Wednesday, January 29, 2014

#257 - Bryan Little

What a card: This is Bryan Little's last card with the Expos. He had been traded to the White Sox by the time this card arrived in waxy packs.

My observation on the front: Little looks like he knows it's all over, doesn't he?

More opinion from me: This is one of the bigger mistakes in the 1985 set. Topps misspells Little's first name as "Brian." It's particularly strange because Topps spelled his name correctly on all other cards, both before and after this card.

Something you might know: Little is the brother of former Red Sox and Dodgers manager Grady Little. That throws me, because I always think of Bryan Little as a young rookie type and Grady Little as an old manager type. They can't possibly be from the same generation! (It turns out there's a nine-year difference between the two).

Something you might not know: Little might be the only major leaguer to bat on both sides of the plate in a single at-bat and not finish the at-bat. It happened in a game against the Giants in 1983. Pitcher Fred Breining threw two balls to Little and was replaced by Gary Lavelle. Little turned around and hit right-handed. He fouled off two sacrifice attempts and then was replaced by pinch-hitter Jim Wohlford, who flew out.

My observation on the back: That trivia question made me pause for a second. You don't see a lot of questions about the color of a team's shoes.

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

Sunday, January 26, 2014

#256 - Mike Stanton

What a card: This is the final card of Mike Stanton issued during his career. He pitched in 35 games for the Mariners and White Sox in 1985 with a big, fat 6.42 ERA.

My observation on the front: I could be wrong, but it doesn't seem like a lot of people turned out to see the Mariners.

More opinion from me: Stanton had pitching professionally for nine years by the time I pulled one of his cards. Except for a brief appearance with the Astros in 1975, he toiled in the minors from 1973-80. Then I never pulled his card between 1980-82. Yes, I'm that obsessed with baseball cards that I know when I have a difficult time pulling a card of long forgotten reliever.

Something you might know: Stanton is one of three "Mike Stantons" to play in the majors. He was the first and least remembered. After him came the Stanton known as the long-lasting reliever for the Braves and Yankees (For awhile, I thought the second Stanton was the first Stanton because his career started not long after the first Stanton's career ended). Then came the Marlins slugger who is now known as "Giancarlo Stanton."

Something you might not know: Stanton reportedly spent $6,000 to insure his arm for $2 million with Lloyd's of London ... and then was released by the Mariners.

My observation on the back: Stanton was paid for his paintings by major league players like Toby Harrah, Jim Slaton, Pat Dobson and Bump Wills.

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

#255 - Lonnie Smith

What a card: Lonnie Smith had already been traded to the Royals by the time some collectors pulled this card out of packs. He was dealt by the Cardinals in May of 1985 for outfielder John Morris.

My observation on the front: IS THAT A BAT FLIP????? IS IT??? WELL, IS IT??? I'M ABOUT TO OUTRAGE!!!!!!

More opinion from me: OK, I was being sarcastic. If it's a bat flip, it's a tiny one. Dig those baby blue road unis.

Something you might know: Smith was the first player to be traded to a team and then play against his former team in the World Series that same season. It happened, of course, in 1985.

Something you might not know: I don't know how this got past me, but a 2006 story in the Columbia, S.C., newspaper The State about Smith included his memory of planning to murder Royals general manager John Schuerholz during the 1980s. Smith felt that Schuerholz didn't believe that he had given up drugs and had prevented other teams from acquiring him. "If I couldn't get back to baseball, I was going to take him with me. I was going to fly out there, wait for him in the parking lot of the stadium and pop him."

My observation on the back: From what I can find, Babe Ruth is still the AL leader in career extra inning home runs. Willie Mays is the all-time leader with 22.

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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

#254 - Pete Vuckovich

What a card: Pete Vuckovich spent the entire 1984 season on the disabled list after tearing his rotator cuff early in the 1983 season. It's a little surprising he had a card in the set, although he'd come back to pitch 22 games in 1985.

My observation on the front: Vuckovich is not wearing a cap in the final two Topps cards of his career (1985 and 1986). He's also pictured cap-less in the inset photo on his 1984 Topps card. I guess that's what happens when you're injured for the end of your career. Pictures on the bench without your cap.

More opinion from me: Vuck was a scary-looking dude out there on the mound.

Something you might know: Vuckovich won the AL Cy Young Award in 1982, helping the Brewers to the World Series that year against the Cardinals.

Something you might not know: Vuckovich had no less than five brushes with death before he was 22 years old. He was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. At age 1 1/2, he suffered peritonitis due to undiagnosed appendicitis. Not more than a year later, he underwent an eight-hour operation to have a tumor removed from his head. At age 21, he rolled his Camaro down an 80-foot embankment. And finally, he was nearly electrocuted while installing a reactor while working as an electrical contractor.

My observation on the back: "Pete is married." That's an odd way to start out. Why not just say, "Pete's wife is named Anna'? "Pete is married" makes it seem like everyone is shocked that he is.

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

Saturday, January 18, 2014

#253 - Sid Bream

What a card: This is Sid Bream's rookie card. It's also his only Topps card as a Dodger. He was traded to the Pirates in September 1985 as part of the Bill Madlock deal.

My observation on the front: Bream looks both sweaty and pensive. It's an odd combination.

More opinion from me: Bream was yet another late '70s/early '80s Dodger prospect who beat the crap out of Triple A pitching in Albuquerque but disappointed me in the majors. He hit 32 home runs and batted .307 in Triple A in 1983.

Something you might know: Bream is most famous for his home plate slide in the decisive game of the 1992 National League Championship Series. While playing for the Braves against his old team, the Pirates, he scored the winning run on Francisco Cabrera's base hit, completing the Braves' rally from a 2-0 deficit in the ninth inning.

Something you might not know: If you're a reader of Deadspin you may already know this, but Bream did not like his first name growing up.

My observation the back: It's only through those fat numbers in Albuquerque that Bream got a card in this set. A .184 in 27 games alone isn't cutting it.

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

#252 - Dan Ford

What a card: Dan Ford was winding down his career and entering his final major league season when this card was released. He played in just 25 games in 1984 and would play in 28 more in 1985.

My observation on the front: Ford's smile is rivaling that of the cartoon Oriole bird on his cap. That's not easy to do.

More opinion from me: Ford's glasses are a trademark on his baseball cards. He appears without them only a couple of times, and each time he looks miserable ... and like he can't see a thing.

Something you might know: Ford was a key part of the 1979 division-winning Angels' squad, driving in 101 runs for that team.

Something you might not know: Ford posed for Playgirl magazine in 1981.

My observation on the back: It seems odd to fill everyone in on Ford's nickname of "Disco Dan" about five years after disco died. He should have been called "Breakin' Boogaloo" Dan at this point.

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

#251 - Brad Gulden

What a card: This is Brad Gulden's only solo Topps card. He appeared on the 1980 Topps Yankees Future Stars card with Bobby Brown and Daryl Jones and then disappeared until 1985.

My observation on the front: Somebody check Gulden's bat! It's glowing like it's plutonium!

More opinion from me: Gulden is one of those players I knew about long before he appeared on cards. He was a Dodger prospect and would appear in Dodger yearbooks in the late 1970s. I wanted him -- and every Dodger catcher prospect at the time, for that matter -- to replace Steve Yeager.

Something you might know: Gulden is one of the two catchers, Jerry Narron is the other, who played in the first Yankees game after Thurman Munson's death in 1979. He's also one of the few players who was traded for himself. The Yankees sent Gulden to Seattle for Larry Milboune and a player to be named in November 1980. In May 1981, the Mariners sent the Yankees the player to be named and it was Gulden.

Something you might not know: Giants manager Roger Craig's "catch phrase" in the late '80s was "Hum, baby." That phrase originated as a nickname that Craig placed on Gulden -- it was kind of his term for "scrappy."

My observation on the back: I love that 1.333 slugging percentage in 1980.

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

#250 - Jesse Orosco

What a card: Jesse Orosco was entering the 1985 season having saved a career-high 31 games for the Mets in 1984, the best total of his 24-year career.

My observation on the front: Orosco looks like he's missing his left arm below the elbow.

More opinion from me: The last two posts on this blog have been about two of the longevity kings of baseball. Harold Baines owns the games played record for designated hitters, and Orosco holds the games pitched record for relievers.

Something you might know: Orosco is the subject of one of the most famous last-out celebrations in World Series history, tossing his glove to the sky and falling to the ground after recording the last out of the 1986 Series for the Mets.

Something you might not know: Orosco was a former teammate of all three players involved in the fatal boat crash during spring training in 1993. He pitched with Bobby Ojeda, who was injured in the crash, with the Mets. He also pitched with Steve Olin and Tim Crews, who died in the crash, with the Indians and the Dodgers, respectively.

My observation on the back: It's pretty cool that Orosco ran cross country. In high school, it's looked at as a nerdy sport. But in my experience, some of the coolest adults I've known ran cross country in high school.

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

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

#249 - Harold Baines

What a card: Harold Baines was coming off probably his best season to this point in his career in 1984, setting career highs in hits, triples, home runs, batting average, on-base percentage and leading the American League in slugging (.541).

My observation on the front: Baines looks thoroughly perplexed by something.

More opinion from me: Baines was always too smiley and docile-looking on his cards to appear "bad-ass," but this is about as close he gets to it. It's a fine card and I think Baines turned out well on his cards in 1985. I think his '85 Donruss card is close to perfection.

Something you might know: A king of the designated hitter, Baines held a number of DH records upon his retirement. He's still the all-time leader in games played as a DH (1,688).

Something you might not know: I missed posting this card on "Harold Baines Day" by two lousy days. January 9 is "Harold Baines Day" in his hometown of St. Michaels, Maryland.

My observation on the back: Denny McLain's name is misspelled on the trivia answer.

The blog wants to speak now: The TV category has been updated with an interview with someone who spent most of his music career out of the mainstream but stepped into the mainstream in the mid-1980s.

Friday, January 3, 2014

#248 - Terry Forster

What a card: Terry Forster had completed the second of three years with the Braves in 1984, but was hampered by a hamstring injury that cost him all of July and September that year.

My observation on the front: There is some sort of printing stain traveling down the left side of the card. It looks like someone got maple syrup on the card. It also looks like the guy on the bench needs to go to the bathroom.

More opinion from me: Forster has a blue glove, which I like. Pitchers color-coordinating their gloves is fantastic.

Something you might know: This was the card that kids were pulling out packs when David Letterman invited Forster on his show after calling him a "fat tub of goo." Forster appeared on July 29, 1985 and Letterman actually displayed this card during the episode. I referenced that particular show in the TV tab not too long ago.

Something you might not know: OK, it's been cited a few times but I bet a few don't know it. Forster has the highest career batting average for any major leaguer to have played in at least 500 games. He hit a remarkable .397 (31-for-78) over 16 years.

My observation on the back: It looks like someone filled out every line of the questionnaire.

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