Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thought You Were A Bum, But Maybe Not...

There were many cards that I liked when I first started out collecting.  One of the highlights of my early collection was a team set of 1982 Topps cards that my parents bought me at the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania Flea Market.  We went there sometimes on Sunday afternoons and I got to pick out a few cards for my collection.  Cardinals were the priority and nothing could top a team set from a World Championship team featuring some of my favorite players like Ozzie Smith, George Hendrick, and Tito Landrum.  There were other players in the set too, some more important than others.  Bob Forsch was not my favorite starter, but he was a solid player and a long-time Cardinal.  Keith Hernandez was not much of favorite either, but I understand that he was an important player on the 82 team.  No Hernandez, no World Series.

Then there were the dregs.  John Stuper.  Not a fan, but I also think he was my dad's least favorite player as a kid.  Steve Braun.  Not cool.  Steve Mura, Julio Gonzalez, Jim Kaat.  No, no, and no.  Of course, the ultimate dreg in many team sets is the back-up catcher.  The Cardinals had Gene Tenace playing behind Darrell Porter on the 1982 team.  As the backup catcher, Tenace was reduced to a low level in my six year old.  He never really moved past that point over the last thirty years.  Ever.  Here's a look at my 1982 Topps Gene Tenace card...

1982 Topps Gene Tenace 

The card is definitely well-loved, or maybe just not very valued.  Probably a little bit of both.  The card has been ignored for much of its time in my collection, but my opinion of Gene Tenace has changed greatly over the last few weeks.

I recently completed a few trades trying to put together a 2013 Bowman Draft set and pick up a few autographs.  I have traded for a few lots, bought a few cheap cards off of Ebay, and I am getting pretty close to putting the set together.  Maybe a complete set post next week.  A little late, but better late than never.  Anyway, in one of the trades I managed to end up with a throw in autograph of Gene Tenace.

2005 Upper Deck Legends Gene Tenace Autograph 

When I first saw the card I was a little bit surprised to see Gene Tenace on a piece of cardboard.  This guy has a certified autograph?  Surprised.  Then I went and spent a few minutes on Baseball Reference and I shocked to read a little bit about Gene Tenace.  Let's just started with this: JAWS rates Gene Tenace as the 13th best catcher ever ahead of Jorge Posada, Roy Campenella, and Javy Lopez.  Just behind Joe Mauer.  

Read a little further and ignore the pit stains on his shirt above and you will see that Tenace also:

+A 136 OPS+ which ranks 6th all-time for catchers ahead of Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra

+A career On-Base Percentage of .388 which ranks 9th all-time amongst catchers, again ahead of Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra

+Hit more than 20 home runs five times during his fifteen year career

+Had six seasons with more than 100 walks including leading the league twice in walks

+Most surprisingly Tenace is the all-time leader in walks amongst catchers

Mr. Tenace has a pretty impressive resume to say the least and I am truly sorry that I missed out on this player for the past thirty years.  I am going to have to go out and find a few more good Tenace cards to even out missing on thirty years of cards from a good player.


  1. I didn't realize Tenace had a certified auto in his Athletics uniform. I'm definitely adding this to my wantlist. Thanks for sharing.

  2. If you collected in '76, you'd have a much different view of Tenace. He had that bright yellow star on the front of his card that signaled he was an All-Star and therefore, he was a god among young card collectors of my age.