Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
Alex Gonzalez, 1999 Topps

There were two outs in the ninth inning of Alex Gonzalez’s first baseball game. Alex himself – speedster that he was – miraculously made his way to third base after he ducked out of the way of a pitch, and the ball accidentally hit his bat. A comedy of errors by the visiting Phillies led to his arrival at third base, which was only halted when third base coach Rex Hudler tackled the excitable youngster to the ground, pinning him to the bag. Nevertheless, Alex Gonzalez represented the winning run at third base. The Marlins’ Jeff Conine came up to the plate, and laced the apparent game-winning single into center field. The stadium erupted with joy. Alex Gonzalez however, instead of sprinting home, anxiously waited at third base for the baton to be passed. The baton would never arrive, mostly because baseball doesn’t use batons, something the Florida Marlins neglected to inform their track star-turned-shortstop. Yes, Alex Gonzalez was that fast. Fast enough that the rebuilding Marlins plucked him right off the track at the local San Pendrinos De La Valley High School, slipped him a $20, and told him, “You’re batting eighth today.” Never mind that Alex Gonzalez had never witnessed a baseball game in his young life, much less played in one. Ultimate blame lie with the Florida coaching staff on this one, who didn’t bother trying to give a crash course on America’s Pastime to a young man who knew no other sport but track during his 17 short years on earth. And the Marlins should have known better, especially after Gonzalez’s first at-bat of the game, where he unknowingly drew a walk, sprinted down the first base line, hurdled the first base bag, and ran straight into the outfield, ultimately trying to use the foul pole as a pole-vaulting apparatus. Worse yet, Gonzalez cost the Marlins the lead in the seventh inning when, after managing to knock down a routine grounder at short, he held the ball under his chin, spun around three times, and ended up shot-putting the ball into the stands. Even then, no one bothered to sit the impressionable youth down and explain to him the basic rules of the sport. Justifiably so, the Marlins would go on to lose this game in extra innings after Gonzalez tested positive for steroids, a rampant problem in track and field at the time.

Did you know?
There are currently 23 Alex Gonzalezes playing on Major League ball clubs, and they all play shortstop and have the exact same stats.