Pack #3: Coming of age

This pack is stacked.

It was difficult for me not to write about Clemens’ four-seamer and that lock of soaked hair, but I covered his 1990 season pretty well in the launch post for this set, so I felt like I couldn’t pick that card, though it is an awesome photo. (If anyone has leads on any of the photographers whose shots are featured in this set, let me know—I'm curious to investigate that side of things!)

I reserve the right to write about the can of dip in Melido Perez’s left back pocket, and I must say that Wally and Barry Larkin were under consideration.

But it was the other Barry I wondered if I could find anything original to say about: Barry Lamar Bonds.

1990 was a coming-of-age season for him, without a doubt. He received his first MVP award—a well-deserved one—as he became the first MLB player to bat .300, post 100 RBIs and 100 runs, and steal 50 bags (.301 BA, 114 RBI, 104 runs, 52 SB). Couple that with his 33 homers and you have the second member of the 30-50 club.

Just completely ridiculous stuff.

On the one hand, you might look at this card and think it doesn’t capture the raw power or tenacity that Bonds displayed in the 1990 season. I mean, he’s just sort of standing there.

But me, I see a rising player who knows exactly what is coming.

There he waits, lip packed full, beyond comfortable in the box, just thoroughly unimpressed. I mean, his Mimsbandz "SAY NO TO DRUGS"–captioned portrait wristbands exude more emotion than he does.

It is almost as if his bat is barely there, held with the minimum effort required to keep it from dropping out of his hands. There's an effortlessness and ease to the way Bonds carries himself that is at odds with his media persona, a self-awareness that runs counter to the player-you-love-to-hate image he acquired over the years.

The cowboy shot framing here feels appropriate, too. It's not hard to imagine the guns drawn, Barry ready to pull the trigger. The portrait of him on the back also feels appropriate, the look on his face attentive but also sort of incredulous.
"There’s a catcher behind home plate, and that catcher catches that ball every time with a glove. The only thing I did was change the object from a glove to a bat. And all I gotta do is catch it."  —Barry Bonds

In hindsight, it almost feels like in 1990 the rest of us were just catching up with what Barry Bonds knew his whole life: baseball would never be the same after him.

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