Monday, October 31, 2011

#109 Len Matuszek

Card thoughts: This picture looks like it was taken at Candlestick Park, although I swear I saw this guy eating a huge plate of pierogis at the old Orbit Restaurant on Milwaukee (sans bat of course, with a tankard of Okocim).

The player: Matuszek didn't get much playing time in the majors, despite showing a lot of power in his limited at bats. In the first three years of his career, he never made it into more than 30 games. That changed in 1984 when the Phillies traded Pete Rose to the Reds. They made Matuszek their starting first baseman, and he responded with 17 doubles, 12 home runs and 46 RBIs, despite only having 65 hits. He had good range at first, too. The Phillies were not impressed with his .248 average, however, and the Blue Jays acquired him to be their left-handed designated hitter in exchange for three minor leaguers. The Blue Jays soured on him as well by midseason and he was traded to the Dodgers (who needed some pop on their bench), for veteran Al Oliver. He played one more full season with the Dodgers, hitting .261 in 91 games and then retired after 16 games in 1987.

Rear guard: "The Penguin" was a favorite player of my friend Korry when he was growing up. The Dodgers had just a killer offense in the 70s, especially considering the division they played in. Cey had two two-run homers that day and the Dodgers scored 15 total runs. The primary victims were starter Dave Freiselben (5 runs given up) and reliever Vincente Romo (who gave up 6 runs in one inning).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

#108 Ted Power

Card thoughts: I guess some Reds also got the grayish dusk treatment that the Red Sox got on their cards. The wrinkles under his eyes suggests to me that Power may also wear glasses. A great name for a pitcher, by the way, although he's not Max Power's brother.

The player: A minor league phenom in the Dodgers system (he won 18 games for their AAA club in 1981), Power was an effective short reliever early in his career, which was spent mostly with the Reds. He led the league in appearances in 1984, pitching in 78 games and 108 2/3 innings. Power was used less the next year, the one represented by this card, although it was his best year as a reliever. He saved 27 games and the best ERA in his career at that point with a 2.70 mark. Ted was converted into a starter the next season, and he was much less effective in that role. Although he won 10 games in both 1986 and 1987, his ERAs were much higher, and he was never much better than a break even proposition when he started.

He was traded away after the 1987 season and became a well traveled pitcher for the next 6 seasons, never playing more than two seasons for any team. He pitched for the Royals, Tigers, Cardinals, Pirates, Reds (again), Indians, and Mariners during those years. Eventually, he was converted back to a reliever by the Pirates in 1990, and he was once again effective, even having a career low 2.54 ERA for the Indians in 1992. Oddly enough, his only start after being reconverted came in the 1990 NLCS against his former team, the Reds. Jim Leyland started Power to screw up the Reds platoon system, and he gave way to Zane Smith in the 3rd inning. For his final year, he once again topped 10 saves, saving 13 for the Mariners while sharing the closer role with Norm Charlton.

Power is currently the pitching coach for the Reds top minor league team, the Louisville Bats.

Rear guard: Power won his first game, relieving Burt Hooten in the third inning. But the Padres starter, #52 Chris Welch was also knocked out of the game early in what eventually became a 10-4 Dodger victory. Power pitched 2 2/3 innings, giving up only a double to Terry Kennedy.

Stealing bases was much more common in the early part of the century than now (stealing home is almost unheard of now that pitchers use the slide step). Lobert stole 20 bases in 1908 as a utility player; he would steal 316 over a 14 year career.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

#107 Rafael Ramirez

Card thoughts: In our ballplayers that look like animals series, we have Ramirez, the ferret. This also one of those card where the proper amount of laminate wasn't applied.

The player: I was always under the impression that Ramirez was a stellar fielder with a mediocre bat, like an 80s version of Neifi Perez. But he actually was a poor fielder with a decent bat, albeit he was a deceptively productive player. Ramirez came up in 1980 and showed some decent pop in his bat for a shortstop. He had some speed too, stealing over 10 bases five times in his career. But he was an awful base stealer, getting caught almost as much as he succeeded. Despite having good range that allowed him to get to balls many shortstops couldn't, he exercised poor judgment when he got to those balls, leading the league in errors from 1981 to 1985 and again in 1989. Like fellow teammate #78 Bruce Benedict, Ramirez had his best years from 1982 to 1984 when the Braves were perennial contenders. He slugged 10 home runs and drove in 52 in 1982 when the Braves won the division; the next year he hit a career high .297; and the year after that he made his only all-star appearance. In the rest of his career as a regular shortstop, he could be counted on to play a lot of games at shortstop, while hitting around .250 and driving in about 50 runs. He spent the last four years with the Astros, retiring in 1992.

Rear guard: Phil Neikro is in the Hall of  Fame and is one of the greatest knuckleballers of all time. His brother Joe, who won over 200 games in his career, was a reacquainted with the knuckleball when he joined his brother with the Braves, which led to much of his late career success and longevity in the game. The Neikro brothers will show up on the same team in this card set as well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

#106 Ray Burris

Card thoughts: Burris has this expression on a lot of his cards.

The player: Despite having a mediocre record in the mid 70s the Cubs developed a number of fine pitchers. Most would be traded away early and have success with other teams. Burris is the exception to that rule. As a young man, he won 15, 15, and 14 games for some miserable Chicago teams from 1975-1977, despite giving up lots of home runs and hits. Unfortunately, the Cubs overused him and he became ineffective by the late 70s. After being traded 3 times in 1979, Burris became a fifth starter and swing man for the Mets, Expos, and A's. He pitched a 5 hit shutout over the Dodgers in the 1981 playoffs while with the Expos. You can read his account of this game here.

He had his best season in a long while in 1984, winning 13 games while losing 10 with his second lowest career ERA. This record encouraged the Brewers to trade aging hall-of-famer Don Sutton to the A's to get him. But that would be Burris' last good year. He was ineffective for the last three years of his career for two different teams (Brewers (twice) and Cardinals).

He was actually retired, and serving as the Brewers pitching coach, when injuries pressed him back into action in 1987. He would later work in the front office and coach for the Brewers, Rangers, Cardinals, and Tigers organizations. He's currently the Tigers AA pitching coach.

Rear guard: That's not a badly scanned card. That card is badly miscut. Look at the flip between the won-loss records in 1984 and 1985 for Burris. Oof, that was a bad trade for the Brewers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

#105 Gary Ward

Card thoughts: Wow. What can you say about that facial hair? It looks like it was the result of an overzealous Wooly Willy player.

The player: Ward broke in with a bang with the Twins, hitting for the cycle in just his 14th major league game. He followed that up in 1981 by finishing 9th in the Rookie of the Year voting. But he really came into his own the following season, scoring 85 runs, hitting 28 home runs, and driving in 91. The next year, he led the league with the highest assist total for an outfielder since 1944 with 24. Ward also drove in another 88 runs and made the all-star team for the first time. He was traded after the season to Texas for pitchers John Butcher and Mike Smithson, a trade that worked out well for both teams. Ward continued his solid hitting, driving in at least 70 runs his first two seasons in a Rangers uniform, and making the all-star team again in the year represented by the card.

After injuries took a toll on his playing time in 1986, Ward left for the Yankees as a free agent the following, and squeezed one more productive year out of his aging body, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 78 while serving as one of many designated hitter/outfielders the Yankees had that season. But apparently, Ward was only a slump away from being exiled from the Bronx. He was released 8 games into the 1989 season, and picked up by the Tigers. He had two decent seasons as a part time player with Detroit before retiring in 1990.

Post career, Ward was a hitting coach for a time in the White Sox system, including for the parent club from 2001 to 2003. He took some time off to be a coach at New Mexico State University, and returned to the Sox organization for the 2009-2010 season. His son is former major league outfielder and pinch-hitter extraordinaire Daryle Ward.

Rear guard: Hargan had already pitched 11 seasons and was 33 when he pitched those 12 innings. He gave up 2 runs (none earned), walked only 1 and struck out 10 in a complete game victory over reliever Sparky Lyle.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

#104 Sid Fernandez

Card thoughts: I don't remember Fernandez with a mustache, but I guess my memory is faulty because most cards show Fernandez with a 'stache. Also, I think that the New York teams have a lot more action shots than the other teams. New York based photographers perhaps?

The player: Sid Fernandez is third all-time in least hits given up per 9 innings, behind Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax; he also walked and struck out a lot of batters. His out pitch was a devastating curve ball and rising fastball, which was doubly hard to hit as Fernandez used a side arm motion to deliver the ball to the plate.

Fernandez broke in with the Dodgers but was soon traded to the Mets, where he spent most of his years. He wasn't always a big winner despite a low ERA, partly because he tired easily and didn't pitch deep into games. This also translated into the regular season, where he generally had a smoking first half, only to stumble down the stretch. He also benefited from pitcher-friendly Shea Stadium; his ERA was 2 runs less there than on the road. Fernandez won a career-high 16 games during the Mets championship 1986 season, but after a poor start in the NLCS, Fernandez pitched out of the bullpen in the World Series. He was very effective in that role, striking out 10 batters while walking only 1. He won in double digits the next couple of years and in 1989 led the league in winning percentage to go along with 14 wins. The next couple of years were marred by injuries, but he had comeback year in 1992 when he again won 14 games.

That would be his last year as an effective starter, as he left the Mets for the Orioles, Phillies, and Astros, retiring in 1997.

Rear guard: Fernandez is one of those rare players from Hawaii. He was even once traded for a Hawaiian! His first win was in a blowout against the Astros. Uncharacteristically, he gave up more than a hit per inning.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

#103 Luis Salazar

Card thoughts: Another picture at Tiger Stadium. This looks like one of those old cards where the player gets traded, and he's looking up so you can't see the old team logo on his hat. Also, the position should technically be OF-3B, as he played more in the outfield this season.

The player: Salazar was discarded by the Royals and Pirates organizations in a 7 year minor league career before he made it to the majors with the Padres in 1982. Once there, Salazar was the Padres starting third baseman for a couple of years, before settling into a utility role, with occasional seasons where he started due to injury or lack of other options. After arriving in 1984 with the White Sox along with Ozzie Guillen in the Lamarr Hoyt trade, he played for the Padres two more non-consecutive times, in between stints with the Cubs and the Tigers. He provided a spark to both of these teams upon his initial arrival. His best year was his first with the Tigers in 1988 when he hit 12 home runs and had 62 RBIs while playing every position except catcher and pitcher. He especially sparked the Cubs the next year, when he hit .325 down the stretch as he replaced the slumping Vance Law as the Cubs starting third baseman. Salazar continued his hot-hitting in the playoffs, which I well remember, hitting .368 in the championship series. He started the next couple of years for the Cubs at their perennial black hole position before retiring in 1992.

Salazar was recently in the news because of a horrific accident this year during spring training. A manager in the Braves minor league system, he was sitting in the dugout when a line drive off the bat of Braves catcher Brian McCann hit him in the eye. He lost the eye because of the injury, but returned to managing later that year. Here's the full story.

Rear guard: The spitball was outlawed because it was hard to see in low-light games at dusk (a spitball usually was darker, as the tobacco juice spit was mixed with mud). A spitball thrown in such conditions even killed Ray Chapman. But 18 spitballers were allowed to keep throwing the pitch until they retired. Red Faber was the second to the last to throw it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

#102 Joe Orsulak

Card thoughts: This is Joe Orsulak's rookie card. Look how small his arms are! This is before every ball-player doubled as a weightlifter.

The player: Orsulak was your classic fourth outfielder, who occasionally became a starting outfielder by default when a rookie didn't pan out, or the starter got injured. In the year represented by this card, he hit over .300 with little power and good speed and was 6th in the Rookie of the Year voting. After breaking his ankle which caused him to miss all of the 1987 season, he was traded to the Orioles for two minor leaguers. This is where Orsulak made his greatest mark. He continued getting about 350-400 at bats a year, but hit with more power at Memorial Stadium, even reaching double digits in home runs in 1990, when he hit 11 home runs and drove in a career high 57. Orsulak continued to have a productive career as a reserve outfielder with the Mets, Marlins, and Expos before retiring after 16 years in 1997. What Orsulak has been doing after retiring? Answer: not much.

Rear guard: Johnny Gee only pitched in 44 games in a 6-year major league career interrupted by the war. He went 1-2 in 3 starts in 1939. Gee played professional basketball for the Syracuse Nationals with the NBA after retiring from the New York Giants. The team became the Philadelphia 76ers in 1963.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

#101 Dave Bergman

Card thoughts: This is a really odd angle on Dave Bergman. The shadows are all wrong, and it looks like he's wearing sunglasses. It's likely this shot was taken in the late afternoon before a night game.

The player: In the days of the platoon player (made possible by using less relief pitchers), Bergman was a valuable commodity, as a good fielder and competent left-handed hitter. The guy raked as a hitter in the minors, hitting under .300 only once before reaching the majors, despite the fact that his first manager said he was the worst player he'd ever seen. Once he got to the majors, his lack of power generally relegated him to the bench, where, like most players who are primarily pinch hitters and defensive replacements, he had his up years and down years. He played for the Yankees, Astros, and Giants before landing with the Tigers in 1984 where he would have his greatest success. He drove in 44 runs while hitting .273 in that World Series winning year, despite only coming to bat 271 times. Bergman was also known as having a good eye at the plate, rarely striking out more than walking. In 1989, with the departure of Darrell Evans, Bergman finally got a chance to start at first at age 35. He responded with a decent average, but poor power numbers. He retired in 1992 after a 17 year career. He currently runs an elite traveling baseball club, the Gross Pointe Redbirds, in an elite Detroit suburb.

Rear guard: Dave Bergman came in as a defensive replacement in that game in 1982; he had no hits. Wrong again Topps! The two homers were against the Expos and he drove in five runs that day, as he had 4 hits on that day.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

#100 Nolan Ryan

The first 100 cards are done! Here's the stats:

Head shots:  15%
Candid shots: 15%
Action Shots:  45%
Posed shots: 25%

Mustaches: 40%
Beards: 5%
Glasses: 3%

The most popular page view? A tie between Steve Yeager (for some unknown reason), and Pete Rose.

Now on to our star . . .

Card thoughts: This card looks like a painting. But this how you always saw Ryan: fierce, never smiling.

The player: One of the better all-time pitchers, but not really one of the best, Ryan owes a lot of his fame to his longevity: The guy struck out over 300 batters when he was 42! But his career was pretty inconsistent, except for the strikeouts (12-time league leader, 6 times over 300, 5,714 for his career, a record unlikely to be broken) the base on balls (8-time league leader, 2,795 for his career, also a record), and the wild pitches (6-time league leader, 2nd all-time with 277). However, he also holds the record for least amount of hits given up all-time and the record most no-hitters lifetime, with 7.

Ryan broke in at a young age in the Mets bullpen, where he had lightning stuff, but was too erratic at that age to make much of a mark in the rotation. After some decent years with way too few strikeouts with way too many walks, the Mets gave up on him in 1972 and traded him with a package of young players to the Angels for future manager and aging infielder Jim Fregosi. For a bunch of bad Angels teams, Ryan tried his best. Although his record barely was over .500, his ERAs were good, and he was striking out players at a phenomenal rate. He struck out over 300 batters 5 out of the first 6 years he was with the Angels, culminating in an amazing 383 strikeouts in 332 2/3 innings in 1974, another record.

Weary of the losing atmosphere in California which had cost him so many wins, Ryan signed as a free agent with the Astros in 1980. He would spend the next 8 years there and he became more of a pitcher with the Astros than a thrower. He led the league in ERA twice, including a 2.76 mark in 1987, despite an 8-16 record. He also cut down on his walks, while his strikeout rate remained high: He led in strikeouts in 1987 and 1988.

At 41, many people thought Ryan was done, but after he signed with the Rangers in 1989, he managed to lead the league in strikeouts two more times, and win in double digits three more times . . and get in a famous fight, where he put Robin Ventura in a headlock and pounded him after he charged the mound. Ryan retired in 1993 and managed to win over 300 games, despite a .526 winning percentage, mostly attributed to being a part of many bad teams. He did pitch in the World Series once (with the Mets in 1969) and the division series 5 times with the Angels and the Astros, where he pitched well. Ryan is now the principal (and very visible) owner of the Rangers, having previously owned the Astros AAA affiliate the Round Rock Express.

Rear guard: This is the first of what will be many miscut cards in the 100 series; only miscut on the back, though. The 1985 season was a fairly weak one in the Ryan oevure. Although he pitched over 200 innings, he had a poor 10-12 record, first time he'd been below .500 since 1978. He also sported the highest ERA he'd had since 1971.

Friday, October 14, 2011

#99 Buddy Biancalana

Card thoughts: This is the fate of long player names--they wrap around the back and under the armpit.

The player: Buddy Biancalana was a good field, no-hit infielder. When I say no-hit, I mean it. His career average was .205 over 6 seasons. He had only one season with over 10 at bats where he batted better than .200 when he hit .242 in 190 at bats in the 1986 season. His hitting was so bad that in 1985was a good field, no-hit infielder. When I say no-hit, I mean it. His career average was .205 over 6 seasons. He had only one season with over 10 at bats where he batted better than .200 when he hit .242 in 190 at bats in the 1986 season. His hitting was so bad that in 1985 David Letterman had a Buddy Biancalana hit countdown to contrast Biancalana approaching 56 career hits to Pete Rose's pursuit of Ty Cobb's record. Despite his poor hitting, Biancalana really shone in the 1985 World Series, helping the Royals win in 7 games. He batted .285 and drove in 2 runs, after driving in only 6 during the regular season. He has stated that before the first game he had a wave of fear wash over him and channeling that fear helped him play better.

After his career ended, Biancalana worked as a manager and infield coordinator for a time in the Tampa Bay and Philadelphia minor league system. But his real passion has been helping athletes achieve more. To this end, he helped write the book the 7 Secrets of World Class Athletes. Lest you think that he's the typical jock motivator, this book is chock full of neuroscience. Here he is discussing "zone training" on the MLB Network.

Rear guard: Biancalana didn't hit much, but he did have some hitting highlights. His first triple was the only hit in his first cup of coffee in the majors. His triple was off the A's Brian Kingman. He was out at home trying to stretch it into an inside the park home run.

Bob Oliver was an occasionally great hitter who had years of great power and years with none. His 6 hits came against the Angels. He drove in 3 runs and had a home run and a double.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#98 Dick Ruthven

Card thoughts: Another Cub I have no recollection of , but that's probably good as I've never trusted men with beady eyes. Other than that, Ruthven's arm is a strange, awkward blur as he throws to first.

The player: Ruthven was a well-traveled, fairly poor pitcher whose only league leads came in the bad pitching categories (losses, earned runs and runs given up, errors). Despite this, he was twice an all-star and was highly sought after by some very good teams. Ruthven was an innings-eater whose record generally hovered around the .500 mark and whose ERA in those low scoring days was north of 4. His career in the 70s with the Phillies and the Brave was marked by sub-.500 records, lots of walks, and high ERAs. He made the all-star team in 1976 despite leading the league in losses. However, that partly the result of being on a last place team. His career turned around in when he was traded back to the Phillies in 1978 for reliever Gene Garber. Once back with the Phillies, he went 13-5 to helped the team make the playoffs. Unfortunately, he lost his only NLDS start. His best season came two years later with the World Series winning 1980 club. He went 17-10 despite a poor strikeout-to-walk ratio. Ruthven went 9 innings in both of his playoff starts, giving up 3 runs or less in both of them. After the season, he appeared on Family Feud with some other Phillies opposite the Kansas City Royals.

The next season, he made the all-star team again because of his 8-3 record before the player's strike. However, he ended up with a 5.10 ERA and in the playoffs that year, he pitched poorly. Ruthven came to the Cubs in 1983 as part of the mass Philadelphia-to-Chicago transfer that would provide the nucleus for the Cubs' 1984 division winner. The Cubs came out the worse in this trade, unlike some of the others, as they sent future Cy Young award winner and MVP Willie Hernandez to the Phillies for Ruthven. With the Cuibs, Ruthven's ERAs stayed consistently high, although he was the Cubs top pitcher in 1983 with a 12-9 record. In spring-training that year, he brawled with outfielder Mel Hall. Despite this, he was named the opening day starter for the division winning 1984 team. But he went only 6-10 for the season and was left off of the playoff roster. By the time the picture of Ruthven was taken on this card, he was aging fast and often injured. He would be released the next season, ending his career.

Rear guard: I got nothing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

#97 Gary Gaetti

Card thoughts: Oh, Gary Gaetti. I always irrationally loved Gaetti from afar. Maybe it was the way the name rolled off the tongue. Gaetti's batting glove beneath his fielding glove is glowing oddly ala Michael Jackson.

The player: Gaetti was a mainstay of the Twins throughout the 80s, winning gold gloves four consecutive years 1986 to 1989, and going to the all-star game in the latter two years. He consistently hit with power, hitting over 20 home runs 6 out of the 9 years he was with the Twins, although he never hit for a high average and he barely walked, which limited his effectiveness as a batter. His best season was 1986 when he hit 34 home runs and drove in 108 (he would follow with a similar season the next year). But Gaetti's average began to fall after those two great seasons, and he signed with the Angels in 1992. Away from the Metrodome, Gaetti's power disappeared, which really exposed his lack of on-base ability. The Angels released him with a year and a half left on his contract and he was picked up by the Royals where he had a career resurgence, hitting 35 home runs in 1995. That was enough to interest the Cardinals, where he had three decent seasons before they released him midway through the 1998 season.

And this where I really started to love Gaetti. He came to the Cubs, and hit everything in sight, sparking the team and getting them to a tie with the Giants for the wild card. In the one game playoff, I'll never forget Gaetti hitting the big blow, a two-run homerun off of Mark Gardner, my hands shaking with stress as I chain smoked hand-rolled cigarettes in a Portland sports bar, a lonely expatriate in a land of (mostly) expatriate San Francisco fans. He would have one more season with the Cubs where he hit a dismal .204. After 5 games with the Red Sox at age 41, he retired. After his career ended, he was the hitting coach for a time for the Astros. He will manage the Sugarland Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League next year.

Rear guard: Here's Gaetti's first Topps card. Nice swing!

Jim Merritt struck out a lot of people that day, but he didn't strike out 7 in a row.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

#96 Blue Jays Leaders

Card thoughts: The Blue Jays won the American East this year for their first division title. They were a team to be feared throughout the late 80s/early 90s before the New York Yankees started winning all the time.

The player: Jim Clancy was the longest tenured Blue Jay at this point, appearing in his first games as a Jay on July 23, 1977 having been taken from his original organization, the Texas Rangers, in the expansion draft . Ernie Whitt, the Blue Jays starting catcher, also appeared at the end of the 1977 season. However, he spent all of 1979 in the minors. The 2nd longest continuing servant of the Blue Jays was first baseman Willie Upshaw, appearing in his first game April 9, 1978.

Rear guard: I remember being really impressed with the Blue Jay outfield. I could never decide who was the best player: Jesse Barfield, George Bell, or Lloyd Moseby. You can see that they led in most of the offensive categories. On the pitching side, Dave Stieb's 2.48 ERA led the league and he dominated the starting pitching categories, but Doyle Alexander, whose ERA was a full run higher, was the Blue Jays' winningist pitcher. The Blue Jays also had three pitchers with double digits in saves. Tom Henke was the best of the trio.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

#95 Ozzie Virgil

Card thoughts: I remember this card struck me in my collecting days and now I know why. It's the wood-paneling in the background. It looks like Topps caught him unawares, chilling in his rec room. Also, brown background really highlights the fact that the Phillies "red" colors then were more maroon than their traditional red.

The player: Ozzie's dad and namesake was the first Dominican to play in the major leagues. When junior played in the 80s, there were many more Latin American players, but probably only half as many as play today. Virgil tore up the minors, winning Carolina League MVP honors after hitting 29 home runs and driving in 98 in 1978. He also drove in over 100 runs in the Eastern League a couple of years later. But his defense was never as solid as his hitting, so Virgil saw limited playing time in his first four years with the Phillies, serving as backup to Bo Diaz until earning the starting gig at age 27 in 1984. He immediately made an impact, and was one of the premier hitting catchers in his prime. He made the all-star team in the year shown on this card (when he hit 19 home runs and drove in 55) and in 1987 when he was with the Braves (27 home runs and 72 RBIs). But Virgil only had 4 good seasons. After his production dropped off in 1988, he signed as free agent with the Blue Jays were injuries limited him to only 11 games in 2 seasons. He retired young at age 33.

Rear guard: Topps has always loved the awkward verb. I don't think I've ever heard the term "author" in regards to a no-hitter but who knows, maybe people were a lot more formal in the 19th century. I can only assume Topps dug up this long ago fact as it was 100 years before this set. Ferguson pitched 405 innings that year for the Philadephia "Quakers" winning 26 and losing 20. He completed all of his 48 starts. He also played a little outfield on his off days.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

#94 Rich Bordi

Card thoughts: Bordi was an unusually tall pitcher for his time and this card really shows off his long limbs.

The player: Bordi made his debut in 1980 for the A's the same year he was drafted, but he didn't establish himself as a player until he joined the Cubs. In their division winning year in 1984 he went 5 and 2 with a sparkling 3.41 ERA over 7 starts and 24 relief appearances. This attracted interest from the Yankees who traded youngster Brian Dayett and pitcher Ray Fontenot for Bordi, backup catcher Ron Hassey, young outfielder Henry Cotto, and perpetual AAA pitcher Porfi Altamirano. Bordi would have his best season in 1985, the one shown on this card. He had a 3.21 ERA and walked only 29 in 98 innings. He was also fined by manager Billy Martin (whom he was familiar with from his days with the A's) for not trimming his mustache. Bordi's career went downhill after the 1985 season, as he would bounce from the Orioles, back to the Yankees, and back to his original team the A's before retiring 3 years later at age 29.

Rear guard: Bordi got the win in a blowout versus the Astros at Wrigley Field. As he was normally a reliever, he pitched only five innings, despite giving up one run and having a six run cushion when he left the game.

Before this "Talkin' Baseball" fact, I always thought of Deshaies as an Astro. It turns out, he was an atrotious Yankee as a young man. Deshaies suffered the loss in that game and had an 11.57 ERA that season over 2 starts.

Monday, October 3, 2011

#93 Scot Thompson

Card thoughts: First a Garry with two Rs and now a Scot missing a T. Thompson was traded mideason in 1986, so Topps didn't have time to get a fancy shot. This has got to be one of the West Coast parks. Maybe Jack Murphy stadium?

The player: Scot Thompson was a sweet swinging left-handed batter compared to Billy Williams while in the minors with the Cubs. But although he had a nice stroke, he had trouble making authoritative contact with the ball. In his only season as a regular player in 1979 he drove in only 29 runs in 346 at bats. The next season. he sustained a concussion the next season, which effected his ability to play regularly. He was mostly used as a pinch hitter the rest of his career. He had seasons when he hit over .300; he had others, where he hit below .200. In the season shown on this card Thompson was traded by the Giants for #65 Dan Driessen, in an unusual trade swapping pinch hitting first basemen. He finished his 8-year career with only 5 home runs and a .328 slugging percentage.

Rear guard: All 5 hits against the Astros by Thompson were singles; he drove in 2 runs.