Sometimes a player makes it into the Hall of Fame and you don't agree with it. Often this happens as a result of the Veteran's Committee, years after the guy has run out of chances to gain admittance the "normal" way. In some cases, the committee rights an egregious wrong and that player finally gets the recognition he deserves. Then again, there's been more than a handful of players who, one way or another, found themselves in the Hall, but have become subject to heated debate when it comes to their credentials.
Still, it's usually a much different conversation when one of these HOFers played with or was otherwise involved with your favorite team. It could be that he contributed largely to winning seasons despite otherwise pedestrian stats, or that he hung on with the organization for years afterward, becoming synonymous with your memories of the franchise.
What I'm getting at is this: George Kell was a very good player for 15 Major League seasons, and while his numbers don't scream "Hall of Fame" at anyone, you won't find this Tigers fan backing down from an argument about his place in baseball history. He may have only been with Detroit for seven seasons, may not have been part of a World Series team, and no, he wasn't a perennial league-leader offensively. Yet besides his playing career--which culminated in having his number retired by the Tigers--he became a beloved figure in Detroit because of his excellent broadcasting career, from 1959-1996 (with the exception of 1964). If you grew up between the 70s and 90s, you can't hear Kell's name without associating it with his broadcast partner and fellow Tigers legend Al Kaline, a pair that made Tigers games an absolute joy to listen to regardless of the outcome.
The VC punched Kell's ticket to the Hall in 1983, and I think his playing and broadcasting careers combine to justify his place with the rest of baseball legends. Regardless, Kell was very humbled by the honor, as he stated in his acceptance speech: "I have always said that George Kell has taken more from this great game of baseball than he can ever give back. And now I know, I am deeper in debt than ever before.”
So now you all know why I like George Kell, and that it's not automatically because he's part of Detroit's baseball history. I think that you'll understand, then, that I was thrilled to pick this card up on COMC:
George Kell 2010 Panini Century Cut auto (#021/100)
My first baseball cut auto is actually my first Kell auto of any kind, and it's about damned time. This is a gorgeous cut card that's also uncirculated, as you can see on the right. The only downside is the lack of a picture of Kell, but in this case I think the cut auto takes precedence anyway, and it's not like Panini has a license to show team logos.
I think what really attracted me to this card out of all the other Kells available on COMC (besides a flat-out steal at $10, in my opinion) was the "Sincerely" in the autograph. I realize cut autos come from sources such as letters, personal checks and index cards, so this isn't anything outside of the norm, but it still makes it more special to me. George also happened to have a very nice signature, which is a huge plus.
I had considered saving this card until the end of these posts, but when I saw it sitting on my desk in pile of cards I still need to scan and post, something just made me feel like doing it today. That brings up a question I'd love to get some feedback on in the comments: what's an example of a card in your PC of a player who was either a borderline-HOFer or didn't make the cut, but was still an important part of your team's history in your opinion? Let's see what you got!