Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Favorite cards: Dwight Evans RC

DeweyRCFrom the moment that I started watching the Red Sox, Dwight Evans was my favorite player.  He is one of the most underrated players in the history of the game.  If only he had discovered the teachings of Walt Hriniak earlier in his career instead of halfway through the 1980 season, he may have gotten more consideration when it came to the Hall of Fame.

While Jim Rice had a couple of career years better than any that Evans put up, Evans had a better overall career and that’s without considering Evans’ far superior defense.  Rice is in the Hall of Fame, but Evans is not.  Ozzie Smith is in the Hall of Fame mostly for defense and some stolen bases.  Evans is a more deserving candidate than Smith was, but Smith had the one or two big career years to get himself into the minds of fans.  The biggest thing that hurt Evans’ consideration for the Hall was not having that one monster season.  He was well on his way to that in 1981 when the strike stopped play in the middle of the season.  Evans couldn’t get back on track once play resumed.  Even with doing almost nothing in the second half, Evans finished third in the MVP voting.  No one in the American League hit more home runs during the 80s than Evans and he was fourth in all of baseball.  He led the league in walks and OPS (long before anyone knew what it was) multiple times, but those aren’t flashy categories.  Without the strike, there’s a good chance that Evans tops 400 HR and 1400 RBI for his career and gets a longer look by Hall of Fame voters.

Dewey had a cannon for an arm, was amazingly accurate when throwing home and mastered all of the angles in Fenway Park’s right field corner.  His eight gold gloves are the most in the history of the Red Sox and only three outfielders have more than he does: Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Al Kaline.

Most of the time it is easy to accept the fact that Dwight Evans won’t ever be in the Hall of Fame, but it gets harder to accept when players such as Andre Dawson, Ozzie Smith and Jim Rice get inducted.  Evans is better than Rice, very similar to Dawson and better than Ozzie (who absolutely shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame if Alan Trammel isn’t).

On to the card at hand, 1973 Topps #614.  This card pictures Dwight Evans along with Al Bumbry and Charlie Spikes.  Bumbry was the ‘73 Rookie of the Year and would later go on to be a coach for the Red Sox.  I miss having multiple rookies on one card.  It allowed Topps to include more players from each team’s roster in the setand resulted in fewer cards of guys who only had a couple of at-bats and never saw big league playing time again.

This particular copy of this card isn’t in the greatest of shape, but I purchased it with my own money back in the late-80s at a collectibles show at the Bayside Expo Center.  This copy will always have a special place in my collection even if I pick up better copies of the card.  I’ve got Sweet Spot cards signed on leather, Sweet Spot cards signed on a ball, Leaf cards signed with baseball stamps and a bunch of other cool modern cards, but none of those will ever come close to this card.  This card has been in my collection for over 20 years.  The only thing that could have come remotely close to this card would have been Dewey Dufex, but unfortunately he retired before Pinnacle unveiled the coolest parallels ever.

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