Friday, June 23, 2017

570th Place - Bruce Benedict

Card #652

Benedict, the longtime Atlanta catcher, was coming off his worst professional season when this card was printed.  In 1987 he hit a measly .147 and only had an OPS of .466.  But he lasted two more seasons, wrapping up his career in 1989.

Benedict is one of those guys who, when hearing his name, always brings me back to my childhood living room floor in the summer, baseball cards spread out before me, and listening to Skip Caray drone on while the Braves were getting blown out during a TBS game.  I LOVED watching baseball on TV as a kid, but Braves games were always so BORING.

Baseball is still a big part of the Benedict family.  His son Griffin is in his seventh season as the bullpen catcher for the Padres.  Bruce may or may not be still operating his own baseball academy.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

571st Place - Craig Lefferts

Card #734

I don't recall spending much time talking about one of the neat features of the 1988 Topps set - the "This Way To The Clubhouse" section on the back of the card. Lefferts' TWTTC story tells us he was a part of the mega Padres/Giants trade that went down on July 4, 1987.  In that trade the Giants got a future MVP (Kevin Mitchell) and the Padres got a future Cy Young (Mark Davis).  In fact, they both received their hardware for the 1989 season!  I can't imagine there are a whole lot of MVP for Cy Young trades in MLB history...

Lefferts spent the first nine years of his MLB career as a reliever until randomly shifting to the starting rotation in 1992.  He started 32 games that year (27 with San Diego, 5 with Baltimore) and recorded a nifty 3.76 ERA while doing so.  Not too bad for the bullpen stalwart!

Lefferts might be best known, however, as the last pitcher to hit a walk-off home run!  It happened way back in 1986...and he used Tony Gwynn's bat to do it!


Sunday, June 4, 2017

572nd Place - David Palmer

Card #732

On the back of Palmer's baseball card is a line break in the middle of his statistical accomplishments, right there in the slot for the 1983 season.  It reads:

"ON DISABLED LIST"

As a kid that was always slightly troubling to me.  On the disabled list?  For an entire year?  What happened?  In the 1980's this wasn't entirely common like it is in today's game.  The only thing scarier on the back of a card?

"DID NOT PLAY"

Why the heck didn't he play?  At least with an "on disabled list" you had a bit of an explanation.  But "did not play"???  That was very distressing.


Monday, May 29, 2017

573rd Place - Curt Young

Card #103

It's funny how one guy can spend an entire lifetime associated with one team, but Curt Young is one of those examples.

He was drafted by Oakland in 1981 and made his first appearance in the majors by 1983 and pretty much stayed with the big club through the 1991 season, split time in 1992 with the Royals and Yankees, and had his swan song back with the A's in 1993.

That also means Young was part of the 1988-1990 World Series teams in Oakland, though he only got an inning of work in the two World Series losses and did not appear in a game the year they won (1989).  Essentially, Young was the fifth starter that didn't sniff a postseason game with guys like Dave Stewart and Bob Welch around.

After his playing career he spent eight years coaching in the minors before getting promoted as the Athletic's pitching coach in 2004.  That lasted until 2011, when he spent a year in Boston in the same role.  But starting again in 2012 Young was back in Oakland, where he still serves today.

This card is kind of cool looking, though it feels overly zoomed-in for my preferences.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

574th Place - Terry McGriff

Card #644

I remember seeing this card as a kid and wondering if Terry McGriff was related to Fred.  Turns out...he was!  He's either a first or second cousin, depending on which website you find.  But his family connections don't end there.  He's also cousins (or uncle?) with Charles Johnson.  Wait - there's more!  Terry's dad played ball and roomed with Lou Brock in college.  That's a lot of baseball pedigree!

Terry was essentially the backup catcher in Cincinnati for the 1987 and '88 seasons before spending most of his time in the minors until 1994.  That year he was with the St. Louis Cardinals as their primary backup before the player's strike ended the season and McGriff's time in the majors.  He hung on at AAA for a couple of seasons before finishing out in the independent leagues.

I'm fascinated with two things on McGriff's card.  One, his wrapped bat.  Seeing a player or coach use a damaged bat during batting and fielding practice always intrigued me as a kid.  Two, there are two fans checking things out over his right shoulder.  I think it would be fun to start a binder with cards that have fans prominently featured in the background.  I wonder if those two ever found out they made it onto cardboard?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

575th Place - Manny Lee

Card #722

This past Christmas my folks gifted our family with a new computer.  It was a much needed upgrade.  Let's just say I might have still been using Window's Vista.  I assumed I would need a new scanner too, because it was always a grueling process on the old desktop.  Turns out, my scanner is awesome, it just stunk because the last computer was old as dirt.  I got Manny Lee here scanned and cropped in less than 60 seconds.
I always think of Lee as a utility infielder type, but he was actually a regular player for Toronto over most of his career.  He slid over to to shortstop when the Blue Jays traded away Tony Fernandez.  In fact, he was the starter on the World Series winning team in 1992.  Strangely, he was out of baseball before he turned 30, but he got his ring!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

576th Place - Jim Winn

Card #688

If you check the back of the card you see Jim Winn got traded to the Sox by the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for speedster Jim Cangelosi.  The Pirates got the better end of that deal, as Winn wouldn't even pitch for Chicago in 1988, his last in the big leagues.

Still, could you have a better last name than "Winn" if you're a pitcher?!  That has to be a confidence booster for your team.  "We've got a Winn in the lineup today, boys!"  "Just Winn, baby!"  "This guy really knows how to Winn."

I'm fascinated by the shirt he's wearing under his unbuttoned jersey.  I think that's the letter "n" but I have no idea what it could be.  I can't imagine the equipment manager is thrilled.  And the sleeves are sticking out from underneath too.  What a delightful mess.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Give Me Your 2017 "Rediscover Topps" 1988's!!!

Hello friends!

Last night on the way home from work I swung by my local card shop because they were finally stocked with the new 2017 Topps.  I decided to splurge and buy a box - that's 36 packs of card, ten cards per pack (unless you get a relic or auto, as the fine print notes...).

I gotta say, the new set really grew on me as I unpacked card after card.  It still drives me crazy that the entire player career isn't on the back of the card (they've cut that this year, to five seasons) but the addition of player social media account names was actually kind of interesting to me.

One of the things Topps is doing with the 2017 set is adding in stamped cards from the past again, this time titled as "Rediscover Topps."  And wouldn't you know it...I landed a 1988 card!  That's right, Sweet Lou Piniella is now all mine.  And that got me thinking...shouldn't I have ALL of the 1988 stamped cards?  The answer to that question is YES.  I SHOULD.  So if you come across a "Rediscover Topps" 1988 stamped card - I want it.  All 792!  I'm only 791 from getting them all!

But Piniella wasn't the only Rediscover Topps I got...can you say TIM RAINES ROOKIE CARD!?!?

I tweeted my good fortune and managed to get Jonah Keri to respond!

I'll show off some more of the 2017's - here are the "shiny" ones:


The 1987 designed cards came in a special pack the card shop gave me for buying a box.  The Robbie Grossman is number 60/66, so that was pretty cool.  Here are some of the 1987 design inserts:


I'm an Orioles fan of course, so I actually giggled at getting the Adam Jones.  I think the Don Mattingly is the best of the bunch, though.

I was surprised by how much I like the 5-Tool inserts too:


And finally - each box is guaranteed a relic or an autograph.  Sadly, no auto, but I did get this Rick Porcello jersey card:

I'm not much of a Porcello fan, and I definitely don't dig the Red Sox so let me know if this interests you.

In the meantime...SEND ME YOUR "Rediscover Topps" 1988 CARDS!!!

Friday, January 27, 2017

577th Place - Jim Acker

Card #678

You come across odd stuff sometimes when you're trying to dig into the lives of past cardboard icons.  Take Jim Acker, here.  I'm pretty sure this is his father's obituary.  It looks like he lived a good long life.  And I found his mother's, too.  It just seems weird that this kind of information is out on the internet for a random baseball card fan to stumble upon.  I certainly mean no disrespect by it.  I imagine they were quite proud of their son and all of his accomplishments.

Here's another interesting tidbit:  Acker is from the same small Texas town of legendary 1985 Chicago Bear Steve McMichael.  In fact, Jim and his brother went to the University of Texas with McMichael.  Jim played baseball there but his brother played football with him.  Again, weird random stuff on the 'net.

And I'm pretty sure this is Acker's daughter, a standout volleyball player at SMU who is now off to medical school.  Not surprising given her family's athletic pedigree!

Friday, January 20, 2017

578th Place - Eddie Milner

Card #677

Based on the cheap looking lumber running parallel to the right side of the card, I'm guessing this is a spring training dugout?

This is the first regular set appearance by Eddie Milner not in a Reds uniform.  After five seasons (more or less) as a starter for Cincinnati he was turned into a fourth outfielder type in San Francisco.  Milner got suspended for drugs before the 1988 season started, though.  He popped up in a handful of games at the tail end of the year, again back on the Reds, but never played in in the bigs again because of those addiction demons.  He spoke openly and honestly about those struggles.

Sadly, Milner passed away last year at the age of 60.  I tried and tried to find a cause of death but wasn't able to.  Rest in Peace, Eddie.

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.