Monday, January 28, 2013

My Funky Valentine: Ellis

TwinsFest was a blast. I'll scan the autos to post them later this week. In other news, I was recently disappointed by the Topps series 1 checklist: no Elliot Johnson. But then what should I find in my inbox this morning but an auction for a Target Red parallel. All is right with the world.

Anyway, something to get your blood moving on a Monday, a 1981 Topps Ellis Valentine.
The half-football facemask transforms the bat/donut combo and makes him look like a 5th-century visigoth about to parade down the streets of Rome. Dude looks bad. He was an AS in '77, a GG winner in '78, and people still revere his cannon arm. His slash line from that year (.315/.367/.524, OPS+ of 147) is the kind of thing that has a fan base salivating over what that guy will look like in 5 years. Indeed, he was supposed to anchor the Montreal OF for years along with another rising star, Andre Dawson

So, what happened?

In 1981 while in the midst of a breakout season at age 25 he was hit by a pitch on May 30. And it wasn't any pitch as it fractured his cheekbone and put him on the DL for 40 days. Topps, known more for its amazing airbrushing than its timely and up-to-date photography, somehow managed to get a post-injury, post-DL picture of Ellis in the on deck circle for its '81 set. Yeoman's work, that.

Coming back from that injury Valentine was never the same. Post-injury his production quickly tailed off (over the next four seasons he would approach league average at best) and he was shipped to the Mets for a promising reliever named Jeff Reardon midway through the 1981 season. The would-be icon Valentine thus has a direct connection to two of the most iconic ballplayers in Montreal history. Funny how things work out.

You can spend your life wondering "what if?" or overcome your personal demons and become a motivational speaker in your home state. I'm happy to report that according to his website Valentine did the latter. As much as I'd love to score a ttm auto from him the cost is prohibitive for my budget at the moment ($15). Some day.

Anyway, have a good one everybody and good night Pumpsie Green, wherever you are!

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha. Someone read my Valentine "what if" speculation article? Cool.

    Good blog, man.