A lot of things seem strange about this 1990 Fleer card of Fred Lynn.
First and foremost is the existence of Fred Lynn as an active player in the 1990s. He seems like such a figure of the 1970’s and early 1980’s that he seems incredibly out of place this late in time.
Secondly, nobody, and I mean NOBODY associates Fred Lynn with the Tigers. He was a pick up late in the 1988 season for the stretch run as Detroit’s defense of the Eastern Division came up a game short f the Red Sox, the team more people associate with Lynn. He stuck around for the 1989 season before spending 1990 in San Diego, his last in the majors.
Thirdly, Lynn as a designated hitter seems so strange to me. Of course I realize that he was 38 years old heading into the 1990 season and was no longer the fleet of foot centerfielder that patrolled Fenway Park so well. But a DH only? Wasn’t that reserved for lumbering sluggers with suspect defense?
Fred Lynn was one of the Red Sox stars of my youth. The amazing home grown outfield of Jim Rice in left, Fred Lynn in center and Dwight Evans in right seemed to be in place from the start of time for me. Yaz would play left when not at first and Rice could DH or play right, but Lynn was always in centerfield.
The former USC star and California resident exploded onto the scene in 1975, winning the Rookie of the Year and MVP and the Red Sox damn nearly won it all that year.
He had some injury and contract issues the next few seasons. But in 1979, the first year I truly followed baseball, Fred Lynn topped his MVP year. Winning the batting title, and leading the league in on base, slugging and OPS, he threw in 39 homers and a Gold Glove to boot. He should have won the MVP. Don Baylor did. Go figure.
At age 27, Fred Lynn looked like a Hall of Famer. Little did we know that the 1979 season would be the second to last one he would play in Boston. After an injury plagued 1980 season and another contract dispute, the Red Sox shipped Fred Lynn to the California Angels in one of the worst trades in the team’s history.
He was never the same player again. Like Nomar Garciaparra, another Californian who was an elite Red Sox slugger, Lynn’s time away from Boston was plagued by injuries and painful reminders of how hard it is to keep up the Hall of Fame pace.
Lynn won the 1982 ALCS MVP honors despite being on the losing team as the Angels pennant hopes fell short against Milwaukee. He also famously slugged a grand slam off of Atlee Hammaker in the 1983 All Star Game.
Lynn would consistently slug 20 some odd homers a year but could rarely play more than 120 games. He bounced around to the Orioles and Tigers before ending up in San Diego and retiring after 1990.
A relic of intense promise in the late 1970’s was a shell of his former self represented in this card from the early 1990’s. Fred Lynn had a fine career to be sure and remains a fan favorite in Boston. It seemed like he would be so much more.