Saturday, July 30, 2016

600th Place - Luis Polonia

Card #238

Hello friends - I'm back to blogging.  The most annoying thing about doing an in-town move is that it requires all the same steps as moving across the country.  You have to slowly pack everything, load it onto trucks and vans, and then slowly unpack all of it and find a place for everything. But we're just about settled in and I'm thankful for that.

I did some housekeeping for the blog too!  First, you might notice a new font.  In the last couple of months I realized I was using the same one as Night Owl.  It was completely unintentional but I didn't want to look like a poser.  Second, I did something I should have before I made my first post!  I hadn't verified all 792 cards were in my factory set box.  In the past I've discovered a card or two missing.  Rest easy, loyal readers, all are accounted for.  I also spent some time reordering which cards will come next on the countdown.

So that brings us to the card I ranked #600 on the list, a milestone number to be sure.  And I'll be honest, I actually really like the look of it, and on top of that, it's Luis Polonia's rookie card.  But Polonia falls into the same category as Mel Hall - somebody whose personal issues should have made him appear closer to the bottom of these rankings.

Back in 1989 Polonia was convicted of sleeping with a minor.  I remember when my dad and I would see him on TV or walking up to the plate at a ballgame we would say things like, "Luis 'do you have any daughters?' Polonia," or, "Luis 'how old are you?' Polonia."  We would kind of laugh, but in retrospect...what a creep!  I'm a late bloomer when it comes to being a feminist, but having three daughters has helped me realize what a terrible place men often make the world for women.  We weren't as enlightened back then, but if that happened now it's hard to imagine a team willing to endure the PR nightmare that would come by still employing him.

Polonia has the distinction of being scouted and signed to the A's out of the Dominican Republic by Juan Marichal.  My dad is a die-hard Dodgers fan and thinks Marichal should still be in prison for what he did to John Roseboro.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

601st Place - Tom O'Malley

Card #77

I want to break from my normal format and draw attention to a situation many of you are probably aware of, but just in case you aren't, here you go...

A few years ago the very first baseball card blog I found on the interwebs was Kevin over on "Orioles Card 'O' the Day."  I'm an Orioles fan too, and somehow stumbled onto his site.  It is an AWESOME baseball card blog.  And Kevin was my "gateway drug" to other sites.  It's because of Kevin I know that night owls aren't just birds, that Bob walks the plank, that there's something special about plays at the plate, and he's the reason the 1988 Topps Tim Wallach All-Star card will be ranked so high on this countdown.  In other words, I know all of you and the tremendous world of baseball card blogs because of Kevin.

Again, most of you are aware, but Kevin and his wife are going through a heck of a situation right now.  They're expecting their first child together all while his wife is battling cancer.  As a husband and father of three I can't imagine my wife having cancer, let alone while she's with child.  Their insurance isn't the greatest when it comes to covering the expenses of all this, so I wanted to dedicate this Tom O'Malley entry as a link to their GoFundMe page.  (And Tom O'Malley is a former Oriole so it's kind of related...right?)  Maybe we can all skip a trip to the card aisle this week and help Kevin instead?

Anyway - thank you Kevin for doing what you do, and thank you everyone else for taking the time to visit this site.  My family is moving into a new house in the next couple of weeks so I have to pack my cards for now.  I'll get back to posting once we've finished relocating.  God bless you all!




Saturday, June 4, 2016

602nd Place - Ted Power

Card #236

"I've got the power!!!"

If that wasn't Ted Power's entrance music starting in 1990, what a wasted opportunity...

By the time this card came out Ted Power was no longer a Red.  He was traded to the Royals with Kurt Stillwell for Danny Jackson.  Jackson would become a prominent member of the 1990 World Series winning rotation for Cincinnati, so that worked out better for the Reds than it did Power.

Power rose through the loaded Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system as a starting pitcher but got converted to a reliever once he reached the majors.  It took a couple of years to adjust, but he got the hang of it.  In 1984 he led the NL in games and had a 2.82 ERA and then in 1985 he was used more as a closer, notching 27 saves.

But in 1987, the most recent year on the back of this card, he was suddenly a starting pitcher again.  He went 10-13 with a 4.50 ERA and split time as a starter and reliever in 1988 for the Royals and Tigers.

Power has the unusual distinction of starting a game in the post season while only appearing as a reliever during the regular season.  Power bounced around until his career ended after the 1993 season.  There's a great interview with him here highlighting his career and, specifically, his time with the Cleveland Indians.

I like Ted Power, but this card is kind of "meh" to me.

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.