Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#237 - Julio Franco

What a card: Julio Franco was coming off his sophomore season when this card was released. He played in 160 games in 1984 and led the AL in at-bats with 658.

My observation on the front: My, that's a mouthful of teeth.

More opinion from me: I'm not crazy about that square "C" the Indians have on their caps. I know it's been around for quite awhile and it helps differentiate from the "C" that their state neighbor, the Cincinnati Reds, wears on their caps. But I grew up with the pointy "C" that the Indians wore in the '70s. I like that one.

Something you might know: Franco played until he was 49 and is the oldest position player to play in a major league game, outside of some gimmick at-bat.

Something you might not know: Because Franco lasted 23 years in the majors, he became known for his diet and workout regime. He was pretty dedicated. One of his beverages of choice was a mixture of beets, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, garlic, onions ... and an apple. Bleah.

My observation on the back: Jim  Palmer still holds the record for most complete games in LCS history. The best anyone else has been able to do is three (Catfish Hunter and Tommy John).

The blog wants to speak now: The News category is updated with the saddest news of all for a baseball fan.

Friday, November 22, 2013

#236 - Mark Thurmond

What a card: This is Mark Thurmond's card after the best year of his career. He went 14-8 with a 2.97 ERA for the Padres in 1984 and started the first game of the World Series for San Diego.

My observation on the front: Thurmond's jersey looks too tight. The button area is all wrinkled like it needs ironing.

More opinion from me: I wanted the Padres to lose the World Series so badly in '84 that Thurmond was my hero, losing Game 1 of the Series and then getting battered around in the decisive Game 5.

Something you might know: Thurmond was one member of the so-called "Pep Boys," which consisted of Thurmond and fellow starting pitchers Eric Show and David Dravecky. They would talk religion and, some would say, far right-wing politics.

Something you might not know: Thurmond worked every off-season of his major league career for his father's insurance business.

My observation on the back: I don't know how stains get on cards that I bought as a factory set and barely handled. Also, the trivia question, if asked now, would be 6 major league teams. Add the Rockies and Rays.

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#235 - Garry Maddox

What a card: This is the second-to-last Topps card of Garry Maddox issued during his career. He was entering his final full season of a 15-year big league career.

My observation on the front: Maddox has some great cards and was a favorite going back to childhood. This is a pretty cool close-up of Maddox taking some informal cuts (might want to take off that warm-up jacket, Garry) in the cage.

More opinion from me: The most famous quote about Maddox is the one that goes "two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered by water, the other third is covered by Garry Maddox." It's a terrific quote, and depending on what you're reading, it was either uttered by Harry Kalas or Ralph Kiner. This drives me crazy. SOMEONE had to say it first. Who was it? I want to say it was Kalas because he would've covered Maddox a lot more than Kiner. But yet Kiner is attributed everywhere as saying it. Perhaps Kiner said, "they say 'two-thirds of the earth's surface is covered by water, the other third is covered by Garry Maddox.'" I can hear him saying that, without attributing it, especially in his advanced state. But, dammit, this is a great line and it needs to be copyrighted or something. Etched in stone as either said first by Kalas or Kiner. Am I the only one who is annoyed by this?

Something you might know: Maddox was an eight-time Gold Glove winner, who nevertheless did not come up with Dusty Baker's fly ball or Bill Russell's single in the decisive Game 4 of the 1978 NLCS.

Something you might not know: When Maddox was first starting out in his baseball career, he told the Giants that he was quitting the game two months after signing a contract. He went into Army, served in Vietnam and only came back to the sport because his father had three heart attacks and his family needed him home.

My observation on the back: I wonder if that's the first time the Vietnam War was mentioned on a baseball card?

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

Sunday, November 17, 2013

#234 - Jerry Narron

What a card: This is Jerry Narron's return to Topps cards after being omitted from sets in 1983 and 1984. His last previous card was in the 1982 set when he was with the Mariners (he was actually released by Seattle in spring training of 1982).

My observation on the front: That's quite the grin by Narron. He was probably so pleased to be back in the major leagues and on a card.

More opinion from me: I first noticed Narron during his first big-league season in 1979. That was the year that Thurman Munson died in the plane crash. Narron worked behind the plate in the first game after Munson's death. I never liked Munson and although I didn't like the Yankees, I looked forward to Narron being somewhat more pleasant than Munson was.

Something you might know: Narron was the manager for the Texas Rangers for most of 2001 and all of the 2002 season.

Something you might not know: Narron is the father of five children. All of their names start with the letter "C." I can't confirm that it has anything to do with the abbreviation for "catcher" being "C."

My observation on the back: As you can see, this card is significantly miscut. The hazards of buying a factory set in 1985.

The blog wants to speak now: The "Other Cards" section is updated.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

#233 - Ed Jurak

What a card: This is the middle card in Topps' Ed Jurak trifecta. His only Topps cards are in the 1984, 85 and 86 sets.

My observation on the front: I've said this before, but outside of palm trees nothing says spring training in a photo quite like a chain-link fence.

More opinion from me: My brother expected big things from Jurak. He was a shortstop and the shortstop for the Red Sox at the time was Glenn Hoffman with his .209 batting average. I gave my brother hell for Hoffman and he'd come back with something about Jurak and his future prowess. But we both kind of knew he wasn't the answer.

Something you might know: Jurak was mentioned in Oil Can Boyd's book, "They Call Me Oil Can: Baseball Drugs And Life On The Edge," as the best teammate he ever had. In the book, Boyd says that Jurak understood him, and he could tell that Jurak had no problem with race.

Something you might not know: Jurak removed a rat from the field with his glove during the middle of a game against the Indians in 1984. With runners on first and second in the third inning, a rat scurried across the first base line toward Bruce Hurst on the pitchers mound, then switched direction and headed to the third base line. Jurak, playing first base in the game, went over and scooped the rat up with his glove, throwing it in a trash can.

My observation on the back: Water polo in high school? California is so strange to us East Coasters.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

#232 - Dave Beard

What a card: This is Dave Beard's first base card as a Seattle Mariner. It's also his final card.

My observation on the front: Lots of blue hues on that card. Hey, "blue hues" is fun to say!

More opinion from me: I think I speak for everyone when I say it was a tragedy that Dave Beard did not have a beard. He's also wearing that same grin on several of his cards. It's very Jason Giambi-like. I don't enjoy it.

Something you might know: Beard was mostly a relief pitcher for the Oakland A's between 1980-84. He first came to national attention when he finished off a sweep of the Royals in the 1981 AL Division Series with a 1 1/3-inning save in Game 3.

Something you might not know: Beard made his major league debut on my 15th birthday, July 16, 1980. I guarantee he had a better day than I did.

My observation on the back: There is another one of those lazy "is the home of what team?" trivia questions. I think there's been about 10 of them already. This one contains a massive hint. Just look at the uniform of the guy on the front!

The blog wants to speak now: Sorry, not tonight it doesn't. It's been a very unleisurely Veterans Day weekend. We'll perk up in a day or two.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

#231 - Dwayne Murphy

What a card: Dwyane Murphy was coming off the most powerful season of his career when this card was issued. He hit 33 home runs in 1984 with an OPS of .814, both career highs.

My observation on the front: I have no idea what Murphy is doing. Is he pushing a wheelbarrow?

More opinion from me: I learned at an early age that when a player was featured hatless on a card that it meant Topps thought the player was about to be traded or had heard that he would be traded. There's no way I can remember trade rumors from 1984, but Murphy did have two subpar years in '82 and '83, so maybe the A's were trying to swing a deal then.

Something you might know: Murphy was the center fielder in what was considered the best young outfield of the early '80s with Rickey Henderson in left and Tony Armas in right. Murphy was a Gold Glove fielder and the No. 2 hitter behind Henderson when he stole a record 130 bases in 1982.

Something you might not know: Murphy used to be the high school football coach for a school in the San Francisco suburb of San Ramon. The baseball coach at the high school at the same time was former Oakland A and Murphy's teammate, Mike Davis.

My observation about the back: I wonder how many Memorial Stadiums there are in the United States? Minus the one referred to on the back of this card, of course.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated with a significant day in baseball history.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

#230 - Gary Carter

What a card: This is the last Topps card of Gary Carter as a Montreal Expo (issued during his career anyway). He was traded to the Mets on December 10, 1984.

My observation on the front: Carter has some tremendous cards. This one is pretty good. It just exudes Expos-ness. I love it.

More opinion from me: I always liked Carter, even when he was with the Mets, which was filled with many unlikable players at the time.

Something you might know: Hall of Famer Carter won the All-Star Game MVP twice, had his number retired by the Expos and was the backstop for the 1986 World Champion Mets. He was also a very happy guy.

Something you might not know: Carter is the only player to have hit two home runs in both a World Series game and an All-Star Game.

My observation on the back: This isn't the only card back that mentions that Carter collected baseball cards (there is one that mentions it in cartoon form). But it's still cool. It's also interesting that they're referred to as "baseball picture cards."

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

#229 - Dave LaPoint

What a card: Dave LaPoint was already a San Francisco Giant by the time this card appeared in packs. He was one of the four players sent to the Giants on Feb. 1, 1985 for Jack Clark.

My observation on the front: Baseball was a whole lot brighter in the '80s, thanks to uniforms like this.

More opinion from me: LaPoint is from the Upstate New York town of Glens Falls, which isn't all that far from me. During my couple of visits to Glens Falls when LaPoint was pitching, it was clear what a big deal he was to the folks there.

Something you might know: LaPoint pitched in two games of the 1982 World Series for St. Louis against Milwaukee, the team that traded him less than two years prior. He pitched the eighth inning of Game 1 and then started Game 4, which the Cardinals lost 7-5 as his error helped open the door to a 6-run inning by the Brewers in the seventh.

Something you might not know: LaPoint signed a contract with the Brewers as a 17-year-old and began his career in Newark, N.Y. But the team found out that LaPoint hadn't graduated from high school yet and took him out of the game. LaPoint drove home and graduated a day later, then drove back to join the team.

My observation on the back: I'd love to figure out who the youngest pitcher was to win a game in both leagues, but it's proving to be more time-consuming than I thought.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music category is updated. Come on. I'm talking to you. Come on.