I did a little bit of work on a few 1996 sets late last week. Always a good year for the Cardinals cards. It was the first year that LaRussa managed the team and the cheap August Busch IV sold the team to current owner Bill DeWitt. The Cardinals made it all the way to the seventh game of the National League Championship Series before losing to the Braves. It was the real standout season, as far as team success went, for the Cardinals during the 1990s.
So many different players and different cards to pick from, I decided to go with a player who hasn't gotten many posts on my blog, but also has a cool card.
I went with an Emotion XL of pitcher Alan Benes.
There were two Benes brothers who made the Major Leagues. A third was a Minor Leaguer with the Cardinals, but never cracked the big squad. Many 1990s baseball fans know Andy who was a big innings eater who pitched for the Padres, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks. I actually think Alan was better, but his career was derailed by shoulder problems.
1996 was the first full season for Alan Benes. He started 32 games and won 13 for the National League Central Champions. Not his best year though, which came a year later when he went just 9-9, but had a 2.89 ERA and 144 ERA+. He missed about 10 starts that year, but if he had pitched enough innings to qualify for the league leaders that ERA+ would have placed him fifth in the NL ahead of pitchers like Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Curt Schilling.
The younger Benes came back with the Cardinals as a relief pitcher, but was not ever really effective again. He bounced around for a few years in the early 2000s with the Cubs and Rangers.
Now the card.
The Emotion cards ran for a few years in the mid 1990s. Small sets, but the cards were generally pretty nice. Some could even be classified in the cool category. Since the Cardinals lacked big hobby names for the years these were put out, most of their cards in these sets are pretty ho hum. Like Alan Benes is excited. Tom Pagnozzi was gritty, Royce Clayton was concentrating, John Mabry adroit (I shit you not), Brian Jordan was patient, and Ozzie was the Wizard.
The Emotion cards are pretty easy to find and fairly inexpensive. I've even seem some boxes around at card shows and on Ebay for less than $40. Pretty fun box to open too.