Sunday, July 29, 2012

#78 - Scott Fletcher

What a card: Scott Fletcher had just completed his first season as a starter in 1984 when this card arrived in packs. He would lose his job as starter as quickly as he won it. Ozzie Guillen would take over at short for the White Sox in 1985 and Fletcher would be traded in the '85 offseason.

My observation on the front: I wish I knew what it said on the display sign in the background.

More opinion from me: The White Sox have had some very poor luck in uniform choices, but I think these uniforms from the mid-1980s were among the worst. Just horrible. And I had to see them a lot because Buffalo was the Triple A farm team of the White Sox at this time, so the Bisons mimicked this style, too. I'm ashamed to say I even had a Bisons sweatshirt in the White Sox mid-80s style. Very unfortunate.

Something you might know: Fletcher was a noted Yankee killer. The career .262 hitter hit over .300 against the Yankees in nearly 500 at-bats.

Something you might not know: Fletcher is related to former Cubs and Padres catcher Michael Barrett. Barrett is Fletcher's wife's cousin.

My observation on the back: Topps must've stumbled across a treasure trove of Championship Series records in 1984. This is about the 10th question about the championship series that I've come across in this set.

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

#77 - Joe Beckwith

What a card: This is Joe Beckwith's first Topps base card with the Royals. He appears as a Royal for the first time in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: The card's off-center two ways -- left-to-right and top-to-bottom.

More opinion from me: I really liked Joe Beckwith when he was with the Dodgers. In 1980, his second season in the major leagues, he led the team in earned-run average with a 1.95. I thought he was going to be something special. But he missed the entire 1981 season with an eye injury.

Something you might know: Beckwith pitched for the Royals' 1985 World Series championship team. He threw two scoreless innings during Game 4 of the World Series. He was the only reliever Kansas City used in the Series besides Dan Quisenberry.

Something you might not know: Beckwith was a bat boy for Auburn University, the team for which he would play in college. One of Beckwith's memories of legendary Auburn baseball coach Paul Nix was during his time as a bat boy. One of Beckwith's jobs was to get the scoreboard ready for the game. Once, before a game, he decided to fill the innings on the scoreboard with zeroes, like he saw at Wrigley Field, to cut down on his workload. Nix saw the scoreboard and told Beckwith, "Boy, what are you doing with that scoreboard? The game hasn't even begun yet. Get your butt back up there and take those numbers down."

My observation on the back: Beckwith spent the entire 1981 season on the disabled list having corrective surgery on both of his eyes. He developed double vision during spring training.

The blog wants to speak now: Just a quick update of the Pop Culture tab. The blog will be taking a brief break. See you on the weekend.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

#76 - Alan Bannister

What a card: This is Alan Bannister's first base card appearance in a Texas Rangers uniform (he appeared in the '84 traded sets with Texas). Bannister was playing for his fifth and final team.

My observation on the front: I've seen this card a lot as I pulled several copies in some repacks. Not as many as Jerry Dybzynski and Bob Watson, but too many for my taste.

More opinion from me: The semi-rare "2B-OF" position designation is a bit of an exaggeration. Bannister played just three games in the outfield in 1984. After second base, he "played" the most at designated hitter with 10 starts there.

Something you might know: Bannister was a highly touted shortstop out of Arizona State University and picked No. 1 overall by the Phillies in the January 1973 draft. He started at short a couple of seasons with the White Sox, but never stuck there for good and became more of a "play anywhere" guy.

Something you might not know: Bannister holds the Arizona State record for most hits (101) and RBIs (90) in a season, set in 1972. Of course, that was when college players still used wood bats, so Bannister's records are designated as part of the "wood bat era."

My observation on the back: I wonder if Bannister ever combined his two hobbies? Making stained glass boats, perhaps?

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture and News categories are updated. I hope to update the Other Cards category later this weekend (Edit: It's been updated).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

#75 - Willie Upshaw

What a card: Willie Upshaw was in the midst of his most productive period when this card was released. John Mayberry was probably the Blue Jays' first real power hitter, but Upshaw took over for Mayberry at first in 1982 and continued the slugging at that position.

My observation on the front: Just a great 1980s shot of a power hitter in action.

More opinion from me: There is almost no team that screams 1980s quite like the Blue Jays. And in a good way.

Something you might know:  Upshaw has been manager of the independent league Bridgeport Bluefish for the last three-plus years. Some former major leaguers on his team this year are Jorge Julio, Shea Hillenbrand, Jesse English, Luis Lopez and Prentice Redman.

Something you might not know: Upshaw used to hold the record for the most career home runs by someone with a last name starting with "U." He has since been surpassed by Chase Utley (who has since been surpassed by Dan Uggla).

My observation on the back: I was well aware of Gene Upshaw during his NFL career, but I have to admit, I never heard of Marv Upshaw. That's because Marv's NFL career ended in 1976, which was just as I was getting acquainted with football.

The blog wants to speak now: Just a simple update to the Ballgames category, as the opening days continue in Major League Baseball.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

#74 - Mike Krukow

What a card: Mike Krukow had just finished an 11-12 season for the Giants in which he led the National League in hits allowed with 234.

My observation on the front: It's a Giants card, so I'm holding back the urge to spit. Other than that, no observation.

More opinion from me: Krukow has been Giants broadcast partners with Duane Kuiper for almost 25 years. Krukow does the color commentary and is known for his phrases and opinions. I think he's a homer, a Dodger fan-baiter and annoying. (Grab some pine, Krukow!) I think he showed his true colors when he adamantly backed Barry Bonds during the whole BALCO fiasco. I think you can compare him to one of those polarizing kind of players -- you like him if he's broadcasting for your team, otherwise, you hate his guts.

Something you might know: Krukow broke out of mediocrity in a big way in 1986 by going 20-9 for the Giants and finishing third in the N.L. Cy Young Award voting.

Something you might not know: Krukow takes two or three series off from broadcasting each season. One of those series this season was when the Giants played Houston -- and Matt Cain pitched a perfect game. He was home watching it on TV.

My observation on the back: Roscoe Barnes played for the Chicago White Stockings. Charles Jones of the Redlegs hit his reportedly hit his home run after Barnes' but on the same day, so I'm not sure why he's also mentioned in the question.

The blog wants to speak now: The News and Ballgames categories are updated. The 1985 MLB season has begun! Yay!

Friday, July 13, 2012

#73 - Rusty Kuntz

What a card: This is the final card of Rusty Kuntz's seven-year major league career. Eleven-year-old boys all over the world cried the day he hung up his spikes.

My observation on the front: I've said it before and I'll say it again: batting cage shots are tremendous.

More opinion from me: I think, given the choice, I would rather be named Dick Pole or Pete LaCock than Rusty Kuntz. Which makes it all the stranger for me that Kuntz didn't just go by his given name of "Russell."

Something you might know: Kuntz's last name is actually pronounced "Koontz."

Something you might not know: Kuntz's son was drafted by the Royals in 2009. He chose to play for the University of Kansas and just completed his junior season. His first name, mercifully, is Kevin.

My observation on the back: OK, now I really AM pissed off. This is almost the exact same trivia question that was on the LAST card! And it wasn't even a good trivia question the first time.

The blog wants to speak now: A couple of updates to the News and Ballgames tabs, including saying farewell to one of the most memorable uniform choices of the 1970s.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#72 - Rick Sutcliffe

What a card: This was a card to have in 1985. If you couldn't get your hands on the 1984 Topps Traded or Fleer Update Sutcliffe cards, this was your first Sutcliffe-in-a-Cubs-uniform card. He was dealt from the Indians to the Cubs in the middle of the 1984 season and proceeded to go 16-1 for Chicago, help the team to the NLCS, and win the Cy Young Award.

My observation on the front: I'm wondering if this is a photo of Sutcliffe in postseason action. Topps had several months of the 1984 regular season to get a photo of him in a Cubs uniform, but that was still an iffy proposition in the mid-'80s. The postseason would have given Topps photographers more time.

More opinion from me: As a Dodger fan, it was difficult for me to get used to Sutcliffe as a Cub. I had barely gotten used to him as a Cleveland Indian when he was shipped to the Cubs.

Something you might know: Sutcliffe is known more for his broadcasting for ESPN now than his playing career. And, of course, there are the played-to-death videos of his allegedly under-the-influence on-air rambling in San Diego, and, two years later, his inappropriate comments about colleague Erin Andrews.

Something you might not know: Sutcliffe was so furious that he was left off of the postseason roster by the Dodgers in 1981 that he went into manager Tommy Lasorda's office and overturned his desk and smashed chairs.

My observation on the back: OK, these trivia questions are starting to piss me off. "Royals Stadium is the home of what team?" ???? Really???

At least it's timely, with the All-Star Game just going off in K.C.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music, TV and News tabs are each updated.

Monday, July 9, 2012

#71 - Tim Laudner

What a card: Tim Laudner was hanging on as a backup catcher for the Twins at this point. No longer the catching sensation he was thought to be in 1981 (think Joe Mauer of the early '80s), he was a part-time starter for most of the rest of his nine-year career.

My observation on the front: This is the third card in the set in which the player is not wearing a cap or helmet. Dave Lopes and Duane Kuiper were the first two.

More opinion from me: I don't believe that's the proper way to wear a chest protector there, Tim.

Something you might know: Laudner had a monster season for Triple A Orlando in 1981, hitting 42 home runs, the most in all of organized baseball.

Something you might not know: Laudner was a pitcher in high school, but switched to catcher because he had shoulder problems as a senior and didn't want to deal with the injuries associated with pitchers. But as a catcher, Laudner encountered knee issues, which eventually led to the end of his career in 1990.

My observation on the back: I'm going to assume that Laudner's hometown in 1985 was "Hamilton, Ohio." But the first thing I think of when I see "Hamilton, O." is "Hamilton, Ontario."

The blog wants to speak now: A couple of updates to the Pop Culture category as I am reminded how pervasive "We Are the World" was in 1985.

Monday, July 2, 2012

#70 - Don Baylor

What a card: Don Baylor had just completed his second of three seasons with the Yankees when this card arrived. He was New York's primary designated hitter from 1983-85. That "OF" designation on the card is a bit too kind. Baylor played in the outfield 11 times out of 134 games in 1984.

My observation on the front: I'm curious as to what Baylor is looking at while on the on-deck circle.

More opinion from me: Baylor always seems to play, manage and coach for teams I don't like. The only exceptions I can think of are the Angels (1978-82) and the Red Sox (1986-87).

Something you might know: Baylor was the A.L. MVP in 1979 with the Angels. He was hit by a pitch more times than all but three people in the history of the major leagues.

Something you might not know: As a seventh-grader, Baylor was one of three African-American kids to integrate O. Henry Junior High School in Austin, Texas, in 1962. A year later, he was in the second class to integrate Stephen F. Austin High School. One of his classmates was Sharon Connally, daughter of the Texas governor at the time, John Connally. Baylor was in class with Sharon Connally on Nov. 22, 1963, when her father was shot while riding in the same car with President Kennedy, who was fatally wounded. Secret Service members came to Baylor's class to tell Sharon the bad news.

My observation on the front: The write-up is interesting. Robinson operated a sporting goods store during his playing career, and in fact convinced the Orioles to wear solid orange uniforms for two games in 1971. My guess is Baylor was working during the offseason at the sporting goods store at about the same time he was in the minor leagues with the Orioles.

The blog wants to speak now: Just some quick updating in the Movies and News categories. Updates on the blog in general will be rather sporadic over the next few weeks.