Saturday, March 31, 2018

Starting Lineup Talking Baseball: AL All-Stars

Last Saturday, I showed the NL All-Stars from my 1988 Starting Lineup Talking Baseball game; the game was a gift I got for my 13th birthday.  This week we have their opponents in the game, the AL All-Stars.
Dave Winfield.
Robin Yount.
Starting off, two members of the 3000-hit club, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount; this will be a theme throughout this set.  I always liked Dave Winfield a lot as a player.  I remember him with the Yankees, Angels, and Blue Jays, but we never saw AL games very often.  With the Yankees, I remember him feuding with George Steinbrenner; that's a mark in Winfield's favor in my book.  With the Blue Jays, I remember him winning the World Series with them in 1992.  I don't have much knowledge of Yount beyond his cards, since he was in the AL and since he didn't make the postseason while I was watching baseball.
Bret Saberhagen.
Don Mattingly.
I've been entering my collection into Trading Card Database, and so far, Don Mattingly is one of the players I have the most cards of.  I think that's because most of the little boxed sets at the time included him, and most base sets at that time probably found multiple ways to include him.  It's too bad his production dropped off after a few peak years.  Bret Saberhagen was a two-time Cy Young winner in the AL with the Royals, but when switched to the NL with the Mets, he mostly wasn't as effective.  He did have the occasional good year towards the end of his career, though, such as going 14-4 with the Mets in 1994 and going 15-8 with the Red Sox in 1998.
Willie Randolph.
Lou Whitaker.
I posted before that I picked up Willie Randolph's 1976 Topps Traded card; that was a nice by-product of my search for the iconic Oscar Gamble card.  I've said before, too, that it's nice that the 1984 Tigers finally have some Hall-of-Famers, but it would be even better if Lou Whitaker got his due as well.
George Brett.
Kirby Puckett.
Here we have who I consider to be "the other third baseman," George Brett.  When the Phillies retired Mike Schmidt's number, Dad and I were at the game.  I remember that they played a video message from Brett on the big screen.  Brett is the third member of the 3000-hit club pictured here so far.  I became a fan of Kirby Puckett during the 1987 World Series, and was glad to see them win again in 1991.  I'm glad to have a couple of his rookie cards in my main binder.
Dave Righetti.
George Bell.
I always remember Dave Righetti for his 1987 Topps record breaker card.  That's not a record which has held up.  I was glad to see him on TV more recently, when the Pirates played the Giants.  Apparently he's in the Giants front office now, and not on the field anymore.  I'm sorry to say that I barely remember George Bell, other than that he was one of many talented players to go through Toronto in their build-up to their back-to-back World Series wins.  It's too bad that he was no longer with Toronto by that point.
Eddie Murray.
Rickey Henderson.
Here are two of my all-time favorites, Eddie Murray and Rickey Henderson.  I really admire Murray's consistency; it's as if he decided in the beginning to hit 500 home runs in his career by hitting 25 per year for 20 years.  Rickey Henderson was slammed in the media for saying that he was the greatest, but I think that was ridiculous -- he absolutely was the greatest, so I think it was fair for him to say so.  Murray and Henderson are the fourth and fifth 3000-hit members represented here.
Cal Ripken, Jr.
Dan Quisenberry.
Cal Ripken, the Iron Man, is a local guy around here.  Maybe I'll make it to Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen sometime with my family, to catch a minor league game.  Cal is the sixth 3000-hit club member here.  Dan Quisenberry is one of many baseball players (including several Royals and several Phillies) to have died of brain cancer.  Quisenberry led the AL in saves five times, on his way to a career total of 244.
Wade Boggs.
Alan Trammell.
Wade Boggs is our seventh and final member of the 3000-hit club in this set of 20 AL All-Stars.  The corresponding NL set didn't have any, although they could have had Tony Gwynn.  When the game came out in 1988, the 1984 Tigers championship was a recent memory, and including the MVP of that World Series makes sense, especially since he had an even better year in 1987 than he did in 1984, batting .343 with 105 RBI.
Jack Morris.
Terry Kennedy.
The third member of that 1984 Tigers team in this set, and second recent Hall-of-Famer, is Jack Morris.  The upside of Morris' case for the Hall is being the winningest pitcher of the 80s and being a three-time World Series champ.  The case against has to do with his high ERA and sabermetrics.  Popular sentiment was on his side, I suppose.  Then we have Terry Kennedy, who made significant contributions to a few different teams over the years; he was an All-Star with the Padres and the Orioles, and was on the losing side of that 1984 World Series with the Padres.
Roger Clemens.
Carlton Fisk.
Through 1988, Roger Clemens had led the AL in wins twice, ERA once, shutouts twice, and strikeouts once, winning two Cy Young awards and the AL MVP, and he probably hadn't started using steroids yet.  And finally, we have Carlton Fisk, who was quite popular at the end of his career, as people appreciated his longevity.

That wraps up this go-round.  I have more of these Starting Lineup Talking Baseball cards I'll feature for the next three Saturdays.  Next week: the Pirates team set.

Friday, March 30, 2018

1990 Donruss Best of the NL: Cardinals Team Set

With this post, we're halfway through our look at the 1990 Donruss Best of the National League set.  We've seen the Pirates, Dodgers, Padres, Astros, and Cubs so far; now with the Cardinals, we've done six out of the then-twelve teams that made up the NL of my youth.
Lee Smith.
Joe Magrane.
In my memory, the Cardinals of the late 80s and early 90s, such as the 1987 team which won the NL pennant, had a lot of depth, including their pitching.  Closer Lee Smith was with the Cards from 1990 through 1993, having been with the Cubs and Red Sox before that.  I've said this before more or less, but I think it's a travesty that he isn't in the Hall of Fame.  If you read about this, people say that no one has figured out what the standard should be for a relief pitcher to make the Hall; that didn't stop Bruce Sutter and Rollie Fingers from getting in.  That they're enshrined and Smith isn't is a demonstration of how little the Hall is worth, in my opinion.

I'm surprised to see that Joe Magrane's career totals aren't terribly good -- his career record is 57-67 with a 3.81 ERA.  I think of him as stronger than that, and I guess I'm remembering his good years -- he led the NL with a 2.18 ERA in 1988, and he went 18-9 with a 2.91 ERA in 1989.  He stuck around in the majors until 1996, but those were his last good seasons.  According to Wikipedia, he never really recovered from an elbow injury in 1990.
Ken Dayley.
Bryn Smith.
Thus far, for the other teams we've seen, Donruss always seems to include four pitchers out of the twelve cards for any of these teams.   Here we have Ken Dayley and Bryn Smith, but there are actually five pitchers total, as below we have Jose DeLeon, too.  John Tudor seems like an omission, as Tudor went 12-4 with a 2.40 ERA in 1990.  Fellow starter Bryn Smith, by contrast, was 9-8 with a 4.27 ERA.  Reliever Ken Dayley pitched in 58 games in 1990, finishing 17, with a 4-4 record, two saves, and a 3.56 ERA.
Terry Pendleton.
Pedro Guerrero.
Like I said, those Cardinals teams had depth.  Terry Pendleton was the NL MVP in 1991 after leaving for the Braves, leading the NL in hits with 187 and batting average with .319.  The only time he hit that well with the Cards, though, was his rookie season in 1984, when he hit .324 while playing in 67 games.  Pedro Guerrero was traded from the Dodgers to the Cardinals in 1988 for John Tudor (Tudor, mentioned above, rejoined the Cardinals later as a free agent).  Guerrero did well with the Cardinals, leading the NL in doubles with 42 in 1989, while batting .311 and finishing third in the NL MVP vote behind Kevin Mitchell and Will Clark.
Ozzie Smith.
Todd Zeile.
Ozzie Smith had a bit of an off year offensively in 1990, batting .254, but was still an All-Star and Gold Glove winner.  Rookie catcher Todd Zeile was at the start of a long and productive career; he played until 2004, and amassed 2,004 career hits.  How about that.
Jose DeLeon.
Vince Coleman.
Here's Jose DeLeon, shown batting; I always like cards of pitchers batting.  In 1990, DeLeon led the NL in losses with his 7-19 record, with a 4.43 ERA.  He fared much better in 1989, leading the NL in strikeouts instead, with 201.  And then there's Vince Coleman, the NL's version of Rickey Henderson.  Henderson had much more staying power and was a more well-rounded player, but the comparisons between the base-stealing champs were inevitable.  In 1990, Coleman led the NL in steals for the sixth consecutive, and final, time, with 77.
Willie McGee.
Jose Oquendo.
We'll close this post out with 1985 NL MVP Willie McGee and second baseman Jose Oquendo.  In 1989, McGee only played 58 games and batted .236; he bounced back in 1990, playing 125 games with St. Louis, batting a league-leading .335, before being traded to the A's in August.  He went 2-for-10 in the World Series as the A's were swept by the Reds.  Jose Oquendo played for the Mets in 1983 and 1984, and then the rest of his career with the Cardinals, 1986 through 1995.  He put up career numbers of 821 hits, a .256 batting average, and 254 RBI.

That's it for this week; next Friday we'll take a look at the Phillies.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Recent Acquisition: Shakey's Jackie Robinson

Yesterday I got in the mail a single card I bought recently on eBay, this 1976 Shakey's Jackie Robinson.
1976 Shakey's Jackie Robinson.
Card back.
This furthers a goal of having more cards of Robinson, and of major league baseball's early black players in general, which of course can get very expensive if cards from his playing days are the focus.  This Shakey's card is affordable and also helps to represent this wonderfully oddball set promoting the old pizza chain (Shakey's still exists, but no longer in the northeast, where I live).  The card has a nice regional flavor as well, since it was promoting the Seattle-area Shakey's in particular.

I think the front is a good portrait of Robinson.  The back has some unfortunate language, "the first negro to perform at the major league level in modern times."  I don't think the term "negro" was in much common use in the mid-to-late 70s, and you can see why phrasing like "broke major league baseball's color line" is more common.  Also, "perform at the major league level" makes it sound like players were in the Negro Leagues because their play wasn't at the major league standard, which is the furthest thing from the truth.  Unfortunate language aside, it's the front that will show in my binder, and I'm glad to have another Robinson card and another Shakey's card.
1954 Topps Jackie Robinson.
When I started collecting again this past summer, it started with a realization that now, as an adult, and (long) after the baseball card market crashed, I could buy some cards I may have always wanted as a teenager, but couldn't afford then.  I bought two good cards at first -- a Mike Schmidt rookie card, and this 1954 Topps Jackie Robinson, graded PSA 4.  The kid in me still can't believe that I own a real Jackie Robinson card from the 50s.  My wantlist does include at least one more like this; I'm thinking maybe the 1956, since the design is so great.
1976 Shakey's Judy Johnson.
Card back.
I also posted a while ago about picking up this Judy Johnson card on COMC.  This was how I discovered the Shakey's set -- I wanted to get a card of Johnson since he was Delaware's first Hall-of-Famer, and I only had his Baseball Immortals card.  There aren't many choices, and I decided that this Shakey's was my favorite of what's available (for many of the reasons above -- the regional flavor and the pizza parlor aspect); it has the added plus of using an actual photo unlike his Baseball Immortals.  I don't think I'll keep pursuing the Shakey's set, which I think covers the Hall of Fame up to that point.  But I'm really glad to have two nice examples of the set in my binder, further representing both Delaware and breaking the color barrier.

I'll have some more posts on some of these themes soon.  I recently purchased a small Negro League set that I'll post when it arrives, and I have more posts coming on major league Delawareans, including two more Hall-of-Famers.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #6: Jody Reed

Since it's Wednesday, we're taking a look at the next card in the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set; this time we're at #6, Jody Reed of the Boston Red Sox.
Jody Reed.
I don't think I remember Jody Reed.  He played with the Red Sox 1987-1992; I probably don't remember him because he was in the AL, and while the Red Sox did make the playoffs a couple of those years, they didn't make the World Series.  Reed then was with the Dodgers for 1993, the Brewers in 1994, the Padres in 1995 and 1996, and with the Tigers in 1997 before retiring.
Jody Reed card back.
Reed placed third in the AL in doubles with 42 in 1989, earning his way into this league leaders set.  He did even better in 1990, tying George Brett for the AL lead in doubles with 45, and placing 10th in the AL in hits with 173.  He had another good year in 1991, placing fourth in the AL in doubles again with 42, and making 175 hits.

We've covered Baltimore and Boston so far; next Monday, we move on to the California Angels, with Bert Blyleven on card #7.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Ted Williams in My Collection

I don't have any great cards of Ted Williams, but I thought I would show today what I do have.  Growing up in the 80s, Williams, who last played in 1960, was a not-too-distant memory for the generation before me.  People talked about him as the last player to hit .400, especially when people talked about George Brett, who came close with his .390 in 1980.  When I was in college, it looks like the player strike stopped Tony Gwynn's attempt, as he finished the short season batting .394.
1970 Topps Ted Williams.
1971 Topps Ted Williams.
These two Topps Ted Williams manager cards were my only opportunity to get regular cards of him in the 80s.  With his career starting in 1939, he of course is from before the time of either Bowman or Topps cards, but his later career did overlap with them, since he played until 1960.  Still, none of those 1950s cards were remotely affordable to me as a kid; I am sure I never even saw one.

So I leapt at the chance to get these manager cards.  You might be able to tell that the 1970 card is badly off center from top to bottom.  I feel like I got the 1971 card first, probably pretty early on in my collecting days, since I think I got it at Stale Gum in Newark, DE, and Stale Gum closed not too long after I started collecting.  The 1970 could have been added to my collection anytime, either from visiting other shops or shows.  The 1971 Williams was not only my first relatively good card of Ted Williams, but also my first card of the Washington Senators.  You heard stories that there used to be a team in Washington, but here was something tangible.
Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Willie Mays: Superstars.
Ted Williams, Superstar.
In addition to never seeing or being able to afford any of his Topps or Bowman cards, or earlier, from his playing days, I also never saw any of the 1959 Fleer set which extensively chronicled his life.  Something I did buy in the 80s, though, were these two Superstar sets.  The Trading Card Database tells me these are the Seckeli Superstar set, with the yellow ones from 1980 and the red from 1982.  I remember clearly that I bought them at a local department store called Mitchell's, which we went to for scouting stuff, and also had a baseball card section.  The sets were quite repetitive with respect to the players featured -- several cards each of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron, and a couple of others.  I'm not showing all of these Superstar cards that are of Williams; there are quite a few, and showing a couple seems enough.
Ted Williams, Superstar.
Baseball Immortals Ted Williams.
The second series, the red cards from 1982, branched out a bit, and included not only additional major league players, but also Sadaharu Oh, and players from other sports.  Overall, the quality of the Superstar sets is low, but these were interesting to me as a kid, back in the day when information was harder to come by, and when the distance to the playing days of Williams and the others wasn't so long.  I bought the Baseball Immortals set at the same time as the two Superstar sets, at Mitchell's.  They kept adding to the set, but at the time I bought it, it included all the Hall-of-Famers inducted through 1980, so including Duke Snider, Al Kaline, and Chuck Klein.
Pacific Legends Ted Williams.
Leaf Candy City Team Ted Williams.
Then I have a Pacific Legends card of Ted Williams.  I have a number of Pacific Legends cards that I opened from wax packs; I never pursued a complete set, but I like all of the ones that I have.  Trading Card Database tells me that the Leaf Candy City Team cards are a set affiliated with Special Olympics, and in addition to the baseball players, there are cards of some Special Olympics events.  I have all of the baseball ones and none of the Special Olympics events; I really don't know where I ever got the baseball ones.

Monday, March 26, 2018

1990 Topps Minis #5: Nick Esasky

Our look at the 1990 Topps Mini League Leaders set, card by card, is the subject of our Monday and Wednesday posts.  With this being Monday, here we are, looking at card #5, Nick Esasky of Boston.
Nick Esasky.
Nick Esasky's name is vaguely familiar to me, but I don't really remember him from his playing days.  He played with the Reds from 1983-1988, then with the Red Sox in 1989, and with the Braves in 1990 before retiring.  He actually only played 9 games with the Braves in 1990 before retiring; according to Wikipedia, he had to retire because he developed vertigo.
Nick Esasky card back.
His one year with the Red Sox, 1989, was by far his best year.  As the card back says, he placed third in the AL with 108 RBI, fourth with a .500 slugging percentage, and fifth with 30 home runs.  He did this while playing in 154 games; his previous best offensive year seems to have been 1987, with 22 home runs, 59 RBI, and .529 slugging, but he only played in 100 games then.

Up next (on Wednesday): Jody Reed, also of the Red Sox.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Recent Acquisitions: 3 from Ziploc

One of the best things about the 80s and 90s is that if there was a product you used or chain you frequented, they may well have run a baseball card promotion at some point.  These are some of my favorite cards from that time: Post, Kellogg's, Hostess, Burger King, McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Chef Boyardee, M&M's, Drake's, Kraft, and many more.  Now that internet commerce, and COMC in particular, is a thing, I can find cards like this that I missed the first time around.  I decided to pass on the Fruit of the Loom cards I found, but I went for these three 1992 Ziploc cards.
Hank Aaron.
Card back.
Unlike most of these promotions, Ziploc opted for cards of a nostalgic bent, featuring some of the all-time greats.  The set only has 11 cards total, and I picked out three of my favorites.  Who doesn't love Hank Aaron cards?  To me, he's the legitimate home run king.  I have a few Topps cards from his playing days, and am working on getting a few more.  In the meantime, I am delighted to add this less-expensive alternative to my binder.
Willie McCovey.
Card back.
Similarly, I'm always happy to add more Willie McCovey cards.  Part of growing up in a place where Mike Schmidt was every kid's hero was appreciating the 500 home run club of the day, I think.  McCovey moved to tenth on the list when Schmidt passed him.  McCovey of course is tied with Ted Williams with 521 career home runs; Schmidt ended up in 7th place when he retired, with Mickey Mantle and Jimmie Foxx between him and McCovey/Williams.
Brooks Robinson.
Card back.
Still on the Schmidt theme, there were a couple of other famous third baseman people might bring up when talking about Schmitty, including the also-local Brooks Robinson (also local because we lived halfway between Baltimore and Philly).  While people still talked about Brooks Robinson, he had retired well before I saw my first baseball game.  The others were Schmidt's contemporary/AL counterpart George Brett, and fellow 500-home run hitter Eddie Mathews.  Schmidt was excellent defensively, but Robinson's fielding is the stuff of baseball legend.

So, I'm glad to have these three cards with their large Ziploc logo in my binder.  Thanks for reading!