16 January 2010

The Yankees Next Big Thing!

     In 1988, the baseball card industry, led by the nose by its publications, was neck deep in the hysteria of rookie card collecting and speculation. Look at the future Hall of Famers gracing this cover, for Pete's sake! (sorry Pete)

     However, this is also probably one of the first issues to announce the coming of Yankees minor league power prospect, Hensley Meulens. He even got a piece of the cover with his first baseball card from the 1987 ProCards Prince William set. Inside, the writers present a team-by-team analysis of the prospects who seem to be on their way to the big time. As would be a trend for a couple years after, most of the speculation for the Yankees was on the order of how much of their farm system would they continue to sacrifice for below-average middle-relievers and under-achieving infielders to pad out their roster. The writers here were of the belief that, while he had been declared by New York as "untouchable", there was still a strong likelihood Bam Bam would end up being traded for the likes of Ron Hassey or Roy Smalley on a whim. They also went on to say that beyond Meulens, there really wasn't much else to work with in the Yankees' farm system.
     Every June must have been their minor league system report issue, as a year later, despite Junior getting the cover all to himself (something usually reserved for BCM favorite Mickey Mantle), Bam Bam got no less than a FOUR PAGE spread all to himself!

     It's a pretty good article, covering his life in Curaçao, his signing with New York and the fact that he actually grew up a Dodger fan and hated the Yankees! In hindsight (and maybe even back then) one has to chuckle at the next to last paragraph of the story by writer, the late Pete Dobrovitz:
"I'll make one prediction. Grab that Meulens Donruss card, and hold on to your price guides. You thought the Jefferies craze was something? Wait 'til you see what rabid Yankee fans can do to the rookie card market. Forget a buck and a half for Leiter. Yes, $3 for Mark Grace was amazing. But how about $5 apiece for Bam-Bam? Don't laugh yet."
     As of this particular issue, the BCM price guide had that 1989 Donruss card at an over-priced $0.80, which is probably where it would top out.  When I started collecting Bam Bam in 1989, all my friends were just giving me his cards for nothing...not even trading.  It became something of a joke over 1989-90, and in a year, I ended up with about 70 or so of that 1989 Donruss card.  Since I got back into collecting a few years ago and really set to work at finishing up my Meulens collection, I started picking them up again as filler for trades.  A handful of 1989 Donruss Meulens cards will go a long way toward getting something I have for trade.

     Incidentally, despite sitting on a pile of this card for years, it wasn't until about 18 months ago that I learned about all those *Denotes and INC. variations among 1989-1992 Donruss cards. After shuffling through the stack, all four variations were present! There's an extensive discussion of card variations over at Freedom Card Board. The discussion began back on the old Beckett message board before the Beckett ran their site through the shredder in favor of impressing potential investors with style over substance.

     What I find most odd about the coverage Meulens got in Baseball Cards is that he never had a card in any of their magazine inserts. Sam Horn? Joey Meyer? Cameron Drew? Absolutely! Hensley Meulens? Nope.

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