Monday, January 16, 2017

Countdown to 2017 Topps #16: Bake

I might be in the minority of collectors, but my decision to collect a set is not rooted in its design or whether or not it contains borders; appearances and checklists are nice, but ultimately I collect what I do because...well, Topps. It's what I started out collecting as a kid and that's good enough for me. We are down to just sixteen days until the company's newest flagship hits the streets.

Was it his ability to hit? Perhaps. Or maybe it was the speed that he brought to the field. He was exciting, after all. But odds are that if you were a fan of Bake McBride- or you collect his cards- it was for something other than his play. That's not to say that his on-the-field performance didn't warrant fandom, it's just that we are often drawn to personalities and appearances.

The Nickname:
Born Arnold Ray McBride, Bake's nickname was also the moniker of his father (Arnold Sr.), who was a pitcher for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues. McBride was given the nickname early in life, and it stuck through his playing days. He was also referred to at times as "Shake 'n Bake".

The 'Fro
When I think of afros from the 70s and 80s, Bake ranks right near the top of the list- probably second to only Oscar Gamble in terms of its magnitude. And if you followed the Phillies teams of the late 70s, you might remember Bake being a member of the 'All-Hair Outfield' that comprised of McBride, Garry Maddox and Jose Cardenal. Thanks to Dick Allen HOF for that treasure.

Body Language
Whether it was a smile or eyes that made him looked, er...baked, Mr. McBride was always a photogenic fellow. And if he wasn't looking stoned or offering up a smile, well there was always that hair!

McBride's 1977 Topps card is one of the earliest cards I remember pulling from a pack. I think what made it so memorable was the name of the player and the pillbox hat upon his head. I didn't know anything about him as a player, and my experience with baseball cards was limited- but I did know a great card when I saw one. And this was is a great card.

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