Thursday, May 6, 2010

50 Year Counterparts, Pt. 4

1961 Topps #390

The tools of ignorance were adorned primarily by Del Crandall for the Braves from 1949-1950 & 1953-1960. Shoulder problems would keep him out for most of the 1961 season, giving future-Hall of Fame Manager Joe Torre his first real shot as a major leaguer. Torre, in fact, would finish second to Billy Williams in the 1961 Rookie of the Year voting. (Unfortunately, there was no card from the 1961 Topps set of then-rookie Joe Torre. If I can someday purchase a copy of Photoshop, that's the first project on my list of "Cards That Never Were.")

A perennial All-Star, Crandall was one of the top defensive catchers in the N.L., had a very strong arm (he threw out 46% of would-be basestealers), and was a four-time gold glove award winner. His reputation of being one of the best at calling a game was evidenced by the Braves' staff finishing either first or second in ERA five times over a six-year period, and in that he caught three no-hitters in his career (two of them coming in less than a month apart).

1961 Topps #583

While he was primarily known for his defensive prowess, Del was no slouch at the plate. His 175 homers were fourth highest in NL history at the time of his retirement and he had a good eye at the plate (he only had 53 more strikeouts than walks).

For those who collect autographs, Mr. Crandall will be signing at an upcoming Waukesha Sportcards private signing June 23rd. You can get more info here.

Current Braves backstop Brian McCann could be defined as the antithesis of Crandall. While McCann has made the All-Star team each of his full four-seasons, it has been his bat that has gotten him there. A career .293 hitter, Brian is a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner and has hit 91 home runs in 2123 AB. Defensively, he is not horrible, but his future may be at first base- especially with Christian Bethancourt developing very nicely in the minors.
2010 Topps Heritage #390
While not exactly the most exciting card from this year's Heritage set, Brian most certainly looks like the smartest player in the league, kinda like one of those cool urban types. This past offseason he had laser surgery to correct his vision and hasn't been sporting the glasses, but it appears his early struggles this year are attributed to having gone without them. It was announced today that Brian would be wearing the eyeglasses again, so I'm guessing that we might see him wearing them on future cards.


  1. I really like your series on the 1961 team set.

  2. Thanks- I want to do it each year with the release of Heritage. Can't wait until I'm 58 and can do the '77 set, which is when I started collecting! Hopefully, they'll still be doing it.