Friday, February 14, 2020

1981 Topps Rich Hebner

The front: Simple photo of Hebner at the batting cage. Yankee Stadium?

The back: It seems like anyone who was playing in the ‘60s didn’t have room for a blurb on their card.

The player: Rich Hebner was the regular third baseman for the Pirates from 1969 to 1976, winning a World Series ring in 1971. He signed with the Phillies as a free agent in 1977, moving to first base as they had Mike Schmidt at third. After two solid but unspectacular seasons the Phillies signed Pete Rose to play first, and traded Hebner to the Mets. He later played for the Tigers and Cubs before retiring in 2015. Overall in 1,908 games he hit .276 with 203 HR and 890 RBI.

The man: Hebner’s family operated several Jewish cemeteries in the Boston area, and for over 35 years, before, during and after his career, he worked part-time digging graves. Hebner’s second-job was well-known among baseball fans, leading to his “Gravedigger” nickname. The Tigers even made a Gravedigger bobblehead for Hebner, swinging a shovel instead of a bat. When his family left the business in 2006 he switched to a job driving a hearse. In an interview with the Buffalo News in 2014 he said “I tell people, I guess I love being around stiffs!” Hebner was also a minor league manager for many years.

My collection: I have 25 of his cards, from 1969 to 1986. I would be interested in trading for 1972 Topps #630 and 1974 Topps #450.

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