Thursday, February 28, 2013

#151 - Moose Haas

What a card: Moose Haas was coming off his first season in six years in which he did not win in double figures. He was also entering his final season as a full-time starter for the Brewers.

My observation on the front: Those baby blue road uniforms that the Brewers wore didn't look as nice as the ones on the Royals and Blue Jays. I think it was the gold. They looked like dingy pajamas.

More opinion from me: There is something almost hypnotic about a name in which both the first and last names feature the same vowels consecutively.

Something you might know: Haas held the franchise record for the most strikeouts in a game when he fanned 14 against the Yankees in 1978. He struck out Reggie Jackson four times. The record was later broken by Ben Sheets, who whiffed 18 in 2004.

Something you might not know: How did Haas land his nickname "Moose"? Well, according to wikipedia, it was because of an encounter with a 12-foot tall (!!!) moose in the Appalachians while vacationing. Haas killed the moose, named it "Wallace" and hung it on his wall. But if you do a little more research, you find out Haas was actually nicknamed "Moose" by his parents when he was 3 or 4 years old. A big kid even at that age, Haas' dad said to his mom, "He might be a moose." Haas was walking around with the name by the time he hit kindergarten.

So much for "Wallace."

My observation on the back: The answer to this trivia question was no longer correct by October 1985. Carlton Fisk hit 33 home runs as an A.L. catcher in 1985. The new record is 35, set by Texas' Ivan Rodriguez in 1999.

The blog wants to speak now: Just a brief update to the Pop Culture tab.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

#150 - Jim Rice

What a card: Jim Rice was coming off a 1984 season in which he played in his most games (159) since the 1978 season. He drove in more than 120 runs for the second straight year, but was also in the midst of four straight seasons of leading the league in grounding into double plays.

My observation on the front: That's a pretty good look at Rice's intimidating stare when he was in the batter's box.

More opinion from me: Rice is one of those hot-button "should he be in the Hall/shouldn't he be in the Hall" guys. I have grown to loathe those arguments, so you won't hear any of that stuff from me. The late 1970s Red Sox are one of my favorite teams of all-time, so I'm not complaining about his inclusion whether it's "deserved" or "undeserved."

Something you might know: Rice's 1978 season was one of the most talked-about seasons of my childhood. Rice recorded 406 total bases that year, which was the most any player had accumulated since Joe DiMaggio in 1937. This fact was mentioned constantly in 1978. I often wonder if anyone would mention it now. Larry Walker was the next player to eclipse 400 totals bases with 409 in 1997. I don't recall hearing much about it (then again, I didn't pay a lot of attention to baseball then).

Something you might not know: Rice is a fan of the TV sitcom "Two And A Half Men." He came to my town and announced it right on television.

My observation on the back: The thing that leaps out at me is Rice had more than double the amount of strikeouts as he did walks. I suppose that's pretty common for a lot of sluggers, but it just looks glaring for some reason.

The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated with the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft in 1985.

Friday, February 22, 2013

#149 - Dickie Noles

What a card: Dickie Noles was preparing for his first full season as a Texas Ranger at the time of this card's release after being traded from the Cubs to the Rangers in July of 1984.

My observation on the front: "Hey look! The mascot has that baby's head in his mouth!" ... Noles appears to be saying.

More opinion from me: Noles' given first name really is Dickie. That sort of thing puzzles a non-Southerner like me.

Something you might know: Noles first came to national attention and is probably most known for throwing a fastball near George Brett's head during a relief appearance in Game 4 of the 1980 World Series. Noles, who was a rookie at the time, received a lot of grief for that, but the pitch is often credited for swinging the Series in the Phillies' favor.

Something you might not know: Noles, who has given talks about substance abuse for years after his problems with alcoholism during his playing days, often discusses how he once came home to find his house and his twin 4-year-old sons covered in lipstick. "No one ever told them not to use that substance," he says.

My observation on the front: Joe DiMaggio's fun with numbers in the trivia question is all well and good. Bbut I think it's just a ploy to distract collectors from the fact that Noles finished with identical 5.15 ERAs for both the Cubs and the Rangers during the 1984 season.

The blog wants to speak now: Just a quick update to the TV category.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

#148 - Steve Yeager

What a card: This is Steve Yeager's second-to-last Topps card as a Dodger. After 13 years with the club, he was getting pushed aside by Mike Scioscia.

My observation on the front: Yeager has the Hollywood-actor-shirt-open-in-the-front thing going.

More opinion from me: Yeager's 1986 Topps card features a photo that had to be taken a few frames before or after this shot.

Something you might know: One of three MVPs for the 1981 World Series, Yeager is probably most known for cheating death when wood shards off the broken bat of teammate Bill Russell pierced his throat while he waited in the on-deck circle. After Yeager returned to action, trainer Bob Buhler fashioned a throat protector that hung from the bottom of the catcher's mask. Catchers in MLB started wearing the device until the present masks, which cover a catcher's entire throat, were devised.

Something you might not know: Yeager helped train the actors in the movie "Major League." When actor Tom Berenger, who played catcher Jake Taylor in the movie, threw during scenes in the movie, that was actually Yeager performing the throws.

My observation on the back: The write-up made me curious as to how Steve Yeager stacked up with his famous uncle in terms of performance on October 14th. Steve played in four different World Series and twice played on October 14th. His combined totals are 3-for-7 with two doubles. It's not breaking the sound barrier, but it's pretty damn good.

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

Monday, February 18, 2013

#147 - Bill Swaggerty

What a card: This is Bill Swaggerty's only Topps card. Outside of a 1986 Donruss card, all of Swaggerty's MLB cards are from 1985.

My observation on the front: If you're going to have only one Topps card, this is a pretty good one to have.

More opinion from me: There are some last names that make me envious. This is one of them. "Swaggerty" is a tremendous last name.

Something you might know: Swaggerty was called up to the majors during the Orioles' World Series championship season of 1983. He debuted with a start against the White Sox on Aug. 13 after Jim Palmer suffered an injury. Swaggerty pitched six innings of 7-hit ball, allowing two runs. The Orioles won 5-2, coming back with four runs in the final 3 innings -- after Swaggerty left the game.

Something you might not know: Swaggerty was once Cal Ripken Jr.'s roommate.

My observation on the back: Since this card was issued, two players have tied Bill Stein for the A.L. record for consecutive pinch hits. The Twins' Randy Bush in 1991 and the White Sox's Ross Gload in 2006 each recorded seven straight pinch hits.

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

Thursday, February 14, 2013

#146 - Gary Redus

What a card: Gary Redus had just completed his second full season in the major leagues after finishing fourth in the N.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 1983. His power stats dropped quite a bit in 1984.

My observation on the front: Looks like Redus is swinging in a spring training park.

More opinion from me: Remember when Redus and Eddie Milner and Duane Walker was going to be the next star outfield combination? No? Maybe it was just me. Back when the A's were boasting Henderson-Armas-Dwayne Murphy and the Expos Dawson-Cromartie-Ellis Valentine, I was always looking for the next great young outfield.

Something you might know: Gary Redus enjoyed a great National League Championship Series while playing for the Pirates against the Braves in 1992. He played in five of the first six games and hit .438 in 16 at-bats with three RBIs. But a broken foot forced him out of Game 7 and the Braves won the deciding game.

Something you might not know: Redus and Pete Rose did not get along. At the time this card was produced, Redus was fuming about how Rose treated him. When Rose was named player-manager in August of 1984, he benched Redus. Rose would tell Redus that he was the major league leader in pop-ups and that the team was better without him the lineup than with him. The two feuded until Redus was traded before the 1986 season.

My observation on the back: Not much comes to mind here, so I'll mention this: Redus' wikipedia page insists that Redus was born "Tim Varley." I cannot find any seemingly credible information to confirm that.

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

#145 - Alvin Davis

What a card: This is the first base card for Alvin Davis. He appears in the 1984 Topps Traded set, as well as the '84 Fleer Update set.

My observation on the front: I don't know what Davis is looking at -- looking up when you're not tracking a fly ball or a hit off of your bat is not a common practice for a baseball player. It'd be cool if he was on base and looking toward the outfield to see if he could advance -- that's not something you see on cards a lot.

More opinion from me: Davis was known as "Mr. Mariner," and I always thought of him as the first real, legitimate Mariner star. Yeah, I know he wasn't Alex Rodriguez or anything, but he was a pretty big deal in 1984.

Something you might know: Davis won Rookie of the Year honors in 1984 after hitting 27 home runs and knocking in 116 in 152 games for Seattle. He became known for being the lone bright spot on lousy Mariners teams in the late 1980s.

Something you might not know: Davis was a college teammate of former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu at Arizona State University. The year after Davis left the Sun Devils, Barry Bonds joined the team.

My observation on the back: As someone who is somewhat known for being a fan of night games, I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't know the answer to the trivia question.

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

Saturday, February 9, 2013

#144 - Ron Gardenhire

What a card: This card was issued just prior to Ron Gardenhire's final season in the major leagues. He'd play in 26 games for the Mets in 1985, a year in which he spent most of his time in the minors. He was in the minors again in '86 (The year the Mets won the World Series). He was traded to Minnesota after the 1986 season but never played in the majors for the Twins.

My observation on the front: Gardenhire is shockingly skinny compared with the rotund Twins manager that we know today.

More opinion from me: I did a post on "the expanding manager" phenomenon quite some time ago. I even used this card in it.

Something you might know: The American League manager of the year in 2010, Gardenhire is the longest tenured manager in the majors after the Angels' Mike Scioscia.

Something you might not know: Gardenhire's son, Toby, is the baseball coach for the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

My observation on the back: The blurb about Gardenhire asking players to sign his Baseball Encyclopedia is true. During his playing days and coaching days, Gardenhire lugged a 1982 Baseball Encyclopedia with him everywhere and personally asked for players to sign it. He stopped doing it when he became a manager and said he planned to hand the book down to his son. Here is a story on it.

The blog wants to speak now: The Movies and News categories are updated. I forgot how many hijackings there were in '85.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

#143 - Father/Son: Ossie & Ozzie Virgil

What a card: This is the last card in the subset. I told you it was a large subset!

My observation on the front: My eyes went right to the player in the background on Ossie Virgil's 1961 card. Pitcher Bob Bruce wore No. 32 for the Tigers in 1960.

More opinion from me: Even though papa Virgil is referred to as "Ossie" on this card and sonny Virgil is referred to as "Ozzie," they are senior and junior. "Osvaldo" is the full first name for both of them.

In fact, Topps was crazy inconsistent with how they referred to papa Virgil during his player career. On his 1957, 1958, 1961 and 1965 cards, he's referred to as "Ossie." But on his 1959, 1962 and 1967 cards, he's referred to as "Ozzie."

Something you might know: Ossie Virgil broke the color barrier for the Detroit Tigers in 1958. They were one of the last teams to feature a black player.

Something you might not know: Ossie Virgil was the first player from the Dominican Republic to play in the major leagues. His first game was on Sept. 23, 1956 for the New York Giants.

My observation on the front: 324 games in 13 years? Had to go to the career stats for that. Ossie Virgil never played in more than 96 games in a season and he had no major league at-bats in 1959, 1963, 1964, 1967 and 1968.

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

#142 - Father/Son: Dizzy & Steve Trout

What a card: This is the fourth and final father-son combination in which the son played for a Chicago team. The other three were White Sox. Steve Trout started out with the White Sox, but came over to the Cubs in 1983.

My observation on the front: That is one wild card of Dizzy Trout. This was a card from the end of his career. Dizzy pitched for the Tigers for 14 of his 15 years. Twenty-six games with Boston in 1952 was basically his finale (he did appear for the Orioles briefly in 1957).

More opinion from me: How come Dizzy's nickname stuck (his real name was Paul) and Steve's nickname (Rainbow) did not ... at least not enough to be mentioned on his page?

Something you might know: Dizzy and Steve were both known as characters. Although Dizzy died before Steve even made the majors, Steve shared a lot of the same traits. Steve was known for doing yoga stretches and breathing exercises before games (stuff that wouldn't be that unusual today) and being a joker. Dizzy was known for being mean on the mound. But he was also a folksy, humorous sort.

Something you might not know: Dizzy Trout made an unsuccessful run for sheriff after his career.

My observation on the back: Dizzy featured glasses on all three of his Topps cards. He appeared much earlier in his career on Play Ball and Bowman cards. He's not wearing glasses on any of those.

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

Sunday, February 3, 2013

#141 - Father/Son: Dave & Mike Stenhouse

What a card: This card features the most obscure father-son pairing in the subset. Dave Stenhouse pitched for three years in the majors. Mike Stenhouse played for five years in the majors, never totaling more than 81 games in any season.

My observation on the front: This is an interesting pairing given what we know now. The Expos, of course, became the Nationals, who reside in the city where the Senators once played.

More opinion from me: The Senators' uniform from that period looks a lot like the Twins uniforms to me, which is interesting since the old Senators became the Twins, and then a new Senators franchise was begun. And all this franchise-swapping talk is making me wonder if any of this makes sense.

Something you might know: Dave Stenhouse was an All-Star in his very first season in the major leagues in 1962. He started the second of the two All-Star Games that were played that year.

Something you might not know: Mike Stenhouse and his brother, Dave Stenhouse Jr., were part of former pitcher Bill Lee's Grey Socks barnstorming team that also included Dave Stapleton, Jim Lonborg and Dalton Jones.

My observation on the back: Mike Stenhouse was traded to the Twins in January of 1985, so he was no longer an outfielder for the Montreal Expos by the time this set came out.

The blog wants to speak now: No, it doesn't. It's super tired. It needs rest for the Super Bowl.