Tuesday, December 30, 2014
This is a good looking card for Rick. The A's uniform pops nicely with that blue background, and he's clearly excited and happy to sit for the photographer.
It drives me absolutely crazy, though, that the picture is off-center to accommodate the palm tree in the background!
Rodriguez bounced around in the minors for Oakland from 1981 until his first cup of coffee in the big leagues in 1986. 1987 looked like a good promise of things to come, as Rodriguez registered a 2.96 ERA in 24.1 innings. A closer look, though, reveals he walked more batters than he struck out, which isn't usually a good sign. He made a couple of other appearances in 1988 and 1990 before disappearing back into the minor league abyss for good.
Rodriguez was actually born in Oakland, so it must have been thrilling to play for the hometown team. He's been part of the A's organization for three decades now, and will spend 2015 as the high-A pitching coach of the Stockton Ports.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Does this look familiar to you?
It wasn't uncommon for Topps to use the same background for multiple cards (click on the Indians link, for example), but at least there are typically pine trees or a baseball field in the background. My poor Orioles got this crappy wall.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
This card presents a few interesting nuggets, the first of which is the fact it wasn't an airbrushed card. Hoffman came to the Dodgers in the middle of the 1987 season, but it wasn't like he was a superstar player. He had fallen out of favor in Boston many years ago, despite a brief resurgence in 1985.
On the knob of the bat you see a scratched out number replaced with "37." That was his jersey number with Los Angeles - it makes me wonder if he brought his bats with him from the Red Sox.
You also see the "Mac" patch. It was in honor of former coach Don McMahon. McMahon was a former All-Star and two-time world champion who suffered a heart-attack while pitching batting practice for the Dodgers on July 22. He would die hours later.
Hoffman spent the 1988 season, the year this card was printed, back in Triple-A for the Red Sox. He had another cup of coffee with the Angels the following year but never again appeared in the majors...as a player. He took over as interim manager for the Dodgers in 1998 when Los Angeles fired Bill Russell during the season. Hoffman would serve as a coach the next year and is still a coach in the bigs, though he now serves for Bud Black over in San Diego.
And it's San Diego that brings us to Glenn's most interesting baseball factoid. Hoffman is the big brother of Trevor Hoffman, the future Hall of Fame reliever who spent most of his career with the Padres.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
I did a double-take when I was looking at Anderson's Baseball Reference page, but sure enough, my eyes didn't deceive me. In 1988, the year this card was printed, he led the league in ERA (2.45), ERA+ (166), and walks per nine innings pitched (1.6).
Anderson has to be one of the most obscure ERA leaders in MLB history. The season came out of left field, too. In 1986 he pitched 21 games for Minnesota and recorded a 5.55 ERA. His cup of coffee in 1987, just four games, produced a ghoulish 10.95 mark. His season at AAA that year was terrible too.
Per this article, it appears his 1988 success came from an improved change-up. The story further notes, though, that Anderson's minuscule strikeout rates were an indicator he couldn't sustain his performance. Anderson never did replicate his 1988 season, though he did lead the league in walks per nine innings again in 1990. 1991 was his final season, but he didn't appear in the post season for the Twins.
These days you can find Allan in his hometown of Lancaster, Ohio, where he would be happy to give you pitching instruction at the Field of Dreams Practice Facility.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
Gardner came over to the Red Sox with Calvin Schiraldi in the Bob Ojeda trade. Gardner only pitched one inning for Boston in 1986, but Ojeda and Schiraldi were key players for the opposing World Series teams.
When you check the back of Gardner's baseball card, he has Benton, Arkansas, listed as his place of birth and home. It looks like he retired there to, according to this local story which reflects on his playing career. The article mentions he even got a chance to coach Cliff Lee in American Legion ball.
One thing not mentioned? The night he was arrested for hitting his wife. He was Ray Rice before Ray Rice. I heard someone say recently (I think it was Buck Showalter) that you don't want to be judged forever by your worst mistake.
Sometimes it's hard not to judge.
Friday, September 26, 2014
When you check out Dave's Baseball Reference page, it lists Tom Brunansky as his brother-in-law. Did Tom marry his sister, or did Dave marry Tom's sister? That has to make for some awkward lockeroom dynamics...
I don't recall this from my youth, but apparently Dave suffered from the same mental block that impacted folks like Mackey Sasser and Steve Sax when throwing. Like Sasser, Engle's main issue was getting the ball back to the pitcher. It effectively ended his time as a starter. Relegated to the never-glamorous backup catcher role, Engle bounced around through the 1989 season, ending his career on the Brewers.
Engle did manage an All-Star game team in his career (1984), though he didn't get into the game. The previous link mentioned he scouts for the Orioles now, but I couldn't find him listed...
Saturday, September 20, 2014
The Thinker - by Auguste Rodin? Maybe this is Topps showing off their more artistic side...
This is Jeff Robinson's rookie card. No, not THAT Jeff Robinson. This Jeff Robinson. It's always confusing when you have two players in the league at the same time with the same name.
Robinson debuted in 1987 during the Tigers' playoff push. I'm not quite sure how Robinson made their roster and managed to start 21 games that year. His minor league record wasn't memorable. He pitched quite well in 1988 but never again, really, though he lasted through 1992.
I think this link is Jeff. I suspect this is Jeff too.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
My apologies to any Sox fans who just threw something at their computer screen. Rightly or wrongly, Schiraldi is a dirty word for many in New England. He was a key culprit in the 1986 World Series collapse. Despite flashes of brilliance early in his career, Schiraldi would retire by the age of 29.
I'm not here to pick scabs with Boston fans, though. This card is just plain weird looking. It's hard to tell by the angle, but I think he's warming up on a bullpen mound during spring training. His face and body language don't express any sort of enthusiasm for it. I'm also puzzled by the white fabric on the underside of his throwing arm. What is that?
Calvin's son is now a starter at his alma mater, the University of Texas. Calvin is actually a UT Hall of Famer. If I'm not mistaken Calvin has been coaching at a high school in Austin since his playing days ended.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Yikes. Booker's ranking on the countdown is an evil one. It's hard to be scared of him with that goofy grin, though. The Vanilla Ice eyebrow is relieving tension too.
Booker was a classic 1980's bullpen arm who lasted eight seasons, mostly with the Padres. He has served as a pitching coach for many years at different levels of pro ball. Right now he works as a scout for the Dodgers.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I've mentioned before that I'm a die-hard Orioles fan, but I'm ashamed to admit that, as a kid, I don't think I realized Gary Roenicke was Ron's brother. It's not like they have a common last name. Gary was a very rugged looking guy, while I always thought Ron was a bit dorky in appearance. Those glasses aren't helping. Maybe Ron is discussing his specs with fellow four-eyes Greg Grosss? That's him in the corner, after all.
All teasing aside, Ron is having a heck of a season as the skipper for the Milwaukee Brewers this year. He's starting to pick up steam for "Manager of the Year" consideration.
About 14 years ago I threw away a lot of my common cards from the late 80's and early 90's. My professional career requires me to move quite a bit, and I didn't want to lug around junk cardboard. I completely regret it now. Just think of how many future manager of the year cards are now in a landfill. I apologize, Ron. I should have known better.
(Gary's son and Ron's, nephew, Josh, has made it to the big leagues off and on the past few years. That's a heck of a baseball family...)
Monday, August 18, 2014
When this card was printed, Royster was entering his last season as a journeyman backup infielder. What's a bit unusual about this card is that they caught Royster in a Yankees uniform, despite a mid-season trade from the White Sox. This is a similar situation from the Bill Gullickson card featured earlier on the blog. Royster was traded for Ken Patterson, who had a few years of success in the Chicago bullpen.
Since his playing days Royster has managed the Milwaukee Brewers and was the third base coach during Bobby Valentine's ill-fated run with the Red Sox. He's now coaching a high school team in Los Angeles.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
The Padres probably thought they had a good thing going with Eric Nolte in 1988. They had just let him start 12 games in 1987, and he compiled a respectable 3.21 ERA, despite walking too many hitters. But Nolte never stuck in the majors, getting some cups of coffee for three more seasons before fading back into obscurity.
It looks like part of his problem at maintaining success in the big leagues was a bad stomach ulcer. My dad got hospitalized with one of those when I was in high school, they're no joke.
The Padres sure didn't shy away from the browns back in the 80's, did they? It feels like they're still searching for a permanent design...
Monday, August 4, 2014
Sunday, August 3, 2014
Wally's swimsuit area looks like an optical illusion. The inseam of his striped pants combined with the required protective gear underneath confuses the mind.
Am I looking at a cubist painting?
Are Light Cycles doing battle below Ritchie's belt?
You can't help but stare at it until you realize where you're staring.
In 1988 Wally was coming off a good rookie campaign out of the bullpen. He recorded a 3.75 ERA while appearing in 49 games. For some reason he didn't appear in the majors in 1989 or '90. He was effective again from 1991 to 1992 but was done after that.
It looks like Wally joined Vance Law on the BYU coaching staff.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Two words: Sweaty bangs.
When my brother and I were kids, and we noticed the other needed a haircut, we would start singing, "If I had wings I could fly...," which is a line from Warren G's Regulate. The wings, in this case, would be the locks of hair sticking out over our ears.
Brian Fisher must be a Warren G fan.
Here's a fun article where Fisher gets to recount his playing days, especially the insanity that ensues when George Steinbrenner is your owner. Sadly, it also notes the loss of one of Fisher's sons to cerebral palsy.
You might notice my copy of Fisher's card features an ink blot around the A and the T of Pirates. I'm assuming that wasn't a consistent feature in the printing of this card.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Argh!!! Why the black t-shirt with white lettering under the Brewers jersey, why!?!?!?! It's Topps picture day, middle-aged bloggers 25+ years from now will turn a critical eye on your fashion sense, think ahead!!!
Mark stuck his neck out recently about homosexual athletes and teammates. You can read his opinions here. It made enough waves for the Huffington Post to take notice. It looks like he's part of a sports media group now, you can follow him on Twitter too.
Knudson the ballplayer stuck around the majors off and on through the 1993 season, though he was never terribly effective.
Saturday, July 5, 2014
I had a friend in college named Richard B. Long. Think about it for a second.
As far as profile pictures go, this is just fine. Those red warm-ups don't look good behind the hot pink banners, though. One can't help but wonder what Bill is focusing his gaze upon.
I found next to nothing on Bill on the old inter-webs. He hung around for six years, mostly with the White Sox. I'll be nominating this post as the most boring since we started with the checklists...
Thursday, June 19, 2014
I always loved Marvell's name. There has to be some sort of positive impact on a kid's chances to become a professional athlete when they've got an awesome moniker. That's science.
It's appropriate that we're discussing Marvell this week since we're also in the middle of the World Cup. Did you know his son, Marvell Wynne Jr., is a soccer player in MLS? See - great name, increased odds to go pro!
Marvell Sr. had a promising start to his MLB career in Pittsburgh, appearing in 154 games for the Pirates in 1984, his second season. He would never duplicate that playing time or success though, and was out of baseball after the 1990 season when he struggled with the Chicago Cubs.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Some of you know I have a second blog, where I'm replaying the 1984 MLB season using Statis Pro Baseball. Besides using this entry as a gratuitous plug for that blog, I mention it because Kiefer was terrible in 1984, his first cup of coffee in the bigs. In Statis Pro, his defensive rating is the worst possible, and his hitting numbers are dismal.
By 1987, not much had changed.
Kiefer got a couple of more chances to play in 1988 and 1989, but after that, he was gone. He has a negative 1.6 career WAR according to Baseball Reference, which is hard to do in only 229 career at-bats.
Despite all that, this is actually a pretty nice looking card. It's only ranked so low due to quality of the player. (No offense intended to Mr. Kiefer)
Monday, May 26, 2014
In my mind Ken is the epitome of the mid-1980's number five starter. The innings eater who got shelled a little too hard but managed to stick around a bit to endure the beating. He even looks weary as he goes into his windup.
Sadly for Schrom, this card would be his last as a player. He wrapped up his career after the 1987 season, probably because of that 6.50 ERA he sported for Cleveland.
Here's a nice segment he taped recently recounting his experience as an AL All-Star:
Sunday, May 25, 2014
There's a weird glitch with this baseball card. The photo editor didn't do a good job of setting the "G" in Dodgers completely behind Tim's head, leading to some pink spilling onto his cap.
I'm just stalling, though, because I don't want to write about the tragic death of Tim Crews. As most of you reading this will remember, Tim Crews and Steve Olin, teammates on the Cleveland Indians, died in a boating accident that also severely injured Bob Ojeda.
The accident was all the more tragic, and frustrating, because Crews was operating the boat under the influence of alcohol.
Here's a great article catching up with Crews and Olin's families, twenty years after their loss.
Friday, May 23, 2014
I'm guessing it never occurred to the Seattle stylists that their two most prominent uniform letters were "S&M." C'mon, Mariners, this is supposed to be family-friendly entertainment.
For some reason I feel guilty about this, but I have no recollection of Mr. Shields. A quick Google scan indicates I own multiple variations of his cards over the years, but none of them ring a bell.
Speaking of ringing a bell...Shields might be known to some of you as a victim of a Kirby Pucket line drive to the face. Unfortunately, it wasn't his first time being nearly decapitated on the mound.
Maybe all the blue on this card was a subtle nod to the facial bruising he surely suffered? We'll throw in a "nose hair" tag too thanks to the angle of the photograph.
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Check out the symmetry of the trees behind Jose. Combined with the green "White Sox" lettering this card looks like the most eco-friendly shot in the set. I wonder if that's a real background or if Topps took Jose to the local JC Penney portrait studio.
I think I mentioned this before, but that late-80's Chicago cap is my least favorite hat in the history of MLB. As a kid it looked more like a cursive, lowercase "e" to me. But if I'm not mistaken, they followed it with one of the best, the classic black with the old-English "Sox" on the front.
Two things stand out on the back of this card. First, Jose led the league in losses with 19 in 1985. Eek. Second, the "this way to the clubhouse" section mentions DeLeon was traded by the Pirates to the White Sox straight up for Bobby Bonilla. That can't be a happy memory for White Sox fans...
Monday, April 21, 2014
This isn't your typical pitcher pose, I'm thinking Frank is about to catch the ball after it was thrown around the horn?
Frank Williams had, from what I can tell, a tragically short career. Over six seasons he was quite effective out of the bullpen. He played for the Giants, Reds, and Tigers. But it appears a car accident ruined his career.
In the subsequent years, Frank left his family and became a homeless alcoholic. It appears that lifestyle contributed to his death from a heart attack and ensuing coma. He started life as an orphan growing up in foster homes.
This wasn't a fun one to write. Rest in peace, Frank.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Heep didn't have much to grin about after the 1987 season. He hit a paltry .163 as a left-handed pinch hitter. Woof.
The name banner does a good job framing what appears to be a 25th anniversary patch commemorating Dodger Stadium.
Heep got to play a supporting role in two memorable World Series winning teams. In 1986 he was part of the Amazing Mets and of course in 1988 he was still part of the Dodgers. In my lifetime that Dodger team is still the most improbable world champs I've ever seen. It felt like all they had was an un-hittable Orel Hershiser, an undeniable Kirk Gibson, and a huge pile of scrap heep players. Hehehe...see what I did there?
You can find Danny Heep coaching at Incarnate Word in his hometown of San Antonio.
Friday, April 18, 2014
There are a number of these Red Sox shots that seem to have been taken at night or as a storm front was blowing in.
There's something about Sellers' smashed hat that makes him look like a scrappy middle-infielder instead of a starting pitcher. His card lists him as six feet tall but he looks 5'6 in the picture.
(Ha! Turns out his son is an infielder!)
1988 would be Jeff's last year in the majors, not sure how or why he faded away as he was still pretty young at that point.
Monday, April 14, 2014
Here's a card our good friend the Night Owl could appreciate. The sun is clearly setting when the Topps photographer decided, what the heck, let's grab Fred here for a quick pic. Maybe he'll appear in ten games for Philly this year...
I can't find a lot about Toliver other than this article that couldn't find a lot about Toliver.
There is something quite captivating with Fred's expression, though. Perhaps it's solemn resignation, knowing his fate is that of the fringe major leaguer. Or maybe he didn't know they were taking his picture at that exact second...
Friday, April 4, 2014
Check out those stirrup socks!!! Yes!!! I don't know why Bud Selig doesn't require this look for all ballplayers. It's classy.
Clear's career was modest, though he did manage to make a couple of All-Star teams. My strongest memory of him is, as a kid, trying to understand the unusual combination of strikeouts and walks he would pile up every year. In 804 career innings he struck out 804 batters but also walked 554. He's like the poor man's Nolan Ryan.
Here's a funny post about a Boston's fan all-time least favorite Red Sox roster. It doesn't bode well for Mark Clear...
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
There are two relics displayed in this card that I kind of love. The first is the batting helmet without the ear flap. These are now extinct, of course. Ozzie Smith is the last active player I remember wearing one.
The second is Mike's jheri curls. It was the late 80's when this looked begin to disappear from the game. My favorite player, Eddie Murray, was one of the last holdouts. I remember getting ribbed by my junior high friends about it. Mike looks pretty confident letting it spill out from his ancient brain bucket.
I didn't realize it at the time, but this was Easler's last card because 1987 was his final season. He retired with a .293 average, which is nothing to sneeze at. Most folks remember him for his years as a Pirate, but I always think of his monster season with the 1984 Red Sox. He batted .313 with a .515 slugging percentage and set career highs in home runs and RBI's.
Monday, March 31, 2014
John is looking pretty shady, both literally and figuratively. He definitely appears like he's up to something. I'm guessing he's trying not to laugh because there's only one thin layer of warm-up jacket between his bare chest and Shea Stadium. I could be wrong, but that plunging neckline suggests otherwise.
Candelaria played a whopping three games with the Mets, yet somehow Topps managed to capture a snap with him in his late season trade threads. He had come over from the Angels, and would be off to the Bronx in 1988. He really bounced around in his final years, also playing for Expos, Twins, Blue Jays, and Dodgers.
Most of you know the "Candy Man" has a bit of an infamous reputation with his penchant for marijuana t-shirts and association with the drug-era Pirates. I was surprised to see him listed as 6'6, I didn't remember him being so tall.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
McGaffigan spent a lot of his career shuttling between the bullpen and spot starting duties. The year this card was made he was coming off his best season. McGaffigan pitched 120 innings in relief without a single start. You don't see those kind of numbers from this generation of bullpen arms. What's more, he posted a nifty 2.39 ERA with 100k's and even 12 saves.
According to Wikipedia, he has one of the worst pitcher batting averages in the history of MLB. He hit a paltry .048 in 126 at bats. Here's a funny clip of Shawon Dunston taking a swing at him.
Here's something you probably didn't know, though. McGaffigan had a minor part in the movie Tombstone.* Check him out as he almost finishes off Val Kilmer:
*I'm kidding of course, but McGaffigan's mustache is not to be trifled with.
Monday, March 3, 2014
With as much flack as the Washington Redskins are getting for their continued use of an insensitive and offensive moniker, I'm surprised the Cleveland Indians don't get more negative attention too. I know they've shied away from Chief Wahoo over the years, but there's a strong case for the Indians to be more politically correct as well. Mr. Yett here wants to stir up the debate by showing not just one, but TWO Wahoo symbols.
(My favorite player of all time, as I've mentioned before, is Eddie Murray. During his tenure in Cleveland, I acquired an Indians cap as well as a neck tie - both of which featured Chief Wahoo. I kind of cringe about that in retrospect...)
Rich is not dead...yet.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
I envy you bloggers who consistently post and provide content for us baseball card nerds. I wish I was as dedicated! Work has kept me busy, and on top of that, my PC was out of commission due to a virus. I often wonder what kind of person spends their time creating a computer virus. What has gone wrong in their life that leads to such destructive and utterly pointless output?
What has gone wrong with Greg Cadaret? He's got a wicked case of afternoon shadows. The back of his card reveals he attended Grand Valley State University, which makes me smile because I'll always think of West Michigan as home. If you'd like to follow him on Twitter, go on ahead.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
This is truly one of the strangest cards in the set! To start with, we have what will probably be the best gratuitous product placement in this countdown. Not only is that Pepsi can placed perfectly behind Greg, but the can is turned just the right way to get the full label. The greater question, though, is what professional athlete is cracking open carbonated beverages in the middle of a ball game!?!
The Pepsi can is so distracting you might miss what's going on with Greg's mouth. My guess is that black and yellow substance between his lips are sunflower seeds. Whatever it is, Brock looks pretty disgusted with what he's witnessing before him.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Batting glove in the back pocket...bare-handed swing of the bat. Interesting.
As a kid I had a strange fascination with Glenn Wilson. He was an outfielder who tended to play every day despite not appearing to be particularly memorable in any facet of the game. I mean that as no disrespect to Mr. Wilson, who is obviously an accomplished athlete. He just seems to have the pedigree of a fourth outfielder type.
It looks like he popped out to right field in this shot. I'm guessing it's a spring training game at the Expos' ballpark based on the background.
Does anyone know if his gas station is still around?
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
This could have been a fun, candid shot of a young pitcher experiencing the joy of playing the hardest sport at the highest level. It could have been, except he's...
...obviously been shrunken to miniature size and is standing in front of an orange?
...about to be incinerated by a nuclear explosion?
...laughing maniacally at the forest fire he started behind him?
Seriously, what is the orange color, and why is he so excited about it?
Monday, January 20, 2014
Thurmond has a bit of evil eyebrow going on here. What schemes lie in the hearts of situational lefties?
My primary memory of Thurmond is as one of the starters for the 1984 World Series losing San Diego Padres. That was by far his best year. Amazingly, he only struck out 57 batters in 178 innings that season. Pitching to contact!
Mark is a Texan through and through, and played his college ball at A&M, where he was actually recruited as a football player first and baseball player second. He seems to be in the insurance business now in Katy, TX. I actually found his home address, which makes me feel creepy. Sorry Mark.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
I just noticed something that has me reconsidering Gaunte's lower ranking on this countdown. Check out the "G" inked into the webbing of his glove! Is that cool, or dumb? Many of you are aware of the cult-like following Guante enjoys: http://legendofcecilioguante.com/
This card is a bit disturbing. I'm assuming Guante is in the middle of some warm up pitches. Otherwise, the umpire and shortstop are in prime position take a line drive right off the back of their heads.
I think Topps made a bizarre color scheme choice for the Yankees in this set. The red/purple/yellow combo doesn't make a lot of sense. It's not you, Cecilio, it's them.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
What a bunch of bolagna! Bob "Buck" Rodgers has one of the all-time great baseball nicknames, and Topps refuses to slip it in here. The same company who for years kept printing "Rock" Raines cards. For shame!
When this card was printed, Rodgers was coming off his NL Manager of the Year award for his work with the 1987 Expos. Rodgers is infamous for being injured in a bad bus accident when he coached for the Angels. Here's a more recent article catching up with him...
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Ladies and gentleman, the first Minnesota Twin on our countdown.
I forgot Atherton was even on the Twins, he's an Oakland Athletic in my memory.
I couldn't find much on Atherton's post baseball life, but check out the unusual team somebody added to his wiki page. That is a well burried joke. At least I hope it is...
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
I can't stop looking at it. The way it's peeking at us. What does it want? Where did it come from? Is it trying to escape???
Mike, tuck that undershirt back in, buddy. It's freaking me out.
Birkbeck has a "Sully" patch on his sleeve, and if my Google detective skills are accurate, that patch was worn in honor of their late equipment manager, Bob Sullivan. I think those were worn in 1986, meaning this photo of Mike was two years old at the time of its printing. That would have blown my mind in 1988 - how could a baseball card photo not be more recent than that?
It looks like Birkbeck has been coaching at the collegiate level in recent years. He didn't have any real sustained success in the majors, minus a fluky four starts in his last cup of coffee. This is a nice card, all things considered, except for that shirt under the jersey. It's evil.
Happy New Year, everyone, let's have a great 2014.