Monday, May 30, 2016

603rd Place - Rafael Santana

Card #233

By the time this card came out Santana was still playing in New York...just across town in the Bronx.  He played the 1988 season for the Yankees but missed all of 1989 due to an elbow injury.  He caught on with the Indians to start the 1990 season but was released just a few weeks into the year and called it a career.

But that's not what you remember Santana for.  No, you probably recall him as the starting shortstop for the 1986 World Series winning New York Mets.  He played in all seven games and batted .250, which is about all the Mets could have expected from him.  He was known for his glove, finishing in the top three in fielding percentage in the National League between 1985 and 1987.

The New York Daily News caught up with him last year and Santana has done well for himself post-retirement.  He works for the Chicago White Sox as the head of player development in his native Dominican Republic.  His son, Alexander, plays in the minor leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This isn't a bad looking card, but my copy is blurry, which I'm not sure if it that's a printing press issue or how all of his cards looked in this set.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

604th Place - Ken Dayley

Card #234

In 1984 the Atlanta Braves lost their slugging third baseman, Bob Horner, for the season due to an injury and needed to figure something out on the fly.  They had a young lefty starter by the name of Ken Dayley who was struggling to find success at the major league level.  The Cardinals had a hot shot rookie by the name of Terry Pendleton who was ready to take over the hot corner from Ken "Obi-Wan" Oberkfell.  St. Louis pulled the trigger and netted Dayley (and Mike Jorgensen) for Oberkfell, and it ended up being an excellent deal for St. Louis.  Ken Dayley became St. Louis' best left-handed reliever for the next seven years, including post-season runs in 1985 and 1987.

Dayley is one of about thirty or so players to reach the majors having been born in the great state of Idaho.  Can you name the most famous ball player from Idaho?*

Dayley has an unusual claim to fame in relation to Tommy John surgery.  Having gone down in the 1986 season with the surgery, he was miraculously back pitching in St. Louis just seven months later.  It appears he wasn't exactly following doctor's orders...

Dayley and his family have become fixtures in St. Louis.  His daughter did television news and Dayley himself now plies his trade in real estate.

*Harmon Killebrew

Saturday, April 23, 2016

605th Place - Curt Wilkerson

Card #53

Alright, time for an epic debate.

Do you think of Mr. Wilkerson as "Curt" or "Curtis"?  In my mind it's always Curtis, but Topps is throwing me for a loop here.

What do you think?

Curt/Curtis was a scrappy middle-infielder type, and a short one at that.  The back of his card lists him at 5'9".  That's one of the reasons I love baseball - all the different player shapes and sizes.  I associate him with the Rangers but he did get some playoff time with the Cubs in 1989 and the Pirates in 1991.

You have to appreciate the action shot captured here, as the bat has a certain bend to it compliments of the shutter speed.  I'm not sure, though, how Curt/Curtis feels about having a popup immortalized on cardboard like this...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

606th Place - Jeff Reed

Card #176

Here's a great profile shot of the Expos' batting helmets. The tri-colored look is pretty unique in the annals of baseball history.  It looks good, especially with the blue and red piping on the white uniform.

You can also see Jeff Reed's batting glove in his back left pocket, which he's clearly not using while swinging the bat. I guess he used it for his catcher's mitt?

Jeff Reed had an incredibly long career, almost exclusively as a backup catcher.  Debuting in 1984, he played his last game with the Cubs in 2000.  That's a heck of a career.   Over 17 years in the pros he hit a respectable .250 with an OPS of .695.

By the time this card was printed, Reed was a Cincinnati Red, where he had his two biggest career accomplishments.  In 1990 he was part of the World Series winning team.  But before that, in 1988, was the catcher for Tom Browning's perfect game!  Browning credits him as a major factor in his performance that day.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Writing About Eddie Murray on Another Blog!


Hello friends of 1988 Topps!  Over on Camden Chat, the best Baltimore Orioles blog on the interwebs and an affiliate of SB Nation, I was lucky enough to contribute an article for their 24 hour marathon countdown to the Orioles first game of the season.  My topic?  "The 10 Best Eddie Murray Baseball Cards Ever."  I've actually got two cards from the 1988 Topps set included on the list, so click on over to take a look!  If you miss it while it's listed on the front page you'll be able to find it here.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

607th Place - Brian Dayett

Card #136

This card showcases something so awesome, I want you to take a minute and see if you can spot what I'm talking about.  Go ahead, take a look.

Do you see it?

That's right...stirrup socks.  Dayett is rocking his so high and tight that you can see the space between the taught strap and his ankle.  That's glorious.

Stirrups always remind me of little league baseball.  Few things were so vexing yet exciting for a kid.  I had no idea what the practical purpose of a stirrup was.  My feet were small and skinny as a kid, so it wasn't uncommon for them to ride up over my heal and out of my cleat.  But pulling those bad boys up came with a palpable thrill.  Stirrups meant this wasn't one of the endless practices after school.  Stirrups meant this wasn't your dad taking you to a weed infested field on Saturday morning to hit grounders to you.  Stirrups meant it was GAME DAY!  Stirrups meant you got to wear your jersey too!  Stirrups meant...you had to find a pair of all-white tube socks or you were going to look stupid with a pattern or color.

If I were the MLB Commissioner for a day my first decree would be pants can't be longer than mid-calf, and everyone has to wear stirrups.  Who's with me?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

608th Place - Jeff Robinson

Card #244

This is the other Jeff Robinson.

This Jeff Robinson played in the majors for nine years, mostly as a relief pitcher.  Robinson is lucky to be captured in a Pirates uniform for this pic, because he had just been traded during the season for Rick Reuschel, who got the airbrush treatment.  Robinson got into 81 games in 1987, and was good in most of them, finishing the season with a sub-3.00 ERA.

Robinson was a tall right-handed pitcher who played his high school and college ball in Fullerton, CA.  It's hard to find much on him on the interwebs, mostly because the other Jeff Robinson passed away and that story seems to clog the search engines.

Here is a youtube video, though, of Robinson talking about his college days: