Thursday, March 31, 2016

#518 - Chris Chambliss

What a card: Chris Chambliss was entering his sixth season with the Braves when this card was issued, meaning he had played with Atlanta as long as he had played with the New York Yankees, which I'm sure blew my mind at the time. Chambliss was a damned Yankee when I started watching baseball and it didn't seem like he could be anything else.

My observation on the front: It sure looks like spring training there. He's having fun.

More opinion from me: It's repeatedly noted that Chambliss never touched home plate when he hit his ALCS-clinching home run to beat the Royals in 1976 because the crush of swarming fans prevented him from doing so. I think a Royal should have gotten the ball, chased Chambliss down in the dugout, or wherever, and tagged him.

Something you might know: Chambliss won the A.L. Rookie of the Year award while playing for the Indians in 1971. The Yankees then famously swindled the Indians in a deal that landed Chambliss and relief pitcher Dick Tidrow, although it was an enormously unpopular trade in New York when it was made.

Something you might not know: Chambliss drove in a run in the only postseason game ever wiped out after it had begun. The Braves led Game 1 of the 1982 NLCS against the Cardinals 1-0 when it was called in the fifth inning because of rain. The game was replayed and the Cardinals won 7-0, giving Chambliss one less postseason RBI for his career.

My observation on the back: Swordfish seems like a very specific choice for a favorite food. I would've said "Seafood."

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

#517 - Jerry Martin

What a card: This is the last card of Jerry Martin issued during his MLB career. Martin was signed by the Mets in May 1984 despite being released from jail three months earlier after pleading guilty to attempting to possess cocaine. Martin and former Royals teammates Willie Wilson and Willie Aikens were suspended for the season by commissioner Bowie Kuhn, but they had their suspensions reduced on appeal and played in 1984. Martin batted just .154 and was released after the season.

My observation on the front: Martin looks sleepy as he follows through on his swing.

More opinion from me: It was very strange at the time when three active major leaguers were sentenced to prison.

Something you might know: Martin enjoyed his best seasons for the Cubs, hitting a combined 42 home runs and knocking in a combined 146 runs in 1979 and 1980.

Something you might not know: Martin's brother, Mike, was the No. 5 overall pick in the 1970 amateur draft. Selected by the Phillies, Mike Martin never made the major leagues, toiling in the minors for seven seasons.

My observation on the back: "Barney" Martin pitched in one game in the major leagues. He finished the final two innings of the Reds' 8-3 loss to the Cardinals on April 22, 1953, allowing three hits and two runs.

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

#516 - Roy Lee Jackson

What a card: Roy Lee Jackson was coming off his fourth and final season with the Blue Jays when this card was issued. In fact, he had been released by the Jays by the time many collectors had pulled this card, signed by the Orioles, and then traded to the Padres in a deal for the troubled Alan Wiggins.

My observation on the front: Nice-looking action shot, and like the Royals cards, lots of shades of blue -- which I like.

More opinion from me: As a kid I wondered how pitchers got their arms to curl like that.

Something you might know: Jackson appears on one of the more-often cited cards of the mid-1980s. Jackson sang the anthem (probably "O Canada," but maybe also "The Star-Spangled Banner") before a handful of Blue Jays games.

Something you might not know: Jackson is shown in the introduction to the very first episode of the long-running 1980s public television kids' science show "3-2-1 Contact".

My observation on the back: I was all ready to say, "Yastrzemski is still the last player to win the Triple Crown," since that was the case for most of my life. But of course Miguel Cabrera ended Yaz's reign in 2012.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#515 - Dave Concepcion

What a card: Dave Concepcion was still going strong as the Reds' starting shortstop when this card was made. He was entering his 16th season at the position.

My observation on the front: Concepcion is in that moment of indecision where he could advance to second base (or third base) or back track to first (or second).

More opinion from me: You can see the "C" designation on Concepcion's arm sleeve. 1984 was Concepcion's first season as the Reds' third team captain. I never liked posting the "C" on a captain's jersey. I associate that with hockey and that's where it should stay.

Something you might know: Concepcion played 19 seasons for the Reds, was the shortstop for the Big Red Machine years, won the All-Star Game MVP award in 1982, and his No. 13 -- worn as a tribute by successful shortstops to follow like Omar Vizquel -- has been retired by Cincinnati.

Something you might not know: Concepcion pitched in one game in the majors, and it happened during the final season of his career. In a June 3, 1988 game, Concepcion was brought in with two outs in the seventh inning with the Reds down 13-4 to the Dodgers. He retired Rick Dempsey on a groundout, then returned to the mound for the eighth. Steve Sax and Danny Heep singled off of Concepcion, but he stopped the rally by retiring Franklin Stubbs on a swinging strike.

My observation on the back: That's a lot of information crammed on there. Good thing Concepcion's third child, Daneska, hadn't been born yet.

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

Monday, March 21, 2016

#514 - Jeff Cornell

What a card: This is Jeff Cornell's only card in a major baseball card set. He is a One-Card Wonder who I will be adding to the list.

My observation on the front: The photo crop at the bottom comes very close to making it appear as if Cornell has no left leg below the knee.

More opinion from me: I'm pretty thrilled to find a one-card wonder from the 1980s. With the addition of Fleer and Donruss, and then Score and Upper Deck, a player getting just one card became a rarity.

Something you might know: Cornell's only major league season was in 1984. He appeared in 23 games in relief. His only victory came against the Dodgers on June 13th. He was the beneficiary of a seven-run fifth inning by the Giants in a 10-5 victory.

Something you might not know: Cornell has been a major league scout for a number of years. An organizer of Perfect Game USA, which is known as the largest youth baseball scouting service in the country, gives an assist to Cornell for the idea of developing showcases around the country for young players to display their talent.

My observation on the back: Cornell was a busy guy. It seems like he barely had time for baseball!

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

#513 - Lynn Jones

What a card: Lynn Jones was coming off the only .300 season of his eight year career when this card was created. He batted .301 in 1984, his first with the Royals, far above his career .252 average.

My observation on the front: Jones didn't always wear those giant lenses on his baseball cards, but that's how I remember him.

More opinion from me: Jones should be featuring blue batting gloves. Everything else he's wearing is blue.

Something you might know: Jones was the Tigers' rookie of the year in 1979, but was mostly a defensive replacement by the time he reached the Royals. He did hit a double and a triple off of the Cardinals' John Tudor in two different games in the 1985 World Series.

Something you might not know: Jones, and brother Darryl Jones, who played briefly with the Yankees, each made their MLB debuts in 1979. You can find Darryl Jones on a Topps card only as a Yankees' Future Star in the 1980 set, sharing time with Bobby Brown and Brad Gulden.

My observation on the back: Mickey Mantle still holds the all-time runs scored mark for the World Series. No one who has played recently is even close (Derek Jeter has scored 32). Yogi Berra scored 41 runs.

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#512 - Tom Brookens

What a card: Tom Brookens was coming off a season as the main utilityman for the 1984 World Champion Tigers when this card was issued. Manager Sparky Anderson wanted hitting at every position and Howard Johnson hit better than Brookens at third.

My observation on the front: Did Brookens knock one out in this photo? He had just five homers in 1984.

More opinion from me: Every time I hear about Brookens now I remember a young sportswriter telling me how Brookens gave him a hard time when Brookens was managing in the New York-Penn League. I liked the sportswriter, he's a likeable guy. So, I'm not too pleased with Brookens.

Something you might know: Brookens played in two postseasons for the Tigers (1984 and 1987), but didn't get a single hit in any of the games. He went 0-for-18 in 10 games.

Something you might not know: Brookens has an identical twin, Tim, who also played in the Tigers organization.

My observation on the back: Since Wilson's 1982 batting title, A.L. switch-hitters Bernie Williams (1998) and Bill Mueller (2003) were batting champions.

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

Friday, March 11, 2016

#511 - Lee Smith

What a card: Lee Smith was coming off his first 30-save season when this card was issued. He actually recorded his worst ERA of the 1980s at 3.65, but was a key part of the Cubs' pennant in 1984.

My observation on the front: Smith appears to be heading over to cover first.

More opinion from me: He's a big man. You can see it.

Something you might know: Third all-time in career saves (478), Smith held the all-time mark for nine years until it was broken by Trevor Hoffman in 2006.

Something you might not know: Lee Smith appears in the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He is shown pitching in a game against the Braves on a television at the restaurant counter at a pizza place. It's supposed to be the same game that Ferris and his friends are attending at Wrigley Field. (Ed Rooney asks the pizza cook watching the game what the score is. The cook tells him "nothing nothing" and Rooney responds with "who's winning?" which causes the cook to say, "The Bears."

My observation on the back: I wonder how the Cubs felt about Smith racing cars on dirt tracks?

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

#510 - Kent Hrbek

What a card: Kent Hrbek improved on his exceptional rookie season in 1982 with an even more impressive 1984, knocking in over 100 runs for the only time in his career, and finishing second to Tigers reliever Willie Hernandez in the AL MVP voting.

My observation on the front: Hrbek looks positively svelte in this photo.

More opinion from me: You cannot argue with the Twins' red helmet and baby blue uniform combination. You just can't.

Something you might know: Hrbek was the first baseman for two World Series champions, played for the Twins his entire career, and had his number 14 retired by Minnesota.

Something you might not know: Even though Hrbek is a Minnesota native, the Twins didn't know about Hrbek, playing high school at the time in Bloomington, until finding out about him from one of the Twins' concession stand employees, who saw Hrbek play against his son.

My observation the back: The Astros' Brad Lidge now holds the NL relief pitcher mark for strikeouts in a season with 157, set in 2004.

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

Monday, March 7, 2016

#509 - Milt May

What a card: This is the final card of Milt May issued during his career. He was granted free agency status after the 1984 season and was not signed.

My observation on the front: You've gotta love that pill box cap turned backward and not a helmet in sight.

More opinion from me: Even though May started and ended his career with the Pirates, and played for five teams overall, I'll always think of him as an Astro. He played just two years for the Astros, but his '75 card with Houston was among my early pulls the first year I collected.

Something you might know: May's pinch-hit single in the seventh inning of Game 4 of the 1971 World Series scored Bob Robertson with the eventual winning run in a 4-3 victory for the Pirates over the Orioles.

Something you might not know: May's son, Scott, was a pro prospect in high school when he was involved in a severe car crash on Christmas Eve 1990. He suffered multiple head injuries, including a fractured skull, and was in a coma for 10 days. But Scott May recovered and signed a pro deal with the Pirates in 1996.

My observation on the back: Even though May is the son of a major league player, he was not included in Topps' Father-Son subset in this set. I'm guessing it's because Pinky May played before Topps made cards and a Topps card of the father was featured on every card in the subset.

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

Thursday, March 3, 2016

#508 - John Shelby

What a card: John Shelby struggled through a dismal 128-game season with the Orioles in 1984, batting just .209.

My observation on the front: Shelby looks like he's auditioning as a stand-in for Billy Dee Williams for a Colt 45 malt liquor commercial.

More opinion from me: Oh, geez, John Shelby. I'm still stunned the Dodgers won a World Series with him as a starter (he actually had a 24-game hitting streak that year).

Something you might know: Shelby played on two different World Series championship teams, the Orioles in 1983 and the Dodgers in 1988.

Something you might not know: Shelby, as the third base coach for the Brewers last year, was involved in post-National Anthem standoff with the Reds' Todd Frazier during a game in September. The object was to be the last person standing after the anthem and before the start of play. Shelby won the standoff.

My observation on the back: Laudner's two home runs came against the Tigers. In the first game, he hit a homer off Dave Rozema. In the second game, he tagged Dan Schatzeder.

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

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

#507 - Ray Fontenot

What a card: Ray Fontenot had already been dealt to the Cubs by the time this card hit packs. He pitched in 35 games for the Yankees in 1984, starting 24 of them.

My observation on the front: There's that high leg kick that you seldom see these days.

More opinion from me: This is a familiar Yankee Stadium action shot. I am wondering how many Yankee pitchers have been shot from this angle in Yankee Stadium for baseball cards.

Something you might know: Fontenot started his big league career impressively, filling in for fellow Louisiana native Ron Guidry, who was injured, in June of 1983. He won eight of his 10 decisions that year.

Something you might not know: Fontenot and Guidry would often speak to each other in French.

My observation on the back: These trivia quiz questions are starting to get on my nerves.

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