Friday, July 5, 2013

1961 Topps Ruben Gomez

I don't usually make one-card posts but I'm making an exception.

I got this card at the card show last weekend. It's in pretty good shape except for being badly off center. You can see the edge of the next card on the sheet along the bottom front and left back. But it's an early Phillies card I didn't have and it only cost 80 cents.

One of the things I like to do when I get old cards like this, especially when it's a player I don't know, is to look up their story on Wikipedia. Ruben Gomez looks like a player I should have known about.

He only played 2 years with the Phillies and he wasn't that great for them but he started his career with the Giants. He grew up in Puerto Rico, and pitched there with the nickname El Divino Loco (The Divine Madman). Would you want to face a pitcher with a nickname like that?

In 1954, he was 17-9 with the Giants helping them get to the World Series. He won Game 3 of the World Series as the Giants went on to sweep the Indians in 4 games. He is thus the first Puerto Rican player to win a World Series game.

In 1958 the Giants and the Dodgers relocated to the West Coast. What I didn't know was that the two teams opened the season with a home and away series. Gomez won the first game of the season in San Francisco, beating future Hall of Famer Don Drysdale. Thus he became the first pitcher to win a game played west of Kansas City.

After his two years with the Phillies, Gomez pitched for Veracruz in the Mexican League. One day he bought a lottery ticket from a young boy to help him out and won a $35,000 prize. He ended up using the money to set up a trust fund for the boy. Years later, in 2001, Gomez was facing surgery for cancer. A Mexican doctor asked to attend the surgery. It was that boy who sold him the lottery ticket. Is this a true story? I couldn't find another reference for it (I spent all of a minute on Google) but I hope it is.

Gomez was also known for throwing at people. In his rookie season he hit Carl Furillo (apparently at the order of his manager Leo Durocher). Furillo broke his hand in the resulting melee, ending his season.

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