Thursday, January 31, 2013
What a card: Here is the second of the two cards in the Father/Son subset in which both father and son share the same name. The elder Roy Smalley is a Junior. The younger Roy Smalley is Smalley III.
My observation on the front: This is the third of the last four cards in which the son was a member of the White Sox. I didn't realize the 1984 White Sox had so many players on their team whose fathers also played in the majors.
More opinion from me: The inset photo on the Smalley card is actually a black-and-white sketch. It looks unfinished, like Topps forgot to include the color.
Something you might know: Former major league manager Gene Mauch was Roy Smalley Jr.'s brother-in-law and Smalley III's uncle.
Something you might not know: Smalley Jr. was the last Cubs starting shortstop before Ernie Banks took over.
My observation on the back: Smalley Jr. appeared on Topps cards only four years between 1951-57 because he was a Bowman card subject in the 1952, 1953 and 1955 sets.
The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, Pop Culture and News categories are updated. Names from the past include Von Hayes, Tipper Gore and Karen Ann Quinlan.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
What a card: This is the second card in the subset that features a 1959 Topps card. There are two other card sets featured twice in this subset -- 1954 and 1961.
My observation on the front: Joel Skinner is wearing a helmet in this card, but a regular cap on his solo card.
More opinion from me: Nothing good can come from the uniforms the White Sox wore in the mid-1980s. Everyone looks awful.
Something you might know: Bob and Joel Skinner are one of only two father-and-son pairs to manage in the major leagues. The other was George and Dick Sisler.
Something you might not know: Joel Skinner managed two teams that I covered as a sportswriter, the Watertown Indians and the Buffalo Bisons. I have interviewed him as well.
My observation on the back: Bob Skinner's write-up mentions him appearing as a coach on Topps cards in 1973 and 1974. He appears as a small mug shot on Padres manager Don Zimmer's card in the 1973 set, and he appears as a floating head on Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh's card in the 1974 set.
The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, Pop Culture and News categories are updated.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
What a card: This is the first card in the Father-Son subset in which father and son share the same first name, but it won't be the last. And, technically, they don't share the same first name. Elder Schofield's first name is "John," and younger Schofield's first name is "Richard."
My observation on the front: Elder Schofield (what? Do you want me to call him "Big Dick"?) is featured choking up on the bat in this, his 1962 Topps card. He's choking up even more drastically on his 1964 Topps card.
More opinion from me: Little Di ... er, younger Schofield is another player that looked much younger than his age. He was 5-foot-10, but looked slight to me.
Something you might know: Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth is the nephew of younger Schofield, and the grandson of older Schofield.
Something you might not know: Papa Schofield, also known as "Ducky," was the first batter in the history of Shea Stadium.
My observation on the back: I'm sorry, the 11-year-old in me is laughing too hard to write anything.
The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, Pop Culture and News tabs are updated.
Monday, January 21, 2013
What a card: This is the second straight card in the subset where the father was a pitcher. There are two more "dad pitchers" later on in the set.
My observation on the front: Oh, boy, do I love 1967 Topps.
More opinion from me: Those huge glasses on Vance Law seemed so crazy to me. I know they were commonplace back then, but card-after-card he's wearing them, and I just took pity on him for it. Why I was pitying a major leaguer, I have no idea.
Something you might know: Vern Law won the 1960 N.L. Cy Young Award for the World Series champion Pirates.
Something you might not know: Vance Law was let go last spring after 12 seasons as Brigham Young University's baseball coach.
My observation on the back: I'm just noticing that Topps included vital statistics for the father, but not for the son, probably because the son has his own card in the set that features his vital stats.
The blog wants to speak now: A quick update of the Ballgames category.
Friday, January 18, 2013
What a card: Outside of a card we'll see a little bit later, this is the most obscure father-son duo in the subset. Bill lasted three season and Jeff played parts of eight years.
My observation on the front: Jeff Kunkel looks like he's 12 years old. And I remember when he played. Everyone said, "what's that 12-year-old doing out there?"
More opinion from me: Jeff was like David Eckstein. You just couldn't take him seriously as a major leaguer. No matter what he did. That's more a reflection on me, of course.
Something you might know: Bill Kunkel is known more for being a major league umpire. He umped in the big leagues between 1968-84. He was diagnosed with cancer in the early '80s. and in fact died the same year that this card was issued, in May, at age 48.
Something you might not know: I can draw a path from Jeff Kunkel to Lance Armstrong in five degrees or less. Jeff Kunkel is currently active in Pathways Core Training Inc., a non-profit self-help organization that grew from Dr. Phil McGraw's training seminars. Dr. Phil became famous on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah just interviewed Lance Armstrong on his PED ways. And there you go.
My observation on the back: "Bill is a current AL umpire since 1968." Wrong. He retired in 1984.
The blog wants to speak now: Just a quick update of the Music tab, as I need my sleep. But there's a new No. 1 on the charts, so check it out.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
What a card: Terry Kennedy was the starting catcher for the defending National League champion Padres when this card arrived. The card Bob Kennedy is featured on -- from 1954 -- is tied for the second-oldest card featured in this subset.
My observation on the front: Wow, that's a lot of yellow!
More opinion from me: Unlike the first four father-son combinations, you don't hear a lot about Kennedy's father. But Bob Kennedy had an amazingly long career, from 1939-57, playing mostly in a part-time role. In the '60s, he was known as a manager.
Something you might know: Bob and Terry Kennedy became the first father-son duo to each have a run batted in during the World Series. Bob hit one in the 1948 WS with the Indians, and Terry drove in a run with the Padres in the '84 WS.
Something you might not know: Bob Kennedy, a World War II veteran, taught Ted Williams how to fly fighter jets before the Korean War.
My observation on the back: Bob Kennedy's appearances on Topps cards as a manager in 1964, 1965 and 1968 included two very notable cards with the Cubs in '64 and '65.
The blog wants to speak now: The TV, Movies and News categories are updated.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
What a card: Terry Francona was a part-time player, beginning his fifth season with the Expos, when this card hit packs. I had acquired a 1969 Topps card of Tito Francona just as Terry's career was beginning, so any card of Terry at this time was cool to me.
My observation on the front: Note the "OF-1B" notation for both father and son.
More opinion from me: A pretty lousy choice of a card for Tito Francona. Topps could have gone with '64 or any other card in which Tito was in full uniform with corresponding team designation. But here -- on his 1965 card -- he is cap-less and wearing an Indians uniform, but featured with the Cardinals. Tito was purchased from the Indians by the Cardinals in December of 1964.
Something you might know: Tito and Terry Francona each played for the Indians, although Terry for only one year. Terry was just hired to manage Cleveland, which was Tito's hometown team when he was playing.
Something you might not know: During Tito's final year in the major leagues, in 1970, he took 11-year-old Terry on a road trip with him as Tito's Milwaukee Brewers traveled to play the Twins, White Sox and Royals. As they sat in the back of the team bus, Tito would put his hands over Terry's ears any time a teammate cursed.
My observation on the back: Terry Francona went 0-for-1 with a strikeout in two games against the Dodgers in the 1981 NLCS.
The blog wants to speak now: The Sports and Pop Culture tabs are updated, including the first public appearance of a landmark rock group.
Friday, January 11, 2013
What a card: This is the second card in this subset in which the two featured family members were also in the 1976 Topps Father & Son subset. The first one was Gus and Buddy Bell.
My observation on the front: The look on each of their faces is classic. You can tell they're father and son.
More opinion from me: Bob Boone had a lousy 1984 season, batting .202 in 139 games. He looks like he wants to see if Angels backup catcher Jerry Narron is gaining on him.
Something you might know: Bob Boone extended the MLB family genes to sons and former major league infielders Bret and Aaron Boone. The Boones were the first three-generation family in major league history.
Something you might not know: Ray Boone was a scout for the Red Sox and was the one who signed pitcher Curt Schilling. The Red Sox later traded Schilling to the Orioles before he returned to the Red Sox in 2004.
My observation on the back: Ray Boone was born in San Diego. Growing up, he was a big fan of another San Diego native, Ted Williams.
The blog wants to speak now: The TV, Pop Culture and News categories are updated. Want to know what day the movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" took place? Here's a hint: It was in 1985.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
What a card: The second card in the Father-Son subset, Dale Berra had already been traded to his father's team, the Yankees, when this card arrived in packs. Yogi Berra was the Yankees manager when Berra was dealt along with Jay Buhner to New York in exchange for Steve Kemp and Tim Foli in December, 1984.
My observation on the front: This card came out during a year of upheaval for Dale Berra. Not only was he traded and played for his father, but he got off to a terrific start, hitting .343. Then his father was fired 16 games into the season, Billy Martin took over, and Dale Berra sat the bench for the rest of the year. Finally, in September of '85, he testified during the Pittsburgh drug trials, admitting to cocaine use with his Pirates teammates while he was injured in 1984.
More opinion from me: Do you think Topps picked the 1959 Yogi Berra card to have matching puffy-cloud pictures?
Something you might know: Berra was suspended for a year, along with 10 other players, after his admission of drug use. The suspensions were scrapped in exchange for community service and donating a portion of the players' salary to drug programs. Berra struggled to regain his playing form afterward and played only parts of seasons in 1986 and 1987 before ending his career in 1988.
Something you might not know: The Berras were the first father-son/manager-player duo since Connie and Earle Mack for the Philadelphia A's in the late 1930s. But the Berras kicked off a series of similar father-son scenarios in the following years with Cal Jr. and Billy playing for Cal Ripken Sr.; Brian McRae playing for Hal McRae; Moises Alou playing for Felipe Alou; and Aaron Boone playing for Bob Boone.
My observation on the back: Yogi Berra's stat -- that he has appeared on Topps cards 19 years from 1951 through 1985 is a little deceiving. There's a gap in there. I don't recall him appearing on cards between 1966-72.
The blog wants to speak now: The Pop Culture tab is updated. 1985 produces another supermodel.
Monday, January 7, 2013
What a card: This is the first card of the second subset in the 1985 Topps set. It is a revival of the "Fathers & Sons" five-card subset in the 1976 Topps set. But this subset is an unwieldy 13 cards, kind of large for a subset.
My observation on the front: Buddy looks much happier than his dad. Not that his dad is scowling -- at least I don't think he is.
More opinion from me: The best part of these Father-Son cards is the picture of the father's Topps card. I didn't pay attention to that when these cards first came out, but I really like seeing those old cards now.
Something you might know: Gus Bell's card is from the 1961 Topps set.
Something you might not know: Gus Bell used to watch from his car as Buddy Bell played Little League games. Gus would honk once for good plays and twice for great plays.
My observation on the back: The backs feature a "family crest" style design. But it's a lot less homey than the backs of the 1976 Topps Father & Son subset, which I wrote about here.
The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames, Pop Culture and News categories are updated. Check out who the top picks were in the 1985 MLB amateur draft.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
What a card: I'm a little bit surprised that Topps landed a photo of Al Oliver in a Phillies uniform. Oliver was traded from San Francisco to Philadelphia in a late August deal in 1984, leaving Topps with a little more than month to get a picture. (Oliver would be traded to the Dodgers in February of 1985).
My observation on the front: Check out that giant "Scoop" necklace Oliver is wearing. "Scoop" was Oliver's nickname, and the necklace appears on other cards, too.
More opinion from me: Oliver played for a lot of teams, but he looks right to me only in a Pirates or Expos uniform.
Something you might know: A prolific hitter, who finished just a couple hundred hits short of 3,000 for his career, Oliver is often brought up as someone who is deserving of being in the Hall of Fame. He has famously cited baseball owners' collusion in the mid-1980s for preventing him from getting to 3,000 hits.
Something you might not know: On the day that Oliver found out he was getting called up to the major leagues in 1968, his father died.
My observation on the back: This is one of the all-time greatest write-ups ever on the back of a baseball card. Where do I even begin? How about here?
The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated with a Stanley Cup champion.