11.13.2009

Tony Phillips, 1986 Topps

Name: Tony Phillips
Team: Oakland A's
Position: Middle infield
Value of card: Not enough to raise an eyebrow
Key 1985 stat: 46 things in his hands
Phillips carries his weight: The Oakland A's teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s were some of the best of the era. They had such power hitters as Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, a dominant closer in Dennis Eckersley and a reliable catcher in Terry "Two Chins" Steinbach. Because of such stars, a utility infielder like Tony Phillips had a hard time getting noticed. But Phillips was a gamer. He knew he needed to carry his own weight in order for the A's to be successful. The problem was this: Phillips didn't understand that "carry your own weight" was just an idiom. He took its meaning literally, and began carrying around whatever he came across to show his commitment to the team. The photo above exemplifies this, with Phillips carrying a ball, a bat, an infielder's mitt, batting gloves, a much-too-long pen, a reasonable mustache, the expectations of his family in Georgia, the memories of his bedroom failings with dozens of women, an infant chinchilla and an askew hat. Carrying his weight began to weigh on Phillips, and he batted in .203 in 1988. A's manager Tony LaRussa theorized that Phillips could have had a better year if he had put down the ball, pen, batting gloves and infielder's mitt when he stepped up to the plate.

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