#80 Vada Pinson
Not one of my finest specimens. The excellent centering, which is always tough with these cards, is ruined by staining, a big crease, a rubber band dimple, AND soft corners. The bottom right of the card is kinda hanging on for dear life. Might only be a G if graded out.
Because Pinson isn’t a Hall of Famer, his relative star status at the time hasn’t held up as well over the years, and this card lists for just a slight premium over a common card — $10 for NM.
The trivia question is dumb so we’re just not going to discuss it.
Vada Pinson was a terrific player for 11 years and looked possibly headed toward the Hall of Fame. While he had some fleeting success over his last seven seasons, he declined enough that he became one of those players just on the outside looking in. Of players currently eligible for the HOF who aren’t in it (so, not including active players, recently retired players, and Pete Rose), only Andre Dawson and Harold Baines have more than Pinson’s 2,757 career hits.
By age 30 (the end of the 1968 season), he had 1,881 hits, 186 HR, 342 doubles, 96 triples, a .297 batting average, and 119 OPS+. In other words, he was really good. He couldn’t keep it up, though.
Pinson was signed by the Reds and made his debut at age 19 in 1958 and played in 27 games. He attended high school in Oakland with Frank Robinson, who would be his teammate until 1965 in Cincinnati.
In Pinson’s first full season, he led the NL in runs (131) and doubles (47) while batting .316 with 20 homers an .880 OPS. He leveled off somewhat in 1960 but still hit 20 homers with an .811 OPS. In 1961, he hit .343 and let the league in hits (208). He finished third in the MVP voting that year. That was also the only year he played in the World Series, but he went just 2-for-22 in the series as the Reds lost in five to the Yankees.
1962 was another good year, and Pinson hit 100 RBI for the first time and set a new career high in HR with 23. 1963 was arguably his best season, leading the league in hits (204) and triples (14) while racking up 37 doubles, 22 homers, 106 RBI, and 27 stolen bases.
Pinson kept piling up quality seasons through 1967, but faded a bit in 1968 (though all hitters did in the “year of the pitcher”). Following the ’68 campaign, the Reds decided to make a big move, trading Pinson to the Cardinals for 19-year-old relief pitcher Wayne Granger and 22-year-old outfielder Bobby Tolan. It was a great deal for the Reds. Pinson had a ho-hum year in St. Louis, while Granger would go on to set a then-record with 35 saves in 1970 and Tolan turned in a couple of great seasons that replicated what Pinson had given the Reds in his younger days. The Reds made the World Series in 1970 and 1972.
After the one disappointing year with the Cards, Pinson was traded to the Indians for Jose Cardenal, and in his return to Ohio had a great season. In fact, Pinson set a career high with 24 homers in 1970, and while he was losing his speed he still had 28 doubles and 6 triples. But, he regressed the following year and was shipped to the Angels in 1972. He spent two uneventful years there before being traded to the Royals, where he had two more uneventful years.
After retiring in 1975, Pinson went on to be a coach with three MLB teams. He died in 1995 at the age of 57.