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.