Thursday, May 31, 2012

#57 - Pat Zachry

What a card: This is Pat Zachry's final card as a major league player. He was traded to the Phillies in February of 1985, probably before a lot of collectors had even pulled his card. The Phillies released him in June of '85.

My observation on the front: Every time I see Zachry with his mustache, I think of the metamorphosis that he went through in his career. From a clean-shaven rookie with the Reds, to a mountain-man look when he played for the Mets, to the straight, bushy mustache with the Dodgers.

More opinion from me: Topps isn't starting out with the most memorable Dodgers in this set. First pinch-hitter Terry Whitfield, and now two-save reliever Pat Zachry.

Something you might know: Zachry won N.L. Rookie of the Year honors, along with the Padres' Butch Metzger, as a starting pitcher for the Reds in 1976.

Something you might not know: Kiner's Korner was the postgame show for Mets' broadcasts on WOR-TV in the late 1970s. Pat Zachry was one of the many players that appeared on the studio show with Ralph Kiner. During one visit, Zachry was given a Getty Gas gift certificate as thanks for appearing on the show. Zachry tried to use the certificate at a station. But the attendant didn't know what it was and came after him with a ball-peen hammer.

My observation on the back: I could say this about a lot of cards in this set, but the '85 backs are some of the dullest backs I've ever seen in more than four decades of collecting. Some of the write-ups make them a little interesting, but when Topps goes to the high school stats, it's just agony.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames and Pop Culture tabs were updated. A couple of prominent athletes were born on March 21 of '85.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

#56 - Jim Dwyer

What a card: Jim Dwyer had just finished his fourth of eight seasons with the Baltimore Orioles when this card came out. The Orioles solidified Dwyer's reputation as a reliable pinch-hitter and platoon player, which led him to play 18 seasons without more than 300 at-bats in any one season.

My observation on the front: It appears to be a cold day. Dwyer is featuring some rosy cheeks.

More opinion from me: I wasn't much of an Orioles fan during Dwyer's heyday. He, John Lowenstein and Terry Crowley used to drive me nuts with all the hits they would produce, seemingly out of nowhere.

Something you might know: Dwyer played for five teams -- including the Cardinals twice -- before finding his niche with the Orioles.

Something you might not know: Dwyer is featured holding a bat on 22 of his baseball cards. He is featured holding a glove on one.

My observation on the back: Maybe it's because I grew up and live in an area of the country where college baseball is almost meaningless, but bio information that contains college highlights puts me to sleep.

The blog wants to speak now: Some small updating in the TV, News and Pop Culture tabs.

Friday, May 25, 2012

#55 - Frank Tanana

What a card: This is Frank Tanana's last card as a Texas Ranger. He was traded to the Tigers in June of 1985.

My observation on the front: This is also the last card of Frank Tanana featuring him with a mustache. Tanana would always go back and forth with the mustache in his cards. Without a mustache. With a mustache. Without a mustache. With a mustache. Finally, after '85, he scrapped it altogether.

More opinion from me: Red Rangers jerseys? Did they wear those often?

Something you might know: Tanana famously remade himself into a control/off-speed pitcher after beginning his career throwing smoke. One of the best moments of his renovation was throwing a 1-0 shutout on the last day of the 1987 season to clinch a playoff spot for the Tigers.

Something you might not know: Tanana changed his devil-may-care lifestyle after teammate Lyman Bostock was shot to death in 1978.

My observation on the back: Tanana's father was also named Frank Tanana. At least I think that's what Topps is saying when it writes "His father." "Tanana's father" would have been more clear.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music, Pop Culture and News tabs are updated. Not a lot new there. I'm too tired.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

#54 - Cesar Cedeno

What a card: This is the second-to-last card of Cesar Cedeno issued during his career. The 1984 season was the last in which Cedeno played in more than 100 games.

My observation on the front: Having grown up knowing Cedeno as a Houston Astro, he never looked right in a Reds uniform.

More opinion from me: I really like the Reds cards in this set. Not as much as the Phillies cards, but still very nice. I think it's the gray background off-setting the red color.

Something you might know: Famously called "the next Willie Mays," Cedeno enjoyed a standout career, but was plagued by injuries, off-field violence and tragedy, and a bad attitude. Cedeno was the second player after Lou Brock to hit 20 home runs and steal 50 bases in a season.

Something you might not know: During a Reds team flight from Chicago to Cincinnati in 1983, Reds starters flew first class while reserves received tickets to coach. Cedeno, who had been a starter until nine days before the trip, angrily tore up his boarding pass and refused to board the plane. He was suspended but then got off with a fine.

My observation on the back: Cedeno was known as a big-time womanizer. So my heart goes out to Cora. For that reason, and for having to call all of the people in her house "Cesar."

The blog wants to speak now: The Movie and News categories have been updated.

Monday, May 21, 2012

#53 - Tom Gorman

What a card: Tom Gorman was in the midst of the best two-year period of his major league career. Called up in May of 1984, Gorman went 6-0 in 36 relief appearances with a 2.97 ERA.

My observation on the front: I love "out there on the mound" photos that aren't the usual "delivering to home plate" shots.

More opinion from me: Um, what's Gorman wiping on his pants?

Something you might know: Gorman is a central figure in what at least one site has called the greatest game in major league history. The Mets and Braves played a 19-inning game on the 4th of July in 1985. Gorman came into the game in the 14th inning with the Mets ahead 10-8, but allowed a tying two-run home run to Terry Harper, extending the game to the 15th. In the top of the 18th, the Mets went ahead 11-10 on an error by Braves pitcher Rick Camp. In the bottom of the inning, with Gorman still on the mound, Camp came to the plate because the Braves were out of position players. It was 3:30 in the morning. But with the count 0-2 and two outs, Camp swung and hit a game-tying home run, the only home run of his major league career.

The Mets scored five runs in the 19th inning, then hung out on for dear life as the Braves scored twice before Ron Darling struck out Camp for the final out. At 4 a.m., the Mets won 16-13.

Something you might not know: As a rookie on the Expos while playing the Astros, Gorman got onto an elevator and found himself standing next to Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton. "There's a lot of wins in this elevator," Gorman cracked.

My observation on the back: Without doing the least bit of research, I'm 100 percent sure Bob Gibson still holds that record and will hold it forever.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV and News categories have been updated.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

#52 - Jerry Dybzinski

What a card: This is Jerry Dybzinski's final Topps card. He was released by the White Sox on April 1, 1985 and picked up by the Pirates. The Pirates released him at the end of the 1985 season.

My observation on the front: A lot of great stuff on this card. The cap-under-the-helmet look, the black bat, the mustache, the batting cage.

More opinion from me: I also have a ton of doubles of this card. Since the Dybzinski card follows the Bob Watson card in this set, I'm thinking that all the doubles for each player came in the same horrid repack.

Something you might know: Dybzinski was a backup shortstop for most of his career, but started a lot during the 1983 White Sox season. The White Sox actually made the playoffs, on the strength of Dybzinski's .230 batting average no doubt, but Dybzinski is often cited for making a crucial base-running error against the Orioles during the ALCS. Dybzinski overran second base with teammate Vance Law on third. He was caught in a rundown, Law tried to score, and he was thrown out.

Something you might not know: Dybzinski hit .234 lifetime in six seasons, but he was 7-for-15 against Larry Gura.

My observation on the back: Oof. It is so painful when they trot out the college highlights five years into a major league career.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames tab has been updated with a couple NBA milestones. The Music tab is also updated with lyrics from the baseball song of my generation.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

#51 - Bob Watson

What a card: This is the final card issued of Bob Watson during his career. After beginning his major league career in 1966, he wrapped things up in 1984.

My observation on the front: I think it's a fitting photo for a final card.

More opinion from me: I have more doubles of this card than any other in the 1985 Topps set. I pulled them all out of some awful repack monstrosity five or six years ago. It was one Bob Watson card after another. In the middle of it, I began to think that every card I would ever pull for the rest of my life would be a 1985 Topps Bob Watson.

Something you might know: Watson was a solid hitter for the Houston Astros and the answer to the trivia question of who scored the millionth run in major league baseball history, which he did in 1975, just edging the Reds' Dave Concepcion.

Something you might not know: Watson was traded for a future actor in the Gilmore Girls. The Yankees sent Watson to the Braves for pitching prospect Scott Patterson, who later became an actor in TV and movies. He played Luke Danes, the love interest of the main character in Gilmore Girls, played by Lauren Graham. He was also considered "spongeworthy" by Elaine Benes in an episode of Seinfeld.

My observation on the back: It's nice to have Watson's complete career stats all on one card. But in the red and green format with the tiny type, that is an awfully intimidating collection of letters and numbers.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV and News categories have been updated. A new era in Russia and a showbiz extravaganza on ABC.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

#50 - John Candelaria

What a card: This is the final card of John Candelaria featured with the Pirates. He spent the first 10 years of his career with the Pirates. But after 1985, he spent the next eight years with eight different teams.

My observation on the front: The "don't judge a book by its cover" saying just doesn't seem to work with Candelaria. He looks like an indifferent, "as long as I'm having fun" kind of a guy, and that's what he was during his career. Executives and managers thought he had a world of talent, but complained that he didn't apply himself enough.

More opinion from me: I hated Candelaria when I was growing up. Anybody who no-hits the Dodgers goes on The List. Plus, it seemed like every time that Candelaria faced the Dodgers, he came out on top.

Something you might know: Candelaria showed up for a Dodgers tryout wearing a marijuana T-shirt. Appalled Dodger officials decided not to sign him.

Something you might not know: Candelaria had a 2-year-old son, who fell into the family swimming pool on Christmas Day in 1984. He almost drowned, then fell into a coma, and died nearly a year later.

My observation on the back: Considering the time that this card was released and the timing of Candelaria's son's accident, the write-up on the bottom is kind of spooky.

The blog wants to speak now: This card accidentally popped up earlier on the blog, only because I had the card sorted out of order in my binder. Or maybe because I didn't want to believe that Candelaria received card No. 50, which is usually a prized number reserved for the likes of Brooks Robinson and Willie McCovey.

Monday, May 14, 2012

#49 - Butch Davis

What a card: This is the only Topps card of Butch Davis. He appears in just three major releases. The other two are 1984 Donruss and 1994 Pacific.

My observation on the front: I don't know where that spot came from on the top border of the card. I've barely touched these cards since I ordered the entire set in 1985. I think it came out of the box with the spot. My brain is very upset about this.

More opinion from me: I think the only reason Topps issued a card of Davis is because it was trying to catch up with Donruss. In 1983, Davis hit .344 in 33 games for the Royals and Donruss issued a card of him the next year but Topps did not. Topps followed up with a card in '85, but Davis hit just .147 in 41 games the previous year. Donruss didn't bother with a Butch Davis card in its 1985 set.

Something you might know: After his two seasons with the Royals, Davis toiled in the Pirates, Orioles, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Padres organizations for the next seven years with precious few major league at-bats. Finally, in 1993, he played in 62 games for the Rangers.

Something you might not know: Davis made a brief appearance in the movie "Bull Durham." In a creative stretch, he played a baseball player.

My observation on the back: A triple play in your last at-bat? Ouch. Of course, it WAS the 1962 New York Mets.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture and Music categories have been updated. An REO Speedwagon ballad has taken over the No. 1 position.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

#48 - Tony Fernandez

What a card: This is the first Topps card of Tony Fernandez. Both Donruss and Fleer issued cards of Fernandez in their respective 1984 sets.

My observation on the front: Absolutely love all the different shades of blue on this card.

More opinion from me: It's strange to see Fernandez as a rookie. He played for so long in the majors and was such a presence for a variety of high-profile teams and moments. But Fernandez didn't hold a regular job in the majors until the year of this set, 1985.

Something you might know: Fernandez was most noted for his fielding ability. He won four straight Gold Gloves during the late 1980s. He also played for the Blue Jays on four separate occasions -- 1983-90, 1993, 1998-99 and 2001.

Something you might not know: Fernandez's real first name is Octavio.

My observation on the back: You can see by Fernandez's dimensions listed here -- 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds -- that he was a very skinny guy.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, Pop Culture and News categories each have been updated.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

#47 - Dave Rozema

What a card: This is the final card of Dave Rozema with the Tigers, the team with which he spent the first eight years of his career. He signed as a free agent with the Rangers in December of 1984 after helping the Tigers to a World Series title.

My observation on the front: Rozema looks like he's offering the card collector a beverage.

More opinion from me: I love shots at old Tiger Stadium.

Something you might know: Rozema was a rookie sensation in 1977, winning 15 games and finishing fourth in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting. His career went into slow decline after that and he missed virtually all of the 1982 season after he tore ligaments in his knee while attempting to deliver a karate kick to the Twins' John Castino during a brawl between the two teams. Rozema was carried off the field on a stretcher and didn't play the rest of the season.

Something you might not know: The karate kick story is the most-often cited example of Rozema's well-known flakiness. But here are a few other examples:

1. He used Brillo pads to wash his new car
2. He missed the team bus when he overslept after judging a wet T-shirt contest
3. He shoved a bar glass into the face of teammate Alan Trammell, leading to 47 stitches near Trammell's eye
4. He fell on a flask in his back pocket, requiring 11 stitches in his hip

My observation on the back: Major softball question with the trivia quiz.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames and Movies categories are updated. A new boxer debuts and there's a new No. 1 movie for the first time in 1985.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

#46 - Gary Woods

What a card: This is Gary Woods' second-to-last baseball card. He was entering what would be his final major league season in 1985. Topps was nice enough to issue a card of him in 1986, though.

My observation on the front: Woods looks like he caught the photographer taking the picture of him. I don't think it was meant to be a posed shot -- it's difficult to tell.

More opinion from me: Woods was a member of the first Toronto Blue Jays team, which means I automatically have an affinity for him. I loved the early Blue Jays and I remember treasuring those 1978 Topps cards of the Jays more than any other cards in that set, aside from the Dodgers.

Something you might know: Woods played in the very first Blue Jays game in history, on April 7, 1977 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto. He started in center field, and went 1-for-5 at the plate. In his first at-bat, he bunted for a single to lead off the bottom of the second inning.

Something you might not know: Woods was traded for current Rockies manager Jim Tracy, when he was sent from the Astros to the Cubs in 1981.

My observation on the back: You can see the gap in Woods' major league career between 1978-80. He spent most of '78 and all of 1979 in the minors. After a card in the 1978 set, he didn't get another Topps card until the 1981 set.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, News and Pop Culture categories have been updated.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

#45 - Greg Minton

What a card: Greg Minton had just completed a five-year span in 1984 that would be the most successful of his 15-year career. Beginning in 1985, his performance tailed off and he wouldn't return to the level he enjoyed between 1980-84.

My observation on the front: A pretty good action shot. Minton has some very nerdy looking cards ('78 Topps, '79 Topps, '82 Fleer, '82 Donruss, I could go on). He looks like a ballplayer here.

More opinion from me: The outfield fence in Candlestick Park may be the most tell-tale sign of which ballpark is pictured on a card more than any ballpark element, outside of the frieze at Yankee Stadium, the Green Monster at Fenway and the ivy at Wrigley.

Something you might know: Minton holds the record for the most innings pitched without allowing a home run, going 270-plus innings between 1978 and 1982.

Something you might not know: Minton's flaky reputation was enhanced by stories of him flooding the team ballpark on the final day of the season so the team could start the offseason one day early. But the story of him "stealing" the team bus isn't exactly true. Minton got on the bus very early and convinced the bus driver that he was the team secretary and wanted to go to the ballpark. The bus left behind all of his teammates, who had to find taxis to the ballpark.

My observation on the back: Minton mostly played shortstop in school, even early in his professional career. But I suppose he could've squeezed a perfect game in there somewhere.

The blog wants to speak now: The Other Cards tab has been updated. The News, Ballgames and TV categories were updated, too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

#44 - Dickie Thon

What a card: This is the first card issued of Dickie Thon after his horrific beaning during April of 1984. Thon played just five games in 1984, but Topps gave him a card.

My observation on the front: I wonder if this is an older photo of Thon -- something from earlier than 1984 -- because he barely played any of the season. But, then, it could be from spring training of that season.

More opinion from me: Thon had one of great names of the 1980s. He was one of those guys that you instantly liked just because of his name. Like Steve Sax. How can you not like a guy named Steve Sax? Or Dickie Thon?

Something you might know: OK. It's the beaning. Thon looked like he was going to be something special for  five years until he was drilled in the eye by a fastball from the Mets' Mike Torrez on April 8, 1984. The pitch broke the orbital bone around his left eye and messed up his depth perception. For awhile, it looked like he may never play again. But he returned in '85 and actually lasted until 1993 with some decent seasons. But he wasn't like he was in 1983 -- a potential future Hall of Famer.

Something you might not know: Thon's son, Dickie Thon Jr., is one of the top 50 prospects in the Blue Jays' organization. He's a fourth generation ball player, although only his dad has made it to the majors.

My observation on the back: OK, maybe Topps was trying to stick with the pleasant stuff, but the stats just cry out for an explanation. He plays just 5 games a year after getting 177 hits and all you can talk about is his grandfather?

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, Music, Movies and Pop Culture categories are updated with just the basics. I promise I'll get to the Other Cards tab again sometime soon.