#327 Don Blasingame
This is a rare card in my collection in that the condition of the front surface is better than the condition of the back. Although the trivia question is unscratched, there is considerable fading on the back of the card and some noticeable corner wear that only shows on this side. Turn it over and it’s a really nice card. Suffers from poor centering, but otherwise is very crisp with nice gloss and sharp corners. This card, and others in the ’64 set, for some reason list the position as “2d base” on the front, which doesn’t make much sense. This is a common card, and lists for $8 in the SMR in NM condition.
Another oddity of this card is the fact that the trivia question on the back is phrased completely wrong. It’s supposed to say “what pitcher hit three homers in a game” and not “3rd baseman.” The answer provided on the card (though it’s not revealed on mine) is Jim Tobin, who is the only pitcher in the modern era to hit three homers in a game — he did it with the Braves on May 13, 1942.
Blasingame, by all objective measures, was a below-average major leaguer who somehow managed to stick around for 12 years. Nicknamed “Blazer,” he had a reputation as a hustler who was good at bunting and avoiding strikeouts. Unfortunately, he didn’t really do anything else well. His career .656 OPS is putrid, and he didn’t compensate for it with stellar defense. He contributed 3.1 fielding runs above average per season — not exactly a difference maker.
Don had three serviceable years between 1957 and 1959 with the Cardinals. He had a career-high eight homers in 1957 and was named as an All-Star in 1958, when he hit .274 with 19 doubles, 10 triples, and 20 stolen bases. He also played for the Giants, Reds, and briefly with the Athletics.
After a horrid start with the Reds in 1963, the Senators purchased him and made him their starting second baseman. He held that honor until midway through the 1966 season. In 1964, Blasingame posted a .267/.320/.314 line for the 62-100 Senators. His OPS during his time in Washington was a mind-bogglingly low .609.
Blasingame would go on to play three years in Japan after being released by the A’s. He also managed the Hanshin Tigers and Nankai Hawks. Don died in 2005 at the age of 73.