Friday, October 4, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #68 RON GANT


A POWER-SPEED DYNAMO IN HIS PRIME.




ATV IS NOT A BASEBALL STAT.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • The Braves saw Ron Gant as a power-speed force coming up from their minor leagues, and after a short detour to learn a new position, he fulfilled that 30/30 vision. In 1991, Gant became the first player in 12 years to have back-to-back 30-homer, 30-steal seasons while becoming a main cog in Atlanta's rise to the top of the National League in the '90s.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Not long after collectors were pulling this card from packs, Gant was playing hero against the Reds on Sept. 15, 1993. The Braves trailed 6-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth before rallying for two runs. Gant faced closer #180 Rob Dibble with two on and one out and cracked a three-run homer to give the Braves a 7-6 victory. The win also increased Atlanta's lead over second-place San Francisco to 3 1/2 games in what would turn out to be a down-to-the-wire race for the NL West title. The Braves needed every one of their 104 victories to edge the 103-win Giants.

DEFINING SEASON

  • After being sent to the minors in '89 to learn to play the outfield, Gant, a former infielder, returned to the Braves and won Comeback Player of the Year the next season. He hit .303 with 32 homers, 33 steals and 84 RBI.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Finished fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in '88 after clubbing 16 homers and driving in 60 runs. But 26 errors at second base convinced the Braves, who lost 106 games that season, he had to move to another position.
  2. Joined Willie Mays ('56-'57) and Bobby Bonds ('77-'78) as the third player to have consecutive 30/30 seasons with 32/34 in '91.
  3. In Game 2 of the '91 World Series, Gant was involved in a controversial play at first base, when #117 Kent Hrbek of the Twins appeared to lift Gant off the bag on a pickoff attempt. Gant was ruled out and the Braves cried foul.
  4. After hitting 36 homers and driving in 117 in '93, Gant signed the richest one-year contract at the time for $5.5 million in February '94. One week later, he was severely injured, breaking his right leg in an ATV accident. In March, the Braves released him, terminating the contract, and he wouldn't play again until '95 with the Reds.
  5. In February '92, Gant got into a bar fight with Connie Mack IV, great grandson of the Connie Mack. Seems the future congressman was in an Atlanta establishment swilling Jager shooters and ale. He bumped into Gant, and it was on. Gant had an armful of Mack's skull and Mack had a fistful of Gant's junk. When bouncers restored order, Mack had a broken ankle. He sued Gant, who was held liable but didn't have to pay any damages.

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