Each Topps books involves one or more baseball cards coming (pardon the expression) into play. Here are the relevant cards and why I chose them.
Book 1 – Jinxed! – Rafael Furcal
I knew I wanted the book to have an unassisted triple play, so I began there and worked backwards. Furcal felt like the right choice because he also had streaks where he was error-prone, like the “jinxed” character in the book.
Book 2 – Steal that Base! – Bengie Molina
I had to ask myself the unusual question, which baseball player has the most games without a stolen base? From there I came to a player with very few stolen bases, Bengie Molina. Molina is a great player to celebrate in these books.
Book 3 – Zip It! – Jim Bunning
I love the story about Bunning talking during his own perfect game despite all the superstitions against it. I actually crafted the book around the card and that incident.
Book 4 – The 823rd Hit – Andy Pafko
This is my favorite book of the series, and I really like how naturally this historic card comes into the story. I needed a very valuable card, so I started there, and found this most valuable Topps card was perfect for the story.
Book 5 – You’re Out! – Eric Gregg
The book was inspired by the longstanding feud between a certain major league umpire and a manager based in the Twin Cities who shall remain nameless. I looked at Topps-issued umpire cards and Eric Gregg was perfect for what I wanted to do. Former manager Billy Martin, who led the same team as the aforementioned unnamed manager (among others) also makes a cameo, in card form.
Book 6 – Batter Up – Ozzie Virgil, Sr.
A friend came across an ancient, worn baseball card and passed it on to me for inspiration. Seeing that the player on the card had bounced up and down between the major and minor leagues made him a good figure to represent the perseverance and hopes of the minor leaguers in the series.