Monday, August 27, 2012

1981 TOPPS JOE CHARBONEAU


A MAN OF MANY, MANY TALENTS.



LOST IN IT ALL WAS THE GUY COULD PLAY WHEN HEALTHY.



THE FRONT PAGE

  • Super Joe Charboneau was the Mark Fidrych of position players. Like Fidrych, the 1976 AL Rookie of the Year, Charboneau was eccentric and took the game by storm, hitting .289, 23 homers and driving in 87 and earning Rookie of the Year in '80. Like The Bird, it was all downhill from there.

THE BACK PAGE

  • Go Go Joe Charboneau rose to No. 3 in the charts in Cleveland. Who's the newest guy in town?/Go Joe Charboneau/Turns the ballpark upside down/Go Joe Charboneau/Who's the one to keep our hopes alive, straight from the seventh to the pennant drive?/Raise your glass, let out a cheer for Cleveland's Rookie of the Year! 
  • Songwriting on par with Let It Be, huh?

PHOTO PLAY

  • Looks like a well-mannered gentleman, doesn't he? Looks were deceiving.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • Charboneau's rookie campaign didn't begin well and it was a sign of wild times ahead: During an exhibition game in Mexico, he was stabbed with a pen knife by a fan. He suffered a four-inch wound and the knife hit a rib. The fan was arrested and fined 50 pesos ($2.27). If he would've killed him, he would've owed $4.46. 
  • The stabbing was one of many off-the-field incidents and alcohol-fueled stunts for a character who's had a guardian angel perched on his shoulder for some time.
  • Among many talents, he was known to open beer bottles with his eye socket and drink the grog through his nose. Surely, that impressed the local lassies and horrified optometrists and ENT specialists the world over.
  • Additional hijinks included eating cigarettes, cutting a tattoo off his body with a razor and once trying to straighten a broken nose with a pair of pliers and some whiskey. Something tells me he never backed down from a dare, except maybe, "I dare you not to drink that.''
  • Baseball-wise, he was a late-bloomer, originally being signed by Minnesota in '76 in the sixth round. He didn't sign and was taken by Philadelphia in the supplemental draft and sent to Class A. He quit Carolina League affiliate Peninsula after 12 games and went home to Belvidere, Ill., to play softball because I guess it paid more or offered better vision. The Twins signed him and he raked at Class-A Visalia in the California League in '78 but was traded to Cleveland after getting into, surprise of all surprises, a barroom brawl.
  • Continue his torrid hitting at Double-A Chattanooga in '79 and made it to Cleveland the next year when Andre Thornton injured his knee.
  • It all started coming apart when this card came out in '81, when during spring training, he injured his back during a head-first slide. He was sent to the minors by midseason after hitting .214 with two homers and nine RBI. He would end up having two unsuccessful back surgeries.
  • He was released the following season after telling fans at Triple-A Buffalo to Go Go screw themselves with an obscene gesture. Pittsburgh eventually signed him but he never made it back to the majors. 
  • Just to prove he hasn't matured, Super Joe was in a barroom fight as recently as 2010. 

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