Monday, December 28, 2015

#486 - Steve Balboni


What a card: Steve Balboni enjoyed a breakthrough season in 1984, playing in more than 100 games for the first time in his career and exceeding 20 home runs for the first of six straight seasons. His 1985 season would be even better.

My observation on the front: Balboni's got some arms on him, but that mustache.

More opinion from me: Balboni made a lot of noise in my neighborhood before he even arrived in the majors. As a Yankees prospect who won several MVP awards in the minors, the Yankee fans around me couldn't wait for him to reach the majors. As a Yankee hater, I relished his 1982/1983 seasons.

Something you might know: "Bye Bye" Balboni was known for his ability to hit home runs and strike out. In 1985, he finished third in homers (36) and first in strikeouts (166). The 36 homers remain the Royals' club record.

Something you might not know: Balboni's favorite player growing up was the Red Sox's Carl Yastrzemski.


My observation on the back: The trivia question is very '80s. There are just two artificial turf stadiums in the majors now -- Toronto and Tampa Bay.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#485 - Matt Young


What a card: Matt Young was coming off a 1984 season in which he struggled to repeat his solid rookie season. He posted a 5.72 ERA in 22 games and spent a little time in Triple A.

My observation on the front: That's a nice look at those old-fashioned Mariners uniforms. The Mariners aren't a team I get nostalgic over, but I admit looking at this uniform is making me feel a little mushy.

More opinion me: This has to be one of the worst choices for a card ending in the number 5 of all-time. Young's ERA was almost 6 for crying out loud!

Something you might know: While pitching for the Red Sox, Moore did not allow a hit during a 2-1 loss to the Indians on April 12, 1992. He walked seven batters and Boston shortstop Luis Rivera made an error that gave the Indians their first run. Many branded Young the pitcher who lost a no-hitter, but it was not an official no-hitter because Young never pitched the bottom of the ninth.

Something you might not know: Young is the brother-in-law of former longtime L.A. Times sportswriter Chris Dufresne.


My observation on the back: Shelia is the one who married the L.A. Times sportswriter. Also, what a great 1980s reference with the USFL's L.A. Express.

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

#484 - Larry Bowa


What a card: This is the final Topps card issued of Larry Bowa during his playing career. He'd appear two short years later in the 1987 Traded set as the Padres' manager.

My observation on the front: This could be the only card of Bowa in which he's wearing glasses.

More opinion from me: Any card of Bowa as a Cub seems weird.

Something you might know: Bowa was the other player traded to the Cubs when the Phillies sent Ryne Sandberg to Chicago for Ivan DeJesus, although it wasn't phrased that way at the time.

Something you might not know: When Dallas Green was rumored to be taking the Yankees' manager job in the late 1980s, Bowa said the interaction between Green and owner George Steinbrenner would be so good that he wanted to be a New York sportswriter because "they'd have something to write every day." Green didn't even last a season for the Yankees.


 My observation on the back: Bowa graduated from a radio sports talk show to being a studio commentator on the MLB Network.

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#483 - Mike Smithson


What a card: When this card hit packs, Mike Smithson was coming off a 1984 season in which he led the American League in starts with 36. He also led the league in home runs allowed with 35.

My observation on the front: There are certain cards where you can tell the player is tall just by looking at the photo. Smithson looks like an absolute giant.

More opinion from me: I don't think pit stains were part of the bargain in becoming a baseball card collector.

Something you might know: After coming over from the Rangers in the deal that sent outfielder Gary Ward to Texas, Smithson was the Twins' No. 2 starter behind Frank Viola in 1984 and 1985.

Something you might not know: Smithson is the athletic director at Hickman County High School in his native Centerville, Tenn.


My observation on the back: Yup, the photo on the front didn't lie. He's 6-8.

The blog wants to speak now: Really tired after a 12-hour day full of new work stuff. I'll sit this one out.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#482 - Harry Spilman


What a card: Harry Spilman enjoyed a bounce-back season in 1984. Entrenched in his pinch-hitting role with the Astros, he had 19 hits in 72 at-bats (.264), which was far better than his 13-for-78 performance (.167) in 1983. But he was back to batting .136 in 1985.

My observation on the front: Wow, if that uniform doesn't say 1980s, I'm not sure what does.

More opinion from me: I so love that Astros logo.

Something you might know: Spilman carved out a 12-year career based on his reputation as a pinch-hitter, but he began in the majors in a battle with Ray Knight to see who would replace Pete Rose at third base for the Reds. Obviously, Knight won.

Something you might not know: Spilman's cousin is former White Sox first baseman Greg Walker.


My observation on the back: The Mets finished in second place in 1984. Take away those extra-inning games and New York was 79-71.

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

#481 - Dale Murray


What a card: This is the final card of Dale Murray issued during his career. He appeared in 19 games for the Yankees in 1984 and would appear in eight games combined with the Yankees and Rangers in '85 to close out his career.

My observation on the front: Thank goodness the Yankees don't have eight different versions of their uniform.

More opinion from me: This card is nice bookend with his 1975 Topps card. They are the last and first of Murray's career. And since my baseball card collecting career began the same year of Murray's first card (and I pulled his card out of one of my first packs), Murray kind of represents the start and finish of my first collecting period. My quest each year to get my hands on every Topps card I could ended in 1985 (it would re-emerge with a vengeance in 1989).

Something you might know: Murray spent all 12 of his big-league seasons in the bullpen, leading the National League in appearances in 1976 with 81.

Something you might not know: Murray is often cited as being part of the deal in which the Yankees surrendered Fred McGriff to the Blue Jays. New York sent McGriff, Dave Collins, Mike Morgan and cash to Toronto for Murray and a prospect named Tom Dodd. But the deal could have been even worse for the Yankees. New York had included third baseman Graig Nettles in the deal, but Nettles refused to go unless the Blue Jays gave him a big bonus, and they declined.


My observation on the back: It's actually "Blinn" Junior College. Blinn JC and Victoria (a community college) are about 60 miles apart. I'm assuming something didn't work out for Murray at one of them.

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

#480 - Lou Whitaker


What a card: This is Lou Whitaker's card on the heels of being the featured second baseman for the 1984 World Series champion Tigers.

My observation on the front: There aren't too many photos in the '85 set in which the subject is photographed from this far away. I believe Whitaker is retiring a Red Sox player.

More opinion from me: Lou Whitaker's 1984 season was not as striking as his 1983 season, but he did win a World Series title in '84, so it probably didn't bother him that much.

Something you might know: The 1978 American League Rookie of the Year was part of the longest-running double play combination in history, along with shortstop Alan Trammell.

Something you might not know: Whitaker missed the rest of the 1985 after tearing cartilage in his right knee while dancing with his wife at an anniversary party early in September.


My observation on the back: The trivia question answer still applies.

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

Thursday, December 3, 2015

#479 - Mike Madden


What a card: After an impressive rookie year in 1983, Mike Madden struggled through his sophomore season, posting a 5.53 ERA in '84 and serving some time back in the minors.

My observation on the front: Madden seems to be trying to read the license plate of a car out in the parking lot. He's very squinty.

More opinion from me: It's cards like this that remind me how wonderful 1983 Topps is. This photo would have been the inset shot and something much more interesting would have been the main photo.

Something you might know: Madden was one of three players the Astros received in the deal that sent Don Sutton to the Brewers in a deadline deal in 1982. The other two players were Kevin Bass and Frank DiPino.

Something you might not know: Madden didn't allow a run in his major league debut. On May 25, 1983, he pitched six innings against the Cubs, striking out five and walking five. The Astros won 4-0.


My observation on the back: In 1985, no single reliever had posted more than 45 saves in a season (Dan Quisenberry and Bruce Sutter). But since the time of this trivia question, seven different pitchers have exceeded more than 51 saves in a season.

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

Monday, November 30, 2015

#478 - Kurt Bevacqua


What a card: Kurt Bevacqua had completed his third season for the Padres when this card was issued. He hit .200 in 59 games in 1984.

My observation on the front: I honestly have no idea why the Padres keep trying to put the color orange in their uniforms.

More opinion from me: Bevacqua was the topic of my all-time favorite Tom Lasorda putdown. Upon being informed that Bevacqua said "that fat little Italian" should be fined after Bevacqua's Padres teammate Joe Lefebvre was intentionally hit by the Dodgers' Tom Niedenfuer the night before, Lasorda said he wouldn't waste his time ordering a knockdown of Lefebvre or a player like Bevacqua who "couldn't hit water if he fell out of a fucking boat."

Something you might know: A lifetime utility player, Bevacqua made an impact in the 1984 World Series by hitting a three-run home run in Game 2 against the Tigers. It was the only game the Padres won.

Something you might not know: Bevacqua and his wife Carrie are the parents of Tawney Bevacqua, who dated singer Jason Mraz in 2009.


My observation on the back: The balls that Bevacqua caught were thrown from 24 stories up by teammate Terry Kennedy. The stunt was for charity. Kennedy offered to donate $1,000 if Bevacqua could catch a sixth ball behind his back. But Bevacqua missed.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

#477 - Bob Ojeda


What a card: Bob Ojeda had just completed the busiest season of his career to date when this card came out. He appeared in 33 games in 1984, pitching 218 2/3 innings for the Red Sox, and tossed five shutouts.

My observation on the front: Ojeda's cap appears to be crooked.

More opinion from me: Ojeda looks like he's pitching in a dream. There's nobody around.

Something you might know: Ojeda went 18-5 and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting the year after he was traded from the Red Sox to the Mets. He ended up facing his ex-teammates the very next year in the 1986 World Series.

Something you might not know: When Ojeda left Sports New York last offseason after six years as a pre- and postgame analyst for Mets games because the sides couldn't agree on a contract, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, a well-known Mets fan, took to Twitter and booed the decision.


My observation on the back: Other major leaguers who went to College of the Sequoias include former Royal and Brewer Jim Wohlford, former Braves catcher Johnny Estrada, and former Astros manager Brad Mills.

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

Friday, November 20, 2015

#476 - Jeff Stone


What a card: This is Jeff Stone's first Topps card. He batted .362 in 185 at-bats and stole 27 bases for the Phillies in 1984.

My observation on the back: Those industry-green dugouts are the backdrop to plenty of cards in this set.

More opinion from me: I had big hopes for Stone and apparently had a lot of company in Phillies fans.

Something you might know: Stone was a highly touted Phillies prospect who set a minor league record when he stole 123 bases for Class A Spartanburg in 1981.

Something you might not know: In 2002, Stone got in a fight with his wife, Linda, who stabbed him several times. Jeff and Linda apparently are still married.


My observation on the back: Ruth still holds the record for the most innings pitched in a World Series game. He threw all 14 in the Red Sox's 2-1 victory over the Brooklyn Robins on Oct. 9, 1916.

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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#475 - Andre Thornton


What a card: Andre Thornton was coming off what would be his last great season. He tied his career high for home runs by hitting 33 in 1984 and was named to the All-Star team.

My observation on the front: Man, glasses were huge in the '80s. Thornton suddenly started wearing those large frames in the early '80s.

More opinion from me: Thornton was a big bopper but you never hear about him anymore outside of Cleveland. It's a shame.

Something you might know: Thornton came back from adversity several times to be a consistent power threat in the Indians' lineup. He knocked in over 100 runs twice and hit more than 30 homers three times.

Something you might not know: Thornton once owned a chain of Applebee's restaurants.


My observation on the back: Thornton's book was "Triumph Born of Tragedy," a story of his religious faith that came about after a 1977 accident on the Pennsylvania turnpike that killed his wife and young daughter.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

#474 - Kurt Kepshire


What a card: This is Kurt Kepshire's first Topps card. He'd have only two. 1986 Topps was his last one.

My observation on the front: I can tell this is a spring training shot even with everything blurred out in the background.

More opinion from me: There are some '80s players that I knew very well back then who disappeared quickly and were instantly forgotten. Kepshire is one of them. And this is why I'm doing this blog.

Something you might know: After six years in the minors, Kepshire pitched his way into the Cardinals rotation with his 1984 showing the last three months of the season. He was a regular part of the NL champion Cardinals' rotation in 1985 but faded near the end of the season and was left off the postseason roster.

Something you might not know: Before the 2011 World Series, Kepshire predicted that the Cardinals would beat the Rangers in seven games. They did. But he also said the Cardinals would win the first two games. The Rangers won Game 2.


My observation on the back: The University of New Haven's most famous baseball alumnus is probably Steve Bedrosian.

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

Thursday, November 12, 2015

#473 - Tim Wallach


What a card: Tim Wallach was coming off his first All-Star season, even though his batting average dipped below .250 in 1984 and most of his numbers were off from the previous season.

My observation on the front: I'm not used to seeing belts on most '80s uniforms. It looks odd.

More opinion from me: I'm hoping that Wallach remains on the Dodgers coaching staff. He probably won't unless he's named the Dodgers' manager, which appears unlikely.

Something you might know: Wallach was one of the unsung All-Star members of the 1980s Expos teams. He built himself into a Gold Glove-winning third baseman and has one very avid card-collecting fan.

Something you might not know: Wallach still holds the Cal State-Fullerton single-season record for runs batted in (102) and totals bases (208), both established in 1979.


My observation on the back: Lifting weights was still a novelty in 1985.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

#472 - Jim Essian


What a card: This is the final card of Jim Essian issued during his playing career. He was released in late March 1985.

My observation on the front: Another fine final card photo.

More opinion from me: I remember Essian's late 1970s cards well. We didn't think much of his light-weight batting stats. We had no concept of what a good defensive catcher was.

Something you might know: Essian managed the Cubs in 1991, finishing out the season after Don Zimmer was fired 37 games in. Jim Lefebvre was hired for the 1992 season, but at least Essian got a manager card in the 1991 Topps Traded set. It was just six years after Essian had his last card as a player.

Something you might not know: Essian hit an inside-the-park grand slam while playing for the A's in 1979. Blue Jays outfielder Otto Velez stepped on the ball while trying to field it, twisting his ankle, then limped after the ball as Essian traveled around the bases.


My observation on the back: That is a lot of people to fight off for the bathroom in the morning.

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

Friday, November 6, 2015

#471 - Pete Ladd


What a card: Pete Ladd stepped into a set-up role in 1984 as Rollie Fingers returned from injury and reassumed the Brewers' closer role. Ladd's performance suffered as he posted a 5.24 ERA.

My observation on the front: Ladd looks gigantic in this photo, especially since there appears to be no one fielding behind him.

More opinion from me: In the '80s there seemed to be an explosion of imposing relief pitchers; almost every team featured one. I call it the "Goose Gossage effect."

Something you might know: After Fingers tore a muscle in his arm late in the 1982 season, Ladd assumed the closer's role and became a sensation during the Brewers' run to the World Series that season. Ladd then led Milwaukee in saves in 1983.

Something you might not know: When Ladd played for the Mariners in 1986, he was one of three members of the pitching staff from Portland, Maine. Ladd and Bill Swift were born in Portland, and Jim Beattie was raised in Portland.


My observation on the back: When Ladd pitched in the World Series in 1982, the inmates at Cumberland County Jail watched him on TV.

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#470 - Steve Sax


What a card: Steve Sax was coming off the first "down year" of his major league career. He batted just .243 with a paltry .300 on-base percentage in 1984.

My observation on the front: There are some issues with this card. It's slightly miscut. There's snow on the card surface. It's a little defective for right-out-of-the-box, I think.

More opinion from me: I'm pretty certain Sax is in the top 10 of athletes who have fans just because of their name.

Something you might know: Sax was Rookie of the Year for the Dodgers in 1982 and then the very next year struggled to even throw to first base, making a career high 30 errors.

Something you might not know: Sax appears in an episode of "Who's the Boss" from 1986. He plays a character in the stands of a pick-up softball game. Tony needs another player and invites Sax onto his team. Sax is playing chess with Billy Martin when he gets the invitation. Bob Uecker also appears in this episode.


My observation on the back: Sax grew up in Sacramento and was indeed a Giants fan. He once told his dad that he wouldn't play for the Dodgers for a million dollars. It turns out he did play for them and signed for a lot less than a million dollars.

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

#469 - Sammy Stewart


What a card: Sammy Stewart was entering his eighth and final season with the Orioles when this card was issued. He was traded in December 1985 to the Red Sox.

My observation on the front: Stewart always looked like a big man.

More opinion from me: Stewart is not the first major league player I heard of going to prison (that player was probably Ron LeFlore), but there aren't a lot of ex-MLBers who have served time. Stewart was released from a prison in 2013 after serving seven years.

Something you might know: Stewart was a key figure on the mound for the Orioles during their trip to a World Series title in 1983. In the '83 postseason, Stewart pitched 9-plus innings over five games, didn't allow a run and struck out eight.

Something you might not know: Two of Stewart's children suffered from cystic fibrosis. One of them, Colin, died at age 11. The other, Alicia, is still alive and in her 30s.


My observation on the back: The trivia question is notable in that 1983 was the only season during Cal Ripken's consecutive playing streak in which he did not have a stolen base.

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

Thursday, October 29, 2015

#468 - Wayne Krenchicki


What a card: Wayne Krenchicki was coming off probably the most productive season of his career when this card was issue. He finished with just 181 at-bats in 1984, but he set career highs in batting average (.298), slugging percentage (.470) and OPS (.827).

My observation on the front: Krenchicki went without the mustache when he was with the Reds because of Cincinnati's no-facial-hair policy. But it always looked weird to me because I first learned of him when he was with the Orioles in '81 and he wore a mustache. You know he wanted that mustache, too, because when he moved from the Reds to the Expos for the '86 season, the stache was back again.

More opinion from me: My brothers and I loved saying Krenchicki's last name. One of the overlooked best baseball names of the '80s.

Something you might know: Krenchicki is known as the player who was sent down to the minors in 1981 so the Orioles could call up Cal Ripken Jr.

Something you might not know: Krenchicki is hailed as the best shortstop that the University of Miami ever had. That may not have been the case had Alex Rodriguez decided to attend Miami. Rodriguez signed a letter of intent with the Hurricanes but then went straight to the majors from high school.


My observation on the back: Bronwinn Krenchicki??? That is now my favorite baseball player wife name ever.

The blog wants to speak now: The Other Cards category is updated.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#467 - Ed Lynch


What a card: Ed Lynch had completed his fifth season with the Mets in 1984. He was entering what would be his most successful season. After going back and forth between starter and reliever, Lynch was a regular in the Mets' rotation in 1985.

My observation on the front: Some of the photos in this set are hazy. This is one of them.

More opinion from me: When I was collecting in the '80s, I would get Ed Lynch mixed up with Ed Glynn, another Mets reliever who pitched around the same time.

Something you might know: The Mets and Cubs hurler eventually became the Cubs' general manager in the 1990s and was there for five seasons. He oversaw the 1998 Cubs team that made the playoffs and featured the 66-home run season by Sammy Sosa.

Something you might not know: Lynch was good friends with Keith Hernandez when they played together on the Mets. He was also in awe of Hernandez's ability. Once, while describing Hernandez's ability to advise pitchers and hitters alike, Lynch said, "If Einstein starts talking about the speed of light, you better listen to him."


My observation on the back: Lynch played basketball on South Carolina's reserve team. But his scholarship helped him get a baseball career.

The blog wants to speak now: The Ballgames category is updated. It's a famous one.

Friday, October 23, 2015

#466 - Tony LaRussa


What a card: Tony LaRussa's White Sox finished below .500 in 1984 for the first time since LaRussa's first full season managing the team in 1980. But they'd bounce back in 1985, going 85-77.

My observation on the front: I guess LaRussa is giving us the official "manager look" on this card.

More opinion from me: As you may know, I'm not much of a fan of LaRussa, regarding his strategies, his demeanor, his attitude and a couple other things. I didn't really enjoy how he acted when I interviewed him either. But I can't argue with his success or the fact that he agreed to talk to me for 15 minutes or so.

Something you might know: LaRussa won three World Series titles and is third all-time in career managing victories.

Something you might not know: LaRussa's two daughters by a previous marriage sued him for $16 million in the mid-1990s for emotional distress for not being publicly recognized as LaRussa's children. The suit was dismissed and the sisters admitted years later that it wasn't the right way to deal with the situation, calling it a "plea for acknowledgement."


My observation on the back: This is the first time that Topps officially mentions that the White Sox won the AL West under LaRussa in 1983.

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

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#465 - Bob Grich


What a card: Bobby Grich played in 116 games for the Angels in 1984, playing a lot more third and first base than he had in the past. He was taking on the role as a utility man later in his career.

My observation on the front: Nice dugout shot. Grich looks like he's having a good time.

More opinion from me: Topps listed Grich as "Bob" throughout his career and refused to call him "Bobby." I have no problems doing it though. And neither does virtually everyone else.

Something you might know: Known for his all-around ability, Grich was part of the smooth-fielding Orioles infields of the 1970s. And he hit the ball out of the park, too.

Something you might not know: Grich has visited all 50 states and traveled several times to Europe, Australia and New Zealand.


My observation on the back: Every time I see Grich's abbreviated 1977 season -- his first one with the Angels -- I remember how he threw his back out carrying an air conditioner during the offseason, which messed up his entire season. Grich was 28 at the time, which seems like a little too young to be throwing out your back.

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

#464 - Mike Mason


What a card: This is the first Topps base card for Mike Mason. He first appears in a Topps set in 1984 Traded, in which the photo is possibly from the same time, if not from the same pitch, that this one was taken.

My observation on the front: Mason appears to have a habit of biting his lip when he's about to throw a pitch.

More opinion from me: I can never get used to an overabundance of red in the Rangers' uniforms.

Something you might know: Mason's rookie season in 1984 was the best of his career. He won nine games with a 3.61 ERA as the Rangers' No. 5 starter, and the numbers declined from there. But he enjoyed success as a minor league pitching coach in the Cubs organization and has been credited for the development of Jeff Samardzija.

Something you might not know: Mason's 1986 and 1987 Topps cards are freakishly similar.


 My observation on the back: Pie Traynor's steal of home helped the National League pull within 8-7 of the American League during a three-run rally in the fifth inning, but that's as close as they would come as the AL won the 1934 All-Star Game, 9-7.

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

#463 - Dave Collins


What a card: Dave Collins was already a member of the Oakland A's when this card was issued. He was traded by Toronto, along with shortstop Alfredo Griffin, for relief pitcher Bill Caudill in December, 1984.

My observation on the front: That's a pretty appropriate shot of Collins bolting out of the box. He was often referred to as the fastest white guy in baseball.

More opinion from me: Collins seemed to have a dozen different looks on his baseball cards. It didn't help that he changed teams a lot. It was almost as if he was a different person each year.

Something you might know: Collins was the first batter in Seattle Mariners history, hitting lead-off (as the designated hitter) against the Angels' Frank Tanana.

Something you might not know: Collins played for legendary American Legion coach David Ploof, the winningest coach in Legion history, who led the Rapid City, S.D., Post 22 team for 46 years. Ploof's players also included future major leaguers Mark Ellis and Kelvin Torve.


My observation on the back: Those 15 triples Collins hit in 1984 really stand out, since he had no more than six in any other year. He led the AL in triples that season.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

#462 - Gary Lavelle


What a card: This is Gary Lavelle's final card a San Francisco Giant. After 11 years of San Francisco failing to make the playoffs, he was dealt to Toronto in January of 1985 and in the postseason 10 months later.

My observation on the front: I miss high leg kicks.

More opinion from me: I was watching video of the All-Star Game from 1977 when all of sudden there was Lavelle on the mound, wearing that radioactive pumpkin uniform top the Giants wore then. I was surprised he made an All-Star team, but it turns out he made two of them.

Something you might know: Lavelle was a durable relief pitcher for the Giants for more than a decade and set team records for appearances (73) and saves (20) in 1977.

Something you might not know: Lavelle was the unofficial leader of "The God Squad," a group of born-again Christians on the Giants that first came to public attention during the Giants' unexpected pennant bid in 1978.


My observation on the back: Lavelle's 127 career saves is fourth all-time in Giants' club history. Ahead of him are Robb Nen, Rod Beck and Brian Wilson.

The blog wants to speak now: The Music category is updated. The new No. 1 song is something about what's good for the goose being good for the gander.