Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oscar Gamble: World's Largest Afro

Somebody had to do it. Somebody had to be remembered solely for the size of their hair. It was the ‘70s, mind you.

There was a lot more to Oscar Gamble than a big ‘fro however. Signed out of Alabama by legendary Buck O’Neill, Oscar made his debut at age 19. He then went on to play 16 more years in the bigs, amassing 4,500-some at bats and 200 homers. 

Not terribly gifted with the glove, Gamble notched a third of his at bats as a DH. Not terribly good at hitting lefties, he spent most of his career platooning.

Indeed, everything started out quite normal.

1970.  Not everyone realizes that Oscar came up with the Phils. He would go on to play with the Indians, Yankees (twice), White Sox (twice), Rangers, and Padres as well.

Much better, but still a ways to go.

1974. This was after Gamble’s first year with the Indians. He hit 20 homers in less than 400 at bats for them.

Wow, that was quick.

1975. Oscar got the most at bats of his career this year – 485. 

You’d never know it from this card, but Oscar combined his crazy hair with a pretty crazy batting stance. He liked to crouch way over, with his back almost parallel with the ground. He said he could see the ball better that way. That probably doesn’t look real good on a card though.

Worst baseball card ever?  It gets my vote.

1976. If it isn’t obvious that this is a phony from the awful air-brushed logo and pinstripes, do consider the Yankees’ policy about hair back in those days. Yup, Mr. Steinbrenner provided Oscar with an all-expenses-paid trip to the barber before he was even allowed in the clubhouse.

Musta just come from the stylist or sumthin.

1978. We’re skipping over Oscar’s year with the Chisox (he never got a chance to pose for a card for them). It was a pretty darn good year though. He hit .297, with 31 homers and 86 RBIs, and even got some MVP votes. And all that with only 408 at bats.

That’s more like it.

1979. Interestingly, Oscar played only one year with the Padres, though they’ve got him on two cards. After Topps took this picture, the Pads shipped him off to Texas, where he played less than a year.

Still da man!  After all these years.

1980. Back with the Yankees.  Looks like they may have loosened up their hair policy. Or maybe they stretched it a little – just for Oscar.

Gamble actually fit in quite well in New York. Like Reggie Jackson, he was not known for his shyness. In fact, his quote “When I'm at bat, I'm in scoring position” sounds positively Jacksonian to me. 

Not quite 1976, but as close were gonna get at this late date.

1981. Another famous quote of Gamble’s is, “They don't think it be like it is, but it do.” You can get it on a t-shirt here and here.

I dunno.  I think Oscar needs to shake it up a little.

1982. Gamble made quite a splash in the post-season. Over three different series, he batted .381 with two homers, five RBIs, and five runs.

Wait a minute – who is this guy?

1985. Oscar’s last card (with Topps at least). After hanging up his spikes, Oscar became an agent. He’s still very active as a Yankee alum. He’s also quite bald. I understand, though, that he’s still more than happy to sign that ‘76 card.

Coco Crisp. 2011. The dream continues. 

No comments:

Post a Comment