Friday, June 27, 2014

#305 - Dale Berra

What a card: Dale Berra had been traded to the Yankees by the time this card arrived in packs. The Pirates shipped him to New York, along with Jay Buhner and Alfonso Pulido, for Tim Foli, Steve Kemp and cash in December 1984.

My observation on the front: I did a blog post a long time ago on all of the Pirates' uniform combinations during the late '70s and early '80s. I have an unproven theory that the gold-jersey-black-pants combination was the most common during this period.

More opinion from me: The Pirates caps of this era don't look right without some Stargell Stars on them.

Something you might know: The son of Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, Dale Berra admitted to drug use during his playing career, testifying in the Pittsburgh drug trials the very year this card was issued.

Something you might not know: Berra was named after Dale Mitchell, who struck out to give Don Larsen his perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Berra's wife, Carmen, eight months pregnant with Dale at the time and watching the game from the stands, vowed to name her son "Dale" if Mitchell struck out. Mitchell was batting for pitcher Sal Maglie, so Dale Berra was almost "Sal Berra".

My observation on the back: Topps was being very generous giving Berra a card number ending in "5". There's nothing about his '84 season or really his career to warrant that. I think this is a nod to his famous dad.

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

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#304 - Gary Gaetti

What a card: Gary Gaetti was entering his fourth full season with the Twins when this card hit packs. In 1984, he focused on cutting down on his strikeout totals, which were considerable his first two seasons. He did trim them but his home run total plunged from 25 to 21 to five in 1984.

My observation on the front: I always loved the red Twins caps and helmets.

More opinion from me: There is so much going on in the old Twins logo that there is stuff I've missed until right now. For example, I didn't know that the I's in "Win Twins" are dotted with stars. I also didn't know that Minnie and Paul (the two guys shaking hands) featured logos on their uniforms. The research is also telling me that Minnie wears the No. 20 and Paul wears the No. 10, but it looks like both of them are wearing the No. 7 (but that might be the wrinkles drawn into their uniform).

Something you might know: Gaetti was a member of the 1987 World Series champion Twins and put together a string of seasons between 1986-88 when he was known as one of the top sluggers in the game. He could also field.

Something you might not know: Gaetti is the all-time career home run leader for players who hit a home run in their first career at-bat. He has 360. The runners-up are Jermaine Dye (325), Carlos Lee (307), Will Clark (284) and Tim Wallach (260).

My observation on the back: I had to look up what year Bill Terry hit .400. It was 1930.

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

#303 - Mike Jeffcoat

What a card: This is Mike Jeffcoat's first Topps base card. He appears in the 1984 Topps Traded set as well as in the '84 Fleer Update set. But 1984 Donruss got him in the base set as a Rated Rookie.

My observation on the front: Looks like spring training is going on behind him.

More opinion from me: There are some achingly dull cards in the 1985 set.

Something you might know: Jeffcoat pitched 10 years in the majors, mostly as a reliever for the Rangers. He's perhaps best known among baseball card collectors for being pictured with a football on an Upper Deck card.

Something you might not know: Jeffcoat, a 13-year coaching veteran for the Texas Wesleyan baseball team, recently was a candidate to coach at his alma mater, Louisiana Tech. He didn't get the job.

 My observation on the back: We have a new candidate for the easiest baseball trivia question ever.

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

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

#302 - Tim Corcoran

What a card: This is Tim Corcoran's first Topps card since the 1981 set. Corcoran had spent a lot of time in Philadelphia's minor leagues after being picked up as a free agent in 1982.

My observation on the front: The extra space above Corcoran's helmet kind of bugs me.

More opinion from me: I think we took mustaches like that for granted back in the 1980s. We shouldn't have.

Something you might know: Corcoran was a role player during his nine years in the majors. He made his debut with the Tigers in 1977. Three other Tigers who made their debut that same year are a little more well-known -- Jack Morris, Lou Whitaker and Dave Rozema.

Something you might not know: As an Angels scout, Corcoran won the club's "scout of the year" honors in 2000. Perhaps Corcoran's most notable signing was pitcher Tyler Chatwood, who now plays for the Rockies.

My observation on the back: That's a lot of T's.

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

Monday, June 16, 2014

#301 - John Montefusco

What a card: This is John Montefusco's final Topps card that was issued during his career. Fleer is the only company that would make a card of Montefusco in 1986.

My observation on the front: I was never a Montefusco fan, but it was painful watching him get old. It was like watching the '70s die just looking at him.

More opinion from me: I had the chance to get Montefusco's autograph a few years ago. But then I thought about how he pitched only for teams I've disliked all my life and that he was known for talking about how much he hated the Dodgers. I walked past his table.

Something you might know: Montefusco made noise right from the start, hitting a home run in his first official at-bat in 1974, winning National League Rookie of the Year honors for the Giants in 1975, and pitching a no-hitter in 1976.

Something you might not know: Montefusco's no-hitter may have been one of the least-watched in history. It came on the last day of the 1976 season in Atlanta. Only 1,300 fans came to the game and it was not televised. Several news outlets had to be called to inform them that a no-hitter had happened.

My observation on the back: That is Montefusco's complete career won-loss record in the major league totals. He would not receive a decision in 1986, his final season.

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

#300 - Rod Carew

What a card: Rod Carew was entering his final season in the major leagues when this card was released. He played in just 93 games in 1984, compiled less than 100 hits in a season for the first time in his career, and hit below .300 for the first time since 1968.

My observation on the front: It's kind of an unusual photo. Carew is preparing to bat, appears to be eyeing the pitcher, and that chain link fence -- I don't know if I've seen a chain link fence featured more prominently on a baseball card. I do like the photo though.

More opinion from me: I miss the old Angels logo. You don't see an entire state included in a team's logo often (the old Rangers logo from the '80s springs to mind).

Something you might know: I can recite these from memory: Carew flirted with .400 in 1977, he compiled just over 3,000 hits, he won Rookie of the Year honors, he captured seven batting titles, and he stole home plate seven times in 1969, which amazes me the most.

Something you might not know: Before Carew was dealt to the Angels, the Twins tried to work out a deal with the Yankees. The Twins were asking for Chris Chambliss, Juan Beniquez, Damaso Garcia and a minor leaguer named Dave Righetti. Later, the Twins reportedly dropped demands for Garcia and Righetti and wanted pitcher Paul Mirabella and another minor leaguer. But Carew was traded to the Angels just a few days later.

My observation on the back: I'll bet having a dark room in your house was the height of luxury in 1985. Now, it's like, "what's the point?"

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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

#299 - Andy Hawkins

What a card: This card was issued as Andy Hawkins was about to embark on his breakthrough season. Hawkins would win 18 games for the Padres in 1985, pitching in a career-high 228 innings.

My observation on the front: Hawkins looks absolutely terrified to be throwing wherever he's throwing. Look at the expression on his face.

More opinion from me: Hawkins was the answer to the previous card's trivia question. Am I giving Topps too much credit to say that was planned?

Something you might know: As a member of the Yankees, Hawkins threw a no-hitter in 1990 and lost 4-0 to the White Sox. Later, the no-hitter was taken from him because of new rules that stipulated a pitcher must go nine innings to be credited with a no-hitter. Hawkins pitched just eight because the White Sox didn't bat in the bottom of the ninth.

Something you might not know: Hawkins signed a letter of intent to kick for the Baylor University football team.

My observation on the back: I have no idea whether Fingers still holds the record. I would imagine it's been broken by someone like Mariano Rivera. (I just looked it up, Rivera pitched in 24 WS games).

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

#298 - Marty Barrett

What a card: Marty Barrett was coming off possibly the best individual season of his career when this card was issued. He reached what would be career highs in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS in 1984.

My observation on the front: It looks like it's snowing in Florida.

More opinion from me: I don't know what it is about the Red Sox in this set. Miscuts everywhere.

Something you might know: Barrett was voted the MVP of the American League Championship Series in 1986. He hit .367, supplying 11 hits over seven games against the Angels. He hit even better in the World Series against the Mets, but unfortunately made the final out when he was struck out by Jesse Orosco in Game 7.

Something you might not know: Barrett sued Red Sox team physician Arthur Pappas for malpractice, accusing him of ruining Barrett's career after the doctor recommended rest and therapy for Barrett's injured knee instead of surgery. Barrett sued for $15 million but received $1.7 million in damages.

My observation on the back: Well now that trivia question just made Padres fans sad.

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

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

#297 - Gary Lucas

What a card: This is Gary Lucas' first base card as a Montreal Expo. He was dealt to Montreal in a three-team trade with San Diego and the Chicago Cubs at the end of 1983. He's in the 1984 Topps Traded set as an Expo.

My observation on the front: This photo is a little out of character for the 1985 set. Most of the posed or candid shots are close up. Even most of the action photos aren't as distant as this one.

More opinion from me: Lucas also has a distant photo in the 1984 Topps set. Maybe the photographers thought he wasn't an attractive guy?

Something you might know: Lucas is the relief pitcher that Donnie Moore replaced in the ninth inning before he surrendered the home run to the Red Sox's Dave Henderson that rallied Boston in Game 5 and turned the tide of the 1986 ALCS.

Something you might not know: Lucas still blames himself for the Red Sox's rally in that game. He was brought in to relieve Angels starter Mike Witt and face Rich Gedman. Lucas had struck out Gedman three times in three appearances against him. Instead, this time, Lucas hit Gedman with a pitch, putting a man on base ahead of Henderson with the Angels clinging to a 5-4 lead. "That still sticks in my craw and probably will for my whole life," he said three years ago.

 My observation on the back: Of course, now in the World Series, the DH is used only in the home park of the American League team. 1985 was the last year that the above question was correct.

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