Friday, July 29, 2016

#559 - Jay Howell

What a card: Jay Howell was coming off his first full season in the majors and his first season as major league relief pitcher when this card came out. He appeared in 61 games, 60 in relief, in 1984 and posted a 2.69 ERA.

My observation on the front: It's odd seeing Howell as a Yankee. I associate him first as the closer on the 1988 Dodgers team and second as an Oakland A. (Howell had been traded to the A's by the time this card appeared in packs).

More opinion from me: You ever see hear the name of Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell and think Jay Howell is still pitching in the majors? No? Just me then, huh?

Something you might know: Howell pitched in the 1988 postseason for the Dodgers and was suspended for three days after being ejected after pine tar was found in his glove during Game 3 of the NLCS against the Mets.

Something you might not know: When future Expos and Yankees closer John Wetteland was in the Dodgers bullpen when he first reached the majors, Howell mentored the youngster, and Wetteland took to calling Howell "Dad." In 1989, during Dodgers' Family Day festivities, the announcement came over the stadium P.A. system that Howell and his wife Alison had "adopted" Wetteland.

My observation the back: Thirty-one years later, Gary Carter is still the last player to hit two home runs in one All-Star Game.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

#558 - Carmelo Martinez

What a card: Carmelo Martinez was coming off a solid rookie season when this card was released. He played in 149 games, delivering 28 doubles and 13 home runs for the NL pennant-winning Padres.

My observation on the front: This might be the first case of someone rocking the flip shades in this set. And, no, I'm not going to look through all the previous cards to confirm that. You go look.

More opinion from me: I often get Carmelo Martinez confused with Carlos Martinez, who played at approximately the same time as Carmelo. Sadly, Carlos Martinez died 10 years ago, so I'm sorry for all the times I thought Carmelo was dead.

Something you might know: Martinez was the regular left fielder for the 1984 Padres, finishing sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He and center fielder Kevin McReynolds were nicknamed "The M&M Boys" by Padres beat writer Phil Collier, a reference to Yankees outfielders Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.

Something you might not know: Martinez helped spark a minor-league brawl that led to one of his pitchers being jailed in 2008. Martinez was serving as acting manager for the Peoria Chiefs while manager Ryne Sandberg attended Baseball Hall of Fame induction weekend. Peoria pitcher Julio Castillo hit two Dayton batters in the first inning and nearly hit a third. That led to Martinez shoving Dayton manager Donnie Scott and the benches emptying. Castillo attempted to throw a ball at a Dayton player in the dugout but instead hit a fan in the stands in the head. Castillo was charged with felonious assault and sentenced to 30 days in jail.

My observation on the back: The Giants beat the Dodgers 8-0 in that first West Coast game. Eeesh.

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

#557 - Len Barker

What a card: Len Barker was coming off his first full season with Atlanta when this card was issued. But he missed the last two months with an elbow injury.

My observation on the front: Barker's wind-up featured a big leg kick, which led to a strong downward arm motion from the 6-foot-5 pitcher. It created some fairly cool baseball card photos. His 1981 Topps card has always been a favorite.

More opinion from me: I still remember reading about Barker's perfect game the morning after as I loaded up papers for my carrier route.

Something you might know: Barker pitched the first perfect game in 13 years when he no-hit the Blue Jays on May 15, 1981. He led the American League in strikeouts in back-to-back years in 1980 and 1981.

Something you might not know: Barker has been the head coach for the Notre Dame College baseball team in South Euclid, Ohio for the last five years. Several former Indians have helped out as coaches during Barker's tenure, including Ron Pruitt, Joe Charboneau and Travis Hafner.

My observation on the back: Barker ended up with six children. Maybe it was all that wild game.

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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

#556 - Sixto Lezcano

What a card: Sixto Lezcano was coming off his first full season with the Phillies when this card was issued. He had also signed with the Pirates as a free agent by the time the card had arrived in packs.

My observation on the front: As a big Sixto fan when he was with the Brewers, he looks odd to me in any other uniform.

More opinion from me: I don't think I'd be half the '70s baseball fan I am now if I hadn't pulled a card of Sixto Lezcano from a pack of 1977 Topps.

Something you might know: Lezcano was part of the on-the-rise Brewers teams of the late 1970s. His best season was in 1979 when he hit 28 home runs, batted .321 and won a Gold Glove.

Something you might not know: Lezcano is the only player to hit a grand slam on opening day twice. He did it two years apart, once against the Orioles on April 7, 1978 and once against the Red Sox on April 10, 1980.

My observation on the back: Carlos Lezcano appeared on his own card in the 1981 Donruss and Fleer sets. At this point, he was on his way out of pro baseball. In fact, he wasn't in the Cubs system when this bio was written. He spent 1984 in the A's and Tigers minor league systems.

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

#555 - Bob Stanley

What a card: Bob Stanley had completed his third straight season as the Red Sox's primary closer when this card was issued in 1985. He had 55 saves combined over the previous two seasons.

My observation on the front: Lots of hazy sunshine on that card.

More opinion from me: Stanley is not fondly remembered by Red Sox fans, and as someone who grew up with two Red Sox fans in the house, I experienced their opinion of Stanley first-hand. The main complaint about him is that he never let you feel comfortable as a fan, even when he would eventually save the game.

Something you might know: Stanley is remembered for throwing the wild pitch in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series that allowed the Mets' Kevin Mitchell to score the tying run, and then throwing the pitch that Mookie Wilson hit to first base that Bill Buckner flubbed, allowing Ray Knight to score the game-winner.

Something you might not know: Stanley might have gotten out of that 10th inning with the game tied had he thrown to second base in an attempt to pick off Ray Knight during the Wilson at-bat. Marty Barrett signaled for the pick-off and waited for Stanley's throw but Stanley didn't notice. "We had Knight dead," Barrett said.

My observation on the back: Granted, this card came out before the '86 World Series, but a Mets trivia question on the back of Stanley's card? That's rough.

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

#554 - Doug Flynn

What a card: Doug Flynn was entering his final major league season when this card was issued. He would be released by Montreal in June of 1985, picked up by the Tigers for the rest of the season, and then released by the Tigers in spring training 1986.

My observation on the front: Eye black when eye black wasn't war paint.

More opinion from me: I admit I always look at wikipedia for these posts to get a foundation of the player's background before going to other sources for support or more information. I'm sure others who do baseball research have noticed this: anyone who has played for the Mets features an extensive wikipedia page. There must be some rabid Mets fan making sure every player on that team gets their due. (P.S. Flynn played for the Mets and his wikipedia page is very detailed).

Something you might know: Flynn was one of the four players the Reds traded on June 15, 1977 to obtain pitcher Tom Seaver from the Mets.

Something you might not know: Flynn, a country music fan, toured with the Oak Ridge Boys during the baseball strike of 1981. While with the Reds in the late 1970s, he got to know Loretta Lynn and her band, the Coal Miners. Flynn even sang country music as an act at night clubs in New York during the offseason.

My observation on the back: The factoid tells no lies. Rose did indeed introduce Flynn to his wife. Olga Munez was a cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1982 when she agreed to go on a double date with Flynn, Rose and Rose's girlfriend. Munez was engaged at the time, but she ended up marrying Flynn and they remain married today.

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

#553 - Bob Clark

What a card: Bob Clark was entering his final season in the majors when this card was issued. He'd spend most of 1985 in the minors and then close out his pro career with a couple more years in the minor leagues.

My observation on the front: I could store some baseball cards on those shelves behind Clark.

More opinion from me: There are 42 people with the last name "Clark" to play in the majors (and a number more named "Clarke"), and so many with the first name "Bob" that I don't even want to count them. There have been three Bob Clarks alone in the majors. Maybe that's why Donruss and Fleer took to calling Clark "Bobby" on most of his cards (except for the 1982 editions for both companies). But Topps steadfastly called him "Bob" from 1981-86.

Something you might know: Clark was an outfielder known for his speed, but used part-time because he didn't match his potential at the plate. He was acquired by the Brewers in an unpopular deal with the Angels for pitcher Jim Slaton, who had won in double figures several years for Milwaukee.

Something you might not know: Clark is shown in a batting helmet in a great majority of his cards, making me wonder where he ranks among players with the greatest percentage of cards featured wearing a helmet.

My observation on the back: Sadly, I could find no background on Bob's off-season job as an embalmer.

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

Monday, July 11, 2016

#552 - Chris Codiroli

What a card: Chris Codiroli was coming off a disappointing sophomore season when this card was issued. After enjoying one of the best rookie seasons for an AL pitcher in 1983, he pitched just 89 innings in 1984 and spent part of it in the minors.

My observation on the front: Codiroli's expression makes it appear as if he just hit the batter with a pitch.

More opinion from me: This card and the two that I posted before it (Scott McGregor and Andy Van Slyke) appear on the top row of a page in my '85 binder. It is a very well-balanced row with lefty McGregor delivering toward Van Slyke from the left and Codiroli delivering toward Van Slyke from the right. Cool.

Something you might know: Codiroli bailed out an injury-plagued A's starting staff in 1983, pitching over 200 innings as a rookie in 1983 and winning 12 games.

Something you might not know: A's manager Billy Martin once offered to buy Codiroli some new clothes after Codiroli showed up in a short-sleeve leisure suit.

My observation on the back: Codiroli was acquired by the A's after he struggled with injuries in the Tigers' farm system. Codiroli said in an AP article that he caught flak from Tigers GM Jim Campbell after he discussed the Tigers' minor league organization for a newspaper article. He said Campbell sent a letter to all the minor league clubs criticizing Codiroli, although the letter didn't name him. When Campbell was asked about Codiroli's charge, Campbell said Codiroli was a liar.

The blog wants to speak now: I made some changes to the blog layout. It's too complicated to explain why. The short version is Blogger (or possibly my computer) was doing weird stuff.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

#551 - Andy Van Slyke

What a card: This is a second-year card of Andy Van Slyke. For some reason I confuse it with his rookie card. But his rookie cards were issued in 1984.

My observation on the front: I'm saying that's George Hendrick in the on-deck circle. Could be David Green, but it really looks like Hendrick.

More opinion from me: It is mind-boggling to consider the personalities in the Pittsburgh outfield in the early 1990s. Van Slyke centered between Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla! My gosh, what would Twitter do with that outfield.

Something you might know: Van Slyke won five straight Gold Gloves as the center fielder for the Pirates between 1988-92.

Something you might not know: Van Slyke once passed a kidney stone during a major league game.

My observation on the back: That one son is not Scott Van Slyke, who plays for the Dodgers. It is A.J., Van Slyke's first-born and an eventual minor leaguer for the Cardinals. Scott was the second-born of four Van Slyke sons.

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#550 - Scott McGregor

What a card: Scott McGregor was coming off his seventh straight season with double figure wins for the Orioles when this card was issued. He'd stretch it to nine straight for the O's.

My observation on the front: It looks cold there. Or McGregor was one of those weird pitchers who wore long sleeves in warm weather.

More opinion from me: The No. 550 is a pretty high-falutin' number for 1984 McGregor. His 1983 season, and consequently his 1984 Topps card, is more deserving of the number. But in '84 Topps his number is 260.

Something you might know: McGregor won 20 games in 1980 and pitched in two World Series for the Orioles. He did well in both but is most remembered for blanking the Phillies in the clinching Game 5 of the 1983 Series.

Something you might not know: After McGregor's career ended, he became an ordained minister and remained one for the next 14 years. But he then returned to baseball as a coach in the Orioles organization, where he still works. That's interesting to me. I haven't heard of many people who switched to a religious life switching back, especially after that many years.

My observation on the back: There have been a handful of pitchers born in Holland (the Netherlands), but only one born in Zeist!

The blog wants to speak now: The Other Cards category is updated. Unfortunately Blogger is being difficult and even though I've changed the type font color and size several times, you'll see it as red and tiny. My apologies. I'll try to adjust it later. (Update: type is no longer red).

Friday, July 1, 2016

#549 - Mike Scioscia

What a card: Mike Scioscia was coming off a nice comeback season when this card was issued. He missed virtually all of the 1983 season with a torn rotator cuff and came back to play in 114 games with a .273 average in 1984. The 1985 season would be the most productive of his career.

My observation the front: Scioscia is demonstrating his tagging style at the plate. Unlike most catchers of the time, who would clutch the ball in the glove with one hand, Scioscia let the glove do all the work and kept his right hand outside the glove.

More opinion from me: I'm not one to pin a team's success all on the manager, but the Dodgers probably could have saved themselves a lot of managing grief if they had hired Scioscia when they had the chance.

Something you might know: Scioscia was known for his toughness in blocking the plate and holds the Dodgers record for the most games caught behind the plate. His hitting in the 1988 NLCS, in which he went 8-for-23 and hit a game-tying homer off Dwight Gooden in the ninth inning of Game 4, was probably his most notable offensive performance.

Something you might not know: Scioscia signed with the Padres for the 1993 season but didn't play any regular season games for them after suffering another rotator injury in spring training. But that didn't stop card companies -- most notably Upper Deck and Pinnacle -- from issuing cards of him as a Padre.

My observation on the back: A very easy trivia question that is also no longer correct.

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