Thursday, September 29, 2016

#581 - Mark Wagner

What a card: This is the final card of Mark Wagner issued during his career. Topps stuck with him a little longer than Donruss and Fleer. Their last card of Wagner came in 1983.

My observation on the front: This is the first time that Wagner appeared as anything other than a shortstop on his card.

More opinion from me: I will always associate Wagner with the Tigers (and a little with the Rangers). This seems odd to me.

Something you might know: Wagner served as the backup shortstop for Alan Trammell for a few years.

Something you might not know: Wagner pitched 1 2/3 innings when the A's were being blown out by the Tigers on Aug. 20, 1984. He came in with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a 13-1 game. He allowed a sacrifice fly to Dave Bergman, then retired Howard Johnson for the third out. In the eighth, he got Rusty Kuntz to ground into a double play and Johnny Grubb to strikeout. His career ERA is 0.00.

My observation on the back: In reference to the trivia question, one of those guys, Mike Boddicker, never pitched a World Series shutout.

The blog wants to speak now: No it doesn't. Got to get up early. Catch you later.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

#580 - Dwight Evans

What a card: Dwight Evans was coming off a career year in a number of categories when this card was issued. He played in all 162 games in 1984, led the league in at-bats (738) and runs (121), matched a then-career-high in homers (32) and set a then-career mark in RBIs (104). He also led the league in OPS (.920), not that anyone knew what that was then.

My observation on the front: It appears that Evans is using a black bat, which is always cool.

More opinion from me: I often separate Evans into two eras, his pre-mustache career and his mustache career. The mustache first appeared in 1981 (and in his 1982 cards). Not-so-surprisingly (to me), Evans became one of the more complete offensive players in baseball at the same time. He kept the mustache and remained an offensive force.

Something you might know: Evans was always known as a terrific right fielder and during the 1970s it overshadowed his offensive ability. He won eight Gold Gloves and made a famous catch on a long fly ball by Joe Morgan in extra innings of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Something you might not know: Evans briefly experienced vertigo during his career, saying that during that time he'd look up to catch a fly ball and see three or four balls. "I was just hoping to catch the right one," he said. "It was the worst feeling I've ever known."

My observation on the back: The bio reads like the 1971 Topps backs. I have no interest in a player's youth achievements.

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

#579 - Ron Romanick

What a card: Ron Romanick was coming off his rookie season when this card was issued. He won 12 games in 229 innings pitched and finished seventh in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

My observation on the front: Romanick almost looks airbrushed into his Angels jersey and cap. But after comparing it with other Angels cards in the set, I'm leaning toward no airbrushing.

More opinion from me: The Angels logo from this time kind of gets the shaft in this set. Because logos were featured in a circle, Topps was forced to shrink the lean, tall California-shaped symbol.

Something you might know: Romanick won 26 games for the Angels in his first two seasons as the team battled the Royals each year for the title. He then struggled and was retired by 1989.

Something you might not know: Romanick tried a professional golf career after his baseball career ended, beginning on the Golden State Tour in South Africa in the early '90s. He refused to be interviewed, telling reporters to wait until he was on the PGA Tour.

My observation on the back: I don't know where the trivia question gets May 5, 1935. The first night game was May 24, 1935. The Reds' game on May 5 of that year was against the Giants at the Polo Grounds. It ended in a 2-2 tie in the 10th inning, called after a rain delay. ... So the answer to that trivia question is actually "false".

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

#578 - Terry Francona

What a card: Terry Francona was coming off an injury-plagued season when this card was issued. He started out as one of the National League's top hitters in 1984, but injured his knee in June and missed the rest of the season.

My observation on the front: That bat appears monstrous. It looks like it was photoshopped into Francona's hand.

More opinion from me: I'm not sure who is on deck in this photo, but if that is a "4" on his jersey that would be great fun. That's because No. 4 for the Expos for part of the year was Chris Speier, who was just featured in the last post and airbrushed into a Twins uniform.

Something you might know: The current manager of the Indians, Francona managed the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years in 2004.

Something you might not know: When Francona played for the Reds in 1987, owner Marge Schott threw her annual team party at her home. At the party was a rented elephant. Francona rode that elephant. "If you weren't good enough to tell her 'no,' you had to ride the elephant," he said.

My observation on the back: Seaver still holds the record for consecutive strikeouts in a game (Doug Fister came one strikeout short of tying Seaver in 2012). The 10 Padres he struck out as part of his 19-strikeout game were: Al Ferrera, Nate Colbert, Dave Campbell, Jerry Morales, Bob Barton, Ray Webster, Ivan Murrell, Van Kelly, Cito Gaston and Ferrera again.

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

Monday, September 19, 2016

#577 - Chris Speier

What a card: Chris Speier spent all of 12 games with the Twins in 1984 after being traded from the Cardinals in August. He was with the Cardinals for only just over a month after they acquired him from the Expos.

My observation on the front: The airbrushing is appropriate given that the player he was traded for in the Expos-Cardinals deal also was airbrushed. It makes me assume that even if Speier stayed with the Cardinals, he'd still be airbrushed (only as a Cardinal). It also makes me wonder whether Topps had Speier airbrushed as a Cardinal and then had to paint him into a Twins uniform and helmet.

More opinion from me: I've said this before, but the background and airbrushing makes it appear as if Speier stuck his head into a large mural of scenery with a hole cut out in it.

Something you might know: Speier, the No. 2 pick in the amateur draft in 1970, was the Giants' starting shortstop in the early 1970s and enjoyed a rejuvenated career in his second stint with the Giants in the late '80s. His MLB career spanned 19 years.

Something you might not know: Speier's son, Justin, pitched in the major leagues from 1998-2009 with several teams. He was 10 when his father was traded from the Expos to the Cardinals. Chris Speier was having a difficult time in Montreal under manager Bill Virdon at the time. Justin's comment on his father being traded and the family moving was: "I'm going to miss all my friends, the house and school. I'm not going to miss Bill Virdon."

My observation on the back: Erika sang the Canadian National Anthem when she was 7 years old.

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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

#576 - Jaime Cocanower

What a card: This is Jaime Cocanower's first card in a Topps base set. He first appeared in the 1984 Topps Traded and Fleer Update sets.

My observation on the front: One of those photos that makes it appear as if the pitcher is an amputee.

More opinion from me: I think it's outstanding that the Brewers saw to it in 1986 that their bullpen contained both Jaime Cocanower and Bryan Clutterbuck (RIP).

Something you might know: Cocanower was a regular in the Brewers' starting rotation in 1984, right behind Don Sutton and Moose Haas.

Something you might not know: Cocanower set a Pacific Coast League record for wild pitches in a season. During his last year in pro ball, with the Dodgers' Triple A squad in 1987, he threw 32(!) wild pitches.

My observation on the back: Another phoned-in trivia question.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

#575 - Pedro Guerrero

What a card: Pedro Guerrero was coming off a season-long slump when this card was issued. His struggles in 1984 mirrored the Dodgers' issues that year. But he would come back with a vengeance in 1985, probably the best season of his career.

My observation on the front: Man, look at that physique. No wonder Bill James called him "the best hitter God had made in a long time."

More opinion from me: Guerrero was my favorite player at this time. I had waited for him to show his stuff for awhile, since the 1970s. It's sad that he was traded away before he could win a second World Series.

Something you might know: Guerrero was named co-MVP with Ron Cey and Steve Yeager for the 1981 World Series, based on his five-RBI performance in the decisive Game 6 against the Yankees.

Something you might not know: After their World Series win in 1981, the Dodgers considered a potential trade that would have sent Guerrero to the Padres for shortstop Ozzie Smith.

My observation on the back: Guerrero would often wave his finger when he was on camera during a game. That finger wave was for his wife. It was their "signal" and he would do it when she was at the ballpark, too.

The blog wants to speak now: The pop culture tab is updated.

Friday, September 9, 2016

#574 - Joe Altobelli

What a card: This is Joe Altobelli's second Topps card as Orioles manager. His team didn't fair nearly as well as during his first year. After the Orioles won the World Series in 1983, they fell to fifth in 1984.

My observation on the front: Altobelli is a year older in this picture than I am now. I want to think I don't look this old, but I probably do.

More opinion from me: It was freaky at this time because the Orioles had a manager and it was not Earl Weaver. It took awhile to get adjusted to that fact. And apparently it took the Orioles awhile to get adjusted, too, because Weaver was called out of retirement to replace Altobelli in 1985.

Something you might know: Altobelli led the Orioles to the World Series title in his first season managing the club.

Something you might not know: That same year the Orioles won the World Series, they lost seven games in a row -- twice.

My observation on the back: Altobelli still lives in the Rochester area. He became a permanent resident there when he was the Triple A manager for the Orioles in the early '70s. He is legendary in the area as the only person to work for the Rochester franchise as a player, manager, general manager and broadcaster.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

#573 - Jay Tibbs

What a card: For his rookie card, Jay Tibbs is airbrushed into a Reds uniform after being dealt from the Mets in June of 1984. Apparently nobody could get their hands on a photo of Tibbs for the final three months of the season.

My observation the back: The art job on the cap and the logo isn't bad. The jersey, though, needs some work.

More opinion from me: Tibbs never pitched for the Mets prior to his trade to the Reds, unless perhaps in spring training. So I'm wondering if the uniform Tibbs is actually wearing is from a Mets minor league team.

Something you might know: Tibbs enjoyed a solid 1985 season as a starter for the Reds, following Tom Browning and Mario Soto in the rotation. He had less success in subsequent years with the Expos and Orioles, suffering a miserable 4-15, 5.39 ERA for the miserable 1988 Orioles.

Something you might not know: Tibbs went 456 major league innings pitched before he hit a batter. The first was Jim Morrison of the Pirates on Aug. 4, 1986. He'd hit just six batters in 862 2/3 career innings.

My observation on the back: That season for Lynchburg in 1983 really stands out.

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

Monday, September 5, 2016

#572 - Tom Paciorek

What a card: This is Tom Paciorek's final card as a member of the White Sox. He would be traded in July of 1985 to the Mets.

My observation on the front: What do you think Paciorek hit here? Home run? Fly out?

More opinion from me: This is the third straight card of either a former Dodger (Paciorek, Charlie Hough) or future Dodger (Darryl Strawberry). The streak will end with the next card.

Something you might know: Paciorek started out as a top prospect in the Dodgers organization, but didn't blossom until he arrived with the Mariners in the late 1970s. His nickname was "Wimpy," which referred to the hamburger-loving character in the Popeye cartoons. Tom Lasorda supposedly gave him the nickname after a team dinner out in which Paciorek was the only one who ordered a hamburger instead of steak.

Something you might not know: Paciorek was once part of a video produced by MLB, called "Baseball Funnies and the Unofficial Baseball Handbook," on how to look cool when dressing for a game.

My observation on the back: Boy, that's a lot on John Paciorek on Tom's card. I also don't know how you can have "the best perfect batting average," although I know what it's trying to say. For a long time, the only card of John Paciorek was one of those Larry Fritsch One-Year-Winner cards. But he's since appeared in Obak, including an autographed card.

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

Thursday, September 1, 2016

#571 - Charlie Hough

What a card: Charlie Hough had completed one of his busiest seasons of his career when this card was issued. He led the league in starts with 36 and complete games with 17 in 1984 and also in hits allowed (260).

My observation on the front: Hough looks like a tourist in the stands.

More opinion from me: I was always annoyed that Hough did so well for himself after he left the Dodgers. Ten years as a decent reliever with L.A. and he chucked all that for the glamour of a starter's job with Texas and then later the White Sox and Marlins.

Something you might know: Hough pitched 25 seasons in the majors, thanks to his dancing knuckler (he was the first knuckleball pitcher I ever knew), going from giving up the last of Reggie Jackson's three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series to starting the first regular-season game in Florida Marlins history in 1993.

Something you might not know: Hough once had nine balks called on him in a single game in 1988. Seven of them were in one inning. It came during a Texas spring training game against Toronto and the umpires were cracking down on balks, issuing 20 overall during the games played that day.

My observation on the front: Hough was born at an Army hospital in Honolulu. His father, also a third baseman in semipro ball, was a Prisoner of War in Japan for 3 1/2 years.

The blog wants to speak now: Got to get up early, so no updates tonight.