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Step up to the Plate with Some of Baseball's Best
August 04, 2006
Copyright 2015 TMP International, Inc.

McFarlane Toys salutes six legendary ballplayers in the fourth edition of our Sports Picks Cooperstown Collection. The upcoming series honors a pair of pinstriped legends, the leader of the Big Red Machine, perhaps the most dominant left-handed pitcher ever, one of the all-time best fielders and the greatest hitter who ever lived.

"I'd like to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee." -- Joe DiMaggio

The torch of Yankee stardom passed from Babe Ruth to Lou Gehrig to Joe DiMaggio. He arrived in New York in 1936 as a 21-year-old center fielder. The Yankees won the World Series in his first five seasons in pinstripes, but that was just the beginning of a storied career for "The Yankee Clipper." DiMaggio played in 13 All-Star Games and won the American L most popular players in baseball history. He was voted into Cooperstown in 1955.

"I don't want to embarrass any other catcher by comparing him with Johnny Bench." -- Former Reds and Tigers manager Sparky Anderson

Johnny Bench was the backbone of the Cincinnati Reds for 17 dynamic seasons, filling his trophy case with 14 All-Star selections, 10 consecutive Gold Gloves, the 1968 National League Rookie of the Year award, two National League MVPs and one World Series MVP. Despite bringing immense physical skills to the game (Bench can hold seven baseballs in one hand) he also re-invented the catcher position, settling into a one-armed stance now the standard for backstops league-wide, while wearing a hinged glove and a protective helmet behind the plate.

"A man has to have goals - for a day, for a lifetime - and that was mine, to have people say, 'There goes Ted Willliams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.'" -- Ted Williams

Ted Williams was a 17-time All-Star, two-time A.L. MVP, and won a pair of Triple Crowns during his 19 seasons with the Boston Red Sox. In 1941 (only his third season in the big leagues) he entered the last day of the season with a batting average of .3996. This would have been rounded up to .400, making him the first man to hit .400 since Bill Terry in 1930. His manager left the decision whether or not to play up to him. Williams opted to play in both games of the day's doubleheader and risk losing his record. He got 6 hits in 8 at bats, raising his season average to .406. Williams chose to put his baseball career on hold and opt for service with the United States Marine Corps twice -- serving as a fighter pilot during both World War II and in the Korean War. Williams was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966, and during his Cooperstown speech he campaigned for the inclusion of great players from the Negro Leagues in the Hall of Fame. Five years later, the Hall of Fame welcomed Satchel Paige -- the first Negro Leagues player to be enshrined in Cooperstown. Ted Williams was called "The Kid," "The Splendid Splinter," "Teddy Ballgame," and "The Thumper." Williams never sought acknowledgement from the fans or the press, but in the end he got it anyway -- after all, he was the greatest hitter who ever lived.

"I don't want to be Babe Ruth. He was a great ballplayer. I'm not trying to replace him. The record is there and damn right I want to break it, but that isn't replacing Babe Ruth." -- Roger Maris

Roger Maris arrived in New York after stints with Cleveland and Kansas City, and his debut season with the Yankees was a tremendous success -- he drilled 39 home runs and drove in 112 runs while being named to the American League All-Star team, earning a Gold Glove award, and being voted the American League's Most Valuable Player. Maris still delivered an unbelievable encore.

During the summer of 1961, Maris and teammate Mickey Mantle waged a two-man assault on Babe Ruth's single-season home run mark of 60. The New York media and fans favored Mantle, the homegrown talent and favorite son, but a leg injury ended Mantle's season and left Maris with the only shot at eclipsing Ruth's record. Baseball commissioner Ford Frick had stated that unless Ruth's record was broken in the first 154 games of the season, the new record would be shown in the record books as having been set in 162 games while the previous record set in 154 games would also be shown. Despite the adversity, Maris persevered, cracking his 61st home run in the very last game of the season.

"When I played for other teams against Steve Carlton I could hear the right handed hitters saying, 'He may have gotten me out but at least he didn't throw me the slider.'" -- Tim McCarver

Steve Carlton won 74 games in his first five full seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, but a salary dispute forced a trade and "Lefty" became the newest member of the Phillies. Philadelphia was a last-place club and their prospects in Carlton's first season didn't look much brighter. Still, Carlton had set his sights on winning 25 games in 1972, and his trade to Philadelphia didn't alter his agenda. He put together one of the most impressive seasons in baseball history -- winning 27 games for a wretched Philadelphia team that only won 59 games overall! Carlton won four Cy Young awards in Philadelphia, while accumulating 10 All-Star game appearances and a pair of championships during his career. Carlton entered the Hall of Fame in 1994 with more strikeouts (4,136) than any left-handed pitcher in history and more wins (329) than any lefty except Warren Spahn.

"Smith corks one into right, down the line! It may go! Go crazy folks, go crazy! It's a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3 to 2, on a home run by the Wizard! Go Crazy!" -- Cardinals broadcaster Jack Buck

Ozzie "The Wizard of Oz" Smith began his career with the San Diego Padres, but a lopsided trade sent him to St. Louis, where he made his mark as a Cardinal. Smith dazzled fans with his defensive brilliance, clutch hitting and customary backflip that saluted the hometown fans. Ozzie won 13 Gold Gloves and played in 15 All-Star games, won a championship in 1982 and was named the NLCS MVP in 1985, when his first-ever left-handed home run gave St. Louis a walkoff victory in Game Five. Ozzie was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility back in 2002. Following his career, Ozzie worked as the voice of "This Week In Baseball," and is currently the national spokesman for baseball's prostate cancer detection campaign.

The Cooperstown Collection: Series Four is scheduled to arrive on shelves everywhere February 2007.

MLB 17
McFarlane Toys steps up to the plate and gets ready for another season as part of the MLB Opening Day campaign at Toys R Us. For the second straight year, we'll be offering exclusive MLB Sports Picks at Toys R Us to help kick off the 2007 baseball season. Toys R Us will be the sole source of MLB 17, a four-figure line featuring a pair of All-Stars, a frontline starting pitcher with his new team, and one of the most-requested figures from our collectors. In addition, we'll be providing a pair of team-oriented three-packs showcasing two of the most popular teams in baseball, and including the release of our 2007 lineup of 3-inch MLB figures as well.

Josh Beckett -- The 2003 World Series MVP was acquired by the Boston Red Sox and immediately paid dividends -- bringing a fiery disposition and some well-respected heat to the top of Boston's rotation.

Jim Thome -- A debilitating back injury and the emergence of rookie first baseman Ryan Howard painted Thome's exit from Philadelphia, but the five-time All Star arrived in Chicago and added some serious bump to the middle of the defending champs' lineup.

Robinson Cano -- The Yankees' recent World Series championships were built on the strength of homegrown prospects, and after a few years straying from that concept, New York seems back on track -- letting young stars like Robinson Cano develop and take over at the major league level. Cano brings smart defense and a keen batting eye to the Yankees lineup.

Eric Chavez -- Oakland's "elder statesman" is the new leader of the always-dangerous A's, and while his 190 home runs and 644 RBI through his first seven full seasons are credible, it's Chavez's glove that changes games. He cools down the "hot corner" and has the hardware to prove it -- the last five consecutive American League Gold Glove awards for third base are all at his house. Chavez was originally slated for our MLB 10 lineup back in 2004, so his inclusion in this lineup is a salute to our Oakland fans and a promise kept to collectors everywhere.

Our second New York Yankees 3-pack features a trio of New York's most talented players. This 3-pack features our Jason Giambi figure (re-issued with the popular "painted pinstripes" we debuted last year), the first-ever pinstriped version of our "turning two" Derek Jeter figure, and the first Yankees figure for recently-acquired outfielder Bobby Abreu.

Our Chicago Cubs 3-pack offers a trio of Cubs stars in their home uniforms. It marks the "pinstriped debut" for first baseman Derrek Lee and pitcher Greg Maddux, as well as the action figure debut for fireballer (and budding slugger) Carlos Zambrano.

3-INCH MLB 2007
Our fifth series of 3-inch figures will be part of Toys R Us' "Opening Day" program, but will also be available at other retailers. The lineup includes:

Manny Ramirez 2 -- Boston Red Sox
Derrek Lee -- Chicago Cubs
Andruw Jones 2 -- Atlanta Braves
Derek Jeter 2 -- New York Yankees
Ivan Rodriguez -- Detroit Tigers
Orlando Hudson -- Arizona Diamondbacks
Josh Beckett -- Boston Red Sox
Mike Piazza -- San Diego Padres
Pedro Martinez -- New York Mets
Pat Burrell -- Philadelphia Phillies
Jason Giambi -- New York Yankees
Jim Edmonds -- St. Louis Cardinals

MLB 17, the Cubs/Yankees 3-packs, 3-inch MLB 2007 and the fourth Cooperstown Collection will all be available at Toys R Us in early February 2007. Stay tuned to in the coming weeks for prototype images and your first look at packaged samples for these items and more!

All stories are Copyright © and TMP International, Inc., and may not be reprinted without permission.

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