Dan Driessen just may have landed the most “capper” of all career-capper baseball cards.
Now, if you’ve dipped your toes into our silly Wax Pack Gods waters over the last five years or so, you probably aren’t surprised to see those two things lumped together here — Driessen and career-cappers, that is.
After all, Driessen was the first major league player we (well, I) ever saw in person, taking warmup throws before a game at Riverfront Stadium on a sultry June night in 1984.
And we think career cappers are just the bee’s knees. Every player should have one.
Even Dann Bilardello, though I’m still miffed at him for taking that mellifluous name with him when the Reds traded him to the Expos in December 1985.
But back to Driessen …
Like Dann the Mann, Driessen took his talents to Montreal when he left Cincy in July of 1984.
And get this — part of the Reds’ return for Driessen was Andy McGaffigan, the same dude (one of them) Cincinnati sent along with Dann 17 months later in exchange for Sal Butera and Bill Gullickson.
Anyway, Driessen was three days shy of his 33rd birthday when he found himself in Montreal, and he would be on the move again the next summer, to the San Francisco Giants.
That 1985 season was Driessen’s last as a full-timer, but he did find a smattering of playing time for the Giants and Astros in 1986.
Houston released him that October, though, and he sat on the free agent bench for a long, long time.
So long, in fact, it looked like Driessen was done.
But then, with summer heating up and the competition getting thick, the St. Louis Cardinals inked him to a deal on June 9. Driessen appeared in 24 games for the Cards through the end of the season, mostly filling in for slugger Jack Clark at first.
And, even though the 35-year-old former Red managed just one home run and 11 RBI on the back of a .233 batting average, the Redbirds kept him around for the postseason.
He had been part of a little thing called The Big Red Machine, after all.
In the NLCS, Driessen played in five of the seven games against the Giants, helping St. Louis to victory by hitting .250 with a couple of doubles and a single run batted in.
And then, in the World Series against the Minnesota Twins, the grizzled vet (though smiling all the way) saw action in four of the seven games. His average fell to .231, but he banged out another couple doubles.
Driessen’s last Fall Classic appearance came in a Game 6 start, again spelling Clark at first.
Dan had the double machine fired up that after, taking Twins’ starter Les Straker deep (enough for two bags) to lead off the fourth inning. He would score two batters later on a Terry Pendleton single.
When it was time for Driessen (a lefty batter) to bat again in the sixth, though, manager Whitey Herzog lifted him to let Tom Pagnozzi (a righty) bat against Dan Schatzeder (a lefty).
And Driessen was done for the Series.
But something big happened in that game for the Cards, and almost right off the proverbial bat.
In the first inning, with two out and nobody on, second baseman Tommy Herr smacked a solo home run off Straker to stake St. Louis to an early lead.
And who do you imagine was waiting at the plate to congratulate the Patrick Swayze lookalike when he came trotting home?
Yeah, it was on-deck man Dan Driessen …
Check prices on eBay (affiliate link)
Check prices on Amazon (affiliate link)
That’s Fleer’s rendition of the moment, part of a 12-card World Series insert set packed with each factory set in 1988.
Sadly for this celebrating duo, the Cards would go on to lose Game 6 by an 11-5 score before dropping Game 7, 4-2.
Driessen wasn’t on the field for that final loss, and then, in November, he wouldn’t be on any MLB field as a player — the Cardinals released him, and he headed into retirement (except for a brief flirtation with the Mexican Leagues in 1989).
But thanks to Fleer’s celebratory mood, I get to see my first player in his very last major league game any time I want.
And I know, if I wait long enough, and watch hard enough, I’ll catch a glimpse of one of those patented Driessen Doubles.
| $0.99 |
End Date: Friday 11/19/2021 13:39:19 EST
Buy it now | Add to watch list
| $12.99 |
End Date: Tuesday 10/26/2021 22:27:36 EDT
Bid now | Add to watch list
| $1.29 |
End Date: Thursday 11/04/2021 14:50:26 EDT
Buy it now | Add to watch list