Monday, March 11, 2013
769th Place - Tom Niedenfuer
I've expressed before on my other blog the strained relationship my family has with Tom Niedenfuer. I'll save you the time and assumed interest by summarizing it here.
My father was born in Brooklyn, NY, as was his father. They are/were lifelong Dodger fans. My father told me that his father claimed each generation of Dodger fan has a player who broke their hearts. For my grandfather that was certainly Ralph Branca.
For my dad, it's Tom Niedenfuer.
My dad has always been a bit superstitious when it came to rooting for his Dodgers. As a kid growing up in the 80's, I distinctly remember him avoiding the TV if the Dodgers were on. He claimed he was bad luck, that every time he watched them live they would lose (I should note he was stuck at a dinner party and not watching with my brother and I when Kirk Gibson parked a Dennis Eckersley slider into the right field bleachers in game one of the 1988 World Series).
When Niedenfuer gave up the improbable Ozzie Smith homer in 1985 (and later Jack Clark), that was it, he was dead to my Dad. I'm not sure that's fair to Niedenfuer, who has a pretty good perspective about it all, but that's the fickle world of fandom.
All that being said, I wasn't too thrilled when my favorite team, the Orioles, inherited my father's least favorite player of all time. And he would probably contend that it's no coincidence Niedenfuer was on the roster when the O's started the season 0-21 in 1988.
As for the card itself, I don't think it's family prejudice alone that has Niedenfuer ranked so low. This shot makes Niedenfuer look so emasculated I can hardly stand to look at it. The silly grin and awkward body pose are terrible. I do enjoy the fans lingering in the background, though.
Bonus trivia: Niedenfuer is married to Hollywood "actress" Judy Landers.