Monday, July 29, 2013

THE MYSTERY OF JIM CAMPANIS AND HIS 1974 CARD

What would you say to a player logging six at-bats over six games getting his own baseball card the following year?
How about if I go one further and then state that this very same player didn't even play the year before that, or even the year before THAT?!
Odd, but this is exactly what happened with Topps giving Jim Campanis his own card in their 1974 set (#513).
I've always wondered why they even bothered to give this guy a card. He wasn't a "rookie star" or up-and-coming future star. He wasn't even some super star player at the tail end of his career, who Topps may have wanted to give a proper send-off with a final card.
He was just this lower-level catcher who played sparingly over the course of six years for the Dodgers, Royals and Pirates (for those six AB's mentioned earlier). Yet for some reason Topps felt it necessary to use one of their slots in the '74 set for him, even though he totaled 6 games in the past three seasons.
It was Campanis' first card since the 1970 set when he was a member of the inaugural Kansas City Royals team. He also had a card in the '68 set (only other solo) and the '67 set (as a rookie on the same card as Bill Singer).
Yet you can't help but wonder if the fact that Jim is the son of Dodger GM Al Campanis, that some sort of "hook up" was given here. Perhaps? Could it be?
But really, when you think about it, that sounds absurd. Why would Topps even bother?
By the time this card saw the light of day, Jim was already out of baseball as a player and working for the Dodgers in some capacity, leaving the catching gear behind him.
All told, his career comprised of 113 games and 217 at-bats for an eye-popping .147 career average. Seriously, the highest he ever batted was .161 in 61 at-bats for L.A. in 1967. But in all fairness, I do hear that he was a pretty good defensive guy behind the plate. Guess he had to be, right?
What's (not so) funny is, about the biggest thing this guy was remembered for regarding his career was that his own father traded him to the Royals in 1968 for "future considerations". Not exactly a comfortable Thanksgiving around that table I'm sure!

A card for THIS guy?

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