Wednesday, January 8, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #93 ROBIN VENTURA


BIG MAN ON CAMPUS AT OKLAHOMA STATE.



PRETTY MUCH LIVED UP TO HYPE IN THE MAJORS.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • After establishing an NCAA record 58-game hitting streak in 1987 with Oklahoma State, Robin Ventura was a first-round selection by the White Sox the next year. He quickly established himself as a starter at third and played 16 years for four teams and was a two-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove winner.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Ventura came up in the 15th inning of Game 5 of the '99 NLCS against the Braves' Kevin McGlinchy with the bases loaded and the game tied at 3. The Mets were down 3-1 in the series, but Ventura saved the New Yorkers with a "grand slam single'' to right in a steady drizzle. Before he had a chance to circle the bases, Ventura was jumped by teammates between first and second it was scored as a run-scoring single.

DEFINING SEASON

  • In that first season in Queens, Ventura set career highs in average (.301), homers (32) and RBI (120). Somehow, he wasn't selected to the All-Star team. He finished sixth in the NL MVP voting and won his sixth Gold Glove.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. A three-time All-American at Oklahoma State, Ventura surpassed the previous hitting streak by 11 games.
  2. Played on the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic team in '88, hitting .409.
  3. In his first year as a starter in '90 with the White Sox, Ventura endured an 0-for-41 slump but rebounded and hit .249.
  4. Ventura charged the mound on Aug. 4, 1993, when #107 Nolan Ryan plunked him. It looked like Ventura, 26, wanted to turn around about half way to the mound but he met Ryan, 46, who grabbed him like a steer on the open range and whacked him a few times. The only thing better would have been Ryan zapping him with a cattle prod. 
  5. In '99 against the Brewers, Ventura became the only player to hit grand slams in both games of a doubleheader. Ventura victimized #46 Jim Abbott in Game 1 and Steve Woodard in Game 2.

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