Thirteen days until pitchers and catchers report. Lucky 13! A baker’s dozen of days left. And one degree warmer than it was this morning when I walked out to my car. Spring training cannot come fast enough! Just two players today on this abbreviated post, but they are good ones. Sure, others have graced us with their major league presence wearing 13. Players like A-Rod, Clemente (in 1955), David Cone, and Omar Vizquel. But since the primary focus of this series is trying to use my own baseball cards, I think I’ve chosen two pretty good representatives of players who didn’t succumb to triskaidekaphobia!
Concepción wore number 13 for the Cincinnati Reds. In the 19 seasons he played for the Big Red Machine, he amassed five Gold Glove awards at shortstop, and was a nine time All Star, which includes being named the All Star MVP in 1982. Concepción played on two World Series champion teams (1975, 1976), and won the 1977 Roberto Clemente award for humanitarianism. When he retired in 1988, Concepción was second on the Reds’ all time games played (2,488), at bats (8,723) and plate appearances (9,640) lists. He also ranks among the team leaders in career singles (2nd, 1,788), sac flies (2nd, 86), hits (3rd), doubles (3rd, 389), times on base (4th, 3,083), total bases (5th, 3,114), and runs scored (6th, 993). On August 25, 2007 the Cincinnati Reds retired jersey number 13 in honor of Concepción’s contributions to the team.
Alexander played 19 seasons of major league ball, with 4+ of them coming in Baltimore. I am lucky enough to have this card of his first season with the O’s in 1972. To new fans, Alexander might not be a household name. But two of his trades involved big names. In 1971, he was traded from the Dodgers to the Orioles, a trade that send Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to play for LA. Later in his career, he was traded from the Braves to the Tigers for future Hall of Famer, John Smoltz. Alexander did a yeoman’s job over the years, appearing in 561 games and racked up 194 wins. His career WAR (wins above replacement) of 34.7 puts him on the level of Preacher Roe, Schoolboy Rowe, Tim Wakefield, and so far, above Johnny Cueto.