Friday, June 23, 2017

570th Place - Bruce Benedict

Card #652

Benedict, the longtime Atlanta catcher, was coming off his worst professional season when this card was printed.  In 1987 he hit a measly .147 and only had an OPS of .466.  But he lasted two more seasons, wrapping up his career in 1989.

Benedict is one of those guys who, when hearing his name, always brings me back to my childhood living room floor in the summer, baseball cards spread out before me, and listening to Skip Caray drone on while the Braves were getting blown out during a TBS game.  I LOVED watching baseball on TV as a kid, but Braves games were always so BORING.

Baseball is still a big part of the Benedict family.  His son Griffin is in his seventh season as the bullpen catcher for the Padres.  Bruce may or may not be still operating his own baseball academy.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

571st Place - Craig Lefferts

Card #734

I don't recall spending much time talking about one of the neat features of the 1988 Topps set - the "This Way To The Clubhouse" section on the back of the card. Lefferts' TWTTC story tells us he was a part of the mega Padres/Giants trade that went down on July 4, 1987.  In that trade the Giants got a future MVP (Kevin Mitchell) and the Padres got a future Cy Young (Mark Davis).  In fact, they both received their hardware for the 1989 season!  I can't imagine there are a whole lot of MVP for Cy Young trades in MLB history...

Lefferts spent the first nine years of his MLB career as a reliever until randomly shifting to the starting rotation in 1992.  He started 32 games that year (27 with San Diego, 5 with Baltimore) and recorded a nifty 3.76 ERA while doing so.  Not too bad for the bullpen stalwart!

Lefferts might be best known, however, as the last pitcher to hit a walk-off home run!  It happened way back in 1986...and he used Tony Gwynn's bat to do it!


Sunday, June 4, 2017

572nd Place - David Palmer

Card #732

On the back of Palmer's baseball card is a line break in the middle of his statistical accomplishments, right there in the slot for the 1983 season.  It reads:

"ON DISABLED LIST"

As a kid that was always slightly troubling to me.  On the disabled list?  For an entire year?  What happened?  In the 1980's this wasn't entirely common like it is in today's game.  The only thing scarier on the back of a card?

"DID NOT PLAY"

Why the heck didn't he play?  At least with an "on disabled list" you had a bit of an explanation.  But "did not play"???  That was very distressing.


Monday, May 29, 2017

573rd Place - Curt Young

Card #103

It's funny how one guy can spend an entire lifetime associated with one team, but Curt Young is one of those examples.

He was drafted by Oakland in 1981 and made his first appearance in the majors by 1983 and pretty much stayed with the big club through the 1991 season, split time in 1992 with the Royals and Yankees, and had his swan song back with the A's in 1993.

That also means Young was part of the 1988-1990 World Series teams in Oakland, though he only got an inning of work in the two World Series losses and did not appear in a game the year they won (1989).  Essentially, Young was the fifth starter that didn't sniff a postseason game with guys like Dave Stewart and Bob Welch around.

After his playing career he spent eight years coaching in the minors before getting promoted as the Athletic's pitching coach in 2004.  That lasted until 2011, when he spent a year in Boston in the same role.  But starting again in 2012 Young was back in Oakland, where he still serves today.

This card is kind of cool looking, though it feels overly zoomed-in for my preferences.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

574th Place - Terry McGriff

Card #644

I remember seeing this card as a kid and wondering if Terry McGriff was related to Fred.  Turns out...he was!  He's either a first or second cousin, depending on which website you find.  But his family connections don't end there.  He's also cousins (or uncle?) with Charles Johnson.  Wait - there's more!  Terry's dad played ball and roomed with Lou Brock in college.  That's a lot of baseball pedigree!

Terry was essentially the backup catcher in Cincinnati for the 1987 and '88 seasons before spending most of his time in the minors until 1994.  That year he was with the St. Louis Cardinals as their primary backup before the player's strike ended the season and McGriff's time in the majors.  He hung on at AAA for a couple of seasons before finishing out in the independent leagues.

I'm fascinated with two things on McGriff's card.  One, his wrapped bat.  Seeing a player or coach use a damaged bat during batting and fielding practice always intrigued me as a kid.  Two, there are two fans checking things out over his right shoulder.  I think it would be fun to start a binder with cards that have fans prominently featured in the background.  I wonder if those two ever found out they made it onto cardboard?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

575th Place - Manny Lee

Card #722

This past Christmas my folks gifted our family with a new computer.  It was a much needed upgrade.  Let's just say I might have still been using Window's Vista.  I assumed I would need a new scanner too, because it was always a grueling process on the old desktop.  Turns out, my scanner is awesome, it just stunk because the last computer was old as dirt.  I got Manny Lee here scanned and cropped in less than 60 seconds.
I always think of Lee as a utility infielder type, but he was actually a regular player for Toronto over most of his career.  He slid over to to shortstop when the Blue Jays traded away Tony Fernandez.  In fact, he was the starter on the World Series winning team in 1992.  Strangely, he was out of baseball before he turned 30, but he got his ring!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

576th Place - Jim Winn

Card #688

If you check the back of the card you see Jim Winn got traded to the Sox by the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for speedster Jim Cangelosi.  The Pirates got the better end of that deal, as Winn wouldn't even pitch for Chicago in 1988, his last in the big leagues.

Still, could you have a better last name than "Winn" if you're a pitcher?!  That has to be a confidence booster for your team.  "We've got a Winn in the lineup today, boys!"  "Just Winn, baby!"  "This guy really knows how to Winn."

I'm fascinated by the shirt he's wearing under his unbuttoned jersey.  I think that's the letter "n" but I have no idea what it could be.  I can't imagine the equipment manager is thrilled.  And the sleeves are sticking out from underneath too.  What a delightful mess.