Baseball Fans Rejoice at Star-Studded Series
Friday, September 16, 2005

McFarlane Toys, continuing the proud tradition of their Legends lines and Sports Picks, presents: the Cooperstown Collection Series 3. The first "Legends line" offered by McFarlane Toys was the original Cooperstown collection, which was released amid much celebration back in July 2004. The third edition of the Cooperstown Collection will arrive in stores everywhere in mid-February 2006. The six-figure line includes five Hall of Famers and one baseball icon:

"Somebody once asked me if I ever went up to the plate trying to hit a home run. I said, 'Sure, every time."

MICKEY MANTLE joined the New York Yankees in 1951 and became the newest link in a chain of phenomenal Yankees sluggers. From Babe Ruth to Lou Gehrig to Joe DiMaggio to "The Mick," New York was blessed with the overlapping careers of four Hall of Fame baseball legends. "The Commerce Comet" was a 16-time All-Star, three-time A.L. MVP, a triple crown winner and a seven-time World Champion. Mantle crushed 536 career home runs, placing him 12th on the career list and ranking as the most dominant switch-hitter in baseball history. To a generation of fans, Mickey Mantle WAS the New York Yankees.

"Catchers too often get saddled, and manacled, and titled, and viewed, as the non-athletes ... throw him behind the plate because he can't move and we'll work something out later. But in the '70s there was a new generation of catchers that came along. Not just one here or there, but a generation of catchers: Bench, and Boone, and Carter, and Parrish, and Munson, and Fisk. That's when they started putting athletes behind the plate, and I think the whole game has elevated since. We were insulted and refused to accept that we were wearing the tools of ignorance."

CARLTON FISK set a new standard for grit and determination at the catcher position. "Pudge" played an unheard-of 24 seasons behind the plate for the Red and White Sox, while appearing on eleven All-Star teams. The native New Englander was the first unanimous Rookie of the Year in 1972, and brought Boston to the brink of a championship with his heart-stopping, game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. Thirteen strong years in Chicago made him a legend to White Sox fans, and an entire nation of baseball enthusiasts celebrated Carlton's induction into Cooperstown in 2000.

"A life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives."

The baseball world was changed in 1947, when Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers became the first major league team with an African-American player on their roster. JACKIE ROBINSON was the trailblazer -- enduring verbal abuse from fans and opponents while balancing his own expectations and aspirations as a ballplayer versus his heavily scrutinized role as an agent of social change. On the field, Robinson was a dazzling player and a relentless competitor. In his first four seasons, he stole 100 bases without being caught. The 1947 Rookie of the year and 1949 National League MVP led the Dodgers to six pennants and their first World Champioship in 1955. More importantly, his style, hustle and grace opened to the door for every black ballplayer that followed him. Robinson was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1962, and in 1997 to honor the 50th anniversary of his first season, Major League Baseball retired his uniform number 42, league-wide.

"And that plaque in center field means more to me than you'll ever know. I'm so proud to have been able to play my entire career and be just a small part of this great organization."

The 10th captain in the storied history of the New York Yankees, DON MATTINGLY hit .343 and won the American League batting title in his first full season in the Big Apple. He followed up his breakout 1984 season with an MVP-winning year in 1985. Though a back injury sapped much of his power following the 1989 season, Mattingly remained the lone bright spot on some truly dreadful Yankees teams in the early 1990's. His quest to lead the Yankees into the postseason was stilted in 1994, when the baseball lockout canceled the remainder of the season with New York atop the American League with a 70-43 record. In his final season, Mattingly led New York to the first-ever American League Wild Card. He hit .417 with a homer and six RBI in New York's five-game ALDS loss to Seattle. Mattingly retired prior to the 1996 season, and in 1997 the Yankees retired his number 23 and honored him with a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

"I tell you, (Steve) Blass, you pitch me inside, they never, never find that ball."

One of the most complete ballplayers ever, ROBERTO CLEMENTE earned four batting titles while compiling twelve straight Gold Glove awards. The 12-time All-Star turned in a phenomenal performance in the 1971 World Series -- hitting .414 and being named World Series MVP following Pittsbugh's seven-game triumph over Baltimore. Clemente smashed a double off the wall in left-center on the final day of the 1972 season for the 3000th hit of his big league career. Pittsburgh's favorite son was a tremendous humanitarian as well, and not only organized relief supplies for an eathquake-ravaged Nicaragua later that year, but chose to accompany the air shipment to insure the much-needed items got to the people in need. Baseball suffered one of its most tragic losses when the plane crashed just off the Puerto Rican coast on December 31st, 1972. Clemente was voted into the Hall of Fame months later in 1973. Major League Baseball has (every year since 1971) given an annual award to the player who combines outstanding skills on the field with devoted work in the community. In 1973, the award was named in honor of Clemente, a lasting tribute to his selflessness and sacrifice.

"It helps if the hitter thinks you're a little crazy."

After five seasons bouncing between the starting rotation and the bullpen, NOLAN RYAN was sent (along with three other players) to the California Angels in exchange for Jim Fregosi. He spent eight seasons in Anaheim, winning more games and striking out more batters as an Angel than as a Met, Astro or Ranger. The "Ryan Express" racked up the first four of his record seven career no-hitters while wearing the halo. Fans in Texas hold Nolan Ryan close to their hearts, as a homegrown gunslinger who turned in great seasons in Houston and Texas, but Nolan Ryan's best baseball was played as a California Angel.

Look for photography of these six figures in the coming weeks and for the toys to arrive in stores in February 2006.