Monday, June 27, 2022

1981 Topps Rick Rhoden


The front: Simple headshot at Shea Stadium. A red collared T-shirt is peeking out under Rhoden's uniform; that doesn't look like standard Pirates gear.

The back: Rhoden would hit a total of 9 HR in his career. Generally considered the best hitting pitcher of his era, for his career he hit .238 with with 9 HR and 75 RBI in 830 at-bats. He walked 17 times and struck out 114 times. The fact that the best hitting pitcher in the league put up numbers comparably to a weak-hitting middle infielder is as good an argument as any for the DH.

The player: Despite all the focus on his hitting, Rhoden was actually a very good pitcher. He won 38 games for the Dodgers from 1976 to 1978. He was traded to the Pirates for Jerry Reuss after the '78 season, and lost almost all of '79 to injury. He bounced back and became one of the most consistent pitchers in the league, while toiling for one of the worst teams in baseball. After an All-Star season in 1986 he became the subject of many trade rumors as the Pirates were in a rebuild. After the season he was traded to the Yankees for Doug Drabek. Drabek became a star for Pittsburgh while Rhoden was only OK for the Yankees (28-22, 4.09 ERA over two seasons). He ended his career with the Astros in 1989. Overall in 16 seasons he went 151-125 with 1,419 strikeouts and a 3.59 ERA.

The man: Rhoden was an excellent athlete besides his pitching and hitting prowess. Rhoden also excelled in basketball and golf. His skill at these sports is even more impressive when you consider that due to a childhood injury he wore a brace on his leg during all waking hours for four years, and his right leg is permanently bent inward at the knee. In 1990, after his retirement from baseball, he embarked on a career as a professional golfer. He has won 53 celebrity/athlete tournaments and has also played in US Senior Open and Champion Tour events. 

My collection: I have 62 of his cards, from 1975 to 1990. I would be interested in trading for 1988 Sportflics #104.

1 comment:

  1. Billy Martin thought enough of Rhoden's hitting that he used him as a DH in a game against the Orioles in 1988