Friday, October 28, 2016

#591 - Larry Herndon

What a card: Larry Herndon fell off from his career-best period of 1982 and 1983 by struggling at the start of 1984 and appearing in just 125 games. His postseason, though, would make up for it.

My observation on the front: Herndon appears to be waiting his turn on-deck.

More opinion from me: As a fan of the baseball bat donut, I've never known the name for this kind of batting weight. I'm guessing it's the precursor to the "batting wrap," but I don't know if that's what it was called then.

Something you might know: Herndon hit a two-run home run in Game 1 of the 1984 World Series, eliminating a Padres' 2-1 lead and giving Jack Morris the advantage he needed to put away San Diego. Herndon also caught the last out of the World Series on a fly ball from Tony Gwynn.

Something you might know: Herndon was a minor league roommate of Cardinals prospect Randy Poffo, who went on to become popular 1980s wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage.

 My observation on the back: "Sunflower" is one of those great town names in Mississippi (it's not far from "Money," "Rising Sun," and "Longshot"). But Herndon grew up mostly in Memphis, Tenn.

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#590 - Ray Knight

What a card: This is Ray Knight's first Topps card as a New York Met. Topps had to work quickly as Knight was traded from the Astros on Aug. 28, 1984 and played just 27 games for New York. Fortunately, Topps has New York connections and nabbed a photo of Knight at Shea.

My observation on the front: Knight is subliminally urging you to drink Coca-Cola.

More opinion from me: I liked Knight when he first came up with the Reds (even though I didn't like the Reds). It was during that time when I was a budding teenager and liked all the up-and-coming players because they were young like me, dammit. I didn't like him as much when he was with the Mets.

Something you might know: Knight was initially known as the player who replaced Pete Rose at third base for the Reds after Rose departed for the Phillies before the 1979 season. He later became better known as the player who scored the winning run on Mookie Wilson's grounder that traveled through Bill Buckner's legs to end Game 6 of the 1986 World Series (which happened, by the way, 30 years ago yesterday).

Something you might not know: Knight endured so many injuries during his first full season with the Reds in '79 that his teammates called him "Battlescar Gallactica".

My observation on the back: A night game trivia question! The Reds beat the Phillies 2-1 in that first night game on May 24, 1935. Cincinnati was the host of the first game mostly because the team was having financial problems, and this -- and subsequent night games there -- was a bid to boost attendance.

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

Monday, October 24, 2016

#589 - Bob Dernier

What a card: This is Bob Dernier's first flagship card as a Chicago Cub. He first appeared with the Cubs in the 1984 Topps Traded and Fleer Update sets.

My observation on the front: I really don't like the softball tops, but I'd almost pay to see the Cubs wear these in the World Series in a couple days.

More opinion from me: To show that my annoyance with the Cubs is not a recent development, I recall being disappointed that Dernier was traded from the Phillies to the Cubs. I respected the Phillies much more, even after they beat the Dodgers in the 1983 NLCS.

Something you might know: Dernier enjoyed his finest season in his first year with the Cubs, batting leadoff for the pennant-winning team and getting the faithful's hopes up with a home run in the first inning to start off Game 1 of the '84 NLCS against the Padres.

Something you might not know: Dernier managed just 23 home runs during his 10-year career, but one was a game-winning, inside-the-park home run against the Giants while playing for the Phillies in 1989.

My observation on the back: Sure, the trivia question is lame, but you know what we have here? Yup. It's a card of a Chicago Cub with a trivia question about the Cleveland Indians. A day before the two long-suffering teams begin playing each other in the World Series. Kinda spooky.

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

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#588 - Bobby Castillo

What a card: Bobby Castillo had re-signed with the Dodgers as a free agent by the time this card arrived in packs. He appeared in just 10 games for the Twins in 1984.

My observation on the front: Castillo is displaying his famed thick mustache.

More opinion from me: Castillo first appeared on his own Topps card with the Dodgers in the 1979 set. I remember being annoyed when he didn't get a card in the 1980 set despite appearing in 19 games the previous year.

Something you might know: Castillo gained immortality when he taught teammate Fernando Valenzuela how to throw a screwball.

Something you might not know: Castillo injured his leg during spring training in 1979 when he drove his car into a bridge railing at 5 in the morning.

My observation on the back: I am assuming from this question that it is asking who has the highest average among just the three players mentioned. The Cardinals' Pepper Martin hit .418 over three World Series. Paul Molitor has since equaled Martin's average.

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

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#587 - Doug Frobel

What a card: This is the final card issued of Doug Frobel by Topps during his playing career. He received just two Topps cards, the first in 1984.

My observation on the front: Frobel was a tall, lanky player who looked a bit odd in the get-up the Pirates were still wearing.

More opinion from me: For me, at the time, Frobel symbolized the demise of the Pirates. After years of familiar players like Stargell, Parker, Sanguillen, Madlock and Blyleven, Pittsburgh was relying on guys named "Frobel" and "Orsulak".

Something you might know: Frobel was an all-or-nothing-type hitter from Ottawa, Canada, who struck out 155 times in 542 career at-bats. In 1984, he and Terry Puhl were the only Canadians in MLB.

Something you might not know: Frobel's father, Frank, owned parking lots in Ottawa that made the family a good amount of money. Doug Frobel has a park named after him in Nepean, Ontario, which is just south of Ottawa.

My observation on the back: Merival's nickname is the Marauders.

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

#586 - Bill Scherrer

What a card: This is Bill Scherrer's first card with the Tigers after being acquired by Detroit from Cincinnati in a late August deal in 1984.

My observation on the front: He doesn't fool me. I don't think he's really looking in for the sign if he's wearing his warm-up jacket.

More opinion from me: Scherrer is a spindly sort. It's not as apparent on this card as some of his others.

Something you might know: Scherrer pitched in three games for the Tigers during the 1984 World Series. In the final Game 5, after the Padres scored two runs in the fourth inning to tie the game 3-3, Scherrer came in with a runner on second base and two outs and retired Tony Gwynn on a fly ball. The Tigers would go on to win 8-4.

Something you might not know: Scherrer was the last pitcher Johnny Bench caught during his career.

My observation on the back: I remember discovering that Scherrer was from Tonawanda, N.Y., which is a suburb of Buffalo. Tonawanda was in the coverage area of the newspaper I used to work at, and as a young sportswriter who was very interested in baseball, I had my eye out for a chance to work Scherrer into a story. But it never happened.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

#585 - Butch Wynegar

What a card: Butch Wynegar was coming off a solid season in 1984 in which he won the starter's role behind the plate for the Yankees. He played in the most games (129) since appearing in 146 for the Twins in 1980.

My observation on the front: I love the old-style flap hanging off of Wynegar's mask, which as all you '70s historians no doubt know was created after Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager was struck in the neck by bat shards while standing at the on-deck circle.

More opinion from me: Still, this isn't my favorite Wynegar catching card. I like another one better.

Something you might know: Wynegar was one of the rookie sensations of the 1976 season when he enjoyed an All-Star season with the Twins as a 20-year-old. He was at the time the youngest player to appear in an All-Star Game and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Mark Fidrych.

Something you might not know: The Tigers wanted to draft a catcher first in 1974 and narrowed their options down to Wynegar and Lance Parrish. They chose Parrish, hoping Wynegar would still be around for the second round, but he wasn't. After Wynegar's rookie season, Baseball Digest ran a story headlined, "How the Tigers Missed Out on Drafting Butch Wynegar". Of course, Parrish turned out to be a better player than Wynegar.

My observation on the back: I was disappointed when Wynegar was traded to the Yankees. I always liked him and considered the players on the Yankees as nasty and evil.

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

#584 - Kevin Gross

What a card: Kevin Gross was coming off his first full season in the majors when this card was issued. He appeared in 44 games in 1984, 30 of them in relief.

My observation on the front: This card looks similar to Gross' card in the 1989 Topps set.

More opinion from me: Gross appears virtually unchanged in his cards spanning his career from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. He grew a mullet at the tail end of his career with the Rangers, but otherwise you can barely tell the difference from his rookie year to his final year.

Something you might know: Gross threw the only no-hitter of the 1992 season while with the Dodgers. He no-hit the Giants.

Something you might not know: Gross and Fernando Valenzuela once hit home runs off of each other in the same game. It happened on May 14, 1990 in a game won 3-2 by the Dodgers over the Expos. Gross' home run came first in the top of the third inning. Valenzuela followed with his home run as the first batter in the bottom of the third. Fernando's homer must have affected Gross more as he gave up two more runs in that inning.

My observation on the back: As you likely have concluded, many of Gross' paintings were of ducks.

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#583 - Bobby Brown

What a card: Bobby Brown was entering his final season when this card was issued. He played in the most games in 1984 since his breakout season with the Yankees in 1980.

My observation on the front: That glance at the camera is not something you see often on a baseball card. Interesting.

More opinion from me: When that other Bobby Brown became a famous solo singer in the late 1980s, I would proudly mention that I knew about two earlier Bobby Browns. One was this player here and the other was the American League president in the 1980s who played for the Yankees in the early 1950s.

Something you might know: Brown played just seven years but appeared in two World Series with two different teams (Yankees and Padres). He played in nine Series games, but batted a mere .063.

Something you might not know: Brown left baseball in 1986 with the hopes of starting an ice cream parlor in Atlantic City, N.J., called "Major League Dairies," with former teammate Jerry Mumphrey. The business expanded to include sale of other products but it ran into credit problems and state officials branded it untrustworthy. At last check, Brown was still in the food consulting business eight years ago.

My observation on the back: Fernando Valenzuela remains the only player to win Rookie of the Year and Cy Young honors in the same year.

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

Monday, October 3, 2016

#582 - Ken Phelps

What a card: This is Ken Phelps' first Topps card, and 1985 marks his return to cards since Fleer issued a card of him with the Royals in its 1982 set.

My observation on the front: I'm used to Phelps with those large wire-framed glasses. This looks odd.

More opinion from me: You can see by the handle of Phelps' bat that he wore No. 44 with the Mariners. I kind of wince when slugger-types wear No. 44, unless they can measure up to the likes of famed 44 wearers like Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson.

Something you might know: Phelps' power promise drew the eye of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who dealt a prospect named Jay Buhner to the Mariners for Phelps, who wound up struggling in New York. The deal was mentioned in a 1996 Seinfeld episode in which George's father seemed more upset with Steinbrenner over the trade of Buhner than with the news that Steinbrenner was delivering: that his son was dead. In reply, Steinbrenner said, "He was a good prospect, no question about it. But my baseball people loved Ken Phelps' bat. They kept saying, 'Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps.'"

Something you might not know: Phelps was one of the first stars of ESPN's new beefed-up baseball coverage in 1990. The network had just signed a contract with MLB that allowed it to televise 175 games a year, which brought nationwide viewers West Coast baseball for the first time on a consistent basis. In one of those late games, ESPN cut away from a Dodgers-Astros game to air the Mariners' Brian Holman attempting to throw a perfect game in the ninth inning. Viewers saw Phelps homer off of Holman with two outs in the ninth.

My observation on the back: OK, I had to look up what ASCAP is. It's the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. I'm sure that question threw a few kids for a loop.

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