Friday, April 18, 2014

#284 - Marty Bystrom

What a card: This is Marty Bystrom's first card as a Yankee ... well, he's listed as a Yankee, anyway. He was traded from the Phillies in the deal that brought Shane Rawley to Philadelphia on June 30, 1984.

My observation on the front: This is obviously an airbrushed job. It's been awhile since there's been an airbrushed card featured in this set. It won't take nearly as long to see the next one.

More opinion from me: That's a brutal painting. The "NY" looks like ghost letters. The pinstripes are two different colors. It doesn't help that Bystrom's portrait shot is off-center.

Something you might know: Bystrom made an instant impact in his first year in the majors. A September call-up by the Phillies in 1980, he pitched a shutout against the Mets in his first start and would start in the League Championship Series and World Series during Philadelphia's trip to the championship.

Something you might not know: Bystrom was a replacement player during spring training of 1995, leaving his job of selling swimming pools at age 36 to wear a big-league uniform again. He drew a lot of wrath from unionized players who had staged a strike in 1994 that lead to the cancellation of the World Series.

 My observation on the back: So, Marty played American Legion ball. I'm guessing you could put that on 98 percent of card backs in 1985.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#283 - Fran Mullins

What a card: This is the only Topps card of Fran Mullins, other than a three-player White Sox prospects card that he shares with Rusty Kuntz in the 1981 set. Fleer and Donruss didn't make a card of him.

My observation on the front: The bat Mullins is swinging looks like it weighs 200 pounds. In my mind it took him three minutes to swing at that pitch.

More opinion from me: In years previous, Topps would have simply gone with "infield" instead of "3B-SS-2B". But kudos for being exact.

Something you might know: Mullins enjoyed the most playing time of his career with the Giants in 1984, playing in 57 games. In his two other seasons in the majors, he played 21 games for the White Sox in 1980 and 28 games for the Indians in 1986.

Something you might not know: Mullins played for Santa Clara University from 1976-79 under longtime coach Sal Taorima. Taorima died the summer after the 1979 season, suffering a heart attack at the wheel of his car at the age of 57.

My observation on the back: Hank Bauer still holds the record for consecutive games with a hit in a World Series. Marquis Grissom came close by getting a hit in his first 15 World Series games.

The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated.

Monday, April 14, 2014

#282 - The 1984 No. 1 Draft Pick Shawn Abner

What a card: This is the final card in the No. 1 draft pick subset. It recalls the Mets taking Shawn Abner with the No. 1 pick in the 1984 MLB draft. Abner went ahead of other first-round picks like Mark McGwire, Terry Mulholland, Cory Snyder and Jay Bell.

My observation on the front: Abner is wearing a Kingsport Mets uniform. He played for the Rookie League team in 1984, his first year in pro ball.

More opinion from me: You can tell that is a minor league photo from the '80s. Green concrete wall. Shadows everywhere.

Something you might know: Abner was one of the biggest busts among No. 1 picks in major league history. He would never play for the Mets, getting traded to the Padres in 1986 in the deal that brought the Mets Kevin McReynolds. Abner didn't appear on another card until 1988 and not in another Topps set until 1990. His big league career was done by 1992.

Something you might not know: Here is a quote from Abner in the Los Angeles Times in 1991 after it was well-established that he wouldn't live up to his No. 1-pick potential:

"I remember going to this card show over the winter where I was signing autographs. This guy comes up to me with about 1,000 of my rookie cards. He just walks up to me, doesn't say anything, but he shows me his cards and gives me a look like, "Look what I wasted my time on.

"This other one came up and said, 'You can play defense but you can't hit worth a (darn).' And this girl was 3 years old."

My observation on the back: The bio is stunned over Shawn's "amazing .420" batting average, but doesn't bat an eye about the .580 he hit.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV category is updated.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#281 - The 1983 No. 1 Draft Pick - Tim Belcher

What a card: This card recalls the Minnesota Twins selecting Tim Belcher with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 MLB draft. So why is he wearing an A's uniform? We'll get to that.

My observation on the front: There is something not right about that photo and I think there's some airbrushing going on. Belcher played for the Oakland A's Class A and AA teams in 1984, perhaps he's actually wearing a uniform for the Madison Muskies or Albany-Colonie A's. Or maybe it's a photo from his days at Mt. Vernon Nazarene College.

More opinion from me: You could almost say that this card ushered in the era of the "pre-rookie" card. Belcher wouldn't hit the majors until 1987, with the Dodgers. Prior to this, players at the Class A/AA level who were featured in a Topps set would be on a multi-player prospects card.

Something you might know: Belcher did not sign with the Twins after they drafted him. He was then selected by the Yankees in the 1984 supplemental draft in January and picked up by the A's as a free agent compensation pick in February.

Something you might not know: Belcher pitched in 16 games for Class A Madison and averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in those games.

My observation on the back: There's a nice explanation of Belcher's path from the Twins to the Yankees to the A's -- yet he never played in the majors for any of them.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV category is updated.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#280 - The 1982 No. 1 Draft Pick - Shawon Dunston

What a card: This card recalls Shawon Dunston being selected as the first pick by the Cubs in the 1982 major league draft. Dunston was selected ahead of Dwight Gooden, who was picked fifth by the Mets.

My observation on the front: This picture is very similar to the one Topps used of Dunston on his 1986 card.

More opinion from me: This card basically serves as Dunston's rookie card for Topps. He had no other regular card in the '85 set. But this was a big one as in the spring of '85, Dunston was going after 39-year-old Larry Bowa's job at shortstop and it was big news. Meanwhile, Donruss made Dunston a Rated Rookie in '85 and Fleer featured him on a prospects card with Billy Hatcher.

Something you might know: Dunston was considered a can't miss prospect and the best prospect out of the New York area since Carl Yastrzemski.

Something you might not know: Dunston hit .790 his senior year in high school and went 37-for-37 in stolen base attempts.

My observation n the back: Ummmm ... I can't dispute anything written there, but that doesn't mean it's interesting.

The blog wants to speak now: The News tab is updated.

Friday, April 4, 2014

#279 - The 1981 No. 1 Draft Pick - Mike Moore

What a card: This card recalls the Mariners selecting Mike Moore with the No. 1 pick in the 1981 MLB draft. Moore went ahead of Joe Carter, who was selected No. 2 by the Cubs. Seattle did pretty good in its first three rounds, selecting Mark Langston in the second round and Phil Bradley in the third.

My observation on the front: This is the third straight card featuring a player in a blue pullover jersey. It's definitely the '80s here.

More opinion from me: Ball in glove or no? That's a toughie, but I say "no".

Something you might know: Moore spent one year in the minors for Seattle and started 27 games for the Mariners in 1982, going 7-14.

Something you might not know: Moore signed without an agent and had a deal with the Mariners in a matter of hours.

My observation on the back: I got nothing. I can't wait until these card backs go away.

The blog wants to speak now: The Movies category is updated.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#278 - The 1980 No. 1 Draft Pick - Darryl Strawberry

What a card: This card recalls the Mets' selection of Darryl Strawberry as the No. 1 pick in the 1980 MLB draft. He was the only real star to be drafted in the first round, with No. 10 pick Kelly Gruber ranking a distant second.

My observation on the front: This is Topps' first posed shot of Strawberry, which makes it seem more like a Donruss or Fleer card from that time. Topps was totally into the action shot at that point in the '80s.

More opinion from me: I'm wondering if Strawberry is the reason this subset was created in the first place. Strawberry was huge among collectors then and it was the perfect excuse to get another Strawberry card in the set.

Something you might know: Strawberry hit the Mets' pro ranks as an 18-year-old. At age 21, he made the big-time and was NL Rookie of the Year for the Mets in 1983.

Something you might not know: Strawberry's big brother, Michael, was also drafted in 1980, by the Dodgers in the 31st round. He played two years in the low minors for L.A.

My observation on the back: I'm positive the competition Strawberry faced in high school was much more intense than it is where I live. But our best high school players hit like .700 in a season, so .400 doesn't look that impressive to me.

The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated.