Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Evolution of Oscar Gamble

Everyone knows Oscar Gamble. At least, every collector knows Oscar Gamble's cards. There were a few others in the 70's that sported the fro-tire such as Bake McBride, bit none pulled it off with the same panache and style. Oscar grew his with a reckless abandon and devil-may-care attitude that rendered his fro both glorious and timeless.

So imagine my delight when, upon waking up this morning, I was treated in the local paper to a short article on Oscars most famous of baseball cards, the 76 Topps Traded. It is linked to here and is better and more thorough than anything I could possibly write on the subject. I recommend you read it in it's entirety. It isn't that long. For those of you who lack the time or inclination, the gist of the story is that Oscar is still recognized more from his cards than from his playing career. He grew it initially in an attempted to get more playing time from his manager. And, he cut it when traded to the Yankees, not unlike Johnny Damon.

He's bald now. This fact led to my favorite quote in the article. "I didn't decide to get rid of it, it made that decision on it's own." Too funny.

Anyway, it made me curious as to Oscars other cards. I decided to post a sort of retrospective. Call it Oscar through the years. Here they are:

The 1970 rookie card. This is the earliest one I could find and see no reason to think there were any prior. This is a good start as there is no fro at all. This will make what we all know is too came all the better.
1972 Topps. This one appears to be a little more developed than a few years ago. Still nothing to write home about, but you can see the confidence growing. Oscar is definitely not a rookie anymore.

1974 Topps. The Legend starts. I have absolutely no data to back this up, but I imagine that this fro-tire would put him top 10, possibly top 5 in the league at this point. It's good, but the hat still fits and is a reasonable size.

1975 Topps. Here we are! Now we're cookin'! Oscar is through messing around. This is serious business now. I doubt anyone can touch this.

1976 Topps Traded. This is the money shot. This is the one that guarantees Oscars place in the pantheon of baseball cards. An All-Timer. Look at the size of that hat! Years later, when people would comment on the growth in size of Barry Bonds hat in conjunction with his (alleged) steroid use, I don't know why he didn't point to Oscar Gamble as a comparison. After all, no one has ever accused Oscar of using steroids, right?
When people think of these big baseball fros, this is the card that they think of.

1977 Topps. Damn you George Steinbrenner and your stupid stance on facial hair and grooming. Fascist!

1978 Topps. OK, now that he's out of New York and their medieval autocracy, Oscar can let himself go again. At least a little bit. However, I fear that the salad days are over and a complete return to form is not in the cards.

1979 Topps. Not bad, not bad. Still, it's just not the same.

1980 Topps. Oscar is back with the Yankees and the fro is, not as glorious as it once was, but...I guess flourishing could be appropriate here. Not bad at all really. You can almost see him giving George the finger here.

1982 Topps. Definitely past his prime. I guess all good things must come to an end.

1984 Topps. Oscar's last card until some later "looking back" type cards. So this is how it ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. And a normal size hat.
Most things come back into style. Why not the fro-tire? I do believe it's about time. Someone get Curtis Granderson on the horn. He's got work to do.
That's it. Hope you enjoyed this little retrospective. Both of you.


dayf said...

Nice one!

I've been wanting to do a post like this for a while but I've been too lazy.

Motherscratcher said...

Thanks dayf, maybe in 6 months or a year I'll be semi-literate with these things.

You can't go wrong with Oscar Gamble, can you?

--David said...

Very nice post! Several of the Tribe cards that Wax Heaven sent are dupes. If you wannem, drop me an email: davidinark -art- yahoo -dert- com!

Motherscratcher said...

I love your blog David. I'm sending you an email ASAP. Us Tribe fans have to stick together.