The long baseball season is complete, but fans still have a reason to celebrate. McFarlane Toys will release its second series of hardball legends in early February 2005's Cooperstown Collection Series 2
McFarlane has stated that it wasn't easy to follow up the initial Cooperstown Collection series, but they worked hard to guarantee there would be no "sophomore slump" in 2005.
Here's the lineup for the second series of the Cooperstown Collection:
: George Herman Ruth remains one of the most dominant sports figures of the 20th century. "The Babe" brought unparalleled power to the game, often out-homering other TEAMS during his early career. After winning 89 games as a left-handed pitcher for Boston, the Red Sox shipped him to the Yankees in exchange for a curse and some cash. Ruth led the American League in homers 12 times, crushing 714 long balls while leading the Yankees to seven pennants and four World Series titles.
: Baseball fans had high standards for defensive play at third base following Brooks Robinson's marvelous career, but Mike Schmidt's defense was clinical while also putting on a fireworks display. Schmidt hit 30 or more homers in a season 10 times, en route to 548 career dingers. His determination at the plate and in the field brought him 12 All-Star selections, 10 Gold Gloves and three National League MVP awards. Schmidt was a tough guy in a tougher town, but even the nastiest of the Philly faithful tip their caps to the redheaded monster at the hot corner.
: If there are five "tools" in baseball then Willie Mays must have been a carpenter. The Giants' star outfielder excelled in all facets of the game: hitting for power and average, stealing bases, fielding and throwing with brilliance. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1951, played in 20 All-Star games, earned 12 Gold Gloves and two National League MVP awards. Mays played the game at a higher level and helped turn a generation of wide-eyed kids into baseball fans.
CAL RIPKEN JR.
: Cal Ripken Jr. was born in Maryland, played 20 seasons for the Orioles and retired to start a developmental team in their minor league system; it's safe to say that when cut, he probably bleeds orange. Cal won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1982, and the A.L. MVP award one year later while leading Baltimore to a World Series championship. His unbelievable career is actually overshadowed by one singular record. Ripken shattered Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played -- breaking the old mark of 2,130 games and setting a new standard with 2,632. The record is impressive in and of itself, but the timing of the chase was perfect. Baseball had alienated much of its fan base with the players' strike and the cancellation of the World Series in 1994, and it was the dogged determination of Cal Ripken chasing Lou Gehrig's record that brought thousands of fans back to the game.
: He was Pittsburgh's hero, but everyone's friend. The man known as "Pops" was one of the most endearing players in baseball history. Willie Stargell earned a nation of fans with his earnest smile and fearsome power. The patriarch of the "We Are Family" Pirates clubs, Stargell was named the National League MVP in 1979 at the age of 39! Willie led Pittsburgh to World Series titles in 1971 and 1979, and brought a jovial presence to the park rarely seen since.
: It's hard to remember the name James Augustus Hunter, but no one forgot how "Catfish" pitched. The star pitcher for the Athletics, "Catfish" won 21 or more games five seasons in a row and recorded a perfect game in 1968. Hunter won the Cy Young award in 1974 and finished his career on Broadway -- pitching under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium. Though injuries ended his career at age 33, Hunter won 224 games and five World Series titles.