Thursday, December 8, 2016

#605 - Ozzie Smith

What a card: Ozzie Smith was entering his "Go Crazy" year when this card was issued. His game-winning home run in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS was the capper to what was then a career-best season, and he would maintain that level for most of the rest of his career.

My observation on the front: It almost appears as if there's a picnic going on in the background with the people standing around.

More opinion from me: Since the tail end of his career, Smith has been upset with manager Tony La Russa for the way La Russa tried to replace Smith with Royce Clayton as the starting shortstop. While I think it's time to let it go, I fully understand if it's not easy to forgive La Russa for some of the stuff he does.

Something you might know: A first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2002, Smith won the Gold Glove 13 straight years and had his No. 1 retired by the Cardinals.

Something you might not know: During a 1980 contract holdout in spring training, Smith's agent Ed Gottlieb told the Padres that Smith was going to enter that summer's Tour de France instead of playing for San Diego. Smith says he had no idea what the Tour de France was at the time.

My observation on the back: It seems odd that you'd have to tell someone that Smith is known as "The Wizard of Oz," but I suppose it had to start somewhere.

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#604 - Daryl Sconiers

What a card: Daryl Sconiers was admitting he had a "substance problem" during spring training when this card was appearing in packs. It was part of the explanation for his sophomore slump in 1984 after a promising 1983.

My observation on the front: This photo was likely taken during spring training of '84 when Sconiers had a lot to look forward to after his first 100-game season.

More opinion from me: I like Sconiers' 1983 Topps Traded card a lot.

Something you might know: Sconiers put up several Pacific Coast League seasons with high .300 averages and was regarded as one of the top young hitting prospects in the game until injuries and drug and alcohol abuse got in the way. The Angels released him after the 1985 season and he never reached the majors again.

Something you might not know: Sconiers' son, Daryl Jr., was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year after being convicted along with another man in the first-degree killing of a man in Sherman Oaks, Calif., in 2009.

My observation on the back: There are so many baseball abbreviations that mean something else depending on your interests or line of work that it's nice that baseball has "GIDP" all to itself.

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

Friday, December 2, 2016

#603 - Rick Manning

What a card: Rick Manning had completed what would be his final season of playing at least 100 games when this card was issued. From 1985 to the end of his career in 1987, it was part-time duty.

My observation on the front: Love the color-coded glove.

More opinion from me: Rick Manning could have been the first (former) major league player ever interviewed by me. I was on the field with only a couple of other people between me and him during the opening ceremonies for the new minor league baseball team in Niagara Falls, N.Y., the Niagara Falls Rapids. But Manning was so well-known in the area and gabbing with so many people that little ol' me, covering his first pro game, felt intimidated. It turns out the first MLB player I'd interview would be U.L. Washington, who I talked to after the Rapids' first game.

Something you might know: Manning was a sure-handed, speedy outfielder for the Indians and Brewers. The baseball gossip fans like pointing out that Dennis Eckersley's first wife, Denise, left Eckersley for Manning while the two ballplayers were on the same team and good friends.

Something you might not know: Manning grew up playing shortstop and played it all through the minors. His first game in the outfield was in the major leagues, and he won a Gold Glove in his second year in 1976.

My observation on the back: The Duffy Cup was given out by Biship Duffy High School's Men's Club. The school merged with another Catholic school in the city in 1975 and is now Niagara Catholic Junior and Senior High.

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#602 - Jeff Dedmon

What a card: This is Jeff Dedmon's first card in Topps flagship. His initial appearance in a major set is in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: The Diamondbacks with their weird all-gray uniforms, should take a look at this. That's how it's done if you're going to do that "color rush" thing.

More opinion from me: Dedmon is an outstanding Wild West name.

Something you might know: Dedmon was a well-used reliever for the Braves from 1984-87 who gave up the first of Matt Williams' 378 career home runs, on April 19, 1987.

Something you might not know: Dedmon's daughter, Kristen, played softball for UCLA. Her claim to fame is driving in the winning run with a two-run, pinch-hit single in the fifth inning of the deciding game against California to win the Bruins the 2004 College Women's World Series.

My observation on the back: I bet Felipe and Matty never let him forget it, too.

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

#601 - Tom Lasorda

What a card: Tom Lasorda was entering what would be his fifth NL West-winning season when this card was created. After the Dodgers finished fourth in 1984, Lasorda would place third in manager of the year voting for 1985.

My observation on the front: I can't quite read the uniform name on the back of the person behind Lasorda. That's disappointing.

More opinion from me: That looks like a forced smile from Lasorda. He has much better cards as a manager.

Something you might know: The man who bleeds Dodger Blue and led the team to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988 was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

Something you might not know: Lasorda's name is on a concession stand at Dodger Stadium, called "Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria". It's a typically Italian restaurant and Lasorda chose some of the dishes. It's his second venture into the restaurant business. His first was "Tommy Lasorda's Ribs and Pasta" in South Pasadena in the late 1980s. It was shut down by the health department in late 1988 after reports of rat sightings and 43 code violations. The restaurant reopened but Lasorda later sued a pest control company for failing to get rid of the rat problem.

My observation on the back: The listing of a manager's height and weight has always amused me. I charted Lasorda's listings during his managerial career. On his first manager card, in the 1978 Topps set, he's listed at 175 pounds. It remains that way until the 1983 Topps set when it jumps to 195 pounds. Lasorda's weight remains at 195 pounds until the 1992 Topps set (the card where he's shown jogging with his pitchers) when his weight drops to 180. His Mother's Cookies card from 1995 lists his weight at 185.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

#600 - Pete Rose

What a card: This is the third and final card of Pete Rose in the set and the second of his non-subset cards (the first was just 53 cards ago).

My observation on the front: Rose's other non-subset card was considered his manager card, so I don't know why "manager" is denoted on this card.

More opinion from me: In 1985, seeing more than one card of the same player was a bit of a rarity, especially if he wasn't an All-Star. Today players get four cards in the Update set alone just to drive player-collectors crazy.

Something you might know: Rose enjoyed a grand return to Cincinnati during the 1984 season, being installed as player-manager and hitting .365 in 26 games. In 1985, he'd play in 119 games, produce 107 hits, set the all-time hits record, and appear in the All-Star Game.

Something you might not know:  Rose threw out the first pitch of the 1985 All-Star Game with Nolan Ryan, who were both playing in that game and being saluted for their longevity. Rose threw his pitch to the Blue Jays' Ernie Whitt and Ryan threw to the Phillies' Ozzie Virgil.

My observation on the back: That one portion of a year with the Expos will never not be weird.

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

#599 - Storm Davis

What a card: Storm Davis was coming off his best season with the Orioles when this card was issued. He won 14 games with a 3.12 ERA and surrendered home runs at the lowest rate in the American League.

My observation on the front: After seeing so many posed "looking in for the sign" shots it's nice to see a real, live one.

More opinion from me: "Storm" was a very odd name in 1982 when Davis first hit the majors. My brother and I gave my youngest brother, an Orioles fan, all kinds of garbage for having a pitcher on his team named "Storm".

Something you might know: Davis won 19 games for the Oakland A's in 1989, receiving a big contract from the Royals in the following offseason. But Davis' ERA was 4.36 despite the 19 wins, and he was cited by Bill James as the perfect example of why wins were overvalued. Davis struggled with Kansas City.

Something you might not know: Davis married his wife, Angie, at age 18. They have a blog.

My observation on the back: Storm's mother was a talk show host for a radio station in Jacksonville, Fla. Even though Storm's actual first name is George, the name "Storm" came from his mother, who read a book titled "Doctors on Trial" while pregnant with Storm. There was a character in the book called "Dr. Storm" whose personality his mother admired.

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