No Card -- José Méndez
José Méndez is recognized as the first Cuban born baseball star during the Pre-Negro League era. Although he never played in Major League Baseball, he pitched a number of exhibition games against some of the best pitchers of the Dead Ball Ear, including Christy Mathewson, and always compared favorably well, and in many cases he bested his opponent. Méndez, a wiry pitcher, was known for changing speeds, but he also possessed a hard fastball and a sharp curve. It is said that he was "Walter Johnson and Grover Alexander" rolled into one.
2018 Gavin's Neglected Hall of Famer Custom Set, #13 -- Louis Santop
Louis Santop, who first starred in the Pre-Negro Leagues is said to be the first big superstar and one of the first great Negro League sluggers. Standing at 6'4", the catcher was nicknamed Big Bertha, after a large piece of German heavy artillery. A bit of a showman, Santop would put on a power display during batting practice by hitting tape measure blasts. It was said he would sometimes call his shot during live play and before the game he would show off his arm by throwing a ball from home plate over the center field fence.
1982 Donruss, #372 -- Bruce Sutter
Bruce Sutter pitched for twelve years in the majors and recorded 300 saves during that span. The six-time All-Star lead the league in saves five times, won a Cy Young award with the Cubs in 1979, and helped the Cardinals to a World Series in 1982. Sutter was one of the dominate relievers in baseball during the late 70's and early 80's. For what it's worth, Sutter now comes in tied with Jason Isringhausen for 28th on the all-time saves list.
Fun stuff: My favorite memory of Sutter is from the Sandberg Game!
1986 Larry Fritsch Negro League Baseball Stars, #115 -- Mule Suttles
Mule Suttles played in the Negro Leagues for twenty-three seasons as a first baseman and outfielded. He was a soft-spoken gent who was just as talented as Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige, but because he didn't seek out the limelight he was often overlooked by the press despite having a career average of 0.325 and prodigious power.
2018 Gavin's Neglected Hall of Famer Custom Set, #10 -- Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor's career lasted twenty-two years and he is remembered as great teacher of the game and for exhibiting a scientific approach on the field. A career 0.300 hitter, Taylor would hit to all fields and execute the hit-and-run to perfection. He was known as "Old Reliable" for his slick glove work at first base as well as being a tremendous clutch hitter.
2014 Upper Deck Goodwin Champions, #137 -- Cristobal Torriente
Cristobal Torriente was once given the moniker "The Black Babe Ruth" because he out-performed the Babe in Cuba during a nine game barnstorming series. Torriente, a Cuban, was a five-tool player who patrolled center fielder. He was known for hitting in the high 0.300's and swatting dramatic home runs to all fields. Torriente dabbled with pitching and according to the incomplete stats in BaseballReference.com he won twenty-one games during his career. A former manager of his in the Negro Leagues once said, "If I should see Torriente walking up the other side of the street, I would say ‘There walks a ballclub.'"
1994 Ted Williams Card Co., #116 -- Jud Wilson
Jud Wilson, served in World War I, and then took to battle on the ball fields of the Negro and Cuban Winter Leagues. He was known as a fiery competitor who had just as much power as Josh Gibson, but he was more of a line drive hitter who would easily blast balls off the walls for doubles. Wilson, a third baseman, owned a career average north of 0.350 in the Negro Leagues and better than 0.370 in winter ball. He had a reputation throughout baseball, which can be summed up in this manner, "There were no pitchers who wanted to face him and few umpires that wanted to call ball and strikes for him."
1985 Topps, #660 -- Tony Gwynn
Tony Gwynn, or Mr. Padre, played twenty seasons and racked up 3,141 hits during his career. Gwynn went to fifteen All-Star games, won eight batting titles and was awarded seven Silver Sluggers. The strike shortened season of 1994 still bothers me for two reasons: 1. missing out on the Expos (74-40 record) in the post season and 2. Tony Gwynn may have hit 0.400. Gwynn finished his career as a 0.338 hitter and never struck out more than 40 times in a season.
Here's one of my favorite tweets of all-time:
Gavin's wonderful customs aside, my favorite card on this page is the 1985 Topps Tony Gwynn. I absolutely love the gold and brown color scheme the Padres used to sport on a regular basis. Plus, flip-down sunglasses for the win!
For the record, José Méndez has a card in the 2014 Goodwin Champions set, but I just haven't secured a copy yet. Sooner or later I'll make my way to Sportlots and place one in my cart.
Thanks for stopping by!