Saturday, July 27, 2019

Cards That Never Were: Rick Stelmaszek 1974 Topps Highlights

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players missed in various sets over the years. It is a concept I have borrowed from far too many others to list, but I appreciate all of them.
Actually, today's card was created by Lynn Phelps, probably the most prolific card creator in the Custom Baseball Cards group on Facebook. Lynn has produced hundreds of cards and also takes requests.
While I usually only like legitimate cards that should have been made, Lynn started a series that I really liked. He created "1974 Highlights" for memorable events during the 1974 baseball season. After seeing a few of his creations, I asked him to do one for Rick Stelmaszek's first hit with the Chicago Cubs.
Rick's double happened 45 years ago today. He had just been acquired on July 28 by the Cubs from the California Angels for pitcher Horacio Pina.
In his first game with the Cubs, Rick was the starting catcher and batting in the 7th slot. In the bottom of the second inning, Rick doubled off of Steve Renko of the Montreal Expos. The double drove in Jerry Morales for the Cubs first run. Unfortunately, Rick got a bit too excited and unsuccessfully tried to stretch it to a triple. The Cubs went on to lose the game 4-3.
This was Rick's only double in his career and one of his 15 hits. He had no triples, but hit one home run (off of Don Sutton).
Sadly, Rick passed away in November of 2017. He played parts of 4 seasons in the majors, but his bigger baseball legacy comes from his lengthy tenure as a coach for the Minnesota Twins. He had the third longest stint with one team (behind Nick Altrock and Manny Mota). More importantly, Rick was a great guy who gave me many wonderful memories.
I appreciate Lynn creating this card for me. If you like baseball cards (or even if you have great memories of collecting), check out the Custom Baseball Cards group on Facebook. You will love it.

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