Tuesday, March 27, 2012
no. 31 - eddie kasko
Who is the man: Eddie Kasko was a former infielder who took his first major league managerial job in 1970, succeeding Dick Williams as the Red Sox's skipper. This is his first manager card. And this is the first manager card in the set.
Can ya dig it: Kasko has the honor of being on the first 1973 Topps card I ever saw. It was in my brother's collection.
Right on: I don't have a lot of pristine 1971s, and this card has a little chipping on the bottom, but it's in otherwise very nice shape. There is nothing more beautiful than a well-preserved 1971 Topps card.
You see this cat Kasko is a bad mother: A bad mother for wearing glasses his entire career! I originally thought it was only a "I'm the manager now, so I better put on some glasses and look authoritative" thing. But it turns out he wore glasses as a player, too.
Shut your mouth: Kasko was before my time, and I first came across him in a story by the great Roger Angell. He was writing about the 1972 pennant race in which the Tigers caught the Red Sox and won the A.L. East pennant. Kasko's response to a writer who had brought up some embarrassing Boston base-running play was the old classic line: "If 'ifs' and 'buts' were candied nuts, we'd all have a hell of a Christmas." This phrase has been repeated in one form or another many times, but it was the first time I had ever heard it when I read Kasko saying it. I thought it was genius.
No one understand him but his woman: Kasko was a gentle, quiet sort who replaced the brash, confrontational Williams. The players loved Kasko, but the clique-ravaged Red Sox were also able to get away with just about anything under his watch, and he was eventually replaced by Darrell Johnson after the 1973 season. Both Williams and Johnson led the Red Sox to World Series, so Kasko is the underachieving link between the two.
(A word about the back): The World Series that Kasko participated in was the 1961 Series as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.