Saturday, July 9, 2016

Two Ryan McGuire Autographed Cards

What's great about Montréal summers is the entertainment offer: F1 racing, festivals (Jazz, French-language songs, three just for comedy, four for films, one of Afro-American culture, the hard rock and heavy metal festival, one for electronic music, the indie-and-pop Osheaga, the experimental music festival not too far off, a poutine festival, a beer festival, there are really too many to remember...), three paid holidays, the heat...

Plus two summertime sports teams, the CFL's Montréal Alouettes (that I last went to three years ago when my brother and I had season tickets) and the MLS' Montréal Impact (which I've never seen live because I'm not into soccer).

It's almost hard to remember we once had the Montréal Expos, too, particularly considering the only baseball news I've been aware of in the past decade was the retirements of the two last players I'd known of (Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera) and the on-again, off-again relationship between Alex Rodriguez, steroids, and the penalties he gets from using them.

And baseball steroid used is synonymous with Mark McGwire, whose rookie cards sold for hundreds of dollars when he chased and then set the single-season home run record (70) in 1998; they now go for around a dollar.

The Expos had a brief moment using that last name at around the same time; however, Ryan McGuire spells his last name with a "u"...

McGuire was a left-handed first baseman who, in 1998 appeared in 132 of the Expos' 162 games, but only went to the plate 244 times (for 210 official at-bats), usually coming in late in a game as a defensive replacement after a replacement hitter would fill in for starting first baseman Brad Fullmer. His batting average was a lowly .186 that year, down from .256 in his rookie season the previous summer.

He had started his MLB career with hits in 12 straight games while the team used that to surf on a 10-game winning streak.

His statistics normalized in 1999 (batting .221 in 88 games and 171 plate appearances, with 7 homers, 2 doubles and 2 triples), but it went downhill from there, as he only appeared in a single game with the New York Mets in 2000, then went on to bat .185 in 48 games with the Florida Marlins in 2001 before posting a lowly .077 average with the Baltimore Orioles in 2002.

I was pretty busy in 1998-1999, what with being a musician who traveled from Montréal to New York on a weekly basis combined with one university (Concordia) and a college (Vieux-Montréal) and an extremely active social life that saw me out in bars on a nightly basis, so I didn't go to the Olympic Stadium much those years, meaning I wasn't there to see McGuire play when he did well.

I did have him sign a couple of cards when he came to town with the Marlins a few years later, both in a skinny black sharpie that couldn't have been mine and both showing him in the Expos' grey away uniform. First, here is card #303 from Topps' flagship 1999 Topps set, showing him playing defensively:
And here's card #123 from the 2000 Topps set, showing his reaction after hitting a pop fly:
These cards pencil him in as #6 in my Expos Numbers Project.

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