One of the darkest eras of baseball in my lifetime came during the early and mid 1990s watching my hometown Cardinals. I know a lot of baseball fans and card collectors give me grief over the fact that the Cardinals are always winning something and how tough it must be to be a Cardinals fan. Well, as a kid in middle school and high school the Cardinals were generally depressing to watch. I went to a ton of games though and got to see a ton of good players not on the Cardinals. I also got to see Ray Lankford.
The team was owned by the stingy August Busch III who really did not care about the team the way his father, August Busch II had since he bought the team in the 1950s. When the team needed help he would generally not fork over the money to fix the problem. Cardinals fans generally have the perception that Auggie's entire tenure as owner was spent not spending on baseball players. However, that is not entirely true.
After the player strike was resolved in the spring of 1995, Auggie went out and got two of the best starting pitchers in the National League during the 1994 season. The Cardinals traded Kirk Bullinger to the Expos for Ken Hill, who finished second in the 1994 Cy Young voting, and Danny Jackson, who finished 6th. Cardinals fans were hopefully.
With the downfall of the Cardinals in the early 1990s, I slowed down my baseball card collecting. Not that I stopped, but I basically put together a Topps set and spent the rest of the year opening packs, or picking up singles from card products I found interesting. Definitely not my usual level of interest. However, the addition of Danny Jackson and Ken Hill peaked my interest again and I rushed out to 1,000,000 Baseball Cards in Ballwin, Missouri to buy all the quarter and fifty cent Danny Jackson cards I could put my hands on....
This was my favorite....
Anytime you can fit the skyline of St. Louis onto a baseball card it's a positive. Looking back on this card, I also like looking at old Busch Stadium with the astroturf and full seating section in the outfield.
Unfortunately the Danny Jackson signing turned out to be a complete disaster for the Cardinals. Jackson ended the 1995 season with a 2-12 record and an ERA of 5.90. The team ended up losing 81 games, but would have easily lost 90 if the season had not been shortened to 144 games that year. Jackson would stay in St. Louis until he was traded for Fernando Valenzuela in the early parts of the 1997 season. Still, he was the Cardinal I remember the team signing as a free agent who was a big deal. I have my big stack of Danny Jackson still sitting in a box, not a regular stop, but I like to look at them every once in a while.