Tuesday, October 29, 2013

#228 - Dion James

What a card: Dion James was coming off his rookie season for the Brewers at the time this card was made and was named the team's top rookie for 1984. This is Topps' first card of James, although he appears in both Donruss and Fleer sets in 1984.

My observation on the front: You got to love when personalized gloves show up on baseball cards.

More opinion from me: Yellow caps don't look good unless the Pirates are wearing them.

Something you might know: The most-cited incident in James' career came when he was playing for Braves against the Mets in 1987. His fly ball killed a dove in flight. You can see video of it complete with a Tim McCarver exclamation.

Something you might not know: James was traded for exactly two players in his career. Both were former first-round draft picks. He was traded for Brad Komminsk ('79 Braves) in 1987 and for Oddibe McDowell ('84 Rangers) in 1989.

My observation on the back: I believe Larsen still holds the record for consecutive hitless innings in a World Series, although it doesn't seem out of the realm of possibilities for a pitcher to toss six hitless innings in back-to-back games.

The blog wants to speak now: The Sports and News categories are updated. Carlton Fisk did something very memorable on Aug. 2, 1985.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

#227 - Danny Darwin

What a card: Danny Darwin had been dealt to the Brewers by the time most collectors pulled this card out of packs. He was involved in the giant four-team trade on Jan. 18, 1985, involving the Rangers, Brewers, Royals and Mets in which Darwin, Jim Sundberg, Don Slaught, Tim Leary and Frank Wills switched teams.

My observation on the front: Dig the Rangers' red jersey tops. Do not dig the thick uniform piping that a lot of teams used at this time.

More opinion from me: Darwin is about as early 1980s as it gets with his long, feathered hair and mustache.

Something you might know: A member of eight teams over a 21-year major league career, Darwin won the 1990 National League earned-run average title while a member of the Astros even though he started only 17 of the 48 games that he pitched.

Something you might not know: When Darwin was pitching for the Brewers in 1986, outfielder Rick Manning got so tired of his teammates not giving Darwin any run support that he offered $20 per RBI the next time Darwin pitched. Manning shelled out $100 after Darwin's next game, which the Brewers won 5-3 against the Blue Jays.

My observation on the back: One of Danny's teenaged brothers was Jeff Darwin, who pitched for the Mariners and White Sox between 1994-97.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

#226 - Juan Beniquez

What a card: Juan Beniquez had just finished what might be considered the best season of his 17-year major league career. He hit a career-high .336 in 354 at-bats for the Angels in 1984.

My observation on the front: That's a terrific in-game shot. Beniquez looks like a right-handed version of Rod Carew with the way he's holding his bat.

More opinion from me: Beniquez was one of those players that I lost track of during his career. His '75 Red Sox card was one of the first that I saw from that set and I pulled his cards consistently each year through the early '80s. But he seemed to disappear around then. Then in 1988, I bought one pack of Topps, pulled his card where he's featured with the Blue Jays and stared at it in amazement. "Juan Beniquez is still playing?"

Something you might know: Beniquez holds the record for playing for the most American League teams in a career. He played for eight (Boston, Texas, New York, Seattle, California, Baltimore, Kansas City and Toronto).

Something you might not know: During Boston's 1975 World Series season when it featured two heralded rookies in the outfield in Jim Rice and Fred Lynn, guess who forced either Rice or Lynn to sit the bench the first four games of the season? Yup, it was Beniquez.

My observation on the back: The tiny print is difficult to see, but Beniquez's career batting average at this point is .269. Thanks to a four-year period between 1983-86 when Beniquez hit above .300 each year, he went from a career average of .257 on his 1982 Topps card to .274 on his 1988 card.

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

#225 - Mike Boddicker

What a card: This is Mike Boddicker's card after his first-and-only 20-win season. It was a pretty awesome way to thwart the sophomore jinx.

My observation on the front: Hey, you! You guys in the stands! YOU'RE ON A BASEBALL CARD!

More opinion from me: I hold Boddicker partly responsible for one of the dullest World Series I've ever witnessed. He threw a three-hitter in the Orioles' 4-1 Game 2 win over the Phillies en route to a 4-1 Series win in 1983.

Something you might know: Boddicker's tremendous postseason performance in his rookie season of 1983 solidified himself in Orioles lore. His five-hit, 14-strikeout shutout of the White Sox -- he was the first AL rookie to throw a playoff shutout -- earned him ALCS MVP honors.

Something you might not know: Boddicker turned down an offer to sign with the Montreal Expos in 1975. He was making $4.50 working in a grain elevator at the time.

My observation on the back: I believe the write-up is incorrect. Boddicker's sister married his high school coach. Boddicker married the daughter of his American Legion coach.

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

#224 - Al Cowens

What a card: Al Cowens was coming of yet another comeback season at the time of this card's creation. After an abysmal 1983 in which he hit .205, he bounced back in '84 to hit .277, driving in 78 runs.

My observation on the front: I know Cowens stopped playing for the Royals after the 1979 season, but it's weird to see him in any other uniform.

More opinion from me: Cowens seemed to hold on to his afro hairstyle longer than most '70s players. He has cards through 1986 and he has the wide hair in every one.

Something you might know: Cowens' most famous OMG moment came in 1980 with the Tigers when he charged the mound -- instead of going to first base after hitting a ground ball -- to attack White Sox pitcher Ed Farmer. Farmer had broken Cowens' jaw with a pitch the previous season when Cowens played for the Royals. Cowens believed that he was thrown at intentionally. A warrant for Cowens' arrest was issued in Illinois and the Tigers held Cowens out of games for the rest of their time in Chicago. Eventually, Farmer dropped the warrant and the two patched things up.

Something you might not know: Cowens was a high school teammate of former A's player Mitchell Page. Both of them died relatively young -- Page at age 59 and Cowens at age 50.

My observation on the back: I wonder if the Topps bio writer heard wrong. Cowens' nickname was "A.C.", which I suppose could be interpreted as "Ace" if someone misheard.

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

Monday, October 14, 2013

#223 - Tom Hume

What a card: Tom Hume was coming off a miserable season entering 1985. Thirteen losses in 17 decisions and a plus-5 ERA had knocked him from consideration of regaining his closer status.

My observation on the front: Hume is displaying his very 1980s eyewear on this card -- and on all of his cards. He is wearing large, thick glasses on each one.

More opinion from me: I always considered Hume the National League version of Tom Henke and vice versa. They were both closer types who didn't look the part thanks to their glasses and each had the initials "T.H."

Something you might know: Hume tied with Rollie Fingers for the 1980 National League Fireman of the Year Award, a year after finishing second in the league in earned run average.

Something you might not know: Hume and fellow pitcher Bill Bonham were among the people rescued from the third-worst hotel fire in United States history. The MGM Grand fire in Las Vegas killed 85 people on Nov. 21, 1980. Hume and Bonham were staying at the hotel on their way to Tuscon, Ariz., for a charity golf tournament. Both pitchers and their wives were rescued off of a roof of the hotel.

My observation on the back: My guess is that either Joe Torre or Tony La Russa has obliterated Earl Weaver's record. But all the internet wants to tell me, in my limited attempts at research, is about World Series wins.

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

Thursday, October 10, 2013

#222 - Hubie Brooks

What a card: This is the final card of Hubie Brooks in his first go-round as a Met. He was traded to the Expos in the deal for Gary Carter by the time this card arrived in packs.

My observation on the front: That body-length piping looks so '80s now, but we never gave it a thought then.

More opinion from me: For some really weird reason, I often think that Brooks was on the 1986 Mets. I'll bet Brooks wishes he was on the '86 Mets, but he wasn't.

Something you might know: Brooks enjoyed a strong rookie season during the strike season of 1981 and finished third in the NL ROY voting behind Fernando Valenzuela and Tim Raines.

Something you might not know: In 1989, while playing right field for the Expos, Brooks went back on a ball hit by the Phillies' Von Hayes. Brooks jumped in the air and the ball disappeared on him. He looked in his glove but the ball wasn't there. He looked in the stands. Not there. The ump told him, it's a home run if you can't find the ball. But then Brooks tore down the sign on the right field fence that honored the Expos' 1981 NL East title, and the ball fell out. The ump signaled ground-rule double.

My observation on the back: At the time, I didn't think I'd ever see another triple crown winner. But I did.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV category is updated. A fat tub of goo appears on Letterman.

Monday, October 7, 2013

#221 - Ron Reed

What a card: This is the final Topps card of Ron Reed issued during his career. His last major league season was in 1984. It was the only one of his 19 major league seasons in which he didn't receive a win. He was 0-6.

My observation on the front: It may be the sunlight but it looks like Reed turned gray at the end of his career.

More opinion from me: Reed is a tall man, 6-foot-6, and that is well-illustrated on this card. You can't say that about all of his cards.

Something you might know: Reed also had an NBA career, playing for the Detroit Pistons from 1965-67. At that time, he would play for the Braves in the offseason, mostly in the minors. But he was called up to the majors for good in 1968 and his NBA career was done.

Something you might not know: Reed was inducted into the National Polish Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

My observation on the back: Complete major league career stats! Got to love that.

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

Thursday, October 3, 2013

#220 - Fred Lynn

What a card: This is Fred Lynn's last card as a California Angel. He'd sign as a free agent with the Orioles in December of 1984.

My observation on the front: Chain-link fence! Gotta be spring training.

More opinion from me: Seeing Lynn as an Angel makes me sad. Lynn was such a star with the Red Sox and there was always hope that he'd become a superstar for years. But then injuries and 1981 happened.

Something you might know: Lynn's most famous moment as an Angel was hitting the grand slam in the 1983 All-Star Game that gave the American League its first victory in 13 years.

Something you might not know: The Dodgers didn't make a lot of mistakes with young talent in the early '70s, but they whiffed on Lynn. a former USC standout. He fully expected L.A. to draft him in the first round in 1973, but the Dodgers picked a catcher named Ted Farr, thinking Lynn would be still around in the second round. In the second round, the Red Sox picked one spot ahead of the Dodgers, and they picked Lynn.

My observation on the back: I remember hearing about Lynn's famous college teammate way back when I was watching baseball on TV in the late '70s.

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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#219 - Gerald Perry

What a card: Gerald Perry had finished his first complete season with the Braves entering the 1985 season. This is his first base Topps card. He's in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: Perry looks like he got all of that pitch.

More opinion from me: That is some kind of photo for your first base card. If I had pulled this card as a kid I would've been impressed immediately and thought Perry was a superstar.

Something you might know: Perry was a sometimes starter, sometimes pinch-hitter with the Braves, Royals and Cardinals who challenged for the NL batting title in 1988 with Atlanta. He's been a hitting coach for a number of teams for the last decade.

Something you might not know: Perry is one of several major league baseball players and personnel who have experienced strange goings-on at the Vinoy Park Hotel in St. Petersburg, Fla. There are many reports that it's haunted. Perry, who was hitting coach for the Pirates at the time, turned in for the night, shutting his door. It was a door that automatically locked when it shut. But he awoke in the middle of the night to find it wide open.

My observation on the back: I just get the feeling that the quiz writers weren't all that inspired for this set.

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