless celebration of a magical day on the diamond.
The card won’t make your wallet scream, “Mayday!”, either.
You can usually find it raw for a buck or two, moving up to $10 for copies in PSA 8 condition, around $20 for PSA 9s, and $70+ for a perfect “10.”
It’s certainly a “Card to Remember” even all these decades later.
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