The first year I really got into sports was 1989. I was six. The Red Sox had a mediocre season, sandwiched between two AL East division titles, going 83-79. The lone bright spot was their first basemen, Nick Esasky. Acquired from Cincinnati in the off-season, he hit 30 home runs and added 108 RBIs. Esasky was my first favorite player. Every morning, I’d ask my dad if the Sox had won the night prior. And, seemingly, every morning, he’d say they had, and that Esasky hit a three-run homer.
Topps were my favorite cards growing up, and the 1989 set remains one of my favorites in terms of design. I love the scripted team names–they remind me of old Little League jerseys–the asymmetrical rounded corners, and white borders. Esasky only appears in a Red Sox uniform on two Topps cards; this from the ’89 Traded set and another from the hideous 1990 series. 1990 Topps is one of my least favorite baseball designs of all-time; only the yellow legal pad layout of 1991 Fleer out does it. (Special mention to the red menace that is 1990 Donruss, with their Pollock-esque splatter design in the left and right margins.)
Esasky left Boston after a single season, signing with the Braves. The rest of his story is an awfully sad one; he only played a handful of games in 1990 before being forced to retire after developing vertigo stemming from a bad ear infection.