Underappreciated Giants: Volume Five

Spring training is here! Spring training is here! Oh, rapturous day! Spring tra…

Wait, this doesn’t feel different from yesterday. There aren’t any games. The rumors are getting progressively lamer. Our only salvation is the posting of spring photos at Giants Jottings and Extra Baggs. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then those teasing shots make me want to type "Start the damn season already" two hundred times.

Because there isn’t anything of note out of Scottsdale yet, we go back to the Underappreciated Giants well. I don’t remember Joel Youngblood’s swing. I know that he played almost every position on the field, but I’m not sure if he was competent at any of them. I thought he was a total fringe guy, but he actually put together a pretty nice career as a top-flight utility player.

So this can’t be the typical Underappreciated Giants post. I can’t regale you with Youngblood anecdotes, and I can’t emphasize Youngblood’s importance to Team X in Some Year because of That Hit. What Youngblood represents to me is my First Favorite Player. My first batch of baseball cards was a rack pack of 1983 Fleer, and this card was one of them. Two teams on the same day? My fragile little mind, already keen to certain laws of physics, figured Youngblood was some sort of special player. When I shuffled through my stack of cards, I’d always pause at that one. Two teams and one day? What kind of witchery was that?

And there was the name. Youngblood. With the Bowie knife between his teeth, Youngblood scaled the face of the cliff. His face was grim, his concentration unwavering. The Wolfmaster was surely expecting him, but there was no turning back now. To a six-year-old kid, there wasn’t a baseball player with a cooler name. Maybe Champ Summers was more red, white, and blue, but it couldn’t compete with Youngblood in net coolness.

It’s a distinct possibility that the most excited I’ve ever been about a Giants acquisition was when I found out the Giants signed Youngblood as a free agent. Youngblood, the Utility Barbarian of Gory Truth, was a Giant! And then I think I forgot about him and baseball for a couple of years. Maybe longer, as Youngblood was on the team for six years, but I have no memory of him other than his baseball card and his name.

So this isn’t a call for Joel Youngblood anecdotes, as that would probably make for a pretty short comments section. Instead, the comment starter is this: Who was your first favorite baseball player? A ton of you will write "Will Clark", which is understandable, but bonus points will be awarded to random players that you selected for random reasons. The bonus points’ importance will be revealed much later on, but you’ll be glad you have them.

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