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 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:

Monday, March 7, 2016

609th Place - Bob Brower

Card #252

Bob Brower was a speedster who climbed his way through the Rangers minor league system and broke out in a decent way in 1987, hitting 14 home runs in 303 at-bats. He slugged .452 and added 15 stolen bases.  He was already 27 years old, though, and would never sniff that kind of success again.  He got less playing time in 1988 for Texas and reemerged with the Yankees in 1989, his last season in the bigs.

Brower was quite the athlete in high school and college, though.  He lettered in four different sports his senior year, which included his first year in football.  He parleyed those talents to a spot on Duke University's football and baseball teams.

What did Brower do after baseball?  Well, he got an invite to come work for his former agent:  Scott Boras.  According to Brower, he was just Boras' third hired employee.  If his Wikipedia is still accurate, he's now Vice President of the Scott Boras Corporation.  A Duke grad working for Scott careful, he might be trolling us all!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

610th Place - Tim Stoddard

Card #359

I always knew Tim Stoddard and Kenny Lofton were the only two players in Major League history to play in both a World Series game and the NCAA Final Four in basketball, but I had no idea they were from the same high school.  How crazy is that!?!  Stoddard, though, is the only person to have won a World Series and the tournament.

While Lofton was a point guard, Stoddard's towering 6'7" frame made him a big man in the paint.  Indeed, his size is what most folks remember about him.  His typical walrus mustache only assisted in his oversized appearance, that's for sure.

I'm a Baltimore fan, so of course I think of him more in the orange and black instead of the pinstripes on this card.  He pitched through the 1989 season before calling it a career, and it was a respectable one at that.  He's done a few things since retiring, including a number of years as the pitching coach for Northwestern before being replaced last year.