Monday, May 30, 2011

Favorite Cards: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

2001 Topps Tribute #10 - Wade Boggs

As strange as it was to see long time Red Sox third baseman, Wade Boggs, on the Yankees, it was even stranger to see him on the Devil Rays. What was even more amazing was that Wade Boggs could still hit at age 41.

Wade collected his 3,000th hit in 1999, and finished his career with 3,010 hits. In his final year, he still hit over .300. In fact, the lowest average Wade had ever had for a season came in 1998, and that was still a respectable .280.

As a kid, I respected the hell out of Wade Boggs. I admired his high batting averages and wished that the White Sox could land him someday. Instead, I was stuck with a rotation of third basemen that included such household names as Tim Hulett, Wayne Tolleson, Steve Lyons, Carlos Martinez and Kenny Williams, among others. I always thought that Boggs could put the White Sox over the top and into the playoffs.

Of course, this was before I knew the intricacies of trades and free agency. If the White Sox did ever trade for Wade Boggs in the eighties, I probably would have missed out on seeing Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas and Alex Fernandez in a White Sox uniform. I was a kid and had no clue what four great years in the draft could do to revitalize my favorite team. Still, I would have loved to see Boggs hit in Comiskey Park on a regular basis, alongside Baines and Fisk.

I have a soft spot for newer teams. I'm always intrigued with additions to the MLB cache of teams or a city move. Back in 1993, I owned Marlins and Rockies shirts and would wear them often. I thought the idea of a team in a brand new place was great. I especially liked seeing more players get a chance to be on a major league roster. I thought it might introduce an influx of new cards.

When the leagues expanded again in 1998, I was curious. I absolutely adored the hideous Devil Rays uniforms with the interesting color scheme. It was even better that I saw an instantly recognizable face in that hideous uniform with Wade Boggs.

The combination of every factor is included in this card. Wade Boggs in a pose where one can truly appreciate that great mustache, the Devil Rays uniform with the rainbow lettering, and an eye catching card. There is a look of bewilderment on Boggs' face, as if he's wondering what he's doing there. My guess is that after hitting the first home run in Devil Ray history, he's waiting to become the first player in MLB history to hit a home run as his 3,000th hit.

A great card plus a great player plus a hideously great uniform equals my favorite Tampa Bay Devil Rays card.

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