Friday, January 27, 2017

Countdown to 2017 Topps #05: Courage

Winter blues got you down? Fear not, 2017 Topps Series 1 hits the shelves in just five days.

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."~ Nelson Mandela

"I play the game hard but would never try to hurt someone"~ Dave Parker

Looking at this photo of Felix Millan has me convinced he was a very courageous man. Look at how nonchalant he appears in the face of adversity. A Pittsburgh threat, ended with a twin-killing. Ho-hum, just another day at the office for the Mets infielder.

At first glance, this probably doesn't seem to be that big of a deal, until you realize who it is bearing down on Felix. Yes, it's the Cobra, Dave Parker. This was the man former LA Times staff writer Mike Downey once called "the only man in the ballpark large enough to be playing for the more popular team in town, the Steelers." That would be the same Dave Parker whose facemask, undoubtedly, scared the hell out of children attending Pirates games. You see, Parker suffered a fractured cheekbone and jaw during a 1978 game against those same Mets and was left wearing a hockey mask that looked a little too much like something out of a horror movie. BTW, this was prior to Friday the 13th, Halloween and the rest. Don't believe me? Well, get a load of this:

Yeah, we're talking scary. The mask lasted only one game (and batting practice), before he traded it in for a two-bar face guard, much like something a Steelers player would have on his helmet.

It doesn't even seem fair, does it- that one average-sized man (listed at 5'11, 172 pounds) would have to face the 6'5, 230 pound Cobra. But Felix did, and he lived to tell a story- even if it were just on cardboard. And this particular card- the 1978 Topps card- would be Felix's final appearance in an MLB set. Though issued a card in this set, Millan did not appear in the majors during the '78 season- nor any other season following that.

If I might be so bold to re-interpret the Mandela quote..." the brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who faces the Cobra and does not crap down his leg."

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