I am starting a new thread of posts starting tomorrow morning which I am titling My Baseball Card Top 50. Last fall I did a countdown series of posts showcasing my Top 50 Sets from my thirty years in card collecting. I had a lot of fun going back through all of my old sets, scanning cards, and getting back into some boxes of cards that I had not seen in years. I thought about doing another similar thread this summer and might make it an annual fall tradition to do some kind of list or countdown with my cards. So, here's the run down on my latest set of posts:
I went through a whole mess of my cards with this question in mind: What players have had the greatest impact on the hobby of collecting baseball cards during the last 30 years I have been collecting? My list started out at well over 100 players and through a series of decisions you may or may not agree with a narrowed the field of players down to a cool fifty. Some of the players on the list started their careers before 1983 (3 years) while others have only played briefly. I made a sample post below:
MY BASEBALL CARD TOP 50
1990 Upper Deck Ray Lankford RC
When I am out looking for trades, or trying to buy cards, and ask people if they have Ray Lankford cards I often get a confused looks and many moments of stunned silence. Is it because people are reluctant to let Lankford cards out of their collection? Or could it be that Ray Lankford is also, secretly, this person favorite player to collect to? After more than a decade chasing down all the best Ray Lankford cards that I can I have come to the conclusion that people either totally ignore Ray Lankford's hobby impact, or it's giant and people are really hoarding his cards in large quantities. You decide.
On The Field Impact-
While most of Lankford's career was spent as the best player on a lot of bad 1990s Cardinals teams, he did manage to make three postseason appearances with the Cardinals in 1996, 2000, and 2004. His best years probably were between 1996 and 1998 when he spent a year and a half batting fourth behind Mark McGwire and the other half hitting in front of Brian Jordan and Ron Gant. His career OPS+ of 123 ranks even with Tigers and Dodgers outfielder Kirk Gibson and in the same neighborhood as Eric Davis and J.D. Drew. Mark McGwire said of Lankford, "He's the best protection I've ever had in the line-up, that includes in Oakland" Jose Canseco cries a little bit every time he hears that quote.
1998 Skybox EX-2001 Ray Lankford Essential Credentials Future
A cool 1990s baseball player with few printing plates, autographs, or relics means you have to go with a cool chase card. Maybe a 1993 Finest Refractor. Could have gone with the Topps Tek variations too, but I have also liked the Essential Credential cards. Limited print runs and difficult to find, but not impossible. I own both the Future and Now versions of this card. A must have for any Lankford card collector.
and a bonus...