I moved to Chicago from South Florida in the late summer of 1989. Florida did not have a professional baseball team at the time, I was able to pick my own ‘home’ team to cheer for since my home state didn’t have one. Since the local cable company offered WGN and WTBS, I found myself being an Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs fan.
After moving to Chicago I got swept up in the Cub’s pennant winning season and watching Jerome Walton play was a big reason why.
Jerome Walton was a text-book leadoff hitter – A player that was able to hit for average, get on base consistently, and steal bases. During Walton’s rookie year, he hit .293 and had 24 stolen bases. In addition to that, he also set the major league record for consecutive games with a hit by a rookie with 30 games. Walton became a fan favorite and wound up winning the Rookie of the Year award in ’89. The kid with the ‘unusual batting stance’ looked like he was headed for stardom and was going to help make the Cubs winners.
Unfortunately, the exact opposite happened. Walton’s best year was his rookie season and his star quickly faded as he became more and more inconsistent at the plate. In less than 3 seasons with the Cubs, Walton lost his starting job and was not granted a contract extension. Walton then went on to play for 5 different teams in 6 seasons and never was able to get consistent playing time. He still showed that he had better than average offensive skills, but he was never able to earn a full-time job. Jerome Walton retired from baseball after the 1998 season.
If you had to compare Reggie’s personality and honesty to another famous athlete I would say he is very close to Charles Barkley. Both guys are extremely opinionated and know that their comments will not be accepted by all. I guess that is what makes players like this stand out; they are not afraid to be honest and speak the truth versus only offering canned/prepared answers to probing questions.
Here are some of my favorite Reggie Jackson quotes:
- “God do I love to hit that little round son-of-a-bitch out of the park and make ’em say ‘Wow!’
- “I have a hard time believing athletes are overpriced. If an owner is losing money, give it up. It’s a business. I have trouble figuring out why owners would stay in if they’re losing money.”
- “I’m human and I’ve played my butt off for ten years. I’m not a loafer, I’m not a jerk, I’m a baseball player.”
- “The only reason I don’t like playing in the World Series is I can’t watch myself play.”
- “The only way I’m going to win a Gold Glove is with a can of spray paint.”
- “You don’t face Nolan Ryan without your rest. He’s the only guy I go against that makes me go to bed before midnight.”
The 1971 Topps card design was chosen as the best design from the 1970’s. I have to agree with the readers on this one. I am a big fan of the 1978 set, but the 1971 issue stands heads and shoulders above the other cards issued in the 1970’s.
And now for the reasons that the 1971 product is King!!
#1 – The Black border was a new concept. Although the color(or lack of) makes the card look darker, it really highlights the team name, player name, and position graphics. Also, they used a lot of photography of the players using a lower angle so the background contains a vivid Blue sky, which is a very nice contrast to the Black border.
#2 – The baseball poses actually work. Most of the baseball poses that are used on cards are cheesy. For the 1971 Topps set, many of the poses are actually believable and may be seen during live action.
#3 – In order to get a mint conditon card out of this set, the Black design needed to be impecable. I have been searching this specific issue for a few cards and finding one with perfect gloss, crisp corners, 50/50 centering, and no pits or dents on the Black border has been rough. I think that as collectors, we choose to be picky on certain things. And finding a mint card from the 1971 Topps set is something that is not easy to do, but once it is obtained it feels like a small accomplishment has been made.