Monday, August 31, 2009

Trading Card Want List

One of the unintended benefits of starting this blog has been seeing my son get involved in baseball cards. He'll be eight in October and found all of my boxes in the basement. It's been years since I even looked at alot of these and as I move on in the blog, he's enjoying learning about the "old" players.

We have also begun putting together and completing some sets that I never finished or forgot about so long ago. I would like to trade of any of these if possible (I apologize for the long list).

I will be updating periodically, but if you are interested in trading, I have some to offer, covering the period 1976 to 1992. Please email me and ask, I will try to see what I have. maxcarey @

1974 Topps Baseball
Am looking for any/all commons. I have most of the key cards to this set, but woefully short on the commons I need to build the set.

1975 Topps Baseball Mini
Ditto as the 1974 entry. Have all the key "money" cards, only a handful of commons

1979 Topps Baseball
This one is currently my son's project. He has discovered numerous doubles that I had that are in terrible to awful condition and wants to put together the set. He is constantly handling them so condition is not an issue. He even has bad condition doubles that he is willing to trade.

#4, 6, 9, 11, 12, 15, 21, 24, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 39, 48, 52, 53, 55, 61, 62, 64, 66, 73, 79, 80, 81, 85, 88, 92, 94, 95, 96, 98, 99

#100, 102, 110, 112, 114, 115, 118, 122, 123, 125, 126, 131, 133, 134, 140, 143, 144, 150, 151, 152, 159, 160, 161, 163, 164, 167, 168, 169, 171, 176, 177, 178, 181, 182, 183, 184, 186, 190, 191, 196, 197

#200, 208, 209, 210, 215, 222, 223, 225, 226, 231, 234, 235, 236, 239, 243, 245, 246, 249, 250, 251, 254, 256, 261, 262, 264, 269, 270, 272, 274, 275, 277, 279, 285, 286, 288, 293, 295, 297

#300, 301, 305, 306, 310, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 327, 328, 329, 333, 336, 338, 343, 346, 349, 352, 353, 354, 358, 362, 363, 369, 374, 377, 378, 387, 388, 389, 392, 393, 395, 398

#400, 402, 403, 404, 407, 411, 412, 413, 421, 422, 423, 431, 435, 440, 448, 450, 454, 460, 469, 476, 477, 478, 480, 492, 493, 494,

#501, 503, 504, 505, 517, 518, 521, 522, 524, 532, 534, 535, 543, 545, 546, 550, 553, 554, 558, 560, 564, 567, 570, 571, 572, 573, 577, 578, 579, 582, 583, 585, 587, 593, 595, 597, 599

#602, 604, 608, 610, 616, 620, 621, 625, 626, 628, 629, 632, 634, 635, 639, 643, 644, 650, 656, 657, 659, 673, 675, 676, 680, 682, 688, 692, 697,

#701, 705, 708, 710, 714, 719, 722, 724

1980 Topps Baseball
#5 Garry Templeton HL
#8 Craig Swan
#35 Luis Tiant
#63 Bob Stanley
#66 Kansas City Royals
#77 Dave Stieb
#96 Oakland A's - Card Show Find
#112 Chicago White Sox
#121 Checklist
#164 Greg Pryor
#170 Burt Hooten
#214 Angels Team
#216 Phil Mankowski
#259 New York Mets
#309 Larry McWilliams
#328 Minnesota Twins
#331 Rich Hebner
#344 Randy Lerch
#356 San Diego Padres
#381 Chicago Cubs
#407 Tony Solaita - Thanks Phillies Room!
#420 Butch Hobson
#424 New York Yankees - Card Show Find
#441 Eric Soderholm
#451 Cleveland Indians
#466 Mike Squires
#483 Bo Diaz - Thanks Phillies Room!
#484 Checklist
#487 Wayne Nordhagen - Card Show Find
#533 Checklist
#549 Larry Wolfe
#551 Pittsburgh Pirates
#559 Dale Murray
#612 Cliff Johnson
#626 Detroit Tigers
#633 Checklist
#674 Blue Jays Rookies
#698 Oscar Gamble - Thanks Phillies Room!
#702 Ed Farmer - Thanks Phillies Room!
#703 Otto Velez - Thanks Phillies Room!

1981 Topps Baseball
#110 Carl Yastrzemski
#140 Bob Forsch
#150 Mark Fidrych
#202 Steve Carlton RB
#206 Mike Schmidt RB
#208 Willie Wilson RB
#300 Paul Molitor
#315 Kirk Gibson
#370 Dave Winfield
#417 Dan Schatzeder
#504 Dale Murphy
#515 Robin Yount
#530 Steve Garvey
#582 Gaylord Perry
#590 Bruce Sutter
#626 Tigers Rookies
#630 Steve Carlton
#664 Chicago White Sox
#684 St. Louis Cardinals

1981 Topps Football
#18 Frank Lewis#18 Frank Lewis
#25 Steve Grogan
#42 Steve Bartkowski (Super Action) - Card Show Find
#72 Roynell Young - Card Show Find
#85 Mark Van Eeghen
#90 Donnie Shell - Card Show Find
#113 Cleveland Browns - Card Show Find
#155 Jack Lambert - Card Show Find
#169 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Card Show Find
#202 Walter Payton (Super Action)
#220 Franco Harris
#229 Butch Johnson - Card Show Find
#233 John Sawyer - Card Show Find
#255 John Matuszak
#270 Brad Van Pelt - Card Show Find
#278 Ron Johnson - Card Show Find
#313 Jeff Nixon - Card Show Find
#366 Tom Myers - Card Show Find
#406 Chuck Ramsey - Card Show Find
#433 Steve Freeman - Card Show Find
#495 Joe Greene - Card Show Find
#505 Lyle Alzado
#506 Tony Nathan
#507 Philadelphia Eagles - Card Show Find

1984 Topps Baseball
#2 Rickey Henderson HL
#4 Nolan Ryan HL
#5 Dave Righetti HL
#11 Minnesota Twins
#20 Greg Luzinski
#23 Keith Moreland
#24 Joe Martin
#30 Wade Boggs
#39 Garth Iorg
#46 Ray Smith
#48 Julio Franco
#51 Jim Frey
#61 Chris Codiroli
#65 Kirk Gibson
#67 Gary Ward
#75 Bob Forsch
#76 Alfredo Griffin
#81 Billy Martin
#84 Lenny Faedo
#86 John Shelby
#92 Lloyd Moseby
#95 Aurelio Lopez
#96 Kansas City Royals
#97 LaMarr Hoyt
#99 Craig Lefferts
#103 Dwyane Murphy
#112 Tom Niedenfuer
#119 John Wockenfuss
#120 Keith Hernandez
#124 Damaso Garcia
#126 Atlanta Braves
#131 Batting Leaders - Card Show Find
#133 RBI Leaders
#134 Stolen Base Leaders
#135 Victory Leaders
#136 Strikeout Leaders - Card Show Find
#137 ERA Leaders
#144 Brian Harper
#145 Gary Lavelle
#147 Dan Petry
#148 Jim Lefebvre
#151 Steve Trout
#152 Glenn Brummer
#156 Oakland A's
#159 Darryl Cias
#163 Lorenzo Gray
#171 Frank Robinson
#177 Jerry Hairston
#178 Bill Krueger
#179 Buck Martinez
#182 Darryl Strawberry
#183 Albert Williams
#195 Jack Morris
#206 Andy Van Slyke
#220 Fernando Valenzuela
#223 Wayne Krenchicki
#225 Lee Mazzilli
#228 John Rabb
#237 John Castino
#240 Eddie Murray
#246 New York Mets
#249 Jay Johnstone
#257 Julio Cruz
#259 Sparky AnderTson
#262 Tom Candiotti
#265 Donnie Hill
#267 Carmelo Martinez
#268 Jack O'Connor
#276 California Angels
#280 Floyd Bannister
#284 Howard Bailey
#302 Barry Bonnell
#303 Manny Castillo
#304 Warren Brusstar
#307 Bobby Mitchell
#309 Tony Phillips
#310 Willie McGee
#311 Jerry Koosman
#312 Jorge Orta
#324 Alejandro Pena
#326 Bob Kearney
#333 Larry Herndon
#334 Chuck Rainey
#345 Kent Hrbek
#356 Glenn Abbott
#357 Ron Cey
#359 Jim Acker
#362 David Green
#364 Scott Fletcher
#369 Steve McCatty
#370 Tim Raines
#371 Dave Gumpert
#388 Mike Schmidt AS
#389 Ozzie Smith AS
#393 Gary Carter AS
#395 Steve Carlton AS
#399 George Brett AS
#401 Jim Rice AS - Card Show Find
#402 Dave Winfield AS - Card Show Find
#403 Lloyd Moseby AS
#405 LaMarr Hoyt AS
#406 Ron Guidry AS
#416 Dane Iorg
#426 Baltimore Orioles
#429 Randy Bush
#434 Harold Baines
#447 Tom Brunansky
#449 Joe Pettini
#453 Willie Upshaw
#456 Chicago Cubs
#457 Dave Rozema
#459 Kevin Hickey
#464 Jeff Jones
#467 Mike Ramsey
#469 Tom O'Malley
#470 Nolan Ryan
#479 Frank Tanana
#482 Enos Cabell
#483 Fergie Jenkins
#488 Jesse Barfield
#490 Cal Ripken
#493 Mike Norris
#494 Chili Davis
#506 Ernie Whitt
#508 Mel Hall
#509 Brad Havens
#510 Alan Trammell
#513 Dave Beard
#522 Dave Bergman
#531 Steve Boros
#534 Pete O'Brien
#536 Doug Bair
#540 George Hendrick
#542 Duane Kuiper
#550 Jim Rice
#556 Joey McLaughlin
#558 Mike Davis
#561 Whitey Herzog
#563 Glenn Wilson
#565 Leon Durham
#568 Pete Filson
#576 San Francisco Giants
#580 Lonnie Smith
#588 Milt Wilcox
#590 Dave Steib
#598 Rusty Kuntz
#600 Rod Carew
#603 Renie Martin
#606 Toronto Blue Jays
#610 Steve Sax
#611 Chet Lemon
#619 Jerry Dybzinski
#623 Ron Washington
#629 Rick Langford
#637 Philadelphia Phillies
#640 Lance Parrish
#642 Tom Underwood
#648 Len Whitehouse
#649 Tom Herr
#650 Phil Niekro
#657 Thad Bosley
#664 Dave Stegman
#666 Detroit Tigers
#667 Vance Law
#669 Davey Lopes
#670 Goose Gossage - Card Show Find
#671 Jamie Quirk
#673 Mike Walters
#677 Doyle Alexander
#683 Marty Barrett
#690 Jack Clark
#691 Steve Lake
#694 Mike Stanton
#698 Marc Hill
#702 NL Hits
#703 NL Home Runs - Card Show Find
#705 NL Stolen Bases
#706 NL Victories
#707 NL Strikeouts - Card Show Find
#708 NL ERA
#709 NL Saves
#710 AL Batting
#711 AL Hits
#712 AL Home Runs - Card Show Find
#713 AL RBI
#714 AL Stolen Bases
#715 AL Victory - Card Show Find
#716 AL Strikeouts
#718 AL Saves
#727 Joel Youngblood
#728 Tug McGraw
#731 Lynn Jones
#733 Dave Collins
#736 Dick Ruthven
#741 Wayne Gross
#745 Dennis Eckersley
#746 Mickey Hatcher
#748 Jeffrey Leonard
#757 Larry Bowa
#759 Rich Dotson
#762 Rance Mullinks
#767 Carney Lansford
#768 Champ Summers
#771 Bill Gardner
#775 Dave Parker
#783 Luis Leal
#785 Joaquin Andujar
#786 Boston Red Sox
#787 Bill Campbell - Card Show Find

1987 Topps Baseball
#7 Todd Worrell RB - Thanks Phillies Room!
#14 Dave Stewart - Thanks Phillies Room!
#52 Keith Anderson - Thanks Phillies Room!
#77 Bryan Oeklers - Thanks Phillies Room!
#82 Rob Murphy - Thanks Phillies Room!
#115 Donnie Moore
#177 Keith Moreland - Thanks Phillies Room!
#179 Bill Wegman - Thanks Phillies Room!
#265 Darrell Evans - Thanks Phillies Room!
#287 Dave Von Ohlen - Thanks Phillies Room!
#306 Rich Gedman
#342 Bob James - Thanks Phillies Room!
#349 Storm Davis - Thanks Phillies Room!
#355 Don Carman
#362 Luis Quinones
#563 John Stefero

#595 Keith Hernandez AS - Thanks Phillies Room!
#614 Roger Clemens AS - Thanks Phillies Room!
#634 Rafael Palmiero - Thanks Phillies Room!
#649 Mickey Tettleton
#681 George Bell - Thanks Phillies Room!
#789 Dan Schatzader
#792 Checklist - Thanks Phillies Room!

1988 Donruss Baseball
#4 Alan Trammell DK
#7 Paul Molitor DK - Thanks Phillies Room!
#10 Julio Franco DK
#19 Gary Gaetti DK
#23 Billy Hatcher DK
#26 Cal Ripken DK
#76 Ron Darling
#102 George Brett
#249 Paul Molitor
#545 Jay Buhner
#611 Jose Nunez
#630 Jeff Musselman
#632 Bob Ojeda
#640 David Wells
#648 Tim Teufel
#657 Gregg Jeffries
#658 Todd Stottlemyre
#659 Geronimo Berroa
#660 Jerry Royster

Sunday, August 30, 2009

#132 Biff Pocoroba

Who is this player?
Biff Pocoroba, reserve catcher, Atlanta Braves
The Braves' Opening Day catcher, Biff Pocoroba was looking forward to returning to full time status in 1980 after losing almost all of the previous season due to injury. He tore a muscle in his right forearm two weeks into the season and missed more than a month. When he returned from the DL, he had lost his job to Bruce Benedict and was only used as a pinch-hitter for the remainder of the season. He appeared in 70 games in 1980 and batted .265.

The only major leaguer whose birth name is indeed Biff, Pocoroba was selected by the Braves in the amateur draft in 1971. After paying his dues, he made the Braves in 1975, largely due to his strong performance in Spring Training that year. At one point, he threw out 11 consecutive would-be base stealers and when he made the team, hit a respectable .255. The following season, he was the Braves Opening Day starter for the first time, but an injury ended his season prematurely due to a shoulder injury and he batted a disappointing .241.

Biff rebounded in 1977 with his best ever campaign. He batted over .300 for most of the first half and finished the season at .290. He also achieved career highs in nearly ever offensive category. The next year, he was selected to the All Star team and caught the ninth inning of the NL's 7-3 victory in San Diego. For the second time in three years, however, his season ended early, and he had surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder. The surgery caused him to miss nearly all of the 1979 season.

Pocoroba's injuries prevented him from becoming an everyday player again. He was tried at third base when Bob Horner was injured. He performed well in a substitute role batting a combined .271 in 1982-83. A highlight during this period was when the Braves won the NL West in 1982 and Biff had his only taste of postseason action. He was released in April 1984 after making only four pinch hitting appearances. In retirement, he started his own company Sausage World in Lilburn, Georgia.

Why I love this card
Goes without saying. This is one of the best names of the era. We would take turns putting our own musical interpretation on the name "Biff Pocoroba." He was our generation's Van Lingle Mungo.

Something else....
The second appearance of the bat facing the camera. Even though the Craig Reynolds shot was only a few cards ago, it is no less welcome to see here. Bonus points for the appearance of the red Braves warmups. Double bonus points for the paragraph on the back of the card that acknowledges Biff's defensive prowess.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

#131 Paul Mitchell

Who was this player?
Paul Mitchell, starting pitcher, Milwaukee Brewers
In the final season of his six-year major league career, Paul Mitchell was called up from Triple-A Vancouver in June and eventually inserted into the fifth spot in the Brewers' rotation. He pitched well for the Brewers, going 5-5 with a 3.53 ERA, the highlight being a four-hit shutout August 17 against the Cleveland Indians.

A native of Worcster, MA, Paul Mitchell grew up a Yankees fan idolizing Mickey Mantle. The righthanded Mitchell pitched at Old Dominion University and was drafted by the Orioles with the seventh pick of the first round in 1971. He was a big winner in the Baltimore chain and after a 10-1 start in 1975 at Triple-A Rochester, he was called up to the Orioles, where he made his debut against the eventual league champions.

Before the start of the 1976 season, Mitchell was part of the blockbuster trade that sent Reggie Jackson from the Oakland A's to Baltimore. Mitchell, meanwhile, was inserted into the Oakland rotation. He had a horrible start, but won eight of 12 after Memorial Day to finish the season with a winning record. When he started poorly again in 1977, Oakland demoted him to the minors and in August, sold him to the Seattle Mariners. Mitchell would finish the season in the starting rotation, going 3-3 with a high 4.99 ERA.

In 1978, Mitchell was the leading winner on a team that lost 104 games. While he only won eight games, he led the club in starts, shutouts and innings pitched. The personal highlight of the '78 season was likely was shutting out the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the midst of the AL East pennant chase with Boston. The following year, he was traded to Milwaukee in mid season and pitched primarily as a swingman. When the Brewers obtained Pete Vuckovich during the 1980-81 off season and when Mitchell had a poor Spring Training in 1981, he was released. He never again appeared in the major leagues.

Why I love this card
My goodness, look at Mitchell's hat. I had mentioned in an earlier post about some of these caps resembling stove-pipe hats. Mitchell's hat here is so huge, it almost doesn't seem real. In fact, I suspect that this card was airbrushed from Mitchell's 1979 Spring Training in Seattle. While the Brewers logo looks great, it appears somebody really overdid it with the blue.

Something else....
Don't do a google search on just "Paul Mitchell." You'll get two pages of hair care/hairdresser websites before you run into this Paul Mitchell. No correlation, by the way.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#130 Amos Otis

Who is this player?
Amos Otis, centerfielder, Kansas City Royals
Entering the 1980 season, Amos Otis had already completed 10 seasons in a Royal uniform. At that moment he was synonomous with the team and considered the franchise's finest player. While the Royals would win their first league pennant that season, Otis' production dropped. He suffered a hand injury in Spring Training and did not play until Memorial Day. However, the reliable Otis came alive in the postseason, hitting .333 in the ALCS against New York and .478 with three homers with the nation watching. Unfortunately, Otis' Royals fell to the Phillies in the World Series in six games.

Otis was initially drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1965 as a shortstop. However, he put in some time in the outfield, third base and first base while playing in the minors. In November 1966, the Mets drafted him and jumped him all the way to Class AAA for 1967. He saw some time with the Mets late in the 1967 season, but spent 1968 in AAA again before making the major league roster for 1969. However, Otis immediately clashed with Mets manager Gil Hodges, who tried to make him a third baseman. After only four games, he was sent back to the minors.. At the end of the season, the Royals sent a hot prospect at the time, Joe Foy, to the Mets, in exchange for the young Otis.

Amos would flourish as a Royal. He immediately was selected to the All Star Game in 1970 and would represent Kansas City five times in that capacity. He would also lead his league in doubles in 1970, a feat he would repeat in 1976. In the early part of the decade, Otis was consistently an MVP candidate, hitting over .300 twice, leading the league in stolen bases (1972) and winning three gold gloves. He was the centerpiece that the Royals built around as the Royals developed into a contender. Led by Otis, Kansas City would win the AL West for the first time in 1976.

He injured his foot in the first inning of the first game of the ALCS as the Royals lost a tight series to New York. They would win the division again in 1977 & 1978 only to again lose the ALCS to the Yankees. Otis meanwhile, continued to produce at a high level for the Royals, driving in 90+ runs in 1978-79, scoring 100+ runs in 1979 and consistently playing in 140+ games. Often described in the media as "brooding" or "moody" Otis' tenure in Kansas City was largely unappreciated outside of his hometown.

Outside of an outstanding 1982 season, his offensive production began to slip and he lost a step in the outfield, losing his center-field job to Willie Wilson. When the 1983 season ended he left the Royals as a free agent and played one season with the Pittsburgh Pirates before ending his 17-year major league career. He was elected to the Royals Hall of Fame and has been active with the Royals RBI program.

Why I love this card
I distinctly recall looking at this card sitting on a parking block outside the local 7-11 that sold Topps cards. Otis' pose was truly unique. So often in little league we had safety preached to us and you did not approach the plate without a helmet. Seeing Otis taking batting practice without a helmet on? It instantly made Otis cool in our minds and it was a topic of discussion in that parking lot. In later years, we would call something like that bad ass.

Something else...
As young teammates and friend on the New York Mets, Otis and Nolan Ryan developed a friendly rivalry when the faced each other. One such incident is recalled here, along with a great iterview with the man alternately known as "A.O." and "Famous Amos"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

#129 Craig Reynolds

Who is this player?
Craig Reynolds, shortstop, Houston Astros
Known primarily for a solid glove, Craig Reynolds was already a two-time All Star as the Astros marched towards the NL West flag. In 1980, Reynolds was mired in a long slump that saw him batting under .200 for much of the season. His light-hitting saw him occasionally benched in an effort to infuse more offense into an already weak Astros lineup. He picked it up after August 1, batting .268 the rest of the way and rapped three hits in the one-game playoff as the Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the division.

Reynolds attended Houston Baptist University after a spectacular baseball and basketball career at Houston's Reagan High School. He was a first round selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1971. A consistent if not overpowering hitter during several seasons in the minors, he batted only .225 in a handful of games with the Pirates in 1975 and 1976 before being traded to the Seattle Mariners. He was the Mariners first ever shortstop during their inaugural year of 1977.

The following season, he found his stroke offensively and was hitting .320 at the end of June, good for fourth in the league. His bat earned him a selection on the 1978 AL All-Star Team. At the end of the season, Craig was traded to the Astros for pitcher Floyd Bannister. Reynolds made the All-Star team again in 1979, this time on the NL squad. Coincidentally, the game was played in Seattle and he received a standing ovation from his former hometown fans. Reynolds was on the field when the NL closed out a 7-6 win at the Kingdome.

Reynolds led the National League in 1979 with 34 sacrifice hits, a feat he would accomplish twice more in his career, in 1981 and 1984. In 1981, he led the National League in triples as Houston once again made the playoffs, but lost in the divisional series. He lost his starting position in 1982 to Dickie Thon, but when Thon was seriously beaned in early 1984, Reynolds returned to the starting lineup. He was there in 1986 as the Astros again won the NL West. Craig would hit .333 in the NLCS against the Mets, but unfortunately, the Astros lost in six games to the New York Mets.

Reynolds was in the Opening Day lineup for the Astros five times in his career, and is second all-time in franchise history for games played at shortstop. He retired after the 1989 season and 15 seasons in the major leagues. He is still remembered fondly as the shortstop during one of the greatest periods in Astros history. Today, he actively practices his faith by preaching in the Houston area. His testimony can be found here.

Why I love this card
Are you kidding? What an awesome shot! While admittedly not a fan of the posed shot, staring down end of Reynolds bat is pretty neat. A creative take on an old standard baseball pose. Bonus points that its a guy like Reynolds posed this way and not a Winfield, Foster, Luzinski et al. Extra bonus points for putting Reynolds signature in the sky behind him and not getting in lost in the photo itself.

Something else...
Seattle traded Reynolds to make room in the lineup for Mario Mendoza. Frightening to think that's how bad the Mariners were during this era. Reynolds also retired with a career ERA of 27.00 in two appearances, in 1986 and 1989.

Monday, August 24, 2009

#128 Tom Burgmeier

Who is this player?
Tom Burgmeier, closer, Boston Red Sox
After pitching most of his career obscurity, the 36-year old Burgmeier enjoyed an outstanding 1980 season. With relief ace Bill Campbell unavailable during the early part of the season due to injury, the lefthanded Burgmeier was given the task. He earned 15 saves during the first half of the season and was rewarded by being selected to the AL All-Star team. He finished the 1980 campaign with a career-high 24 saves which was fifth best in the league.

Originally drafted by Houston when they were the Colt 45s, he debuted with California at Yankee Stadium in 1968. The game was delayed due to Martin Luther King's funeral, and Burgmeier pitched one inning of scoreless relief. At the end of the season, he was selected by the Royals in the expansion draft and spent five seasons in Kansas City. His best season was 1971 when he won nine, saved 17 and finished with a 1.73 ERA. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins before the 1974 season.

In Minneapolis, Burgmeier had an outstanding 1976 season going 8-1 with a 2.50 as a setup man to, ironically, Campbell. However, he had a horrid 5.09 ERA the following year and he left the Twins as a free agent. He would pitch in Boston for five seasons, four of them with an ERA under 3.00 - quite a feat for a lefty at Fenway. After the 1981 season, Burgmeier suffered a stroke. As he told the Boston Globe:
"It happened just like that," snapping his fingers. "I was talking to my friend and all of a sudden he asked me, 'Have you been drinking?' My speech was slurred and I didn't even realize it, though I realized it afterward. When people say stroke, they automatically think you've been debilitated. I was in the hospital for about three days undergoing tests, and the next day I was out quail hunting. The only effect for me is that my wife told me I was dragging my right leg for a couple of days after it happened."
Burgmeier had one of his best seasons after his stroke when he went 7-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 40 appearances with the 1982 Red Sox. He was granted free agency after the season and he signed a contract with the Oakland A's. Again, he had two solid seasons as a setup man, both years finishing with an ERA under 3.00 but tendinitis in his shoulder ended his career in 1984 after 17 major league seasons. In retirement, Burgmeier became a coach in Royals chain for many years and is currently the pitching coach of the Omaha Royals.

Why I love this card
When I first saw this card and figured out how old Tom Burgmeier was during the summer of 1980, I distinctly remember saying something along the lines of "36?!? He's old!!" Now that I am on the other side of 36, sometimes I wonder what happened to that kid. Then I think, "That's right! The blog."

Something else....
On August 3, 1980,Burgmeier moved from the pitcher's mound to left field with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Skip Lockwood replaced Burgmeier on the mound and retired the final batter to save a 6-4 win over the Texas Rangers. Manager Don Zimmer elected to keep Tom in the game in case the batter got on base--in that case Burgmeier would have returned to the mound to face Mickey Rivers. Burgmeier was the first Red Sox pitcher to play a position since Mike Ryba caught in three games in 1942. Any chance to bring up Mike Ryba is a good one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

#127 Gary Thomasson

Who is this player?
Gary Thomasson, reserve outfielder, Los Angeles Dodgers
1980 would be Gary Thomasson's final season in the major leagues and he was used primarily by the Dodgers as a pinch-hitter and occassional outfielder. The 28-year old lefthanded batter had several timely pinch-hits early in the season, but slumped in the second half. With several outfield prospects in the Dodger organization, he did not return to the Dodgers in 1981. He played the final game of his nine-year career in the one-game playoff for the NL West against the Houston Astros.

A high school star at Oceanside in Southern California, Thomasson was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 1969 amateur draft. A little more than two years later, he was one of the youngest players in the league when he made his major league debut. The following season, he made the Giants roster out of Spring Training, splitting time between the outfield and first base. In his first major league season, he batted a respectable .285.

He spent six seasons in San Francisco, primarily as their fourth outfielder. He appeared in over 100 games in each season from 1973-1977. He achieved career highs in 1977 in games played (145), home runs (17) and RBI (71). With his value high, the Giants included him in a package to the Oakland A's that took Vida Blue across the Bay to San Francisco. Thomasson struggled with Oakland, barely batting over .200 and he was traded to the Yankees in June. He was with the Yankees when they made their historic comeback and appeared in the postseason for the only time in his career. Used as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement, he won a ring with the 1978 World Champions.

Gary was traded to the Dodgers in February 1979 where he again resumed a role as a fourth outfielder. With the exception of his five months as a Yankee, Thomasson played his entire career with a California team. In 1981 he became the highest-paid player in Nippon Pro Baseball when he signed a three-year, $1.2-million contract with the Yomiuri Giants. He hit 20 home runs (four shy of the League record) and was benched the final week of the year. The next year, he injured his shoulder and knee, effectively ending his professional career.

In his 1993 science fiction novel "Virtual Light," William Gibson defines a "Thomasson," derived from the name of an American baseball player who was a great failure in Japan, as a "useless and inexplicable monument."

Why I love this card
Every now and then, we would bring our baseball cards to school. Since the nuns at St. Peter would take them away if we had them out in class, they were usually relegated to lunch time. And, every now and then, we would pull a prank with one of these cards. I remember Mark LeBara taking completely erasing the "Thom" and "on" Derrick Shaw's Thomasson card. In the days before Photoshop, Mark did a helluva job erasing and whitening it out so it would read "GARY ASS". Derrick was mad, but to a bunch of fourth graders, it became legendary.

Something else....
While in Japan, the media dubbed Thomasson, "The Giant Human Fan." You just don't see nicknames like that, well..ever.

#126 Dave Tomlin

Who is this player?
Dave Tomlin, relief pitcher, Cincinnati Reds
As a lefthanded setup man, it was Tomlin's job to bridge the gap between the starters and bullpen ace Tom Hume. He was very successful in this role for the 1979 NL West Champion Reds, appearing in 53 games and notching a 2.62 ERA. 1980 however, would prove to be a different story. He was not as effective as the previous year and struggled most of the season to get his ERA under 5.00. By the end of the summer, he was hardly being used at all and the Reds released him on September 2.

As an 18-year old from Maysville, Kentucky, Tomlin was drafted by the Reds in 1967. He rose through the ranks and was given a late season look in 1972 after the Reds had wrapped up the NL West. He returned to the Reds the following season, appearing in 16 games, but made the team's playoff roster as the Reds again won the West. Tomlin even got a taste of the postseason, appearing in the NLCS, a series the Reds lost to the New York Mets.

At the end of the season, he was an addition in the Bobby Tolan-Clay Kirby deal and became a San Diego Padre. He would spend four seasons in San Diego, where the Padres used him extensively out of the bullpen. Twice he finished in the top three in his league in appearances (1975 & 1977). With his value high, the Padres included him in a trade to the Texas Rangers for future Hall of Famer, Gaylord Perry. He never appeared in a game with the Rangers as they promptly sold Tomlin to the Reds.

Tomlin would win a career-high nine games out of the bullpen in 1978, but had a 5.78 ERA. Off-season work with Reds pitching coach Bill Fischer corrected his mechanics and led to a productive 1979 season. After his release from the Reds, he signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays, but spent the 1981 season in the minors. Tomlin would spend the next four seasons splitting time in the minors with the occasional call-up. He was given looks by the Expos (1982 & 1986) and Pirates (1983 & 1985), but they were brief. After spending the entire 1987 season in Triple-A, Tomlin's career after 13 major league seasons, was over.

Like many ballplayers, Tomlin became a pitching coach at the minor league level, working in the Montreal and Atlanta Braves organizations. He joined the Boston Red Sox in 1998 in a similar capacity, until 2006, when he was named manager of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast Red Sox. He is still in that position today.

Why I love this card
I'll be honest, in 1980, I didn't know Dave Tomlin. Even today, I had trouble remembering him. I was always a fan of this Reds road uniform and love the appearance of Tomlin's stirrups. It kind of looks like Tomlin is pictured out on the prairie rather than a baseball diamond.

Something else....
Not a fan of the posed shots, this one is the fourth in a row. Lets hope that trend doesn't continue. Additionally, this is Tomlin's last card as an active player. Although he appeared in 27 games in '80, he didn't get a 1981 card. I assume that was due to him not being immediately signed after his September release, since Dave Lemanczyk got a 1981 card even though he was released in October, 1980.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#125 Tony Perez

Who is this player?
Tony Perez, first baseman, Montreal Expos
Hall of Fame, Class of 2000.
Affectionately referred to as "Doggie" throughout his career, Perez moved to the American League in 1980, signing a contract as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. There had been whispers that Perez' abilities were on the decline before the season began, but Perez answered his critics by leading the Red Sox in home runs and RBI and won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. His 25 home runs was seventh best in the league and his 105 RBIs was the first time in four seasons he topped the century mark.

A native of Cuba, the righthand hitting Perez signed with the Cincinnati Reds as an amatuer free agent in 1960. Originally a third baseman, he was the Pacific Coast League MVP in 1964 and was given his first taste of the big leagues late that season. Tony would be the first piece of the team that would eventually become the Big Red Machine. A seven-time All-Star he was named to the NL team in his first full season, 1967. He hit a home run in the 15th-inning that would lead the National League to victory and Perez was named MVP. He helped lead the Reds to the World Series in 1970 when he reacheed personal highs with 40 home runs and 129 RBI.

In 1972 he was moved to first base and solidified his reputation as one of the premier RBI men of his generation. Perez drove in 100 or more runs seven times in his career and in an incredible eleven-year stretch from 1967 to 1977, he drove in 90 or more runs each year. During the decade of the 1970s, Tony was second among all major-leaguers in RBI, with 954, behind only his teammate Johnny Bench. Meanwhile, the Reds won back-to-back World Championships and Perez' home run off of Bill Lee helped clinch Game 7 in 1975. Inexplicably, Cincinnati traded Perez to Montreal before the 1977 season.

Perez would spend three years in Montreal helping lead the young Expos toward contention. For the 1983 season, Pérez reunited with Reds teammates Pete Rose and Joe Morgan on the Philadelphia Phillies "Wheeze Kids. Still a feared hitter based on his reputation, Pérez was a reserve player on as the Phillies advanced to the World Series. Following the season, he returned to the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent, and became the oldest player in history hit a grand slam. He remained in Cincinnati as a part time player until his retirement following the 1986 season and a 23-year career.

In 1993, he was named manager of the Reds but was fired after only 44 games at the helm. He was given another opportunity when the was chosen to lead the Flordia Marlins in 2001, but again was fired before he could complete the season. His son, Eduardo, had a 13-year major league career and is currently seen on ESPN's Baseball Tonight. Today, Tony is a special assistant to the president of the Florida Marlins.

Why I love this card
I'm glad Tony Perez is in the Hall of Fame. I think he deserves it. But when I got this card in 1980, I never, even for a minute, thought of him as a Hall of Famer. I respected him, knew he was good, but never Hall of Fame. I didn't take care of Perez' cards, don't think I even put them in the plastic sheets. If you would have offered me a Richie Hebner for it, I would have traded you stright up. I guess it goes to show how underrated Perez was. Like the Reds, I didn't see the true value of Tony Perez until much later.

Something else....
No other Latin player ever had more RBI that Tony Perez. A short interview with Perez can be found here. Ken Burns meets Radar Love. Gotta love it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

#124 Dave Lemanczyk

Who is this player?
Dave Lemanczyk, starting pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays
Entering the 1980 season, Lemanczyk had been a mainstay in the starting rotation of the Blue Jays since their inception. He was the Jays Opening Day starter for the second time in his career, but was chased in the first inning. His pitching did not improve drastically and he began the season with a 2-5 record. On June 3rd, he was traded to the California Angels. As a swingman for the Angles, he appeared in 21 games, posting a 4.32 ERA. He was released by the Angels at the end of the season, which would be the last in his eight year career.

Dave Lemanczyk made his major league debut less than a year after being selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 1972 draft. He would only make one major league appearance in 1973 as the 22-year old righthander needed more minor league seasoning. He returned to the parent club in mid-1974 as a relief pitcher and had moderate success with a poor Tiger team.

He would continue in that role with the Tigers for the next two seasons, occassionally starting, but also posting a high ERA in 1975 (4.46) and 1976 (5.09). After his disappointing season, the Tigers did not protect him in the expansion draft and he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was immediately inserted into the starting rotation and was given the ball in the team's second-ever game. He won a career-high 13 games and logged 252 innings, but the first-year Jays lost 107 games and Lemanczyk led the league in earned runs allowed.

After a horrible (4-14, 6.26) 1978 season, Lemanczyk rebounded in the first half of the 1979 season. He threw a one-hitter in April and was among the league leaders in ERA. He was rewarded by being Toronto's All-Star representative. He slumped to begin the second half and was lost for the final two months of the season with a leg injury. He attempted to catch on with the New York Yankees in 1981, but was unsuccessful.

He now currently operates a baseball school for young athletes in Long Island and also served as a private pitching coach. One of his former students, Craig Hansen is currently pitching with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Why I love this card
I remembered Lemanczyk being a lot better than he actually was. Must be the All-Star thing. What I really loved though, is the amount of blue in this photo. While I'm not a fan of the posed action shot, the blue sky as a backdrop to Lemanczyk's jersey looks really cool. Bonus points for the sleeves being the same color. Double bonus points for not taking the time to move the pitching net/screen out of the background.

Something else....
The same month that Lemanczyk's career essentially came to an end (October, 1980), his son Matt was also born. Matt would grow up to be a pitcher, drafted in 2002 by the St. Louis Cardinals and pitched in the minor leagues. His career ended prematurely due to injury and he currently coaches youth baseball with the Long Island Whalers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#123 Lynn Jones

Who is this player?
Lynn Jones, reserve outfielder, Detroit Tigers
As the 1980 season began, Jones had just been named the Tigers' Rookie of the Year when he batted .296. Typically batting in the lower third of the order, he was primarily a singles hitter with decent speed and a good glove. He was scheduled to split duties in right field in 1980 with Champ Summers starting against lefthanders. A knee injury suffered in Spring Training sidelined Jones for the majority of the season as he appeared in only 30 games and batted .255.

Originally drafted in 1974 by the Cincinnati Reds, Jones was a product of Thiel Collegein western Pennsylvania. It was difficult for Jones to advance in the Cincinnati organization as the team enjoyed a wealth of talent in the mid-1970s. After four seasons in the minor leagues, he hit .328 with Triple-A Evansville and the team finished with the best record in the regular season. However, it was not enough to get Jones promoted and he was selected by the Detroit Tigers that winter in the Rule 5 draft.

Jones made the Tigers out of Spring Training when Rusty Staub was injured. His hitting enabled him to find a spot on the club, typically as a fourth outfielder. Additionally, his older brother also made his major league debut in 1979 with the New York Yankees. Jones never found consistent playing time in Detroit and his games played decreased every year from 1981 to 1983. When the season ended, he signed on as a free agent with the Kansas City Royals.

Used primarily as a spot starter and pinch-hitter in 1984, Jones batted .301 as the Royals won the AL West championship. Ironically, the Royals lost the ALCS in three straight to Jones' old team, the Tigers. The following season, Jones appeared in a career-high 110 games, again mostly as a defensive replacement. That season the Royals won their first and only World Championship and Jones contributed a double and triple in the Royals' seven game victory over St. Louis. After hitting a meager .128 in 67 games in 1986, he did not receive any free agent offers and his eight-year career came to a close.

After this playing days, Jones served as first base coach for the Royals in the 1990s and managed for many years in the Florida Marlins chain. He was a coach with the Red Sox when they won the World Series in 2004 and today is the roving outfield and baserunning coach in the Atlanta Braves chain.

Why I love this card
This Lynn Jones card always reminds me of little Timmy, a neighborhood kid who was three years younger than me. We told him that he had to have a stance like a major leaguer to play with the older kids and somehow we all decided on Jones, using this card as a point of reference. After all, he was a Tiger. Could we have picked a worse card? It looks like Lynn is trying in vain to fit in the picture. Damn if little Timmy could still hit though, even at four years old.

Something else....
This is unofficial, but I think that the Jones' brothers (Lynn and Darryl) join the Alomars as the only set of brothers to make their major league debut in the same season.

#122 Dave Rosello

Who is this player?
Dave Rosello, reserve infielder, Cleveland Indians
A light hitting role player, the righthand hitting Rosello was primarily used to spell Indian starters Toby Harrah at third and Duane Kuiper at second. When Kuiper was lost early in the 1980 season due to a knee injury, Rosello was his inital replacement. He promptly lost the job to Jack Brohamer when he suffered a 4 for 29 slump (.137). When Brohamer didn't hit much better, Rosello was given another shot late in the season. He hit .349 over the last month of the season with five multi-hit games to raise his average nearly 60 points and finished with a .248 average.

A native of Puerto Rico, at one point in his career Rosello was viewed as the successor at shortstop to veteran Don Kessinger. He first appeared for the Cubs in a brief look at the end of the 1972 season. After hitting .313 at Triple-A, he was called up again in August 1973 and hit .263 in 16 games. The following season, he made the Cubs roster out of Spring Training but struggled at the plate, only hitting .203. Sent to the minors again in 1975, he was given another look late in the season and at one point had an average over .300.

Rosello made the most of his minor league career, being named the All-Star shortstop for the American Association on three separate occasions. In October 1975, the Cubs traded Don Kessinger and handed the position to Rosello. He was inserted at short and started for the Cubs on Opening Day. He appeared in a career high 91 games, but his performance was generally considered disappointing and he lost his job before the end of the season.

After hitting only .220 in subsitute duty in 1977, Rosello again spent the entire 1978 season in the minor leagues. When the season ended, the Cubs traded him to the Cleveland Indians. In 1979, Rosello achived career highs in home runs and RBI, primarily as a reserve. When Kuiper healed and returned to second base for the 1981 season, Rosello returned to sub status. It was the final season of his nine-year major league career. He played all of the 1982 season with the Indians Triple A affiliate in Charleston, but it was his last in professional baseball.

Why I love this card
I had a passing interest in the Indians at this time, probably because of their proximity to Detroit, both on the map and in the standings. I knew Rosello wasn't a starter but also that Topps missed the boat on the position flag on the top of this card. In 1979, shortstop wasn't Rosello's primary position when he did play. He most often appeared at third and then at second base.

Something else....
In reviewing Rosello's career, I noticed that he hit only 10 major league home runs. One of them came in this game a 23-6 Cubs win over San Diego. At least its a fun box score to look at. We've also added another double printed card to the list, which brings us to 11.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Baseball Card Weekend

Last week, I posted about finding the 1980 Topps Burger King set at a local card show.

I must admit that this blog and my son's subsequent discovery of my collection in the basement has brought the collection back to life. My son is a little younger than I was in 1980, but he has more passion for baseball and cards than I did. Even better, its now a three generational thing with my Dad and my son.

First off, on Friday we received an awesome package from Mark at Stats on the Back. Inside were unopened packs of 1986 Topps, 1987 and 1988 Donruss. Mark, I never thought that I would see the day where someone would LOVE 1988 Donruss, but that day has indeed come. My son is now all over that set and we are in process of putting probably two sets together when all is said and done.

The local mall had a show this weekend with autograph guests Chet Lemon, Fu-Te Ni, Wayne Comer and Dick McAuliffe. However, the big hit was my son finding:

1. Fleer baseball stickers
2. 1979 Topps

There was a guy there that had both for a nickel/dime for each. First he used the stickers to decorate a card box and then used the box to collate a bunch of 1979s. I had a bunch of really dog condition 1979 topps and Christian has now decided to make a set of that. He bought a handful of other cards for the set. He has hand them out the last two mornings and are going through them card by card.

Dad on the other hand found a guy selling these for a dollar or less:

Got all these too, for $3.00:

We also picked up a factory sealed 1988 Fleer set for $3.00 and a bunch of 1980 Topps Football (mainly Steelers and Chargers).

To top it off, on Sunday, there was a nice little plug for this by Jim over at The Phillies Room. My son especially appreciated it since he thought that he and I were the only ones reading our blog.

Continued thanks to those of you out there following and trading. We are close on this end to putting together a want list and I will post that soon. For now, we are looking for:

1979 Topps cards. If they are in bad condition, no problem. We are handling them hourly so condition is not of concern.

Fleer Baseball Stickers - He's 7, so stickers have to go on everything.

1974 Topps - I have all the stars from this set, but no commons. I know that he will be eyeing this one as the next to complete

A small list from 1980, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988 Donruss, when we nail them down, I'll post.

For now, we have identified about 300 1992 Upper Deck baseball and 250 91-92 Basketball that are the first to go in trade. Anybody want them, in whole or in part and we'll work something out. Maxcarey at

We now resume regular broadcasting.......

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#121 Checklist #1

What is this card
Checklist, cards #1 to #121

There isn't much to say about checklists and here is the first one so far in the 1980 set. It marks a milestone of sorts as its hard to believe that this blog has already covered 121 cards.

Why I love this card
Checklists really, really bummed me out. While they were part of the set, I always felt that I got rooked out of a card. At least a team card had a decent picture on it. A checklist was so...checklist.

Something else....
However, not all checklists are created equal. Granted, they stay in theme with the basic layout of the set, but it appears Topps tweaked here and there. The 1980 edition is actually a better checklist than the year before or year after in my opinion. Here's the 1979 checklist:

Purple is not a good color for a checklist. Too hard to read. While 1980 employs a bright green, at least the names show up a little better. The boxes also stand out better on the 1980 edition with an alternate color. That gives the 1980 set the advantage.

Now check out a year later, from the 1981 set:

This one is easy on the eyes as well, dare I say even more so than the 1980 edition. However, notice the card number on this checklist - #31. Didn't Topps realize how hard it was to go back and forth checking off the cards? With the 1980 version, you had 120 cards and then the checklist last. I used to take the checklist out and then count off what I needed. Nice and easy. With the 1981s I had to go back and forth and always forgot to put the checklist back in the set. Again, advantage 1980. I know, I was lazy.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

#120 Greg Luzinski

Who is this player?
Greg Luzinski, leftfielder, Philadelphia Phillies
While 1980 was a memorable summer for the Phillies and the city of Philadelphia, Greg Luzinski was going through the worst season of his career. "The Bull" started the season decently, but fell into a slump and then missed more than a month due to a knee injry. Although he finished the season with a career low .228 batting average, he came alive in the NLCS. He had game-winning RBIs in Games 1 and 4 and the Phillies advanced to the World Series. A week later, Luzinski and the Phillies were World Champions.

One of the more prolific sluggers of the 1970s, Greg Luzinski was a first round selection of the Phillies in the 1968 draft. A product of Notre Dame High School in Niles, Illinois, he made his major league debut in a little more than 18 months when he was given a late-season look. He was called up again for the final month of the 1971 season before earning a starting position in 1972.

In his first full season, he was the best hitter on the team and in his second, he placed in the league's top ten in home runs and RBI. By all accounts, he was one of the best young sluggers in baseball. While he suffered a setback in 1974 due to injury, he was about to embark on period that would make him one of the team's most popular players.

Beginning in 1975, The Bull was selected to four consecutive All-Star Games, peaking in 1978 when he was the top vote getter in the National League. It was well deserved as during this period (1975-78) he was twice the runner-up in the MVP voting, led the league in RBI in 1975 and averaged 32 home runs a year. But he was more than just a slugger as he hit over .300 for three seasons in a row. The Phillies, meanwhile, won the NL East for three straight years but were unable to advance to the World Series.

Prior to the 1981 season, he was sold to the Chicago White Sox for an undisclosed sum. As the Sox' designated hitter, Greg remained relatively healthy and helped lead the team to the 1983 AL West title. The Chicago native hit 84 home runs in four seasons on the South Side, where he would close out his career. In 1984 he played his last season after 15 years in the majors. Today, he is still a fan favorite in Philadelphia, and he opened "Bull's Barbecue" in the Phillies' Citizens Bank Park.

Why I love this card
It seemed that many of the 1980 Phillies were shot taking their cuts in the batting cages and Bull was no exception. As a young Pirate fan, it scared me that they were so serious about winning the division, they didn't even have time to pose for cards - they had to get their hitting in.

Something else....
Like most former athletes, Luzinski did a Lite Beer commercial that you can see here. However, I didn't realize that Bull was a trend setter. Before the Super Bowl Shuffle, even before the Baseball Boogie, here was Luzinski and some of his Phillies friends in "Phillies Fever". You have been warned.

#119 Sammy Stewart

Who is this player?
Sammy Stewart, relief pitcher, Baltimore Orioles
When the 1980 season began, Sammy Stewart had just completed his first full season in the major leagues. The hard throwing righthander was the setup man for an Oriole team coming off of a World Series appearance. Stewart was seen as one of the best young arms on an Oriole team that was loaded with quality pitcher. He returned to a setup role in 1980 and could be counted on to occasionally start.

Today, the tale of Sammy Stewart is a sad one. After throwing his final pitch in 1987, Stewart's life spiraled out of control. He became addicted to crack cocaine and has been arrested 26 times since 1989. In between, he lost a son to cystic fibrosis and in 2006 was sentenced to at least six years in prison for being a habitual offender. A great article summarizing Stewart's fall from grace can be found here.

Things weren't always so bleak for Sammy Stewart. Signed as an amateur free agent in 1975, he made a splash in his major league debut. Pitching the second game of a double-header, he set a major league record by striking out seven consecutive hitters in his debut. His effort was rewarded with a role in the Orioles bullpen.

Stewart was such a reliable reliever that in 1981 he qualified and finished second in the American League ERA race. That performance earned him more starting assignments and in 1982, he achieved a career high in games started. The Orioles were nipped in the AL East race on the final day of the season. In 1983, he returned to the bullpen and helped lead the Orioles to the World Championship. His strikeout of Mike Schmidt in the seventh inning of Game 3 is considered the Series turning point for the Orioles.

As the Orioles decended in the standings, Stewart still maintained his presence as quality setup man. He lead the Orioles in appearances in 1984 & 1985 and notched 22 of his 45 career saves. For the 1986 season, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox and they promptly won the Amercian League pennant. Curiously, Stewart was not used in either the ALCS or the World Series that year, something Stewart blamed on a personality conflict with manager John McNamara. He signed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Indians for the 1987 season, and he posted the worst ERA of his career. When he was released that October, his 10-year major league career had come to a close.

Why I love this card
I had forgotten that Stewart's eyes in this card creeped me out as a little kid. I know that its the camera angle and all that, but his right eye just looked really different from his left. When we would get this card in packs we would all feign fear with little kid "Aaaahs!"

Something else....
This is the second time that there has been a back-to-back Oriole and Pirate. I don't think that it was deliberate that Topps was featuring 1979 Series players but it is an odd coincidence. I need to check the blog to see if there are any similar trends featuring other teams.

Friday, August 14, 2009

#118 Phil Garner

Who is this player?
Phil Garner, second baseman, Pittsburgh Pirates
"Scarp Iron's" career was at its peak at the time this card was making the rounds. The second sacker of the defending World Champions, he was coming off a 1979 season where he batted .293 during the regular season and an incredible .500 (12 for 24) in the World Series. Had it not been for Willie Stargell's heroics, Garner would likely have been the MVP. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and his solid play earned him an All-Star selection in 1980. While he didn't match his offensive output of 1979, Garner had cemented his reputation as one of the better second basemen in the National League.

Born the son of a Baptist minister, he was an honorable mention All-American in 1970 and was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos. However, the Expos scout did not offer him a contract and he instead played semi-pro ball in Kansas. He got his break the following year when he was selected third overall by the Oakland Athletics. Originally a third baseman, he was a September call-up to the 1973 A's and played nine games, primarily as a defensive substitute. As Sal Bando was still holding down the A's job at third base, Garner had little hope to join the team. Although he had a contract squabble with owner Charlie Finley, he got a break in late May when Bando went down with a bruised calf for a few games.

In 1975, the righthand hitting Garner filled the A's opening at second base and he lead the league by playing in 160 games. Typically batting ninth, he hit .246 as the A's won their fifth and final AL West title of the 1970s. Oakland would lose in the ALCS to Boston. The following season, Garner was selected to represent the A's in the All-Star Game, raised his batting average almost twenty points and was second in the AL in triples. That offseason, he was sent to Pittsburgh in a blockbuster trade, where he split time between third and second. When the Pirates acquired Bill Madlock via trade in 1979, Garner was shifted to second for the remainder of his time in Pittsburgh.

In 1981, he was selected to the All-Star team for the second straight year, but was traded at the deadline to Houston for Johnny Ray. In Houston, he moved back to third base and helped lead the Astros to the postseason in 1981 and 1986. In Houston, Garner filled the role of dependable veteran who could come through in the clutch. In 1987, he took a pay cut to remain in Houston, but at age 38 the end was near. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers midway through the 1987 season and batted only .190. His 16-year career came to an end the following season as a San Francisco Giant.

Almost immediately, Garner began the transformation into his second baseball career. He was a coach with the Astros from 1989-1991 and was named manager of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1992. Although he stayed in Milwaukee for seven seasons, the Brewers never posted a winning record with Garner at the helm. He then managed in Detroit (2000-2002) and Houston, leading the Astros to their only World Series appearance in 2005. He was fired during the 2007 season and replaced by Cecil Cooper. His number was retired by his Alma Mater (Tennessee) in 2009.

Why I love this card
My Dad is originally from the Pittsburgh area, so 1979 was a good year to be a Pittsburgh fan. Originally, I gravitated to Willie Stargell and Dave Parker since they were the superstars of the team. My Dad pointed out Garner to me. He said that while superstars like Stargell and Parker are important, it is guys like Garner that a winning team needs - a guy that does the little things to help a team win and can come through in the clutch. When Garner hit .500 in the World Series, it was proof to a nine year old that old Dad was right. I continued to follow Garner and players like him to this day and this card reminds me of that.

Something else....
In 1978, Garner became the first National Leaguer in 77 years (Jimmy Sheckard), to hit grand slams in consecutive games. In the non-performance enhancement era, that was pretty impressive for a middle infielder like Garner.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

#117 Dock Ellis

Who is this player?
Dock Ellis, starting pitcher, New York Mets
By the time this card was in my hands during the spring of 1980, Dock Ellis' colorful 12-year career was at its end. He began the 1979 season with the Texas Rangers, was traded to the New York Mets in June and sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates in mid-September. It was not a successful season for Dock, as he won only 4, lost 12 and posted an astronomical 5.84 ERA in his three stops. He was, however, able to finish his career as a Pittsburgh Pirate, a small contributor to the Fam-A-Lee that won the World Series.

Drafted as an amateur free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1964, Dock Ellis was part of a great influx of great young Pirate talent that would lead the Pirates throughout the 1970s. The strong right-hander became part of the Pirates starting rotation in 1969 and in 1970, famously pitched a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. To hear the call of that game, as well as Dock's reflection's on it, click here. To commemorate the 35th anniversary of the no-hitter, the Dallas News printed an excellent biography on Dock. Rather than have me fumble through, click here for a great read.

A quote from Dave Parker in that article sums up the kind of player Dock Ellis was:
Dock Ellis was without question the most intimidating pitcher of his era. "Bob Gibson is up there, too, obviously, but with Dock it wasn't just his stuff. It was his flamboyance, his perceived militancy and his fearlessness. When he came and said he was gonna hit all those Reds, I thought, 'You ain't gonna do nothing, man.' Then he did it. I gained a lot of respect for him right there. Dock was and is one of my best friends--I call him my baseball father--but after he left the Pirates, he said he was gonna hit me in the face. And every time I faced him, I was scared."
Parker, of course, was referring to a game when the Cincinnati Reds taunted the Pirates after beating them in the 1972 National League Championship Series. Ellis decided to motivate his team by hitting every single batter in the Reds' lineup. He hit the first three and walked two (although his intent was clear) before he was pulled.

Ellis pitched in the postseason five times in his career and in two World Series. He was part of the 1971 World Champion Pirates when he won a career high 19 games and started the All-Star Game for the National League. Many times throughout his career he was tagged with the label when he spoke out against racism or would make a point on something he believed in. Case in point: when baseball brass complained about his haircut, he wore hair curlers on the field. It would underscore what kind of man Dock Ellis was. He died on December 19, 2008 at the age of 63 following a liver aliment. Meanwhile, his daughter has posted a tribute video on Youtube that can be seen here.

Why I love this card
Whenever I think of Reggie Jackson's famous 1971 All Star home run I think of Dock Ellis. To me they are inseperable. What I didn't know was that when Ellis faced Reggie in 1976 for the first time after that home run, Ellis beaned Reggie in the face.

Something else....
I can't understand why Ellis would be pictured with the Mets in his 1980 card and not the Pirates, the team that he finished the season with. Granted he appeared in only three late-season games for only seven innings, but its strange to have him on the Mets when he clearly wasn't with them anymore.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

#116 Larry Cox

Who is this player?
Larry Cox, catcher, Seattle Mariners
A reserve for most of his career, in 1980 Larry Cox finally became a regular player as starting catcher for the Seattle Mariners. Seattle was a young team at that time, only three years removed from expansion. Larry was a decent fielder and handler of the pitching staff but struggled at the plate. He was under .200 for most of the summer and with the Mariners out of contention, more playing time went to the younger Jerry Narron. He finished the season with a .202 average. In December, he was part of an 10-player trade that sent him to the Texas Rangers.

A native of Bluffton, Ohio, Cox was the MVP of his high school team and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent. For the next seven seasons, Cox's baseball career resembled a road map of several minor league stops. Spartanburg, South Carolina. Huron, South Dakota. Tidewater, Virginia. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Hawaii. Toledo. By the time he made his major-league debut in 1973, Cox had more than earned his dues. However, he appeared in only one game and was shuttled back to the minor leagues.

He split the 1974 & 1975 seasons between Philadelphia and the minors and was traded to the Twins organization in October, 1975. He spent the entire 1976 campaign back in Triple-A, Tacoma. It was after that season that Cox received the break that arguably saved his career when he became an original member of the expansion Seattle Mariners.

Starting in 1977, Cox was in the majors for five full seasons, playing for the Seattle Mariners (1977), Chicago Cubs (1978), the Mariners again (in 1979 and 1980) and Texas Rangers (1981). While primarily a substitute, Cox established a reputation as the proverbial student of the game and a valuable asset to the pitching staff. It was in his second tour of duty with Seattle that Cox saw the most playing time, appearing in over 100 games each season.

He returned to the Cubs again briefly in May 1982 but spent most of that season beginning his second career as a coach in the minors. His nine-year major league career may have ended but he was soon the Cubs Triple-A manager in Iowa where he managed Rafael Palmiero and future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. He was promoted to bullpen coach on Don Zimmer's staff in 1989, the year the Cubs won the NL East. However, that would be Cox's last season in baseball as he passed away on February 17, 1990 when he suffered a heart attack while playing racquetball.

Why I love this card
Please indulge me while I allow my immaturity to shine through for a moment. In earlier posts, I mentioned how some of the older kids in the neighborhood would chuckle about the exploits of Sparky Lyle or Bill Lee. I also went along with the older kids who laughed at the name "Cox" when it had nothing to do with baseball - and I had no idea why I was laughing. Invariably, there would be references to Dick Davis, Pete LaCock and eventually Dick Pole. And I couldn't make the connection. It must be me, but there was probably no greater age differential than between nine and twelve.

Something else....
I researching Cox's extensive minor league career I noticed that he was one the first professional team ever managed by Dallas Green and played Triple-A under future Hall of Famer and Senator Jim Bunning. Thought it was interesting.