Monday, April 4, 2011

Favorite Cards: Cincinnati Reds

1961 Topps #166 - Danny Kravitz

There are thousands of flashier Reds cards. There are hundreds of better players. In fact, there are many more players that actually suited up for the Cincinnati Reds. So why is this card my favorite Reds card?

For a time this was the oldest card in my collection. Right now I have no clue as to its whereabouts and I have since added older cards to my collection. That doesn't explain why it's my favorite though.

Technically a phantom player, Danny didn't play a single game for the Cincinnati Reds. He was with the Pittsburgh Pirates for four and a half years as a backup catcher. He was traded to the Kansas City Athletics in the middle of 1960. After the 1960 season Kravitz was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. He spent all of 1961 in Cincinnati's AAA affiliate in Jersey City. Danny never was called up with the Reds and he found himself bouncing between the Yankees and Orioles organizations in 1962 and 1963, before falling off the radar.

It was, at one time, the oldest card in my collection and Danny was a phantom player. Both of these things would make it a candidate for a great card in my collection, but it doesn't make it the favorite Cincinnati Reds card for those factors alone. The story of how I obtained the card puts it over the top.

I was eight or nine years old when I was given the 1961 Topps Danny Kravitz card, through my best estimation. My dad was doing some electrical work in a hallway wall, when he pulled out the Danny Kravitz card. One of the top corners was missing, but the rest of the card was in decent shape. I didn't care about the condition of the card. I had never held a card in my hands that old before. It seemed like a relic from an ancient time.

The haircut screamed late fifties or early sixties. The design was new and foreign to me, having only seen it on pictures of Roger Maris cards, up to that point. It was a player that I had never heard of, from a team that I had only seen on WGN and TBS and heard about on Family Ties. The most famous player on the Reds was Pete Rose and this player played before his arrival. I was transfixed!

There was only one owner of our house before us. He was a colorful veteran, who had some strange behavior. He turned the single car garage into a bar and toasted to his mother's memory every night. A few years after my parents bought the house, my dad found the mother's ashes in the garage attic. The previous owner had also taken a jackhammer and broke away the part of the driveway in front of the converted garage. While I was doing some work in 2008, I found every single piece of the broken poured concrete buried in the front yard, near the street. I was able to turn some of the pieces into a mosaic pathway.

What an odd, elderly man was doing with baseball cards in the wall during the sixties and early seventies is anyone's guess. It makes me wonder what other treasures we will eventually uncover. Suffice to say, every time there's work done on the original part of the house, I keep my eyes peeled for other 1961 Topps cards.

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