Sunday, December 30, 2012

#129 - Gene Garber

What a card: Gene Garber had just completed a 60-plus appearance season for the seventh time in his career when this card was produced.

My observation on the front: Garber looks like he's wearing a generic windbreaker in the shot. What's that all about? Where's the Braves' logo?

More opinion from me: I've said this before, but Garber's always been my hero for stopping Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak in 1978.

Something you might know: A side-arming relief pitcher who lasted 19 seasons and made more than 900 appearances, Garber was the Braves' all-time saves leader until John Smoltz broke the record.

Something you might not know: Garber grew up in a farming family and returned to farming after his baseball career. Thanks to his efforts in agricultural land conservation, his home county, Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, is responsible for one-fifth of the state's agricultural output.

My observation on the back: I just get bored when someone tells me what kind of degree they have.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames and Music tabs are updated.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#128 - Ernie Whitt

What a card: Ernie Whitt was embarking on his sixth season as the Blue Jays' starting catcher when this card was created. The 1985 season would be Whitt's only all-star season.

My observation on the front: The photo on this card is very similar to the photo of Whitt on his 1989 Topps card.

More opinion from me: Do you think the sentence "nah, we used a photo of him that was just like that four years ago" ever comes up at Topps?

Something you might know: Whitt was an original Blue Jay and was the last player from that first Blue Jays team in 1977 when he was traded to the Braves in 1989.

Something you might not know: In Whitt's 1989 book, "Catch: A Major League Life," he accused umpire Joe Brinkman of being "incompetent." That led to a feud between the Blue Jays and Brinkman. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston in 1993 accused Brinkman of making calls against the Blue Jays in retaliation for the book and even said the umpire was "racist."

My observation on the back: Seeing that first line of stats made me wonder what Whitt looked like as a member of the Red Sox. So I found a photo.

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

#127 - Mark Gubicza

What a card: This is Topps' first base card of Mark Gubicza. His first card appearances are in the 1984 Topps Traded and Fleer Update sets.

My observation on the front: That's a lot of blue in that picture.

More opinion from me: I believe Topps intended to give K.C. the "royal blue" tribute with its colors in the 1985 set, but it just looks purple to me. Then again, purple in the color of royalty, so maybe they knew what they were doing.

Something you might know: Gubicza was a highly touted, often-injured pitcher who nonetheless managed to play 14 seasons for a single team and enjoyed one truly standout year in 1988 when he went 20-8 and finished third in the Cy Young Award voting.

Something you might not know: Gubicza, as of 2009, ranked 13th among players with most games pitched without a single plate appearance. I would assume he's still in the top 20.

My observation on the back: I know you'd like a baseball fact, but all I can see is sentence structure. Topps used the more formal "Mark was graduated from" in the write-up, rather than the more frequently used "Mark graduated from." I know certain editors who would be quite pleased with Topps for this.

The blog wants to speak now: Just a quick update to the News tab.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

#126 - Ruppert Jones

What a card: This is Ruppert Jones' first Topps base card with the Tigers. He appears in the 1984 Topps Traded set with Detroit after signing with them as a free agent.

My observation on the front: Jones hit a home run against the Brewers in June of 1984 that cleared the right field roof at Tiger Stadium. Perhaps this is a photo of that home run? At any rate, Jones was known as "Rooftop Ruppert" during his brief time with the Tigers, so this is an appropriate photo.

More opinion from me: Jones signed with the Tigers after playing with the Padres from 1981-83. Then, the Tigers played his old team in the World Series the very next year. That always intrigued me.

Something you might know: Jones was the first overall pick of the expansion Seattle Mariners in 1976 and became the franchise's first notable rookie standout.

Something you might not know: Jones took up karate in the offseason of 1979 as a means to stay in shape, and became quite proficient at the martial art.

My observation on the back: I know a few people who think Roger Maris is still the legitimate single-season home run leader.

The blog wants to speak now: The Other Cards category has been updated.

Monday, December 17, 2012

#125 - Kent Tekulve

What a card: This is the final Topps card of Kent Tekulve in a Pirates uniform. He'd be traded to the Phillies in April of 1985.

My observation on the front: Any card of Tekulve cracks me up.

More opinion from me: If anyone from Hollywood decides to make a movie about Devo that involves baseball players as actors, I will be very upset if Tekulve is not involved.

Something you might know: Tekulve was a popular member of the We Are Family 1979 World Series champion Pirates. He recorded the final out of Game 7 of that Series.

Something you might not know: Tekulve was named after a used car dealer. His full name is "Kenton Charles Tekulve"

My observation on the back: It's almost as if Topps is still trying to justify Tekulve's status as a ballplayer. "See that nerdy guy on the front of the card? Well, he has a degree in Physical Education!"

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

#124 - Rich Hebner

Who is the man: Rich Hebner had just completed his first season with the Cubs after signing as a free agent in January 1984. He'd appear in just 44 games and last one more season before calling it a career.

My observation on the front: Whenever I see one of these "sitting in a dugout" shots for a player near the end of his career, it makes me sad. It's like he knows it's over.

More opinion from me: Ugh! It drives me crazy that Topps would never call Hebner "Richie." Everyone else did!

Something you might know: Well, I think everyone knows that Hebner used to dig graves in the offseason. His father operated a cemetery.

Something you might not know: Hebner broke his hand punching the dugout roof when he was in the minor leagues.

My observation on the back: I always thought Hebner dug graves early in his career, as a way to make money in the offseason, then gave it up once he was established. But apparently he kept at it to keep in shape.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music and Pop Culture tabs are updated.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

#123 - Dave Smith

Who is the man: When this card hit packs, Dave Smith was in his first season as the Astros' indisputable closer. He would remain the closer for Houston for six years.

My observation on the front: I'm going to get myself in trouble on this one. Smith was really known for his changeup, one of the best in the business. But he regularly threw a sinker, curveball and fastball, as well as a forkball. So what's he throwing in the picture there? Curveball? Sinker? My pitching skills disappeared at age 12.

More opinion from me: The Astros have to be one of the few teams to have featured their stadium in their logo.

Something you might know: Smith is second on Houston's all-time saves list with 199, behind only Billy Wagner.

Something you might not know: One of Smith's teammates on his San Diego State University baseball team was CBS chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian.

My observation on the back: A little foreshadowing by Topps in the trivia quiz The only teams Smith played for were the Astros and the Cubs. He signed as a free agent with Chicago before the 1991 season.

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

#122 - Tom Brunansky

What a card: Tom Brunansky was entering his fourth straight season as the Twins' starting right fielder as the 1985 season began.

My observation on the front: Quite the upper-cut swing there.

More opinion from me: Brunansky was known for hitting a lot of pop-ups. I can see why.

Something you might know: Brunansky was part of the power Twins of the 1980s, joining sluggers Kent Hrbek and Gary Gaetti, as well as Kirby Puckett, to take Minnesota to a World Series title in 1987. He was traded to the very team the Twins beat in the Series, the Cardinals, six months later.

Something you might not know: One of Brunansky's more famous catches was running to flag down a fly ball that clinched the American League pennant for the Red Sox in 1990. He had to fend off a few fans afterward. But in another video, while chasing a fly ball in Yankee Stadium, he actually gets his pocket picked.

My observation on the back: Oh, ho, Topps you tricksters on the trivia quiz! The slugger has the better batting average! Who knew?

The blog wants to speak now: The Music, Pop Culture and News categories are updated. A lot of nonsense about something called "Wham!" Don't blame me. I didn't buy any of their music.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

#121 - Checklist, Cards 1-132

What a card: The first checklist card of the set. What else in there to say?

My observation on the front: WOW! THAT'S A LOT OF YELLOW!!!

More opinion from me: To my disappointment, Topps often used a yellow background with checklist cards. Just in the 1980s, Topps used it in 1981, 1983, 1985 and 1986.

Something you might know: This is the first of six numbered checklist cards in the set.

Something you might not know: Topps stopped distributing its numbered checklists throughout the base set in 1993, throwing them at the end of the set instead. And it stopped numbered checklists altogether with the 2000 set.

My observation on the back: Always fun to get a look at which players are coming up next. And, look! The second subset begins soon!

The blog wants to speak now: The Movies and News categories are updated. Ominous talk of a strike in baseball.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#120 - Steve Kemp

What a card: Steve Kemp was a Pirate by the time this card appeared in packs. He was dealt to Pittsburgh with Tim Foli for Dale Berra, Jay Buhner and Alfonso Pulido in December of 1984.

My observation on the front: Kemp was at the end of his two-year disaster with the Yankees at this point, and this photo seems to sum it up well. Kemp looks pretty disgusted.

More opinion from me: I think Joe Piscopo could pull off the part of Kemp in a made-for-TV movie.

Something you might know: Kemp was part of the Tigers' rebirth in the late 1970s, which included LeFlore, Fidrych, Whitaker, Trammell, Morris, Parrish, Rozema, etc. Kemp was considered one of the best prospects in the game. But the pursuit of big contracts and a freak accident when Kemp was hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Omar Moreno in batting practice in 1983 led to an abbreviated pro career.

Something you might not know: The name "Steve Kemp" is used as a character in the Stephen King horror novel, "Cujo." The character Kemp is alleged to have had an affair with Donna, the female lead in the movie. The name could merely be coincidence. But consider that King is a big Red Sox fan and that the Kemp character's cat in the movie is named "Bernie Carbo," and I think King used the real Steve Kemp as inspiration.

My observation on the back: The total of players with 4 home runs in a game is now up to 16. The year after this trivia question appeared, Bob Horner hit four home runs in a game for the Braves.

The blog wants to speak now: A quick update to the News category.