Cards from the Diamond

by on February 16, 2010

1976 Topps

Al Oliver

Each day we feature something from our collection of childhood bubblegum memories.  For those who remember them, these baseball cards have their own stories to tell.

What does this card bring to mind for you? Please share in the comments!

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  • Perry Barber

    Bob Costas tells the story on an MLB TV promo about how Al Oliver was one of the players on the field for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971, the first time a team sported an all-black line-up in MLB history (although one of them, Roberto Clemente, was actually Nicaraguan, not African-American.) One of Oliver's teammates (or perhaps it was he) looked around the field and proclaimed that there were “all brothers on the field.” Only twenty-four years after Jackie Robinson “broke” the color barrier! Almost forty years later, the decline in the numbers of black baseball players is a sad commentary, at least to me, on the lack of effort by MLB to draw talented players from all strata and backgrounds into its fold. The current preference is for Latino players, and there are many reasons for this I won't go into here, but the paucity of African-American players (and managers, coaches, and umpires) paints a pretty sorry portrait of the state of professional baseball today.

    By the way, that Pirates team also included the immortal Dock Ellis; if you haven't seen the YouTube video about how he pitched a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres while completely whacked out on LSD, it's definitely worth viewing.

    Dock died about a year ago while waiting for a liver transplant, and of course we all know Roberto Clemente died at the end of the 1971 season delivering relief supplies to victims of an earthquake in his native country, but Al Oliver is still around. We should celebrate him and his surviving teammates while they're here, while we can. Thanks to baseballisms and Joe Magennis for reminding us of that.

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