Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Dave Stieb 2004 Topps Retired refractor.. from a while back

Captain Ahab: The Story of Dave Stieb is a new 4-part documentary up on YouTube. Oh man.. So, so good. I knew of Dave Stieb as arguably the best pitcher of the 80s yet who often got short-changed, but the doc shines light on some incredible storylines that either slipped by most baseball fans or were quickly forgotten as the game of baseball rolled along. I don't watch much sports-related stuff on YouTube these days, and my attention span for "deep dives" makes it tough for me to stick with longer stuff like this, but this was right up my alley. It balanced stats and humanity of the game well, with countless fascinating coincidences and one-in-a-million outcomes peppering the path of Stieb's unlikely career.

There's heartbreak, with Stieb having some brutal hard-luck baseball moments, and not getting a whole lot of respect outside of Toronto despite modern stats showing he deserved better, particularly in regards to Cy Young voting. But by the end I was misting up a little with happy tears. It's just a great baseball story and well-told by the guys at Dorktown/Secret Base.

But dang it.. I, too, am guilty of slighting Dave Stieb. 

Over the history of this blog, it's been my M.O. to do a post featuring any new 2004 Topps Retired refractor auto as I get them. They've been my top collecting goal of the past several years, so it's always a big deal for me to knock another name off the list (Currently down to just Trammell). But back in September of 2016 when I harpooned "Captain Ahab" here... welp, that happened to arrive just as a big COMC delivery was being parsed through, and left me with too many things to blog about and eventually refractor Dave just got filed away without ever getting the salute on the blog he was due.

Better late than never, right?!

A beauty, no doubt. Early, pre-stache photos on the front and back.

While the doc may have helped push Stieb's name back into baseball nerd conversations, doesn't look like his hobby love has seen much of a bump. But perhaps the members of the Hall of Fame's Modern Baseball committee will catch the doc and help atone for the sins of baseball writers past by at least giving him a closer look and seeing the story beyond what the back of a baseball card can tell you, and who knows, maybe they'll even let Dave slip into Cooperstown along with should-be-shoo-ins Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich. But I hate getting too hung up on tired HOF debates. Bottom line is I'd recommend any baseball fan check out the documentary if you're into that sort of thing.

Part 1


  1. Personally I'm a small Hall guy. I think one of the values of the Hall of Fame is that it is only the best of the best. It validates it more if really good players like Stieb, Grich, et al, are not in. Shows that even as good as those guys are, it's really only for the highest level. Including everybody who might be qualified if you squeeze the stats a certain way waters down what it means to be a Hall of Famer.

    1. Yeah, I probably shouldn't have tainted the post by bringing up the Hall. But the doc rightly touches on Stieb's HOF candacy (or lack thereof) at the end, so it was fresh in my mind. But you can enjoy the story of his career without worrying if he should be identified as an all-time great or not.

  2. Love that documentary, but I get dizzy on some of the shots that spin around that "board".

  3. I didn't know about the documentary but I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the tip!

  4. A. Fantastic card. I have the regular auto in my collection. If I ever found an affordable copy, I'd definitely add the refractor to the collection too.

    B. That Stieb documentary was one of my favorites of all-time. Like you pointed out... the whole one-in-a-million thing really blew my mind. Losing all of those no-hitters (especially the back to back one-hitters in 1988)... to catching the home run that broke up Halladay's no hitter. The odds are in insane.

    C. Although I hope the documentary does increase his fanfare (especially among collectors)... as a Stieb guy (he attended the same high school as me), there's a part of me who hopes there isn't a spike in his card values.