Thursday, May 28, 2015

#416 - Wayne Gross

What a card: This is Wayne Gross' first Topps base cards as a Baltimore Oriole (he's an Oriole in the 1984 Topps Traded set, too). Gross was traded from the A's to the Orioles in December, 1983 for relief pitcher Tim Stoddard.

My observation on the front: Gross is wearing Lee May's old number. Not sure if I approve.

More opinion from me: I've loved Gross' 1978 Topps card (the one with the rookie cup) since I first saw it that year. It's the only Gross card that sticks in my head, even though he had nearly 10 years worth of cards.

Something you might know: Gross hit 22 home runs in his rookie season in 1977, a total he wouldn't match or surpass until he hit 22 with the Orioles in 1984. He was named to the All-Star Game that year.

Something you might not know: Relief pitcher Ed Farmer, whose had experience with baseball brawls, once gave up a home run to Gross and watched Gross trot slowly around the bases. Farmer wanted his revenge, but as a reliever, he had to wait three years. By then, Gross and Farmer were teammates with Oakland and it was spring training. Gross faced Farmer in batting practice and Farmer's first pitch hit Gross squarely in the back. "What was that for?" Gross said. "That was for three years ago!" Farmer said.

My observation on the back: Oh, sure, now you put the Babe Ruth answer on the trivia question.

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

#415 - Ron Darling

What a card: This is Ron Darling's first Topps base card. He appears in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: Another miscut card directly out of the box that I bought at the start of the '85 season. Argh.

More opinion from me: Darling is a member of the best broadcasting crew in baseball. Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez are indispensable for the Mets, in my opinion, but Darling holds his own.

Something you might know: Darling was a consistent member of the Mets' starting rotation during their glory years in the mid-to-late 1980s. He finished fifth in the Cy Young voting during the Mets' World Series championship season in 1986.

Something you might not know: Darling appeared on Sesame Street when he was a player, talking with puppet "Telly," who is looking through his baseball card collection, and features a card of Ron Darling that may or may not be a real baseball card. Darling wears his uniform featuring No. 44, which was his uniform number when he first came up with the Mets.

My observation on the back: The trivia question is a lacking an answer! But I won't leave you hanging. The answer is Babe Ruth.

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

Friday, May 22, 2015

#414 - Gary Ward

What a card: Gary Ward had completed his first season with the Rangers when this card was created. He posted his second straight season of 170-plus hits in a season (171).

My observation on the front: Black bats are awesome.

More opinion from me: Every time I see a Gary Ward card I'm reminded how he was one of four cards that eluded me when I was trying to complete the 1989 Topps set.

Something you might know: Ward came up with the Twins and was one of the year's top rookies in 1981. He's the father of former major leaguer Daryle Ward, and the two are the first father-and-son combination to hit for the cycle.

Something you might not know: Ward claimed that his trade from the Twins to the Rangers in the offseason of 1983 was racially motivated. The Twins had the lowest number of minorities among all major league clubs at the time (as little as 3 or 4). The Twins denied Ward's accusation.

My observation on the back: I have never seen the statistic "TBB" nor heard of it to describe "Total Bases on Balls." Is there a "THR" for "Total Home Runs"?

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

#413 - Vance Law

What a card: Vance Law was coming off a 1984 season in which he discovered his home run stroke. He hit 17 home runs, 12 more than he had hit in any previous season and the most of his 11-year career.

My observation on the front: You want to know what '80s fashion was all about? A guy wearing a mid-1980s White Sox uniform and giant frames kind of sums it up.

More opinion from me: This is the second appearance of Law in this set and it isn't even the last one. He'll appear in the Traded set, too. That seems like a little too much.

Something you might know: Law is the son of Pirates Cy Young Award winner Vern Law.

Something you might not know: Vance Law could pitch, too. He appeared as an emergency reliever seven times in his career. Seven times! Imagine the Twitter frenzy if it existed during Law's time.

My observation on the back: Vance's siblings names are: VaLynda, Varlin, Vaughn, Veldon and Veryl.

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

#412 - Bud Black

What a card: Bud Black was coming off a 1984 season in which he won 17 games, the most he would win in any one season of his 15-year major league career. He also led the league in WHIP, and I'm sure no one in 1984 knew that he did that.

My observation on the front: It's interesting how the Royals sign is blocking the ball in Black's pitching hand. It's like it's disguising which pitch he's throwing.

More opinion from me: Black, of course, is now the manager for the Padres. He's the first person I think of when I think of pitchers who became major league managers. Yup, even before Tommy Lasorda.

Something you might know: Black is the second longest lasting manager in Padres history. Only Bruce Bochy, who immediately preceded Black, managed for more years.

Something you might not know: Black is only the second person to win 100 games as a pitcher and 600 games as a manager. The other is 19th century Hall of Famer Clark Griffith.

My observation on the back: Black's parents are Canadian. His father came to California because he was recruited to play hockey at USC. The Trojans had one of the best college hockey teams in the country back when Black's dad was playing for them.

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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

#411 - Bobby Cox

What a card: Bobby Cox was entering his fourth season as the Blue Jays manager when this card was issued. After back-to-back 89-73 seasons, Cox would lead Toronto to what would be its most successful season to date in 1985 as the team made the ALCS.

My observation on the front: Cox doesn't appear to appreciate the home plate ump's call here.

More opinion from me: Cox looks particularly grumpy on his Blue Jays cards. It's not until the 1986 set where he can crack a smile.

Something you might know: Cox led the Blue Jays and Braves to the postseason and was in charge when Atlanta won the World Series in 1995. He's fourth all-time in managerial wins and first all-time in managerial ejections.

Something you might not know: Braves owner Ted Turner gave Cox his first MLB managerial job with Atlanta in 1977 in part because of a recommendation made by then Atlanta Hawks coach Hubie Brown.

My observation on the back: The blurb conveniently leaves out that the Blue Jays' second-place finish was a full 15 games behind the first-place Tigers, who went a torrid 104-58 in 1984.

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

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

#410 - Bob Horner

What a card: Bob Horner's 1985 card appears after a frustrating season in which Horner fractured his right wrist for the second time in a matter of months, missing all but 32 games of the 1984 season.

My observation on the front: The Braves have gone through a variety of uniform and helmet looks during my time as a baseball fan. I actually don't mind this particular combo, although the powder blue pants might not have been the best choice.

More opinion from me: I remember when Horner was a big deal with the Braves in 1978. I didn't like it. The Braves were supposed to be lousy with lousy players. That's all I knew.

Something you might know: Horner moved straight from college ball to the major leagues and won Rookie of the Year honors the same year, hitting 23 home runs in 89 games and 323 at-bats in '78.

Something you might not know: Horner went to Apollo High School in Glendale, Ariz., where the basketball team was a bigger deal than the baseball team. Horner's high school basketball team was disqualified from the state playoffs for playing an unsanctioned scrimmage game.

My observation on the back: The Pirates also set a record during that World Series for the most hits in a seven-game World Series (91).

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