Sometimes, you just have to wait to be sure something is going to stick before you take action.

It’s like the old Seinfeld rub about how the first breakup never sticks, so you shouldn’t say anything bad about your friend’s (temporary) ex.

It’s sort of the same way in baseball when a high-profile player retires.

When can you really be sure he’s done?

Judging by the attempted comebacks from the likes of Jim Palmer, Rafael Palmeiro, and Manny Ramirez, the answer is likely, “never.”

And when a dude leaves the game just a few years removed from big numbers, and when he had a chance, once upon a time, at some really big career milestones … well, it’s even tougher to pull the trigger on that “forever” switch.

All of which is to say, you couldn’t really be sure, like, for sure for sure, that Matt Williams was done with the game when he stepped away from the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2003 season (after they released him!).

Find 2005 Topps Pristine cards on eBay (affiliate link)

Find 2005 Topps Pristine cards on Amazon (affiliate link)

After all, he had smacked 35 home runs in 1999 and, though injuries limited his playing time over the ensuing four years, he still managed to crank double-digit dingers each season from 2000 through 2002.

When he hit the road in May of 2003, Williams sat at 378 homers for his career, way short of the 500 or more many had projected for him, but still within hailing distance of 400 … you know, if he ever decided to pick up the bat again.

All that power had naturally translated into some decent interest in his cardboard over the years, and Williams had been a part of the baseball card landscape since late in 1987, when he appeared in the traded/update/rookies sets.

And he was there in 2003, including a card in the Topps base set.

But Topps has never been too keen on granting cardboard space to dudes not on an active Major League roster, not even for the purposes of career-capper cards, so Williams was a no-show in the 2004 set.

The next year, though, Topps finished off their run of “Pristine” sets with an issue they dubbed 2005 Topps Pristine Legends.

As the name implies, this 140-card set featured only retired players, laid out on fabulous chromium cardstock. It was like fine Corinthian leather, let me tell you.

And these guys weren’t just retired — they were legends. The set name tells you as much.

Now, say what you will about the “legendary” status of Harold Reynolds or Tony Armas or Jimmy Key, but they all made the cut here. And they’re certainly more legendary than I am, and almost surely more legendary than you (though I apologize in advance if you happen to be Buddy Biancalana).

You know who else achieved Pristine Legend status?

Yeah, Matt Williams.

And, on the back of each card, including Carson Crusher’s, Topps included a single line of stats celebrating the player’s complete career numbers.

So, just like that, any thoughts Matt Williams might have had about making a comeback were squashed.

Topps had called it a career, and a career it was.


Hobby Wow!

Williams’ base rookie card came as part of the 1988 Topps set, and you could relive those days with this eBay lot …

It’s a full unopened wax case of 1988 Topps, just ready for the cracking.

Wouldn’t it be fun to spend all day on Christmas chasing Greg Maddux and Matt the Bat rookie cards?

Check out the complete listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).

MLB 2005 Topps Baseball Cards Series 1 Hobby Pack (1 Pack) unopened

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2005 Topps Baseball Cards Unopened 10 Card Pack

$11.99
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