Friday, March 7, 2008

Card Spotlight: 3-7-08

1994 Pinnacle #192 - Ivan Calderon

This is one of the cards that I got from Patricia and Lucy. It's not a card about smiles. It's a card about sorrow. You can see it in Ivan's face. You can sense it.

This was Ivan's only card in 1994, besides two parallels of this card. It is also his last card. He was a fan favorite, but there are no fan favorite cards of him. 1993 was the last gasp for Ivan's major league career.

The Sox were looking for an edge to go into the post-season in 1993. George Bell wasn't really working for them. When the Boston Red Sox released Ivan in early August, the Sox signed him on August 31st. It seemed like a no brainer. Ivan was a fan favorite, especially in Chicago. He had success in the few years that he had been away from the White Sox. It would be the perfect addition to put the team over the top.

Sure his average dipped in Boston, but this might be just the thing for Ivan to bounce back. A familiar, friendly place usually does wonders for a hitter's average. Sadly, it got worse. Ivan hit .115 for the White Sox in 9 games in 1993. At the end of the season, the Sox let Ivan go into free agency. But there were no takers.

Ivan never played another game in the majors. He played in parts of 10 years and even went to an All-Star game, but luck was not in the cards for Ivan. 10 years after playing his last game, Ivan was brutally murdered in Puerto Rico. He was shot in the head multiple times.

I had not seen this card until yesterday, when I received it in a package of other White Sox cards. It instantly reminded me of the pain that Ivan went through in his last days as a major leaguer. It reminded me of the sorrow surrounding his death. It's the expression on Ivan's face that really gets to me. It's almost as if he knows his time is short. It doesn't matter if it means his playing or his life. It's all captured in the face.

There will likely never be a newer card of Ivan Calderon. He's not the type of player that usually warrants that sort of thing. If there is another card of him someday, I hope he's smiling. That's how I remember him. It goes without saying that if he's smiling, he's got his gold chains on. I didn't see those in this card either.

A special thank you is in order for Patricia and Lucy. It may sound like this is a painful card to see, but it brought back such wonderful memories. I thank both of you for that.

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