Thursday, May 30, 2013

#11 Eric Karros

About the Front: (Oops! I forgot to post this before I ducked out to Oriole Park yesterday. Just pretend it's still May 29...)Here's another first in the set - first Rookie Cup! Topps has been designating an "All-Star Rookie Team" since 1960, and in most years a trophy or cup logo has appeared on the front of the chosen players' cards. There was a full batter-on-top-hat trophy design from 1961 through 1972, and a simple gold or silver cup from 1975-1978, and again from 1987-present.

You'll also notice Eric Karros' jersey number (23) written on the knob of his bat. It's always amusing to see a player's name, nickname, or number scrawled on a piece of equipment. It's an easy way to keep your teammates from walking off with your stuff, and it saves needless guesswork by clubhouse managers, but it's one of the few informal touches that keeps pro baseball tethered to its childhood origins.

About the Back: Here's the box score from the game featuring Karros' walk-off three-run pinch homer, served up by Stan Belinda. Eric went on to hit 284 career home runs, but only three of those were game-enders. The others were a two-run shot off of the Reds' Rob Dibble on August 6, 1993 and a solo bomb off of Arizona's Byung-Hyun Kim on September 20, 2000. The latter home run resolved a scoreless tie.

Triple Play:

1. The Dodgers have traditionally had more than their share of Rookie of the Year winners. Jackie Robinson won the first award in 1947, and the boys in blue have taken home the prize 16 times total. Los Angeles had four straight ROtYs from 1979 through 1982, but Karros was the first of FIVE straight Rookies of the Year for the Dodgers. He was followed by Mike Piazza (1993), Raul Mondesi (1994), Hideo Nomo (1995), and Todd Hollandsworth (1996). Funnily enough, the team hasn't had another player win the award since.

2. In his first two postseason series, Eric's performance varied wildly. In the 1995 NLDS, he batted .500 (6-for-12) with a pair of homers, a double, and four RBI, but the Dodgers were swept by the Reds. The following year, he went 0-for-9 with a pair of walks, and this time the Braves swept L.A. out of the NLDS.

3. Karros now covers MLB games as a color commentator for Fox, where he has gained attention for his gravity-defying helmet of hair.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: It was always an extra little thrill to see that gold Rookie Cup on the front of a card. It was a shorthand way of telling you that this guy was something special. As we'll see later, that wasn't so much true. (Looking at you, Pat Listach.)

Bill James Said: "I would see him as a minor star, at best, and I suspect that he might be better cast as a platoon player." Karros had a short peak and a slightly above-average 107 OPS+ for his career, but he did finish fifth in MVP voting in 1995, when he hit .298/.369/.535 with 32 home runs and 105 RBI.

On This Date in 1993: May 29. Jose Canseco made his infamous pitching debut for the Texas Rangers, allowing three runs on two hits and three walks in mop-up work. Boston romped 15-1, and Jose underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in July.


  1. Speaking of gravity-defying, I really dislike the floating rookie cup Topps went with in the '90s.

    Anchor that thing!

  2. night owl - Well, it still beats the "Topps box" that cut a chunk out of every photo in the 2008 set.

  3. No scan of the back, Kevin? Go O's!

  4. Lonnie - I don't know how I forgot to include the scan of the back! I'll fix that when I'm back on my laptop. Thanks!