Thursday, August 29, 2013

#208 - Champ Summers

What a card: You're looking at Champ Summers looking at the end of his career. This is the last card issued of him as a major leaguer. His last at-bat was in the 1984 World Series.

My observation on the front: It has a sense of finality to it.

More opinion from me: Summers wore a mustache for really only a five-year period in his career (the Reds didn't allow facial hair), but he looks so odd without one.

Something you might know: Summers was a key figure in one of the most famous brawls of the 1980s. During a game between the Padres and Braves in August 1984 that featured several brawls, Summers went to the Braves bench looking to confront pitcher Pascal Perez, who had hit Alan Wiggins earlier. Summers was tackled by the Braves' Bob Horner and two fans who came out of the stands. By the time it was all over, 19 players and coaches had been ejected and five fans arrested.

Something you might not know: Summers spent nearly a year in Vietnam. But he blames an incident in college for being there. A member of the basketball team at Nicholls State College, Summers punched out a teammate, was kicked off the team, and dropped out of school. Then the Army drafted him.

My observation on the back: OK, you can't just leave that sentence there without an investigation. Summers would tell the story that as a senior in high school, he was at the tennis court one day. A couple of women and a boy about 13 years old showed up. The one woman, who was the boy's mom, asked Summers if he'd hit the ball around with his son. Summers agreed and beat the kid, but told his mom that her son -- Jimmy Connors -- could play. (You can read more on Summers' very interesting life).

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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

#207 - Mark Clear

What a card: Mark Clear was entering his fifth and final season with the Red Sox at the time this card was issued. Much like the look on Clear's face, his time with Boston had soured.

My observation the front: My goodness, did Clear swallow some tobacco? He looks like he's going to spit any second.

More opinion from me: Clear was part of the big trade between the Angels and Red Sox in which Boston received Clear and Carney Lansford (as well as Rick Miller) for Rick Burleson and Butch Hobson. This trade was epic -- EPIC -- in our house. "Holy crap, the Red Sox just traded the whole left side of their infield!"

Something you might know: Clear, a relief pitcher with a bit of wildness, was a notable rookie on the Angels' first pennant-winning team in 1979. He was an All-Star and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. For both the Angels and Red Sox, he tended to post a lot of wins, a lot of strikeouts, and a lot of walks.

Something you might not know: Clear was released after his very first season of professional baseball. For the Phillies' Class A Pulaski, Va., team in 1974, he was 0-7 with a ridiculous 8.65 ERA and 2.275 WHIP.

My observation on the back: That must have bummed Clear out, getting traded away from his uncle. (Bob Clear was a coach between 1976-86).

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

#206 - Phil Garner

What a card: Phil Garner was entering his fifth season with the Astros as this card hit packs. His playing time began to decline in 1984, but he improved his productivity that year over a subpar 1983.

My observation on the front: Opposite-field hit ... or out.

More opinion from me: You may have noticed that we are on a real streak of mustaches right now. Six of the last eight cards have featured mustaches and some famously so. Garner was well-known for his mustache, and it was tragic when kids opened a pack of cards in 1987 and found out he shaved it off.

Something you might know: Nicknamed "Scrap Iron," Garner was a key part of the "We Are Family" Pirates of 1979 and then later managed the Astros to their first World Series appearance in 2005.

Something you might not know: Garner testified in the Roger Clemens perjury trial in 2012. Among the things he told the jury is: if you swing at a Clemens pitch on a 1-and-1 count, you're basically an idiot. You'll never hit it.

My observation on the back: Garner's middle name is Mason. I think that would have made a good name for one of his kids.

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

Friday, August 23, 2013

#205 - Steve Rogers

What a card: This is the last card of Steve Rogers issued during his career. It's a pretty good final salute.

My observation on the front: One of those cards where you are forever wondering where Rogers is looking and who he has spied.

More opinion from me: One of these days I'm going to figure out the first card to feature the entire last name of a player on the back of his uniform. I don't expect this to be it.

Something you might know: Rogers is often considered the best pitcher in Expos history and he holds several franchise records. He's also remembered for surrendering Rick Monday's home run that clinched the Dodgers' trip to the 1981 World Series.

Something you might not know: Rogers was just featured in a story in the Montreal Gazette, bagging on old Jarry Park. "It was the worst," he said. "Everybody remembers quaint little Jarry Park and how nice it was ... well, bull. Jarry Park was a major league stadium in name only."

My observation on the back: Unless it's the crossword in Baseball Digest, I personally find crossword puzzles frustrating and quite UN-relaxing.

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

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#204 - Art Howe

What a card: This is Art Howe's final card as a player. He played in just four games for the Cardinals in 1985. He'd pop up as a manager for the Astros four short years later in the 1989 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: It is very bizarre to see Howe in anything other than an Astros uniform.

More opinion from me: I have a few lasting memories of Howe, but one is the epic 1980 NLCS against the Phillies, which was broadcast by ABC. Howard Cosell, who would latch onto players and ideas and grind them into the ground probably because he was bored with the sport, started calling Howe "The Man." And he would not stop. To this day, if you say "Art Howe" and my father is in the room, he will say, "The Man."

Something you might know: Howe was a versatile infielder for the up-and-coming Astros, but later drew more fame as a manager for the Astros, Mets and the "Moneyball"-era A's.

Something you might not know: Howe's dissatisfaction with his portrayal in "Moneyball" -- both the book and the movie -- is well-known. I have to agree with him on the movie part with a little insight of my own. Not only did I watch Howe during his career on television, but I interviewed him in person when he managed the Astros. Howe is a pleasant guy who has this way of talking as if he's amused by everything -- but not in a sarcastic way. He seems happy. I didn't get any of that from Philip Seymour Hoffman's Howe character. Hoffman's Howe was stubborn and humorless. That's not the Howe I saw.

My observation on the back: A computer programmer in 1971, huh? I can only imagine what that was like. Lots of punch cards, I'll bet.

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

Monday, August 19, 2013

#203 - Bob McClure

What a card: Bob McClure was entering his final season with the Brewers when this card was issued. He played 10 of his 19 years in the majors with the Brewers.

My observation on the front: It looks like McClure is playing catch. You actually don't see that enough on cards.

More opinion from me: There's too much empty space in the photo above McClure. Sorry, that's the editor in me talking.

Something you might know: McClure bounced between starting and relieving for the Brewers and was a regular starter in 1982 when Milwaukee won the A.L. title. But he returned to the bullpen in the postseason after closer Rollie Fingers went down with an arm injury in September. It didn't work out so well. McClure was 0-2 in the World Series with a 4.15 ERA and took the loss in the Cardinals' Game 7 victory.

Something you might not know: I just brought this up on Twitter the other day and am at risk of repeating myself. But since the last post was a Mariner and now we have a Brewer, I feel it's worthwhile to mention again the similarity in the road uniforms for the Mariners and Brewers in the early 1980s, including 1984.

The only major difference, besides the team names on the front, are the racing stripes on the Mariners shoulders and the sleeve stripes for the Brewers. also, I believe the leg stripe on the Mariners jerseys is blue-gold, while the Brewers' leg stripe is blue-yellow-blue.

My observation the back: So he was good in baseball, football and basketball in high school. Does that mean he pushed little kids into lockers, too? Give me something current!

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

Friday, August 16, 2013

#202 - Gorman Thomas

What a card: This is Gorman Thomas' first Topps base card as a Seattle Mariner. He appears with Seattle in the 1984 Topps Traded set, too.

My observation on the front: It's very odd to see Thomas in anything other than a Brewers uniform, although the Mariners isn't as jarring as his stint with the Indians, just because I've confused the Brewers and Mariners a time or 12.

More opinion from me: Thomas played in just 35 games in 1984 after injuring his shoulder in spring training. I'm surprised he even received a card.

Something you might know: Thomas was an insanely popular member of Milwaukee who led the American League in home runs in 1979 with 45 and 1982 with 39. He struck out a lot, and often slammed his bat and helmet down after doing so.

Something you might not know: Thomas knocked himself out four times crashing into walls during the 1979 season.

My observation on the back: Topps left out "motorcycle riding, heavy metal music, brawling, smoking and general badass dudery."

The blog wants to speak now: The Music tab is updated. Sorry, Stormin' Gorman fans, Duran Duran is still No. 1.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

#201 - Burt Hooton

What a card: This is the final Topps card of Burt Hooton as a Dodger. He is featured with the Rangers in both his 1985 Topps Traded card and 1986 Topps card.

My observation on the front: Hooton was not blessed with great cards. This is probably one of the better ones and possibly my favorite.

More opinion from me: I was kind of creeped out by Hooton's cards as a kid. The only thing that saved him from my derision was that he was a Dodger.

Something you might know: Hooton pitched a no-hitter in his fourth major league game as a member of the Cubs in 1972.

Something you might not know: Hooton was so well-known for his mild-mannered ways that broadcaster Vin Scully came up with one of his most famous lines after Hooton won the deciding Game 6 of the 1981 World Series, saying Hooton would go out and "paint the town beige."

My observation on the back: All those years with Lasorda. How did he stand it?

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture and News categories are updated. Lots happened on July 19, 1985.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

#200 - Reggie Jackson

What a card: Reggie Jackson played in more games than in his disappointing 1983 season, but still struggled in 1984 with a .223 batting average. He managed 25 home runs, but didn't contribute a lot else. Shockingly, he was voted to play in the All-Star Game, just as he was in 1983.

My observation on the front: This is the first time that Topps listed Jackson's position exclusively as designated hitter. Donruss did the same in its 1984 set.

More opinion from me: Jackson always seemed to be in a perpetual conversation. I wonder who he's talking to there? Also, the jacket-under-the-uniform look is very '60s/'70s.

Something you might know: Straw that stirs the drink, man. What else is there to know?

Something you might not know: In 1984, Jackson hit his 500th career home run and gave Sports Illustrated a list of his most memorable home runs. Among them, the 3 homers in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, the homer he hit in the special playoff game between the Yankees and Red Sox in 1978, and an inside-the-park homer hit in Yankee Stadium in 1969 when he played for the A's. The entire list.

My observation on the back: I wonder if Jackson's collection of rare automobiles had any room for this:

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

#199 - Dennis Martinez

What a card: Dennis Martinez was in the midst of his demise with the Orioles at the time this card was issued. Between 1983-86, Martinez's ERA would never go below 5 for a season. He would be traded in 1986 to Montreal, where he made a marvelous turnaround.

My observation on the front: Martinez is frozen in that pitching release pose that almost always causes me to cringe. Such strain on the arm. It's a wonder anybody on the mound gets through a game.

More opinion from me: On this card, Martinez is six years away from pitching a perfect game against the Dodgers. I'll never forgive him for it.

Something you might know: Martinez was the first Latin-American born pitcher to throw a perfect game.

Something you might not know: Despite winning 245 career games, Martinez won just one time in Yankee Stadium. It was during his first full season in the major leagues, in 1977. It happened in a May 20th game when he came on in relief of Jim Palmer in the fifth inning. Martinez would go on to lose his next 12 decisions at Yankee Stadium.

My observation on the back: The Phillies, incidentally, also hold the N.L. record for the highest team batting average in a season ever. They hit .349 as a team in 1894.

The blog wants to speak now: Sorry. I was at a ballgame tonight and after a long trip there and back, it's surprising this post is here. Nothing else today.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

#198 - Eddie Milner

What a card: This card was issued after a very trying season for Eddie Milner. In 1984, his mother died and he struggled to get playing time after appearing in 146 games in 1983. He also turned to drugs that year, which would ultimately end his career.

My observation on the front: I believe that's Candlestick Park.

More opinion from me: That's an interesting look at what appears to be Milner heading to first base after receiving a walk. You don't usually get that angle. In fact, most of Milner's Topps cards are pretty interesting. Not the usual stuff you see.

Something you might know: Milner was Cincinnati's future starting center fielder on the heels of the Big Red Machine days. But following a couple hopeful seasons, he struggled and eventually was suspended by Major League Baseball for drug use in 1988.

Something you might not know: Milner has been an ordained minister for more than 15 years, but confesses that drugs still tempt him.

My observation on the back: The oldest pitcher to appear in a championship series game is now Jamie Moyer, who was 45 when he threw against the Dodgers in the Phillies' appearance in the 2008 NLCS.

The blog wants to speak now: The News tab is updated.

Friday, August 2, 2013

#197 - Mike Warren

What a card: This is the last Topps card of Mike Warren's career. He only had two.

My observation on the front: Warren looks pretty jovial for pitching in an empty stadium. He's also pretty happy for the season he would have in 1985 -- 1-4 with a 6.61 ERA. That would be the end of his MLB career.

More opinion from me: I always enjoyed the A's mixing-and-matching their colors. Gold jerseys one day. Kelly green jerseys the next.

Something you might know: Warren pitched a no-hitter during his final start of the season, Sept. 29, 1983 against the AL West champion White Sox. He was just the fourth rookie to throw a no-hitter.

Something you might not know: At the time this card hit packs, Warren was mourning the death of his father, who was a standout ballplayer himself. Don Warren died in an auto accident at 3 a.m. in October, 1984.

My observation on the back: Warren could really baffle batters. He struck out 17 batters in his first Triple A start with Tacoma in 1983.

The blog wants to speak now: The Movies category is updated with the movie Arnold Schwarzenegger considers the worst he's ever made.