Tuesday, April 30, 2013

#171 - Bill Stein

What a card: Bill Stein receives a card despite playing in just 27 games for the Rangers in 1984. He spent the first half of the season on the disabled list with a wrist injury.

My observation on the front: This is the second time in the last three cards in which we see a Yankee Stadium advertisement for Getty Oil in the background.

More opinion from me: Stein's 1985 card (which is his second-to-last card) doesn't look much different from his first card in 1976.

Something you might know: Stein was the third choice of the Seattle Mariners in the 1976 expansion draft. He was selected after outfielder Ruppert Jones and pitcher Gary Wheelock.

Something you might not know: Stein played many positions during his major league career. But in the minors, he also pitched a game while in Triple A in 1971. The scheduled pitcher was thrown out after throwing a ball at an umpire. Stein pitched six innings, giving up three runs.

My observation on the back: There is nothing more boring in write-ups than where the player went to school.  I don't follow college ball at all, so it means nothing. And high school? I barely care where I went to high school.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music category is updated with a new No. 1 s-s-s-s-song.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

#170 - George Foster

What a card: George Foster was entering his final season as a full-time major league player as this card was issued.

My observation on the front: Foster is taking his warm-up swings in the on-deck circle.

More opinion from me: Foster went from being the most powerful player in the major leagues to a disappointment. His numbers weren't terrible for the Mets, but given what he did for the Reds, every time I see him on a Mets card, he looks ... well ... impotent.

Something you might know: Foster became the 10th player in major league history to hit 50 home runs in a season when he hit 52 in 1977. With the numbers produced by hitters in the '70s, that was a huge deal.

Something you might not know: Foster was a misunderstood individual during his career. He kept his distance and didn't say much, observing teammates from afar. That, and his accusations of racism during the '86 season when Len Dykstra and Mookie Wilson received more playing time than him, led to him being released by the Mets during their championship season. "Good riddance," said teammate Wally Backman. "We should've done it long ago." Foster said later he was mischaracterized.

My observation on the back: The date of Foster's trade from the Reds to the Mets -- Feb. 18, 1982 -- I remember vividly. I was a newspaper carrier at the time and I remember pulling in the bundles of papers I was going to deliver early that morning, cutting off the yellow ribbons that held the papers together, turning the top paper to the sports section. and reading with amazement about Foster's trade.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated with a revolutionary footwear item.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

#169 - Dan Spillner

What a card: This is Dan Spillner's first card as a White Sox. He was traded from the Indians to the White Sox in June of 1984.

My observation on the front: That is a fantastic view of Yankee Stadium in the background. One of the best that I've seen on a card. And that's saying something considering how many card photos have been taken in Yankee Stadium.

More opinion from me: Product placement! Also I wish the crop on the right was a little more generous so we could see what time the photo was taken. All I can make out is 10 minutes, or so, past 1.

Something you might know: Spillner won 16 games for the Indians in 1980, second-best on the staff. But he had a whopping 5.28 ERA. The whole staff, in fact, gave up a lot of runs.

Something you might not know: Spillner pitched two one-hitters in his career and both came against Chicago teams. One was against the Cubs when he pitched for the Padres, and one was against the White Sox when he pitched for the Indians.

My observation on the back: I didn't go to a high school that awarded an "athlete of the year." That seems like one sports-crazy school.

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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

#168 - Garth Iorg

Who is the man: Garth Iorg's stats slipped a bit during the 1984 season but he would bounce back in 1985 as the Blue Jays' do-everything utility man.

My observation on the front: Must be a sunny day because Iorg has the flip-down specs going.

More opinion from me: The 1985 ALCS was notable for me because we were finally going to see the two brothers with the weird names -- Garth Iorg and Dane Iorg -- face each other in a playoff setting. Dane Iorg's Royals won out, of course.

Something you might know: Iorg was the Blue Jays' all-time leader in pinch hits when he retired.

Something you might not know: Iorg is one of only two major leaguers in history with the first name of "Garth." The other is Garth Mann, who played in one game for the Cubs in 1944.

My observation on the back: The record mentioned on the trivia quiz was broken a mere three years after this card came out.

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

Thursday, April 18, 2013

#167 - Rufino Linares

What a card: This is the final card made of Rufino Linares during his career. He had been released by the Braves by the time the set was issued. He signed with the Angels in May of 1985 and played 18 games. He returned to the minors and didn't play in the majors again.

My observation on the front: Lineras is eager to get out of that box.

More opinion from me: Players like Rufino Linares give me warm fuzzies for the days when the Braves weren't all that good. Although they did finish second in the league in 1984 at 80-82.

Something you might know: Linares was a member of the 1981 Topps All-Star Rookie Team, sharing the outfield with Tim Raines and Mooke Wilson. Others on that team were Cal Ripken Jr. and Fernando Valenzuela.

Something you might not know: When Linares died in an auto accident in 1998 at age 47, he was the third former major leaguer to die in an auto accident in the Dominican Republic in a three-year period. William Suero (Brewers) died in 1995 and Jose Oliva (Braves, Cardinals) died in 1997.

My observation on the back: Look at those minor league stats. Four trips to Savannah, five trips to Richmond.

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

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

#166 - Keith Atherton

What a card: This is Keith Atherton's sophomore card. He appeared in 57 games for the A's in 1984, going 7-6.

My observation on the front: A drastically miscut card. Again, this set came right out of the box. Annoying, but pretty common for the time.

More opinion from me: Atherton donned glasses and looked kind of nerdy later in his career. Here, he's still looking bad-ass.

Something you might know: Atherton was a career relief pitcher for the A's, Twins and Indians, who appeared in 342 games -- all in relief -- from 1983-89.

Something you might not know: Atherton ended a Royals eighth-inning rally by coming in for the Indians with two outs in the inning and men on first and second base during a game on May 9, 1989. Kansas City, which had already scored two runs in the inning to take a 3-1 lead, sent Bo Jackson to the plate. Atherton struck out Jackson swinging on a 3-2 pitch, causing Jackson to break his bat over his knee in disgust.

My observation on the back: The trivia question gives me the opportunity again to say that the Dodgers' Dave Hansen still holds the record (along with the Pirates' Craig Wilson) for most pinch-hit home runs in a season with seven in 2000.

The blog wants to speak now: No updates today. The roofers across the street will be arriving at 8 a.m., so I better get what little sleep I'm going to get.

Friday, April 12, 2013

#165 - Dusty Baker

Who is the man: Dusty Baker had just completed his first (and only) season playing for the Giants. He signed as a free agent in February 1984 after eight years with the Dodgers.

My observation on the front: I remember looking at this card and thinking how old Baker looked suddenly. Of course, it's nothing compared with what Baker the manager looks like now. I suppose that's a downside of continuing to live in the public spotlight.

More opinion from me: This was the moment for us Dodger fans when Dusty turned over to the dark side. Signing with the Giants was lessened slightly by the fact that Baker was on the downside of his career. Of course, we didn't know at the time that there were rumors of drug use by Baker that supposedly prompted his release from the Dodgers. Baker continued to fight those rumors through the Pittsburgh drug trials in 1985 and afterward.

Something you might know: Baker was the man on deck when Hank Aaron hit his record 715th career home run.

Something you might not know: Baker is one of just four major leaguers to reach 1,500 hits as a player and 1,500 wins as a manager. The others are Joe Torre, Lou Piniella and Fred Clarke. I don't know who thinks up stat comparisons like these.

My observation on the back: Baker still wears the No. 12 as a manager. He's still got a little Dodger in him.

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

#164 - Jorge Orta

What a card: This is Jorge Orta's first base card as a Kansas City Royal. He appears as a Royal for the first time in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: You've got to love the helmet-cap combo, what was once famously known as the "sub-helmet hat alliance" as dubbed by former blog partner Motherscratcher. Some great posting on that blog.

More opinion from me: Orta was on the verge of the most famous moment of his career when this card was being pulled from packs. In fact, this was probably the card Cardinals fans were ripping in a million pieces in October of 1985 -- because there was no card of umpire Don Denkinger to rip.

Something you might know: Orta played 16 years and was a two-time All-Star, but he is remembered for being called safe at first base by Denkinger in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series with the Cardinals up 1-0. Replays showed that Orta was actually out. Dane Iorg would eventually come up in the inning and drive in two runs to give the Royals a 2-1 victory.

Something you might not know: Until Vinny Castilla came along, Orta held the record for the most home runs hit by a Mexican native. He finished with 130.

My observation on the back: Orta's father, Pedro, is often called "the Babe Ruth of Cuban baseball."

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture category is updated.

Monday, April 8, 2013

#163 - Dennis Eckersley

What a card: This is the first Topps base card of Dennis Eckersley as a Chicago Cub. He appears as a Cub in the 1984 Traded set.

My observation on the front: Every time I see a photo of a pitcher with his arm cocked back in mid-pitch like this, I wonder how their arms stay attached.

More opinion from me: OK, look where the position designation "P" is placed and now try not to read the last name as "Peckersley." You can't, can you? This is how Topps screwed up the placement of the position in this set.

Something you might know: Eckersley is widely known for a variety of things. Hall of Famer. Father of the modern-day closer. Career chameleon. Goat in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Being the man who brought Bill Buckner to the Red Sox. And of course, losing his wife to teammate Rick Manning.

Something you might not know: Eckersley is credited with popularizing the phrase "cheese" for a fastball and "yakker" for a curve ball. My guess is someone else was saying this before Eck, but it'd be cool if he invented both.

My observation on the back: This is the first time since the 1978 set that Eckersley received a card in a Topps set that did not end in a "0" or a "5." Eckersley was on a downward slope in his career at this time that would not correct itself until he went to Oakland. Eckersley regained "hero number" status with Topps with his 1989 card (#370).

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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

#162 - Benny Distefano

Who is the man: This is the rookie card for Benny Distefano who played in 45 games for the Pirates in 1984 and hit .167.

My observation on the front: It's a good thing he's wearing that goofy 1980s Pirates get-up because this has to be the dullest photo pose in the set.

More opinion from me: I think "dullest photo pose in the set" is opinion enough.

Something you might know: Distefano was the most recent left-hander to play catcher. He caught in three games for the Pirates in 1989. I wrote about it here.

Something you might not know: Distefano tripled in his first major league at-bat off of the brother of his friend in high school. To see who that is, you'll have to read the back of the card.

My observation on the back: There's your answer. Distefano, his friend and Pete Falcone all attended Lafayette High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., which was also the high school that Sandy Koufax attended.

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture category is updated.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

#161 - Ken Schrom

What a card: When this card hit packs, Ken Schrom was coming off a disappointing 1984 season after enjoying a breakout 1983. Schrom went 5-11 with a 4.47 ERA in 1984 after winning 15 games in '83.

My observation on the front: That's practically a military pose right there. Schrom looks like he's preparing to lead the troops into battle.

More opinion from me: That is one tall cap. It almost looks airbrushed.

Something you might know: Schrom was the Twins' pitcher of the year in 1983. Picked up in the offseason after being released by the Blue Jays in August of '82, Schrom was a mild sensation in the American League, going 15-8. He later became an All-Star in 1986 with the Indians.

Something you might not know: Schrom is the president of the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Astros' Double A team. He has worked for years in an administrative role for minor league teams, particularly the El Paso Diablos, where he was a VP and in charge of sales and marketing for 16 years.

My observation on the back: Schrom and Killebrew are two of 28 people born in Idaho to play in the major leagues.

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