Thursday, April 27, 2017

#653 - Mark Brouhard

What a card: Mark Brouhard was entering his sixth and final season as a part-time outfielder and designated hitter for the Brewers when this card was issued.

My observation the front: "Huh," Brouhard seems to be saying, "so this is my final major league season."

More opinion from me: Brouhard's last name rhymes with "blowhard". I'm guessing no one teased him with that when he was growing up. He looks like he was always strong.

Something you might know: Brouhard's career highlight was going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and four runs scored in Game 4 of the 1982 ALCS against the Angels. The Brewers won the game and tied the series at 2-2 before going on to eliminate the Angels in Game 5.

Something you might not know: Brouhard played in Japan in 1986 and 1987 for the Yakult Swallows. Once, during a rain delay in 1986, Brouhard joined teammate and fellow American Leron Lee in putting on the team's mascot bird heads before pretending to hit home runs and belly-flopping on the tarp on the field.

My observation on the back: I totally forgot the Rangers' park used to be called Arlington Stadium.

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

#652 - Joe Nolan

What a card: Joe Nolan was entering his final major league season when this card was issued. At this point he was the backup to the backup as both Rick Dempsey and Floyd Rayford received more playing time at catcher than Nolan.

My observation on the front: Nolan seemingly did not go anywhere without those glasses.

More opinion from me: Take it from a young, avid collector between 1978-86: Nolan did not look like a ballplayer on any of his baseball cards. I think I was actually appalled when I pulled his 1979 Topps card.

Something you might know: Nolan took over for Johnny Bench behind the plate during the 1981 season. Bench was getting on in years and the Reds saved his legs by having him play third base. Nolan enjoyed his best hitting season that year, batting .309.

Something you might not know: Nolan, playing for the Braves, placed the finishing touch on ending Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak when he caught Rose's foul tip for strike three on the Reds legend's final at-bat of the game.

My observation on the back: You can tell Nolan spent a lot of years (seven) in the minors with those sporadic at-bats in 1972 and 1975.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

#651 - Jeff Russell

What a card: This is Jeff Russell's card after his first full season in the major leagues. The future closer appeared in 33 games in 1984 and started 30 of them, suffering a league-leading 18 losses.

My observation on the front: I'm certain I did not know Russell until he was with the Rangers and featured a mustache and beard. I've got to admit this card here is a bit alarming.

More opinion from me: You can tell this photo was taken the spring training before the 1984 season. No one smiles like that after going 6-18.

Something you might know: Russell was an All-Star closer for the Rangers in 1988 and 1989 and led the American League in saves with 38 in 1989.

Something you might not know: Russell's son, James, a relief pitcher for the Cubs, Braves and Phillies between 2010-16, is married to Nikki Witt, the daughter of former pitcher Bobby Witt. Bobby was a teammate of Jeff Russell's with the Rangers and A's.

My observation on the back: When you start the season 35-5, fans will want to come out to see your games.

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

#650 - Greg Luzinski

What a card: This is Greg Luzinski's final Topps card. By the time it was issued he had already retired at the age of 34.

My observation on the front: There are several cards of Luzinski that say, "he's a big boy." This is one of them.

More opinion from me: Luzinski is kind of two different people in my mind: the clean-shaven Phillies left fielder and the bearded, bespectacled White Sox designated hitter. But there was also that awkward period when he first arrived with the White Sox when he had some giant glasses but no beard.

Something you might know: Luzinski knocked in at least 120 runs twice with the Phillies and was runner-up in the NL MVP voting twice, to Joe Morgan in 1975 and George Foster in 1977.

Something you might not know: The distance and height of Luzinski's blasts were legendary. White Sox teammate Ron Kittle once said about Luzinski: "They're going to have to start a separate record book: 'most home run, roof'."

My observation on the back: Luzinski started the "Bull Ring" in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in 1976.

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

#649 - Sid Fernandez

What a card: This is Sid Fernandez's first Topps card. He first appears in a major card set in 1984 Donruss as a Los Angeles Dodger.

My observation on the front: This is a shot of Fernandez that would appear over and over on his cards. I'd say there's close to 25 different cards of Fernandez in a similar position.

More opinion from me: Still annoyed the Dodgers couldn't wait on Fernandez and dealt him for a middle reliever and a utility infielder (Carlos Diaz and Bob Bailor).

Something you might know: Fernandez is likely the most successful born-and-raised Hawaiian to play major league baseball.

Something you might not know: Fernandez famously wore the No. 50, after his native state, and the theme to "Hawaii 5-0" was played at Shea Stadium during his starts. The idea came from manager Tommy Lasorda, who gave Fernandez the uniform number when he was with the Dodgers.

My observation on the back: I admittedly know little about surfing or how fit you need to be, but it's difficult for me to picture Fernandez, who struggled with weight issues throughout his career, catching a wave.

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

#648 - Bob Jones

What a card: Bob Jones appeared in 64 games for the Rangers, his most major league playing time since he was with the Angels in 1976.

My observation on the front: Jones appears to be getting ready for his coaching career here.

More opinion from me: This card blew me away when I first saw it. There were very few players to appear on baseball cards who I had never heard of during the first half of the 1980s. He was one of them. And with the very generic sounding name of "Bob Jones" I half suspected Topps was putting me on.

Something you might know: Jones recently retired as the bench coach for the Rangers, participating in his last game in October 2016, his 50th and final season in major league ball.

Something you might not know: Jones has won more games as a minor league manager for the Rangers than anyone else.

My observation on the back: Jones led a howitzer group in Vietnam and is deaf in his right ear as a result.

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

Thursday, April 6, 2017

#647 - Rafael Ramirez

What a card: Rafael Ramirez was coming off his only All-Star season when this card was issued. But he didn't appear in the All-Star Game that year in Candlestick Park.

My observation on the front: Always nice to see the batting donut on a baseball card.

More opinion from me: Looking at the stats, Ramirez hit a lot better than I remember. I've probably mixed him up with another light-hitting shortstop. I do that a lot these days.

Something you might know: Ramirez was the Braves' starting shortstop for five seasons from 1982-86.

Something you might not know: When the Expos were trying to deal catcher Gary Carter during the 1984 offseason, they first offered him to the Braves. Montreal asked for Ramirez, pitchers Steve Bedrosian and Craig McMurtry and outfielder Brad Komminsk, but Atlanta thought that was too much. The Expos then traded Carter to the Mets.

My observation on the back: That's right, Bumgarner. Seven home runs twice.

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