Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Anatomy of a Baseball Card: Randy Johnson 1989 Upper Deck


I picked up this well known rookie card out of a dime box last weekend. Upon further inspection, it's clear that the card is in less than perfect shape. I could be kicking myself for not grabbing the other copy that was waiting in the dime box, but what do I really need with two Randy Johnson rookie cards? What do I need with one? Who's to say that either of them were in great shape? This is a card that goes for about 75 cents in allegedly great shape on, despite it's theoretical "book value" of $8 as determined by a council of evil over at Beckett headquarters.

Randy Johnson could be regular folk, but he mostly has always looked like carny folk. No matter when or where he could try and fit in, he was always going to be an incredibly tall but spindly lefty who could throw Chapman-like fastballs sustained over 7 or 8 eight innings. He did it for a long time, and he made the Hall of Fame despite Growing Up Mariner. Randy even played for the Expos, man.

I'm not entirely sure what a combination basketball/baseball scholarship is, but I'm pretty sure it's not something that could exist today -- especially not at a major school like USC. Despite the fact that a well-rounded athletic career seems to be as suitable as a balanced breakfast, young athletes seemed to be pushed more and more towards one specialization. There will probably never be another Dave Winfield, let alone a Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson.

Randy Johnson's #25 may never be as interesting as card #1 from Upper Deck's inaugural set, but he did a lot better for himself than Ramon Martinez or Felix Jose. Both of those cards were hot items at one point in my life, but Martinez is best known as Pedro's brother and Jose still sounds like someone accidentally reversed his first and last names.

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