(Check out our other player card posts here.)

The 2018-2019 off-season is rolling along after the New Year, and one of the latest dominoes to fall is catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

After playing for the Texas Rangers in 2016-17 and the Oakland A’s in 2018, Lucroy will stay in the American League West when he suits up for the Los Angeles Angels in 2019.

Normally, I wouldn’t put too much thought into current-player baseball cards because I’m old and kind of stuck in the 1970s through the early 1990s — my childhood, basically.  But I have to admit that there are plenty of good-looking “new” cards out there, even if I don’t understand them all.

So earlier this winter, I decided to host a Rookie Card Grudge Match pitting a current player making news (Yonder Alonso) v. one of the most comparable guys from my era (Sid Bream), according to Baseball Reference. You can read the resulting piece, which also contains the “rules” of this game, here.

And, as you might have guessed, I’m reprising this contest today, with a focus on Lucroy.

Luckily for us (old guys), BB Ref has one of our own heroes as the most similar player to the Angels’ new catcher, both through age 32 and for his career (to this point).

That guy is none other than the inimitable Terry Kennedy.

Jonathan Lucroy Terry Kennedy

The Rookie Cards

For Kennedy, who debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1978, there is only one real rookie card to consider — 1979 Topps Cardinals Prospects (#729).

Lucroy’s case is a bit stickier, as he debuted for the Milawaukee Brewers in 2010, meaning there are multiple choices — some of them basic, some of them premature (2008), some of them fancy.

My tastes are pretty meat-and-potatoes when it comes to baseball cards, and I do have a soft spot for catchers pictured in Catcher Mode. Those criteria still leave me with a few options, but I’m going with the 2010 Topps Update (#US-143) card.

We could quibble about the definition of “rookie card” or debate the merits of other early Lucroy issues, but we won’t. Or at least I won’t. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

Now, with the contestants identified, let’s get on with the game.

1979 topps terry kennedy

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Card Fronts

The 1979 Kennedy card is a nostalgia-inducing beast even beyond the normal nostalgia-inducing beastiness of a normal 40-year-old card.

I mean, you’ve got Tom Bruno and his 70s ‘stache.

You’ve got George Frazier, who you haven’t thought about since at least 1983.

You’ve got a young Terry Kennedy in his Redbirds hat.

And it’s all in black and white. On a clean old design with plenty of white space.


The Lucroy card, on the other hand, features a great action shot of Lucroy right after he’s fielded a ball in front of the plate and right before he unfurls a throw to first base.

It’s, like, perfect.

2010 Topps Update Jonathan Lucroy

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Except …

The umpire photobombs the whole left side of the thing between you and the action on the field.

Hey, Ump! You make a better door than a window!

And what’s the funky parabola design thing at the far left of the card?  No clue.

So, clean up the left of the card, and Lucroy is the winner for me. As things stand, though …

Winner: 1979 Topps Terry Kennedy

Card Backs

1979 Topps Terry Kennedy (back)

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Not much happening on the back of the 1979 Cards Prospects card, though you do get a look at the home town for the three gents. Think this sort of thing led to any unwanted fan interactions?

Oh, and you also got a check mark next to each name. Just what do you think that meant? Topps had completed its background check of each player? You had this one card, so you had all three players … check them off your list?  *shrug*

On the other hand, Lucroy looks more like some sort of 1980s movie cyborg than a baseball player on the back of his 2010 card. Still, if you can look past the Bono glasses and Storm Trooper tools of ignorance, the card back looks pretty good …

Full color photo … statistics … Brewers logo … text block of career highlights.

Two vastly different approaches to card backs, so it all comes down to personal preference.

For me, on this day …

Winner: 2010 Topps Update Jonathan Lucroy

2010 Topps Update Jonathan Lucroy (back)

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When it comes to making you feel like a kid again, to transporting you back to the golden days of the hobby, there is no comparison here.

Just take a look at the “Card Fronts” section above for all the ways that the Terry Kennedy rookie card can make you feel all warm and fuzzy.

Well, for some of the ways … because that stripped-down, nothing-to-it-card back and that mushy brown-gray card stock only add to the nostalgia.

The Lucroy rookie looks good and even has some vintage flair with the catcher-in-action shot presented in a horizontal format, but c’mon …

Winner: 1979 Topps Terry Kennedy

1979 topps terry kennedy

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Overall Winner

Jonathan Lucroy is a wonderful player, and I’m sure he’ll do good things with the Angels.

And his best rookie card (says me) is plenty nice. Glossy, modern, eye-catching.

But with a narrow and subjective victory in the “Card Backs” category and fairly sound trouncings in “Card Fronts” and “Feels,” his 2010 Topps Update didn’t stand a chance.

The 1979 Topps Terry Kennedy is our clear and easy winner in this rookie card showdown.

(Check out our other player card posts here.)