Thursday, December 8, 2011
Lenny Webster, 1999 Fleer Tradition Warning Track #572W
As I should have expected, he went above and beyond the call of duty. The want list for the '65 set has been whittled down to 9, as he picked up the Sandy Koufax/Don Drysdale NL ERA leaders card as well as higher-numbered cards of Curt Flood and Dick Smith. All three were in quite good condition. He also came up big with a half-dozen '75s, including Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, and Carlton Fisk. 12 more to go before I've got all 660 of those brightly-colored wonders. Ed also grabbed my 1982 Topps wantlist. I've still got many more of those cards to obtain for a complete birth-year set, but now I can tick off a few big names like Ozzie Smith and Gaylord Perry. There were also a pair of Orioles needs satisfied: a 1969 Topps Andy Etchebarren (never can have enough Etch cards!) and this offering from the 11 Most Wanted list you see on the left of the screen.
This is the now the one and only card in my O's collection of Lenny Webster, who may be my favorite Baltimore backup catcher. He's neck-and-neck with Sal Fasano, who has a reputation as a wonderful person with grand facial hair but graced us for only one season. Lenny was of course the last Oriole to regularly wear #42, as he sported that number from the time he arrived in 1997 and was grandfathered in when Bud Selig retired it across baseball to honor Jackie Robinson. He practically split time behind the plate with Chris Hoiles in 1997-1998, as the erstwhile catcher's hip problems were bringing about the end of his career. Webster wasn't much defensively but held his own at bat, with a line of .265/.318/.394, 17 HR, and 86 RBI in 660 plate appearances as an Oriole.
Highlights of his tenure in Charm City included a game-winning two-run homer off of Braves closer Mark Wohlers in the tenth inning of a June 15, 1997 game in Atlanta. In all, 8 of his 17 home runs in orange and black either tied the game or gave the Birds the lead. His only walkoff shot came in the bottom of the ninth on July 23, 1998, as he broke a 7-7 tie with Oakland by going deep to left field off of Mike Fetters with Joe Carter on first base. It capped a momentous day for Lenny: 4-for-5 with a double, a homer, and a career-best 6 RBI.
Not a bad way to spend $17 without leaving the house.