On this date in 1974, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded shortstop Jackie Hernandez to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for catcher Mike Ryan. Hernandez was released by the Phillies before getting into a regular season game. He returned to the Pirates, though he spent the 1974 season in Triple-A, before going to Mexico to finish his career.
Hernandez has appeared in this series once before, and it comes with an asterisk. He spent three seasons with the Pirates, back when Topps was the only game in town. So it’s not as if he has a lot of card options. One that comes with an asterisk is the 1972 Topps card that celebrated the Pirates winning the National League Championship Series that season. While it doesn’t specifically name Hernandez, he is featured front and center on the card, which we covered here two years ago on his date of birth.
For Hernandez’s second appearance in this series, we are going with one of his regular Topps cards. This was his last card, and most people were getting this card in packs after he was traded to the Phillies. Some were also getting it months later when he returned to the Pirates organization. Here’s a look at card #566 from the 1974 Topps set.
Here’s the front of the card:
The 1974 Topps set has some rough photo quality, but I especially like the Pirates cards in this set because they use team colors for the front design. I especially like the Pittsburgh banner up top and Pirates down below. They tried out some action photos in this set, but they still used staged action photos like what you see here.
The photo here shows how crazy the shifts were getting in baseball at the time. Hernandez appears to be defending a bunt from the on deck hitter. Besides the great uniforms from the era, you also get a look at the Roberto Clemente tribute patch that was worn on the left sleeve during the 1973 season. You can see that patch on many of the 1974 Pirates cards.
Here’s the back of the card:
I noticed the cartoon here right away. Generic Gray Topps Man probably needs a lesson about bunting, because he’s doing a poor job of holding the bat, though I will say that when the ball goes straight down and yells “HIT!”, you’re doing something special with the bat. While scrolling through the options for today, I noticed that Hernandez was in a bunt pose on his 1972 card. I first need to mention that what you see above for the stats ended up being his entire career in the majors. During that time you see, not only did he put up a .208 average, he had just 22 sacrifice bunts. He may have been a skillful bunter, but he didn’t use it to his advantage.
Up top in the notes section, you’ll notice that he was a catcher in 1961. That was his first season of pro ball. He caught each of the next three seasons, though he played more shortstop during that three-year stretch.
If you are interested in this card for Hernandez, which combines the final card for a 1971 World Series champion, along with a great (but unfortunate) piece of uniform history, you’ll be happy to know it’s a common card. You can find over 140 examples on the Ebays right now, with the highest graded one being a PSA 9 for $50. There is one signed copy for $21. Hernandez passed away in 2019, so he had plenty of time to sign, but his autos won’t be getting any easier to find as the years go by. There are quite a few options for just the unsigned card here under $2 delivered.