Wednesday, July 1, 2015

#428 - Larry Andersen

What a card: This is Larry Andersen's first card since 1983. All the major card companies left him out of their 1984 sets.

My observation on the front: Anderson is making his first appearance on a card for the Phillies, the team to which he is most associated.

More opinion from me: I still don't know why '80s teams thought piping on the shoulders was a good idea.

Something you might know: I think everybody knows that Andersen is part of what's considered one of the most lopsided trades in MLB history. The Red Sox traded prospect Jeff Bagwell to Houston for the use of Anderson for the month of September in 1990.

Something you might not know: Larry Andersen and his wife once hosted Thanksgiving dinner for a party of 27. They served spaghetti on fine china but didn't put out any silverware, instead placing a paper bag beside each plate. In the paper bag was a bib, a chocolate mint, a napkin and plastic gloves. The guests ate spaghetti on Thanksgiving with plastic gloves.

My observation on the back: I wonder if their daughter ever ate spaghetti with plastic gloves?

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

Monday, June 29, 2015

#427 - Mario Ramirez

What a card: This is the middle card in a Topps trifecta of Mario Ramirez cards. He had just three, from 1984-86. Ramirez hit just .119 in 1984.

My observation on the front: Ramirez's cap is low, so you can focus on his terrific mustache.

More opinion from me: Most of the Padres cards look excellent in this set. Have I said this already?

Something you might know: Ramirez was a utility infielder who was in the lineup strictly for his defense. He never appeared in more than 55 games in his six-year major league career.

Something you might not know: Ramirez was the Padres' first Rule 5 draft pick in a decade in 1980. That same year they also made Alan Wiggins a Rule 5 pick.

My observation on the back: That's pretty cool that he could play baseball and softball in high school. You don't get to do that in the U.S. that much.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated. Please be kind, rewind.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#426 - Vern Ruhle

What a card: Vern Ruhle struggled through his 1984 season with the Astros. After years as a starter, he was primarily a reliever for the second straight season. By the time this card arrived in packs, he had already signed as a free agent with the Indians.

My observation on the front: I wonder how many baseball card photo poses have been taken in that exact spot at Shea Stadium?

More opinion from me: Ruhle's best season came in 1980, which was the year Houston outlasted the Dodgers to make the NLCS. I remember being annoyed that this pitcher emerged out of nowhere to help eliminate the Dodgers.

Something you might know: Ruhle started Game 4 of the 1980 NLCS with the Astros needing one win to advance to the World Series for the first time. He held the Phillies scoreless for six innings and entered the seventh with a 2-0 lead. But the Phillies went ahead in the seventh off of Ruhle and relievers Dave Smith and Joe Sambito. After the Astros tied the game in the 9th, the Phillies won in the 10th and won Game 5, too, to reach the Series.

Something you might not know: Ruhle surrendered a run-scoring single to Hank Aaron in 1975 that allowed Aaron to surpass Babe Ruth for the career RBI record. It was Aaron's 2,210th run batted in.

My observation on the back: Ruhle was presented with his degree from Olivet between games of a Tigers doubleheader. Don Winger, a longtime sports editor for the Midland (Mich.) Daily News (Ruhle grew up in Midland) also graduated from Olivet and presented him the award.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#425 - Mike Hargrove

What a card: Mike Hargrove was entering his final major league season as a player when this card was issued. He recorded 352 at-bats in 1984, which was the fewest for Hargrove in a nonstrike season since he started his MLB career in 1974.

My observation on the front: I'm pretty certain this is a posed shot.

More opinion from me: I liked Hargrove a lot as a kid, but it's all due to his 1976 Topps card.

Something you might know: Hargrove was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1974, but is probably known more now for managing the Indians, Orioles and Mariners between 1991-2007.

Something you might not know: Hargrove is ranked 76th all-time in on-base percentage. To put that in a little perspective, only active players Joey Votto (22nd), Albert Pujols (53rd), Miguel Cabrera (63rd) and Joe Mauer (70th) rate higher.

My observation on the back: Hargrove started the 1979 season with the Padres, but was traded to the Indians in mid-season. I remember being annoyed that I would never see Hargrove in a Padres uniform on a baseball card.

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

Friday, June 19, 2015

#424 - Al Nipper

What a card: This is Al Nipper's Topps rookie card. He finished seventh in the AL Rookie of the Year voting after essentially registering what we would be the best season of his seven-year MLB career.

My observation on the front: This looks like a photo that a card company that didn't have a major league license would run. It would've fit right in with 2010 Upper Deck.

More opinion from me: I always got Al Nipper confused with another Red Sox-Cubs pitcher from about the same time, Allen Ripley. I know anyone who was born after 1985 can't appreciate this, but let the old man have his memories.

Something you might know: Nipper started Game 4 of the 1986 World Series for Boston against the Mets. He lost the game, pitching six innings and allowing seven hits, including a two-run home run to Gary Carter. He also allowed a titan blast to Darryl Strawberry in Game 7, made famous by Strawberry's noticeably slow trot around the bases. Nipper hit Strawberry in the hip with a pitch the next time he faced him, in spring training, causing the benches to empty.

Something you might not know:  Nipper was the Red Sox's co-rookie pitcher of the year in 1984. He shared the award with Roger Clemens.

My observation on the back: Wow, two straight posts that mention Dale Murphy. The five walks in one game still remains the regulation-game record and is held by many players, although the 5-walk game is even less common than throwing a no-hitter.

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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

#423 - Barry Bonnell

What a card: Barry Bonnell was coming off his first season with the Mariners as this card hit packs. After a strong 1983 in which he led the Blue Jays in batting average, he fell to a pedestrian .264.

My observation on the front: I see a lit scoreboard in the distance.

More opinion from me: I must have pulled Bonnell's rookie card a few dozen times in 1978. I know that card was double-printed, but damn, so many duplicates.

Something you might know: Bonnell hit .300 in 100 games for the Braves during his rookie season in 1977.

Something you might not know: Bonnell turned Dale Murphy on to Mormonism. A devout Mormon, Bonnell was a minor league teammate of Murphy's, and often would read scripture passages during bus trips in the middle of the night. Murphy was curious about what Bonnell was reading and it led to many religious discussions between the two before Murphy was eventually baptized in the faith.

My observation on the back: Connie Mack, your record is safe forever.

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

#422 - Carney Lansford

What a card: Carney Lansford was coming off a nice bounce-back season when this card arrived in packs. After playing in just 80 games in his first season with the A's, he totaled 179 hits in 151 games in 1984, hitting .300 for the fourth straight year.

My observation the front: It took scanning this card for me to realize there is a red line running from Lansford's glasses down to the bottom of the card.

More opinion from me: I'm guessing most people associate Lansford with the A's since he spent 10 of his 15 major league seasons with them and appeared in three World Series for Oakland. But I associate him with his first two teams, the Angels and the Red Sox. Lansford was a touted prospect with the Angels right at the point when I started becoming aware of prospects. And the trade between the Angels and Red Sox that involved Lansford, Butch Hobson and Rick Burleson was earth-shattering to my baseball world at the time.

Something you might know: Lansford led the American League in batting average (.336) while with the Red Sox during the strike-shortened 1981 season.

Something you might not know: When Lansford was the hitting coach for the Giants in 2009, his son, Jared, pitching for the A's in spring training, faced the Giants. Lansford had such a difficult time thinking of his son facing his batters that he left the game and wandered out in the parking lot until the inning was over.

My observation the back: Four other players have hit a grand slam in their first game since Bobby Bonds -- all of them since 2005. They are Jeremy Hermida (2005), Kevin Kouzmanoff (2006),  Daniel Nava (2010) and Brandon Crawford (2011).

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