Thursday, January 27, 2011

1974 Topps Dave LaRoche

Who is this? former New York Mets bullpen coach Dave LaRoche
What is this? An autographed card from the 1974 Topps set
Where'd I get it? I wrote to LaRoche and asked him to sign it
How much did it cost? I don't remember.

Why is this so special? Once upon a time, I kept a small binder with a baseball card for each player, coach and the manager of the New York Mets' active roster -- back in the days before the widespread availability of the internet, it was a way to keep stats handy and remember some trivia.

I'd put the manager first, then the coaches, the pitchers, catchers, infielders, outfielders and finally the guys on the disabled list and in the minor leagues. I lost interest in keeping up this project sometime in 1992 or 1993 when LaRoche was the Mets' bullpen coach - this was his card in the binder. When I re-discovered it recently, I decided I'd mail it to him and see if he'd sign it.

Before he entered the coaching ranks, LaRoche was a relief pitcher for the Angels, Twins, Cubs, Indians, and Yankees during the 1970s and early 80s. He was a two-time All-Star and frequently finished among the league leaders in games finished.

LaRoche was best known for throwing a big, slow blooper pitch he called "La Lob" which would arc up to 20 feet in the air before dropping back in the strike zone. LaRoche's sons, Adam and Andy, are current professional ballplayers. Adam will play for the Nationals this season, while Andy just signed a minor league deal with the Oakland organization.

Dave LaRoche has the handwriting everyone expects of a left-hander, but you can make out a few letters in his autograph. Here's another card he signed for me.

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