Topps had a pretty cool insert set from 2012 series 1 that I completed quite a while ago. I actually finished this up in a trade with the Dutch Card Guy back in November, but forgot to post about it until now. The insert set is Classic Walk-Offs.
Info about the set:
Set description: “Celebrating the greatest walk-offs of all-time”. The cards are designed horizontally with three different picture frames of the player in his walk-off homer moment. Sometimes Topps used the same photo all 3 times (see the Bench) sometimes they use a few different shots. The picture in the top left of the card is a color photo, while the other two are gray / sepia toned.
Set composition: 15 cards, 1:8 hobby odds
Hall of Famers: 4 - Bill Mazeroski, Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Mickey Mantle
The set is skewed toward current players for what has to be contractual reasons – the 4 players above are all of the retired players in the set.
How I put the set together:
5 cards from my HTA Jumbo box
2 cards from some HTA Jumbo packs (which I bought to do the redemption)
8 cards from trades
Thoughts on the set: This is a really cool idea. Like many insert sets Topps does, I love the idea, but am a little nitpicky with the execution. Having a set focused on some of the bigger walk-off home runs? Great idea. Not having Kirk Gibson, Joe Carter or Bobby Thompson in that set? That’s blowing it for sure. Like some of these sets, I’ll show you what I would add. I’m going to make this a little different – as opposed to replacing a few cards, I’d actually double it and make it a 30-card set. Which means I need to find 15 homers to add!
There have been two home runs to end a World Series. Only one (Mazeroski) is included in this set – obviously this has to be included.
- Joe Carter – 10/23/93 off Mitch Williams of the Phillies. Touch ‘em all Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!
There have been four homers that sent a team to the World Series. Only the one hit by Magglio Ordonez in 2006 was included – and since that completed a 4-game sweep, while the others were in do-or-die games, I’d have to say it’s the least dramatic.
- Bobby Thomson – 10/3/51 off Ralph Branca of the Dodgers, NL Tiebreaker Game 3. The shot heard round the world. There have been articles, books and documentaries written about everything regarding this home run – from the mystery of where the ball ended up to the fact that all 3 New York teams were the only teams in the “playoffs” that year. The most famous homer in baseball history somehow didn’t make it into a set about walk-off home runs.
- Chris Chambliss – 10/14/76 off Mark Littell of the Royals, ALCS Game 5. Chambliss couldn’t complete the walk-off since the Yankee fans mobbed the field – he later was escorted out to touch home plate by the umpires.
- Aaron Boone – 10/16/03 off Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox, ALCS Game 7. Aaron Bleeping Boone!
That’s 4 I’ve added. There have also been quite a few very notable World Series walk-off home runs that weren’t a series clincher – I’ve added the ones I’d include below.
- Tommy Henrich – 10/5/49 off Don Newcombe of the Dodgers, World Series Game 1. The first walk-off homer in World Series history was off Don Newcombe and gave the Yankees the early series lead.
- Eddie Mathews – 10/6/57 off Bob Grim of the Yankees, World Series Game 2. This isn’t the first walk-off you think of, but it tied the series 2 games apiece in what would be Hank Aaron’s only World Championship.
- Kirk Gibson – 10/15/88 off Dennis Eckersley of the A’s, World Series Game 1. This is probably a top 5 in the most famous home runs of all time.
- Kirby Puckett – 10/26/91 off Charlie Liebrandt of the Braves, World Series Game 6. We will see you tomorrow night!
- Chad Curtis – 10/26/99 off Mike Remlinger of the Braves, World Series Game 3. This has less to do with the homer and more with how Curtis shunned Jim Gray after the game. Gray had gone pretty much attacked Pete Rose the game before trying to get him to admit to betting on baseball – it put a big damper on the All-Century Team celebration for anyone watching it. Regardless of the fact that Rose was guilty as sin, it was inappropriate from Gray and the response from Curtis was awesome.
- David Freese – 10/27/11 off Mark Lowe of the Rangers, World Series Game 6. We will see you tomorrow night (again). This probably got left out because of timing issues as the set was in series 1 of the next year. But they should have got it in there.
That’s 10 total, so I’ve got 4 more to add. I’d also include the following:
- Gabby Hartnett’s “Homer in the Gloamin’” as darkness descended upon Wrigley Field in a 1938 game against league leading Pittsburgh – basically, if he hadn’t hit the homer, they would have replayed the entire game. Instead, it vaulted the Cubs into an eventual National League pennant.
- Ozzie Smith’s “go crazy folks, go crazy!” homer – which was only the 14th of his career and the first he’d ever hit from the left side of the plate!
- Robin Ventura’s “walk-off grand slam single” in the 1999 NLCS.
- Ted Williams’ walk-off home run in the 1941 All-Star game.
- Chris Hoiles “ultimate walk-off”, where he hit a walk-off grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the 9th on a 3-2 count with his team down 3 runs. This is the only time this has ever happened.
Card that completed my set: #CW-7 – Mickey Mantle
I got this card in a trade with the Dutch Card Guy.
Highest book value: #CW-7 – Mantle
Best card (my opinion): #CW-1 – Bill Mazeroski
A walk-off World Series game 7 homer – the only homer that rivals Thomson’s as the biggest home run in baseball history.
My Favorite Reds card: #CW-5 – Jay Bruce
Beats out the Bench card. I’m sure when Bench hit his in the 1973 LCS, it was a big deal. But the Reds had already been to 2 World Series in the previous 3 seasons; clinching the division for the Reds for the first time in 15 years was a big deal for more recent Reds fans.
Here’s the list of these cards - and the year when the walk-off happened.
- Bill Mazeroski (1960). Game 7 of the World Series – the only in history.
- Carlton Fisk (1975). Game 6 of the World Series, in extra innings. But they didn’t win the series the next night
- Johnny Bench (1973). Game 1 of the NLCS.
- David Ortiz (2004). Game 3 of the ALDS, to complete a series sweep.
- Jay Bruce (2010). To clinch the division for the Reds after 15 years without a postseason berth.
- Mark Teixeira (2009). Game 2 of the ALDS.
- Mickey Mantle (1964). Game 3 of the World Series. This was Mantle’s last World Series, and it broke Babe Ruth’s record for career Series blasts. He would hit two more in the series, though the Cardinals would prevail.
- Alfonso Soriano (2001). Game 4 of the ALCS. Gave the Yanks a 3-1 series lead.
- Rafael Furcal (2004). Game 2 of the NLDS.
- Jim Thome (2007). September, well after the White Sox had been eliminated. But this was Thome’s 500th career home run. A cool addition if you ask me. And if you’re reading this blog, I’ll assume you did.
- Magglio Ordonez (2006). As mentioned above – this one clinched a 4-game sweep to send Detroit to the World Series.
- Scott Podsednik (2005). Game 2 of the World Series. He’d had no homers in the 2005 regular season, but Podsednik put the White Sox well on their way to a sweep.
- David Ortiz (2004). Game 4 of the ALCS. A much bigger walk-off for Big Papi – this one kept the Red Sox season alive. They never looked back after it, becoming the only team to come back from a 3-game deficit.
- Derek Jeter (2001). Game 4 of the World Series. Mr. November.