Once upon a time, the New York Yankees had one of the speediest centerfield prospects in the game rising through their minor league ranks.

No … not Mickey Mantle.

And not Mickey Rivers, either.

Mantle was always more of a hitter than a base-stealer — though he was a good one of those in his prime — and Rivers did most of his minoring for the California Angels.

No, the speed demon I’m thinking about was all about the running (and fielding) early on, but he developed into a fine hitter, too.

Fine enough, in fact, to win the National League batting title in 1985, with a robust .353 average.

And fine enough to win the NL MVP award that same season, for leading his Cardinals to an East Division crown en route to taking the NLCS in six games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They would have taken the whole ball of wax if they hadn’t run into a team of destiny named the Kansas City Royals, and some suspect umpiring, in the World Series that fall.

The Cards likely wouldn’t have even been in position for that heartache, though, if not for the regular-season heroics of Willie McGee, who added 18 triples, ten home runs, 82 RBI, 114 runs scored, and 56 stolen bases to his gaudy stat line.

Find Willie McGee cards on eBay (affiliate link)

Find Willie McGee cards on Amazon (affiliate link)

He also won a Gold Glove in center and racked up 8.2 WAR (Baseball Reference version) to lead all NL hitters (Dwight Gooden put up an absurd 13.3 WAR from the mound, and Cardinals ace John Tudor matched his teammate’s 8.2).

And all of that centerfielding, on-base, run-scoring magic could have happened right there in the Bronx had the Yanks not traded McGee to St. Louis for Bob Sykes back in October of 1981.

Two years before he hit the road, though, McGee landed his first ever baseball card, a 1979 TCMA deal showing him as a member of the West Haven Yankees. Sure, the logo on his cap looks decidedly Little League, but the fabled pinstripes are there.

Which begs the question … wouldn’t the Yanks have just killed to have McGee back in the fold in 1985, when they finished a scant two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for division supremacy in the old AL East?

Well, maybe …

But that assumes McGee would have turned out the way he did with the Cards under continued Yankees tutelage.

And it also assumes managers Yogi Berra and Billy Martin would have figured out a way to fit both McGee and Rickey Henderson into the lineup night after night.

As things stood, Rickey played center and actually out-WARed all hitters in baseball with his 9.9, besting even teammate Don Mattingly, the American League MVP.

You gotta figure the skips would have figured a way to ride both hot hands, even if it meant an early end to Senior Ken Griffey’s tenure in the Yankee grass.

As they say — all’s fair in love and the outfield.

Especially if your boss is The Boss.

Wow! Wax of the Day

What kid hasn’t spent hours chomping through a box of wax-wrapped rectangular hunks of bubble gum, like Bazooka. Or — in 1979 — like Topps Baseball Comic. This eBay lot gives the, um, flavor of those days …

In all, you get five unopened blocks of gum, each with a comic wrapped around it. Will you find your favorite player? Will your teeth survive?

Check out the full listing right here (affiliate link).

1979 Topps Baseball cards You Pick 7 Card Lot

End Date: Sunday 05/12/2024 22:33:49 EDT
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