Tuesday, November 24, 2015

623rd Place - Frank DiPino

Card #211

I've come to the realization that the cards I'm posting now aren't terrible.  Somewhere in the last couple of dozen posts I've moved from "active dislike" to "this ain't bad, all things considered..."  This Frank DiPino card certainly qualifies under the latter opinion.  Frank has a nice smile, and there's something endearing about the cinder block wall he's standing in front of.  It helps the red, white, and blue design pop even more.

One thing I noticed on this card is the lowercase "i" in DiPino's last name.  It makes for a funky look when your chosen font is in all-caps.

DiPino had a good career in the bigs, with cups of coffee in 1981 and 1982 before sticking for good with the Astros in 1983 and even finishing sixth in rookie of the year voting.  He became a journeyman lefty out of the bullpen, usually with some success.  His last year in the majors was 1993.

You can find him these days in his native Syracuse, teaching at the Perfect Practice baseball facility.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

624th Place - Stan Jefferson

Card #223

If we are to believe Jefferson's Wikipedia page, his life is full of unexpected plot twists, taking him from prospect to villain, and then to hero.

Jefferson was a first round pick of the New York Mets, twentieth overall, in the 1983 draft.  The 1983 draft is one of the weaker draft classes in MLB history with the exception of one particular player:  Roger Clemens.  And when did Clemens get drafted by the Red Sox?  19th.  I wonder if the Mets had Jefferson rated above or below Clemens on their board...

Jefferson came to the Padres in the big trade of December, 1986, along with Kevin Mitchel and Kevin Brown, for Kevin McReynolds (that's a lot of Kevins).  This particular piece of cardboard, which is a fine looking card, came after Jefferson's best season.  1987 was the only year he played regularly, and he used his speed to his advantage with seven triples and 34 stolen bases.  He bounced around after that, finally ending his time in the big leagues in 1991.  That is, until he became a scab player for the New York Mets during the 1995 player's strike.

He redeemed himself from this sin when he joined the New York City Police Department in 1997.  As fate would have it, he was one of the responding officers during the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.  That experience has left him physically and emotionally scarred.

Stan Jefferson is certainly a hero, just not the baseball variation we might have expected in 1988...

Saturday, November 7, 2015

625th Place - Drew Hall

Card #262

Drew Hall was the third overall pick in the 1984 draft.  Do you know who the Cubs picked up in the second round? Greg Maddux.  Things always look clearer in the rear view mirror.  Do you know who the Cubs could have drafted instead, who also threw the ball left-handed? Tom Glavine.  Or Al Leiter.  Or even Terry Mulholland or Norm Charlton.  Seven picks after Hall the Oakland Athletics grabbed Mark McGwire.  Let's all close our eyes and imagine McGwire hitting home runs onto Wayland Ave a few hundred times...

I mean no disrespect to Drew Hall or the Cubs, of course. At 6'4" and 200 lbs, Hall was a big lefty out of Morehead State and played for Team USA on the famous 1984 Olympics squad.  I'm sure he looked promising.  And every draft is a crap shoot to some degree.  It's strange to me that baseball, after all of these decades, still has the most unpredictable success with drafts in all of professional sports.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

626th Place - Bill Wegman

Card #538

Trick or treat
Smell my feet
Wegman's not known
For his heat.

Happy Halloween Topps fans - I'm a little annoyed my viewing of game four of the World Series tonight is going to be constantly interrupted by candy-crazy kids.  I'm even more annoyed that I'm interested in watching, as the Mets and especially this Royals team are of no interest to me. But they're playing some pretty good ball against each other, and I'm getting sucked in by it.  I will be rooting, though, for the combined batting average of both teams in this game to be at .278, my pick for Nightowl's generous contest.

Do you think Wegman ever dressed up as Dirty Harry for Halloween?  Maybe it's just me, but I think it looks like Clint Eastwood just put on a Milwaukee jersey and asked hitters if they felt lucky.  Well, do ya, punks?

Wegman spent all eleven of his seasons as a Brewer, starting over 200 games for them in that span.  Minus a two year span in 1991-92, he was never particularly good, but he was durable and present, which are skills in and of themselves.  Here's a link where he shares his Christian testimony.  Maybe that's appropriate for a night like this...

Friday, October 23, 2015

627th Place - John Christensen

Card #413

Christensen is a ballplayer who came oh-so-close to being a part of both teams from the 1986 World Series.  He spent time in the majors and minors for the Mets in 1985, and was then traded to the Red Sox that off season in the same deal that sent Calvin Schiraldi to Boston.  But Christensen spent all of 1986 in Pawtucket, stuck in AAA ball while Bean Town tried to erase their Babe Ruth curse. Alas, we know how that turned out...

He did find success in his college days, winning the World Series with Cal-State Fullerton in 1979 on a team that included future big leaguers Tim Wallach and Andre David.

I think this is a pretty good looking baseball card, it's only ranked so low due to the obscurity of the player featured. No offense meant towards Mr. Christensen...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

628th Place - Bill Dawley

Card #509

I've mentioned before that my other blog revolves around the board game Statis Pro Baseball and my attempt to replay the 1984 season.  I've played roughly 20% of the season so far, and one of the very best relievers has been Bill Dawley, who in the real 1984 had a filthy year coming out of the Houston Astros bullpen.  In that campaign he posted a 1.93 ERA in 98 innings, including eleven wins and five saves.  The year prior, 1983, Dawley made the All-Star team as a rookie, despite starting the year in the minor leagues.  He relieved Atlee Hammaker, who got shelled in the game.

Dawley would only play twelve more games between the 1988 and 89 seasons at the major league level before retiring.  If I'm not mistaken, you could talk to him about securing a mortgage these days.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

629th Place - Mark Ryal

Card #243

Ryal was born in the mighty metropolis of Henryetta, OK. He's spent a large portion of his post-playing days as a women's softball coach.  After a stint as an assistant coach at Auburn and South Alabama, he returned to his native Oklahoma and the OSU team.

Ryal the player was your classic AAA minor leaguer who struggled to stick in the majors.  He eventually ended up in Japan for a couple of years in the early 90's.  What's crazy is that his son, Rusty, has had almost the same kind of trajectory.  Rusty has the distinction of being the last major league hitter to take Randy Johnson deep.

Still, though, this is a sharp looking card.  The 3D effect of the bat in front of the team name is cool, and the Angels have one of the better color designs in the set.  If you'd like to connect with Mark on social media, try his LinkedIn account.