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For most of his career,, catcher Vic Correll found his time at the plate much more challenging than his time behind the plate … but that all changed as he rounded third on his Major League tenure, and Topps made a big deal out of it.

Well, sort of, at least.

Let’s start at the beginning …

Correll was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the ninth round of the 1967 MLB June Draft, and spent six seasons working his way through the minor leagues. After all those bus rides and questionable meals, not to mention hopping to the Chicago White Sox and then the Boston Red Sox, Correll finally found his way into a game at Tiger Stadium on October 4, 1972.

The good news was, he started that game for the Sox against the Tigers, and he went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. The bad news was … well, he was back in the minors for all of 1973, and then Boston traded him to the Atlanta Braves for Chuck Goggin at the end of Spring Training in 1974.

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That was a sweet move for Correll, as it turned out, because he found some playing time with the Braves during Hank Aaron‘s crowning season. At age 28, Correll racked up 231 plate appearances and hit .238 with four home runs. He also performed well enough as a signal-caller for Atlanta to not only keep him around for 1975 but to bump up his playing time — in 375 PAs, Correll smacked 11 homers and drove in 39.

He also hit .215.

Not surprisingly for a 30-year-old coming off a Mendosa-esque campaign, Correll saw his opportunities start to dwindle. By the end of 1977, he was a 50-game player, a .200 hitter on the verge of free agency.

Also not surprisingly, it took Correll awhile to find work. So long, in fact, that the new season was already two days old when he signed with the Cincinnati Reds on April 8, 1978. He continued to “hit” like a defensive specialist in Cincy, clocking averages of .238 in ’78 and .233 in 1979.

Then, after staging a sort of mini-holdout in the spring of 1980, Correll tore his Achilles tendon in March. Surgery and the subsequent recovery sidelined him until August, when he began a rehab stint with Single-A Tampa.

It’s not the sort of thing that any player wants to go through, but something about the situation must have worked in Correll’s favor, because he played like a man possessed when he stormed back to the Riverfront in September.

1981 Topps Vic Correll (back)

OK, maybe not possessed, but at least bothered.

In ten games through the end of the season, Correll collected eight hits in 19 at-bats for a coll .421 batting average. Sure, his on-base percentage was also .421 and his slugging average was just .471, but still.

Topps must have thought, “but still,” too, because they took Correll’s outburst as a sign that he was coming back better than ever in 1981 and slotted him at #628 in their “great hats” set.

Problem was, the Reds released Correll in late October, and no other team picked him up.

And thus, Vic Correll and his lifetime .229 batting average and 29 home runs has a career-capper card, a distinction that eluded even greats like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Johnny Bench.

But , hey … none of them finished as strong as Vic Correll did!

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