Friday, August 20, 2010

#4 San Francisco Giant Hal Lanier: My introduction to aging.

I cam across this card around the time I came around Lanier's 1987 Topps Baseball Card. The '67 card showed a young chisled face Lanier ready to play his heart out at second base for the San Francisco Giants. His '87 Topps card shows what can happen to a young chisled face second baseman who was ready to play his heart out for the San Francisco Giants.                                                                                                                                                                              By 1967, Lanier was already a four year mainstay on the Giants infield. He wasn't much of a hitter but, his career fielding  percentage of .971 looked more than respectable.  Lanier played in the Majors for 10 years. He was a career Giant before ending up with the Yankees as a back up utility infielder for the '72 and '73 Yankees.                            
I suppose injury ended Lanier's playing career in his early 30's and once that happened he must have become a regular coach in the minors for years. In '86 he debuted as a manager in the majors with the Houston Astros. In his debut season, he led the Astros to a 96 and 66 record and a trip to the NLCS where the title wave '86 Mets knocked them out of the season. Lanier's major league managerial career went downhill after '86. Mediocre records in ''87 and '88 led to the end of Lanier's managerial career in Houston and as of now, the 68 year old has not managed a game in the majors since.
As the subject heading hints, seeing this card and Lanier's 1987 Topps card was a bit of a shock to my young 9 year old brain. How can age change someone' appearance so much? What did Lanier live through over the course of those 20 years between cards? I know now that it was just life and living caused him to have deep lines of experience fossilize on his face. I searched online for a good image of the '87 card but all I could find were his '88 and '89 Topps cards.
I want to apologize to Hal Lanier for the '89 Topps card. I took the image from a fellow blogger site who playfully put a "Bust" Trophy on the card front. I couldn't tell you the context of the bust trophy because the blogger seemed to be in a world of whimsy while writing his blog.
Back to the 1967 Topps card. The card has a great picture and it is the first Giants card in the set. The Giants got the solid green lettering featured on the front. As usual, this card in the set features a clear blue sky with the lettering standing out well against it. Unlike "The Champs", and the Duke Sims card. The name and position is legible.

A final little side note about Hal Lanier. His father, Max Lanier played his final major league game with the St. Louis Browns on Hal's 11th birthday. July 4th, 1953.

Max Lanier enjoyed an excellent career as a pitcher for the Cardinals where he had a handful of double digit winning seasons. He winded down his career with the Giants then back to St. Louis with the Browns.

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