This is the first in what will be a long series on players that I collect. My reasons for collecting a particular player are many and, on retrospect, don't always make complete sense. But once I start collecting a player I generally keep collecting, unless the player turns into a complete bust (Rick Ankiel comes to mind). My plan is to feature one card per year of the player's career. And I'm only going to cover non-Phillies and non-Astros in this series, or else it will never end. I'm going to do this in alphabetical order so we start with Jim Abbott.
I was always fascinated with Jim Abbott even though I'm not sure I actually ever saw him play.
1989 Topps #573. Jim was the Angels #1 Draft Pick in 1988. He is one of only a few players to go directly from college ball to the majors. In order for Topps to get him on a card in 1989, they had to show him in his University of Michigan uniform. Jim was 12-12 with an ERA of 3.92 in his rookie year.
1990 Classic Blue #40. Jim was 10-14 with the Angels in 1990 with an ERA of 3.84. This card came from a baseball game involving trivia questions on the back of the card and a game board with tokens and a spinner. I had bought the entire package new in 1990. I was only interested in the cards. Now I wish I had kept the whole package together.
1991 Ultra #43. 1991 would be Jim's best year with a 18-11 record. He finished 3rd in the American League Cy Young Award voting. It was the first year for Fleer Ultra, one of the several "ultra" premium brands (like Leaf and Stadium Club) to spring up in the early 1990s.
1992 Topp's McDonald's Best #20. After a great year in 1991, 1992 was a disappointing year. Jim finished with a 7-15 record but a not too bad 3.99 ERA. It should also be noted that the Angels were 72-90 in 1992 so wins were hard to come by. These cards were distributed in McDonald's restaurants in the PA-NJ area. I'm still trying to loose the weight I gained trying to complete this set. In December 1992, the Angels traded Abbott to the Yankees for J.T. Snow, Jerry Nielsen and Russ Springer.
1993 Bowman #131. Jim was 11-14 with an ERA of 4.25 in his first season as a Yankee. 1993 Bowman is one of my favorite sets of the 1990s.
1994 Upper Deck #310. Another of my favorite sets of the 1990s. Jim was 9-8 in 24 starts with the Yankees in 1994. The Yankees were 70-43 in a strike-shortened season, in which, if you remember (and how could you forget) there were no play-offs. Jim became a free agent in December 1994.
1995 Topps Traded #75. Jim was signed by the White Sox in April of 1995 and was 6-4 for them. He was traded in late July with Tim Fortugno to the Angles for McKay Christensen, John Snyder, Andrew Lorraine and Bill Simas. He was 5-4 for the Angels. I had no 1995 cards of Abbott in an Angles uniform. I'm not sure there were any, considering that his Topps Traded card is as a White Sox.
1996 Topps #372. Jim had, what can only be called a terrible year in 1996, going 2-18 in 23 starts for a terrible Angels team (71-91). He decided to retire at the end of the season and did not play in 1997. Jim came out of retirement in 1998, signing with the White Sox in May. In 5 starts he was 5-0. He became a free agent again in November.
1995 Upper Deck Victory #213. Jim was signed by the Brewers in January and posted a 2-8 record before the Brewers released in him July. It would be his last season. It was the first time he played in the National League. He was 2 for 21, getting the first hit of his career on June 15, 1999.
In his 10 year career, Abbott was 87-108 with an ERA of 4.25. He never won any major pitching awards. But considering that he only had one hand, his career was remarkable. There is a pretty good Wikipedia article on him here and you can find his career stats here.
According to Beckett.com, there are 513 Jim Abbott cards out there. I have 73 of them so I've got a long way to go.