Monday, January 18, 2010

#135 -- Vada Pinson

Vada Pinson

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.......


  1. I find Pinson fasctinating! I noticed a while ago that it seemed he went downhill after the rule changes after '68, even though he was only 30. That perplexes me. Most good hiters got better.

  2. I remember that guy. He was a strange little man with a scraggly goatee as I remember. He gave me some outstanding deals on some starter sets from the mid 70s. He was certainly eccentric, though. I remember seeing his table at a card show, and amidst all of these guys with massive amounts of product, he brought a solitary notebook of cards to sell. If I remember correctly, it only contained Phillies from 1957. (or something like that) I want to say his shop was downtown on Boonville near Park Central Square, but hey, my memory isn't what it used to be.

  3. You're absolutely right, Darth. Back in the late 70s-early 80s, his shop was down on Boonville. The last place I remember it being was about 8-10 years ago on Patton Street across the side entrance from the Downtown YMCA before they went in and updated all those old office buildings. I hope he's doing well. I got a good deal on my 1975 starter set from him in 1980.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. This is a great blog! You have really touched a nerve with me. My first year collecting cards was 1971, but I got more 72's than 71's, so I always think of 72 as THE year for cards (and with which I compare all other years. About 8 years later, I managed to complete the 72 set. It is the only set I ever completed. I haven't looked at them in years. If I had time, I could spend all day reading your blog and reliving those memories. I didn't know most of the players then, so you are filling in the blanks for me with the descriptions of these players' careers.

    Keep on posting!

  6. This is a great blog! I just found it today. I was 8 like you when I discoverd baseball and sports in general early in 1971. I collected baseball cards like many other young boys. I can remember going to the local 5 and dimes and buying pack after pack of this 1972 set. I finally finished this set and all my other 1970's Topps sets(except for the 1970 Nolan Ryan) a few years back. It's always fun to go back and look at these cards. It brings back a lot of good memories. The stories you have added to the cards are really great and make for some interesting reading.

  7. MMayes,

    FYI, I recently learned that Rusty Staub didn't have a card in 1972 (or 1973).

  8. Hey MMayes, where you at?

    Here's some retrofitted
    Rusty Staub cards for 1972, courtesy of Tim D (as featured on WhiteSoxCards' blog).

  9. Replies
    1. Hi MMayes,

      I didn't see an email address on your Google Blogger profile page, so hopefully this comment will be sent to your in-bin.

      Can you contact me at my email address on my profile page?


  10. Looking at his 1971 stats,.. He played a full season, hit 11 HR but only drove in 35 runs????