Thursday, April 19, 2018

#780 - Mike Flanagan

What a card: Mike Flanagan rallied from a knee injury that hampered his 1983 season to start 34 games for the Orioles in 1984.

My observation on the front: Mercy, that's another miscut card straight out of the box. When I think about how well-center today's cards are, I realize how old I am. Collectors still wail about miscut cards today, but they have no idea. We were pulling one, two, three per pack when I was a kid.

More opinion from me: Flanagan may be remembered as a broadcaster, an Orioles front-office guy or a Blue Jay. But he's nothing but an Orioles pitcher to me.

Something you might know: Flanagan won the Cy Young Award in 1979 after winning 23 games for the AL champion Orioles.

Something you might not know: Flanagan played on the freshman basketball team for the University of Massachusetts Amherst. During a scrimmage against the varsity team, Flanagan pulled up for a jump shot off a fast break and -- out of nowhere -- was blocked by Julius Erving. Dr. J. was a forward for the Minutemen.

My observation on the back: Manchester is a large city, of more than 100,000 people, so no biggie that Mike and his wife didn't know each other while growing up. The baseball field behind the Manchester high school that Flanagan attended was renamed Mike Flanagan Field in Flanagan's honor in 2014. Flanagan, who suffered from depression for years, committed suicide in 2011.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#779 - Nick Esasky

What a card: Nick Esasky endured a miserable 1984 season after winning the third base job in 1983 and sparking a minor run on his 1984 rookie card.

My observation on the front: Esasky looks like a baseball player.

More opinion from me: I remember thinking that Esasky's name was odd and it would take me a while to learn how to pronounce it.

Something you might know: Esasky hit 30 home runs for the Red Sox in 1989. A year later, he was sidelined by vertigo, missing virtually the whole season with the Braves and never played again.

Something you might not know: Esasky took custody of his daughter's 1-year-old child 12 years ago because his daughter was hooked on methamphetamine and refused treatment. The custody action eventually forced his daughter into rehab. It appears -- although I'm not 100 percent sure -- that his daughter is fully recovered, graduated from the University of Akron in 2011 and has been working in New York City. (Esasky's daughter is not named in this story, but the nonprofit he announced in the article was called "K.I.M." (Kids In Meth) and one of his two daughters is named Kimberly. The other is Jennifer).

My observation on the back: Sammy Sosa now holds the NL record with his 20 home runs in June 1998.

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

Friday, April 13, 2018

#778 - Mike Davis

What a card: Mike Davis fell off quite a bit from his breakout 1983 season. He batted just .230 with nine homers in 134 games. He'd rebound big-time in 1985, slugging 24 HRs.

My observation on the front: A bat-selection photo will never fail.

More opinion from me: Davis will always be a favorite of mine for one little plate appearance.

Something you might know: Davis is probably most-known for the walk he took with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Dodgers trailing the A's 4-3 in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. The next batter, Kirk Gibson, launched a two-run home run that won the game and became legend.

Something you might not know: The Dodgers beat out the Yankees in a race to sign free-agent Davis in December of 1987. The Dodgers offered slightly more money, but nearly didn't get the offer to Davis in Florida. They needed to fax it but the fax machine was locked in the library at Dodger Stadium. GM Fred Claire couldn't find the key so they had to call a locksmith. Davis and his agent were convinced by the effort to sign with L.A.

My observation on the back: Joe Blanton is now the most recent pitcher to hit a home run in the World Series (Joe Blanton!). He hit it for the Phillies against the Rays in 2008.

The blog wants to speak now: I've mentioned this before, but people keep asking it, so I'll write it again: Yes, I am blogging the Traded set after I finish the main set. My plan is to continue the same format for any players who were not featured in the main set. I'm not sure what I'll do with repeated players, but it won't be as involved as when I blogged about them in the first time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

#777 - Ned Yost

What a card: Backup catcher Ned Yost completed his first and only season with the Texas Rangers in 1984. He was released by the Rangers in April of 1985 and picked up by the Expos. This is his final Topps card as a player.

My observation on the front: Scanning really brings out a cards imperfections. I never noticed the speckles on the left border until I scanned it.

More opinion from me: Players from the '80s who are now managers make me feel old. Yes, I know there are managers who played in the '00s.

Something you might know: Yost was the manager for Royals World Series teams of 2014 and 2015 and helped K.C. to its first World Series title since 1985.

Something you might not know: Yost worked an after-school job at Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was a teenager. He credits scrubbing pots for building up his catcher's arm strength.

My observation on the back: Mantle is still the all-time World Series RBI leader. The only non-Yankee that is in the top-10 in this category is Duke Snider.

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

Monday, April 9, 2018

#776 - Jerry Royster

What a card: Jerry Royster had completed the last of nine seasons with the Braves when this card was issued. He signed with the Padres as a free agent in January 1985.

My observation on the front: I like the Braves' '80s uniforms more than what they wear now, although this is likely a spring training look.

More opinion from me: I distinctly remember being disappointed pulling Royster's 1977 Topps card as it's his first solo card and it shows him with the Braves. Royster came up with the Dodgers and I had looked forward to a card of him in a Dodger uniform. That day never came as Royster was dealt to Atlanta in the Dusty Baker deal.

Something you might know: Royster managed the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002 after his former Dodgers teammate, Davey Lopes, was fired just 15 games into the season. Royster didn't last to 2003 as he was fired after the season.

Something you might not know: Royster was the first non-Korean to manage in South Korea's pro leagues when he took over the Lotte Giants. In his first season, he took the team to the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

My observation on the back: Royster is divorced from Kathy. They have two daughters, Kristie and Kara.

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

Friday, April 6, 2018

#775 - Mookie Wilson

What a card: Mookie Wilson put together a third consecutive year of similar stats for the Mets in 1984. Six hundred-plus plate appearances, a batting average in the .270s, lots of stolen bases, doubles and triples and modest power.

My observation on the front: Pretty much everything you think about Mookie Wilson's persona is right here on this card.

More opinion from me: This card kicks off a binder page in the set that is filled with future postseason heroes and goats. Wilson is the perfect start.

Something you might know: Wilson hit the most famous ground ball in World Series history, a roller that scooted between the legs of the Red Sox's Bill Buckner to score the winning run in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

Something you might not know: Wilson nearly became a Red Sox six years after his famous hit during the 1991-92 offseason. The Red Sox, however, decided to sign Herm Winningham instead. It was Wilson's last chance and he then retired.

My observation on the back: Maybe the reason that John and Paul didn't reach the majors is because they didn't have a cool name like their brother. (P.S.: Mookie's given name is William).

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

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

#774 - Dennis Lamp

What a card: Dennis Lamp was in the middle of his best season in the big leagues when this card came out. In his second season with the Blue Jays, he went 11-0 while pitching all but one of his 53 games in relief.

My observation on the front: At this point it was strange to see Lamp with any other team than the Chicago squads. His first seven years were with the Cubs and White Sox.

More opinion from me: Lamp has some great-looking cards and it's all about that most-impressive mustache. His first few cards are goofy, a combination of glasses and a still fledgling stache. Then, bam, the 1982 Topps card hit the streets.

Something you might know: Lamp gave up Lou Brock's 3,000th career hit on Aug. 13, 1979. Brock's hit deflected off Lamp's hand and he had to leave the game.

Something you might not know: As of 2011, Lamp was working at a fish market in Newport Beach, Calif. Here's a photo of him behind the counter.

My observation on the back: The AL April home run mark is now held by Alex Rodriguez, who hit 14 for the Yankees in 2007.

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