Wednesday, March 5, 2014
What a card: This is Doug Baker's first Topps card. It's also his last Topps card. He wouldn't appear on another major release until the 1990 Fleer set.
My observation on the front: It looks like Baker is taking his swings in the on-deck circle.
More opinion from me: The position designation on the front is an error. Baker never played third base in 1984. In fact, he played only two games at third during his seven years in the majors, once each in 1987 and 1988.
Something you might know: Baker was a member of the 1984 World Champion Tigers. He played in one game of the ALCS, coming in the ninth inning of the decisive Game 3 against the Royals as a defensive replacement for Alan Trammell at shortstop.
Something you might not know: Baker was in the same Granada Hills High School 1978 graduating class as John Elway.
My observation on the back: Joe Pignatano hit into a triple play in the eighth inning of the final game of the 1962 season for the expansion Mets.
The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated. Yet another plane crash.
Monday, March 3, 2014
What a card: For the first time since Chuck Tanner took over the Pirates in 1977, the Pirates finished dead last in the NL East in 1984. They would finish last in 1985, too, and that would be it for Tanner.
My observation on the front: Tanner is striking the traditional "skipper surveying the field of play" pose. I like it.
More opinion from me: The guy on the bench with what appears to be glasses is distracting me. Is it Kent Tekulve?
Something you might know: Tanner was the manager for the 1979 "We Are Family" World Series-winning Pirates. It would be Tanner's only Series victory and his only pennant as a manager.
Something you might not know: Tanner is one of only two people born on the 4th of July to manage in the major leagues since 1900. The other is former Astros manager Hal Lanier.
My observation on the back: As a youngster, it always made me sad when I looked at the back of manager cards and saw "batted" and "threw".
The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
What a card: This is Henry Cotto's rookie card, but he was already a Yankee by the time kids were pulling it from packs. The Cubs dealt Cotto, Rich Bordi, Ron Hassey and Porfi Altamirano to New York for Ray Fontenot and Brian Dayett in early December 1984.
My observation on the front: Who is that on deck? Leon Durham? It doesn't look like Gary Matthews. Other possibilities: Thad Bosley, Billy Hatcher.
More opinion from me: Sometimes you need to scan a card to realize it's miscut. Sheesh.
Something you might know: As unflattering as it is to Cotto, the thing that gets brought up the most about his career is the time in 1985 when Ken Griffey Sr. accidentally bumped into Cotto when he was using a Q-tip, bursting his ear drum. That incident always lands on those "wacky injuries" lists.
Something you might not know: When the Cubs won the NL East pennant in 1984, only two players on the team had spent their entire career in the Cubs organization. They were Lee Smith and Cotto.
My observation on the back: Ruben Blades, Topps. Bladessssssssss. With an "s'.
The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
What a card: This is Frank Viola's card after his big breakout season in the major leagues. After struggling with a 5-plus ERA his first two years, he went 18-12 for the Twins in 1984 with four shutouts.
My observation on the front: This photo looks like the completion of his wild delivery on his 1984 Topps card.
More opinion from me: When you get to be my age it's odd to see players you followed as a youngster disappear for awhile and then reappear in a whole new role. After years of not knowing what happened to Viola after his career, I suddenly saw him sitting in the stands rooting for his daughter who was diving in the Summer Olympic Games in London in 2012.
Something you might know: Viola was a integral part of the Twins' 1987 World Series championship team, capturing Series MVP honors after winning Game 1 and Game 7.
Something you might not know: Just a few days after Viola was named MVP, the family was celebrating Halloween in their Minnesota home. Viola's wife found some photos of Frank and thought it would be a good idea to hand them out with the candy. Viola autographed pictures and handed out candy for two hours until the photos were gone. But there was still a mob of people showing up for Viola's autograph. So he signed for a little longer then turned out the lights and pretended not to be home. But the people stayed. Until the Violas called the cops.
My observation on the back: Stein was a legendary scout based in New York. In the 1990s, he tried to convince the Twins to sign Manny Ramirez, but did not succeed.
The blog wants to speak now: The Music category is updated.
Friday, February 21, 2014
What a card: This is Juan Samuel's first base card in a Topps flagship set. He appeared in the 1984 Topps Traded set. He also appeared earlier in this set as a record-breaker.
My observation on the front: Still disappointed with the photo selection of one of the biggest rookies of the 1984 season. First, an unflattering head-and-shoulders shot for the record-breaker card and now a boring fielding photo. The guy set a rookie record for stolen bases. Get him running!
More opinion from me: I don't know if I could get used to wearing a red belt.
Something you might know: Samuel was known to strike out -- a lot. He led the league in strikeouts four straight years (1984-87), which tied a record.
Something you might not know: When the Phillies traded Samuel to the Mets in the deal that brought Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to Philadelphia, Mets manager Davey Johnson actually said this about Samuel: "He reminds me of Barry Bonds. People don't realize what kind of impact player he is."
My observation on the back: I was curious about Fernando Samuel because I had never heard of him. Turns out he played one year for the Gulf Coast Blue Jays in 1983, batting .189.
The blog wants to speak now: The Movies category is updated.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
What a card: This card marks Joe Sambito's return to trading cards after Topps, Donruss and Fleer all left him off their 1984 sets. Sambito missed the 1983 season due to Tommy John surgery.
My observation on the front: Sambito appears to be warming up in the bullpen, which is appropriate since he started just five of the 461 games in his pitching career.
More opinion from me: Sambito is 6-foot-1, but he looks rather tiny in this photo.
Something you might know: Sambito was one of the Astros' most successful relievers for a short period of time, excelling in 1979 and 1980 before arm problems derailed is career.
Something you might not know: Sambito was knocked around by the Pirates in his major league debut in July 1976, giving up three runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. After the game, catcher Skip Jutze went up to a reporter in the locker room and asked him to talk to Sambito, who was sitting alone in front of his locker. Jutze wanted Sambito to feel wanted because he didn't think he would be around very long.
My observation on the back: Since Hough's 17 complete games in '84, only three other pitchers have led the league with more -- Bert Blyleven (24, 1985), Fernando Valenzuela (20, 1986) and Roger Clemens (18, 1987).
The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated.
Monday, February 17, 2014
What a card: This is Mel Hall's first flagship card with the Indians. He's featured in the 1984 Topps Traded set with the Indians. In fact, it's another batting cage shot, which makes me believe both cards are from the same batting practice session.
My observation on the front: The three people in the stands don't seem to focused on what's going on in the cage. Judging by the way one of them is squeezed into the seat, they must be looking at the hot dog vendor ... OK, that was unnecessarily mean.
More opinion from me: Knowing what I know about Hall now, it's hard for me to look at any of my Mel Hall cards. Doing research on him gives me the shivers.
Something you might know: The former Cub, Indian and Yankee left the major leagues for Japan at the relatively young age of 32. He is now serving at minimum 22 years in prison on charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Something you might not know: When Hall and Deion Sanders were teammates with the Yankees, Sanders asked Hall to be the godfather of one of his children. Eesh.
My observation on the back: I never knew Hall was born in upstate New York until writing this post. In fact, he was born in the same town as Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim.
The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated.