10 May 2011

time waits for no man, and jim hickman didn't wait for topps

jim hickman turned 74 today.  happy birthday, jim.  he spent one singular season with the dodgers as a result of being part of the november 1966 trade that sent tommy davis to the mets.  hickman was rewarded with a sad sort of card in 1967, featuring a hatless photo of him as a met with the indentation of his cap still visible on his forehead. 
the card says he's a dodger, and i guess that's what counts for us team collectors.  and, as a good team collector turned into ttm enthusiast, i sent one of these cards off to mr. hickman for his autograph.  i am happy to report that he complied with my request.
hickman's stay in los angeles went so poorly (it was easily the worst season of his career) that topps didn't include him in their 1968 set.  he had hit .163 in 65 games with no homers and only 10 rbi.  he even served up career home run number 553 to willie mays in a mop-up pitching performance.  the opportunity for a proper card of hickman, in a dodger uniform and listed as a dodger, was lost forever when the dodgers traded hickman in april of 1968 to the cubs.  in chicago, he raised his batting average to .223 and hit 5 home runs with 23 rbi in 75 games during the 1968 season.  those numbers were worthy of a topps card in 1969, but topps still had not caught up to hickman, using a photo of him from his days as a dodger.
obviously, hickman signed this one for me too.  if only there were a way to combine this with the 1967 card, it would be halfway decent.  topps finally caught up to hickman in 1970, featuring him as a cub with a photo of him in a cub uniform.  that was the season he hit .315 with 32 homers and 115 rbi and made the all-star team.  it was his base hit that resulted in pete rose demolishing ray fosse to score the winning run.

i didn't have an extra copy of his 1970 card, but i did have a 1971 card lying around and he signed it as well.
hickman stayed with the cubs until the spring of 1974 when they traded him to saint louis.  topps pulled a 1968 and didn't bother to feature him in their '74 set as a cub, cardinal or otherwise.

here's to you jim hickman!  happy birthday and thanks for signing my cards!

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