I love when Fleer shows its true colors as Topps’ goofier brother in the trading card world. They don’t have the years of history nor the gravitas of Topps. So the company would sometimes have bizarre non action shots in their collection.
And then there is this one of Jerry Reuss, which I believe is a parody of classic Topps cards. And Reuss is the perfect person to pull off this humor.
Lots of classic Topps cards had players posing for action shots which were clearly not in a game. A mid swing by the baseline, a pitcher in mid motion near the on deck circle. And often the player would either have a “I can’t believe I am doing this expression on their face” or an overly earnest look.
Check out this Tom House card I wrote about a few years ago to understand where I am coming from.
Which brings us to Reuss. He is doing the earnest batting pose, looking like is about to square up with one. He has the super aggressive look like this ball is going down town.
Of course HE IS A PITCHER! He is a pitcher in the American League before interleague play was created. So he is simulating something would only occur in Spring Training for him or if the 1988 or 1989 White Sox would make the World Series, which they certainly did not.
So one of the games most famously goofy and funny characters from the 1980’s picked up a bat for the red headed stepchild of the baseball card world and posed with a goofy pic.
That’s one reason I love this card.
Reuss pitched for 20 plus seasons in the majors and there wasn’t a lot he didn’t check off his list. He played with many Hall of Famers (including Carlton Fisk during his quick tour with the White Sox.) He was named to a pair of All Star games. He once started a league high 40 games in 1973.
In 1980, he finished second to Steve Carlton (another former teammate) for the NL Cy Young Award. That year he threw a no hitter against the Giants.
He threw a key shutout in the NL West Divisional Series of the 1981 split season and later out dueled Ron Guidry in Game 5 of the World Series, putting the Dodgers up 3-2. They would win the World Series in 6.
Reuss continued being one of the more reliable and consistent pitchers for the Dodgers, helping them into the 1983 and 1985 postseason. He also, along with Jay Johnstone, was a true character, helping with practical jokes and being a favorite with the press.
He stumbled in 1986 and was released in 1987. He made a nice comeback with the 1988 White Sox, in time to grab a bat for this picture.
But by 1989 he was done, playing his final games with the 1990 Pirates before being released.
Since retiring, he has been an author, a coach and a broadcaster. Currently he is one of the voices of the Los Angeles Dodgers where he brings his humor and memories in the vacuum left by Vin Scully’s retirement.
I will always love this card. It is fun, silly and memorable. I guess you can say the same for Reuss.
Let’s enjoy the end of his no hitter, shall we?
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