Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Countdown to 2016 Topps #15: Free Spirits, Lucky Charms and Rocks Wrapped in Wire

Why is it that players (and cards) from the '70s through the mid-'80s are much more interesting than those of today? Where have all the characters gone? And the ones that do exist today get lambasted by those who proclaim to play the game 'the right way.' Free spirits are not welcome. But then again, have they ever been? They are in today's Countdown to 2016 Topps...

How many of you collectors out there have a mini collection of Free Spirited players from the 70s? You probably have your Bill Lee (and don't we always have to start with the Spaceman), Doc Ellis, Mark Fidrych or Dick Allen collection- but have you considered Ross Grimsley?

Grimsley was originally drafted by the ultra-conservative Cincinnati Reds organization and was once asked if he ever felt constricted by team rules, he replied that he never had a problem following their rules, and he did- even when he didn't agree with the rules. He never had long hair or facial hair while in the Queen City. 

One of the stranger things during his career: supposedly receiving a lucky charm from a witch. Legend has it that once the superstitious Grimsley had received the charm, he immediately went on a four-game winning streak. He then lost the charm and lost his next two games. After receiving a replacement charm, he went on to more success before losing it again. He then realized he had lost the witch's phone number and thus could not get a replacement. Sparky Anderson found out about the charm and called Grimsley in to his office, telling him to forget the witch, forget the charm, and warned him about how others around the league would perceive him. But... in a 2011 interview, Grimsley gives a different story. When asked about it, the former pitcher said that the story had been embellished, that it was actually a rock wrapped in wire that a fan had sent to him. A reporter, according to Grimsley, had started the story about it being a charm from a witch.

I remember the Expos having some very good teams back in the day, but had forgot that the 1979 and 1980 teams had both Ross Grimsley and Bill Lee on their roster. Talk about a cast of characters.

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