Tuesday, December 31, 2013

#247 - Wayne Tolleson

What a card: Wayne Tolleson was entering his final season with the Rangers as the 1985 season arrived. He hit just .213 in 116 games for Texas in 1984, but would hit 100 points better in '85.

My observation on the front: Tolleson appears to have checked his swing in time. "Didn't break his wrists," as the ex-ballplayer announcers say.

More opinion from me: Tolleson has that look that basically existed only in the 1980s. Large lenses and a mustache.

Something you might know: Tolleson was a good-field, no-hit infielder for the Rangers, Yankees and briefly with the White Sox. He was involved in a bench-clearing brawl with the Angels' Bobby Grich in 1983 when Grich didn't like the way Tolleson went back to second base on a pick-off attempt.

Something you might not know: As you'll see on the card back, Tolleson led all NCAA Division I schools in pass receptions while playing for Western Carolina in 1977. He caught 73 passes for 1,101 yards. But did you know he was also 6-for-6 in field goal attempts?

My observation on the back: I like that trivia question. I imagine the record is still standing.

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

Friday, December 27, 2013

#246 - Mike Norris

What a card: Mike Norris received a card in the 1985 Topps set despite spending the entire 1984 season on the disabled list. In fact, his MLB career was effectively over by this time. He would appear in only 14 more games and those would all be during his comeback season with the A's in 1990. This was the last Topps card issued of Norris during his career.

My observation on the front: Norris looks like he knows he's done.

More opinion from me: I knew about Norris from the very beginning, pulling his rookie card in 1976 and noting that he pitched in just four MLB games, which I thought was both odd (because Topps gave him a card anyway) and cool (because his career ERA was 0.00).

Something you might know: Norris enjoyed a tremendous 1980 season in which he went 22-9 with the A's. It is now known more for being overlooked by sportswriters, who voted Steve Stone as the AL Cy Young winner that year, and for possibly leading to Norris' descent into arm problems thanks to alleged overuse by manager Billy Martin.

Something you might not know: In a 1982 Sports Illustrated poll, Norris was voted one of the biggest hot dogs in the American League. Only teammate Rickey Henderson, the Mariners' Julio Cruz and Reggie Jackson finished ahead of him.

My observation on the back: Norris had surgery in 1983 to free a trapped nerve in his pitching shoulder and doctors told him not to pitch for the entire 1984 season.

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

Saturday, December 21, 2013

#245 - Chili Davis

What a card: Chili Davis had returned to form at the time this card was issued. After a sophomore slump in 1983, he rebounded in 1984 to finish third in the National League with a .315 average.

My observation on the front: This is the third straight Giants card featuring a batter in action. And this photo was likely taken during the same game as this one.

More opinion from me: Davis always had a bad-ass way about him on his cards. He hardly ever smiles and he's featuring a downright glare on some cards.

Something you might know: A rookie sensation for the Giants in 1982, Davis fashioned a 19-year career, winning World Series with the Twins in 1991 and the Yankees in 1998 and 1999. He's one of those rare players that ended his career with a World Series title.

Something you might not know: Davis, who received his nickname "Chili" as a youngster after his dad gave him an unfortunate "chili bowl" haircut, wound up cutting other people's hair as it became an interest of his.

My observation on the back: Other Jamaican-born players that followed Davis were Devon White, Rolando Roomes and Justin Masterson.

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

#244 - Mike Jones

What a card: This is Mike Jones' first Topps card since appearing on a three-person rookie card in the 1982 set. It's also just his second solo card, the first being in the 1982 Fleer set.

My observation on the front: Something just doesn't seem right about this image. It's almost as if Jones' head was inserted into a one of those carnival cutouts so it looks as if he's wearing a Royals cap and uniform.

More opinion from me: I don't know why Jones would be airbrushed. He played for the Royals exclusively up to this point. He could actually be wearing an Omaha Royals uniform I suppose since he split 1984 between Kansas City and Omaha.

Something you might know: Jones was a promising pitcher drafted in the first round who finished fourth in the A.L. Rookie of the Year voting in 1981. But his career was derailed by a car accident in December 1981 in which Jones suffered a broken neck.

Something you might not know: Jones missed all of the 1982 season after his accident and most of 1983. But in 1984, he pitched an eight-inning one-hitter against the Indians on my 19th birthday. Brett Butler was the only player to get a hit off of him.

My observation on the back: I suppose "injured" covers "broke neck in one-car crash after which he was charged with drunken driving").

The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture category is updated with a topic near and dear to Dee Snider's heart.

Monday, December 16, 2013

#243 - Barbaro Garbey

What a card: This is Barbaro Garbey's first Topps base card. He makes appearances in the 1984 Topps Traded and Fleer Update sets. He would have only one other Topps card (1986).

My observation on the front: That's a rather pensive dugout shot.

More opinion from me: Garbey played in 110 games for the Tigers with 327 at-bats and even appeared in four games of the 1984 World Series, but I remember going through my 1985 set after I bought it complete that year and noting that this guy didn't ring a bell with me. I never knew he existed until I saw this card.

Something you might know: Garbey is the first member of the Cuban national team to defect to the United States. He opened the door for Orlando Hernandez, Rey Ordonez, Jose Contreras, Aroldis Chapman, Yasiel Puig and many others.

Something you might not know: Garbey was suspended in 1983 after hitting a fan with a bat during a minor league game. Garbey, who was playing for Evansville, had been heckled by the fan. After the game, he grabbed a bat and waited outside for him, striking him in the shoulder.

My observation on the back: The Freedom Flotilla is more formally known as the Mariel boatlift.

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

#242 - Greg Harris

What a card: Greg Harris finished out the 1984 season with the Padres after being traded by the Expos on July 20, 1984. He appeared in 18 games for San Diego.

My observation on the front: I'm struggling to determine whether Harris is airbrushed into a Padres uniform and cap. The Cap looks fairly good, although a little off. The uniform doesn't look right especially since it seems like Harris has a hanger in his back. But I'm not positive about the whole thing.

More opinion from me: It does appear that Topps definitely airbrushed the Marlboro sign behind Harris. You can practically see the white-out streaked through the billboard.

Something you might know: Harris was one of two pitchers named Greg Harris who played during the 1980s and until the mid-1990s (each of them finished his career in 1995). It was particularly confusing because both also played for the Padres, although the elder Harris -- this one -- played for San Diego only one year. Also, this Harris -- known as Greg A. Harris (the other was Greg W. Harris) -- was ambidextrous and eventually did pitch in a game left-handed at the end of his career.

Something you might not know: Harris' son, Greg Jr., was drafted in the 17th round of last June's amateur draft by the Dodgers and signed by L.A., who convinced him to turn down the University of Oregon and sign out of high school.

My observation on the back: Since Willie Wilson batted 705 times in a season, two other players have surpassed 700 at-bats in a year. They are Ichiro Suzuki (704 in 2004) and all-time at-bat leader Jimmy Rollins (716 in 2007).

Also the trivia question isn't quite right. Juan Samuel batted 701 times for the Phillies in 1984. Perhaps the trivia question was printed in advance and they could get it changed in time.

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

#241 - Jim Frey

What a card: This Jim Frey card was issued a mere few months after Frey led the Cubs to their first pennant since 1945.

My observation on the front: Frey has three Topps cards from his managing days with the Cubs. They are all remarkably similar.

More opinion from me: I am so glad I didn't wear glasses in the 1980s. The styles were not good.

Something you might know: Frey led both the Royals and the Cubs to first place in his first year with each team. That is still amazing to me.

Something you might not know: Frey has a distinctive nose, which his lifelong friend Don Zimmer claims got that way after he incited a brawl during a high school basketball game. The two were teammates and, Zimmer claims, when Frey came out on the court to defend him, a player from the opposing team clocked Frey in the nose.

My observation on the back: The card is slightly miscut. The box outlined in white isn't supposed to be at an angle like that.

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

Friday, December 6, 2013

#240 - Dave Stieb

What a card: Dave Stieb was on a roll when this card came out in 1985. He had won 50 games in the past three years and was about to sign a well-publicized 11-year contract with the Blue Jays, which was the longest playing contract ever at the time.

My observation on the front: That blurred-out arm motion was pretty commonplace on cards in the '70s and '80s. I didn't like it as a kid. It looked like the pitcher was missing a hand.

More opinion from me: Stieb has one of the best-looking rookie cards there is, in my humble opinion.

Something you might know: One of the most prolific winners of the 1980s, Stieb was known as a hard-luck pitcher when it came to no-hitters until he finally threw one on Sept. 2, 1990 against the Indians. It's still the only no-hitter by a Blue Jay.

Something you might not know: Bob Lamonte, the man who negotiated Stieb's record-breaking contract in 1985, was Stieb's history teacher in high school.

My observation on the back: Stieb played for Southern Illinois, but that's not the college referenced in the blurb. Stieb and Righetti played for San Jose Community College in 1977 before Stieb went to Southern Illinois.

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

#239 - Tim Teufel

What a card: This is Tim Teufel's first Topps card. He received cards in the 1984 Donruss and Fleer sets, as well as the '84 Topps Traded set. But Topps waited until Teufel finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in '84 to give him a card in its flagship '85 set.

My observation on the front: Teufel was noted for the "Teufel Shuffle" when he was in the batter's box, moving his butt back-and-forth while he waited for the pitch. I wonder if that's what he's doing in this photo?

More opinion from me: That stance is a little like Rod Carew's, from the other side, of course.

Something you might know: Teufel batted .444 in nine at-bats for the Mets against the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series. He's also known for his at-bats against the Blue Jays' Jim Gott because Gott's last name in German means "God" and Teufel's last name in German means "devil." The first home run of Teufel's career came against Gott.

Something you might not know: Teufel was dealt from the Twins to the Mets for former top prospect Billy Beane, who would go on to Moneyball fame as GM for the Oakland A's.

My observation on the back: Other players on Clemson's 1980 team who went on to the majors were pitcher Jimmy Key and infielder Danny Sheaffer, who played for the Rockies and Cardinals.

The blog wants to speak now: First day back at work after vacation. I'm too tired to updated the tabs. Sorry.

Monday, December 2, 2013

#238 - Jose Rijo

What a card: This is Jose Rijo's first Topps base card. He's in the 1984 Topps Traded set, as well as the '84 Fleer Update set. He was also an Oakland A by the time this card arrived, dealt in December of '84 in the big Rickey Henderson trade.

My observation on the front: It's very odd to see Rijo in anything other than an A's or Reds uniform.

More opinion from me: I enjoy it when the Yankees lose players who go on to achieve great things.

Something you might know: Rijo was the MVP of the 1990 World Series, pitching two victories for the Reds, including a two-hitter in the decisive Game 4.

Something you might not know: Rijo was once married to Juan Marichal's daughter, Rosie, but the two divorced the winter after the Reds' World Series win.

My observation on the back: What that sentence is describing is illegal according to MLB rules. They state that prospects must be 16 when they sign with a big-league team.

The blog wants to speak now: A quick update to the Ballgames category, but there's no ball involved.