Friday, June 30, 2017

#676 - Albert Hall

What a card: This is Albert Hall's rookie card after he received the most playing time of his career to this point in 1984, appearing in 87 games for the Braves.

My observation on the front: The Braves seem to be playing an exhibition game against the Royals judging by the photo background.

More opinion from me: When Albert Hall reached the majors, I couldn't listen to "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles the same way again. "Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall." Of course, the Beatles were singing about Royal Albert Hall in London.

Something you might know: Hall was the first Atlanta Brave to hit for the cycle. He tripled in his final at-bat to complete the feat on Sept.23, 1987 against the Astros.

Something you might not know: The MLB Players Association filed a grievance on the behalf of Hall in 1989, who was released by the Braves out of spring training less than a month after he sought treatment for alcohol abuse. After completing the program, he appeared in just two games for the Braves before he was released. The Players Union sought his reinstatement by the Braves. Hall ended up signing a minor league deal with the Pirates for the '89 season and appeared in 20 games for Pittsburgh.

My observation on the back: Of course, the new AL record for most saves in a season is Francisco Rodriguez with 62 in 2008, also the major league record.

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

#675 - Tony Perez

What a card: Tony Perez returned to a Reds uniform in the 1985 set after being out of the uniform in a flagship set since 1977 Topps.

My observation on the front: You see Perez here and it's easy to forget he ever played for the Expos, Red Sox or Phillies.

More opinion from me: Perez was known as an RBI machine during his heyday, so much so that it was drilled into my head. I wonder if Perez was at its peak today what they would say about him, since RBIs are not fashionable.

Something you might know: A key member of The Big Red Machine, Perez was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Something you might not know: Perez started his professional career as a second baseman. In his first season, with Single A Geneva, N.Y., he played at second until someone named Pete Rose arrived and Perez was moved to third base.

My observation on the back: Topps was being a little charitable by giving Perez a number ending in "5". Perez hadn't posted a strong season since 1980 (although he did bat .328 in 1985, maybe Topps knew something).

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

Monday, June 26, 2017

#674 - Atlee Hammaker

What a card: Atlee Hammaker missed most of the 1984 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his rotator cuff. He appeared in six games, pitching just 33 innings.

My observation on the front: The fans behind Hammaker are waiting patiently for an autograph.

More opinion from me: Call it holding a grudge, but I will never get over Hammaker's 1983 All-Star Game performance that ended the National League's streak of 11 straight ASG victories and signaled the end of NL dominance.

Something you might know: Hammaker led the National League with a 2.25 ERA in 1983. That was also the year he gave up the only grand slam in All-Star Game history, to the Angels' Fred Lynn.

Something you might not know: The wife of Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes is one of Hammaker's five daughters, Jenna.

My observation on the back: Quite a collection of '70s nicknames there: Mad Dog, Cobra and the Mad Hungarian.

The blog wants to speak now: Not today, it's another day of getting up too early.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

#673 - Buck Martinez

What a card: Buck Martinez appeared in 102 games for the Blue Jays in 1984, the first time in 15 seasons in the majors that he had appeared in 100 games in a season.

My observation on the front: An interesting choice of a photo, showing Martinez leading off. He stole five bases in 1,049 career games.

More opinion from me: Martinez played a long time, I have lots of cards of him, yet I associated him more with being a broadcaster than a player.

Something you might know: Martinez made one very memorable play at the plate in 1985. He was bowled over by the Mariners' Phil Bradley while making the tag out at the plate. He suffered a broken leg on the play, yet tried to throw out Gorman Thomas advancing on the bases. The throw went into left field and Thomas tried to go home, only to be tagged out by Martinez, who had received the throw from George Bell, despite the broken leg, for the double play.

Something you might not know: Martinez posted a lifetime .225 batting average. He said in a 1983 article that a hunting accident contributed to his inability to hit consistently. During the 1976 offseason, Martinez and Royals teammate and pitcher Doug Bird went hunting. Bird took a shot while he was behind Martinez and a pellet struck Martinez in the eye. His vision in his left eye was 20/200 since.

A word about the back: Martinez met Arlene in Puerto Rico when he was playing winter ball in 1971. But the two didn't see each other again for three more years during a party in Florida in spring training. That's when they started dating.

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#672 - Juan Berenguer

What a card: Juan Berenguer was coming off his most successful major league season to date when this card was issued. After roaming from team to team with little success, he started 27 games and won 11 in 1984. But he never made an appearance in the Tigers' postseason.

My observation on the front: There appears to be a gathering of fans in the Tiger Stadium outfield stands, straining to see Berenguer's photo session.

More opinion from me: One of Berenguer's nicknames was "Señor Smoke," which was also Tigers pitching teammate Aurelio Lopez's nickname. I'm assuming Berenguer wasn't called that until after he left the Tigers. You can't have two Señor Smokes on the same team.

Something you might know: Berenguer became an effective relief pitcher for the Twins during the late 1980s, making his biggest impact during the Twins' ALCS victory over the Tigers in 1987.

Something you might not know: If you're a Twins fan, you know this, but as for the rest of you, Juan Berenguer starred in a music video called the "Berenguer Boogie," which riffed off his appearance in a trenchcoat when he arrived back in the Metrodome after the Twins' 1987 World Series win. The video is long (I linked to a shorter version on the making of the video) and very 1987, but 1987 ruled so I don't want to hear anything bad about it.

My observation on the back: Once again, some interesting abbreviations of the hometown in the vital info.

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

Friday, June 16, 2017

#671 - Dane Iorg

What a card: Dane Iorg played in 78 games for the Royals in 1984 after being purchased from the Cardinals in May of that year. Iorg would come back and torment his old team in 1985.

My observation on the front: Iorg looks like he needs to wash his forehead.

More opinion from me: I feel proud that I grew up during a period when everyone knew how to pronounce Iorg's name.

Something you might know: Iorg drove in the winning run during the pivotal Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. After umpire Don Denkinger's controversial "safe" call on Jorge Orta in the ninth inning, the Royals load the bases while down 1-0 to the Cardinals. Iorg then delivered a two-run single to seal the game.

Something you might not know: Iorg and his brother, Garth, were the first brothers to play against each other in a League Championship Series when Dane's Royals faced Garth's Blue Jays in 1985.

My observation on the back: The Tigers' Placido Polanco now holds the record for consecutive chances without an error as a second baseman with a whopping 911 in comparison.

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

#670 - Tom Seaver

What a card: Tom Seaver enjoyed a revival with the White Sox in 1984. In his first season with Chicago, and in the American League, he won 15 games. He'd do even better in 1985, winning his 300th game in the process.

My observation on the front: This picture just says "old man" to me. I think older players should be shown out on the field. They're still in the game!

More opinion from me: There is almost nothing stranger than Seaver in a White Sox uniform. I was around when Seaver became a Cincinnati Red and that was weird, but I was also a kid then and relatively new to baseball. It wasn't quite the shock to me as it was for veteran fans. But "Seaver to the White Sox"? Whuuuuut?

Something you might know: Seaver was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 by a greater percentage than any Hall selection (98.84 percent) until  Ken Griffey Jr. surpassed it in 2016.

Something you might not know: Forty years ago today, Seaver contacted Mets general manager Joe McDonald to tell him to halt trade negotiations with the Reds because he was willing to accept an extension and remain a Met. Later, however, he read a column by the New York Daily News' Dick Young that enraged him so much that he demanded the trade that would become known as the Midnight Massacre, occurring on June 15, 1977.

My observation on the back: Seaver's book was published in 1984 and called "The Art of Pitching".

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

#669 - Lee Lacy

What a card: This is Lee Lacy's final card as a Pittsburgh Pirate. He had signed with the Orioles as a free agent by the time this card appeared in packs.

My observation on the front: Many of the Pirates cards in this set are alike. See if you can spot the similarities. And I'm not talking about them wearing the same uniform.

More opinion from me: I was a Lee Lacy backer when he was with the Dodgers. I wanted him to start, I was quite disappointed when he was traded to the Braves, and I was elated when he was traded back to L.A. and one of the first 1977 Topps Dodgers cards I pulled was Lee Lacy.

Something you might know: A pinch-hitting specialist with the Dodgers, he hit five pinch-hit home runs in 1978, including a record-setting three straight. He played in the World Series three straight years, in 1977 and 1978 with the Dodgers and 1979 with the Pirates.

Something you might not know: Lacy was once tagged out at second base on a walk to the next batter. Lacy was on first base when a 3-1 pitch was made to batter Omar Moreno during a game against the Reds. Lacy took off for second on the pitch, which was ball four. The second base ump called Lacy out on the tag, even though he was safe because of the walk. But Lacy didn't check the home ump's call and started trotting back to the dugout thinking he was out. When he spotted Moreno trotting to first on the walk, he tried to scramble back to second. But shortstop Davey Concepcion tagged him and the second base ump called Lacy out again.

My observation on the back: If that birth date for Lacy's son is correct, it means Lacy was 17 when his son was born. I'm going to say that date is wrong. Also, Lacy's daughter, Jennifer, who played in the WNBA, was born in 1983 but is not mentioned in the writeup.

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

Thursday, June 8, 2017

#668 - Steve Trout

What a card: Steve Trout was coming off his best season when this card was issued. He won 13 games for the NL East champion Cubs in 1984 and pitched the victory in Game 2 of the NLCS, going 8 1/3 innings in a 4-2 win.

My observation on the front: I like the photo, although the shadow across his face kind of kills his expression a little.

More opinion from me: It's just occurring to me now that Trout shares the same name with the Angels' Mike Trout (no, they are not related). For 40-plus years of my life, the only baseball Trouts I knew were Steve and Dizzy.

Something you might know: Trout was a second-generation pitcher, the son of 1930s/40s hurler Dizzy Trout. The two were known for their zaniness and I remember stories about them being told on NBC's Game of the Week (probably by Joe Garagiola).

Something you might not know: When Trout was called up to the majors, he was playing in Double A in the White Sox organization. His manager was Tony La Russa, who drove Trout to the airport in the team bus for his flight to Chicago.

My observation on the back: I think it would have been cooler if Trout was nicknamed "cutthroat" (also a kind of trout).

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

#667 - Dave Engle

What a card: Dave Engle was coming off the only All-Star selection of his career when this card was issued. He was the Twins' lone representative for the game but didn't play (the Twins had just one All-Star representative each year from 1978-87).

My observation on the front: I've mentioned this before but the position designation is so awkward in 1985 Topps. If you didn't know Engle's name, you'd think Topps left out the "C" in his name and was trying to squeeze it in.

More opinion from me: I've always liked Engle's 1984 Topps card.

Something you might know: Engle hit the first home run in Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome history, on April 6, 1982. It came off the Mariners' Floyd Bannister in the first inning.

Something you might not know: Engle beat out Wade Boggs for the 1980 International League batting title by a single thousandth of a percentage point, .307 to .306.

My observation on the back: Roy Engle was also the catcher for Ted Williams when the two were in high school in San Diego. They became lifelong friends.

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

Friday, June 2, 2017

#666 - Mike LaCoss

What a card: Mike LaCoss had completed his third season as a starter/reliever with the Astros when this card was issued. He would be off to the Royals as a free agent before many collectors even pulled this card.

My observation on the front: It must be a very, very cold day in Florida. LaCoss looks like he's not going to take off that jacket for nothing.

More opinion from me: LaCoss displayed his split-fingered fastball grip on a baseball card in the 1989 Topps set. It's one of the more memorable cards in a bland set, if you ask me.

Something you might know: LaCoss was an All-Star in his second season with the Reds, proving to be Cincinnati's second-best starter behind Tom Seaver in 1979.

Something you might not know: LaCoss appearing on card No. 666 broke up a string of five straight years of Tigers appearing on card No. 666. I did a post about it.

My observation on the back: LaCoss' wife's name is not Vallecillo. That's her maiden name. Her first name is Theresa. Topps done goofed.

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