Friday, October 31, 2014

#345 - Charlie Lea

What a card: Charlie Lea enjoyed in 1984 what would be his final full season in the majors for awhile. After winning 15 games for the Expos, Lea encountered arm problems and missed all of 1985 and 1986.

My observation on the front: This is the first time Lea is featured on his cards with a mustache. It looks very odd to me. I remember the clean-shaven Lea.

More opinion from me: Sadly, Lea is now one of those guys who forces me to confront my own mortality.

Something you might know: Lea became the first French-born player to throw a no-hitter when he spun a no-no against the Giants in May of 1981.

Something you might not know: The home plate ump for Lea's no-hitter, Paul Runge, is part of the only father-son umpire tandem to ump no-hit games from behind the plate. Runge's father, Ed, was the home ump for Dave Morehead's no-hitter for the Red Sox in 1965.

My observation on the back: Well, that's a hell of a thing to hang on the Iron Horse.

The blog wants to speak now: The computer is acting flippy, so I'll sit this one out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#344 - Dave Henderson

What a card: Dave Henderson was the primary center fielder for the Mariners in 1984, playing in 112 games in his fourth year with the team.

My observation on the front: There seems to be a lot of base-running shots in 1985 Topps. I should count those up and figure out whether that's the case.

More opinion from me: Wow, now that is an '80s uniform! Good thing Henderson had a yellow wrist band to tie the whole ensemble together.

Something you might know: Henderson hit one of the most famous postseason home runs of all-time in 1986 when he blasted a two-out, two-strike solo shot off of the Angels' Donnie Moore that capped a Red Sox comeback from down 5-2 going into the top of the ninth to a 6-5 lead. The Angels tied it up in the bottom of the ninth, but the Red Sox won on Henderson's 11th-inning sacrifice fly.

Something you might not know: Henderson played for five teams in his major league career, but he played for two of those teams for just one year. Those two teams are playing in the World Series right now, the Giants (1987) and the Royals (1994).

My observation on the back: Steve Carlton lost to the Mets in that game, thanks to a Ron Swoboda two-run home run in the ninth inning (those Miracle Mets!). It was Swoboda's second home run of the game.

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

Monday, October 27, 2014

#343 - Bill Russell

What a card: This is the last Topps card of Bill Russell showing him working at his job. His 1986 card shows him sitting in the dugout and his 1987 card is a head shot.

My observation on the front: Those pants are way too tight.

More opinion from me: It's sad to say, but I was looking forward to the post-Bill Russell era for a long time as a Dodger fan. And what did I get? Dave Anderson and Alfredo Griffin.

Something you might know: Bill Russell played in more games than any other Los Angeles Dodger as a member of longest-lasting starting infield in baseball history (eight years). He later managed the Dodgers for three years.

Something you might not know: Russell began as an outfielder and had trouble adapting to shortstop at the beginning because he was shy. "Shortstops are not normally shy," Russell said in a Sports Illustrated article. And now that I think about it, that's probably true.

My observation on the back: They even got the kids' middle names in there.

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

#342 - Ted Power

What a card: Ted Power pitched in a National League-leading 78 games in 1984, the most appearances he would make in a season during his 13-year career.

My observation on the front: I love this card almost to an obsessive degree. It is one of my absolute favorites in the set, possibly my most favorite. First, let's focus on the name. His name is Ted Power, possibly the greatest name for a pitcher in history. When I was a youngster and Power was coming up in the Dodgers' organization, I dearly wanted him to be a part of the L.A. rotation because a guy named "Ted Power" would never lose. But besides that, on this card, a guy named Ted Power is in his element on the mound. I love cards like this. And he is showing everyone the ball -- how very delightful and old-school. And with the fans in the background, there is a definite 3-D element here. Now, top it all off with the colors used with this card. I love the combination of red and gray (or silver if you so desire). It works extraordinarily well, especially with Power's uniform. Put that all together and that's why I enjoy this card so much and why I've written far more about it than any other card on this blog.

More opinion from me: The only thing that doesn't make this card perfect is it's miscut. I need to correct that.

Something you might know: Power was mostly a reliever during his career, but went 18-3 for the Albuquerque Dukes in 1981. He added a 19th win in an appearance with the Dodgers that year.

Something you might not know: Power was supposed to be in the boat with Steve Olin, Tim Crews and Bob Ojeda that crashed into a pier and killed Olin and Crews in 1993. Power changed his mind and didn't go.

My observation on the back: Of course a man named Ted Power struck out 19 in one game!

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#341 - Floyd Rayford

What a card: Floyd Rayford hit .256 in 86 games in his return to the Orioles in 1984. He was dealt from the Orioles to the Cardinals in June of 1983 and then reacquired by the Orioles in March of 1984.

My observation on the front: Rayford appears saddened by what he just did with that bat.

More opinion from me: Since my brother was/is an Orioles fan, we knew about Rayford probably long before he made it to the majors because of the Baltimore yearbooks that my brother had accumulated. I think we saw the stats for Rayford and never figured him to make the majors, only to be unexpectedly delighted when he first appeared on a card in 1983.

Something you might know: Rayford was a lovable utility player, mostly for the Orioles, during the mid-1980s. His nickname was "Sugar Bear," because some thought he resembled this famous cereal box character (baseball-reference claims his nickname was "Honey Bear", and one website I came across said his nickname was "Huggy Bear", which was a Starsky and Hutch character).

Something you might not know: Rayford said his 1985 season, in which he hit 18 home runs and batted .306, was spurred on by a divorce. "Alimony can be a tremendous motivator," he said a few years ago.

 My observation on the back: It looks like Topps didn't let the ink dry on the trivia question. It's supposed to read, "Which player played the most years in the majors before making the World Series?"

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

#340 - Robin Yount

What a card: Robin Yount enjoyed another exemplary season in 1984, playing in 160 games, the most for him since 1976.

My observation on the front: This is the last time that Topps would list Yount as a shortstop on the front of his card. He moved to the outfield for the 1985 season. (However, Donruss listed Yount as a shortstop in its 1986 set even though Yount didn't play a single game at short in 1985. Doh!).

More opinion from me: Yount was an all-star just three times in his career. That's insane.

Something you might know: Yount started out in the majors as an 18-year-old and has one of the most valuable rookie cards of the 1970s. He won the AL MVP award in 1982 and 1989.

Something you might not know: Yount made some minor waves a few months ago by saying he wouldn't play in an Old-Timers Game. No big deal, most Old-Timers games died out long ago and only the Yankees regularly have one, as far as I know.

My observation on the back: Topps was a little obsessed with Robin's brother, Larry. This is the fifth (and final) time that Topps mentions Larry Yount on the back of Robin's card. Larry is also mentioned on the 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1980 cards. But Topps made no mention of the fact that Larry Yount got into one game in his career but didn't even throw a pitch because his arm stiffened up during warm-up pitches for the Astros in 1971.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#339 - Danny Heep

What a card: Danny Heep was settling into his role as reliable left-handed pinch-hitter, appearing in 99 games but with just 199 at-bats in 1984.

My observation on the front: This card is miscut two ways, left to right and top to bottom. I hope it doesn't throw off Heep's aim.

More opinion from me: The faceless fans in the stands are freaking me out.

Something you might know: Heep is famous for being the guy the Astros sent to the Mets to acquire pitcher Mike Scott in 1982.

Something you might not know: Heep defeated two of his immediate former teams in the NLCS. In 1986, his Mets ousted the Astros, the team Heep played for from 1979-1982. Then in 1988, his Dodgers eliminated the Mets.

My observation on the back: Heep was selected 11 places ahead of Cal Ripken in the 1978 amateur draft.

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

#338 - Britt Burns

What a card: Britt Burns was entering what would be his final season in the majors in 1985. After a difficult 1984, he'd win 18 games in 1985, but then be forced out of baseball because of a hip condition.

My observation on the front: Burns obviously has something in his back pocket judging by the bulge in his raised right leg.

More opinion from me: I still can't believe those White Sox uniforms. I'd even rather see the ones from 1976.

Something you might know: Burns was one of the AL's top rookies in 1980, winning 15 games for the White Sox. He pitched nine shutout innings in Game 4 of the 1983 ALCS, but wound up losing what was a scoreless game in the 10th when the Orioles scored three runs in the 10th, sparked by Tito Landrum's solo home run.

Something you might not know: The Chicago Tribune book critic in the 1970s was Robert Cromie, a big White Sox fan. While in Birmingham, Ala., he read about a kid who struck out 18 batters in a game. It was Britt Burns. Cromie sent the clip to Bill Veeck, the White Sox owner. Burns was drafted by Chicago in the third round in 1978.

My observation on the back: That 0.12 ERA is even more incredible contrasted with the 5.00 ERA that Burns posted in 1984.

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

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

#337 - Billy Sample

What a card: This is Billy Sample's final card as a Texas Ranger. He was dealt to the Yankees in February of 1985, probably before many collectors pulled this card out of packs.

My observation on the front: Batting cage nirvana!

More opinion from me: This was right about the time that the Rangers wore those red jerseys with the white Rangers' script. I loved those things. I know it led to the '90s red Rangers uniforms and helmets, which eventually bored me. But for a time in the '80s, it was "RED! Wow!"

Something you might know: Sample made the Topps All-Rookie team in 1979, but didn't really become a full-fledged starter until the 1983 season. A downturn in 1984 led to his trade to New York and he was out of baseball after the 1986 season.

Something you might not know: Sample wrote, produced and starred in the movie "Reunion 108", a raunchy, gritty baseball comedy released in 2013.

My observation on the back: Since this trivia question was written, 10 more perfect games have been thrown.

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

Monday, October 6, 2014

#336 - Rance Mulliniks

What a card: Rance Mulliniks just came off a 1984 season in which he hit .324, which would be the best one-season average in his 16-year career.

My observation on the front: "3B-SS-2B". Now I must investigate: In 1984, Mulliniks played 119 games at third, three at shortstop and one at second base. I think it would've been safe to merely list "3B".

More opinion from me: The pink air bubble blob that I never noticed until I scanned this card is now very distracting.

Something you might know: Dealt from the Royals to the Blue Jays for pitcher Phil Huffman, Mulliniks became the Blue Jays' primary third baseman for much of the 1980s until transforming into Toronto's regular DH.

Something you might not know: "Rance" is actually his middle name. His real first name is "Steve." ... Yeah, "Steve Mulliniks" doesn't have the same ring, does it?

My observation on the back: If I name all three stadiums, do I get extra credit? I don't understand why the question is letting us get away with naming just two.

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

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

#335 - Bruce Benedict

What a card: After a .298 All-Star season in 1983 that seemed to come out of nowhere, Bruce Benedict came back to earth with a .223 average in 1984. He would not reach .250 for the remainder of his career.

My observation on the front: Expos in the dugout!!!

More opinion from me: You can't tell from the picture here, but Benedict always looked like he should be a member of AC/DC.

Something you might know: Benedict was known for his defensive ability behind the plate, leading the league in fielding percentage, assists, and caught stealing, especially early in his career.

Something you might not know: Benedict worked as a college basketball referee, including officiating some NCAA Division I games, after his playing career was over.

My observation on the back: Dave Benedict was a pitcher in the Yankees and Cardinals organizations. He stalled out in Triple A with both teams.

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