Monday, March 12, 2007

Classic card of the week




Mike Gallego, 1988 Topps

This card always amazed me, because you can absolutely, positively tell how short Mike Gallego is, yet there is no supporting perceptive evidence to draw such a conclusion. There are no other players pictured in this card that would alternately expose Gallego’s lack of height, even though you can bet your ass that the catcher behind him is a good three feet taller than Gallego…from his knees. In other Gallego cards, where he is pictured from a defensive position, you can tell how diminutive he is because his glove takes up half of his torso, and the bouncing baseball coming his way looks like a white beach ball with seams about to roll over him on its way to the outfield. And in cards where he is running the bases, his height is revealed when you realize that those tall columns he is running through are the legs of the opposition. But in this particular card, there is nothing to give him away, yet it remains obvious how short he really is. It’s truly one of the great mysteries of the universe, when you really think about it. The only possible explanation that I can come up with involves my own familiarity with this set of cards, which is the 1988 Topps set. Because I know there is no other player that Topps could get a fully erect (pardon my French) body shot of, with their head only grazing the team name above them. This is information that I probably acquired subconsciously, by flipping endlessly through cards of this very set. For example, if Topps tried to get a similar shot of a ballplayer of average height – say, Willie McGee – the top of the card would reveal that McGee played for the “C A R (Willie McGee’s head) L S.” And if they tried that with, say, Dave Winfield, it would be obvious that Winfield was a member of the “Y (Dave Winfield’s shoulders) S.” Even Gallego’s feeble attempts to use his bat to block his team’s identity don’t work, as it almost flows seamlessly into the “T.” Whatever. History will remember Mike Gallego as the David Eckstein of his day. Except history will be wrong, because Gallego was not as good. (And not nearly as scrappy. Or huggable.) Listed at 5’8”, but more realistically not even close, Gallego was never as good of a hitter as he was a walker. In his best statistical season, 1992, there was almost a 100-point differential between Gallego’s batting average (.247) and on-base percentage (.343), thanks in large part to the fact that his strike zone was only three centimeters wide. Control-freak David Wells once mused that “Trying to get strike-one on Gallego is like trying to park your Winnebago when you’re sh*t-faced.”

Mike Gallego fun facts!

Favorite TV Show: Ghost Whisperer

Four favorite hardware stores (in no particular order): Ace, Home Depot, Sears, and Lowe’s

Favorite Marathon: The New York one

Favorite Bible version: King James

Three people, past or present, you’d like to have dinner with: Napoleon, Zeus, and Bill Cosby

Did you know?
Mike Gallego was denied the lead role of Fox’s hit show “24” because he was too tall.

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