Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#602 - Jeff Dedmon

What a card: This is Jeff Dedmon's first card in Topps flagship. His initial appearance in a major set is in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: The Diamondbacks with their weird all-gray uniforms, should take a look at this. That's how it's done if you're going to do that "color rush" thing.

More opinion from me: Dedmon is an outstanding Wild West name.

Something you might know: Dedmon was a well-used reliever for the Braves from 1984-87 who gave up the first of Matt Williams' 378 career home runs, on April 19, 1987.

Something you might not know: Dedmon's daughter, Kristen, played softball for UCLA. Her claim to fame is driving in the winning run with a two-run, pinch-hit single in the fifth inning of the deciding game against California to win the Bruins the 2004 College Women's World Series.

My observation on the back: I bet Felipe and Matty never let him forget it, too.

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

Friday, November 25, 2016

#601 - Tom Lasorda

What a card: Tom Lasorda was entering what would be his fifth NL West-winning season when this card was created. After the Dodgers finished fourth in 1984, Lasorda would place third in manager of the year voting for 1985.

My observation on the front: I can't quite read the uniform name on the back of the person behind Lasorda. That's disappointing.

More opinion from me: That looks like a forced smile from Lasorda. He has much better cards as a manager.

Something you might know: The man who bleeds Dodger Blue and led the team to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988 was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

Something you might not know: Lasorda's name is on a concession stand at Dodger Stadium, called "Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria". It's a typically Italian restaurant and Lasorda chose some of the dishes. It's his second venture into the restaurant business. His first was "Tommy Lasorda's Ribs and Pasta" in South Pasadena in the late 1980s. It was shut down by the health department in late 1988 after reports of rat sightings and 43 code violations. The restaurant reopened but Lasorda later sued a pest control company for failing to get rid of the rat problem.

My observation on the back: The listing of a manager's height and weight has always amused me. I charted Lasorda's listings during his managerial career. On his first manager card, in the 1978 Topps set, he's listed at 175 pounds. It remains that way until the 1983 Topps set when it jumps to 195 pounds. Lasorda's weight remains at 195 pounds until the 1992 Topps set (the card where he's shown jogging with his pitchers) when his weight drops to 180. His Mother's Cookies card from 1995 lists his weight at 185.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

#600 - Pete Rose

What a card: This is the third and final card of Pete Rose in the set and the second of his non-subset cards (the first was just 53 cards ago).

My observation on the front: Rose's other non-subset card was considered his manager card, so I don't know why "manager" is denoted on this card.

More opinion from me: In 1985, seeing more than one card of the same player was a bit of a rarity, especially if he wasn't an All-Star. Today players get four cards in the Update set alone just to drive player-collectors crazy.

Something you might know: Rose enjoyed a grand return to Cincinnati during the 1984 season, being installed as player-manager and hitting .365 in 26 games. In 1985, he'd play in 119 games, produce 107 hits, set the all-time hits record, and appear in the All-Star Game.

Something you might not know:  Rose threw out the first pitch of the 1985 All-Star Game with Nolan Ryan, who were both playing in that game and being saluted for their longevity. Rose threw his pitch to the Blue Jays' Ernie Whitt and Ryan threw to the Phillies' Ozzie Virgil.

My observation on the back: That one portion of a year with the Expos will never not be weird.

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

Monday, November 21, 2016

#599 - Storm Davis

What a card: Storm Davis was coming off his best season with the Orioles when this card was issued. He won 14 games with a 3.12 ERA and surrendered home runs at the lowest rate in the American League.

My observation on the front: After seeing so many posed "looking in for the sign" shots it's nice to see a real, live one.

More opinion from me: "Storm" was a very odd name in 1982 when Davis first hit the majors. My brother and I gave my youngest brother, an Orioles fan, all kinds of garbage for having a pitcher on his team named "Storm".

Something you might know: Davis won 19 games for the Oakland A's in 1989, receiving a big contract from the Royals in the following offseason. But Davis' ERA was 4.36 despite the 19 wins, and he was cited by Bill James as the perfect example of why wins were overvalued. Davis struggled with Kansas City.

Something you might not know: Davis married his wife, Angie, at age 18. They have a blog.

My observation on the back: Storm's mother was a talk show host for a radio station in Jacksonville, Fla. Even though Storm's actual first name is George, the name "Storm" came from his mother, who read a book titled "Doctors on Trial" while pregnant with Storm. There was a character in the book called "Dr. Storm" whose personality his mother admired.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

#598 - Jose Oquendo

What a card: Jose Oquendo played in 81 games in his second season in the majors in 1984. He struggled at the plate again, and the Mets traded him to the Cardinals in early April 1985, before many collectors even pulled this card.

My observation on the front: Nice shot of Oquendo's entire name on the back of his jersey. It caused me to look up the most recent No. 2 in Mets history. It was Juan Uribe in 2015.

More opinion from me: I think the Mets shortstops in the 1980s collectively had to hit around .230. Oquendo, Rafael Santana, Ron Gardenhire, Frank Taveras, Kevin Elster. They were not high-average guys.

Something you might know: Oquendo thrived as the ultimate utility player for the Cardinals. He was dubbed "The Secret Weapon" and was utilized by manager Whitey Herzog as both a catcher and pitcher, along with more customary positions.

Something you might not know: Oquendo is one of two major leaguers whose last name starts with "Oqu". The other is 1990s relief pitcher Mike Oquist.

My observation the back: Stan Musial still holds the record for most career All-Star Game home runs and no one has come close in a long, long time. Ted Williams is second with four. After that it's a lengthy list of three apiece: Ralph Kiner, Willie Mays, Rocky Colavito, Harmon Killebrew, Johnny Bench, Fred Lynn, Gary Carter and Alfonso Soriano.

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

#597 - Brad Lesley

What a card: This the only Topps card of Brad Lesley, who appeared in 16 games for the Reds in 1984. He appears in just one other major release, in the 1983 Donruss set.

My observation the front: Lesley became known as a much hairier individual after his major league career. I'm sure the Reds' policy against facial hair was just killing him.

More opinion from me: Lesley played in just 49 games for the Reds, but I remember him well because of his histrionics on the mound after getting a strikeout. It's a shame Twitter wasn't around for this guy.

Something you might know: Lesley was nicknamed "The Animal" because of his theatrics. But he was done in the majors by 1985 and became even more well-known to a younger generation by appearing in sports movies throughout the 1990s. He was the cranky pitcher in "Little Big League" and Alan Niven in "Mr. Baseball". He was in a nursing home at the end of his life and died of a heart attack in 2013.

Something you might not know: Lesley was enormously popular in Japan, where he played for two years. He started in acting there and appeared on many Japanese game show challenges. He also starred in a samurai film titled "The Animal Goes To Japan".

My observation on the back: Antics! That's exactly what they were.

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

Friday, November 11, 2016

#596 - Jerry Hairston

What a card: Jerry Hairston had come off his second straight season as a productive role player and pinch-hitter with the White Sox when this card was released. He recorded 227 at-bats, which is the most for a single season in his 14-year major league career.

My observation on the front: I haven't done any research but you don't often see a baseball card photo of a player with his hands in his pockets. That's usually a pose reserved for the manager.

More opinion from me: Also, it looks cold there.

Something you might know: Hairston is part of a three-generation major league family, one of just five in big-league history.

Something you might not know: Hairston met his wife, Esperanza, who was a professor, while playing in the Mexican League from 1978-80. Wikipedia says his wife's name is "Calabaza." A calabaza is a tropical squash that looks like a pumpkin.

My observation on the back: Jerry's father and brother combined accounted for 7 major league games and 9 major league at-bats.

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

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

#595 - Larry Gura

What a card: Larry Gura won 12 games in 1984 for his seventh straight season of double-figure wins, but he allowed more than 5 runs a game and was released by the Royals in May 1985. This is the last card of his career.

My observation on the front: Photos take on different meaning when you know it's a player's last card. Gura seems to be posing for his final closeup.

More opinion from me: As someone who rooted vigorously for the Royals against the Yankees in the late '70s/early '80s, Gura's reputation as a Yankee killer was always comforting.

Something you might know: Gura is one of the winningest pitchers in Royals history, ranking fifth all-time in Kansas City history with 111 victories. He won Game 1 of the 1980 ALCS for the Royals against the Yankees.

Something you might not know: Gura once brought a pair of peacocks for his farm on the way back to Kansas City from a road series in Boston. Gura was attracted to the birds while golfing near a farm in Hamilton, Mass., which is north of Boston. He said he bought them for "the same reason someone might want to buy a painting. They're beautiful."

My observation on the back: Baseball was played as a demonstration sport in the 1968 Olympics. There apparently was a riot during the U.S.'s final game against Cuba, but information on the entire series is difficult to find.

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

Monday, November 7, 2016

#594 - Curt Wilkerson

What a card: This is Curt Wilkerson's first Topps flagship card. He first appeared in the 1984 Donruss set, as well as the '84 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: Can't get a happier card than that, smiling hitter in the batting cage.

More opinion from me: It's refreshing to see a bare arm on display. Not a tattoo in sight.

Something you might know: Wilkerson broke on the scene with a desperate Rangers team. He was the starting shortstop for last-place Texas in 1984, appearing in 153 games. He'd never come close to that playing total again, even though he stayed in the majors for 10 more years.

Something you might not know: Wilkerson was part of what's known as one of the worst trades in Cubs history. The Cubs acquired Wilkerson and Mitch Williams, Steve Wilson, Paul Kilgus, Pablo Delgado and Luis Benitez from the Rangers in exchange for Rafael Palmeiro, Drew Hall and Jamie Moyer.

My observation on the back: The trivia question interests me. According to sportslogos.net, the Phillies logo that the question references actually was their alternate logo at the time (the large, curved "P"). The main logo contained the city name and team name. If the same trivia question was asked for the NL teams today, the Diamondbacks, Pirates and Padres would be correct as none of the primary logos give the full city name or team name.

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

Thursday, November 3, 2016

#593 - Rick Leach

What a card: This is Rick Leach's first flagship card with the Blue Jays. After three years with the Tigers, he signed as a free agent with Toronto in April 1984.

My observation on the front: I am noticing a stain of some sort on Leach's hat for the first time. I don't know if it's actually on the cap or a printing flaw, but it's on every one of his '85 Topps cards. Seems like something Topps would take care of before it made it to packs. It's a big stain.

More opinion from me: It annoys me how much is made of Leach's time as University of Michigan quarterback. I know he was really good there, much better than he was as a major league baseball player, but college football means next to nothing to me, and MLB everything.

Something you might know: Leach was the first-round draft choice of the Tigers in 1979 (13th pick overall).

Something you might not know: Leach disappeared from the Blue Jays in August 1987 while the team was in Seattle. It was the first sign that Leach had a drug problem, but nobody knew it at the time. Leach was penciled in to start against the Mariners and never showed up. At first a team PR guy passed it off as Leach getting food poisoning, but reporters noticed the concern of the players, one even saying they didn't know whether he was even alive. Leach showed up the next day, but disappeared again while with the Rangers in 1989. He was eventually suspended while with the Giants in 1990 and got treatment.

My observation on the back: Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens now share the ALCS single-game strikeout record with 15 each.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

#592 - Jeff Robinson

What a card: This is Jeff Robinson's first card in a Topps flagship set. He appears in the 1984 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: I can tell this photo was taken in Candlestick Park. The entire background has that hazy orange glow.

More opinion from me: The Giants logo seems redundant next to the Giants name plate. I'm sure that has occurred with a number of other cards in this set. But it jumped out at me just now.

Something you might know: Robinson was one of two tall hurlers named "Jeff Robinson" to pitch in the majors during the 1980s. This Robinson was an abundantly used reliever (except for his rookie season when he was a starter), while the other Jeff Robinson was usually a starter, mostly with the Tigers. Both Robinsons wound up playing for the Pirates.

Something you might not know: The Giants' Robinson was acquired by the Pirates in a deal for starter Rick Reuschel in 1987. After the 1988 season, the Pirates were in the market for a starting infielder. They discussed with the Cubs obtaining shortstop Shawon Dunston for Robinson, but the deal never became serious.

My observation on the back: Handyman, weather forecaster and baseball player? You ever get the feeling that some ballplayers just play ball because they do a lot of things well and baseball is one of them?

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