This card is a thing of beauty and should be looked upon as a sign of two uniquely 1970’s nostalgia.
First thing to love is the all burgundy uniform. As color TV led to more interesting uniform decisions, few were more wonderful than this short lived combo in Cleveland. When stocky Boog Powell wore them, he called himself the biggest Bloody Mary in the world.
The shame is there were no post season games involving this uni. The flashy green A’s uniforms saw 3 straight World Series. The bright orange of Baltimore faced off with the yellow of Pittsburgh in 1979. The Astros tequila sunrise tops and orange hats were in the 1980 playoffs. But there were no defining moment with these Cleveland tops and bottoms. (The matching bottoms make it for me.)
Also the hat is wonderful. I hate Chief Wahoo. It is time to retire Chief Wahoo. Christsake, we are approaching the year 2020. I think we do without an image like Chief Wahoo. And what is wrong with the Tomahawk C hat Pruitt is wearing? If the Indians name is to be kept (another debate for another time) then the Tomahawk C is a nice compromise.
The other thing to love is the pose. Topps cards, especially the 1978 series, loved to pose the players in a pseudo action shot as opposed to an actual action shot. This led to strange “pitchers in mid motion on the sidelines” or “batters in mid swing while smiling for the camera” looks.
This one of Pruitt is beautiful as a fake post in so many ways. First of all, he is in the crouch to catch the ball. But he does not have his catchers gear on. There is no chest protector, shin guards, no mask.
He is also in a crouch looking forward as if he is anticipating the pitch. BUT THE BALL IS ALREADY IN HIS GLOVE!
The 1978 series, as I have mentioned before, was the first baseball card series I ever collected. So I always thought poses like this were normal.
Hell, I thought uniforms like that were normal.
As for Pruitt himself, the Flint native was a star at Michigan State University and a member of the 1972 College All America Team along with Fred Lynn and future NL ERA leader Craig Swan.
He made his debut in 1975 with Texas before being traded to the Indians. Mainly an outfielder, he would sub as a catcher from time to time. A part time player, Pruitt had a few seasons where he hit well and had a few big games, including reaching base 3 times and launching a 3 run homer in a wild August 28, 1977 game where the Indians beat the expansion Mariners 10-6.
Pruitt was traded for fellow 1972 All America Team member Alan Bannister to the White Sox in 1980 but found his way back to Cleveland for 5 games in 1981. He played a handful of games for San Francisco in 1982 and 1983, reuniting with his former Cleveland manager Frank Robinson before calling it a career.
A valuable role player who batted .302 as a part time outfielder and catcher in 1980, Pruitt played games over 9 seasons. But in no season did he look as glorious as he did in this time capsule of a Topps card.