Friday, August 14, 2009

Card Spotlight: 8-14-09

1983 Topps Traded #23T - Julio Cruz

When Harold Baines sacrificed Julio Cruz to clinch the AL West on September 17, 1983, the improbable was made possible. No one expected the White Sox to go anywhere or do anything in 1983.

In fact, no one could have foreseen those fan designed uniforms or the way that the White Sox won games that they had no business winning, hence the Winning Ugly nickname. The best example of all of this is the underwhelming trade with the Mariners, in June, that brought Julio Cruz to the White Sox.

For whatever reason, Julio became energized when he put on the White Sox uniform that year. The Sox were looking for a spark when they traded Tony Bernazard to Seattle. They certainly got it. Julio Cruz was the catalyst for the White Sox in 1983. Without that trade, I don't think that they would have climbed out of their early season funk.

The Sox didn't get into first place until July 18th. The Sox Cruzed into the postseason with a twenty game lead over the Royals. The Sox would get beat by a very good Baltimore team with a very young Cal Ripken Jr., in the playoffs.

Julio Cruz was never the same player after that magical 1983 season. He went downhill fast and was out of the majors in 1986. Still he is remembered for his great contributions to the Winning Ugly team and unlike some players, Topps granted Julio a place in their 1983 Traded set. Now, instead of just a bunch of 1983 Mariners cards of Julio Cruz, there is a Topps card to capture the moments of that wondrous season.

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