COOPERSTOWN 5 LINEUP UNVEILED
Six Hall-of-Famers; Four Sports Picks Debuts!
Friday, September 28, 2007
McFarlane's Sports Picks proudly presents the fifth series of our Cooperstown Collection. This series features six members of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and includes the Sports Picks debuts for a quartet of the game's greatest players. Also included are a right-handed batting Mickey Mantle figure and our popular Mike Schmidt figure released in the Phillies pinstripes.
Hank Aaron - "I looked for the same pitch my whole career, a breaking ball. All of the time. I never worried about the fastball. They couldn't throw it past me, none of them."
He signed with Boston, but debuted in Milwaukee, spent his prime in Atlanta and closed his career back in Milwaukee. In between he hit 755 home runs. Henry Louis Aaron defined consistency, perseverance, courage and dedication to a nation of baseball fans. He never hit 50 homers in a single season, but had 20 back-to-back seasons with at least 20 home runs. On April 8th, 1974 Aaron crushed a Al Downing offering over the fence for his 715th career home run, lifting him past Babe Ruth as the all-time home run champion (at that time). Aaron was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.
Mickey Mantle 2 - "My dad taught me to switch-hit. He and my grandfather, who was left-handed, pitched to me everyday after school in the back yard. I batted lefty against my dad and righty against my granddad."
Mickey Mantle is part of the "greatest player ever" debate, but there's no argument that he was the greatest switch-hitter in baseball history. Mantle swatted 372 home runs as a lefty, and 164 from the right side - but he was equally dangerous from either side of the plate. The power numbers are somewhat skewed due to the fact that most of his at-bats came from the left side against right-handed pitching. His swing was more compact from the left side, but more thunderous from the right - Mantle swung a 32-ounce bat when hitting lefty and a 36-ounce bat from the right side. Mantle's career average was .298, but .350 when batting right-handed. Mantle was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
Ty Cobb - "Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It's no pink tea, and mollycoddles had better stay out. It's a struggle for supremacy, a survival of the fittest."
Ty Cobb earned a reputation for being one of the most determined and focused players in the history of baseball. His first full season in the major leagues saw him hit .316 for the Detroit Tigers - and he'd never hit that low ever again. Cobb won eleven batting titles (hitting over .400 three times) and finished his career with a .366 average. "The Georgia Peach" won the Triple Crown in 1909, and was part of the inaugural class into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cobb was enshrined along with Babe Ruth, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson - although Cobb received more votes than the other four members of his class.
Mike Schmidt - "He brings such formidable attention and intelligence to bear on the enemy pitcher that one senses that the odds have almost been reversed. It is the man on the mound, not the one up at the plate, who is in worse trouble from the start." - author Roger Angell
Baseball fans had high standards for defensive play at third base following Brooks Robinson's marvelous career, but Mike Schmidt showed fans a defensive clinic while also putting on a fireworks display. Schmidt hit 30 or more homers in a season ten times, en route to 548 career dingers. His determination at the plate and in the field brought him 12 All-Star selections, 10 Gold Gloves and three National League MVP awards. Schmidt was a tough guy in a tougher town, but even the nastiest of the Philly faithful tip their caps to the redheaded monster at the hot corner. Michael Jack Schmidt was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005.
Dennis Eckersley - "When I started finishing games and coming off the field shaking hands, it was a beautiful thing. I mean, you start seeing that you're an important part of the team."
After twelve years as a starting pitcher for three different teams, Dennis Eckersley arrived in Oakland in 1987 with over 150 wins under his belt. Tony La Russa had a different plan for the sidewinding right-hander - moving Eckersley to the bullpen as his newfound closer. "Eck" would deliver 318 saves for Oakland over the next nine seasons, helping secure the 1989 World Series and appearing in four All-Star games as an Athletic. Eckersley became only the second relief pitcher to win an MVP award with his astounding 1992 season, where we won seven games, saved 51 others and turned in a 1.91 ERA. In 2004, Eckersley was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, opening the doors for many closers to follow.
Ryne Sandberg - "I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponent or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform."
"Ryno" endeared himself to a generation of Cubs fans with unbelievable defensive talent partnered with home run power not often found in a second baseman. Sandberg won nine consecutive Gold Glove awards, playing in a record 123 consecutive games without an error. He crushed 282 career homers, the most ever by a second baseman. A 10-time All-Star and the 1984 National League MVP, Sandberg was enshrined in Cooperstown in 2005.
Cooperstown 5 is scheduled to arrive on shelves in February 2008.