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."

Ouch.

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!)