As a devoted player collector for thirty years, it is hard not to be burdened with tunnel vision. So much has happened between the time I began collecting in 1990 to the time I stopped in 2015 … but I couldn’t name much of it unless it has to do with my player, Jose Canseco. I’ve seen many “can’t miss” prospects, well, MISS big.
Todd Van Poppel, the flame-thrower the A’s and everyone else wanted you to believe was the second coming of our baseball Jesus, Nolan Ryan.
Joba Chamberlain, a chubby kid whose hype and early numbers somehow suckered a collector into paying $5,000 dollars for his Bowman Chrome Superfractor.
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who grabbed so much attention that even I went out and overpaid for his 1998 Bowman Chrome rookie card.
Kevin Maas, however, was something totally different. He was a LIKEABLE New York Yankees rookie who put up big numbers in a shortened, 1990 season. He didn’t ask for the hype that followed but oh boy did it come hard and fast. Seriously, within months of his debut, professional, so-called journalists were comparing him to Mickey Mantle and wondering out loud if he was the man who would break Roger Maris’ single-season home run record.
Of course, Maas ended up flaming out. It should be noted that in his five years, Maas only played a full season once. He was never a coveted prospect and he was drafted in the 22nd round of the draft at the old age of 25. Kevin just happened to be a good-looking kid who started his career on a tear for the most revered team in the history of baseball. The unrealistic and unfair comparisons were bound to happen.
Kevin Maas’ most-coveted card during his early success was his classic, 1990 Upper Deck rookie. Surprisingly, he also had some Minor League cards in 1989 but the Upper Deck card is what every collector gravitated towards. It’s a damn shame Kevin has become a horror story of MLB failure because he really shouldn’t be. He was just a kid who for one season played well-above his reach and potential. He should be celebrated, not used as a scare tactic for young prospects.
Thankfully, Kevin Maas had one, final tribute in the form of trading cards thanks to 2017 Topps Archives. It is a card that could easily be picked up for under $5 dollars on eBay. I would understand a collector’s disappointment in pulling a Maas autograph instead of a bigger name but if every single card carries a story, Kevin Maas’ is one that is definitely worth reading.