Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mike Felder and His Moment in the Spotlight

1992 Topps Mike Felder, 1992 Upper Deck Mike Felder


Pulling cards for a trade, I found these two bad boys.  This has got to be the exact same play from the exact same angle.  My bet is that these are subsequent clicks of the shutter from some free-lance photographer who sold the same pictures to Topps and to Upper Deck, who used them without knowing what the other company was doing.  That's pretty unique to have competing companies using the exact same shot...except then I went onto COMC and saw this...

1992 Score Mike Felder
...IT'S THE SAME SHOT!

The bat head is a little higher on this one (the ball just came off of it), so I think this is the first shot of the three (followed by Upper Deck then Topps).  Score, UD, and Topps all with the same picture?  Did this guy only have one at-bat in 1991 and they were desperate for a picture?  No...he actually had 348 at-bats that year.  

SOOOO.....if all three of these companies are using this shot, it has to be somewhat important, right?  Why else would everyone be so transfixed by a bunt????  Let's dig into it.  I will admit that I had never heard much about Mike Felder before, so this is all just some internet research.  First, the Giants are wearing throwback uniforms in 1991....that narrows it down somewhat.  This site tells me that they did their first big throwback event vs. the Cubs on June 23, 1991.  Starting there, we need to see if Mike Felder got into that game.  Using this page on Retrosheet, we see that indeed he DID have one at-bat as a Pinch Hitter.  So what?

Let me set the stage....Cubs lead 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth.  Dave Smith is on the mound.
  • Willie McGee singles to lead it off (tying run on base).
  • Jack Will Clark TRIPLES to score McGee (winning run on 3rd, no out).
  • The Cubs decide their only hope is force-outs, so they issue two intentional walks -- one to Matt Williams and one to Mark Leonard -- to load the bases with no outs.
  • Robby Thompson (the oldest-looking young man ever -- he really used to creep me out back in 1987) is hitting next...he grounds to Shawon Dunston at SS...who goes home with the throw to force-out Clark.  All runners advance...bases still loaded, tie-game, 1 out.
Due to some double-switching earlier in the game, the Giants' pitcher (Jeff Brantley) is now hitting 7th, and Mike Felder is sent to the plate to pinch-hit.  This situation is the prime example of a "high leverage" situation...Either Felder can end the game with a hit, or he can waste all his team's efforts by grounding into a double-play.  So NOW we see why everyone actually cares about what Felder is doing here....it is literally the most important single moment of the game so far.

So what do the Giants do?  SQUEEZE PLAY!!!  Felder's superb bunting technique (see above) puts the ball in play, Matt Williams comes down the line to score and win the game.  Mystery solved!

All the photographers must have been raving to the photo editors about this play.  It's not every day you get to see a walk-off bunt.

4 comments:

  1. Awesome story! Nice detective work too!

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  2. Great post! And great finds as well.

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  3. I thought it was hilarious when I was looking through your cards and saw those 2 Felders. Then when I was checking another site for more retro uniforms to add to my wantlist, I saw the Score card and was like "What was going on here?" But glad you took the next step to figure out what it was!

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