New Year’s Eve is supposed to be a time for celebration, a day (and night) to ring in a brand clean slate.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Of course, every good time comes with a bit of risk, and the annals of New Year’s Eve are littered with stories of people making bad decisions, bad mistakes, tripping into bad luck or circumstances.

In baseball, no New Year’s Eve tragedy looms larger than the death of Pirates great Roberto Clemente, whose plane went down en route to delivering earthquake relief supplies to Nicaragua just as 1972 yielded to 1973.

Sometimes, though, a New Year’s Eve mishap can be life-altering, history-jarring without spiraling into quite such tragic consequences.

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The 1993 Score Select Carney Lansford baseball card comes with a side order of just that sort of bitter but not deadly fallout … and also a healthy dollop of sweetness if you have the palate for it.

At first glance, this Lansford card looks like most other cards from the era — Lansford is diving to his right at third base, with a bead on the approaching baseball. Select was one of the many “premium” card lines that sprung up in the early 1990s, so it tilts Lansford on the horizon, then skews the photo within the card border — artsy and upscale, you know.

Today, the design looks corny, but back in 1993, well, all these innovations were meant to be fresh. And they sort of were.

Mostly, Carney looks like you’d expect Carney to look in any glossy-fancy issue of the day.

Turn the card over, though, and something is amiss.

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In particular, his 1992 stat line is amiss — something about that .262 batting average in 135 games just doesn’t feel right.

After all, this is the guy who won the 1981 American League batting title with a .336 average and matched that rate in 1989 when the Oakland A’s won their only championship of the Bash Brothers era.

This is the guy you could count on to play about 150 games a year all through the 80s (well, mostly) and was always a threat to hit .300 (well, usually(.

This was a man with more than 2000 career hits to his name.

So, what happened in 1992?

Well, a minor baseball miracle for one thing.

See, back on New Year’s Eve of 1990, with the taste of the A’s sweep in the World Series at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds still fresh in his mouth, Lansford went out for a snowmobile ride on his property.

Something went wrong, confusion swirled, and Carney lost a battle with some barbed wire fencing. The result?

Two torn knee ligaments, surgeries, and a long rehab just to get back on the diamond. It was one those sickening games of inches that haunt you forever — an inch this way or that and it could have been his neck, or his life.

The ligaments were bad enough, and they kept him off the field for most of the 1991 season. Lansford made it all the way back to the Oakland lineup for five games in July but then had to shut it down again for the rest of the summer.

In 1992, though, Carney was ready for Opening Day, and he stayed in the A’s lineup, mostly, all the way through the season and even into the ALCS.

Sure, the batting average slipped and he needed days off here and there, but he still managed to connect for seven home runs, and he still stole seven bases … and he still drove in 75 runs.

Most of all, though, Carney Lansford made it all the way back.

And then, when the Blue Jays finished off Oakland that October, Lansford walked away from the game.

But the hobby wouldn’t let him go, not until a run of career-capper cards the next spring. And, on Select, a dive to the right, just to show he still could.


Hobby Wow!

Before he was winning titles with the A’s, and before he won a batting title for the Red Sox, Carney Lansford wielded his stick wearing jerseys like this one currently available on eBay:

That’s a game-used Lansford jersey from this time with the California Angels.

Check out the full listing right here.

1993 Topps Baseball Cards 100 Card Lot

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1993 Topps Baseball Cards 601-700 (pick a card)

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