Thursday, December 6, 2018

555th Place - Steve Lake

Card #208

I love to look at the back of baseball cards, but that's almost always to scan the stats.  I love stats on baseball cards.  I love players with long careers that force the print to become nearly impossible to read (don't get me started on the modern Topps set truncating that...).

But I often forget to read the other stuff.  I'm glad I did with Steve Lake's card, because in early 1988, according to his card back, he claimed his home as Glendale, Arizona...which is exactly where I was born!

More specifically, I was born on Luke Air Force Base, back in the mid-70's.  My dad was a pilot in the Air Force, though at that time, he was sitting in the back seat of F-4's.  In fact, he was in the same squadron as "Sully" Sullenberger, the famed air line pilot who landed a plane on the Hudson river...which is a body of water...much like the last name of Steve Lake!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

556th Place - Tom Nieto

Card #317

I once wrote a rap inspired by Tom Nieto.

This is a true story.

You may or may not be aware of another blog I operate that details a reenactment of the 1984 baseball season using the old tabletop game Statis Pro Baseball.  After I play a couple of games I post a quick recap of the exciting aspects of the matches.

Anyway, as it so happens, Tom Nieto was the "player of the game" one time, and his last name reminded me of a line from Young M.C.'s "Bust a Move."  Hence, I wrote the recap around that particular verse.  You can embarrass me by reading it here.

Nieto came to the Twins with Jeff Reardon in 1987, the same year the Twinkies won it all.  From my research, though, it doesn't look like Nieto was on the World Series roster.  I think Sal Butera was backing up Tim Laudner at that point.  Nieto bounced between the minors and the majors through the 1990 season, and has had managing stints throughout the minors since then, though I couldn't find anything after 2013.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

557th Place - Bob Melvin

Card #41

From my blog to yours...Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm thankful for 1988 Topps, an underrated set in my opinion. 

I'm less thankful for my inability to figure out my new scanner.  Bob Melvin here doesn't look nearly as crisp as the actual card does when I hold it in my hand.  The colors definitely aren't as "warm" as the real cardboard, where you can practically feel the sunshine glowing from the card.

When this card was printed Melvin had finished year three of a ten year career as a mostly platoon or backup catcher in the majors.  1988 would be his last year in San Fransisco before going to the Baltimore Orioles.  I'm a huge O's fan and have zero recollection of his time in Baltimore which I'm sure says more about me than Melvin.

Melvin, of course, has made a much bigger name for himself as a manager.  He just completed his eighth season at the helm of the Oakland Athletics.  In fact, he won manager of the year in 2018 for their impressive 97-65 season.  That marked the third manager of the year award for Melvin, and we might have to start thinking of him as a future Hall of Famer...

Did you know Baseball-Reference has manager pages in addition to player pages?  I didn't!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

558th Place - Astros Leaders

Card #291

New card type alert!!!

Yes, this is the first "team leaders" card featured on the countdown.  Generally speaking, I like these kind of cards.  Modern Topps sets use these kind of shots for checklist cards instead of season reviews like the 1988 set.  The cheesy smokey frame technique felt high tech in the 80's.

On the front you have outfielders Kevin Bass and Billy Hatcher.  There's some cool symmetry happening here with the mirrored ear flaps on the helmets and the bats resting on opposite shoulders.  Bass had one of the best mustache-smile combos of the decade while Hatcher is keeping it cool.

I just don't think they were the Astros "leaders", though I guess it depends on what you define as a leader.  The back of the card features the statistical leaders on both offense and the mound.  Hatcher is listed three times (runs, stolen bases, and average) while Bass is listed just once (triples).  But if you like stats, Bass and Hatcher were just sixth and seventh on the team in WAR according to Baseball-Reference.  The top two leaders were Mike Scott and Nolan Ryan.  Though Ryan only had an 8-16 record, he led the league in strikeouts and ERA.  Bill Doran was the top hitter on the team, Glenn Davis the top slugger, and all-time Houston great Jose Cruz was still on the team.

None of this is meant as a knock on Bass and Hatcher, who both had solid campaigns in 1987.  But wouldn't a pic of Ryan and Cruz look so much cooler?

Saturday, October 6, 2018

559th Place - Jerry Hairston

Card #281

I just installed a new printer/copier/scanner at home.  It replaces the device I've been using for the past 10+ years so I was excited to see how the scanning would look.  Jerry Hairston was my first test subject.

What do you think?  I honestly think the colors are a bit drowned out compared to the card when I'm holding it in my hand.  I wonder if I need to dive into adjusting the color settings?  I don't think that will end well...

This card essentially marks the end of Hairston's career.  He got into five more games in 1988 and 1989 (not sure what the story is there) before hanging up his spikes.  He played a ton of years, though, mostly as a professional pinch-hitter.  You don't see those types of guys anymore now that modern day rosters are so stuffed with relievers.  Jerry's son also had a nice big league career as he bounced around several teams over 16 years. 

I'm going to throw in a gratuitous product placement label for those glorious Wilson batting gloves.  But the pinnacle of this card is Hairston's wire-framed BluBlockers.  So much yellow!  Reminds me of this:

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

560th Place - Joey Meyer

Card #312

Happy 4th of July everyone!  Since today has a theme of "stars and stripes" about a Future Star!?

Enter Joey Meyer...who never became a MLB star and continues that theme with the Future Stars of the 1988 set.

You can't blame Topps for tagging Meyer with the moniker, though.  Through four seasons in the minors Meyer jacked 120 home runs.  He played for Milwaukee in 1988 but only logged a modest 11 homers in 103 games.  The Hawaiian sensation would start 1989 with the big club too but was back down to Triple A before the season was done.

He went to Japan in 1990 and did well there, once again finding his power stroke.  1991 would be his last professional season, back in Triple A but not the majors.

Here's a link to an amusing story about a moonshot Meyer launched in Denver during the 1987 season.  It's well worth the read.  Have a great Independence Day!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

561st Place - Felix Fermin

Card #547

I'm sure most of you reading this post are already aware of the sad news - Bob Walk the Plank is stepping away from his blog.  And he's doing it for all the right reasons so we can't even be mad at him! 

I'm not a hardcore collector or trader in the hobby blog universe but Matt is always a welcoming and encouraging presence online.  I loved participating in the Secret Santas and will definitely miss those.  So in his honor I slid Felix Fermin back a few spots than I originally intended because it's important to hoist a Jolly Roger in his honor!

Fermin was coming off his rookie year when this card was printed.  He'd spend a couple of more seasons as a Pirates utility infielder before going to Cleveland and becoming a regular at shortstop and other spots around their infield.  His career spanned ten seasons, which wasn't too bad for a career .600 OPS.

He has spent most of his post-playing career as a manger in various Latin American leagues and currently coaches a minor league team in the Mexican leagues.