#CardCorner: 1972 Topps George Foster
When George Foster hit 52 long balls in 1977, the baseball world stood in awe. It was unexpected, inspiring and – for Foster – career changing.
But back when he posed for the photo for his 1972 Topps card, all that must have seemed like a pipe dream for a player who took the long road to stardom.
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Born Dec. 1, 1948 in University of Alabama football country in Tuscaloosa, Foster moved to the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hawthorne, Calif., as a youngster. After playing ball at a junior college, Foster was taken in the third round of the January 1968 MLB Draft by the Giants, and following a strong season at Class A Fresno in 1969, the Giants brought him to the big leagues that September at the age of 20.
He had another cup of coffee with the Giants in 1970, then made the big league roster as a reserve in 1971 – only to be traded to the Reds on May 29 in exchange for Frank Duffy and Vern Geishert. With Reds star center fielder Bobby Tolan out for the season, Foster stepped in and played 104 games with Cincinnati – hitting .241 in a combined 140 games but striking out 120 times, a total considered unsightly for that era.
Foster spent the 1972 season as a reserve after Tolan returned, appearing in just 59 games but earning a place in Reds history when he scored the series-clinching run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth of Game 5 of the NLCS against the Pirates.
The Reds sent Foster to Triple-A Indianapolis for most of the 1973 season, but he returned to Cincinnati fulltime in 1974 as a bench player. Then in 1975, Foster won the Reds’ left field job when Pete Rose was moved to third base.
Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum