Friday, September 27, 2013

#218 - Doyle Alexander

What a card: This card marked Doyle Alexander's re-emergence in the majors after a dreadful second stint with the Yankees. In 1984, he went 17-6 with the Blue Jays with a 3.13 ERA.

My observation on the front: Alexander is displaying the whip-like, jerky pitching motion that he had. It often looked to me like he would wear himself out with that delivery.

More opinion from me: Alexander repeated his 17 wins in the 1985 season and was sixth in the Cy Young Award voting. All of his numbers for the 1984 and 1985 season are pretty much the same -- in fact a case could be made that his '84 season was better -- yet he didn't get any votes for the Cy Young in 1984. Just goes to show you what winning the AL East will do for you.

Something you might know: Say it with me: Alexander was the man the Tigers obtained in exchange for a young Eastern League pitcher named John Smoltz. Often cited as one of the most lopsided deals in history, the Tigers did get most of what they wanted in Alexander as he was unstoppable for Detroit until the postseason.

Something you might not know: When Alexander held out with the Giants during spring training in 1982, he was dealt to the Yankees and basically missed all of spring training. That didn't sit well with his Yankees teammates. Said Bobby Murcer: "We've been in spring training for eight weeks and he's just coming. That's not fair."

My observation on the back: Look at all those teams! Alexander hadn't even played a second time for the Braves or the Tigers yet.

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

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

#217 - Leon Roberts

What a card: This is the last card issued of Leon Roberts during his 11-year major league career. He was released by the Royals in October of 1984 and wouldn't play in the majors again.

My observation on the front: The tell-tale Expos person in the dugout lets me know that this photo was taken at a spring training game. Years from now, you're not going to be able to figure that out -- not just because there are no Expos anymore, but because with interleague infestation who knows who's playing who when anymore.

More opinion from me: That is quite an expression on Roberts' face. I'd zoom in on it, but I don't feel like being mean.

Something you might know: Roberts was acquired by the second-year Seattle Mariners for the 1978 season and proceeded to have the best season of his career. He was named the Mariners' MVP that year.

Something you might not know: Roberts attempted to play in MLB and the NFL at the same time, much like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. While playing for the Houston Astros in 1977, he had a deal lined up to be a receiver/punter for the Houston Oilers. But the Astros heard about it and improved Roberts' salary so he would play only baseball.

My observation on the back: All those major league stats and the bio writer goes with Roberts' college baseball days. Roberts was a first-team pick on the All-Big Ten team in 1972.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV category is updated with a video link. I really miss 1980s MTV.

Monday, September 23, 2013

#216 - Jerry Don Gleaton

What a card: After a three-year absence, Jerry Don Gleaton returns to a baseball card set with this card. It was his first card since the 1982 Topps set.

My observation on the front: If I'm reading the scoreboard clock correctly, this photo was taken at 11:43 a.m. at Yankee Stadium. Perhaps an afternoon game was in the offing (Matthew from Number 5 Type Collection reports that if it is indeed a day game at the Stadium it's Aug. 8, 1984).

More opinion from me: As a lifetime northerner, this was one of my first encounters with a person with two first names. When I saw "Jerry Don Gleaton" for the first time on my 1981 Topps Rangers rookies card it both puzzled and amused me.

Something you might know: Gleaton was part of the massive 11-player deal between the Rangers and Mariners in 1980. The Rangers sent Gleaton, Richie Zisk, Ken Clay, Brian Allard, Rick Auerbach and Steve Finch to the Mariners for Rick Honeycutt, Willie Horton, Mario Mendoza, Leon Roberts and Larry Cox.

Something you might not know: A lifetime bachelor, Gleaton is now the activities director for a Baptist church in his native Brownwood, Texas. He volunteers constantly, organizing kids' sporting activities and helping out with things like operating the scoreboard clock at high school football games and washing dishes after the church's weekly dinners.

My observation on the back: "Memorial Stadium" sounds better than "Oriole Park at Camden Yards."

The blog wants to speak now: Just a small update to the News category.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

#215 - Bob Brenly

What a card: Bob Brenly was coming off the best season of his major league career as this card was pulled out of packs. He wouldn't come close to his 1984 season for the rest of his nine years in the majors.

My observation on the front: Brenly's made so many jokes in the broadcast booth about his mediocre career that you may laugh at this photo of him slugging away. But he hit 20 homers and 28 doubles in 1984.

More opinion from me: Brenly is connected to teams I don't like, the Giants and Diamondbacks. And he announced for the Cubs, another unfavorite, all those years. He seems very pleasant, but I just can't trust him.

Something you might know: Brenly led the Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series title in his first year as a major league manager.

Something you might not know: Brenly didn't start out as a catcher. He was drafted as a third baseman and played the infield for a lot of his six years in the minors (in the majors he tied a record by making four errors in a game at third base). When he got to the big leagues, his game management behind the plate was not respected by Giants manager Frank Robinson. Finally, Brenly and Robinson had it out over what was bothering the manager, and Brenly won the starting catching job.

My observation on the back: Brenly also apparently tied Schmidt's Ohio University mark for home runs in a season with 10.

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#214 - John Tudor

What a card: This is John Tudor's only Topps base card as a Pittsburgh Pirate (he's in the '84 Traded set as a Pirate, too). Tudor spent just one season with Pittsburgh. He was already a member of the Cardinals when this card came out.

My observation on the front: That's an odd background. It looks like Tudor is pitching in a fog, or up in the clouds.

More opinion from me: Tudor was an enigma for me and many others. He bounced between teams I really liked (early '80s Red Sox, late '80s Dodgers) and teams I didn't like at all (mid '80s Cardinals). He seemed temperamental and anti-social. He was known to have a good sense of humor, but he appeared aloof most of the time.

Something you might know: A key part of the Cardinals' World Series teams in 1985 and 1987, he nearly led St. Louis to a championship in 1985. But he ran out of gas in the Game 7 finale against the Cardinals, was removed early in an eventual 11-0 loss, and hurt his hand punching an electrical fan in frustration.

Something you might not know: Tudor is the last pitcher to have reached double digits in shutouts in a single season. He pitched 10 shutouts in 1985.

My observation on the back: You can count on many a Massachusetts boy to list hockey as a hobby.

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

Friday, September 13, 2013

#213 - Billy Gardner

What a card: Billy Gardner was entering his final season as the Twins' manager at the time this card was issued. He wouldn't make it through the 1985 season, getting fired near the end of June.

My observation on the front: Gardner does not seem to be enjoying what he sees from his 1984 Twins.

More opinion from me: Gardner was one of those managers who I had never heard of when he was hired. I thought he was a career minor leaguer, when in fact he played in the majors for 10 years and actually had 169 hits for the 1957 Orioles.

Something you might know: Gardner took over as manager for the Royals in 1987 after Dick Howser was forced to abandon his comeback attempt while battling a malignant brain tumor. Gardner didn't last the season, getting fired in August and replaced with John Wathan.

Something you might not know: Gardner started at second base in the first game played by the Minnesota Twins. In a 6-0 loss to the Yankees on April 11, 1961, Gardner went 1-for-3 with a single.

My observation on the back: I know the bio writer wants you to think that 241 wins is a lot, but Gardner's won-loss record with the Twins was 268-353.

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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

#212 - George Vukovich

What a card: George Vukovich had just completed his best season in the majors when this card was issued. After five years in the major leagues, he set career highs in just about every offensive category.

My observation on the front: Players always look cooler with black bats. I don't know why every player doesn't use one.

More opinion from me: It shocked me when I found out that not only was Vukovich not related to Brewers pitcher Pete Vukovich, but he wasn't related to infielder John Vukovich either. And George and John Vukovich played on the same Phillies team in the early '80s. I still don't believe it.

Something you might know: Vukovich hit a game-winning, pinch-hit home run in the 10th inning of the Phillies' 6-5 victory over the Expos in Game 4 of the National League Division Series in 1981. The home run forced a decisive Game 5, which the Expos won.

Something you might not know: Vukovich played for Southern Illinois baseball coach Richard "Itch" Jones, who was known for developing major leaguers like Vukovich, Dave Stieb, Steve Finley, Scott Spiezio and Jim Dwyer.

My observation on the back: Five pitchers in one inning must have seemed like a lot in 1976, but no one had met Tony La Russa the manager yet.

The pitchers were Andy Hassler, Marty Pattin, Tom Hall, Steve Mingori and Mark Littell. It came in a three-run sixth inning by the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music category is updated with one of the more sobering songs of 1985.

Monday, September 9, 2013

#211 - Clay Christiansen

What a card: This is the first and last Topps card of Clay Christiansen, who pitched a single season in the majors, going 2-4 for the Yankees in 1984.

My observation on the front: Christiansen's glove looks abnormally small. But it's probably the camera angle.

More opinion from me: I'm pretty sure I looked at this card and thought "he got a card only because he was a Yankee." I thought that a lot back then. I don't do that quite as much anymore.

Something you might know: Christiansen is among a select group of University of Kansas pitchers to make the major leagues. Other notables are Steve Renko and Chuck Dobson. Christiansen also holds the record for most wins in a season for the Nashville Sounds. His 16 in 1982 is tied with Stefan Wever, also established in 1982.

Something you might not know: Christiansen is married to Karen Kornacki, a longtime on-air sports broadcaster and reporter for KMBC-TV in Kansas City. She received national attention in 2007 when the Royals' Emil Brown accidentally hit her near the eye with a shot from a pellet gun. Kornacki is from North Tonawanda, N.Y., which is a suburb of Buffalo that I know well (her dad was a high school football coach, which makes me wonder if I ever came across him).

My observation on the back: Just two choices for the trivia question? Oh well, I always liked the "true-false" multiple choice.

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

Thursday, September 5, 2013

#210 - Gary Matthews

What a card: This is pretty cool. With this card we have back-to-back cards in the set of players who were traded for each other the previous year. In a deal between the Phillies and the Cubs in March 1984, Gary Matthews (along Bob Dernier and Porfi Altamirano) was sent to Chicago in exchange for previous card subject Bill Campbell (and Mike Diaz).

My observation on the front: I'm not sure why Matthews is making that expression, but perhaps it's because his pullover jersey is SO '80s.

More opinion from me: The Internet is too much about Gary Matthews Jr. and not enough about Gary Matthews.

Something you might know: The NL Rookie of the Year in 1973, Matthews played well for bad teams for a long time until landing with the Phillies and helping them to the NL title in 1983 by waxing the Dodgers (boooooo!). Then he was traded to the Cubs and played in an NLCS for a second straight season.

Something you might not know: Matthews' nickname "Sarge" was invented by his Phillies teammate Pete Rose.

My observation on the back: That is a very 1971 Topps-like write-up on the back. Ancient stats from high school days. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

#209 - Bill Campbell

What a card: Bill Campbell completed his first and only season with the Phillies in 1984. By the time many collectors received this card, he was already pitching for the Cardinals. He was dealt to St. Louis in early April, 1985.

My observation on the front: They're not going to let you pitch in a game in that T-shirt, Bill.

More opinion from me: Campbell always looked like a scraggly mountain man to me, especially in his '70s days with the Twins and Red Sox.

Something you might know: One of the first big free agents, Campbell won 17 games all in relief for the 1976 Twins and was signed by the Red Sox in the offseason. He enjoyed one stellar year with Boston and then hurt his arm, decreasing his effectiveness for the rest of his career.

Something you might not know: When Campbell signed with the Red Sox, Boston raised ticket prices the same winter. During the season, a fan made a sign that said "Sell Campbell, bring back $1.50 bleachers" and displayed it during games. Campbell began to struggle so much that fans hassled him. The man who made the sign apologized to Campbell and offered to buy him lunch. Campbell said he'd go to lunch ... if he could have the sign. He got the sign.

My observation on the back: Campbell was a member of the 101st Airborne when he served in Vietnam.

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