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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cooperstown Cards: New Experiences

The Associated Press put the feat into perspective.

Lou Gehrig had 23 grand slams in his career. As of July 5, 1977, Mike Tyson had one.

"Never hit one before, not even in Little League," Tyson told The AP after that game.

The home run was one of 25 Tyson would hit in the major leagues through 1980, according to the back of his 1981 Fleer card.

Tyson had just completed his ninth major league season in 1980, his first with the Cubs. His last season was that year in 1980, with 50 final games with Chicago.

The second baseman ended with a career batting average of .241, fairly giving Tyson the prefix of "light-hitting." It was the opposite of the man who went on to steal Tyson's name a few years later.

Tyson, the baseball player, was included in the latest Cooperstown Cards pack, a pack of 1981 Fleer. I've previously picked up packs of 1981 Fleer at the same store, and, while the cards came out nine years before the CMC set, I still found CMC set members. This pack, though, contained none.

There was a Hall of Famer from this pack purchased in Cooperstown. Don Sutton the Dodger was there. Through 1980, Sutton had 230 career wins, all with Los Angeles.

Fleer included all his big league stats on the back, and was even kind enough to include his minor league stats. Before making the dodgers, Sutton played for Santa Barbara and Albuquerque in 1965 and played two games for Spokane in 1968.

Elsewhere in the pack there was future manager Don Baylor, 19-season major leaguer Scott Sanderson and the father of Barry, Bobby Bonds. And Bill Russell, the baseball player.

There was also Tigers pitcher Bruce Robbins, whose major league career was over by the time his 1981 Fleer card came out. Robbins first made the majors in 1979, at the age of 19.

By spring of 1981, though, the 21-year-old Robbins didn't know he had pitched his final big league game.

After being called up as a starter in 1980, Robbins went to the bullpen. It was a callup that even Sparky Anderson told The Lakeland Ledger the next February was a mistake.

"It was a new experience for me," Robins told The Ledger, "and I just wasn't prepared to be a relief pitcher. It's a totally different thing mentally, and I just wasn't ready for it."

Robbins ended the year with a 6.62 ERA, according to his Fleer card. What would be his career ERA ended at 5.33. Robbins played in the minors through 1983, but didn't get back to the majors.

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