The author of my favorite baseball book ever. Jim is in this set as a co-creator of Big League Chew. Along with all his other persuits, Bouton was a pretty dang good pitcher for the Yankees before his arm gave out. He also finished off his career in 1978 pitching five games for the Atlanta Braves after being out of the bigs since 1970. I once whiffed on a chance to get a signed copy of the Ball Four edition with Jim in a Braves uniform on the cover and have regretted it ever since. Pulling this card helps ease the pain.
The last 30-game winner in Major League baseball. Probably ever. Weirdly enough, Denny finished his career with the Braves as well. Unlike Jim, Denny got a card to commemorate the event (1973 Topps #630). The Braves traded Orlando Cepeda to Oakland for McLain. Orlando had one final good year left in him as a DH for Boston in 1973, but Denny was pretty much out of gas by the time he reached Atlanta. i'm not going to get into all his off field shenanigans, I'll just enjoy this auto of one of the more infamous MLB stars instead.
I had no clue who this guy was when I was opening the box. Turns out Ed once his a home run 738 feet in Reno when playing for the Modesto Reds in 1971. Ed was a first round pick of the Cardinals who never made the majors. Or did he? this article on Ed's blast states that he got a cup of coffee with the Cards in 1974 just in time to see Lou Brock break Maury Wills' steals record. This is a pretty unique autograph either way. Ed only had two cards released during his playing career, one in a 1976 Salt Lake minor league set, the other in a 1978 Tidewater set. If he has been picked in the past ten years he would have had dozens of different cards printed, with half of them being certified autos. My, how times have changed...
The Pete Gray of our generation, Jim pitched ten seasons in the majors despite being born without a right hand. Jim was a star at Michigan and a leader of the 1988 USA Olympic Baseball team before getting picked by the Angels in the first round of the '88 draft. Jim won 18 games in 1991 and threw a no-hitter in 1993. He also managed to get two hits as a pitcher for Milwaukee in his final season. Jim is now - what else? - a motivational speaker.
Ben Grieve's cards were hotter than Hades in 1998. Ben was pretty hot himself that year, as he won the AL Rookie of the Year award with the Oakland A's. Ben followed up that performance with a pair of 27 and 28 homer seasons with the A's before getting traded to the rays for 2001. Ben's production dropped like a rock with the Devil Rays, a victim of injuries and too high expectations. A couple of years with Milwaukee and Chicago and he was done. While his career doesn't seem to meet expectations, there is one thing he is very notable for doing. According to Jose Canseco, Grieve absolutely refused to use steroids. That brings him up a few notches in my estimation for sure.