Friday, November 28, 2008

Tribute to 2008 Topps Heritage - Jim Eisenreich

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Jim Eisenreich overcame Tourette's Syndrome to have a very productive Major League career.

I first remember Jim as a Kansas City Royal. He was featured in 1992 and 1993 Kansas City Royals team sets that my brother bought at a local hobby shop.

At the time, I didn't think much of him. He was like any other Royals common at the time: Mark Gubicza, Terry Shumpert, Brent Mayne, Storm Davis or Felix Jose (who incidentally now plays for our hometown, independent league Lincoln Saltdogs).

But in the next few years, I'd be seeing a lot of Jim Eisenreich.

In 1993, Jim hit .318 for the NL Champion Phillies en route to the World Series. The 1993 World Series was the second World Series I ever watched, so it was fairly memorable. Jim was interesting because unlike all the other Phillies, he didn't look like a biker. He looked more like a banker.

In 1997, Jim won a World Series with the Florida Marlins. He hit .500 during the series. It was a memorable series. The series went seven games, and I listened to the final game on A.M. radio by candlelight. It might sound ridiculous or even creepy, but I had good reason. A snowstorm had hit Omaha and knocked our power out for seven days.

Jim played one more year and then retired. He went out on top, as a world champion.

It wasn't until several years laster that I found out Jim had Tourette's Syndrome, or even began to understand what Tourette's Syndrome was. You can read about Jim's struggles with Tourette's here. Sitting here today, reflecting on that article, I have a greater appreciation for Jim Eisenreich and the success he was able to have.

I have featured him here in the design of 2008 Topps Heritage, which is based on 1959 Topps. The set has a clean, bare bones look with grainy, up-close photos. I wasn't drawn to it much at first -- what was there to really appreciate or distinguish it from other sets? -- but after a while, I started to appreciate it -- much like I did Jim Eisenreich. There was more to it than met the eye, and I kept coming back to it. So for me, the card and the player are a natural fit.

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