Monday, July 31, 2017

#686 - Mike Easler

What a card: Mike Easler was coming off his most productive season when this card was issued. Provided the most playing time since beginning in the majors in 1973, Easler made the best of it, recording a career-high 188 hits, 27 homers and 91 RBIs.

My observation on the front: Easler appears to be saying to someone in the dugout, "hey man, I can't hit when no one is watching."

More opinion from me: I can't be the only one who spent several years wishing Easler would get more playing time. He always seemed to hit, yet received sporadic at-bats for the first half of his career.

Something you might know: "The Hit Man" batted .338 for the Pirates in 1980 in his breakout season. He parlayed his hitting success into a career as a hitting coach after his playing days ended.

Something you might not know: When Easler was traded from the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1986, it was the first time in history a trade included nothing but designated hitters.

My observation on the back: Easler did not receive a card of his own until 1980 (he did appear on a four-player rookie card in the 1978 Topps set). Look at all those years listed before he received a card!

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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

#685 - Bill Caudill

What a card: Bill Caudill was coming off his only All-Star season when this card was issued. He saved a career-high 36 games, which was second in the AL only to Dan Quisenberry's 44 in 1984.

My observation on the front: Caudill appears much too cheerful to be delivering a pitch here. It could be a grimace, I suppose.

More opinion from me: You can't beat Caudill's 1981 Topps card.

Something you might know: Caudill was famed sports agent Scott Boras' first client. Boras oversaw Caudill's five-year deal with the Blue Jays in 1985.

Something you might not know: Caudill's Boras-negotiated contract also said that Caudill could appear in a Blue Jays uniform for promotional or commercial purposes as long as the Blue Jays approved. It was the first time this common contract provision was added.

My observation on the back: This story from 1982 said that Caudill also featured a Sherlock Holmes-style pipe. The deerstalker cap mentioned in that article is a Sherlock Holmes-style hat.

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

#684 - Bill Doran

What a card: Bill Doran was coming off his sophomore season with the Astros (although he did play 26 games for the Astros in 1982) when this card was issued. He was firmly entrenched at second, appearing in more than 140 games for the second straight year.

My observation on the front: I spy dirt on Doran's uniform, which is appropriate for his style of play.

More opinion from me: The Astros never seemed to have a long-lasting second baseman until Doran came along. I didn't start following baseball until 1975 so I missed Houston's earlier history, but for years it was a rotating door at second with Rafael Landestoy, Art Howe, Joe Morgan, Phil Garner, etc.

Something you might know: Doran was the NL West champion Astros' starting second baseman in 1986 and set a bunch of career highs in 1987, his best season.

Something you might not know: Doran missed out playing on a World Series-winning team in 1990 after being dealt to Cincinnati in an August deadline deal that year. He played in 17 games for the Reds but then underwent back surgery that finished his season. He was checking into the hospital the same day the Reds clinched the NL West pennant.

My observation on the back: It's hard for me to picture mid-1980s baseball players selling insurance.

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#683 - Whitey Herzog

What a card: The Cardinals in 1984 completed their second straight average season after Whitey Herzog led St. Louis to the World Series championship in 1982. But it was an improvement over the disappointing '83 season and the Cardinals were on their way back to the Series in '85.

My observation on the front: I am intrigued by the jersey Herzog is wearing under his jacket. Is that a navy blue Cardinals jersey? Different.

More opinion from me: No doubt, Herzog knew how to manage. But he was the beginning of my dislike of Cardinals managers. He had this air about him like he would go off if someone said the wrong thing (I'm basing this mostly on an on-air scolding he gave Marv Albert during the NBC Game of the Week so maybe I'm being unfair). He seemed extra bossy.

Something you might know: During a golden age of naming a team's style of play after the manager, Herzog's style was called "Whiteyball," and its focus on speed and defense led the Cardinals to three World Series between 1982-87.

Something you might not know: George Scott played for the Royals and Herzog during the end of his career  in 1979. They got into a famous expletive-filled argument during a team meeting at Comiskey Park in Chicago. It was the first Royals team meeting for recent call-up Dan Quisenberry. After the meeting, Quisenberry asked pitcher Paul Splittorff "Are all your meetings like that?"

My observation on the back: I like the use of "skipper."

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#682 - Doug Corbett

What a card: A bullpen sensation his first two years with Twins, Doug Corbett enjoyed a comeback season in 1984, appearing in 44 games in relief with a 2.12 ERA.

My observation on the front: You can see Corbett's set-up for his sinkerball in this photo. Corbett featured an interesting delivery in which his arm formed an "L" shape before he released the ball side-armed.

More opinion from me: The Twins featured a great group of rookies in the early '80s with Hrbek, Corbett, Viola, Castino, Ward and Gaetti. We had no idea at the time that most of them would lead to 2 World Series titles in five years, probably because we all thought Tim Laudner was going to be the best of the bunch.

Something you might know: Corbett was part of a wave of sidearming relievers that included Dan Quisenberry and Kent Tekulve. He saved 40 games for the Twins over 1980 and 1981. He's also known for getting the Twins Tom Brunansky in a deal with the Angels.

Something you might not know: When Corbett was granted free agency by the Angels after the 1986 season, the team still featured a pitching Corbett in rookie Sherman Corbett. When Sherman Corbett arrived at spring training camp in 1987, he found a new uniform with his name on it at his locker. Impressed, he tried it on ... and it didn't fit. The 6-foot-4 Sherman Corbett was trying on the old uniform of the 6-1 Doug Corbett.

My observation on the back: One of the Corbett's twin sons, Jason, suffered a collapsed lung a month after birth and nearly died.

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

#681 - Ben Oglivie

What a card: Ben Oglivie had just completed what would be his final full-time season when this card was issued. After 1984, Oglivie barely managed 100 games in his last two seasons.

My observation on the front: Oglivie has a lot of interesting and fun cards. This is not one of them.

More opinion for me: Thanks to benchwarmer Ogilvie in the "Bad News Bears," I thought Oglivie's name was pronounced and spelled like the "booger-eatin' moron" in the movie for YEARS. I still have difficulty spelling Ben's name properly. It's "OGL" not "OGI".

Something you might know: Oglivie is the first non-U.S. born player to lead the league in home runs. He tied for the AL home run lead with Reggie Jackson when both hit 41 in 1980.

Something you might not know: Oglivie could start and finish the New York Times crossword puzzle in under five minutes.

My observation on the back: Oglivie was also given the politically incorrect nickname of "Banana Man" by a coach for the Tigers, Joe Schultz (the former Pilots manager).

The blog wants to speak now: Another early morning for the night owl, so I'll pass.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

#680 - Jerry Reuss

What a card: Jerry Reuss was coming off an injury-plagued 1984 season when this card was released. He underwent offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from both heels.

My observation on the front: A baseball card that doesn't show Jerry Reuss smiling is not a baseball card of Jerry Reuss.

More opinion from me: Reuss did two things that solidified him as one of my favorite players of all-time: he signed and returned a couple of cards to me, and he commented on my blog. And he was already a favorite when he pitched for the Dodgers.

Something you might know: Reuss started the 1975 All-Star Game while with the Pirates and pitched three innings. His best season was probably in 1980 with the Dodgers when he finished second in the Cy Young Award voting and pitched a no-hitter against the Giants. He also was the NL Comeback Player of the Year.

Something you might not know: Reuss was traded from the Cardinals to the Astros at the start of the 1972 season because Cardinals owner August Busch didn't like Reuss' mustache.

My observation on the back: Reuss is a music fan and apparently put together a music reference book in the early 1990s that helped readers find music from 1955-79 on compact discs.

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

#679 - Bob Kearney

What a card: Bob Kearney was coming off the most playing time he'd enjoy in a single season, appearing in 133 games in his first season with the Mariners in 1984.

My observation on the front: Kearney looks like a big man in some of his other cards, although not so much here. He is listed as 6-feet, 180 pounds, so this is probably an accurate representation.

More opinion from me: Kearney replaced Rick Sweet as the Mariners' starting catcher, which reminds me of just how much Seattle struggled with personnel in their first decade.

Something you might know: Kearney was named the catcher on Topps' All-Rookie Team in 1983. Sadly, Topps wasn't displaying rookie cups on its cards at the time and Kearney missed out.

Something you might not know: Kearney didn't connect with some of his pitchers regarding pitch selection and it came out in the papers after Mariners pitcher Ed Vande Berg was traded to the Dodgers for catcher Steve Yeager. Vande Berg called Kearney a "rockhead," and Kearney responded by saying of Vande Berg, "It's nice to have a good arm but you need to use your noodle a little bit, too."

My observation on the back: I'm coming up with dead-ends on the Mr. San Antonio and substitute teacher references, so I'll just say the trivia question makes me sad.

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

Thursday, July 6, 2017

#678 - Joey McLaughlin

What a card: This is Joey McLaughlin's final card for Topps. He was released by the Rangers at the end of the 1984 season.

My observation on the front: What a way to go out! That's a nice, tight look at the mammoth eyewear that was in fashion during the 1980s.

More opinion from me: I got Bo McLaughlin and Joey McLaughlin confused since they were pitchers in the majors at about the same time. And when I figured out they were different people, I couldn't believe they weren't related. (There was also a pitcher named Byron McLaughlin at that time. For whatever reason, I was able to tell him apart).

Something you might know: McLaughlin spent most of his career with the Blue Jays, leading the team in saves with 10 in strike-shortened 1981.

Something you might not know: McLaughlin's first major league appearance, his first major league start, lasted all of six batters. On June 11, 1977, he started against the Phillies, giving up a single and two walks to his first three batters. Greg Luzinski then hit a grand slam for a 4-0 lead. McLaughlin retired Davey Johnson on a fly ball, but then Garry Maddox hit a home run and McLaughlin was replaced with Steve Kline.

My observation on the back: I missed posting on McLaughlin's birthday by five days.

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

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

#677 - Wally Backman

What a card: Wally Backman was coming off a breakthrough season when this card was issued. He had disappeared off of cards in 1984, but won the starting second base job that season and appeared in more than 100 games for the first time in his career, batting .280.

My observation on the front: You can see Backman's slap-hitting style in this photo as evidenced by his bat follow-through. He liked to go the opposite way.

More opinion from me: Backman was one of several rascally guys on the '86 Mets. I envisioned Backman and teammate Len Dykstra engaged in endless expletive-filled spitting contests when they weren't playing. I don't know if that's true, but it seems about right.

Something you might know: Backman and fellow infielder Tim Teufel were known as the table-setters for the New York Mets during their 1986 championship season. Backman hit .300 twice during his career, once in 1986 and once in 1988 (he also did so in 1980 but in only 93 at-bats).

Something you might not know: Backman ranked among the top 10 best baseball rants in a Sports Illustrated article last month. Backman's tirade was aired during a documentary on the independent league team he managed, the South Georgia Peanuts, which lasted just one season. The rant is NSFW.

My observation on the back: Dave Kingman's grand slam came on July 31, 1971 off of the Pirates' Dave Giusti in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was part of a seven-run seventh in an eventual 15-11 victory for the Giants.

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