I Got a Cory Snyder Rookie Card!
Yes, I know what you’re saying to yourself. You’re saying: Hey, Joe is writing about Cory Snyder or something … he must be done with this book he keeps talking about.
Yeah, you would think so.
But, no, I’m not done with it. I’m still at least a good two days’ work away from finishing. I absolutely should be working on the book right now.
But I opened up a pack of 1987 Topps baseball cards yesterday and got this Cory Snyder card.
So here we are.
I blame Mike Schur, obviously. A few weeks ago, Mike made the fateful discovery that you can buy old boxes of unopened baseball card packs. When you pair that discovery with the fact that Mike apparently made a few shekels in the television industry, you get an obsession. Mike has, I believe, bought boxes of 1980 Topps, 1982 Topps, 1981 Fleer, 1981 Donruss* and 1993 Topps. I’m sure there are A LOT more.
*He actually bought something like six boxes of 1981 Donruss because they were absurdly cheap … and watching him open those boxes of dreck has been delightfully hilarious. I’m certainly no Keith Olbermann on the subject, but I’ve got to believe the 1981 Donruss cards were the worst and cheapest ever made. They’re basically crepe-paper thin, ugliest design imaginable, terrible photos, barely any stats on the back, they’re like the baseball cards we would draw in our math books in the third grade.
But even more wonderfully, they apparently were sorted by hyenas because it seems like every pack Mike opens has just one or two teams in it. He sends me videos of him opening packs with, no exaggeration, 12 Dodgers in a row, or five Rangers followed by six Tigers.
Some good has come from Mike’s new obsession: It inspired us to open up baseball cards on the PosCast and do the PosCast Fundraiser for ALS, which — and this blows my mind — has raised almost THIRTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS for the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center. Wow. Keep on donating, if you can, and totally separately if you want to be part of our baseball card raffle, all you have to do is send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.*
*Prizes include: Signed books by Mike and me, a signed book from Jason Kander, a signed Luckiest Man book from Jonathan Eig, the baseball card of your choice, a typed essay from me about that player on that card, something Mike-oriented, a Derek Jeter prize package (which you can opt out of) AND, we just found out, a beautiful print from my hero Ellen Adair.
But we’ve been over all that. Among the bad that has come from Mike’s new obsession is that now he’s got me buying boxes of old baseball cards, too … and I’ve never been in the television business. I bought a box of 1987 and box of 1988 Topps. And I’ve been periodically opening up a pack. Here, I’ll open up a 1988 pack right now.
OK, the foul stick of gum was sticking to the Oakland A’s team checklist. So that card’s ruined.
Let’s see what we got. … Steve Lyons! OK, he dropped his pants in the middle of a game…. Tom Henke! That guy was a closer, man. He threw gas. And he wore glasses. I always loved the players who wore glasses. … Richard Dotson! Wait, wasn’t he Rich Dotson on his older cards? Why did he start going with Richard? Did he want people to confuse him with Richard Dawson? I actually have a lot to say about Rich(ard) Dotson, because for a while my friend Robert and I hoarded Rich Dotson 1981 rookie cards. He had 70 wins by the time he was 25. That made him a potential 300-game winner in our minds. I don’t know how many Rich Dotson rookies I ended up with, but I can tell you they did not buy me the Camaro I was dreaming about …
Mike Trujillo. No thoughts. …. Julio Franco! I have a million thoughts about Julio Franco, but I’m going to hold on to those because I suspect that one of the contest winners might request a Julio Franco essay … John Moses, Mariners. He appears to have had a quality mustache. … Terry Francona on the Reds! Back in the day, before he became a Hall of Fame manager, I used to confuse Terry Francona and Casey Candaele all the time … Benny Santiago! When did he stop going by Benito? Fantastic defensive catcher. Threw from his knees. …
Tom Brunansky! Bopper, man. Of course, those were the days when if you hit 28 home runs, you were a bopper. … Gerald Perry. No thoughts. … Marc Sullivan! He was the son of Red Sox owner Haywood Sullivan, right? … Chuck Finley! Really good pitcher. I was thinking about him the other day because Mark Buehrle and Andy Pettitte are doing OK in the Hall of Fame voting this year (not great, but OK) and I was wondering: How much better were those guys than Chuck Finley? It’s probably worth a longer comment, but my takeaway is that they were better, but not much. … Gene Garber! I remember him from those early Superstation Braves days and, even more, for striking out Pete Rose on a changeup to end his 44-game hitting streak. Pete was FURIOUS. He couldn’t believe that Garber didn’t at least try to challenge him with a fastball, especially because the Braves were up 16-4 at the time. “He was pitching like it was the seventh game of the World Series,” Rose grumbled. … Dave Engle. No thoughts.
You can see how distracting these cards have been while I’m trying to finish a book.
But back to Cory Snyder.
JoeBlogs is a reader-supported venture. Free and paid versions are available. The best way to support us here is by taking out a paid subscription. And hey, we do have a lot of fun, so I hope you’ll come along.
In 1987, I was convinced that Cory Snyder was the answer to all of my childhood prayers. I was already 20 years old — Cory was only about four years older than me — but I felt so much younger, and I felt like the Clevelands owed me something for a lifetime of pain. Cory Snyder was that something. He was, as they say, right out of Hollywood casting — a 6-foot-4 Californian with blonde hair, a powerful bat and a bazooka for an arm.* He, finally, would change everything in Cleveland.
*I was (name drop!) chatting it up with Joe Carter a few weeks ago, and I was telling him about my book, WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL, a countdown of the most magical moments in baseball history. There’s a decent chance Joe himself is in it. Anyway, I was telling him it would have some great throws in it. He said: “Don’t sleep on Cory Snyder. Best arm I ever saw.”
I wasn’t the only one to believe in the power of Cory Snyder, by the way. Sports Illustrated had its now infamous cover — on which the gigantic Chief Wahoo is only one if not the most objectionable of the features:
Believe It! Cleveland is the Best Team in the American League.
I did believe it. So it was quite a jolt when Cleveland ended up being the worst team in the American League.
But that was later. First, I collected Cory Snyder baseball cards. I collected them out of love. I collected them as an investment. I collected them to mark the time. And I loved that card. It’s the least athletic pose I can imagine. He’s just standing there, hunched over, with his glove out, as if he’s playing catch with a toddler. “Come on Mark, throw the ball right to me, yes, you can do it!”
And in the bottom right-hand corner it has that glorious “Topps All-Star Rookie” trophy.
And on the back it shows his statistics, which looked great to me: He hit 24 home runs in 103 games! He slugged .500! He was on pace for 100 RBIs!
So maybe I didn’t notice that his strikeout-to-walk was 123-16.
Yeah, that’s right: 123 strikeouts to 16 walks. That might have been a warning sign.
But I wasn’t looking for warning signs then … and I’m not now, either. Writing WHY WE LOVE BASEBALL has been one of the true joys of my professional life. Every single day for a year now, I’ve been diving into all of these wonderful baseball moments, some famous, some not, but all joyful and funny and touching and mysterious and goosebumps and tears and cheers.
Then I opened up that Cory Snyder card, and I’m 56 years old now, I’ve gained way too many pounds, I’ve got a daughter in college and another on the way there … but for a moment I was that college kid myself again. I was 20 years old, and I got a Cory Snyder rookie card,* and I was filled with all the hope and promise that baseball brings.
*Yes, I do know that Snyder had an earlier card — his 1985 U.S. Olympic team card — and I had a bunch of those, too, but this was his first CLEVELAND card.
Why do we love baseball? Well, I’ll tell you, that’s why I love baseball.