This is the second 1978 Topps Red Sox card I have done in the first week of the year.
I will try not to make this a habit but remember, the 1978 Topps Cards were the first I actively collected and the Red Sox were my favorite team then (as they are now.) So if there was a Venn Diagram of cards that would get my fancy, 1978 Red Sox Topps cards would be high up there.
This one always struck me as odd. First of all, it is another airbrushed hat. Actually in this case, it is an airbrushed helmet. He doesn’t seem to happy with his paint job.
Also the fact that his position was DH was a point of curiosity for a 6 year old Sully. Most DH’s had a position attached to it. Usually it would be DH-OF or DH-1B. Just DH implies that he didn’t even need a glove.
The strangest part of that for Bob Bailey and his DH status was that through the 1977 season, which is where this Topps card went up to, he had 5,986 career at bats, and all but two of them were in the National League. He was acquired in late September from the Reds as the Red Sox went into a pennant stretch and went 0 for 2. He played 15 games at first for Cincinnati that year. So why not DH-1B?
Bailey had a long career, breaking in with the Pirates as a third baseman and played with the Dodgers before becoming an original member of the Montreal Expos. His best years were in Montreal where he became a consistent slugger. In 1976, he joined the Reds and filled in as a third baseman and outfielder as some of the Big Red Machine experienced injuries. He didn’t get to play in the post season but was part of the World Championship of 1976.
Oddly, his name kept coming up during the NBC coverage of the World Series celebration. Garagiola singled him out when he came up the Yankee Stadium walkway. The camera caught Pete Rose and Bob Bailey sharing a celebratory moment together. Later, when interviewed about the team, Rose brought up Bailey’s contributions filling in earlier in the season.
That’s a lot of airtime for a guy who didn’t get into the game. But he was a solid big leaguer, finally getting his ring.
His final big league game was the 1978 Bucky Dent playoff game. Don Zimmer brought him in as a pinch hitter for Boston. Bob Lemon, the Yankee manager, relieved Ron Guidry and brought in Rich Gossage to face Bailey. Instead of countering with a left handed pinch hitter like Gary Hancock, Zimmer stuck with Bailey, who struck out.
Not a great ending but a nice career, albeit one where labeling him as only a DH was misleading.