Sunday, October 18, 2020

One card only: Best of a Generation

Card Number 420: Upper Deck, 1996; #377

This is a shiny foil card that my scanner didn't like

So, here's a photo of it as well

This card came out five years before Tony retired, two years before he helped the Padres to their second World Series, and three years before he scored his 3000th hit. (Yesterday was the 22nd anniversary of Tony hitting a home run in Yankee Stadium during the 1998 World Series!)

Even though his most famous achievements were still in the future, Upper Deck chose him as a player worthy of the label "Best of a Generation" - on the back they made clear this was the opinion of the Upper Deck Company! (Look under the numbers table!)

There is a comparison between Tony and Ted Williams, who recorded a season average of .406 the year before the United States entered the Second World War. This is just my opinion, but I feel comparing achievements in baseball in the 1940s and the 1990s isn't as easy as just looking at the headline numbers. 

I'm not saying the game was harder 50 years later, but it was different, just like how certain parameters have changed in the game between the 1980s and 2020. In many ways you can only compare players within their generation. Tony won 8 batting titles, and hit over .300 for 19 straight seasons, and no one else in his generation managed that, which is why he deserves the label 'Best of a Generation'.

Total: 420 cards


  1. Pretty insane that Gwynn hit .300 or higher 19 straight seasons. Definitely once in a generation kind of player. Can you imagine his popularity if he played in NY or LA?

    1. Well that's a strange one. I think it might have helped his popularity playing for a team that nobody really hates. If he had been a Yankee there would have been a lot of people who hated him because of that. Ditto LA, although there is less animosity toward them as far as I can see. Generally everyone holds him in high regard but I think that would be different if he was a superstar in a dominating team.