Wednesday, December 25, 2013

700th Place - Mark Williamson

Card #571

I'm not going to lie, I've been delaying this one from the countdown because I've got a soft spot for Mark.

The truth is, this is a pretty bland and uninteresting card.  Between the weird angle and bad background, this card has almost nothing going for it.

As I've said before, though, I'm an Orioles fan.  As a kid I discovered the mailing addresses you could use to send cards to the actual teams in hopes your card would be signed and returned.  I was too scared to try it out with one of my Eddie Murray's or Cal Ripken's, so I used a Mark Williamson card to test the waters.  The card below came back to me months later, and man, I was pretty jazzed to get it!  Thank you Mark Williamson!

Thanks to everyone who stops by to read these posts - have a Merry Christmas.  Christ the Lord is born!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

701st Place - Bill Pecota

Card #433

I'm assuming it's poor printing quality, but there's a strange, faint indigo line shadowing Bill's face here.

Whenever I hear somebody refer to this pecota I always think of Bill Pecota.  I wonder if some GM ever ran pecota analysis on Pecota.  It's so meta!

I'll go ahead and reward Bill a gratuitous product placement for that fine Wilson batting glove.  The sun is shining too brightly to make out the billboards over Bill's shoulder. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

702nd Place - Scott Bailes

Card #107

If you click on the Indians label on the right of the page you'll notice most of these cards are from the same spring training photo shoot.  And just like the others, this one is B-O-R-I-N-G.

Scott had and interesting career as a journeyman mop-up guy/spot-starter.  After a disastrous year pitching for the Angels in 1992, he was stuck in the minors for five years before reemerging with the Rangers in 1997.  That's a long time to hold onto your dream.  By the end of 1998, though, he'd be out of baseball for good.

Scott Bailes claims Springfield, MO as his hometown, and went to what was then called Southwest Missouri State University.  This tickles me because I lived there and worked for the school for a small time during my own career.  Scott has done announcing duties for the Cardinals' double-A team in Springfield and even served a term on the city council.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

703rd Place - Jose Oquendo

Card #83

I've got nothing against Jose Oquendo.  As a son of parents who grew up in St. Louis I've always had a bit of favoritism towards the Red Birds.  But that look on Jose's face is kind of goofy. 

What do you think is happening off camera? 
A) Ozzie Smith didn't land the flip.
B) Jack Clark is trying to convince folks future Cardinals first basemen are on steroids.
C) Vince Coleman is playing with fireworks.

Oquendo has been a coach in the minors and majors pretty much since he retired, and always seems to be a finalist for managerial openings without ever having been selected.  I've always wondered if that is related to his Puerto Rican heritage and the trouble Latino candidates have had securing the title of "Skipper."

Oquendo represents the first Cardinals player on the countdown.  For more Oquendo fun, here's a humorous bit the Sklar twins did for ESPN a few years back:

Monday, November 25, 2013

704th Place - Mark Ciardi

Card #417

Confession time.  I'm terrible with technology.  I'm a slow learner, it's not intuitive to me...I can really struggle with it.  I like it just fine, it just doesn't seem to like me.

I say all of this because it's been four weeks since I've posted last.  The reason it's been so long is that my scanner broke.  Or rather, the HP Solution Center link on my desktop broke.  It's done that multiple times over the years.  I'm not sure why, but every few months it goes on the fritz.  I used to pay for an online service that rhymes with "Squeak God" whenever I needed to fix it, but due to a horrific customer service encounter I vowed to never give them my money again.

That didn't help me fix the scanner, though.

So tonight, I overcame fear and anxiety, logged onto the HP support site, and tried to fix it myself.  Lo and behold, it worked!  And thank God it did, because we wouldn't be staring at Mark Ciardi if it hadn't.

Here's something crazy, though.  For the first time when google searching a player for a write up, an IMDB page was listed before Baseball-Reference!  Turns out Ciardi has enjoyed a nice career in Hollywood as a movie producer.  Even more fun, most of his movies seem to be sports oriented.  Check out the link and list your favorite movie he's produced in the comments below!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

705th Place - Jeff Hamilton

Card #62

Ouch.  I'm reading the back of Hamilton's card, and in 1987 he had one RBI in 83 at-bats.  That's not good.

Neither is this card.

As a kid in the 80's I remember the forced transition to the ear flap helmet.  The angle of this particular photograph makes it look quite dorky.  Why pose for a profile shot in your helmet and not your cap?

Hamilton was a fringe player that hung around a handful of years with L.A., but he did get his World Series ring with the 1988 team.  Here's a decent summation of his career.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

706th Place - Mike Maddux

Card #756

We're going to add a new label for this one:


We all know Mike as Greg's big brother and as a well regarded pitching coach.  He's also floated his name out there for the open Tigers managerial job. 

Mike bounced around quite a bit in the bigs, though he did manage to pitch through the 2000 season.  Still, this card is bland.

Who's that standing behind Maddux?  That would be reigning Cy Young winner Steve Bedrosian.  Way to class it up, Maddux! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

707th Place - Chris Brown

Card #568

There are so many treasures in this card - let's begin.

The hefty bag shirt under the jersey.  This is one of the fashion mysteries of 70's/80's era baseball.  Can you imagine wearing that in San Diego in the middle of summer?  You'd have a heat stroke.

The wristbands.  These were another staple of late 80's/early 90's diamond style.  They were charity related - here's a fun look back at them.

The jersey number necklace.  I poked around on his Baseball-Reference page and it looks like he wore #35 on every team he played for.  I was wondering if this might be an airbrush since many of the players involved in Brown's mid-1987 trade suffered that fate in this Topps set.  The necklace doesn't provide any clues on that front.

The primary reason I have Brown ranked so low is how poorly the picture is centered.  I'm assuming he's down a foul line at old Jack Murphy Stadium.  That green concrete wall adds nothing to the card.  Sadly, after a failed professional career, surviving the Iraq war as a contracted driver, and setting his house on fire, he died of burns back in 2006.  At least he wasn't the worst guy out there with the name Chris Brown.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

708th Place - Ross Jones

Card #169

This card has always faked me out.  Even tonight, as I pulled the card out to scan it, Ross Jones fooled me again.  When I look at this picture I automatically assume it's a pitcher's pose.

Wrong!  Ross Jones is a shortstop!

This is, I believe, the only Topps card ever made for Jones.  At 27 years old in 1987 Ross got his third and final cup of coffee in the majors.  He hit an empty .254 over 39 games.  He lasted one more season in AAA but hung up the spikes after that.

Ross Jones wrote about Ross Jones previously, but not the Ross Jones you're thinking of.  Or the other Ross Jones you're thinking of.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

709th Place - John Mitchell

Card #207

"Late last night
John gave up a grand slam
That Philadelphia Phillie
Took him way deep man

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've
Thrown till it's gone
They put his arm on ice
Ball landed in a parking lot

They put his arm on ice
Ball landed in a parking lot"

Big Yellow Taxi, by John Mitchell

Monday, September 23, 2013

710th Place - Jimmy Jones

Card #63

When I was a kid, I didn't think there was anything cooler than a jersey material shirt with the holes like Mr. Jones here is sporting.  Oh man, I thought I was pretty boss when they'd pass out the recycled little league jerseys each season.  My mom would never let me wear it except for game days, of course, but I loved the feel of those shirts. 

Jimmy played eight seasons in MLB but I hardly remember any of it.  His name reminds me of this, though.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

711th Place - Mike Trujillo

Card #307

Between third and fifth grade, I lived in the Tacoma-Seattle area.  I've got a soft spot in my heart for the Mariners, especially the awful 1980's era teams.  Their uniforms have been, and probably always will be, a mess.  I'm not into their current iteration of turquoise and navy blue.  I prefer the blue and yellow genre more, but even I can admit the "S" logo is the worst they've ever sported.  This has to be the least inspired hat in the history of MLB.

None of this, of course, is Mike Trujillo's fault.  What's Mike been up to these days?  How about State Farm Insurances salesman!  Like a good neighbor, Trujillo is there.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

712nd Place - Larry Andersen

Card #342

Everyone knows Larry Andersen as the guy Houston traded that brought over Jeff Bagwell from Boston.  That's an unfair burden for Andersen to be saddled with.  I remember Andersen being regarded as one of the funniest guys in baseball during his playing days, so he probably handles it just fine.

How about that gold chain?  I never understood why players would want to wear a necklace while playing ball.  It seems gaudy and terribly distracting.  I've had fantasies where I get to be a big league manager and one of my club rules would be no necklaces.  I'm sure that's one of many reasons I've never been afforded the opportunity.

Monday, September 16, 2013

713th Place - Rick Reuschel

Card #660

Let's have a moment of silence.  Unless I'm mistaken, this will be our last airbrushed card of the set. 


Ok, back to the post.  Reuschel was one of several players to come to San Francisco during the 1987 season as the Giants ended up winning the NL West.  (Not coincidentally we saw Kevin Mitchell and Dave Dravecky with airbrushes too.)  They got bounced by the Cardinals in the playoffs.

Reuschel was having a dominant go of it when he was traded from Pittsburgh.  While with the Pirates that season he started 25 games and recorded a 2.75 ERA. He wasn't quite as successful after the trade but he still tied for the league lead in complete games and shutouts.  The combined effort was good enough for a third place Cy Young finish (even though he had the second most first place votes).  It was a weird year for Cy Young as, on the surface, no one pitcher seemed truly dominant.  Steve Bedrosian won the award as a closer, but I'd argue Nolan Ryan deserved since he led the league in strikeouts and ERA.  Ryan must have lost a lot of support because of his 8-16 record.

Anyway, the thing that impresses me most about Reuschel's season is that he was 38 years old for most of it.  I was looking  at the lines around his eyes and the self-assurance in his gaze and thought, wow, what a great year for such an advanced age!  That's when it hit me that I myself just recently turned 38.  I can't imagine playing any sport professionally at this age!  And I certainly don't want to believe that some kid could be looking at baseball card of me and noticing the passage of time I've experienced based on my physical appearance.

Aging is such a bizarre experience. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

714th Place - Ed Lynch

Card #336

This isn't a particularly flattering picture of Lynch to start with, but fixate your eyes to his belt line.

Hello there Mr. Drawstring!  How's it hanging?  Limp and from the bellybutton?  That's...pretty gross.

According to his wikipedia page, he's been known to have let others try on his 1986 World Series ring from the Mets.  What I don't understand, though, is that he only played one game for New York that year before arriving in Chicago...

Friday, September 13, 2013

715th Place - Chuck Tanner

Card #134

It's too bad we can't see who Tanner is talking to in this picture.  I can make out a letter "M" (maybe) and some feathered brown hair.  Rick Mahler?  Dale Murphy even?  It is odd they have a different color jersey on, unless it's a warm-up jacket.

Tanner is best known as the skipper of the "We Are Family" '79 Pirates, who defeated my Baltimore Orioles much to my retroactive chagrin.  Sadly, Tanner passed away in 2011.

"There are three secrets to managing. The first secret is have patience. The second is be patient. And the third most important secret is patience."  - C. Tanner

Thursday, September 12, 2013

716th Place - Jeff Montgomery

Card #447

My dad is an airline pilot.  I grew up on Air Force bases, and in the 8th grade he left military service to fly commercially.  He's 64 years old now and less than a year from the mandatory retirement age.

When my dad had to get his picture taken for his airline ID badge, we razzed him pretty good for the fake smile he was flashing.  It has become family tradition to call less than authentic grins "airline smiles."

I think Jeff Montgomery is giving us an airline smile.

This is Jeff's rookie card, and he deserves a higher rank in this countdown considering that fact and the stellar career he had.  He was a three time all-star with over 300 saves, all with the Royals.  He even finished in 13th place in the AL MVP race when he led the league in saves with 45.

But I'm still not buying that smile.  Compare it to his Twitter page.  I need more sincere emotion Jeff!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

717th Place - Randy St. Claire

Card #279

If I could start this blog over, I'd include a label for cards with spring training light poles in the background.  And maybe one for hamburger meat poking up from under the jersey.

Randy St. Claire is the pitching coach for the Mets' Triple-A team, the Las Vegas 51's.  I had no idea there was a high-level minor league team named after aliens.  Who knew this was viable baseball gear?  I feel like somebody is pranking me with their team website.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

718th Place - Dale Sveum

Card #592

This Dale Sveum card forces us to ponder a classic philosophical question of the heart:

Is it better to have loved and lost, or to never have loved at all?

Or, is it better to have posed for an awesome baseball card photo and blown it, or to settle for a boring head shot?

I love so much about this card.  The framing, with Dale's body covering the left edge and the bat pointing to the upper right corner.  The gloveless but taped hands, the late 80's hair blowing in the wind, the sun pouring in on his shoulders.  It's practically perfect!  Except...he blinked!!!  I'm not kidding, this card would easily have made it into the top 50 cards of the set if we could have caught his steely eyes surveying the field.  But alas, the Topps photographers are a fickle beast.

Dale currently serves as the head coach of the Chicago Cubs.  You might have heard about him being shot in the ear by Hall of Famer Robin Yount...

Monday, September 9, 2013

719th Place - Rick Aguilera

Card #434

I always liked Rick Aguilera during his playing days.  That being said, what an awful card!

He's clearly just warming up on a spring training practice field, but they made sure to capture him with an overly-contorted facial expression.  Throw in the Steve Urkel pants and the high riding hat and we've got a hot mess on our hands.

The "New York" on the jersey kind of throws me off too, I'm used to it saying "Mets."  Can any Mets fans clue me into their typical road jersey - does it usually say New York?

(Speaking of which, this is the first Mets card on the countdown...)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

720th Place - Don Carman

Card #415

I might be retroactively remembering this, but I'm sure this theme song popped into my head whenever coming across a Don Carman card as a kid.

1987 was the high water mark for Carman.  He started 35 games for the Phillies, going 13-11 with a 4.22 ERA.  That wasn't too shabby for 1987, considering it was the year of the juiced ball.

Here's a random video of Don talking about his days dealing with the press.  And here's an awesome story about him replying to fan mail and autograph requests...16 years after receiving them!

Monday, July 29, 2013

721st Place - Andy Allanson

Card #728

Mullet?  Check.

Confused look?  Check.

Bangs visible under the ball cap?  Check.

Palm tree, indicating it can't possibly be Cleveland?  Check.

The real question is whose bat Allanson is holding.  He never wore #2 as an Indian.  My guess is Brett Butler.  Allanson owns and operates his own baseball academy these days...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

722nd Place - Ed VandeBerg

Card #421

The Topps typist must have had a conniption over Ed's moniker.  Waiting so long to start capitalizing the last name results in an odd looking name banner.

Though he only spent four years in a Mariners' uniform, it feels strange seeing VandeBerg in a Cleveland jersey.  VandeBerg had a unique rookie season in that he led the American League in games pitched back in 1982.  I don't recall a rookie pitcher having ever done that before - any baseball reference junkies care to research that more?  Here's a funny anecdote about a time VandeBerg had to come into a game for an ejected Gaylord Perry.

On an unrelated note, my apologies to any loyal readers for my long absence.  A long vacation and a particularly busy time of the year for me professionally has sidetracked my ability to post - I'll try and do better!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

723rd Place - Mark Grant

Card #752

Howdy friends - sorry for the irregular posts as of late.  Business travel and family vacations have taken over the past couple of weeks.  Then again, why am I apologizing for having a life outside of this blog?  We should all live a little!

Mark Grant is rocking the crooked neck pose.  Combined with the brown jersey and striped pants...oh who am I kidding.  This is another boring card. 

It's mildly fun that he has his jersey number written on his glove.  Historically, though, he rocked a lot of different jersey numbers.  He's now an announcer for the Padres, and apparently a bit biased.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

724th Place - Jay Aldrich

Card #616

There's not much interesting to discuss related to this particular card.  Jay Aldrich had a short, inconspicuous career.  This is about all I could find on the internet.  To the best of my knowledge its his lone Topps card ever made.

*crickets chirping in the background*

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

725th Place - Jeff Dedmon

Card #469

Unbeknown to Jeff, 1988 would be his last year in the majors.  Kind of ruins that nice smile, doesn't it?  This is his last Topps card.  His brief tenure on the Indians didn't make the cut in the following year's set.

Dedmon's daughter had some success as a high school softball player, which is all kinds of awesome.  It looks like she made it to the NCAA too.

Anytime I hear "Dedmon," I think of this video.

(NSFW language!)

Monday, June 10, 2013

726th Place - Craig Reynolds

Card #557

This is the first Astros card featured on the blog.  The only remaining teams who haven't been featured yet are the Twins, Cardinals, and Mets.  I suppose it's no coincidence that the two World Series teams from the year before have better quality cards than their peers.

I've got nothing against Craig Reynolds.  I just find this card to be uninspired.  There's something about his smile that seems off, and the spring training crowd behind him is distracting.

Craig joins a growing number of players we've encountered who have worked in their respective churches since their playing days ended.  I'm starting to think maybe I should go back through and create a new label...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

727th Place - Ed Olwine

Card #353

We caught you again, Topps.  This is the same photo shoot from the Damaso Garcia card.  Just like Garcia, we'll give the "gratuitous product placement" award for Sharp and Marlboro

Did you know Ed Olwine was named "Salesperson of the Year at the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association’s 32nd Annual OBIE Awards?"  It's not the Cy Young, but not too shabby Ed!

Ed had a solid rookie debut in 1986, but his cups of coffee the next two seasons left the Braves wanting.  He bounced around AAA a couple of more seasons but never made it back to the bigs.  This is his second and last Topps card.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

728th Place - Lenn Sakata

Card #716

I've mentioned before that I'm a lifelong Orioles fan, so seeing Lenn Sakata not wearing an O's uniform - and especially wearing a Yankees jersey - really weirds we out.  It just doesn't look natural.

Sakata had a very peculiar and interesting career in the majors, being one of the first Asian Americans to ever play in the bigs, and having the distinction of being replaced by Cal Ripken Jr. at shortstop.  Sakata had one of the cushiest jobs in baseball after that:  backing up the Iron Man.  SABR has an awesome write-up on their biography project page.

I was just reading Kevin's Greg Briley post and thinking, "man, I miss big glasses on ball players."  Sakata only reinforces those emotions.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

729th Place - John Farrell

Card #533

I suppose this is the first card on the list I might one day feel compelled to move higher than it is currently ranked.  That will have nothing to do with John Farrell's career as a major league pitcher, but with his current tenure as the Boston Red Sox manager.  Much to my chagrin (I'm an Orioles fan), he seems to be doing a good job in Beantown.

You can tell John was at the same photo session as his manager.  The Indians cards in this set continue to be uninspiring and dull.  Farrell deserved better for a rookie card.

Monday, June 3, 2013

730th Place - Argenis Salazar

Card #29

Some of you might be aware I have another blog, where I'm replaying the 1984 baseball season using Statis Pro Baseball.  You get to learn a lot about each club as you navigate their every game.  One thing I've yet to figure out is how the heck Argenis Salazar appeared in half the games the Montreal Expos played that year.  He hit .155 with a .201 slugging percentage.  I don't mean to insult Mr. Salazar, as he was talented enough to play in five different seasons at the top level of baseball.  I just can't figure out how he got so many chances.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

731st Place - Jim Morrison

Card #751

Jim Morrison was one of those players when I was a kid I had a random fondness for.  I have no idea why, he was mostly a part time player without a remarkable record.  He was just one of those guys I rooted for without explanation.

Jim Morrison, of course, shares a name with someone more famous than himself, the lead singer of The Doors.  You always see Jim's name pop up when a blogger or baseball writer is creating a list or all star squad of alternate monikers. 

This card is one of the last airbrush jobs we'll see in the set, and is the only reason I would rank Jim so low.  He started the year in Pittsburgh but was traded to Detroit during their playoff run.  In that last stretch for the Tigers, he struck out 26 times in 117 at-bats with only 2 walks and a .205 average.  That's probably not what Sparky was hoping for.

If you couldn't initially tell this was an airbrushed card, the number under Jim's bill is a dead giveaway.  The "2" was his jersey number for the Pirates.  He wore #9 in Detroit.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

732nd Place - Dickie Noles

Card #768

I'll just own it, Mr. Noles' first name made me snicker as a kid.  I remember in my junior high band days our marching uniforms included a "dickie," and that got us going too.  "I've got a dickie wrapped around my neck!"  "Nice dickie."  "Your dickie is crooked."

Dickie has a long documented case of interesting hair.  This was one of the first baseball cards I ever opened from a pack, and it's a thing of beauty.  This is another classic perm shot (hat tip to the Night Owl). 

But of course, the best/worst thing about this card is the "now with Tigers" print.  The first time I remember Topps doing this was with the 1985 Davey Lopes A's/Cubs card, though I'm far from certain that it was the first time Topps went this route.  I'm going to start a new poll, what do you like better, airbrushing or "now with"?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

733rd Place - Joe Johnson

Card #347

This card is kind of sad, because it was Johnson's last.  He spent the next three years in the minors, never to return to the majors.  Peter Gammons actually covered his last ever outing for a special issue of Sports Illustrated that had a featured story for each major league game played on June 21, 1987. 

The final line in the article from Johnson, after learning of his demotion:  "When you're 3-5 and packing for Syracuse, you learn about yourself. But don't worry. We'll be back."


Monday, May 27, 2013

734th Place - Joe Boever

Card #627

Does the background in Joe Boever's card look familiar?  I think it was taken at the same game as the previously featured Jim Gott.  What do you think?

Boever stuck around the big leagues for a good chunk of time, from 1985 to 1996.  He's also known for throwing the palm ball.  Does anybody still throw that?

At the end of the day, this is just a weird looking baseball card. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

735th Place - Pat Keedy

Card #486

Pat Keedy spent ten years in the minors, and generally hit the ball pretty hard but never got much of a chance at the major league level.

Keedy is an Alabama boy, and my master sleuthing (simple Google search) found a guest sermon he gave at Gardendale First Baptist Church.

He has spent his post-playing days as a teacher at Gardendale High School, where he is also, surprise surprise, the head coach of the baseball team.

(We're throwing in a gratuitous product placement tag for those Franklin gloves too)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

736th Place - Don Gordon

Card #144

Not a lot to say about this card.  Don Gordon had a brief career at the major league level and not a lot of baseball cards to show for it.  I'm assuming he's walking to the bullpen in this shot since he's carrying his jacket with him.

Don seems to have thrived after his playing career, especially in his faith.  He serves on the board of directors for the Colorado Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and  you can find him giving his testimony on Youtube.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

737th Place - Les Lancaster

Card # 112

1987 was a pretty big year for Les Lancaster.  Not only did he make his rookie debut for the Cubs, starting 18 games and compiling an 8-3 record, he also costarred in the best Coen's brothers movie ever made, Raising Arizona.  Lancaster played prison escapee Evelle Snoats, younger brother to John Goodman in the film. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

738th Place - Barry Jones

Card #168

This probably isn't the Barry on the Pirates you were hoping for.  You'll have to stick around for a couple of years to see that card.

I'm not going to say anything about Barry's jersey number either.  This is a classy blog, people, get your minds out of the gutters!

I am puzzled by the rectangular object in the distance on the left side of this card.  What is it?  It's almost the same color as the sky, leading me to think it isn't an outfield fence.  You're vexing me sky-blue monolith!  I'm starting to get how these guys felt:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

739th Place - Tim Birtsas

Card #501

This card is harmless enough...until you look at the stats on the back.

In 1985 Tim played in 29 games for the A's, starting 25 of them.  In 1986, he pitched in only two (and just two innings), and spent the rest of the year in Tacoma, the AAA team for Oakland.  In 1987, he split his time between Tacoma and HUNTSVILLE, not even appearing in the majors!

How the heck did Birtsas get a card in this set?

In 1988 he was on the Reds, so at least he was active in the league when this card was being sold.  I'd love to know what the Topps executives were thinking when they gave the green light to Birtsas...

Friday, May 17, 2013

740th Place - Dale Mohorcic

Card #163

Big shout out to my wife as we are celebrating our ten year anniversary today!  I'm not sure how I tricked her into spending the rest of her life with me, but I'm glad I did.  I love you babe!

What I don't love is Dale Mohorcic's hat.  What's up with that thing?  It looks like he put it on soaking wet, used a blow dryer, and watched it shrink to a point he could no longer pull it off his head.  Somebody get the jaws-of-life, Dale's brain isn't getting enough oxygen!!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

741st Place - Mike LaCoss

Card #754

Mike LaCoss has the crazy eyes!

If you look in the background you'll see another pitcher in the middle of his windup.  My question is this:  who is warming up and who is in the game in this photograph?  I'm assuming LaCoss is the pitcher of record and that in the background an opposing reliever is warming up, but I can't be sure.  I can't recall ever seeing a baseball card with two guys throwing at the same time like this...

I want to give a couple of blog shoutouts.  First, the always entertaining Night Owl makes a case for his favorite 1988 cards in his most recent post.  Go check out a fine group of cards it will take me years to get to on this blog.  Second, fellow Orioles fan Kevin is firing up a 1993 Topps blog.  That 93 set is a fun one, can't wait to see Kevin's work!

Monday, May 13, 2013

742nd Place - Scott McGregor

Card #419

If I'm not mistaken, this is Scott McGregor's last baseball card for Topps.  He was coming off a disasterous 1987 season in which he posted a 6.64 ERA.

Perhaps that's why his eyes are closed in this picture - even he couldn't bear to watch.

In 1988 he would make four more starts for the Orioles but that would be it.  It's not very often anymore somebody gets to spend their entire career with one team like McGregor did.  He's considered one of the best players in Baltimore history

He's still with the Orioles in their minor league system as a pitching coach.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

743rd Place - Tom Bolton

Card #442

Here's part two of the unusual dusk-shot Red Sox cards.  The jacket is a strange choice for Tom Bolton.  He looks more like an auto mechanic wearing it than a major league pitcher.

About ten years ago or so ESPN used to have a fantasy baseball simulator for retired baseball players.  They called it "Classic Fantasy Baseball."  Anyone who was inactive long enough to receive hall of fame votes was eligible to be drafted.  You had a 50 million dollar payroll, and each player had a corresponding value.  If I remember correctly, Babe Ruth had the highest salary, close to 20 million dollars.  Much like Billy Beane and his Moneyball tactics, the key to winning ESPN Classic was finding the most value for the least amount of dollars.  ESPN would periodically update the prices on players based on how popular they were becoming (I remember Ken Phelps' value sky-rocketing).  The cheapest guys only cost $280k, and, as I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear, were usually terrible.  But I stumbled onto Tom Bolton one season, and he pitched decently for a $280k player.  I would sneak him in late during a snake draft every so often, happy to know I was getting a good arm.

ESPN ended up cancelling the league, I guess it wasn't worth their time.  At $50 a team, they definitely helped out my checking account by terminating the game...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

744th Place - Marc Sullivan

Card #354

Mark's who use a "c" at the end of their name always weird me out.

This will be the first of a handful of Red Sox cards that appeared to be taken at dusk, which seems a very strange time to capture baseball card images.  You've got to love the flapless batting helmet Markc is sporting.  He had a pretty terrible year as Rich Gedman's backup in 1987, but that's one of the joys of a 792 card set - just about everyone gets a card.

We'll throw in a gratuitous product placement plug for those Franklin batting gloves and perfectly displayed Louisville Slugger emblem.

Monday, May 6, 2013

745th Place - Mike Campbell

Card #246

Few things were more glorious as a young teenage collector than a card indicating the potential Hall of Fame career of the player pictured.  Donruss cornered the market on excitement with their "Rated Rookies," but Topps countered with the "Future Stars" label.

Mike Campbell was not a future star.

You can't blame Topps, though, all the signs were there.  Campbell was born in Seattle and coming up through his hometown team's minor league system.  He spent 1987 dominating at Calgary and got the late call up, even registering a complete game.  He was certainly a horse to bet on, but alas, he was a falling star instead.  (oof, bad pun...)

You'll see a theme of failed "Future Stars" on this blog - it was a bad year of predicting success for Topps.

Friday, May 3, 2013

746th Place - Brad Havens

Card #698

What do Brad Havens and Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation have in common?

That's right - black dickies!  Seriously, click on the card for the larger view.

Way to keep it classy, Brad.

(I actually have a fondness for Havens, the first baseball cards I ever opened were 1982 Topps, and I got his rookie card.  I still have it!)

Monday, April 29, 2013

747th Place - Shawn Hillegas

Card #455

Shawn looks exactly how most of us would if we were asked to make cheesy, non-action baseball card poses for the first time:  thrilled!

I guess the Topps photographer couldn't be bothered to find a real pitcher's mound...or a half decent background.  Hillegas must have got some work in before the shoot judging by the dirt on the knee, though.  The crazy perspective of the outstretched arm almost makes the card appear three-dimensional.

Hillegas bounced around the majors for seven years as a spot starter and unreliable reliever.  But he made it, and managed to hang on for a while...