Thursday, March 23, 2017

#642 - Dave Owen

What a card: This is Dave Owen's only Topps card. He has just one other card in a major set, and that was also in 1985, in the Donruss set.

My observation on the front: Owen looks super-lanky for a shortstop. The back lists him as 6-2, 170. That's lanky.

More opinion from me: I still knew just about every major leaguer in the game by 1985, but I have to admit, Dave Owen was never on my radar.

Something you might know: Owen is the older brother of the much more famous Owen, Spike.

Something you might not know: Owen's firing as the Royals third base coach in 2010 opened the door for Rusty Kuntz, who has been a base coach with Kansas City since 2011.

My observation on the back: Cobb certainly knew how to play, but I don't know if you want to pin "hero" on a guy who was known for being violent, vicious and racist. Interesting choice by Owen.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#641 - Rod Scurry

What a card: This is Rod Scurry's final card with the Pirates. He was purchased by the Yankees in September 1985.

My observation on the front: Given Scurry's harrowing, drug-filled 1984 season, I can't imagine what's going through his head here.

More opinion from me: Scurry's 1984 season included the following: drug use, a substance abuse rehab stint, public admission of taking cocaine, visits from the FBI, revealing to the authorities a network of dealers peddling drugs to National League players, and finally falling off the wagon and asking for a high-ball of cocaine from his hospital room while recovering from knee surgery that fall. I read about the Pittsburgh drug trial in the newspaper in 1985, but I was never really aware of how crazy it all was.

Something you might know: Scurry broke out big in 1982 by appearing in 76 games for the Pirates and posting a 1.74 ERA. But drug use killed his career and he died from a cocaine-induced heart attack at age 36 in 1992.

Something you might not know: Scurry's public admission of using cocaine in May 1984 came about after a drug-fueled disaster while the Pirates were in L.A. for a road series. Scurry had cocaine smuggled into a newly delivered baseball glove, went out partying while his teammates slept, and started hallucinating when he returned, tearing his room and TV apart in a rage because he thought cameras were planted in it.

My observation on the back: The Rangers led the league in saves in 2016 with 56. It doesn't mean much. The Cubs were 22nd and the Indians 24th in that category in 2016 and they played each other in the World Series.

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

#640 - Steve Henderson

What a card: Steve Henderson was coming off his second and final season with the Mariners when this card was issued. It was his last year as a regular starter. He signed with the A's in the offseason.

My observation on the front: Henderson has that look of a guy who thinks he hit the ball well ... aaaaand it's foul.

More opinion from me: Henderson wore the No. 5 for most of his career, which is impressive to me as he played for several teams and I'd think that number would have been taken, maybe even retired. Not with the Mariners in 1985, of course, but maybe the Mets, A's or Astros?

Something you might know: Henderson was the most notable player among the four traded to the Mets for Tom Seaver in the famed "Midnight Massacre" in June 1977. He was also traded for Dave Kingman.

Something you might not know: When Henderson arrived with the Mets, pitcher Jerry Koosman promised him that every time Henderson got two hits in a game, Koosman would serve Henderson his postgame meal.

My observation on the back: Another example of 1985 Topps lowering their standards for a card with a number ending in zero. There's nothing about Henderson's '84 stats that merit that. You'd have to go back to 1980 for that.

The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated. The TV category is also updated (retroactively to Nov. 11).

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#639 - Ed Hodge

What a card: This is Ed Hodge's only Topps card. (Fleer honored him with two cards, while Donruss ignored him).

My observation on the front: That scene behind Hodge -- I miss summer so much. Maybe it's the two feet of snow that fell yesterday.

More opinion from me: For crying out loud, are there PICNICS going on in the background?

Something you might know: After five-plus seasons in the minors, Hodge pitched his only season in the majors in 1984, appearing in 25 games for the Twins, starting 15 of them.

Something you might not know: Hodge became a police officer after his playing career and worked as a cop for eight years in Johnson City, Tenn. He says he once was almost blown up in a fire during his police career.

My observation on the back: OK, this is it: card No. 639, that's the point when the trivia quiz writer ran out of questions.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated.

Monday, March 13, 2017

#638 - Mike Pagliarulo

What a card: This is Mike Pagliarulo's rookie card.

My observation on the front: Pre-mustache Pagliarulo looks odd to me.

More opinion from me: I will always associate Pagliarulo with former Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto fawning over him during broadcasts early in the career of "Pags". Rizzuto, no doubt, felt a kinship with a young infielder with an Italian background. But it got a little nauseating.

Something you might know: Pagliarulo, who platooned with Scott Leius at third base for the Twins during the team's World Series triumph in 1991, was named the Marlins' hitting coach this offseason, replacing Barry Bonds.

Something you might not know: Pagliarulo notably called out Tony Gwynn in the press when the two were Padres teammates in 1990. Gwynn drew criticism from a few teammates that year as they perceived him as caring only about his own stats. Pagliarulo was interviewed in a New York Daily News article, saying, "He doesn't give a ---- about his team and that's weak. Donnie (Mattingly) would have kicked that guy's ass the first day." Although Gwynn wasn't named in the article, he took those words and the other criticism to heart during a trying season for the Hall of Famer.

My observation on the back: Pagliarulo's father played in Class C and D ball for the Cubs for one year in New Mexico and Idaho.

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

Thursday, March 9, 2017

#637 - Brett Butler

What a card: This is Brett Butler's first flagship Topps card as a Cleveland Indian after appearing as an Indian in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: Brett seems mildly amused.

More opinion from me: Remember when the comedian Brett Butler started getting famous and then had her own sitcom, "Grace Under Fire"? When you mentioned Brett Butler during the mid-1990s, half the time people thought you were referring to the comedian. I didn't find her or her show entertaining, so I was never referring to her when I said "Brett Butler," dammit.

Something you might know: Known as one of the top leadoff hitters of his era, Butler came back from cancer of the tonsils to play for the Dodgers in 1996.

Something you might not know: Butler holds the MLB mark for most career bunt hits with the bases empty with 188.

My observation on the back: I wonder whether Rose is still Butler's idol?

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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

#636 - Shane Rawley

What a card: This is Shane Rawley's first Topps card as a Phillie. He was traded from the Yankees to the Phillies on July 1, 1984 for pitcher Marty Bystrom.

My observation on the front: Rawley is posing in Dodger Stadium, which means the photo was taken while the Phillies were in L.A. from Aug. 17-19, 1984. Rawley pitched the win in the series-finale on Aug. 19.

More opinion from me: Rawley was one of my favorite Mariners from the early Seattle years. I was annoyed when he was traded to the Yankees at the start of the 1982 season.

Something you might know: Rawley started out as an effective reliever for fledgling Seattle, but gradually became a starter while with New York and Philadelphia and won 17 games for the Phillies in 1987.

Something you might not know: During Rawley's injury-plagued years with the Yankees, he was placed on the disabled list in May of 1984. The Yankees tried to hide a shoulder injury by saying he was going on the DL with a "strained sinus."

My observation on the back: That Vander Meer trivia answer may be correct forever.

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