Today’s Card of the Day comes from the 1991 Upper Deck set and it’s one of the most interesting cards you will see. It’s not the front of the card that draws the attention though. It’s the back.
Upper Deck was in their third year of putting out baseball sets in 1991, while the Pittsburgh Pirates had an athletic 27-year-old second baseman in his fourth full season that same year. The Upper Deck set was known for their high quality photos and they drew a lot of attention by making young phenom Ken Griffey Jr. their #1 card in their first set. That move put them on the map right away with collectors and their subsequent sets rode that popularity wave.
The 1991 set was another high quality product, with a great photo on the front, while the back had a second photo that took up half of the space. That left very little room for stats, so anyone with more than a handful of seasons couldn’t have their complete stats on the back. The sacrifice was worth the extra photo, especially in the case of the 1991 Jose Lind card.
Here’s the front, which has a nice action shot and it features the old Pirates logo in the bottom right corner.
That’s a nice front, but the good stuff is on the back of this card.
That is the 5’11” Jose Lind, jumping over the 5’10” Mike Lavalliere, who is standing straight up, with his arms folded and a smile on his face, showing no worries that someone behind him might not get enough height on their jump and something unpleasant could follow. I’m assuming that Lind cleared him and also that Lavalliere knew that he was about to jump over him. It looks like a staged photo, but maybe Upper Deck went with the element of surprise and Lavalliere thought this picture was for his own card? We can’t be 100% sure…
Chances are that Lind cleared him fairly easy. You can find video out there of Lind jumping over Joe Garagiola at Three Rivers Stadium. Gargiola, a one-time Pirates catcher just like Lavalliere, stood two inches taller than Lavalliere. Lind cleared the top of his head with plenty of room to spare, so he should have had no trouble with the slightly shorter hurdle.
For the record, Lind had a fairly solid season in 1991, showing strong defense, to go along with a .265 average and career bests with six triples and 54 RBIs. It was worth 1.2 WAR, which was his third best season during his nine-year career in the majors. It was actually the last positive WAR season of his career. He posted a negative WAR in each of his last five seasons, four of those coming after the Pirates traded him to the Kansas City Royals.
Here are the previous Card of the Day articles. Eventually we will have a better way to organize them, as opposed to just a continuously growing list at the bottom of each article:
2020 Topps Living Set Josh Bell
2020 Roberto Clemente Topps Throwback
1887 N172 Old Judge Art Whitney and Dog
1981 Topps Pirates Future Stars
1936 R312 Honus Wagner and Arky Vaughan
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.