Grand Cards: Card Cameos: 1991 Topps Fisk, Fielder & Bergman

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Card Cameos: 1991 Topps Fisk, Fielder & Bergman

Inspired by Night Owl's inclusion of this card in his Cardboard Appreciation Semifinal, and his original post on the card, I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to start a new feature on the blog. Card Cameos. I'm sure you're familiar with the concept. A card of player X happens to feature, by virtue of action photography or someone in the background or what have you, another, uncredited player. The catch is this: The non-named card player must be identifiable by virtue of 1) Name/Number on the back of the jersey or 2) Face. That mean's severed legs, backs of helmets or detached arms of a player do not count as a cameo. At least not to me.

Oh, and one other thing. I will only be looking at Cameos of Detroit Tigers, as if that wasn't something that you would have guessed in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, as a gift back to the baseball card community as a whole, I will highlight the cameos of non-Tigers that appear on Tigers cards, but we'll just have to see about that.

So, if we're starting a new feature, why not kick it off with a bang?


Does he score? Isn't that the question on everybody's mind? Here in this 1991 Topps #170 (a card which a random Bleacher Report post lists as the best card of the set and of which GCRL is a big fan) We see one thing: Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk preparing himself for a play at the plate with Cecil Fielder.

Easy. Cameo 1: Cecil Fielder

Oh, but there is so much more. The Tiger in the on-deck circle is screaming at Cecil to slide. Now, at first glance, I thought that this was none other than former Catcher Mike Heath. However, comments on Night Owl's post suggest that it is Dave Bergman. "Hmm..." I thought, "Where's the Stache?" A closer review at the image blown up, indicates that it could be Bergman--perhaps his whiskers are caught up in the out-of-register grain of the photograph.

So let's go a step further.

I'm going to assume that photographs for the 1991 set were taken in 1990. Seeing as how this game takes place in Chicago, perhaps we should harken back to that season. A quick glance shows the two Tigers/White Sox series that take place in Chicago:

May 18-20
July 2-4

Boy, how awesome was the balanced schedule back then? I wish they would make things a little less unbalanced these days, but I digress...

Ok, two series to choose from. Looking at the pictures again, I'm seeing long sleeves all around. Is everyone ok assuming that's not in the middle of July? Ok good. Box Score Time.

On May 18th Cecil Fielder went 3 for 3 with a run and 2 RBI. Is this it? Nope. Cecil's solo home run (15!) accounted for his only run.

On May 19th Cecil was 2 for 4 and scored two runs. No Home Runs here--this could be the game.

On May 20th Cecil was 2-4 again, with another Home Run accounting for his sole run and rbi.

(Aside: good lord did Fielder have an incredible series. By the end of it he was batting .326 with 16 home runs and had an OPS of 1.170!)

Ok, back to the May 19th game. Game time temperature is 68 degrees, which seems a little high for long sleeves, but given the night game and the propensity for the midwest to cool down when the sun is down in May, I think we can accept the plausibility of this being the game, in principle. We need to see if there was a scenario in place in which Cecil Fielder would have scored, in a situation that may have warranted a play at the plate, and confirm or deny that Dave Bergman could have been on deck. Cecil was only on base twice in the game. Let's go to the play-by-play:

Cecil Fielder singled to Right Field to lead off the second inning. After a Larry Sheets flyout, Catcher Matt Nokes (which means that Mike Heath wasn't in the game then!) is hit by a pitch. Fielder to second, aka "scoring position." I put this in quotes, because Cecil was not particularly fleet of foot, so a base hit that might score your average player could turn into a play at the plate if, say...Gary Ward singles to Center Field. Which he did. Rounding Third, Fielder keys in on the on-deck batter--Dave Bergman--and as the throw comes in from the outfield Fielder slides and is...

Safe. 1-0 Tigers.

Fielder is again driven in by Ward in the 6th, but was on third base with the bases loaded after a double and two walks. Ward's single scores two runs, the first of which was Fielder, meaning that he would have easily trotted home on that play, making for a much less interesting baseball card.