Wednesday, July 9, 2008

For the love of Ernie Camacho

When the mailman (the regular one, not Karl Malone) showed up today I was giddy with excitement. I just had that feeling that "the package" was going to be with him. I should finally be getting my ebay Ernie Camacho cards. I just knew today was the day. I'm not going to bore you with tales of how I got such a great deal. I did not. We're talking about Ernie Camacho here. It's impossible to get a good deal. Yet here I was with a huge smile on my face as i ripped into the package. I would have paid twice as much.

As a tribe fan growing up in the 80's there wasn't much to talk about. The one year when they were supposed to be good they ended up losing about 100 games. Sadly, in Cleveland that was par for the course. It didn't seem that unusual to me at all. It also didn't stop me from loving the Tribe. Every year I would convince myself again that they would be good. After all, We had fireballers like Rich Yett and Ken Schrom. Tony Benazard and Pat Tabler on the infield. Brett Butler in center and one of the greatest power hitters of all time (as far as I was concerned) Cory Snyder in right. Every year was finally our year to be champs and it was going to be glorious.

One of the most popular players among my friends and I was Ernie Camacho. I can't really explain why. Hell, I don't even understand why. My only guess is that we liked his name. Ernie "Macho" Camacho. How the hell don't you like that guy? He must be awesome right?

So, naturally when I just happened to run across someone selling a lot of 5 cards there was nothing going to stand in my way. In my head I knew that this ebay seller had a market of 1 and he had miraculously found me. I'll bet he about shit himself when he got a bid. But that didn't stop me from checking the auction about every 2 hours for 5 days. Incredibly, nobody else bid!

This blog post will chronicle the cards I received (sadly, one was a double), and also entertain you with what little info I could find on Big Erne.

Big Erne was drafted by Oakland in the 1st round in '81. A few years (and one stint in the mexican league) later he wound up on the Tribe. He actually had a pretty decent statistical year in '84 when he pitched 100 innings and saved a franchise record 23 games. He still only struck out 48, though. That was a career best but still awfully low for a dude who could bring mid 90s heat.

Yes, it seems like Big Erne was a head case. You can read more about him here but I'll give you the gist. Ernie apparently had no confidence. He thought that there was some ulterior motive for putting his locker next to the door. He was frequently dressed down right there on the mound by manager Pat Corrales who had to treat him like a child from the sound of it.

My favorite story is when he was hit by a line drive in the glove hand. He asked to be pulled from the game. Corrales, for some reason, refused to pull him. Instead he made the catcher (probably Chris Bando) return the ball to either 1st or 3rd and have it run to the mound. I can neither confirm nor deny the validity of this story, but it is told by a very good beat writer (Sheldon Ocker) with a sterling reputation. I think it's so damn ridiculous that it has to be true.

Big Erne didn't show up much in '85 so I assume he was hurt. He had another semi-productive year in '86. After that he drifted around for a few years and faded into bolivion.

The greatest indignity has to be his '85 donruss card shown here:

That's not even Ernie! That's just some asshole with a mustache. Apparently it's Rich Thompson. I don't remember him at all. Well, as far as I can tell Ernie wasn't good enough to bother correcting the error. I could be wrong but if there's a correction I can't find it.

I have been able to find a list of all possible Ernie Camacho cards. There are 36 of them that I'm aware of. I eventually plan on getting the complete set. It should be fun. It will probably take years but it will be really cheap. Really, where the hell am I supposed to find Ernie Camacho cards? In the end it may end up being the most satisfying set I ever construct if I can do it.

Now if I can only get Topps to put out some kind of Camacho Auto. That would really be something.

Edit: Immediately after posting this I went to ebay and found a whole shitload of Camacho cards. I guess my lot wasn't such a rare thing to find after all. I'm glad I did because I found one of the most hilarious things I've seen since starting collecting again. Who the fuck grades an Ernie Camacho? This guy thinks someone's going to pay $13 because it's graded?

Excuse me while I dry out a piece of dog shit and send it to Beckett to get graded. As long as it's at least a 9 I can put it up in TWGM with a $19.95 BIN. Where do these idiots come from?

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