Today’s Card of the Day is a guest submission from long-time reader Tom Robinson. I asked him to help out today because the history article had 11 player bios to update/extend, along with five transactions of note. He was gracious enough to accept the assignment. I left the card choice up to him, other than don’t do one of the 1,000+ cards I’ve already covered (so basically I eliminated a lot of choices). I also asked if he had a card he could share a story about, as a bit of a break from the usual articles.
2022 Bowman Chrome Oneil Cruz
by Tom Robinson
When the 43rd National Sports Convention convened on July 26-30 in Chicago, once again Bowman Chrome released cards specifically for “The National” attendees. With that in mind, today’s Card of the Day features a Bowman Chrome Rookie Card of Oneil Cruz, given to lucky attendees at last year’s 2022 Convention in Atlantic City, NJ. Unfortunately for Cruz and his legion of fans, what a difference a year makes.
This card illustrates the passion that Cruz demonstrated in his rookie season, on one of his turbo-charged gallops from first to third. The unleashing of the unbridled passion of one of the game’s brightest, most electrifying stars. In almost microscopic print under the Cruz name, you see the words “Rookies, Rookies, Rookies.”
As “Rookies, Rookies, Rookies” became the theme of the 2023 Buccos, the passion that is Cruz on a baseball field has left a void that obviously can only be filled with his talent, his towering presence, his presence. The broken bone in his ankle suffered in April is now slowly mending, and Cruz is ramping up baseball activities while those of us who bleed Black and Gold long for his return.
If you look on the back of this Bowman Chrome labeled NSCC-OZ card, you see the “potential” of OC listed in various descriptions, such as “monster arm, generates soaring exit velocities, loud power in all directions.” Read the back of that card too many times and you’ll cry every time Greg Brown is behind a microphone the summer of 2023.
Last season at the Yankees-Pirates Aaron Judge Home Run Watch series, I met Oneil in the lobby of the hotel we were mutually staying in across the street from the Honus statue at PNC. OC was riding a scooter through the lobby the first time I saw him, a 6-foot 7-inch blur on two wheels, the next as we passed in a hallway on foot.
What strikes me about Cruz is his size, as the back of this card mentions he “uses rare height and long arms to create natural leverage.” He may not be a “unicorn” like Ohtani, but Cruz is “different,” charismatic, exuberant in his smile, and possesses the “it factors” that make you excited to go to the ballpark, to see what magic his card attributes can produce.
At this year’s “National,” Cruz will be in far less demand, a distant 365 days from the mania that made this card so sought after by Pirate and Cruz collectors in 2022 when it was released in various refractors and short prints. Hopefully this time next year, the Cruz return story will be in full force, the “Rookies, Rookies, Rookies” theme will have ended, and the Pirates can ascend like a towering, into the Allegheny “Cruz Missile.”
Here are some photos:
Front of the card:
Back of the card:
The 6’3″ Tom Robinson with the 6’7″ Cruz