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Ed Herrmann

November 14, 2006

Ed Herrmann looks to have just hit one into the gap. He will now toss the bat away and run with all his might. In his 11-year career, Ed Herrmann stole six bases and hit four triples, but even these meager testaments to the ability to move fast enough to capitalize on occasional freakish circumstances were far in the past at the time of this snapshot. All his might will still not make Ed Herrmann move very fast.

As I understand it, the type of baseball card that is generally worth the most money is the one in which a future superstar makes his first appearance: the rookie card. This 1979 Ed Herrmann card is from a set at the opposite end of that spectrum: a card showing a well-traveled, forgettable part-timer who has already played his last game. (Other examples of this shown previously on this site include, among others, thousand-yard-staring David Clyde and off-the-grid yeti Joe Wallis.) These would seem to me to be the more rare, hence more valuable, hobbyist specimens. They are, in a certain light, mistakes, in that a baseball card is not meant as a tribute to the season just past but rather as a companion for the current season. The proof of this principle is in the doctoring of the cards of players (such as Dave Cash and Reggie Jackson) who have switched to new teams just before the start of the season. If Topps went to such lengths to underscore the fact that Dave Cash, for example, was no longer a Phillie, you would think that they would also take similar pains to try to doctor Ed Herrmann out of the picture altogether.

But somehow, even though Ed Herrmann was released at the end of 1978, giving Topps plenty of time to stop the presses on the 1979 Ed Herrmann card, the 1979 Ed Herrmann card slipped through. Maybe only a few made it to the stores before quality control realized the error. Maybe the card is as rare as the 1952 Mickey Mantle card or even the 1909 Honus Wagner card. If so, the scarcity of the card has done nothing for its value among collectors–a cursory glance on Google shows the 1979 Ed Herrmann card selling for between 25 and 50 cents (compared to the Honus Wagner card, which is worth over a million dollars).

But I value this rare card, this beautiful mistake, for it has allowed Ed Herrmann one more moment of baseball life, that ball bounding into the gap with double written all over it for anyone with even below average speed. Unfortunately, as noted earlier, Ed Herrmann has speed even below below average. His expression here shows doubt, concern, even regret in the placement of his well-struck hit. He knows that he will be expected to end up on second base, and he knows that this is going to be a difficult if not impossible feat. He’ll probably get thrown out and have to lumber back to the dugout beneath the wilting gaze of incredulous fans and teammates alike. How could you have turned that success into failure, Ed Herrmann?

But then again, maybe he has a chance. That’s what this card that shouldn’t even exist in the first place says to me. If this card can exist, maybe the lumbering picture of doom upon it has a chance to beat the throw to second.

Maybe there’s hope for all us mathematically eliminated.

Haul ass, Ed Herrmann, haul ass.

3 comments

  1. 1.  1 comment from old CG site:

    pete millerman said…
    In my faded memory, then White-Sock Ed Hermann was forever cursed to be always just a smidgen slower than his Minnesota doppelganger and counterpart Glenn Borgmann in that eternal competition between burly, mustachioed, second-string American League West catchers whose names ended in matching double consonants….


  2. Sad to say, Ed Herrmann hit only one double in his brief tenure with the Expos. That came in the second game of a Bastille Day doubleheader (ah, they just don’t play enough French holiday doubleheaders anymore!), and so was undoubtedly hit a night. It looks to me as if the photo was taken in the day time, so I’d like to think is that Ed is here watching an up-and-coming rookie secondbaseman (actually there weren’t too many of those in the N.L in 1978, so let’s just call it Dave Lopes) rob him of what would have been a line drive single to right.


  3. Boring day at work so I did a little research about Herrmann’s at bat. Thank you retrosheet!. Herrmann played 19 games in his Expos career, all in 1978. He joined the team in June and was released in October so this has to be a regular season game and not a shot taken during spring training. Since he’s in the road blue uniform we can eliminate the 10 home games he played. It’s also pretty obvious that this is a day game played on artificial turf so it has to be from either June 25 in St.L or game 2 of a July 4 double header in PIT. The small shadow at Ed’s feet leads me to believe that this is an early afternoon game. Game 1 on July 4 started at 1:05 PM so game 2 would have started at 4:00 PM or later. Therefore this at bat would have had to have happened late afternoon or early evening. Based on that I’ll eliminate the PIT game and assume it was the June 25 game in St.L. The red sleeve on the guy in the dugout under Ed’s bat seems to back this up. On June 25 Herrmann batted 3 times before being pinch hit for by Gary Carter late in the game. He’s not looking up so this picture probably wasn’t taking during his pop to second in the 4th inning. His other 2 at bats were a single to left in the 3rd and a single to center in the 7th. Ted Simmons was playing left for the Cards and Jerry Morales was in center. Neither was especially fast so I will guess that if a ball had been hit into the gap it would not have been cut off and Herrmann would have reached second on a clean double. It’s kind of hard to tell which one of these hits is pictured, or perhaps it’s a foul ball down the line, but Herrmann only had 5 more hits left in his career after this game so it’s nice to have a record of one of his last days on the field.



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