About 25 years ago there was an older fellow that had a ball card shop in Springfield, Missouri (near where I live) had a piece in the paper about something he'd done in his store called the Call of Fame. He's taken a wall in his store and put up something like plaques for ballplayers who were really good, but not quite Hall of Fame worthy. I remember Ron Santo being there as well as this guy. When the best players of the 60s are rattled off, there were so many great outfielders (Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Frank Robinson, Rose, Clemente...and that's just the National League) that Vada Pinson gets lost.
On Baseball-Reference's Hall of Fame indicators list, he falls just short. When you look at the career comparable players, you see a lot of other guys who would make what I call the Hall of the Pretty Dang Good, guys like Dave Parker, Steve Garvey, Al Oliver, Johnny Damon, Bill Buckner, Willie Davis, along with a couple of Hall of Famers (Roberto Clemente, Zach Wheat) a borderline Hall of Famer (Bernie Williams) and Steve Finley. The comparables by age are Al Kaline, Roberto Clemente and Cesar Cedeno. So Vada's in pretty good company.
Vada ranks 47th all time in hits with 2757 and had a career OPS+ of 110 (he didn't walk a lot). He was an All-Star only twice and once was 3rd in MVP voting. Vada was a great complimentary player. He was the centerfielder for the Reds through the 60s with league average range. He had double digits in assists most seasons, which meant he had a good enough arm to throw guys out, but not such a good arm as to keep guys from trying to take an extra base.
The Reds traded Vada in 1968 and he then bounced around from the Cardinals to the Indians, the Angels and finally the Royals, where he ended his major league career in 1976. He had a long coaching career afterwards, finishing up with the Marlins in 1995. He passed away in 1995 at the age of 57 following a stroke.
This card is obviously an airbrushed Indians photo into an Angel uniform after the trade to the Angels. It's another in a long series at that time taken in Yankee Stadium.
I wish that older fellow still had his card shop. It wasn't one with a bunch of display cases full of jersey cards, etc. He just had boxes of older cards from the 50s, 60s and 70s all over the place. That would be a great place to spend a week now.......
Player Profile: Wes Bankston
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