Friday, September 28, 2012

#98 - Steve Lake

What a card: Steve Lake had just completed his second season as a backup catcher for the Cubs when this card was produced.

My observation on the front: A whole lot of blue on that card.

More opinion from me: Batting donut! I love cards with batting donuts, and it's a totally irrational love. Can't tell you why I do the things that I do.

Something you might know: This card of Steve Lake is probably his best-known card.

Something you might not know: Lake's 1984 season with the Cubs was abbreviated because of a serious bout with hepatitis that landed him in the hospital. In the Cubs' bid to acquire a backup catcher to replace Lake, they landed Ron Hassey -- along with future Cy Young Award winner Rick Sutcliffe -- in a deal that also sent Joe Carter to the Indians.

My observation on the back: Lake's stint in Midland in 1984 was his rehab assignment after his illness.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames and Music tabs have been updated if you'd like to check them out. You don't even have to spend a buck! Heh.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#97 - Pete Filson

What a card: Pete Filson was coming off the most successful season of his major league career when this card arrived. In 1984, he pitched in 55 games with a 4.10 earned-run average.

My observation on the front: It's possible that this photo is from the same game as his Topps card from 1984. The photos look similar, but I'm not sure.

More opinion from me: Have the Twins ever worn throwback baby blue road uniforms in a game recently? The practice has been quite popular with teams like the Royals and Blue Jays. But I don't remember it with the Twins. Not that I'm following the Twins.

Something you might know: Filson was considered the prize player in a deal between the Yankees and the Twins in which the Yankees landed Roger Erickson and Butch Wynegar. The Twins received Filson, Larry Milbourne and John Pacella. That didn't work out so hot for them.

Something you might not know: Wikipedia claims that Filson can be seen throwing a pitch while playing for the Kansas City Royals in the Ken Burns documentary "Baseball." It says it happens at the beginning of the "Extra Innings" segment. I don't know what the "Extra Innings" segment is. There are "Tenth Inning, Part 1" and "Tenth Inning, Part 2" segments. I just watched the beginnings of both and didn't see any Royal, let alone Pete Filson. Either I'm missing something or it ain't true.

My observation on the back: Filson put up some low ERAs his first few years in the minors. But that all ended when he was called up to the bigs.

The blog wants to speak now: The tabs are working again. I updated the Other Cards tab with a set that was found mostly in a foreign land.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

#96 - Johnny Ray

What a card: Johnny Ray was coming off his best season in the majors when this card appeared in packs in 1985. Even better than his rookie year in 1982, Ray hit .312 in 155 games with a .789 OPS.

My observation on the front: Lots of mid-1980s Pirates color on this one. Gold-and-black all over. Every Pirate that's appeared in this set so far has been wearing the gold tops.

More opinion from me: I'm going with Jason Thompson as the guy in the on-deck circle.

Something you might know: Ray was edged out of the 1982 N.L. Rookie of the Year award by the Dodgers' Steve Sax, a controversial decision for those who cited a number of stats in which Ray came out ahead of Sax. But you'll never convince this Dodger fan that Sax was not the rookie of the year that year.

Something you might not know: Ray came to the Pirates at the end of the "We Are Fami-l-ee" era. He said he remembers walking into the training room as a youngster and seeing Willie Stargell lying on a table all stiff and sore. Ray would make fun of him and Stargell said, "Son, just keep livin' and you'll know what this is like."

My observation on the back: French on a non-O-Pee-Chee card??

The blog wants to speak now: Unfortunately, Blogger is not allowing me to update any of the tabs at this time. This makes less-intensive work for me, but an inferior blog experience for you. Hopefully, Blogger will fix whatever it's tinkering with soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

#95 - Jose Cruz

What a card: Jose Cruz was in the middle of his usual consistent excellence when this card hit packs. For the second straight season, Cruz appeared in 160 games in 1984, totaled more than 180 hits, drove in more than 80 runs, and hit above .310.

My observation on the front: In the photo, Cruz has bunched up his sleeves, which has bunched up his uniform. Looks kind of weird.

More opinion from me: He seems awfully intense for someone in the on-deck circle.

Something you might know: Cruz was enormously popular in Houston and held the record for the most games played in Astros history until Craig Biggio surpassed him. He is the first player (but not the last) that I heard draw cheers of "Cruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuzzzzz" from fans.

Something you might not know: Biggio leads the Astros in games played and was hit by pitches more times than all but one player in major league history. Cruz is second on the team in games played and was hit by a pitch just 7 times in his 19-year career.

My observation on the back: Jose, Hector and Tommy played together on the 1973 Cardinals for a brief time. No word on whether they all deep-sea fished together.

The blog wants to speak now: The News, Ballgames and Movies categories are all updated. The new No. 1 movie gives us our key thought for today: "If I want your opinion, I'll beat it out of you."

Monday, September 17, 2012

#94 - Toby Harrah

What a card: This is Toby Harrah's only Topps base card as a New York Yankee. He appears in the 1984 Traded set as a Yankee as well.

My observation on the front: As a childhood fan of Harrah's, especially during his Texas Rangers days, it was (and still is) very odd to see him on the Yankees, a team that I despise.

More opinion from me: Harrah never looked right with the shorter hair. I preferred the long, bad cowboy of the West look, which he sported in the late 1970s.

Something you might know: Harrah is one of the few major leaguers whose last name is a palindrome. I believe it was mentioned on the back of a baseball card because I know that's where I learned what a palindrome was.

Something you might not know: Harrah was the last player to come to the plate for the Washington Senators. In Washington's final game in 1971, he was at the plate when Tom McCraw as caught stealing second base to end the top of the ninth inning.

My observation on the back: Looking at all of those stats reminds me of a quote by Toby Harrah: "Baseball statistics are like a girl in a bikini. They show a lot but not everything."

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture and TV tabs are updated. Lots of future famous newborns and a few new shows, too.

Friday, September 14, 2012

#93 - Don Schulze

What a card: This is Don Schulze's rookie card. He also appeared on a 1985 Donruss card.

My observation on the front: I'm not going to get trapped trying to guess what stadium is pictured. Cleveland? Detroit? Cleveland? Ah! I said I wasn't going to get trapped!

More opinion from me: I totally didn't realize that Schulze was a pitcher looking at this card. That's an infielder's pose there, and that's what I thought he was, an infielder.

Something you might know: Schulze has been a pitching coach in the Oakland A's organization for the last seven years.

Something you might not know: Schulze sued the San Diego Chicken, later known as The Famous Chicken, after an incident during a minor league exhibition game. Schulze was pitching for Quad Cities in a 1981 game and hit home run during a plate appearance. As he was rounding third base, The Chicken tackled Schulze, separating the pitcher's shoulder. The following year, he filed a $2 million suit against The Chicken Co., which handled the business affairs of Ted Giannoulas, the man inside the chicken costume. In 1985, a federal court dismissed the suit. Schulze appealed but a U.S. Circuit Court upheld the ruling.

My observation on the back: Schulze spent the 1984 season with four teams. He would play for 16 professional teams and also play in Japan.

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

#92 - Paul Owens

What a card: This is one of just two Topps cards of Paul Owens, who was a long-time executive for the Phillies but spent just three years as a manager.

My observation on the front: Owens bears a striking resemblance to my paternal grandfather.

More opinion from me: Owens was about 60 when this photo was taken, but he looked about 10 years older to me back when he was managing.

Something you might know: Owens was the architect of those late '70s pennant-contending Phillies and the Phillies' long-awaited  World Series title in 1980.

Something you might not know: Owens set a PONY League record with a 38-game hitting streak in 1951. The PONY League became the Class A New York-Penn League.

My observation the back: Interesting little update on the back as Topps informs you that Owens is no longer the manager of the Phillies. John Felske was hired as soon as the season was over to replace Owens, who went back to being GM.

The blog wants to speak now: Just some brief updates to the Ballgames and News tabs.

Friday, September 7, 2012

#91 - Jeff Burroughs

What a card: Jeff Burroughs was scraping the bottom of his 16-year career at this point, batting .211 for the Oakland A's in 1984. He'd play for the Blue Jays in 1985 and that'd be that.

My observation the front: Who doesn't love a batting cage shot ... and an unstrapped batting glove shot?

More opinion from me: Burroughs was one of those guys who seemed to change his appearance every year on his baseball card. Long hair one year. Clean-shaven the next. Beard one year. Glasses the next. Not many where he looks the same in back-to-back years.

Something you might know: Burroughs, the No. 1 pick in the 1969 draft, won American League MVP honors with the Texas Rangers in 1974, just his second full year in the majors. He added a 41-homer, return-to-glory season for the Braves in 1977.

Something you might not know: Burroughs famously coached his son, Sean, to the Little League World Series in 1992 and 1993 as a member of the Long Beach all-star team. But he was also the Little League coach for current Phillies infielder Chase Utley.

My observation on the back: Bobby Grich was a senior at Wilson when Burroughs was a sophomore. At one point in the majors, five former students of Wilson High were in the majors -- Burroughs, Grich, Bob Bailey, Ed Crosby and Casey Cox.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, News and Pop Culture tabs are updated. An eerie preview of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and the Hulk in Sports Illustrated. Whatcha gonna do?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

#90 - Rich Gossage

What a card: This was Rich Gossage's Topps base-set debut in a Padres uniform. He signed as a free agent with San Diego after the 1983 season and appeared in the 1984 Topps Traded and Fleer Update sets as a Padre.

My observation on the front: This is the first time in the set that the "RAK" initials -- in memory of McDonald's chairman and Padres owner Ray Kroc -- appear on the Padres' famed chocolate uniform tops. (Graig Nettles was wearing a white jersey on an earlier card).

More opinion from me: Those Padres caps look more and more comical as the years pass.

Something you might know: A pioneer in the legacy of the closer, Gossage led the league in saves three times and had 20 or more saves 10 times. He reached the Hall of Fame in 2008.

Something you might not know: Gossage's famous locker room scuffle with Yankees teammate Cliff Johnson in April 1979 resulted in a broken thumb for Gossage, which caused him to miss significant time that season. The fight came on the same day that former Yankee Sparky Lyle arrived in New York as his Texas Rangers were facing the Yankees. Lyle's book "The Bronx Zoo" was officially released on that day. When told about the fight and Gossage's injury, Lyle said, "When you throw the ball 95 mph, you don't need a thumb."

My observation on the back: I suppose the write-up on the back meant a little more when Gossage was still with the Yankees. I wonder if it was already in the can when he left as a free agent.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, Music and News categories have been updated. Billy Martin returns to the Yankees ... Part IV!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

#89 - Jackie Gutierrez

What a card: This is the first Topps base card of Jackie Gutierrez. He appeared in the 1984 Topps Traded set, as well as the '84 Fleer Update set.

My observation on the front: One thing I haven't mentioned is that the 1985 set was special in that it devoted quite a bit of space to the photograph. This was particularly unusual after the Topps sets of 1983 and 1984 in which the main photographed was compromised by the mug shot inset and the design. Especially in the 1984 set.

More opinion from me: I can't get used to the Red Sox road uniforms of the 1980s. I know it was a return to their pre-1970s days, but I came to baseball with the Red Sox road uniforms featuring old-English red lettering on the jerseys, and I was pleased when Boston returned to that in the '90s. Today, I believe the red lettering is gone on the road unis, but it's not quite as dull as the '80s uniforms.

Something you might know: Gutierrez enjoyed his only real season as a starter in 1984, playing in 151 games and hitting .263 for Boston as its shortstop. He slumped the following year and lost his starter's role, eventually getting traded to the Orioles and the end of 1985.

Something you might not know: Gutierrez is the third Colombian-born player to reach the major leagues. His sister is the mother of one of the children of Orlando Ramirez, the second Colombian-born major league player.

My observation on the back: Two choices on the trivia question? I wish I had math questions like that in school.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames and News categories are updated. All sports today.