Countdown to Spring Training – 24 days

Pitchers and catchers report on February 12th. And it can’t start soon enough! I thought I would do a daily countdown that will incorporate players’ numbers, and actual baseball cards from my collection. I’ve done some other posts involving my cards, but this one will be a bit different. I’ll occasionally drop in some other players if I don’t have enough to go on. So let’s get started!

While Willie Mays (HOF 1979) seemed like the easy and obvious choice for #24, there were others representing both old school and new school that could have also been selected. I’ll go into more detail about those later.

scan0001 (1)Mays was one of the best hitters and fielders of the game. He spent a majority of his career (1951-1971) with the Giants, and his last two seasons (1972-73) were back in NY with the Mets. He hit 660 homeruns, had 3,283 hits and a lifetime batting average of .302. Mays is the only player to have both a 3 triple game and a 4 home run game. His accolades include rookie of the year in 1951, a 12 time Gold Glove winner, 2 time NL MVP, a 24 time All Star selection, and a World Series winner. All this despite missing part of 1952 and all of the 1953 seasons due to serving in the Army during the Korean War.

This card is from my personal collection, and is Mays’s 1973 card. You can tell by the scan it’s fairly worn. Growing up we didn’t look at baseball cards as a possible investment, checking values on ebay or other trading sites and keeping them in plastic covers. No, I would pin my favorites up on my cork board in my room (notice the pinhole at the top). I would get them out every Saturday during NBC’s “Game of the Week” with Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubek, lay them out on the floor, and watch my favorite players while holding their baseball card. You always ended up with tons of the “no-name” players, so you would take your extra Dave Lemanczyk cards and put them on your bicycle so the would make a clicking noise against the spokes on your tire. For some reason I STILL have 5 Dave Lemanczyk cards in my collection. You could always tell your favorites by the dog eared edges and the smudges on the cards.

Back to other number 24s. Rickey Henderson was another choice for number 24. Elected to the HOF in 1999, he was feared on the basepaths as he retired with both the single season (130) and career (1,406) stolen base records. A 10 time all star, Henderson’s number 24 has been retired by the A’s. This card is also from my personal collection.
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Another choice, although not a hall of famer, was Tony Perez from the Big Red Machine, the Cincinnat Reds. Perez spent most of his 22 year career with the Reds, and was a key member of their back to back World Series titles in 75 and 76. A 7 time all star selection, his number 24 has been retired by the Reds. This card is from my collection, from the 1976 season.
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The final two icons worthy of consideration for #24 are manager Walter Alston of the Dodgers, and Early Wynn, both members of the Hall of Fame. These images are stock images from the web, as I don’t have either of their cards.

Hope you enjoy the series, and come back tomorrow for #23!

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