Monday, January 13, 2014

I'm Sorry Willie McGee

I promised to do more posts about cards that are already in my collection and I have had this post planned out for about two weeks.  It just took a little bit of time to pull everything together and publish it.  Long time coming.

I spent a lot of time on my blog talking about my favorite baseball cards and players and definitely have a heavy tilt towards the Cardinals, Durham Bulls, and Tampa Rays.  Throw in a bunch of autographs, an occasional Tiger, and a little bit of college baseball and I cover a lot of different players in this space.  The tag bar on the right hand side of the blog is starting to get a little bit out of control.  I will work on it.  In the meantime, I recently had a reader ask me if I had a favorite player I had never made post on.  I thought about it for awhile, read through a whole bunch of posts, and the crazy tag list on the side of the blog and came up with this answer: Willie McGee.

How did I go this long without posting a single card of Cardinals legendary outfielder Willie McGee?  I am not sure, but the best thing to do is apologize and make a post about one of the finest outfielders from the 1980s.

1983 Topps Willie McGee RC

My favorite Willie McGee card is probably his 1983 Topps rookie card.  His Donruss is pretty cool too.  The majority of McGee's good  seasons were spent as a Cardinal, but since he played during the 80s the quantity of McGee cards out on the market is not huge.  He's also one of the more inexpensive Cardinals players you could choose to collect.  I pick up Willie McGee cards here and there, but generally I can find them in the cheapy bins at card shops for a few cents.

Any Cardinals fan who is reading this post could tell you some great story about something they say Willie McGee do, or some accomplishment he achieved during his career.  Basically, if you aren't a Cardinals fan Willie McGee is the best Cardinals player you never paid any attention.  He single-highhandedly won a World Series Game 3 in 1982 for the Cardinals as a rookie.  The box score doesn't mention the fact that he played some good home-run robbing defense in this game too, but yeah...

Willie McGee also won a National League MVP award in 1985 and a pair of batting titles in 1985 and again in 1990.  The 1990 batting title might be the best remembered of all McGee achievement because of the fact that he won the National League Batting Title, but spent the last month of the season playing for the Oakland A's.  After a half-season in Oakland, Willie would spend a few years playing for his hometown San Francisco Giants, a year for the Red Sox, but finished his career back in St. Louis.  He was mainly used an extra outfielder for a few years, but it was still a big deal when he called it a career in 1997.

The lone challenge in collecting Willie McGee cards has always been finding autographs and relics of the former Cardinal.  He has signed very few certified autographs since his career ended and the well has run dry on the supply of these cards.  He does have a Topps Fan Favorite, which uses the 1990 Topps design, and can be found every great once in awhile at a pretty steep price for a player like McGee.  He also has a Fleer Greats of the Game which can also pop up here and there and is a little bit cheaper in the neighborhood of $25 to $30.  Panini and Leaf have also recently had McGee cards, but they look expensive given what they are.  I only own a copy of the Fleer.  

2005 Fleer Greats of the Game Willie McGee Autograph

Relics cards for McGee are just as limited as autographs.  He has two relics: one is from a Topps Fan Favorites set and one from a Bazooka set.  The relics cards are not nesacarily expensive, but they are just hard to find at times. 

2003 Topps Bazooka Willie McGee Bat 

This is just a quick glance at one of my Cardinals favorites from the 1980s.  If you are a Giants fan there are plenty more cool McGee cards from the early to mid 90s in a Giants uni.  I even think one of the new Leaf autographs of McGee features him in a Giants uniform.  I'd also encourage you to check out the infamous Ryan Sandberg/Willie McGee hitting duel when you have an extra twenty minutes.  For those with less time I leave you with this classic commercial featuring Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee dressed up as old men at a bar. 

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