Friday, September 25, 2009

Card Spotlight: 9-25-09

1958 Topps #129 - Jim Derrington

I know what you're thinking. Who is this guy? He's what's known as a bonus baby.

From 1947 until 1965, any player signed to a contract in excess of $4,000 or more had to be assigned to the 40 man roster for a period of two years. The stipulation being that the player could not be assigned to a farm team. He had to be on the Major League roster.

On September 12, 1956, Jim Derrington was signed to a contract by the Chicago White Sox. On September 30, 1956, he made his Major League debut, at the age of sixteen. Jim also happens to be the youngest starting Major League player in the twentieth century.

Jim appeared in one game in the 1956 season. He appeared in 20 games in 1957. His last game was on September 29, 1957. So, Jim's Major League career spanned exactly one year. His MLB career was washed up at the age of seventeen.

After the 1957 season, Jim spent the rest of his career in the minors trying to get called up, in the White Sox organization. In 1961, he wound up in the New York Mets system before retiring at the end of that season.

Since Jim spent all of 1958 in the minors, I would assume that the White Sox violated the contract and exposed him to the waiver wires, where he went unclaimed.

Topps must have thought enough of him as a bonus baby to include Jim in the 1958 set. It wound up being his only baseball card until 2007, when Jim had two cards issued in the Topps Heritage set, which borrowed its design from the 1958 Topps set.

If you ever run across Jim Derrington's 1958 Topps card, take a moment to reflect. It is the only regular issue Major League card of Jim. There's something both beautiful and sad in that thought.

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