(Check out our other player card posts here.)

How many times have you thought to yourself … “Self, my life would be just about perfect if I could get featured on just one Topps baseball card!”?

It’s a dream for many, and yet it seems almost unattainable. Or completely unattainable.

Snagging exactly one baseball card appearance? Impossible! Right?

Just think about the guys who couldn’t accomplish the feat …

Willie Mays …

Barry Bonds …

Pete Rose …

Pete O’Brien …

Brian Harper …

Harper Lee …

John Noriega (of the 1969 Cincinnati Reds).

All were giants in their own right, and some were Giants.

But there is one man who not only figured out how to be featured on one Topps baseball card, he mastered the process.

So if filling a nine-pocket sheet with nine of your only baseball card is on your bucket list, maybe you can take some pointers from the late Jose Herrera, who appeared on card #378 in the 1969 Topps set.

1969 Topps Jose Herrera

It’s simple, really. In order to cement your cardboard immortality, you must …

1. Have baseball talent.

This probably goes without saying, but you just can’t get your mug on a real baseball card if you don’t have any talent for the game. Consider Michael Jordan and Derek Bell to be the exceptions that prove the rule.

As for Jose Herrera, he had enough talent to coax an amateur contract from the Houston Colt .45s in 1964 when he was 22 years old. After three-and-a-half seasons in the minors, Herrera was good enough for the Colts manager Grady Hatton to put him in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on June 3, 1967.

2. Logjam Yourself Behind a Future Hall of Famer

Herrera played outfield and second base. Those mid-1960s teams had guys like Jim Wynn and Rusty Staub patrolling the outfield grass.

Not Hall of Famers, but they were stars — superstars at times, even — and they might have developed into Hall of Famers.

At second base was Joe Morgan. Not a superstar at the time, but a hot prospect. Even back then, folks thought he’d become very good — maybe great — and he would have been hard to move. (Well, at least until November of 1971.)

And that depth led to Herrera’s other positional designation: pinch hitter.

3. Get Drafted by an Expansion Team

Sure, the Colt .45s were an expansion team.

But Herrera was too far away from making it to the Majors when he signed in 1964 for it to do him any good. Besides, the team was two years into its MLB run by that time.

In October of 1968, though, the sparkling new Montreal Expos made Herrera their 29th pick in the expansion draft. That meant he was a decent bet to make the 25-man roster for the 1969 season, and considering that he had played a whopping 27 games in 1968 … well, Topps had to at least take notice.

And with so many slots to fill (664 cards) and still so few teams (24), Topps did a lot of fringe flirting in those days.

4. Look Really Good

Baseball players are like everyone else — some are handsome, some are more, um, average.

But baseball card makers want their product to look good. I mean, aesthetics and curb appeal matter a lot, right?

And what better way to make a baseball card look good than by putting one of those good-looking guys on the front.

If you’ve ever seen a picture of Jose Herrera, like on the Expos postcard below, then you know he had the “looks good” bit down pretty well.

1969 Montreal Expos Postcard Jose Herrera

Chiseled chin.

Dark, wavy hair.

Dimples.

Dreamy eyes.

He had it all.

And having it all seemed to be just enough to tip the card scales in his favor when Topps was making the final cuts for their 1969 set.

5. Start the Season in the Minor Leagues

So, it turns out that 29th expansion draft slot wasn’t quite high enough for Herrera to nab a spot on the Expos’ opening day roster in 1969.

And with Topps having already slotted #378 to the up-and-comer, you know they took notice of his plight.

Luckily, Herrera did well enough with the Triple-A Vancouver Mounties to warrant a call back to the Big Leagues and log 47 appearances in The Show, north of the border.

6. Play Poorly

Unfortunately for Herrera, his time with the expansion Expos wasn’t much more productive than his Houston stint had been.

In 137 plate appearances, Herrera collected 36 hits and 3 walks, which equated to a nice .286 batting average but a paltry .302 on-base percentage.

That performance bought Herrera a long stint in the minors in 1970 and the cardboard ax from Topps.

He’d have to prove himself again if he ever wanted to appear on another baseball card.

7. Be Old

But proving yourself in the Major Leagues was tough when you’d been bounced from two expansion franchises and entered the 1971 season on the cusp of your 29th birthday.

It was even tougher when the Expos traded you in June of 1970 to the Milwaukee Brewers, who then shipped you to the Detroit Tigers in May of 1971.

8. Disappear from Major League Baseball

Herrera predictably found the going pretty tough in terms of proving himself, and he never made it back to the Majors.

Instead, he spent 1971 in Triple-A and then found no takers for 1972, at least not stateside.

So he packed his bags and hooked up with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos of the Mexican League, playing there through 1973. Herrera was off to the Yucatan Leones in 1974 before finishing his career with the 1975 Coahuila Mineros.

Jose Herrera finished his Major League career with 61 hit, 2 home runs, 20 RBI, a .264 batting average, and an OPS of .619.

It’s an underwhelming resumé, to be sure, but Herrera leveraged it through his patented 8-step process to snag his very own Topps baseball card.

Exactly one Topps baseball card.

How perfect is that?

(Check out our other player card posts here.)

 

 

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