This is a post I've been sitting on for a while, but since I mentioned my mini-Bruce Ruffin collection a few posts back, I figured it's time to explain.
Here is one of my best birthdays ever:
On August 6, 1993, I was totally stoked. Our church had gotten semi-discounted tickets to attend a Padres game, which happened to be a double header against the Rockies - two games for the price of one! Having lots of people I knew at the game wasn't a huge deal, since I wasn't there to socialize - there was a game going on! Still, it would be cool to have them there because it was my 9th birthday. Is there a better way for an nine year old to spend a birthday? For me, there wasn't.
The Padres won both games, 6-3 in the opener and 6-2 in the night cap, extending the Rockies losing streak to 13 games and bringing the Padres to only 23 games below .500. Tony Gwynn went 5 for 8 in the two games, with two RBIs and two runs scored. At some point in one of the games, my dad got a few of the entire sections to sing "Happy Birthday" to me, which was a little embarrassing, but still fun.
The kicker, though, happened in the bottom of the sixth. Bruce Ruffin was on the hill for Colorado, and with nobody on an one out, Mr. Padre drove a 1-1 pitch back up the middle. The hit itself was nothing spectacular, other than that it was a classic Gwynn hit - a ground ball where the defenders weren't. It was however, Tony's 2,000th career hit. There was a ten minute delay while fireworks went off and messages flashed on the scoreboard.
Overall, a pretty cool way to spend your birthday.
Because of that experience, this is one of my favorite Gwynn cards of all time...
I thought it was pretty cool that Donruss commemorated the achievement that I witnessed first hand. They included a few other players who got their 2,000th hit on the checklists in 1994, including a few schmos like Ryne Sandberg, Cal Ripken Jr, Tim Raines, and Rickey Henderson. I got this one in a trade with All Trade Bait All The Time back when I first started this blog.
Anyways, since the historic hit came off of Bruce Wayne Ruffin, I decided to collect the cards of his from his Rockies days. Only have four so far, including these two, as well as a '95 Donruss card and '93 Team Stadium Club...
I found out later that Tony's mom, Vendella, was also born on August 6th, which made it extra special when he also got his 3,000th hit on
her our birthday.
Looking again at that checklist above, there's some pretty great names on just the first side: Mussina, Benes, McGwire, Winfield, Sosa, Karros, Vaughn, Mattingly, Thomas, McGriff, Puckett, Joyner, Santiago, Bonds, Johnson. This is no contest for my favorite checklist of all time.