Once upon a time, Jason Giambi was a revelation.

After not reaching the Major Leagues until age 24 in the end-of-strike-shortened season of 1995 with the also-ran Oakland A’s, Giambi spent the next four seasons getting on base and hitting a few home runs but generally not generating much recognition for his talents and production.

In 1999, though, the A’s flipped over the .500 line to finish at 87-75, their first winning season since 1992, at the outer edge of the Bash Brothers years.

And then, in 2000, Oakland did the unthinkable by winning the American League West flag on the strength of a so-so rotation that did feature a 20-win campaign from Tim Hudson and two 22-year-olds with bright futures — Barry Zito and Mark Mulder.

Oh, right, and a new offensive approach that put supreme value on getting on base and smacking home runs without much concern for the strikeouts and other downsides that came along for the ride.

It was the first big sabermetrics push into the limelight, courtesy of general manager Billy Beane, and it fit Giambi’s skills to a T.

That season, the Oakland first baseman hit .333 with 43 homers and 137 RBI, but he also drew a majors-leading 137 walks — that equated to a .476 on-base percentage to go with a monstrous .647 slugging percentage, translating to 9.2 WAR (Baseball Reference version).

That was enough to garner Giambi his first All-Star nod and the American League MVP award.

At age 29, Giambi had arrived, and he stayed arrived for most of the next decade, hitting 40 or more home runs twice more and regularly finishing among league leaders in OPS.

He continued his heavy production into his late 30s, including a seven-year run with the New York Yankees that featured lots of home runs, lots of walks, lots of postseason play … but no World Series championships.

But during that stint in the Bronx, the steroid rumors popped up, and Giambi played the rest of his career with a cloud of suspicion and derision hanging over his head.

After his deal with the Yanks ran out in 2008, he signed on with the A’s again, but they released him in August of 2009.

With bad mojo still swirling and his production waning, it looked like Giambi might be done.

But the lure of dropping another big slugger into that thin Mile High air proved too hard to resist, and the Colorado Rockies signed him later in the month.

Now, if you were only a casual Giambi follower, or if you gave up on him in the mid 2000s, his mountain retreat might seem foreign to you. But there are plenty of baseball cards to prove it really happened — take the 2011 Topps Update Giambi issue for example.

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Truth is, though, that Giambi was 38 years old by the time he landed in Denver, and he found playing time hard to come by. When he did find his way to the plate, Giambino still had some pop — 22 home runs in 518 plate appearances over parts of four seasons with the Rockies.

Alas, Colorado decided not to re-up on their experiment when Giambi’s contract ran up in 2011, and he was done.

Or … he would have been done, had the Cleveland Indians not chosen to take a flyer on the 41-year-old slugger.

Giambi played two seasons with the Tribe, hitting an anemic .171 but adding 11 homers to his career total, part of 42 hits that pushed him over the 2000 plateau.

Then, in February of 2015, Giambi actually did walk away, retiring at age 42 having at least partially rebuilt his reputation … if not padding his numbers enough to merit serious Hall of Fame consideration.

What Giambi did accomplish, though, by delaying his retirement announcement until the beginning of Spring Training, was to hold out enough uncertainty to land a 2015 Topps Stadium Club card, showing him in his final season with the Indians.

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And, thus, Giambi’s legendary patience landed him yet another accolade that eluded many superstars before him — a career-capper card.

Sometimes, it just pays to wait.

Hobby Wow!

Those Yankees teams that featured Giambi’s slugging were loaded (surprise!) just like this eBay listing:

That’s a Yankees base signed by Giambi, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Don Mattingly, and Joe Torre.

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

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