Bob Boyd – 1959 Topps

February 8, 2012

Things You Find In A Target Re-Pack Assortment

For some reason, I can’t resist the lure of the re-packs. You know, a $4.99 assortment with ‘three vintage cards’. They do have some interesting odds and ends that I use as trade bait, and of course they are full of junk wax that makes me wonder if I should try to complete a SECOND set of some of those wonderful over-produced series. (Ah….no…)

However, one purchase yielded me a card I needed to complete a set, and another recent purchase yielded the card you see now.

I had no idea who he was. I never heard of him. I haven’t read my biography of Paul Richards yet, but that’s who came to mind as soon as I saw a late 50’s Oriole.

I looked at the back, and Boyd was a hitting machine – not a power hitter but you could wind him up and he’d hit .300 with some doubles and triples.

But there was something fishy. The face on this card looked like a vet at the end of his career. But the birth date listed was 10/1/26. Now, 32 years old isn’t young in baseball terms, but that face doesn’t look 32. Maybe it’s just me. That face to me, smile and all, says to me, “I’ve seen a lot in my baseball life.”

The minor league stats started in 1950, and of course I thought “Negro Leagues”. But I wondered why it took so long for him to get to the bigs full time.

Then I looked up his Baseball Reference page. He wasn’t born in 1926. He was born in 1919.

That means he was pushing 40 when this pic was snapped.

That means he started with the White Sox in 1950 as a 30-year old.

It all makes sense now. Well, except for the racism that forced Boyd to wait for his chance.

The guy could rake and run, in his mid-30’s. Heck, at age 43 he hit . 294 in the minors with 29 doubles.

You wonder what he could have done if he could have played big league ball right after World War II. Would he be a HOF player? Probably not. But he’d be one of those guys on the next tier that put up really good numbers year in and year out. But because of his race and his age, he had a brief time to shine, and from 1956-58 he hit .313 with an OPS+ of 123 and got some MVP votes in 1957. His WAR that year was 3.3

Pulling a card like that reminds me (and us all) of even how tenuous integration was in 1950’s baseball. Boyd was lucky, in a sense, that he played long enough for pension time and a few years of big league trappings. So many others never got that chance.