You ever run across a baseball card that completely shocked you?
Made you realize just how little about baseball you really knew?
Welcome to the 1980 Topps Roy White card.
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Well, at least if you were me, or like me, ‘round about 1983. That year, I was diving into every little bit of baseball anything I could find, from cards to trivia to games to magazines.
It didn’t take long to figure out a few things, either …
Like, for instance, how the New York Yankees had been THE dominant team in terms of World Series titles for sixty years or so.
And how everyone who donned the pinstripes and achieved even a modicum of success became baseball royalty to some degree. I wasn’t a Yankees fan, but I figured out pretty quick that a long list of names fit that bill …
And then you had the second tier — Roger Maris, Tony Lazzeri, Graig Nettles, Phil Rizzuto, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson.
You can quibble with my rankings there, but it’s hard to argue against any of these guys as Yankees legends. Heck, I even knew a little bit about lesser lights like Hank Bauer and Tony Kubek and Bobby Murcer.
They had been All-Star-level performers and done it for that team from the Bronx.
But Roy White?
I’d never heard of him.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I turned over that 1980 Topps card of his to find out he had logged 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, all with the Yankees, and had accumulated more than 1800 hits, and smacked 160 home runs.
Not Hall of Fame numbers, but certainly eye-catching, and especially so when you considered he was a Yankee.
I didn’t know then that that record represented the entirety of White’s big league career, though I might have suspected as much since I started collecting (a little) in 1981 and White didn’t appear anywhere in my collection.
Now, though, I can look at his Baseball Reference page and the list of all-time Yankees WAR leaders and see that White was a two-time All-Star — in 1969 and 1970 — and received MVP votes in four different seasons.
Oh, and that he retired with the seventh most WAR in Yankees history, though no one knew it at the time, and though he stands “just” eleventh now.
Part of the problem with White’s profile is personal to me, of course — he was done in the bigs two years before I popped open my first wax pack and four years before I embraced the game for real.
And part of the problem is that his prime fell during one of the darker periods of Yankees history — New York finished under .500 in half of White’s first ten seasons and didn’t win a division title until his twelfth campaign, in 1976.
And, though White put up 5.5 WAR in that pennant-winning season, he was overshadowed by bigger names like Nettles, Munson, Mickey Rivers, Catfish Hunter … and manager Billy Martin.
And, of course, the next season ushered in the Reggie Show, with all the drama that entailed.
White held onto the starting left field job for most of 1977 as the Yanks copped a World Series title, but then Lou Piniella took over the job in 1978, and White stepped away from the game in 1979 after appearing in just 81 games (and only 27 starts in the outfield).
The next spring, though, Topps rolled out one last card of the Yankees legend you never knew … or at least the one I never knew.
What a refreshing surprise!
If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale and primetime featuring Roy White, check out this eBay listing:
That’s an autographed ball from the 1971 Yankees, with sigs from Thurman Munson, Mel Stottlemyre, Jerry Kenney, and others.
And, yes, Roy White.
Check out the full listing on eBay here.
End Date: Friday 03/29/2024 20:22:19 EDT
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End Date: Saturday 03/16/2024 16:04:05 EDT
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