Wednesday, July 22, 2009

1990 Upper Deck #785 786 787 788

Dave Hollins
Cecil Fielder
Matt Young
Jeff Huson


That Huson photo is great. He is perfectly still and it could easily be a posed shot, if not for that ball careening towards him from the left.

It also appears that Fielder discarded his bat right into the catcher's mouth as it's sticking straight out from back there.

Otherwise, these photos leave something to be desired. The Hollins photos are obviously taken from the same at-bat, as are the Fielder ones likely. Only Young is sporting two different jerseys.


Not a stat so much, but Hollins was involved in 3 very interesting transactions:

December 4, 1989: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies from the San Diego Padres in the 1989 rule 5 draft.

July 24, 1995: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies to the Boston Red Sox for Mark Whiten.

August 29, 1996: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Seattle Mariners for . The Seattle Mariners sent David Arias (September 13, 1996) to the Minnesota Twins to complete the trade.

Hollins was one of the best Rule V Draft pickups ever, at least until he fizzled after only a couple of really good years. Later, he was traded for a much better player in Mark Whiten. Still later, he was traded for a WAY better player, although that time David Arias was totally unknown. In fact, he still hadn't started using the last name we all recognize today. Click on Arias' name above to see him called by his more recognizable moniker.

BEST IN 1990

I cannot emphasize this enough. Not only was Cecil Fielder the best in 1990 but that season was one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, not only due to his excellent performance but also because of its phenomenal surprise and impact.

Fielder came almost literally out of nowhere, having been an unknown major leaguer who played in Japan in 1989. His return to MLB in 1990 was not a story--few people recognized his name and even fewer cared. Then he hit 7 HR in April and a few eyebrows were raised. Then he slammed 11 more homers in May and suddenly all eyes were on him. Collectors were scurrying to find his rookie cards. Turns out he had an 1988 Topps card. But wait, he also had a 1987 Topps card...and holy crap! He also he a 1986 Topps card!

Fielder rolled into the All-Star break with 28 homers and people started to ask: could this unknown slugger break the 50-HR barrier? At that point, it had been done just once since 1965, and that was all the way back in 1977 by George Foster. Many people were skeptical that Fielder could keep it up. Lots of folks said that once the scouting reports caught up with him, his numbers would dwindle.

But then something funny happened--his numbers didn't dwindle. He finished July with 7 HR, giving him 33 for the season. Surely he'd slow down in August? Nope. Nine more homers, giving him 42 heading into the final month. He reached 48 homers in his team's 153rd game on September 23rd. Then he reached 49 homers in his team's 156th game on September 27th. Then he went homerless--1 game, 2 games, 3 games...5 games without a homer, and the 162nd and final game was upon Fielder.

Many people doubted that Cecil Fielder would homer on that final day. Just like Dawson and McGwire in 1987, many suspected, he'd finish 1 homer shy of the 50-HR barrier. Many, many people tuned in to watch his final game that year, coming against the Yankees on October 3rd.

Fielder batted second in this game, I assume in an attempt to give him an extra at-bat in this game. He batted second only twice in 1990. In the first inning, he was walked and the Yankee fans booed. He scored on a Gary Ward grand slam and batted again in the second, this time lining out. After two outs in the 4th, Tony Phillips did what he did best and walked. Four pitches later, Fielder launched his 50th home run of the season into the left field stands. Insanity reigned as the Yankee crowd cheered.

Then, to erase any trace of the memory that Fielder's 50-HR season was ever in doubt, he launched a 3-run bomb in the 8th inning, this a line drive that also reached the left field stands.

And so it stood. An unknown slugger with huge biceps and an even larger smile broke the 50-HR barrier and Big Daddy was born.

In the years that followed, Fielder's accomplishment was tarnished, not by him (he hit 44 HR the following season and 30+ homers 4 additional times) but by the rest of baseball. Enter steroids and 9 different 50-HR seasons from 1995 to 1998. Fielder's season became a memory forgotten by many, but not by me.

After all, I was at Yankee Stadium on October 3rd, 1990. I brought my glove, and had the great fortune of catching Fielder's 50th home run ball in the left field stands. It remains my most prized possession.

OK, I made that last paragraph up, but everything else is true :)


Dave Hollins = Handles viol (of banned substances, perhaps?)
Cecil Fielder = I feel circled
Matt Young = Gutty moan


All 4 of these guys did some good things in the big leagues but Fielder had the best career. Aside from what I've already mentioned, he was a major contributer to the Yankees' World Series win in 1996, amassing 14 RBI in 14 post-season games that year. Add to that his big smile and massive influence, and this guy was one of baseball's brightest stars in the 1990s.


  1. when he was the the third base coach for the binghamton mets I seem to remember dave hollins getting in a fight that resulted in him charging into the opposing teams dugout fists flying

  2. Andy, where's the poll?

    Does anyone else remember the nickname "Cecil the Vessel" or did I imagine it?

  3. George Foster's 1977 season was just as shocking as Fielder's season. Foster didn't come completely out of nowhere to do it like Fielder, but there was no indication that Foster could produce such a monster season.

  4. oh sorry, forgot the poll. I'll add it later today Right now I'm traveling home from a very interesting trip to NYC.

  5. and Kevin, you did not imagine Cecil the Vessel. I don't know wbo came ujp with that nickname but it was a clever one, insomuch as it helped fans learn that Fielder's first name rhymed with 'vessel' rather than being pronounced like Cecil Cooper's name.

  6. Fielder looks so excited to be hitting the ball.

  7. That's the thing about Fielder...he always looked excited and happy like that. He was a great guy to watch play.

  8. 2 comments:

    1. Jeff Huson's going to have some sore fingers unless he pulls the bat back.

    2. Well written about Cecil Fielder. I would change only one thing. "An unknown slugger with huge biceps and an even larger" butt .....

    Big Cec was kind of fun to watch.

  9. I saw Matt Young pitch an 8 inning, no-hit loss in Cleveland in 1992. One of my favorite baseball memories, even if I don't remember it too well, as I was 8.