Thursday, December 4, 2008

This R.J. Reynolds Does Not Cause Cancer

How unfortunate is it that Robert James Reynolds shared a name with a prominent tobacco company? I always felt bad for him because of that. But you don't get to choose your names. Both of my parents died of cancer, each brought on by 30+ years of smoking, so perhaps I would be more likely to not go by the name R.J. Reynolds if it were my choice. I would certainly want to change my name, or at least go by Robert, Rob, or even Bobby, but then again who am I to tell R.J. what his name should be?

R.J. Reynolds' 1987 Donruss card, #65 in the set, is classic for a couple of reasons. First, look at the glorious majesty of that classic Pirates' hat! The renegade mentality in the refusal to wear normal caps is fitting for a team called the Pirates. I really should buy this hat. It doesn't get much better than that.

On the front of this card, as is the case with almost all 660 cards of this set (the first 27 cards -- Diamond Kings and the checklist -- are different), Donruss not only has the logo but also "87", as to not confuse its customers. Personally, I like this as a quirk, even though a savvy collector should be able to look at the card design and immediately deduce the year and brand. Maybe Donruss saw the competition in 1987 and decided it simply couldn't compete with wood paneling.

Even though there is a slight scowl on his face, Reynolds surely was happy to escape the bench in Los Angeles. 1986 marked a career high in many categories (plate appearances, runs, hits, doubles, HR, RBI, walks, slugging percentage, and OPS+) for Mr. Reynolds. He even started the year as the Pirates' regular leadoff hitter, and for the first two months of the season hit mostly first or second in the lineup, until the Pirates decided on some kid from ASU in the leadoff spot at the end of May.

Perhaps Reynolds isn't happy in his picture on the front of this card because he knows his best baseball moment was already behind him. On September 11, 1983, Reynolds delivered a squeeze bunt to cap a 4-run 9th inning rally to beat the Braves in a heated pennant race. This amazing game, perhaps the 2nd greatest regular season game in Dodger Stadium history, has been chronicled eloquently by Jon Weisman on the amazing Dodger Thoughts website on numerous occasions.

Reynolds came to Pittsburgh in September 1985, along with Cecil Espy and future pennant-winning run-scoring speedster Sid Bream, in a 3-for-1 trade for 3B Bill Madlock. Madlock, a 4-time batting champion, hit .360/.422/.447 down the stretch for the Dodgers, helping them win the NL West.

On to the count...

The Set: 2 of 660 (0.3%)

HOF: 1

Former Dodgers: 1 (+1 with Reynolds)

Future Dodgers: 1


Andy said...

I like the double-logo action with the Pirate on his uniform looking like a double for the Pirate logo on the card itself.

Eric Stephen said...

You're right, Andy. It looks like Donruss planned it that way with what looks to be a spring training photo.

A similar scenario occurred on the Rickey Henderson card, the subject of an upcoming post. The Yankee logo on the bottom right of the card blends nicely into the interlocking NY.

night owl said...

I appreciate the '87 logo on the front of the cards. This was during a period when I didn't collect many cards, so the help is needed. I am always messing up the Fleer and Donruss cards from the period between 1985-87, not only what year it is, but what brand it is.

gcrl said...

man, i remember that rj reynolds game against the braves. good times.

do you post on dodger thoughts?

i'll take a look through my 77s and see what i can find.

Eric Stephen said...


I post all the time at Dodger Thoughts. I use my real name -- otherwise too confusing. :)

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