Warning: This post contains large pictures. You'll see why.
I've always been fascinated by players with long careers, and one reason for this was being able to see line after line of their stats on the back of a card. This was my earliest cherished baseball card, and remains to this day right up there on my list:
|1994 Collector's Choice #249, Nolan Ryan|
27 season of greatness from the Ryan Express. A simple picture and design on the front and 27 years worth of grit chronicled on the back. Years later, I think this card probably served as inspiration for one of my mini-collections. I was able to get a list of players with 15 or more years of service with the help Fred Worth at SABR (Society for American Baseball Research). He was able to mine the baseball-reference.com database and produce such a list. The best I could find was a list of the players with the longest service time, but that only went down to 18 years. At the time (about two years ago), the list of 15+ players amounted to 1,011.
My goal with this mini-collection is to find a card of each of the players on the list, but the card needs to list the statistical record for that player for at least 15 seasons of his career. To date, I have 364 cards in the collection. A recent boon to this collection was a lot of Conlon cards I found at a cheap price. So I thought I would showcase the cards I have of players who played 25 or more seasons in Major League Baseball. There are 10 players that fit that category.
Can you name them? Quiz yourself if you'd like, or just scroll down.
Here's the list:
1) Nolan Ryan - 27 seasons
2) Cap Anson - 27
3) Deacon McGuire - 26
4) Tommy John - 26
5) Rickey Henderson - 25
6) Jamie Moyer - 25
7) Jim Kaat - 25
8) Charlie Hough - 25
9) Bobby Wallace - 25
10) Eddie Collins - 25
I have cards of seven of the players, including the Nolan Ryan card shown above. I probably could easily find one of Cap Anson, and cards of Deacon McGuire and Bobby Wallace probably exist, too, but this is a "passive" collection. That means I don't usually actively seek out cards to put into the binder. It's just as I come across them. Here's the gallery:
Tommy John - 26 seasons (1963 - 1989)
|1989 Fleer #255, Tommy John|
The career of Tommy John through 1988 is chronicled on the back of this card. Tommy lost a chance to tie Nolan Ryan and Cap Anson when he missed the 1975 season due to injury, but at least he got a surgery named after him as part of the deal. John first pitched during the Kennedy administration and finished his career during the George H. W. Bush administration (7 presidents). Let that sink in.
Rickey Henderson (1979 - 2003)
|2000 UD MVP #118, Rickey Henderson|
This card shows Rickey's stats through the 1999 season. Henderson first appeared during the Carter administration and finished his career during the George W. Bush administration (5 presidents).
Jamie Moyer (1986 - 2012)
|2006 Topps #358, Jamie Moyer|
Career spanned Reagan to Obama (5 presidents). Moyer's stats through 2005 are featured. He did not pitch in 2011 after having Tommy John (remember him) surgery in December 2010 at the age of 48. He came back and pitched one final season in 2012, topping out at something like 82 mph on his fastball. Insane.
Jim Kaat (1959 - 1983)
|1980 Topps #250, Jim Kaat|
Career spanned Eisenhower to Reagan (7 presidents). Hard to read the stats due to the horizontal arrangement. This card shows Kaat through the 1979 season, but I have a 1983 Fleer lying around somewhere...
Charlie Hough (1970 - 1994)
|1994 Topps #625, Charlie Hough|
A great card, though the alignment on the back is again horizontal. Gotta love the photo on the front. Old man Charlie gripping that knuckler and smirking like he knows how ridiculous it is that he's still throwing softballs up there in his mid-40s.
Hough's career spanned Nixon to Clinton (6 presidents). He finished his career with two years pitching for the Florida Marlins in 1993/1994. Hough pitched the first game in Marlins history in 1993. He got the win, pitching six innings, allowing three hits and three runs against a lineup featuring Brett Butler, Darryl Strawberry, Eric Davis, Tim Wallach, Eric Karros, and Mike Piazza. He beat Orel Hershiser. He was 45 at the time. No biggie.
Eddie Collins (1906 to 1930)
|1991 Sporting News Conlon Collection #21, Eddie Collins|
Career spanned the Teddy Roosevelt to Herbert Hoover administrations (6 presidents). Played only 12 games in his final two seasons under Connie Mack, with all appearances as a pinch hitter (as opposed to his usual 2nd base).
Writing this makes me want Tommy John, Jamie Moyer, Jim Kaat, and Charlie Hough in the Hall of Fame because playing that long is unreal.