When I was a kid, the 1979 Topps Ron Oester rookie card (#717) really bummed me out.
Part of my issue with the card was a combination of timing and the other players depicted.
Mike LaCoss (waivered, claimed by the Houston Astros) and Harry Spilman (traded to Houston for Rafael Landestoy) were long gone.
But Ron Oester was solid. Ron Oester was young (not really, at 27). Ron Oester gave us hope for the future. Ron Oester was going to be part of the next great Reds team before we really even thought in those terms.
Heck, Ron Oester hit 20 home runs across two of the darkest seasons in Reds history (1982-83), as a second baseman.
If it weren’t for Cesar Cedeno and (maybe) Tom Hume, Ron Oester would have been my favorite Red.
And if it weren’t for those guys and Mike Schmidt, Ron Oester would have been my favorite player.
So, naturally, as I dug deep into my new hobby — baseball cards — one of the first pasteboards I sought out was the Ron Oester rookie card.
When I found it, the disappointments were manifold:
- Disappointment #1 – The card was in black and white.
- Disappointment #2 – Ron Oester shared his rookie cardboard with the aforementioned Mike LaCoss and Harry Spillman.
- Disappointment #3 – Ron Oester was listed as a shortstop. Guess he was one of the dozens who were going to take Davey Concepcion’s job before Barry Larkin came along.
- Disappointment #4 – Ron Oester was wearing eye shadow. Apparently.
As a bonus disappointment, I soon learned that Topps did not issue a card of Ron Oester in 1980, and Topps was the only game in town that year. That meant his first solo cards were part of the 1981 sets, all of which I considered to be depressing and mutt-ugly.
So I plunked down my (dad’s) buck, or whatever the 1980 Ron Oester card cost at my local baseball card show, and traipsed home with a checklist hole filled but a lingering void.
That’s kind of the way Ron Oester the player turned out for me, too.
I always wanted more of that power, a better batting average, more flash. But that’s not who Ron Oester was. He was solid, not spectacular. He left the glory to others, so much so that he got one at-bat in the 1990 World Series, then retired after the Reds’ sweep of the mighty Oakland A’s.
Later on, I really wanted the Reds to hire Ron Oester as their manager, but either the player or the team — or both — thought that wasn’t the right move.
Today (May 5, 2016), is Ron Oester’s 60th birthday, and so he gets the full-name treatment throughout my post whether his rookie card was a bust or not.
Happy birthday, Ron Oester!
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