Monday, January 8, 2018

Two Men In

Another holiday celebration, another card from my Eight Men Out list. Actually, two cards. I had barely placed the Tony Gwynn insert card my mom gave me for Hanukkah into my overflowing 1995 binder before Christmas rolled around. Yes, I grew up in a multi-religion household, so two December festivities were on the calendar. And if that means that three-eighths of my Eight Men Out list were delivered by the Hanukkah Fairy and Santa Claus (both played by my mom), then I'll take it.

2001 Upper Deck Victory #540 Jeff Cirillo
One of these days I'll properly take stock of how well my Coors Field frankenset is coming along, but this one will be a perfect candidate for slot #540. UD Victory was halfway through its five-year lifespan in 2001, depicting Jeff Cirillo in 2000, his first season as the Rockies' third baseman.

This UD brand shows us a sliver of how Coors Field has changed over the years. The white circle on the outfield wall is where Jackie Robinson's retired number resided for many years, until it was moved onto the base of the right-center seating deck, just above the bullpens, joining Todd Helton's #17 and Keli McGregor's "KSM" initials. Another change, slightly more recent, was the raising of the outfield wall. The yellow line that turns downward past the out-of-town scoreboard is no longer, and the wall is now flush with where the upper yellow line is in this photo.

The changes don't stop there, though. If the camera were to pan dramatically upwards, you'd get to see The Rooftop deck, instead of a few thousand more green and purple seats. And finally, though I'm not sure when it happened, they're no longer using lower-case letters on the out-of-town scoreboard. I think. I only recall seeing capital letters there for the past several years, but I'm not 100% sure that I'm not just imagining this. I'll have to do further research this season.

I know that Opening Day is still almost three months away, but I'm so eager for baseball to return that I already have the 2018 schedule pinned up in my cubicle at work.

1997 Upper Deck #442 Charlie Hayes
The final out of the World Series is always a bittersweet moment. Well, sometimes it's just bitter. But when the champion is finally crowned, it begins a long, dark season without any baseball. In the words of the great Rogers Hornsby, it's the time when we "stare out the window and wait for spring." Or perhaps read a bit. But many of those final plays in the World Series are historic, or at least memorable. And I remember this one.

Former Rockie Charlie Hayes was a third baseman for the Yankees in 1996, sharing duties with Wade Boggs. Joe Girardi was behind the plate, long before he would don the pinstripes as manager. The Yankees were playing in their first World Series of my lifetime, facing the Atlanta Braves, the team that loved to give the Rockies nightmares. So you can guess who I was rooting for.

I had only been watching baseball on a regular basis for four seasons, but that was enough time for me to develop a pretty good memory of past plays. And the way that Charlie Hayes squeezed the final out of Game 6 in foul territory looked exactly, to my eyes, like the final home out of the Rockies 1993 season.

Despite my attendance at Mile High Stadium on September 26th, 1993, I don't recall the hit by pitch that I identified on Girardi's 1994 Upper Deck card. But I do remember that final out, and it was caught by Charlie Hayes in a shadowy foul territory. I don't think it was quite as near to the wall as shown on this 1997 Upper Deck card (complete with copper and specific date), but it certainly jogged my 12-year-old memory.

It would be many more years before I had my first Budweiser, but at 12 years old, I already had a wealth of firsthand baseball knowledge to draw on.

As always, thanks to my mom for continuing to cultivate my love of baseball.


  1. Never seen that Hayes before, I'll have to add it to my own list!

  2. Hate the Yankees... love the Hayes. Just another reason to love UD baseball.

    1. And I hate Budweiser but I love the Hayes.

      Thanks for your continued comments! I'll have a post up for your trade soon!