Tuesday, February 14, 2017

#28 Bobby Hofman - New York Giants

Robert George Hofman
New York Giants

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  5'10"  Weight:  160
Born:  October 5, 1925, St. Louis, MO
Signed:  Signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent in 1944
Major League Teams:  New York Giants 1949, 1952-1957
Died:  April 5, 1994, Chesterfield, MO (age 68)

Known primarily for his pinch-hitting, Bobby Hofman enjoyed a seven-year career with the Giants which was interrupted for two seasons while he served in the Army during World War II.  He made it out onto the field in 205 of his 341 career games, playing mostly at second base but also seeing time at third and first base.  He also caught in 26 games.  At the time of his retirement following the 1957 season, Hofman was tied with Cy Williams for the most career pinch-hit home runs with nine.

Hofman would go on to serve as a coach with the Athletics (1966-1967, 1969-1970, 1974-1975, 1978), Senators (1968) and Indians (1971-1972).  He was the scouting director for the Yankees during the tumultous years of 1980 through 1984, and their director of player development from 1985 to 1988.

Building the Set
May 20, 1989 in Sea Isle City, NJ - Card #71
For 45 years, my grandparents owned a house in Sea Isle City on 37th Street.  As a result of the Storm of 1962, which wiped out the block of houses in front of them, their house became beach front property until the construction of the Spinnaker Condominiums in 1972.  We were lucky enough to spend most of our summers in Sea Isle, and the five-minute walk to the beach was accomplished by climbing up a ramp in back of the Spinnaker, crossing over the concrete promenade and walking down a few steps to the sand.

For several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a complete dive of a snack shop called Joe's Sno-Cone located in the Spinnaker at the top of that ramp.  The menu at Joe's was limited to the usual beach fare - hot dogs, soft pretzels, bags of chips, candy and yes, snow cones.  During a visit to Joe's on the weekend before Memorial Day in 1989, I noticed the shop's owner (Joe presumably) had set up a small display of baseball cards for sale.  This Hofman card was available for $3 and another 1956 Topps card, Ernie Johnson (#294), was also available for $3.  I purchased both cards and most likely added a cherry snow cone to my order before heading next door to the arcade to drop several quarters into the Rolling Thunder game.

The Card
Due to the fact that I purchased this card at a place called Joe's Sno-Cone, the border isn't nearly as white as it should be.  Rather, it's more a beige color but in otherwise decent shape.

The head shot is the same as was used on Hofman's 1954 and 1955 Topps cards.  The action shot features Hofman in action as a catcher, despite the fact that his position is listed as "infield" on the card.  In 1955, Hofman appeared in 19 games behind the plate, playing a position he had never before played in a professional baseball game.  As the back of the card mentions, this emergency duty was necessitated due to an injury to regular catcher Ray Katt.

The vital statistics on the card's back give Hofman an extra inch in height and 15 extra pounds in weight over the information presented on his Baseball Reference page.  Hofman was referred to as Bob on his 1952, 1953 and 1954 Topps cards and as Bobby on his 1955 and 1956 Topps cards.

1956 Season
Hofman played in his second to last season in 1956, hitting .179 over 47 games.  He appeared in just two games with the Giants in 1957, spending the bulk of that season with the Triple-A Minneapolis Millers.

1949 Bowman #223
1952 Topps #371
1994 Topps Archives 1954 #99
Other Notable Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  1949 Bowman #223
First Topps Card:  1952 Topps #371
Last Topps Card:  1956 Topps #28
Most Recent Mainstream Card:  1994 Topps Archives 1954 #99

21 - Hofman non-parallel baseball cards in the Beckett online database as of 2/9/17

Baseball Reference
Beckett Database
The Trading Card Database

In some cases, the first and last cards listed above are subjective and chosen by me if multiple cards were released within the same year.  Most recent mainstream card may also be subjective and does not include extremely low serial numbered cards, buybacks or cut autograph cards.

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