Fred Scherman – 1972 Topps

March 30, 2012

Is This The Card That Started It All?

I remember too much, it seems. My ex says that I never had a purge button in my brain. As I get older, I find that I may not have as sharp and clear of a memory of certain events if overwhelmed by information, but I still remember scads of stuff. Most unimportant and trivial, yet that’s my modus operandi.

I do recall receiving some baseball cards in 1972. I recall opening packages at my grandparent’s house in Ladoga, Indiana. I can look at my 1972 binder and remember who they were, for the most part. (Tony Perez, John Bateman, Ray Culp, Glenn Beckert, Joe Grzenda, among others….)

I also remember being a total idiot in the late 70’s  (not the first nor last time, albiet to be honest I was just a kid) and gave away some of my older cards like this one to get some of the current set that I was chasing. I wonder if Mike Finney still has them??? Or maybe I gave them to Todd Newkirk?? (They both moved out of town by ninth grade, and I don’t know where they are now. Not that it really matters, but it may be cool to see that my first 1972 Ted Kubiak is out there, somewhere…)

What I expressly remember is seeing this card back in 1972 as part of my first few packs and wondering about why Scherman stuck a finger out of his glove. Mind you, I was all of 6 1/2 so I didn’t have much of a frame of reference, but I thought this was wild and mysterious. Of course, I then started to do it in T-Ball. I then saw a glove that had an opening for an index finger but it wasn’t my size. I never did get one, and I think I stopped putting my index finger outside of my glove after a while.

The way I played the field, though, my glove was mostly a decoration anyway.

Because he was amongst the first players I ever received in a pack of cards, I always tried to follow Scherman. Yet it was hard in the pre-internet, pre-cable TV days. The Tigers weren’t big in Indiana, and by the time I really started to pay attention they were abysmal and Fred as on the move to Houston and then Montreal. Scherman’s last card was in 1976 and I really started my first wave of collecting with the 1977 set and he didn’t warrant a card as the Expos released him in mid-summer.

This card did catch Fred in his maj0r-league peak. He was the relief ‘ace’ for that bunch of Tigers, but of course being a Billy Martin employee meant you had to be up from some wacky stuff. Even though Fred had saved 19 games by mid-September 1971 he was called into the relieve Joe Niekro in the first inning of the second game of a double header against Baltimore and finished the game! Just a few days later he started game two of a doubleheader and pitched a complete game win. Then he went back to the pen, of course.

In 1972 he gave way at times to Chuck Seelbach after some struggles, and then when John Hiller made his miraculous comeback from a heart attack he was just a lefty reliever trying to make it in the crazy world of baseball. After the Expos released him in 1976 he didn’t catch on anywhere, but found a spot in the Pittsburgh chain in 1977 and had a so-so year in Columbus before hanging ’em up.

Except for those seasons when Billy Martin made him the ‘closer’ (as it was then) there wasn’t anything special about Scherman. Yet he always was someone I remembered and still look up from time to time. Was he my first one? You always remember….

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