Tuesday, April 29, 2014

#287 - Walt Terrell

What a card: This is Walt Terrell's last Topps card with the Mets (he only had two). He was traded in December 1984 to the Tigers for third baseman Howard Johnson.

My observation on the front: That blurry pitching hand is very '70s/'80s.

More opinion from me: I always felt sorry for Terrell because he was dealt away from a team that would win the World Series in two years to a team that had won the World Series the year before he arrived. He pitched for the 1987 Tigers that reached the ALCS, but Terrell would never pitch for a World Series team.

Something you might know: Terrell was known for his prowess at Tiger Stadium. During his career with Detroit, he was 52-24 with a 3.40 ERA. Away from Tiger Stadium, he went 59-100 with a 4.50 ERA.

Something you might not know: Terrell surrendered a home run to Jose Canseco in Tiger Stadium in 1986 that gave Canseco a home run in every American League park.

My observation on the back: Willie Mays still has the most at-bats in All-Star games with 75.

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

Friday, April 25, 2014

#286 - Rudy Law

What a card: Rudy Law was coming off a season that signaled a downturn in his career. After an uplifting 1983 in which he helped the White Sox to the AL West title, his numbers were off virtually across the board in 1984.

My observation on the front: Law is exhibiting the "should I stay or should I go" pose on the basepaths.

More opinion from me: If I was a little younger in 1982, I'm sure I would've cried the day the Dodgers traded Law to the White Sox (for Cecil Espy!). I liked Law that much.

Something you might know: Law set a rookie record for the Dodgers when he stole 40 bases in 1980. Steve Sax broke the record two years later with 49. That record still stands.

Something you might not know: Law said that when he was with the White Sox, if players weren't playing in a game sometimes they'd break into the umpires' room and eat pizza and drink beer. Law said once after a pizza-and-beer session, he was called in to pinch run. He had heartburn and felt bloated, but that didn't stop White Sox manager Tony La Russa from giving him the steal sign. No word on whether Law was safe or out, but he said he ran like he never had before.

My observation on the back: Law didn't wear No. 3 after he came to the White Sox. He switched to No. 11 because Harold Baines wore No. 3. But Law was forced to give up No. 11 when the White Sox retired Luis Aparicio's number in 1984.

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

#285 - Dan Driessen

What a card: Last post I said it wouldn't take us nearly as long to find the next airbrushed card. That's because it is the very next card. This is Dan Driessen's first Topps card as an Expo, although as you can see he's not really an Expo in the photo. He was traded from the Reds to the Expos on July 26, 1984, and Topps didn't have a chance to find him in an Expos uniform.

My observation on the front: This is the third Expos card in the set that is airbrushed and it's pretty brutal execution. Driessen looks like he stuck his face in a hole of a cardboard cutout Expos player.

More opinion from me: What struck me about this card when I first saw it in 1985 was how pleased Driessen looked. It was very disorienting because most of Driessen's cards show him either hard at work or somewhat grumpy.

Something you might know: Driessen was the first designated hitter for a National League team in World Series history. It happened in 1976 when Driessen's Reds played the Yankees. He hit .357 in that Series, but he started out 0-for-4 in Game 1, hitting a ball to deep center field in his first at-bat.

Something you might not know: Driessen never played high school baseball. Neither of the high schools he attended had baseball teams. He was signed by the Reds after a tryout.

My observation on the back: That's some complete family information there, right down to his kids' birthdates.

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

Friday, April 18, 2014

#284 - Marty Bystrom

What a card: This is Marty Bystrom's first card as a Yankee ... well, he's listed as a Yankee, anyway. He was traded from the Phillies in the deal that brought Shane Rawley to Philadelphia on June 30, 1984.

My observation on the front: This is obviously an airbrushed job. It's been awhile since there's been an airbrushed card featured in this set. It won't take nearly as long to see the next one.

More opinion from me: That's a brutal painting. The "NY" looks like ghost letters. The pinstripes are two different colors. It doesn't help that Bystrom's portrait shot is off-center.

Something you might know: Bystrom made an instant impact in his first year in the majors. A September call-up by the Phillies in 1980, he pitched a shutout against the Mets in his first start and would start in the League Championship Series and World Series during Philadelphia's trip to the championship.

Something you might not know: Bystrom was a replacement player during spring training of 1995, leaving his job of selling swimming pools at age 36 to wear a big-league uniform again. He drew a lot of wrath from unionized players who had staged a strike in 1994 that led to the cancellation of the World Series.

 My observation on the back: So, Marty played American Legion ball. I'm guessing you could put that on 98 percent of card backs in 1985.

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#283 - Fran Mullins

What a card: This is the only Topps card of Fran Mullins, other than a three-player White Sox prospects card that he shares with Rusty Kuntz in the 1981 set. Fleer and Donruss didn't make a card of him.

My observation on the front: The bat Mullins is swinging looks like it weighs 200 pounds. In my mind it took him three minutes to swing at that pitch.

More opinion from me: In years previous, Topps would have simply gone with "infield" instead of "3B-SS-2B". But kudos for being exact.

Something you might know: Mullins enjoyed the most playing time of his career with the Giants in 1984, playing in 57 games. In his two other seasons in the majors, he played 21 games for the White Sox in 1980 and 28 games for the Indians in 1986.

Something you might not know: Mullins played for Santa Clara University from 1976-79 under longtime coach Sal Taorima. Taorima died the summer after the 1979 season, suffering a heart attack at the wheel of his car at the age of 57.

My observation on the back: Hank Bauer still holds the record for consecutive games with a hit in a World Series. Marquis Grissom came close by getting a hit in his first 15 World Series games.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

#282 - The 1984 No. 1 Draft Pick Shawn Abner

What a card: This is the final card in the No. 1 draft pick subset. It recalls the Mets taking Shawn Abner with the No. 1 pick in the 1984 MLB draft. Abner went ahead of other first-round picks like Mark McGwire, Terry Mulholland, Cory Snyder and Jay Bell.

My observation on the front: Abner is wearing a Kingsport Mets uniform. He played for the Rookie League team in 1984, his first year in pro ball.

More opinion from me: You can tell that is a minor league photo from the '80s. Green concrete wall. Shadows everywhere.

Something you might know: Abner was one of the biggest busts among No. 1 picks in major league history. He would never play for the Mets, getting traded to the Padres in 1986 in the deal that brought the Mets Kevin McReynolds. Abner didn't appear on another card until 1988 and not in another Topps set until 1990. His big league career was done by 1992.

Something you might not know: Here is a quote from Abner in the Los Angeles Times in 1991 after it was well-established that he wouldn't live up to his No. 1-pick potential:

"I remember going to this card show over the winter where I was signing autographs. This guy comes up to me with about 1,000 of my rookie cards. He just walks up to me, doesn't say anything, but he shows me his cards and gives me a look like, "Look what I wasted my time on.

"This other one came up and said, 'You can play defense but you can't hit worth a (darn).' And this girl was 3 years old."

My observation on the back: The bio is stunned over Shawn's "amazing .420" batting average, but doesn't bat an eye about the .580 he hit.

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#281 - The 1983 No. 1 Draft Pick - Tim Belcher

What a card: This card recalls the Minnesota Twins selecting Tim Belcher with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1983 MLB draft. So why is he wearing an A's uniform? We'll get to that.

My observation on the front: There is something not right about that photo and I think there's some airbrushing going on. Belcher played for the Oakland A's Class A and AA teams in 1984, perhaps he's actually wearing a uniform for the Madison Muskies or Albany-Colonie A's. Or maybe it's a photo from his days at Mt. Vernon Nazarene College.

More opinion from me: You could almost say that this card ushered in the era of the "pre-rookie" card. Belcher wouldn't hit the majors until 1987, with the Dodgers. Prior to this, players at the Class A/AA level who were featured in a Topps set would be on a multi-player prospects card.

Something you might know: Belcher did not sign with the Twins after they drafted him. He was then selected by the Yankees in the 1984 supplemental draft in January and picked up by the A's as a free agent compensation pick in February.

Something you might not know: Belcher pitched in 16 games for Class A Madison and averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in those games.

My observation on the back: There's a nice explanation of Belcher's path from the Twins to the Yankees to the A's -- yet he never played in the majors for any of them.

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#280 - The 1982 No. 1 Draft Pick - Shawon Dunston

What a card: This card recalls Shawon Dunston being selected as the first pick by the Cubs in the 1982 major league draft. Dunston was selected ahead of Dwight Gooden, who was picked fifth by the Mets.

My observation on the front: This picture is very similar to the one Topps used of Dunston on his 1986 card.

More opinion from me: This card basically serves as Dunston's rookie card for Topps. He had no other regular card in the '85 set. But this was a big one as in the spring of '85, Dunston was going after 39-year-old Larry Bowa's job at shortstop and it was big news. Meanwhile, Donruss made Dunston a Rated Rookie in '85 and Fleer featured him on a prospects card with Billy Hatcher.

Something you might know: Dunston was considered a can't miss prospect and the best prospect out of the New York area since Carl Yastrzemski.

Something you might not know: Dunston hit .790 his senior year in high school and went 37-for-37 in stolen base attempts.

My observation n the back: Ummmm ... I can't dispute anything written there, but that doesn't mean it's interesting.

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

#279 - The 1981 No. 1 Draft Pick - Mike Moore

What a card: This card recalls the Mariners selecting Mike Moore with the No. 1 pick in the 1981 MLB draft. Moore went ahead of Joe Carter, who was selected No. 2 by the Cubs. Seattle did pretty good in its first three rounds, selecting Mark Langston in the second round and Phil Bradley in the third.

My observation on the front: This is the third straight card featuring a player in a blue pullover jersey. It's definitely the '80s here.

More opinion from me: Ball in glove or no? That's a toughie, but I say "no".

Something you might know: Moore spent one year in the minors for Seattle and started 27 games for the Mariners in 1982, going 7-14.

Something you might not know: Moore signed without an agent and had a deal with the Mariners in a matter of hours.

My observation on the back: I got nothing. I can't wait until these card backs go away.

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

#278 - The 1980 No. 1 Draft Pick - Darryl Strawberry

What a card: This card recalls the Mets' selection of Darryl Strawberry as the No. 1 pick in the 1980 MLB draft. He was the only real star to be drafted in the first round, with No. 10 pick Kelly Gruber ranking a distant second.

My observation on the front: This is Topps' first posed shot of Strawberry, which makes it seem more like a Donruss or Fleer card from that time. Topps was totally into the action shot at that point in the '80s.

More opinion from me: I'm wondering if Strawberry is the reason this subset was created in the first place. Strawberry was huge among collectors then and it was the perfect excuse to get another Strawberry card in the set.

Something you might know: Strawberry hit the Mets' pro ranks as an 18-year-old. At age 21, he made the big-time and was NL Rookie of the Year for the Mets in 1983.

Something you might not know: Strawberry's big brother, Michael, was also drafted in 1980, by the Dodgers in the 31st round. He played two years in the low minors for L.A.

My observation on the back: I'm positive the competition Strawberry faced in high school was much more intense than it is where I live. But our best high school players hit like .700 in a season, so .400 doesn't look that impressive to me.

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