Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Top 50 Players On Cardboard-#36 Manny Ramirez

My Top 50 Players On Cardboard
Manny Ramirez

I know I follow a pattern on this series of posts, but I am going to break that pattern slightly on this post to actually talk about the rookie card, instead of just posting a picture.  I have owned a Manny Ramirez 1992 Bowman rookie card or two for a long time and it's always been a rather intriguing card to me.  In fact, the Foil card in the 1992 Bowman card is interesting too for the same reason.  Take a look.

 1992 Bowman Foil Manny Ramirez

1992 Bowman Manny Ramirez RC 

I am sure that many collectors have seen these two cards dozens of times.  Has anyone ever been curious where Manny is in the pictures?  It's a local place for me living in the Raleigh-Durham area, but it's surprising that Manny Ramirez would be there.  The top card, the Bowman Foil, is taken in front of a dorm on Duke University's campus.  They all kind of have that gothic castle look, so other than telling you it's on the West Campus (there is also an East Campus), I cannot tell you a specific building.  Odd spot.

The bottom Bowman rookie card was taken in front of the chapel on campus.  The chapel is easily the most recognizable building on campus and is featured on the logo of the school.  Not the basketball team.  The chapel looks something like this:

 Manny is actually standing on the side of the chapel leaning on a staircase that leads to the guest parking lot.  Curious location for a Manny card considering he never played college baseball or went to college.  There is a team in Durham, the Bulls, but they have their own stadium separate of Duke University.  While I have been curious for years, I have never actually tried to track down an actual answer behind the Manny Ramirez card at a university chapel.  Until now.

It took all of five minutes to find an old ESPN article on-line featuring Topps photographer Gregg Forwerk.  I've included an excerpt below explaining the card: 

Pretty interesting background on a unique rookie baseball card. 

Hobby Impact-
Manny has definitely been hurt by his involvement in steroids, but is still a pretty popular player around the hobby.  There are Red Sox fans who cannot stand Manny, there are Red Sox fans who love Manny.  There are Indians fans in the same boat.  Dodgers fans?  Maybe.  White Sox, Rays, A's, and Rangers are pretty indifferent.  No matter.  While the popularity and prices of his cards have fallen off over the years, he still remains a pretty popular player with collectors.

One of the biggest reasons in my opinion is the fact that he helped the Red Sox win two World Series.  Manny also had a long run of playoff success with the Cleveland Indians and helped the Dodgers make a pretty good dent into the playoffs in 2008 and 2009.  In my personal experience, playoff teams mean a little bit more to team collectors and they will often disregard the importance of the players role, or any ill fan base feelings, to add cards of those players to their collection.  Yes, Juan Encarnacion was on the 2006 Cardinals and I have some really cool cards of him.  Problem?  No.  Same with Mark Mulder.  Find me a Red Sox collector bitter at Manny and I will show you a good Manny card stashed somewhere in their collection.

2007 Donruss Signature Millennium Marks Manny Ramirez Autograph

Manny signed throughout his career.  At least up to his time on the Dodgers.  He has a pretty good supply of autographs and cool relics floating around on the secondary market, but collectors should be prepared to pay for Manny cards.  I find his early short-printed cards especially competitive.  Several times I have tried to add insert cards of him to finish out old Pacific or Donruss sets and been shocked at the level of bidding on his cards and the final price.  I have had to rethink my approach and willingness to spend on Manny items several times over the years in order to complete old sets.  The Pacific cards are the hardest. 

On The Field Impact-
Pretty simple here.  I do not have much of a problem with steroid users being put into the Hall of Fame.  Pitchers used, hitters used, everyone used.  Level playing field.  Using the JAWS system, Manny Ramirez is the tenth best left fielder of all-time behind Pete Rose, Tim Raines, and seven other guys in the Hall of Fame.  His career OPS+ of 154 is actually third highest all-time among left fielders behind Ted Williams and Barry Bonds

Some of my other favorites Manny highlights include:

+A career OPS of .996

+An OBP of .411

+555 career home runs and over 1,800 RBIs

+Had 165 RBIs in 1999 which is the highest total for a single season post WW2

+In 111 postseason games posted 29 home runs, 78 RBIs, and a .285/.394/.555 line

Here's a quick video of him taking a young Chris Carpenter into the fifth deck of the SkyDome.


Favorite Card-
I'd obviously like to say his 1992 Bowman card, but I will throw something different out from his early cards.  Really, this is my third favorite Manny with the two cards at the top of the post really being one and two.

1992 Topps Manny Ramirez RC

This card is cool in so many ways.  I know you are only seeing the Youth Service League jersey.  That's my main focus too.  I wish I had one of those in my closet to wear on Casual Friday at work.

To counter balance the Duke stuff at the top of the blog post, here's a quick video of Rodney Purvis (now with UConn) dunking on the Dukies last year.  Go Pack!

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