Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Jim Ed

Looking back, I don't remember the day that I said: Jim Rice, he's my favorite baseball player. It had to be sometime in 1980 when I remember searching my little stack of 1980 Topps and seeing a player who I thought was Jim Rice. It had a cool angled photo of a batter at the plate and you couldn't really see his face but I thought it had to be him ... no?

Well turns out it wasn't Rice but Bob Watson, see for yourself.

 It's ok though, when I did find the Rice, I said to myself that this was a way cooler photo and it had the awesome "A.L. All-Star" banner at the top. From that day on my Jim Rice collection was born. At the height of his playing days and of my collection, I thought I had every know Rice card and collectible out there. I also had two sweet game used bats from two different periods of his career. For some reason I ended up taking the cards out of sheets and into a box. I think it's high time I go back and fill in the blanks that I missed along the way, such as the 1979 Topps Comic or the countless issues of bat, jersey, auto relics that have popped up since the early 2000s.

Always wondered why Rice didn't get solo treatment ala George Brett, Robin Yount, or heck, fellow Red Sox rookie Rick Burleson. Clearly Jim Ed's minor league stats spoke volumes. So instead, he shared his Topps debut with three other players ...
Dave Augustine of the Pirates only played a handful of games in 1973 and '74 and was done. Look at his minor league numbers and he was a no-hit, no-speed, no-batting average stiff.

John Scott of the Padres, was the 2nd player overall in the 1970 draft, earned only 24 at bats between the '74 and '75 seasons. It wasn't until 1977 when he was selected in the expansion draft by the Blue Jays did he rack up over 250 plate appearances.

Pepe Mangual actually made his Major League debut in 1972 with Montreal!!!!!  HEY TOPPS ... UUHHHHMMMMMM 1972!!!!!!?????!!! He also played games in 1973 and '74 yet Topps decided to wait and place him next to an eventual HOF'er. 'Ol Pepe did have the second best career of this four-some swiping some 57 bases between 1975 and '76. Mangual did spend 3 years at AAA and manage to put up some decent numbers and definitely knew how to take a walk.

Jim Rice’s days with the Red Sox began in 1971, when he was the team’s first round pick in the June draft.  He went on to play sixteen major league seasons for the Sox, making the All-Star Team eight times, and winning the American League MVP in 1978. Respected by teammates, opponents, and fans, Jim Rice easily followed the footsteps of his left field predecessors Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski into Red Sox lore. In 2009, he followed Ted and Yaz once more, when he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

My favorite Jim Rice memory ... July 4th, 1984. The only time that I went to Fenway Park as a whole family with my dad, mom, and brother, Corey. It was a hot, hot, humid day and somehow we got  tickets down the 3rd base side, maybe 20 rows up from the field. It had already been a good day for my hero, having already gone 4 for 5 with a couple of rbi, but he wasn't done when he strode to the plate to face Gorman Heimueller.

"The guy (Gorman Heimueller) had struck me out the previous time I faced him on a screwball. But this time, I had my eyes wide open. I wasn't going to leave it up to Tony (Armas). I said to myself, I've got to do something right here."

Rice's homer was the only logical way to end the three-day affair, in which the average time for each game was 3 hours, 35 minutes. That hot, humid day at the Fens still remains one of my favorite Sox games that I have ever attended.

Happy Birthday Jim Ed, and to many, many more.


  1. '80 Topps was the first set I opened packs of. I've opened tons of them over the years. I've owned tons of them over the years. I've gone through tons of them over the years. Yet, somehow, through some cosmic accident, I have never seen that awesome Bob Watson card until just now! Thanks for sharing it!

    P.S. Happy birthday, Jim, and thanks for the free autograph at the BlueClaws game a couple of years ago!

  2. I love those old cupcake/cereal/soda releases. Do you have a Jim Rice collection?

  3. Hey Chris, yes I do have a Rice collection, and need to fill blanks in from trades and set builds. Missing some OPC cards (used to have) and some other items here and there.
    Have always loved this pic from the 83 Drakes, this pic should have been on the regular issue card. I found the Drakes photos far more interesting than what was on the Topps base sets.