At the 1984 All-Star Game at Candlestick Park, Major League Baseball rolled out a couple of legends to serve as honorary captains.
Local legend Willie McCovey drew the assignment for the National League, just four years removed from a 500-home run career that would land him in the Hall of Fame in 1986.
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Stretch retired the year before I landed my first baseball card, but I had read about him — seemed he always turned up in conversations that included names like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Willie Stargell, Hank Aaron.
Yeah, the dude was a giant of the game (and a Giant of the game, of course), and he looked like he could still hit some bombs.
The American League reached a bit further back into their history for some honorary leadership … all the way back to 1935 and 1940 MVP Hank Greenberg, already a Hall of Famer.
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By that summer, I had enough baseball reading under my belt by then to know that Greenberg had put up absolutely monster numbers for those old Detroit Tigers teams, including a Ruthian 58 home runs in 1938.
So it was pretty darn amazing to see Greenberg out there rubbing elbows with then-current Tigers like Lance Parrish, Jack Morris, Lou Whitaker, Chet Lemon, Alan Trammell, Willie Hernandez, and even manager Sparky Anderson, who looked about the same age as the 73-year-old Greenberg.
It’s not every team that can field that many All-Stars all at once, but, of course, these were the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who steamrolled their way to a World Series championship like few had ever done before or since.
Fitting, then, that Greenberg was on hand, seeing as how he helped lead the Bengals to four pennants and two titles in the 1930s and 1940s.
So … was this a nod to the past, or a prediction of the near future, when Detroit would own the rest of the summer and fall?
Hard to say for sure.
What we do know for sure, though, is that Topps brought these two legends back to collectors the next year by including them in the All-Star Glossies insert set seeded one per 1985 Topps rack packs.
And who can’t use a bit more history in their cardboard?
If you want to go a bit more upscale with your Greenberg memorabilia, take a gander at this eBay lot:
It’s an autographed baseball full of Tigers legends, including Greenberg and Ty Cobb, among about two dozen Detroit luminaries.
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