Friday, August 28, 2015

#446 - Jim Sundberg


What a card: This is Jim Sundberg's only Topps base card as a Milwaukee Brewer (he appears in the '84 Topps Traded set as a Brewer, too). He was dealt to the Royals in January 1985.

My observation on the front: I enjoy that Sundberg is clutching his catcher's mask with his elbow.

More opinion from me: I remember when I first saw this card. I was shocked that Sundberg was anything but a Texas Ranger. He had spent the first 10 years of his career with the Rangers.

Something you might know: Sundberg built his reputation on defense, winning six straight Gold Gloves at catcher.

Something you might not know: Sundberg still holds the American League record for most games caught in a season. He crouched for 155 games in his second season in 1975 (and batted .199!).


My observation on the back: Scuba diving and Egyptian Arabian horses? He's a Renaissance Man in the 1980s.

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

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

#445 - Tippy Martinez


What a card: Tippy Martinez was coming off a bit a down year when this card was issued. After a standout 1983, Martinez went 4-9 with a soaring 3.91 ERA in 1984.

My observation on the front: Uh oh, Martinez isn't wearing a cap. I wonder if someone at Topps thought he was going to be traded.

More opinion from me: As kids, we thought "Tippy" was a ridiculous name. I am finding out now that his real first name is "Felix". (An aunt gave Martinez the nickname "Tippy").

Something you might know: Martinez was a key figure in the Orioles' World Series-winning season of 1983, saving 21 games and adding two saves in the World Series.

Something you might not know: Martinez halted Ron LeFlore's 30-game hitting streak during the 1976 season. Martinez was playing for the Yankees then and when he was on the mound with LeFlore at the plate, Thurman Munson visited him with LeFlore down 0-2 and the Yankees winning 9-5. Munson told Martinez to give LeFlore a fastball, because Munson felt LeFlore deserved one last fair shot at continuing the streak. Martinez threw a fast ball and LeFlore watched it go by for strike three.

Three years later, Martinez was on the mound facing the Yankees. It was the game after Munson had died in a plane crash. Martinez and the Orioles were ahead 4-3 in the 9th and Bobby Murcer came to the plate with two runners on base. Murcer was in an emotional state, having given Munson's eulogy, and Martinez thought of what Munson did for LeFlore three years earlier. According to the book "Munson: The Life and Death of a Yankee Captain," Martinez said he felt bad for not going to Munson's funeral. With Murcer down 0-2, Martinez remembered the LeFlore advice and sent a fastball toward Murcer on the outside edge. Murcer lined a two-run single to give the Yankees a dramatic 5-4 victory.


My observation on the back: Martinez's wife is named Carol. I don't know if that's the same person that is mentioned here.

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

#444 - Tony Phillips


What a card: Tony Phillips was entering his fourth season for the A's when this card was issued. He enjoyed his most productive season to date in 1984 with 120 hits and 24 doubles in 451 at-bats.

My observation on the front: Very nice batting cage shot -- Phillips had some good card photos early in his career.

More opinion from me: This card gives me an idea for a post on the main blog. Sorry, can't give away the idea, although it's likely to interest only me.

Something you might know: Phillips played 18 seasons in the majors, thanks to his ability to play a number of positions and an offensive surge after being signed by the Tigers as a free agent prior to the 1990 season. He led the league in walks twice.

Something you might not know: Phillips is one of five major leaguers to hit a home run on his 40th birthday. The others are Bob Thurman, Joe Morgan, Wade Boggs and Chipper Jones.

 
My observation on the back: Roswell High School in Georgia was also attended by former MLB infielder Mike Ramsey, as well as NFL players Jermaine Phillips and Chris Reis.

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

#443 - George Wright


What a card: This is the third of the four Topps flagship cards that George Wright would have in his career. Wright was coming off a disappointing 1984 after having a career year for the Rangers in 1983.

My observation on the front: Wright's helmet is down so low I don't know how he hit that ball.

More opinion from me: I loved George Wright's cards. He always seemed to be whaling on a pitch, and I wanted him to be a superstar.

Something you might know: Wright played in all 162 games for the Rangers in 1983, supplying 175 hits and 18 home runs for a surprising Texas club.

Something you might not know: The Angels' Mike Witt pitched a perfect game against the Rangers on the last day of the 1984 season. Wright, in the midst of a slump, went 0-for-3 in the game. When asked what he'd do in the offseason, Wright said, "I'm going to change my name and move to Africa."


My observation on the back: The Braves were the "Bees" only from 1936-40. The team president wanted a new name to signify a new start as the Braves were lousy in the '20s and '30s. But the Bees became the Braves again in 1941.

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

Friday, August 14, 2015

#442 - Ken Forsch


What a card: This is the final Topps card of Ken Forsch's career. He did appear in the Fleer set in 1986.

My observation on the front: An excellent final tribute -- the tip of the cap.

More opinion from me: The difference in size of Forsch's wikipedia page compared with the one of his brother and fellow pitcher Bob Forsch is disturbing. Bob had the more successful career, but they were pretty comparable.

Something you might know: When Forsch threw a no-hitter against the Braves on April 7, 1979, the Forsches became the first and only brother duo to register MLB no-hitters. It was also the earliest no-hitter in MLB history. (It is now the earliest no-hitter in NL history).

Something you might not know: Forsch nearly didn't pitch the game in which he no-hit the Braves. A spider bite on his non-pitching elbow made him sick a couple of days before his start.


 My observation on the back: The type is small, but if you click on the image you can see Forsch pitched just two games in 1984. He suffered a partial rotator cuff tear and missed the rest of the season, as well as 1985, too.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#441 - Duane Walker


What a card: This is Duane Walker's final card as a Cincinnati Red, the team that drafted him. He was dealt to the Rangers in the middle of the 1985 season.

My observation on the front: Walker's cap is never going to stay on like that.

More opinion from me: I have a terrible time with the name "Duane". I knew a kid growing up named Duane and he was one weird kid from one weird family.

Something you might know: Walker was one of many young Cincinnati outfielders in the early 1980s. He couldn't compete with the likes of Eddie Milner, Gary Redus and, later, Eric Davis.

Something you might not know: Walker was part of the trade that allowed the Rangers to obtain future closer Jeff Russell. The Reds wanted 34-year-old Buddy Bell and it took Russell and Walker to get him.


My observation on the back: You don't grow up when I did and not think of "Urban Cowboy" when you see Pasadena, Texas. That mechanical bull was a really big deal.

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

#440 - Fernando Valenzuela


What a card: Fernando Valenzuela was coming off the first losing season of his career when this card came out. He went 12-17 in 1984 but pitched better than he did in the 1983 season when he went 15-10.

My observation on the front: It appears that this photo is a couple of clicks after Valenzuela's famous habit of looking up to the sky during his wind-up.

More opinion from me: Topps did a lousy job of capturing what was the most talked about aspect of Valenzuela's pitching motion. While Fleer featured the "eyes to the sky" in its second year, and Leaf did in its first year as a "premier" card set, Topps waited until late in Valenzuela's career for whatever reason.

Something you might know: The major league sensation of the 1981 season, Fernando Valenzuela began the year with five straight shutouts to touch off "Fernandomania".

Something you might not know: Valenzuela became a U.S. citizen just two weeks ago, and a few months after his wife, Linda, did.


My observation on the back: Fernando Jr. played first base and the outfield in the Padres and White Sox organizations between 2003-06, getting as high as Double A.

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