Baseball Card of the Week: The Ghost of Spring Trainings Past

Feb 13, 2009 at 11:26 am
Sometimes, there's a man. Sometimes there's a man who, well, is the right man for his time and place; he just fits there. And that man is Jim Edmonds

Today is one of the holiest days of the baseball calendar; Pitchers and Catchers Report Day. And while I am all kinds of excited, I'm also just a little bit sad. Why, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. 

I miss Jimmy Baseball. 

Jim Edmonds was my favorite Cardinal player of all time. I loved Ozzie when I was a kid, John Tudor was a big hero of mine, Ray Lankford was the man during a really brutal stretch for the Cardinals, and Albert is unquestionably the greatest player I've ever personally seen. But when it comes right down to it, Jimmy Baseball was my guy. 

This is a 2006 Bowman White Jim Edmonds card. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a classic Jim Edmonds pose right there. How many times over the years did we watch Edmonds knock the ball out of the park to left field, and watch it in just that fashion? 

Even more than his play on the field, though, was the ridiculousness that was Jim Edmonds off the field. He wore flip-flops pretty much everywhere, including to City Hall when he got married. (And somehow, I would be willing to bet that he referred to her as his old lady. Don't know why, I'm just sure he did.) It was sort of like having The Dude playing center field. Oddly enough, the one and only White Russian I ever ordered at F15teen wasn't very good. Sad. 

Most of all, what I miss about Edmonds are the injuries he would suffer in spring training. The man just didn't seem to be able to play in March somehow. Every year, like clockwork, something in one of Jim's legs would tighten up whenever he was asked to take the field in Florida. Or maybe his throwing arm would develop a mysterious catch in it.  One year he complained of a strain suffered while sitting in an airplane seat. 

click to enlarge Jimmy Baseball abides. 
Jimmy Baseball abides. 
What was really fascinating about these injuries, though, was the speed with which they seemed to heal. Somehow, despite having a calf muscled that must have been ripped clean off the bone, considering he sat out pretty much all of March, Edmonds would manage to walk out on the field on Opening Day and proceed to hit .380 for April. 

So now that spring training is officially here again, I find myself missing Jimmy Baseball and his phantom injuries. It's the second spring now without him, and it still feels like there's a real void. At the very least, he always made for an interesting story. 

Maybe someday we'll see him back with the Cardinals as a coach or something. I know he said he was done with the Cardinals, but I can always hope, can't I?