Wednesday, December 31, 2014

#364 - Richard Dotson

What a card: Richard Dotson went 14-15 in 245-plus innings for the White Sox in 1984, one year after finishing fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting after going 22-7.

My observation on the front: Dotson in his goofy '80s White Sox get-up is blocking a scenic ballpark landscape.

More opinion from me: I do like the red White Sox jerseys from this period, although not as much as the red Expos jerseys from the same time.

Something you might know: Dotson's 22 wins in 1983 were second only to his teammate LaMarr Hoyt's 24 wins that year.

Something you might not know: Dotson was a figure in trade discussions between the White Sox and Red Sox in 1985. The Red Sox reportedly offered the White Sox Wade Boggs, Bruce Hurst and Mark Clear for Dotson and infielder Luis Salazar. A White Sox official reportedly said, "We wouldn't trade Dotson for Boggs. Dotson for Cal Ripken, that'd be more like it."


My observation about the back: I have a feeling vacationing in Europe was a lot more exotic for a ballplayer in 1985 than it is now.

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

Friday, December 26, 2014

#363 - Ron Hodges

What a card: This is the final card issued of Ron Hodges during his career. The last season of his 12-year career with the Mets was in 1984.

My observation on the front: Lots of enjoyable, old-school catching gear in this shot. Hodges is wearing a helmet, not a goalie mask, the grilled chest protector, not modern robocop armor, and the less-forgiving shin guards. Good stuff.

More opinion from me: Yeah, I know the current equipment is safer. Let me have my fun.

Something you might know: Hodges was a long-time backup to Jerry Grote and then John Stearns before getting the run of the show for one year in 1983.

Something you might not know: Hodges was a key figure in the Mets' unlikely September surge to the pennant in 1973. A last place team in August, the Mets were on the verge of first place on Sept. 20 against the Pirates. Hodges delivered the game-winning hit in the 13th inning after tagging out the potential winning run at the plate in the top of the inning. The game was known as the "Ball on the Wall" game as the hit that led to Richie Zisk being thrown out the plate struck the top of the wall and then bounced right to outfielder Cleon Jones, who threw to Wayne Garrett, who relayed to Hodges for the out.

My observation on the back: It's a shame "Dancing With The Stars" wasn't around then.

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

#362 - Craig McMurtry

What a card: Craig McMurtry was ready to shake off the sophomore slump as this card hit packs. After finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1983, he plummeted to a 9-17 mark for the Braves in 1984.

My observation on the front: Love the autograph session. There aren't enough candid shots like this in 1985 Topps.

More opinion from me: More skinny guys with glasses and mustaches. The mid-1980s was a treasure trove for this.

Something you might know: McMurtry gave up Barry Bonds' first home run. It happened on June 4, 1986. McMurtry even references it in his signature when people ask for his autograph.

Something you might not know: McMurtry is the longtime baseball coach for Temple College, a program he helped resurrect and turn into a national contender.

My observation on the back: OK, these trivia questions are starting to make me angry.

The blog wants to speak now: This blog's writer is under the weather so tune in next time.

Friday, December 19, 2014

#361 - Alfredo Griffin

What a card: After appearing in all 162 games in back-to-back seasons for the Blue Jays, Griffin managed just 140 games in 1984.

My observation on the front: Griffin looks reflective in what is a very nice shot. A lot of the '85 Topps cards are closely cropped and you can't see much behind the featured player. This is much better.

More opinion from me: I'm still not over Griffin's terrible 1990 season for the Dodgers (his 1988 season was lousy, too, but at least he had an excuse -- Dwight Gooden hit him in the hand with a pitch).

Something you might know: Griffin shared the American League Rookie of the Year honor with the Twins' John Castino in 1979. It's the only time in the AL that the award has been shared.

Something you might not know: Griffin had possibly the worst swing for strike three in baseball history. Yeah, I know a lot of baseball has been played, but look at this thing.

My observation on the back: Take a glance at Griffin's walk total for the 1984 season. That's not a typo. He walked four times in 140 games.

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#360 - Steve Carlton

What a card: Steve Carlton pitched in 229 innings in his 20th major league season in 1984. His ERA (3.58) was his highest since 1979, but he would start in more than 30 games for one team for the last time in his career.

My observation on the front: Carlton spent most of the season as the all-time career strikeout leader (until Nolan Ryan surpassed him at the end of the season). This photo could have been a lot more impressive.

More opinion from me: I'm sure Carlton was the favorite player for many fans, but I wonder if he didn't have as many of them as other stars. He was awfully difficult to get close to because he didn't speak to the media for much of his career and even when he was pitching he didn't seem like he was enjoying himself that much.

Something you might know: A Hall of Famer and one of the most prolific strikeout pitchers of all-time (he's fourth on the list), Carlton won four Cy Young Awards when winning that many was considered an absolutely unbelievable feat that would never be broken.

Something you might not know: Information on successful pickoffs goes back only to the late '50s, but since then, Carlton has far-and-away the most with 144 career pickoffs. Jerry Koosman is second with 82 and there's only four guys in the 70s (Mark Langston, Andy Pettitte, Kenny Rogers and Charlie Hough).

My observation on the back: In five days, Carlton will turn 70 years old.

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

Monday, December 15, 2014

#359 - Pat Sheridan

What a card: Pat Sheridan was among the American League's top hitters early in the 1984 season before falling off to finish with a .283 average in his sophomore year.

My observation on the front: I can't tell if Sheridan is wearing a mustache or not. His wispy 'stache appeared and disappeared throughout his career.

More opinion from me: I don't have to tell you that Sheridan was one of the nerdiest looking ballplayers of the 1980s. When he ditched those oversized glasses and the mustache, he looked like a completely different dude. But his 1984 Topps card is Revenge Of The Nerds territory.

Something you might know: Sheridan was a key cog in the Royals' ALCS victory over the Blue Jays in 1985. He hit two home runs in that series.

Something you might not know: Sheridan was the answer to a trivia question during this past World Series. He is the only player to compete in the World Series for both 2014 Fall Classic teams. He played for K.C. in the 1985 Series and San Francisco in the 1989 Series.

 My observation on the back: Johnny Ray was one of five National Leaguers to play in 162 games in 1982. The others were Steve Garvey (of course), Pete Rose, Gary Matthews and Dale Murphy.

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

#358 - Tony Pena

What a card: Tony Pena continued to be a force behind the plate in his third full season with the Pirates in 1984. He won his second of three straight Gold Gloves.

My observation on the front: Tony Pena's arms have legs!!!

More opinion from me: I will always remember Pena for his catching squat in which he stuck one leg out in order to offer a lower target to the pitcher. It was very bizarre at the time.

Something you might know: Pena was a five-time all-star with a terrific throwing arm who hit well during the first half of his career.

Something you might not know: Both of Pena's baseball-playing sons have played for the Royals organization. Tony Jr. was a shortstop for the Royals from 2007-09 and Francisco Pena played for Triple A Omaha last season and could be a backup to Salvador Perez next year. Tony Pena, of course, managed the Royals from 2002-05.

My observation on the back: Way to go, mom!! If you have the time (and you'll need a lot of time), Joe Posnanski wrote a great story about 10 years ago about Pena and his mother.

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

#357 - Rich Bordi

What a card: This is Rich Bordi's rookie card. He was already a member of the New York Yankees when it was issued. He was traded in late December of 1984.

My observation on the front: Chest hair.

More opinion from me: Bordi looks like he could pass for one of those 1880s ballplayers on an original Gypsy Queen tobacco card.

Something you might know: Bordi was a 6-foot-7, well-traveled relief pitcher who had already competed for three major league teams by the time he received his first Topps card.

Something you might not know: Bordi once contributed to a game-winning rally by the Orioles in September, 1985 that was kicked off by Billy Martin scratching his nose. The Yankees' sign for a pitchout at that time was Martin rubbing his nose. With runner Alan Wiggins on first, catcher Butch Wynegar saw Martin scratch his nose and called for a pitchout from Bordi. But the Orioles weren't running. Then Martin scratched his nose again. Wynegar called for a pitchout from Bordi again. The Orioles weren't running again. Behind in the count, Bordi proceeded to walk the hitter, Lee Lacy, then gave up back-to-back running scoring singles, and the O's won 4-2. It turns out Martin wasn't calling for a pitchout either time. He just had an itch.

My observation on the back: Bordi began his career with the A's. He is reported to be the last player ever signed by A's owner Charlie Finley.

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

Friday, December 5, 2014

#356 - Dave Meier

What a card: Welcome to the only Topps card of Dave Meier. He was also featured in the 1985 Donruss and Fleer sets. But only Fleer risked a card on Meier in 1986. He was released by Twins in December 1985 and didn't play pro ball in '86.

My observation on the front: Well if you're going to have just one card, I'd recommend wearing a red Twins helmet on it, like Meier here. I really like those things.

More opinion from me: I wonder how many people confused him with Mariners' first baseman Dan Meyer?

Something you might know: Meier was a pinch-hitter and backup outfielder for the Twins. He finished up his career with a handful of at-bats for the Rangers and Cubs in 1987 and 1988.

Something you might not know: Meier is now a player agent. Among his clients are pitchers Ryan Vogelsong and Jason Frasor.

My observation on the back: The Alaska Goldpanners were a dynasty in the National Baseball Congress back in the 1970s. They won championships in 1972-74, 76 and the title in 1980.

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#355 - Bert Blyleven

What a card: This card arrived immediately after a career resurgence for Bert Blyleven. He won 19 games in 1984 and pretty much had his best numbers since his days with the Twins in the mid-1970s.

My observation on the front: Tiger Stadium? I said I'd stop guessing stadiums, but sometimes I get curious.

More opinion from me: This is the third time I've addressed a Blyleven card on a set blog. I'm running out of things to say.

Something you might know: Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011, Blyleven fell 13 wins short of 300 for his career and helped the Pirates to the World Series title in 1979.

Something you might not know: Blyleven had a reputation for giving up the gopher ball, based primarily on setting a still-standing record of 50 home runs allowed in 1986 and then following that up with 46 in 1987. But in the 20 other years he was in the majors, he never gave up more than 24 homers in a season.

My observation on the back: Topps couldn't write that Blyleven was the only active major leaguer from Holland in its 1980 and 1981 sets because the Red Sox's Win Remmerswaal was in the majors.

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