Monday, February 27, 2017

#633 - Glenn Hoffman

What a card: Glenn Hoffman was in comeback mode when this card was issued. He lost his starting job to Jackie Gutierrez in 1984 and sat the bench for most of the season.

My observation on the front: Hoffman appears to have lost his right hand.

More opinion from me: Hoffman's inability to hit, particularly early in his career, did not go unnoticed in my household when I was growing up. He was the subject of a bit of derision.

Something you might know: Hoffman is the older brother of one of the best closers in history, Trevor Hoffman.

Something you might not know: Hoffman's career was undermined by cardiac issues that were discovered in 1986 after he experienced repeated faintness. He was cut by the Red Sox in 1987. (He later played for the Dodgers in '87 and the Angels in '89).

My observation on the back: The trivia question isn't quite clear. The record McCovey tied was most hits in a major league debut (4).

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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

#632 - Bruce Bochte

What a card: This card marks Bruce Bochte's return to major league baseball. He took the entire 1983 season off. Depending on what you read, it was because he was disturbed by escalating players salaries or by baseball's management system.

My observation on the front: A rather pleasing card. For the most part only three colors in play, yellow, green and brown. (And white, for those of you who believe it's a color).

More opinion from me: Bochte is a pretty fascinating character. A deep-thinker, well-read person who cared about environmental causes during his career and even more fiercely after his career. These are the players that I'd love to write stories about, probably in an attempt to understand them.

Something you might know: Bochte's most successful years were with the Mariners. He was an All-Star in 1979 when he knocked in 100 runs and batted .316 in 150 games.

Something you might not know: Bochte is on the short list of people who may have coined the phrase "the Mendoza Line." Others on that list are teammate Tom Paciorek and the Royals' George Brett.

My observation on the back: Thanks to a handy updated article, I know that Bochte's daughters names are Sara and Dana and they are from his first marriage. His current wife is Pamela.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#631 - Bob Forsch

What a card: Bob Forsch missed much of the 1984 season when he underwent back surgery. He appeared in just 16 games. But he came back to appear with the Cardinals in the 1985 World Series and won 14 games in 1986.

My observation on the front: The background is tilted. You see that a lot in '70s cards, but I haven't seen much of it in this set.

More opinion from me: I blogged about Forsch on my '75 Topps blog. His rookie card was that year. Seeing him age from that point makes me feel old. Of course, Forsch died more than five years ago and that really makes me feel old.

Something you might know: Forsch won 20 games for the Cardinals his fourth year in the league in 1977. He also threw two no-hitters.

Something you might not know: Larry Dierker was a teammate of Forsch's brother, Ken, on the Astros and a fellow pitcher. Once when the Astros started a series against the Cardinals, Ken asked Bob if he could borrow one of Bob's bats. Bob gave him a bat. In the second game of the series, Bob was pitching. Dierker came to the plate and hit a home run off of Bob. The following year, Dierker joined the Cardinals. In spring training, Dierker came up to Bob and told him he hit the home run off of Bob with the bat Bob gave Ken. So, to sum up, Dierker hit a homer off of Bob with Bob's own bat.

My observation on the back: They're still the only brother pair to throw no-hitters. Both of their no-hitters happened in April. Bob's came in the ninth game of the season and Ken's in the second game of the season.

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

#630 - Tim Raines

What a card: Tim Raines was utilized more during the 1984 season than he had to that point in his career. He played in a career-high 160 games and set career highs for hits (192) and double (38).

My observation on the front: It must be very cold wherever Raines is.

More opinion from me: This really is one of Raines' best cards. I compiled a list of my 10 favorite Raines cards recently and this didn't quite make the cut, but come on, he played for 23 years and most of the 1990s. The guy has A LOT of cards.

Something you might know: You might know that he is one of only three people who can say they were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.

Something you might not know: Raines is one of four major leaguers to steal a base in four different decades. The other three are Rickey Henderson, Ted Williams and Omar Vizquel.

My observation on the back: Retiring a number for an owner is goofy.

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

#629 - Dick Schofield

What a card: This is Dick Schofield's first base Topps card. He appears in the 1984 Topps Traded set as well as in Donruss' 1984 set.

My observation on the front: No matter how experienced a major league player is, catch him staring through a chain-link fence and he always looks like a kid who wants to get in the game.

More opinion from me: Really one of the best cards in the set.

Something you might know: Schofield was the starting shortstop for the Angels during the mid-to-late 1980s. His home run off of Oil Can Boyd during Game 3 of the 1986 ALCS helped the Angels take a 2-1 lead in that series.

Something you might not know: Scofield's first manager in professional baseball was current Cubs manager Joe Maddon. It was 1981. Maddon was in his first managing job with Rookie League Idaho Falls.

My observation on the back: Schofield is a member of one of five three-generation MLB families. The Nationals' Jayson Werth is his nephew.

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

#628 - Rene Lachemann

What a card: Rene Lachemann managed the Brewers for nearly the entire 1984 season before being fired in his first year with three games remaining. George Bamberger, who managed Milwaukee from 1978-80, returned to take over.

My observation the front: There appears to be some easy-going observing taking place (spring training, likely) as Lachemann works on a little smokeless tobacco.

More opinion from me: I recall as a kid when Lachemann was named the Mariners' manager in 1981 thinking what a bizarre name "Rene Lachemann" was. I had no idea he was an A's catcher in the 1960s.

Something you might know: Lachemann was the first manager in Florida Marlins history. He lasted three-plus seasons before being fired in 1996.

Something you might not know: Lachemann was a bat boy for the Dodgers between 1959-62.

My observation on the back: Here we go again. Yeah, Rene had won 207 games, but he had also lost 274.

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

Thursday, February 9, 2017

#627 - Eric Davis

What a card: Indeed. This is Eric Davis' rookie card and the last of the coveted rookie cards from this set.

My observation on the front: Classic shot of Davis looking toward his future while wearing a necklace that may or may not feature his own first name (my eyes aren't that sharp anymore).

More opinion from me: Davis didn't break out with a great season until 1986. Since I didn't/don't hunt for rookie cards, I don't know if collectors overlooked this card the first couple of years. Prospecting wasn't a big deal yet.

Something you might know: Davis is one of just two players to hit more than 20 home runs and steal 80 bases in a season. Rickey Henderson is the other one.

Something you might not know: Davis once appeared on a stamp issued by the country of Grenada, commemorating the 1987 All-Star Game.

My observation on the back: Twelve consecutive hits also is the major league record (Walt Dropo, 1952).

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

#626 - German Rivera

What a card: This is German Rivera's first and only Topps card. He also appeared in the 1985 Donruss and Fleer sets and then disappeared from major-issued sets.

My observation on the front: Nothing exciting about it, so I'll just mention that this was the first card I ever posted on this blog. It was the image I used when I was testing out the blog at the start.

More opinion from me: This was another player who hit the lights out in Albuquerque during the early '80s and didn't do much in the majors. That got a little annoying as a Dodger fan.

Something you might know: Rivera was the Dodgers' starting third baseman to begin the 1984 season. Pedro Guerrero was played at first base because Greg Brock struggled his rookie year. But Rivera went 4-for-22 in April and was relegated to pinch-hitter and defensive replacement by the end of the month.

Something you might not know: Rivera played in the Men's Senior Baseball League World Series tournament in 2015. Among his teammates on the Boston Wolfpack was Oil Can Boyd. Boyd faced off against Roger Clemens in a well-covered game in that series. Clemens' Houston team won. Rivera got two hits in that game.

My observation on the back: That 1983 Albuquerque Dukes squad was quite a team. Rivera tied for second on the team (with Tony Brewer) with 24 home runs. Sid Bream hit 32. The whole team batted .307.

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

Friday, February 3, 2017

#625 - Mark Langston

What a card: This is Mark Langston's first flagship card. He appears in traded/update sets for Topps and Fleer in 1984.

My observation on the front: The photo used with this card likely comes from the same time (and possibly the same pitch) as the one used on his 1984 Topps Traded card.

More opinion from me: Another miscut card. There are a lot of things about old cards that I miss, but I'll never miss how often I pulled a miscut card then.

Something you might know: Langston was the AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year in 1984 after leading the league in strikeouts. He would later be traded to the Expos in the spring of 1989 for three players, including a throw-in pitcher named Randy Johnson.

Something you might not know: Langston was involved in a one-sided feud with manager Dick Williams. Williams was fired by the Mariners after leaving Langston in a game too long in 1988. Williams later called Langston "gutless" in a book and openly rooted for Langston to fail in big games later in his career. Langston, to his credit said, "I wish there was nothing between us. There is from his standpoint but not from mine."

 My observation on the back: Armas' home run title in 1984 was the end of an eight-year reign for Red Sox home run hitter. A Red Sox player led the league in home runs from 1977-84 five of the eight years.

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#624 - Benny Ayala

What a card: This is Benny Ayala's last Topps flagship card from his career. He does appear in the 1985 Topps Traded set.

My observation on the front: This is kind of the perfect photo for Ayala. A well-known platoon player who was very familiar with sitting the bench during games, Ayala would often sit off by himself to think and do his hitting homework.

More opinion from me: When the current Orioles wear the the throwback uniforms and caps with the cartoon bird on the white cap background, it looks almost comical. But back when that was the regular uniform there didn't seem anything comical about it. It helped that the Orioles were very good when they were wearing those hats and uniforms.

Something you might know: Ayala was part of manager Earl Weaver's regular platoon with players like Terry Crowley, John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke. Ayala thrived in the platoon and is remembered for the three-run home run he hit against the Pirates in Game 3 of the 1979 World Series, as well as a clutch single against the Phillies in the 1983 World Series.

Something you might not know: Ayala is the first Puerto Rican to hit a home run in his first major league at-bat. It came when he played for the Mets in 1974.

My observation on the back: The last pitcher to have as many as 13 complete games in a season was Curt Schilling (15) in 1998.

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