Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Edition of OTW's: Topps, the Lost Cards

One of baseball's toughest feats for a hitter, is hitting for the cycle. One of those few ball players to do so was Cleveland Indians first baseman, Tony Horton.

Trying to find a card of Tony Horton might be as tough as hitting for the cycle. Tony never appeared on a Topps card, even though he had made his Major League debut for the Boston Red Sox in 1964. He appears on a couple of regional issues and a Kellogg's card from the 1971 series.

So with that in mind, I decided to design a Topps Lost Card featuring Mr. Horton. He makes his Topps trading card debut in the 1971 Topps set, card number 753.

1970 was a curious season for Horton. He batted .269 with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs in a season full of ups and downs. On May 24 of that year in the second game of a doubleheader, he hit three home runs in an 8-7 loss to the New York Yankees; he reportedly was upset about not hitting a fourth. Exactly one month later against the Yankees, in the first game of another doubleheader, Horton fouled off a “folly floater” from Steve Hamilton. Horton asked for another "Folly Floater," and Hamilton again threw one, and again Horton popped it into foul territory behind home plate—this time into Thurman Munson's mitt for an out. An embarrassed Horton crawled back into the dugout.

On July 2, Horton hit for the cycle in a 10-9 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. The end of Horton's playing career came unexpectedly on August 28, after he took himself out in the fifth inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the California Angels. A batting slump and constant booing from the Indians fans led to such emotional distress that Horton would attempt suicide that evening. He would receive treatment and recover, but the stress of professional baseball forced him to leave the game prematurely; he had played his last game three months shy of his 26th birthday. His manager, Alvin Dark, in his book When in Doubt, Fire the Manager, would call Horton’s sudden exit “the most sorrowful incident I was ever involved in, in my baseball career.”

In his very short career, Horton batted .268 with 76 home runs and 297 RBIs in 636 games played.

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