Wednesday, May 4, 2016

#530 - Dave Dravecky

What a card: After a season in which he was used exclusively as a starter, Dave Dravecky returned to his role as a periodic starter and sometimes closer for the Padres in 1984. He saved eight games and helped San Diego to the World Series.

My observation on the front: There's a look at what the AL and NL all-stars are going to have to wear for jerseys during the home run derby at the All-Star Game this year. I don't mind Padres wearing that weirdness but hate that other teams will wear it.

More opinion from me: Dravecky kind of freaked me out when he broke his arm pitching in Montreal in 1989. I was having issues with my arm at the time (even going so far to think it might be cancer) and that really alarmed me. Fortunately there were no lasting problems.

Something you might know: Dravecky made a triumphant return from a cancer diagnosis that forced operation on his pitching arm in 1988. Although told by doctors not to pitch for a couple of years, Dravecky returned on Aug. 10, 1989 with a standout performance against the Reds. But his arm broke while delivering a pitch in his next start in Montreal. Doctors found the cancer had returned and he eventually had to have his arm and shoulder amputated.

Something you might not know: Dravecky is known as a deeply religious man and was as a player, too. The person who inspired Dravecky down that path was his minor league roommate at Double A Amarillo in 1981, a pitcher named Byron Ballard, who played seven seasons in the minors in the Yankees, Padres and Mets organizations.

My observation on the back: Thanks to ESPN, that trivia question is no longer correct.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated. Appropriately, it's about another sports figure who suffered a devastating on-field injury.

Monday, May 2, 2016

#529 - Rich Gedman

What a card: Rich Gedman was coming off a breakout season when this card was issued. He set career highs in almost every category in 1984, and it would be the best season of his 13-year career.

My observation on the front: The pointing-the-bat-at-the-pitcher thing -- whether it's a timing device or not -- is always cool.

More opinion from me: Gedman will forever be a favorite of mine because he was up front with me, unlike an Astros teammate, on where I could find Craig Biggio, who I was searching out for an interview in the Houston locker room.

Something you might know: Gedman caught Roger Clemens' 20-strikeout game against the Mariners in 1986, setting an AL record for catching putouts in a game.

Something you might not know: Gedman's wife, Sherry, is still second all-time in University of Connecticut softball history for career ERA at 0.57.

My observation on the back: Mike Piazza now holds the career home run mark by a catcher with 396. But before that, Carlton Fisk broke Yogi Berra's record.

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

Thursday, April 28, 2016

#528 - Bill Krueger

What a card: Here is the card foretold by the checklist in the previous post. Was it worth the advance knowledge?

My observation on the front: So much green. I like it.

More opinion from me: Bill Krueger arrived in the majors in 1983, one year before the first "Nightmare On Elm Street" movie, starring one of the most famous slasher characters of all-time, Freddy Krueger. Both Kruegers continued to work through the '80s and into the '90s. I'm guessing that Bill was called "Freddy" at least once. That claw hand could have helped him develop a new pitch.

Something you might know: Krueger pitched for 13 seasons with eight different teams. After struggling for years to stay in the majors, he enjoyed success with the Mariners during the early '90s.

Something you might not know: Krueger went into cardiac arrest after stepping off an elliptical machine at the Pro Sports Club in Bellevue, Wash., in 2012. Several staff members, who were trained in emergency situations, revived Krueger and tended to him until emergency responders arrived. Krueger later credited the club workers for saving his life.

 My observation on the back: I wonder if he took photos of basketball?

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

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

#527 - Checklist, Cards 397-598

What a card: We've arrived at the 4th checklist in the set. Not much to see here though.

My observation on the front: After some colorful borders on the first two checklists, the second two have featured solid black. I have a feeling all of the borders were supposed to be black.

More opinion from me: Can you imagine someone pulling this checklist before realizing there was a U.S. Olympic team subset? "Who the hell is John Hoover?"

Something you might know: Two players on the front of this checklist went on to be major league managers (Bud Black, Mike Hargrove).

Something you might not know: Oddibe McDowell was the most insignificant player to appear at card number 400 in a Topps flagship set up to this point. And he wouldn't be challenged for that honor until Henry Rodriguez, struggling to get into the Dodger lineup, was placed at 400 in the 1995 set.

My observation on the back: The previous checklists have given you a decent glimpse of the cards to come in the set. But this checklist appears so late that you get a peek at only the next card to come.

The blog wants to speak now: Not tonight. Gotta get up way too early.

Friday, April 22, 2016

#526 - Dave Palmer

What a card: Dave Palmer returned to the Topps set in 1985 after being left out of the 1984 set due to missing the entire 1983 season with another injury to his right elbow. He missed all of the 1981 season because of an injury to the same elbow.

My observation on the front: There's Palmer straining that right elbow now.

More opinion from me: Palmer is from Glens Falls, N.Y., which also produced major league pitchers Dave LaPoint and Randy St. Claire at around the same time. This is puzzling because Glens Falls is a very small city north of Albany and the weather in upstate New York is rather hostile toward high school baseball.

Something you might know: Palmer pitched a five-inning, rain-shortened perfect game against the Cardinals on April 21, 1984. The game was removed from the list of MLB no-hitters in 1991 because it was not a full, 9-inning game.

Something you might not know: The famed clip of Palmer "tripping himself" and falling face first over third base was called "the blooper of the year" by Rafael Palmeiro.

 My observation on the back: You hear a lot about the maximum number of players on a roster, but not a lot about the minimum. I just had to search around for a few minutes to find mention of the 24-player minimum.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated (sometimes the updates aren't right at the top. This one is a couple dates down).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#525 - Darrell Porter

What a card: Darrell Porter had just completed what would be his final full season as a starter and was entering his final year with the Cardinals when this card was issued.

My observation on the front: It would not be a Darrell Porter card without those famed frames. I could find only one card in which he's not wearing glasses. It's his 1973 Topps card.

More opinion from me: If Porter's story isn't the biggest deterrent to doing drugs, I don't know what is.

Something you might know: Porter won the MVP award for both the 1982 NLCS and the World Series. He won three World Series titles, one with the Royals and two with the Cardinals.

Something you might not know: When Porter died in 2002 from the effects of cocaine use, it was just before the Cardinals were to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 1982 World Series title. The manager of that team, Whitey Herzog, called Porter on Monday about the dinner and golf tournament and then Porter died on Wednesday. All of the members of the team showed for the reunion and put his number on their golf shirts.

My observation on the back: Porter's agreement with the Cardinals made him the highest paid catcher in the game at the time.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated with perhaps the most famous ballgame of 1985.

Monday, April 18, 2016

#524 - Rob Wilfong

What a card: Rob Wilfong was coming off basically his last productive major league season when this card was issued. He'd hang on for a couple more years thanks to his glove, but he struggled through them on offense.

My observation on the front: I don't hold much nostalgia for the Angels, but I would like the "state" logo to return. I suppose that's not realistic since they're not the "California Angels" anymore. But if the team can take credit for being from both Los Angeles and Anaheim, they can make this work, too.

More opinion from me: Wilfong was one of those "forever mustache" guys. Wilfong wearing a mustache on his baseball card was one of the few guarantees in life in the 1980s.

Something you might know: Wilfong's one-out base hit in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS scored Ruppert Jones with the game-tying run for the Angels against the Red Sox and the two teams went to extra innings tied 6-6. Wilfong's hit came after Dave Henderson's famous 3-run home run in the top of the inning that brought the Red Sox back from trailing 5-2 to leading 6-5 entering the inning. Henderson would later drive in the winning run in the 11th on a sacrifice fly.

Something you might not know: Wilfong, a scout with the Angels, joined team scouting director Ric Wilson in choosing pitcher Jonah Dipoto on the final day of the baseball draft last June. Dipoto is the son of Jerry Dipoto, who was the Angels' general manager at the time. Jerry Dipoto is now GM of the Mariners. Jonah is a freshman at the University of California San Diego.

My observation on the back: Nice of the trivia quiz to have an Angels-centric question on an Angels' player's card. Don't know why that couldn't have happened on the previous card.

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