Sunday, April 29, 2012

#43 - Andre David

What a card: This is the rookie card AND the only Topps card for Andre David.

My observation on the front: David has a Groucho Marx look that struck me right away when I saw this card for the first time.

More opinion from me: Out of the 33 games that David played for the Twins in 1984, only two were as a designated hitter. Perhaps it should say "OF-DH"?

Something you might know: David was the 49th major leaguer to hit a home run in his first MLB at-bat. It came against Jack Morris. It was also the only home run of his career. He was the Royals' hitting coach in 2005 and 2006.

Something you might not know: David's only other baseball card is in the 1987 Donruss set. Donruss issued a card of him even though he managed only five at-bats in 1986. They would be his last at-bats as a major leaguer.

My observation on the back: I'm proud to say that Adrian Beltre has since tied Mike Schmidt as the single-season leader for home runs by a third baseman. Beltre hit 48 for the Dodgers in 2004.

The blog wants to speak now: Just got back into town. So I only updated the Pop Culture category for today.

Friday, April 27, 2012

#42 - Luis Sanchez

What a card: Luis Sanchez was coming off what was likely his best season in the major leagues in 1984. As the default closer for the Angels, he finished with a career-high and team-high 11 saves in 49 games.

My observation on the front: Sanchez was in his "no mustache" period. When he first appeared on cards in 1983, he had a mustache. In the mid-80s, he was relatively clean shaven. Then in 1986 Topps, the mustache was back.

More opinion from me: The very strange "looking to the skies" pose looks dated, even for 1985. That is a very '60s and early '70s look. Topps should have been beyond that in 1985.

Something you might know: Sanchez pitched for nearly 10 years in the minors and in Mexico before he got called up to the major leagues by the Angels in 1981.

Something you might not know: After his major league career ended in 1985, Sanchez went to Japan, where he was known as "The Mad Venezuelan." He once tried to hit one of his own coaches with a baseball and called him dumb, drawing a large fine. He also once charged a Japanese batter who swore at him.

My observation on the back: Sadly, Sanchez died in 2005, at age 51. I know that doesn't have anything to do with the back, but that's what comes to mind when I see mention of his family.

Also, what is the trivia question trying to insinuate, that Ruth wasn't clutch?

The blog wants to speak now: The TV, Movies and Pop Culture tabs have been updated.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#41 - Mike Fischlin

What a card: Mike Fischlin had just completed his third of four straight season with the Indians, mostly as a platoon guy at second, shortstop or third base.

My observation on the front: An action shot is probably best for Fischlin. He had some very dorky close-up photos with his first Fleer and Donruss cards in 1983.

More opinion from me: Fischlin played five seasons in the major leagues before Topps produced a card of him. Seems kind of mean to me.

Something you might know: Fischlin is now vice president of the Boras Corporation. He has worked more than two decades with sports agent Scott Boras. He was one of Boras' first clients.

Something you might not know: Fischlin was one of the players the Yankees dealt to the Astros to get Cliff Johnson in a June deadline deal in 1977.

My observation on the back: I'm desperately trying to avoid doing any research on the trivia question (as in WHICH championship series). So I'll just mention that Fischlin nicely mixed up his hobbies from the usual "hunting, fishing and golf" and threw "camping" in there.

The blog wants to speak now: The News, Pop Culture and Ballgames tabs are updated. Included are some highlights from the USFL. The USFL was cool. For awhile.

Monday, April 23, 2012

#40 - Phil Niekro

What a card: This was Phil Niekro's first Topps flagship card in anything other than a Braves uniform. He appears in a Yankees uniform in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: Obviously, Niekro just got done throwing a knuckler.

More opinion from me: I always hated seeing Niekro in a Yankee uniform. I liked Phil Niekro. Players I liked don't belong on the Yankees.

Something you might know: Niekro won the 300th game of his career with the Yankees, on the last day of the regular season, Oct. 6, 1985. He pitched a 9-inning shutout against the Blue Jays.

Something you might not know: As you may or may not know, I run another set blog, detailing the 1971 Topps set. Niekro is the first player to appear on both blogs.

My observation on the back: I don't think I've seen an abbreviation for Ohio as simply "O." before.

Yeah, I know, a sea of stats, and I focus on a state abbreviation.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, Music, TV, Pop Culture and News categories have been updated to include, among other things, a certain famous act by coach Bobby Knight.

Friday, April 20, 2012

#39 - Johnny Wockenfuss

What a card: This is the final card of Johnny Wockenfuss issued during his career. He gets the rare "three-position" designation, which Topps actually gave to him for five consecutive years.

My observation on the front: OK, now this Phillies card is one that shows off how good the Phillies cards look in this set. I know I'm probably the only one who sees it, but the contrast of the burgundy-and-gray color design with the Phillies' burgundy uniforms and caps looks great. It makes me want to reorder my 1985 set by team to see all the Phillies cards together.

More opinion from me: Wockenfuss is termed as a "fan favorite" in Detroit, where he spent 10 seasons. I wonder how much of that was just people enjoying pronouncing his last name?

Something you might know: Wockenfuss is known for his bizarre, extremely closed batting stance.

Something you might not know: Wockenfuss holds the record, for players with at least 50 at-bats, for the highest batting average against the Blue Jays (.376).

My observation on the back: Do you think that today players would be willing to have their wives' full name and the names and birthdates of their kids published on the back of a card for all to see?

The blog wants to speak now: I goofed and published a card out of turn. It's since been removed and will appear again fairly soon. Meanwhile, I have updated the News category.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#38 - Jackie Moore

What a card: Jackie Moore's only full season as a major league manager was in 1985 for the A's. He appears on manager cards in the 1984 Traded, 1985 and 1986 base sets, and that's it.

My observation on the front: My, my, my, Jackie looks like a happy guy.

More opinion from me: Topps didn't quite get the color shades right for the A's. You can see the green and yellow is much brighter and simplistic compared with what the A's actually wore.

Something you might know: Moore played just one season in the major leagues. He played 21 games as a catcher for the Detroit Tigers in 1965.

Something you might not know: Moore was part of the coaching staffs for two brand new teams, the 1969 Seattle Pilots and the 1977 Toronto Blue Jays. He just missed being part of a third, as he joined the Texas Rangers in 1973, one year after their first season (Moore still coaches with the Rangers today).

My observation on the back: Moore was a member of the A's coaching staff before being named manager????? You don't say.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV, Pop Culture and News categories have been updated. Make sure to check out the debut of Cherry Coke. It's outrageous!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

#37 - Reid Nichols

What a card: This is Reid Nichols' final card with the Red Sox. He debuted on cards in 1982 with the Red Sox, but would move on to the White Sox, and then finally the Expos where his career finished in 1988.

My observation on the front: The return of the mustache! Nichols first appeared on cards with a mustache in '82. But in sets over the next two years, the mustache was gone. It returns in '85 and would remain for another year before disappearing again in 1987.

More opinion from me: Nichols' mustache always looked drawn on to me. And yes, I've written way too much about someone's mustache.

Something you might know: Nichols is one of the more successful directors of player development in the major leagues. He's been in that role for the Brewers since 2003, and before that he held the same job with the Rangers. The Brewers have vastly improved their farm system in Nichols' time there.

Something you might not know: Nichols' daughter, Kendall, played volleyball for Liberty University, a Christian college in Virginia founded by former televangelist Jerry Falwell.

My observation on the back: Ouch. A high school reference. Nichols had played five years in the majors by this point. Find some game where he had three hits or something.

The blog wants to speak now: Tabs for Ballgames, Music, Movies, Pop Culture and News have been updated.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

#36 - Fred Breining

What a card: This is a classic. There aren't a lot of airbrushed photos in the 1985 Topps set, but the few that exist are flat-out gems.

My observation on the front: Fred Breining wears some terrific glasses on most of his cards, but these are the most striking for me just because of the close-up photograph, the airbrushed greatness, and the terrific "I'm lost" look on Breining's face.

More opinion from me: Breining played most of his career with the Giants, so obviously he was airbrushed out of a Giants uniform in a photo that was taken in Candlestick Park. The 1985 Fleer card of Breining is to be applauded as it's the only one of Breining actually in an Expos uniform.

Something you might know: Breining played just four games for the Expos in 1984. He underwent shoulder surgery during the season, sidelining him for the rest of the year. He never returned to the major leagues.

Something you might not know: After his career, Breining landed a job tending bar at an Elks Club in downtown San Francisco.

My observation on the back: I wonder if he participated in his hobby while working at the Elks?

The blog wants to speak now: The "pop culture" tab has now been rearranged so the latest information is first. I hope to be adding updated info to all of the tabs in the next few days.

Monday, April 9, 2012

#35 - Graig Nettles

What a card: This is Graig Nettles' first base Topps card as a San Diego Padre. He's featured with the Padres in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: Nettles is displaying the "RAK" memorial on his sleeve, which was for late McDonald's founder and Padres owner Ray Kroc. Kroc died in January 1984.

More opinion from me: It was very strange seeing Nettles in anything other than a Yankee uniform back then. I know he played for the Twins and Indians before he came to the Yankees, but that was before I knew anything about baseball. As far as I was concerned, he was always a Yankee.

Something you might know: Nettles earned a trade to the Padres after Yankees owner George Steinbrenner didn't take kindly to criticism of him in Nettles' newly released book "Balls."

Something you might not know: Nettles is mentioned at the end of Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" video. This is appropriate because "Glory Days" was released in 1985.

My observation on the back: It always surprises me that Nettles' brother played in the majors until 1981. I had no knowledge of Jim Nettles when I watched baseball as a kid between 1975-81. Of course, that's because he played in the majors after 1974 only in 1979 (11 games with Kansas City) and 1981 (1 game with Oakland).

The blog wants to speak now: All of the tabs (except for the pop culture tab) have been rearranged so the most recent information is listed first.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

#34 - Ed Nunez

What a card: This is Ed Nunez's rookie card. His major league career began in 1982 but didn't really get going until 1984. By 1985, he was appearing in 70 games for the Mariners.

My observation on the front: Even though baseball players are shrunken down so they can fit on a 2 1/2-by-3 1/2 piece of cardboard, you still can tell when certain players are tall. That's a tall man firing toward the plate. And, indeed, Nunez is 6-foot-5.

More opinion from me: Is there anyone else at all in the ballpark with Nunez?

Something you might know: Nunez was the youngest player in the American League in 1982 and 1983. He was 19 when he appeared in six games for Seattle in 1982.

Something you might not know: Nunez accused the Mariners of discrimination in 1986 when they would not put him on the disabled list. "They are treating me like this because it is Edwin Nunez, from Puerto Rico, and the color of my skin is a little dark," he said. "If it was a white person, they would just put him on the disabled list. Edwin Nunez? No, he has to go through every test in the book."

My observation on the back: You'll notice that the back of this card is a much brighter shade of green than the other cards that I've shown. That's just a printing quirk, but I'm sure someone in 1985 got all excited that it might be some kind of error.

Also, the trivia question doesn't have quite as exclusive an answer anymore. Vida Blue has been joined by Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay as pitchers who have started the All-Star Game for both leagues.

The blog wants to speak now: I've updated several of the tabs (including perhaps the raciest lyrics ever penned, in the music category). Also I've begun to adjust the tabs so the most recent information is listed first. Now you don't have to scroll down to the bottom to get to the latest info. I hope to finish off that change for all of the tabs in the next couple days.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

#33 - Tito Landrum

What a card: Tito Landrum had just completed the only season in his nine-year major league career in which he would play in more than 100 games. He was also about to embark on his most successful season. Landrum hit very well for the Cardinals in both the 1985 NLCS and the World Series.

My observation on the front: I love dark-colored bats. I think if any ballplayer wants to increase their "coolness" factor, they need to bring a black bat to the plate.

More opinion from me: Landrum's pants are too tight.

Something you might know: Landrum delivered the ALCS-clinching home run in the 10th inning of Game 4 in the Orioles' victory over the White Sox during the 1983 championship series. He had been a late-season acquisition on Aug. 31, barely becoming eligible for the postseason.

Something you might not know: Landrum was a minor league teammate of Randy Poffo in 1973. Poffo would go on to be known as Randy Savage, a.k.a., pro wrestling's "Macho Man" Randy Savage. When Randy died in 2011, Landrum was quoted on his recollections of his ex-teammate. He said that when he finally learned of the former ballplayer's new gig, Poffo would leave him tickets to his wrestling matches. Landrum is quoted as telling Poffo after watching a wrestling match, "I've got more teeth in my mouth than the entire front row, Randy!"

My observation on the back: I'll just let that single sentence sink in a little. But it's true.

The blog wants to speak now: Yet another early morning for me. I'll try to update some of the tabs during the day Sunday.