Monday, October 13, 2014

1998 Topps Ron Karkovice

I think I am getting to know myself better as a card collector and a custom card maker. I think that like many other card collectors, that I am mainly interested in cards that came out during the years I collected (1988-2012 or so). While I have many cards from before 1988, and I will always be fascinated with older cards, I guess you could say that sets that I remember busting packs of, or seeing in a beckett, or seeing in friends collections are ones that I enjoy. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I have been deviating from my set checklists when it comes to making custom cards. This card was supposed to be a 1984 Topps Traded Kirby Puckett. While Puckett was a great player, I know other bloggers have made this card before, and I guess I kind of want to be different and make cards nobody else will make. I loved the 1998 Topps set, and I had Ron Karkovice in my list of final cards to make from that set, so I decided to do his '98 Topps card for card #34.
I have been a fan of "Karko" for a while now. I got his 1989 Topps card out of one of the first packs of cards I ever opened, I watched him and the Chicago White Sox on WGN games since probably 1993 or so, but the real thing that sticks out in my mind about Ron was the 1994 Post-Season. "But wait. There wasn't a Post-season in 1994", you say. Oh yes there was. In 1994, Dateline NBC simulated the rest of the 1994 season on a computer program, and if I'm not mistaken, they had the New York Banee$ beating the Cincinatti Reds in the World Series. Topps also did the same thing with a computer system, and they actually kept the stats that were made, added them to players' 1994 regular stats, and put versions of cards with the computer-simulated stats added into their 1995 Topps sets in the paralell set called 'Cyberstats' or 'Spectra Light', whichever you prefer to call it. In their simulations, they had the Cleveland Indians beating the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. They also made a 7-card insert set that was placed in factory sets, which highlighted the Playoffs and World Series. I had wanted that set ever since it came out, but since I only had a small card shop, and haven't really been on eBay much, I wasn't able to get the set until 2009 when I finally got the set off of COMC.
Around that time, I had got Strategic Baseball Simulator for my laptop, and decided I wanted to do my own version of the 1994 season. I simmed the season, and the playoffs, and the Chicago White Sox and Cincinatti Reds were the last 2 teams standing. The playoffs had some great moments, including a Paul O'Neill walkoff HR off of Dennis Eckersley, a Sean Berry series-clinching walkoff HR, and a Complete-Game Shutout by Cleveland Indians pitcher Denny Martinez against the Baltimore Orioles in a 1-game playoff to determine the AL Wild Card. In the World Series, the White Sox took on the Reds. In Game 1, the Sox won 19-2. Robin Ventura had 2 HRs and 7 RBIs, and Ozzie Guillen had 5 hits. Karkovice hit a 2-run HR in the bottom of the 8th to give the White Sox a lead they would never relinquish. Bret Boone hit a Sac-Fly to give the Reds a 3-2 lead in the 8th of Game 3, that would prove to be the winning run. Boone also won Game 4 with a RBI hit in the bottom of the 10th Inning. Jose Rijo pitched 7 innings of 3-run ball, and had 2 RBIs at the plate to give the Reds a 5-3 win in Game 5. In a must-win game for the White Sox, Julio Franco came through with a game-winning Sac-Fly in the bottom of the 12th inning of Game 6. Game 7 was never in doubt, as the White Sox took an early lead, and ended up winning 12-4. Karko had 3 Home Runs in Game 7, and was named the World Series MVP with a .310 Batting Average, 4 Home Runs, and 11 RBIs.
I was in the midst of making an ill-fated custom set featuring me, some of my friends, places I've been to, and great memories I've had at the time, and decided to make a set similar to the Cyberstats 7-card playoff insert in my set. The whole custom set turned out to be a waste of time, but I still have the photo of the Karkovice World Series card.

Hope this post wasn't too long or too confusing to understand. In the end, Karko gets his final Topps card, a World Series ring, a 3-HR World Series game, and an extra Cyberstats card.

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