here now, at the end of the year, it seems to be a good time to post some final tributes. most of the final tributes that i collect are of certain infielders, dodgers, hall of famers or other notable players. however, i also collect the cards that carry the 'final tribute' designation (or similar notations) which were especially prevalent in upper deck releases of the late 1990's. in many cases, these were the only such cards made for some retiring greats.
take this 1996 upper deck collector's choice kirk gibson card, for example.
another former dodger who hung them up during the 1995 season was dave stewart. like gibby, his 1996 upper deck collector's choice card is his lone final tribute
another pitcher who returned to the scene of his greatest successes after spending some time with the blue jays was phil niekro. here's his 1988 score card that captured his return to the braves for one final start
niekro did get a card in the 1988 topps set (a record breaker with his brother joe in which he is still shown as an indian) which was the same way that topps said goodbye to the likes of al kaline, brooks robinson, lou brock, and the trio of gaylord perry, johnny bench, and carl yastrzemski. i prefer the way score did things. classic also put out a three card subset of niekro in their 1988 set - one with him as an indian, one as a blue jay, and one as a brave. i don't have any of those, but nick does.
back to upper deck - here's a 1995 goose gossage card. it lacks the final tribute designation, but gossage pitched his last pitch in 1994.
gossage became a free agent after the 1994 strike-shortened season ended. i'm not sure if he tried to latch on with a team after the strike ended in 1995 or if he decided to call it quits on his own.
mickey tettleton did call it quits on his own - in july of 1997. usually, a midseason retirement doesn't bode well for that player getting cards the following year. thanks to upper deck, there are two mickey tettleton final tributes, complete with the final tribute designations. here's his 1998 upper deck card
like tettleton, lee smith announced his retirement in july of 1997. and, like tettleton, smith received final tributes from upper deck in their flagship and collector's choice sets in 1998.
i'm not sure why the border of smith's cc card has gray borders when tettleton's is white
that exact thing happened to them with dennis martinez. here is martinez's 1998 upper deck card with the final tribute designation