Thursday, March 8, 2018

563rd Place - Fred Manrique

Card #437

Fred Manrique had every right to smile on the top step of the dugout when this card came out.  He had just completed his first full season in the big leagues after toiling in the minors for eight years.  The back of his card is a bit funky - he had four "cups of coffee" before 1987, including twice with Toronto (1981, 1984),  and once each with Montreal (1985), and St. Louis (1986).

Manrique is from Venezuela, and currently ranks 72nd all-time in games played by a Venezuelan. 

Manrique was also part of the trade that landed Sammy Sosa in Chicago...with the White Sox.  Manrique joined Harold Baines in 1989 in a trade to the Rangers, and Sosa was one of the players Texas sent back to the Pale Hose.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

564th Place - Rob Murphy

Card #603

When this card came out Rob Murphy had just enjoyed his second successful year as a lefty specialist in the Cincinnati bullpen.  He appeared in 87 games for the Reds, which is nothing to sneeze at.  He actually led the league with 76 in 1988 before being shipped off to Boston.

Murphy pitched through the 1995 season, hanging his spikes up just short of 600 career games pitched.  In his post-playing days he turned to the track...the horse track!  He breeds race horses through his company, M375 Thoroughbreds.  Apparently he has a proprietary computer program that helps him in his horse siring process.  Sounds romantic...?  Too bad he didn't play for the Phillies!  Ba-dum-bump...

This card is pretty neat, a nice casual look at spring training. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

565th Place - Thad Bosley

Card #247

Look at the sheer optimism of Thad Bosley in this picture.  I love it.  He's scanning the field and imagining which gap he'll slap the ball towards.

Bosley had a nice long career in the majors, mostly as a fourth outfielder/pinch-hitter type.  He broke into the majors in 1977 and played his final season in 1990.  In that span he played for seven different teams, so he was well traveled.

He spent a large part of his post-playing days as a coach at the major league and even university levels.  He was infamously dumped by the Texas Rangers in 2011 for bad communication with the hitters.

I hope you all have a great 2018 - thanks as always for taking time to visit the blog!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

566th Place - Mike Kingery

Card #532

Minnesota native Mike Kingery is next on the countdown.  He was coming off a pretty decent season for Seattle when this card hit the market.  He logged a lot of time in right field and notched a .778 OPS, which wasn't too shabby.

He bounced to the Giants in 1990 and actually spent the entire 1993 season in the minors for the Royals before joining the Rockies in the strike-shortened 1994 season, which was by far his best in the majors.  There's a great "catching up with..." article about his time with the Rockies you can read here.  It reveals he opened a baseball academy in  his post-playing days and that he has a fairly regular musical gig with his family.  That's quite the brood!

This is a nice looking baseball card.  Batting cage shots are always fun.  I'm guessing that's old Tiger Stadium?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Secret Santa - My Christmas Sweater is Argyle

This is the second year I participated in Matt's (Bob Walk the Plank) "Secret Santa" event, and I love it.  It's a lot of fun for a random collector to take a stab at what you like.  My "Secret Santa" this year was none other than Greg from Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle.  And he sent me a TON of stuff.  Here were my favorites:

Big cards!  These are the oversize 1990 Topps set.  How appropriate that "Big Ben" was one of the two he sent.  It's pretty obvious from my profile pic that I'm an Orioles fan, so Greg did an excellent job hooking me up.

Hall of Fame Orioles are the best Orioles.  These are my first Cooperstown cards, I've never pulled the trigger on these but I'm thankful to have Brooks in my collection.

Current Orioles studs!  Schoop  had a monster year last season, I'm hoping they sign him to an extension soon.  And I'd love to see Britton stay in the orange and black too.

The ghosts of Orioles past.  Nick Markakis was my favorite before we didn't re-sign him.  The greek god of kicking ass.  I'm wondering if Vlad will make the Hall next month...

Crush Davis.  He was a disaster last year, but man, when he's clicking he's a stud.  Let's hope he rebounds into the 50+ homer guy he used to be.  The O's will need it, especially if we lose Machado.  I totally have a man-crush on him.

Minis!  The black borders are special, right?  Adam Jones always looks good on cardboard.

This one made me laugh.  I'm assuming Greg found my non-baseball blog that recaps a Star Wars board game league I run.  The back of this card was blank, making me think this must be a box bottom or something.  I'll need to investigate.  Did you all like Episode VIII?  I wish they had trimmed about 30 minutes from the run time, but that back half of the movie was freaking great.

Cal Ripken is my second favorite Oriole ever (Eddie is my favorite), and I LOVE this card.  It's #25/125.  I love the face he's making tracking that pop fly. 

Another cool card!  These are part of Gausman's duds from his Team USA days.  Gausman had a rough first half last year but he was great in the second half.  If he can maintain that consistency he could enter Cy Young territory.

Speaking of LSU alums...Big Ben again!  Check out that signature!  #61 of 299.  Every year I order the MLB At-Bat app that lets you stream the radio announcers.  McDonald fills in a lot during the year and I love listening to that that Louisiana drawl.  I was pumped to get this!

Greg - thank you so much for these and all the rest you sent - you went way overboard and I loved it.  And thanks to Bob Walks the Plank for organizing this again - happy holidays everyone!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

My Favorite Card of 2017

Topps Now #W-46 (March 18)
Adam Jones

Hey - we interrupt this normally 1988 Topps blog for a quick diversion.  P-Town Tom is graciously holding a little contest for bloggers to post their favorite card from 2017.  Follow the link if you'd like to play too!

I knew which card was my favorite as soon as he asked.  As an Orioles fan 2017 was pretty miserable, but back in March baseball fans were abuzz with the World Baseball Classic.  On March 18th Team U.S.A. were battling the Dominican Republic for a spot in the semifinals.  They had a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth when Manny Machado absolutely crushed a ball into the deepest part of the ballpark.  His Baltimore teammate Adam Jones, manning center field for the United States, streaked across the outfield and made a herculean running leap.  At full extension over the wall and in a sea of American flags, Jones robbed his teammate!  Two of my favorite O's, battling head to head!  Machado tipped his helmet, the fans went nuts.  U-S-A!  U-S-A!!!

I never bought a Topps Now card before, but as soon as I saw the email advertisement in my inbox the next morning I pulled the trigger.

I love this card.  It is the best of 2017.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

567th Place - Mike Flanagan

Card #623

It is so disturbing to see Mike Flanagan in a Blue Jays uniform.

I'm a lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan and seeing Flanagan in anything but the orange and black is quite disorienting.  The 1979 Cy Young winner was traded to Toronto late in 1987 while they were in the AL East playoff hunt with the Detroit Tigers.  Flanagan played well, starting seven games down the stretch and pitching to a 2.37 ERA. 

He stayed in the Toronto starting rotation through the 1988 and '89 seasons but was released in May of 1990.  He was out of baseball for the rest of that year but re-signed with the Orioles in 1991 where he converted to a lefty reliever for the last two seasons of his career.

Flanagan spent most of his post-playing days working for the Orioles, including as a broadcaster and even the VP of Operations.  Sadly, he committed suicide in 2011 after battling depression and financial issues.

This can be a tough time of year for folks suffering depression or suicidal ideation.  Please don't hesitate to call the National Suicide Hotline if you or someone you love need to.  You are loved and they can help!