Thursday, January 12, 2017

579th Place - Joel Skinner

Card #109

I've always had a soft spot for Joel Skinner, thanks to his 1985 "Father and Son" card with his dad, Bob.  Bob was a pretty good ballplayer back in the day, managing a couple of All-Star team appearances and even MVP votes in two separate seasons.  At 85 years old he's still alive and kicking!

Joel was less successful, making a career as a backup catcher over nine big league seasons.  Like many ex-catchers, though, he's spent most of his post-playing days as a manager and coach throughout professional baseball. He even got half a season of work as the manager of the Cleveland Indians back in 2002 when Charlie Manuel lost his job in a contract dispute.  Despite a fairly successful stint Skinner didn't land that job permanently.  He most recently coached in Winston-Salem.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

580th Place - Keith Hughes

Card #781

Happy Hughes Year's Eve, everybody!

Thank you for all the times you stopped by in 2016, and we'll see you again in 2017.

Monday, December 26, 2016

581st Place - Reid Nichols

Card #748

'Twas the day after Christmas
and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.
The stockings had stirrups,
a bat swung through the air,
all hoping Reid Nichols
would hit a ball way out there...

Enjoy the holidays everyone - peace on earth and goodwill towards baseball men...on cardboard...!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

582nd Place - Ed Romero

Card #37

If you can look past Ed Romero, you'll see a now extinct species:  the Montreal Expo.  1988 was pre-inter league games, so we can deduce this is a spring training match.

Most folks know the last Montreal Expo still playing in the major leagues is Bartolo Colon.  But wait...there might be another making a most improbable comeback!  Tomo Ohka just signed a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles!  He's 41 and has reinvented himself as a knuckle ball pitcher.  How awesome would it be if Ohka makes it back to the bigs!?

So what does this have to do with Ed Romero?  I'm trying desperately to tie all of this together - hang in there. Though I tend to think of Romero from his Milwaukee Brewers tenure, he did spend a few seasons on the Red Sox.  I've only seen one game at Boston's historic Fenway Park, and that was in 2001.  They played the Mariners, so I got to see Ichiro during his sensational debut season. But who was the starting pitcher for Boston that day?

Tomo Ohka.

Boom.  Minds blown.  Thank you Ed Romero and the faceless Expos behind you for this circular trip to nowhere.

Monday, December 12, 2016

583rd Place - Ray Searage

Card #788

Wow - this card was four slots from being the last in the set.  That's a close call!  Kinda reminds me of this.  (Sorry, I have Star Wars on the brain - I'm headed to Rogue One Thursday night!)

You gotta hand it to Ray Searage - he sure looks like a charismatic dude.  These kind of posed shots were never my favorite as a kid, but that's an infectious smile peaking out from behind that caterpillar lip.  The green trees, blue skies, white clouds...heck, I even detect a glimmer in his eyes!

It's almost enough to make me ignore the hideous hat he's wearing.  I know I've teed off on these hats before on the blog, but good lord, is there a worse hat in the history of MLB?  The cursive "c" that looks like an "e" is so repulsive!

Ray is still rocking a 'stache and smile these days - he's the pitching coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

584th Place - John Marzano

Card #757

You are not looking at John Marzano's rookie card here, because despite this being his first piece of cardboard with Major League stats on the back, Marzano was included in the famed "USA Olympics" series in the 1985 Topps set.

John Marzano was the epitome of Philadelphia sports, as he was born and raised there and played college ball at Temple before representing the United States at the Olympics and getting drafted in the first round by Boston in 1984.

Marzano never reached a talent level beyond backup catcher status, but he was known to be a clubhouse legend and if WAR could account for "team chemistry" his would certainly be good.  He's probably best remembered by Seattle Mariner fans for his stint there in the mid 90's...which included the time he decked Paul O'Neil!

After his playing days he latched on with local Philadelphia sports shows and would eventually start working at MLB.com when tragedy struck in 2008.  He fell down the stairs in his home and died as a result.  The coroner later determined he was intoxicated when the accident happened.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

585th Place - Mike Smithson

Card #554

Rocky Top, you'll always be, home sweet home to Mike Smithson.  Good ol' Rocky Top, Rocky Top Tennessee!

As a former employee of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, it always tickles me to come across alums of their program.  Smithson was born in Centerville and took his 6'8" frame to Knoxville to pitch for the Volunteers. (Supposedly he was the tallest pitcher ever in the majors until Randy Johnson came around.)  He was there at the same time as Rick Honeycutt - that must have been an intimidating starting rotation for the rest of the SEC.

Smithson's Wikipedia page makes reference to the fact that he pitched in the infamous longest game ever played, a minor league match that featured Rochester (Orioles affiliate) versus Pawtucket (Red Sox).  Mike appeared in the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth innings.  That game eventually ended after 32 innings and featured future Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Wade Boggs.

Though the Twins won it all in 1987 Smithson never appeared in the playoffs and he was released after the season, making this card moot.  That might have been because of his 5.94 E.R.A. that season.  He would go on to pitch for two more seasons, both in Boston, before hanging up his spikes.