Wednesday, May 30, 2012

#218 Randy Hunt

Card thoughts: This is my favorite card in the set. The photo has it all: The exciting action shot of a catcher (so common in this set); the hat falling off; the glasses, somehow snug against the catchers face; the dust swirling up around home plate. A classic. Even better, this is Randy Hunt’s only card. He never appeared in a Fleer or Donruss set. Which shows how bad Topps was at picking rookies to feature back then.

The player: Who was Randy Hunt? Definitely not as exciting of a player as this card would indicate. Apart from a stellar season at single-A Springfield where he hit 15 homers and drove in 79 (and made the all decade list for the Springfield Cardinals), his minor league career was undistinguished.

He hit the majors in June of the year shown by this card, replacing the injured catcher Darrell Porter. After spending six weeks with the club, he was sent back down to AAA. Unfortunately, while Hunt was gone, Tom Pagnozzi, had been promoted from AA. Not wanting return the superior prospect to AA, Hunt was instead loaned to the Texas Rangers organization. He came back to the Cardinals in September to give the regular catchers some rest at the end of the season.

With plenty of good young catchers in the system, Hunt was deemed expendable by the Cards, and he was sold the Expos in February of the following season. It was with this team that he would play his last 20 games, hitting .208. In his brief 2 year career, Hunt batted .194 with 2 home runs in 74 at bats.

Rear guard: There were actually two more O'Neill brothers who played baseball: Steve and Jim. Jack hit only .141 as the backup catcher for the Cardinals in 1902, and .196 in a 5 year career. Brother Mike was more successful. He pitched for 4 seasons, and although he had a losing record, had a decent (for the time) career ERA of 2.73. In 1902, he went 16-15. Mike actually was a better hitter than Jack, and he sometimes played the outfield when he wasn't pitching. His career average was .255.

This date in baseball history: Cal Ripken's first of 2,131 consecutive games is played in 1982 at third base.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

#217 Bill Scherrer

Card thoughts: Someone is having a geeky good time riding the pines.

The player: As a rookie for the Reds in 1983, Scherrer had what would turn out to be his best season. In 73 games in relief (4th in the league), he pitched 92 innings and had 10 saves along with a 2.74 ERA. Perhaps overworked at such a young age, Scherrer regressed to a 4.99 ERA the next year before being traded to the Tigers for their stretch run (the Reds got an insignificant pitcher, Carl Willis, in return).

He perked up with the Tigers, winning a game and having a 1.99 ERA over 19 relief innings. Scherrer did not appear in the ALCS, but pitched 3 games in the World Series, giving up 1 run.

This would be the highlight of his Tigers career, as the next two campaigns saw Scherrer struggle mightily with his control as he became an unreliable bullpen arm. In 1987, he signed back with his original club, the Reds, in hopes of recapturing his earlier magic. He pitched well in the minors, but not so great in the majors. The next season saw Scherrer join, and be released by, 4 organizations: The Phillies, Giants, Cubs, and Orioles. He reached the majors for the last time with both the Orioles and Phillies--he was marginally better with the Phillies.

Scherrer was not done hopping organizations, as he played with both the Mets and the Rangers AAA team in his last pro season.

He was more effective in his post playing career as a scout with the Marlins, Reds, and White Sox. Scherrer is now the assistant to White Sox GM Kenny Williams.

Rear guard: Bill Scherrer got the Cubs' Larry Bowa to fly out to left, and Bill Buckner to ground back to the mound as he got the win in relief of #108 Ted Power.

Donovan, nicknamed "Wild Bill" was a pitcher, not a position player. His nickname came from his propensity for walking batters. He went 186-139 in a 18 year career. In 1906, he only went 9-15.

This date in baseball history: Mario Soto is suspended after attacking Cubs third base coach Don Zimmer in an altercation related to a Ron Cey foul ball being called a home run (later reversed) in 1984.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

#216 A's Leaders

Card thoughts: The A’s were in one of their periodic doldrums in 1985. They went a not so horrible 77-85, good for 4th in the American League West. They had an almost identical record from 1983-1986.

The player: Dwayne Murphy has already been featured on this blog (#8, the first non Pete Rose card in the set). He must have grown a mustache in the meantime, because he is clean shaven on his base card. In his first game with the A’s, Murphy acted as a defensive replacement for Miguel Dilone in left field after Gary Alexander had pinch hit for him in the 7th inning. Murphy would get one at bat and flew out to centerfield against Angels pitcher Dave LaRoche.

The current dean of the A’s is catcher Kurt Suzuki (5 years).

Rear guard: Only Curt Young would be a part of the A’s dynasty that would begin just a few years later. One thing that stands out is Mike Davis. This was definitely a career year for him, and he would never appear as a team leader again. The other is Chris Codirolli. Although he was the top A’s pitcher, I have no recollection of him, or his card.

This date in baseball history: Joe Sewell strikes out twice in a game against the White Sox in 1930. This is important because Sewell would only strike out 1 other time in 353 at bats that season, an almost unimaginable feat today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

#215 Frank White

Card thoughts: White looks positively jolly catching this throw in spring training. Either he knows the camera is on him, or his teammate just had a pratfall.

The player: White started out as a defensive whiz every bit as respected as Ozzie Smith. He was considered the best defensive American second baseman in the late 70s and early 80s. White also acted as a kind of auxiliary coach, positioning infielders and even outfielders. Only later would he become a dangerous hitter.

George Brett is considered the icon of the Royals franchise, but Frank White--the only other player whose number was retired by the Royals and who has a statue in front of the stadium--would be a close second. Growing up not far from the stadium, White actually worked on the construction crew that built Kauffman Stadium, which would be his home for the 18 seasons.

Initially a backup to popular second baseman Cookie Rojas, White took over the second base job for good in 1975. Up until 1980, he was known as a slick fielder who contributed little on offense, mainly hitting singles and driving in about 50 runs. White won gold gloves from 1977-1982, and made the all star team on the strength of his glove in 1978 and 1979 (as a starter in 1979).

White began blossoming into an offense force in the 1980 ALCS, where he won MVP honors by hitting .545 in the three game sweep of the Yankees, propelling the Royals to the World Series for the first time. In 1982, White began a stretch of 6 straight seasons where he slugged over .400, a feat he’d only accomplished once in the 70s. In the 1985 World Series, which was played without a designated hitter, he displaced regular designated hitter Hal McRae as the cleanup hitter, and contributed a home run and 6 runs batted in to the winning cause.

The next season was one of White’s best, as he set or tied career highs in home runs (22) and runs batted in (84). He made his last all star game that season, along with winning his second to last gold glove.

White retired in 1990, reaching 2,000 hits and coming in 38th all time in defensive WAR. After his retirement, White held a variety of jobs with the Royals, including coach and broadcaster. But despite being an icon, the new Royals ownership came to regard White with disdain. They considered him to think as highly of his status as George Brett, despite not having hall of fame numbers. Eventually, these tensions came to head, and White was fired this past offseason as the Royals broadcaster.

White has since renounced all ties to the franchise that he was associated with for so many years. In order to stay employed in his hometown, he took a job with the independent league Kansas City T-Bones.

Rear guard: You can see White's homer totals begin to climb.

This date in baseball history: Cliff Johnson ties a record by hitting his 18th career pinch homer in 1983.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

#214 Randy Bush

Card thoughts: Here's Bush missing a pitch at Yankee Stadium. The position circle should also read "OF-DH."

The player: Randy Bush was drafted out of the University of New Orleans by the Twins in 1979. This fact is significant, as this background would help after his playing career was over.

For much of his career, Bush was the left handed part of a platoon for the Twins. Initially, he started out as the left handed half of a designated hitter platoon with Mickey Hatcher frequently being the right handed counterpart. In 1983, his first season as a regular, Bush would have what would be a typical season for him: Around 350 at bats; 10 home runs, and 50 runs batted in, with the batting average fluctuating. He would also get about 20 pinch hit at bats. Bush would be moved to left field starting the season shown on this card; two years later, in 1988, he would be moved to right.

Bush’s real value to the team, however, came as pinch hitter. When he wasn’t starting he was deadly off the bench. Bush had 13 pinch hits and a .433 average in 1986; he followed that with the same number of pinch hits and a .382 average in 1991. In his career, all with the Twins, he had a .242 pinch hitting average, well above the average for a player in that role.

Bush had the distinction of being one of being one of 7 Twins to win both the 1987 and 1991 World Series with the team. He hit .200 in the series.

After retiring, Bush coached for awhile at his alma mater. He is currently an assistant to the Cubs general manager, Jed Hoyer, the only assistant GM to survive the firing of former GM Jim Hendry (Bush was the interim general manager at the end of 2011), which speaks to the respect he has in the organization. If you ever wondered what the “assistant to the GM” does (I always thought he was the general manager’s drinking buddy), Bush lays out his responsibilities here.

Rear guard: Oh the dreaded gum stain! In addition, some paper remained stuck to the card. Luckily, the Bush card isn't valuable at all.

Bush's inside the park home run came against the White Sox, and no doubt owed a lot to the quirks of the Metrodome (artificial turf, weird ground rules), since he didn't have much speed. 

Jack Kralick almost got a perfect game in that start, but with two outs in the ninth, he walked George Alusik. For the season, Kralick was a pedestrian 12-11 with a 3.86 ERA. Here's his card from his no-hit season.

This date in baseball history: Tommy McCraw hits a 200 foot home run after 3 Indians players collide trying to field his ball in short right field in 1971.

Monday, May 14, 2012

#213 Bob Shirley

Card thoughts: Shirley is pitching out of the stretch and about to throw his signature curveball.

The player: Shirley was a college phenom at the University of Oklahoma where he played on the Team USA that won the gold medal in 1974 at the Amateur World Series.

Drafted by the Padres, he only pitched a year in the minors before reaching the big leagues in 1977. His out pitch was the curveball, considered at one time one of the best in the National League. But the curve was only effective when he could set it up with his fastball. Any lack of control with the fastball, and Shirley was doomed. Working almost exclusively as a starter for the only time in his career, Shirley won 12 games in his rookie year. Unfortunately, it might have been better if he had gotten more seasoning in the minors. Shirley was third in both losses (18) and walks (100), even though his ERA was a respectable 3.70.

Shirley started in the rotation the following season, but eventually was demoted to the bullpen after giving up 6 runs in 6 innings. This would be Shirley’s career trajectory of the next couple of seasons, as he was a long reliever and spot starter for the Padres until 1981, when he was traded to the Cardinals. He had almost as many decisions in this role had been a full time starter: He lost 16 games (against 11 wins), for instance, in 1979.

Shirley continued in this role for the Cardinals (1981), and the Reds (1982) (went 8-13). Eventually, he arrived in New York, and Shirley would play most of the remainder of his career with the Yankees. He was only starting less than 10 times a year after 1983, but he still generally logged over 100 innings. His best season as a Yankee was the year shown on this card when he had the best ERA of his career, 2.64, and a career low 26 walks in 109 innings.

1987 would Shirley’s last year as a Yankee, and as a major league reliever. Rumor had it that Shirley and #180 Don Mattingly were horsing around in the locker room, when Donnie Ballgame slipped a disk in his chronically sore back, putting him on the DL. Whether it was true or not, George Steinbrenner wasn’t the type to weigh the evidence and Shirley was booted from the team soon afterwards. He latched on the Royals, but was horrible 7 innings of work (14.73) and never played again in the majors, finishing his pro career in 1988 with Syracuse, the Blue Jays AAA club.

Rear guard: I don't think that Shirley really recalls his first American League save, which came about 5 years after his first National League one. His first win, however, was a gem. He would have had a complete game shutout against the Reds if second baseman Mike Champion hadn't booted a ball, allowing George Foster to score with two outs in the ninth. Seemingly rattled, Shirley loaded the bases, and was taken out of the game. He was charged with 4 unearned runs after #1 Pete Rose cleared the bases off the next pitcher with a double.

This date in baseball history: #200 Mike Schmidt made Astros fans very happy (and a little drunk) after he struck out in the fifth inning of game in 1976. Fans were promised a free beer if he struck out (one of 149 trikeouts that year).

Sunday, May 13, 2012

#212 Chris Speier

 Card thoughts:  Topps this year saved some of their better action shots for plays around second base. By the looks of things, Speier is taking a throw from either first or second on a force play. The game is at the former home of the Padres, Jack Murphy Stadium on May 12, 1985. I believe that is a very blurry #125 Davey Lopes behind Speier

The player:  A player very similar to Larry Bowa, I always think of Speier as a Giant, and I barely remember him as a Cub. Speier was a pushy prospect as a young man with the Giants. Told he needed to report to camp in 1970 with the rest of the minor leaguers, he instead arrived 10 days early. In addition, at the end of that season when he wasn’t called up, he asked if he could at least work out with the team for the last month of the season. At the end of this month long apprenticeship he asked the Giants to bring him to the big league camp as a non-roster invitee with a promise that he would make the club.

Speier made good on his promise, earning a Topps 1972 All-Star Rookie card by driving in 46 runs as the Giants starting shortstop. He then went on a four year run as one of the top shortstops in the National League, making the all star team for three of those years (as a starter in 1973). At a time when hitting by a shortstop was considered a bonus, Speier showed good power and clutch hitting ability, driving in 71,71,53, and 69 runs in those four years and hitting over 10 home runs three times. He was above average on defense as well, showing great range at short.

Speier was not that consistent in the following seasons. In 1976, he hit only .226, and after a poor start in 1977 when he hit only .176, he became extremely disgruntled, perhaps by the Giants not offering him a good enough contract. He was sent to the Expos for another disgruntled shortstop, Tim Foli. He alternated good years with bad in Montreal. Speier had three years with the Expos where he resembled his good Giant years (in 1978, played in 150 games and hit .251; in 1980 hit .265, his highest average in five years; and in 1982 when he once again became a clutch hitter, driving in 60 while hitting .257).

Speier remained the Expos starting shortstop until 1984, when he lost the job to Brian Little. Thrust into a utility role, the Expos decided they wanted a younger player to fill that role, and they traded Speier, who had been asking for a trade since the previous September because of diminished playing time, to the Cardinals for Mike Ramsey. This was probably a bad place for him to land, as Tom Herr and Ozzie Smith were certainly better that the Expos had at that position. After just 38 games where he hit only .176, Speier was traded again to the Twins, who tried to void the trade after he reported to the club with a bruised heel.

Speier signed with the Cubs the following year, which is curious as the team already had veteran Larry Bowa (a similar player to Speier) to provide a safety net for young phenom Shawon Dunston. He managed to appear in over 100 games, as he was needed to fill in for third baseman Ron Cey and second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who were injured much of the season. In 1986, Speier hit a career high .284, this time spending most of his time backing up third.

Speier spent his last three years with his original team, the Giants. He finished his career in 1989, after 19 years with a .246 average and over 1,700 hits.

A hardcore Catholic, Speier started an unaccredited (by both the church and the state) “Orthodox” Catholic school in Arizona after retirement. But he was soon back in the baseball life, and besides some minor league coaching and managing assignments, coached with the A’s, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Brewers. While coaching with the Cubs, Speier was arrested for drunk driving in Arizona. He is currently the bench coach for the Reds.

Chris’s son Justin pitched for 12 seasons in the majors.

Rear guard: Again with the small font. I think they saved enough room for a stat highlight on the back. Speier certainly had enough of them.

This date in baseball history: In 1929, numbers were worn on the backs of uniforms for the first time in a game between the Indians and the Yankees.

Friday, May 11, 2012

#211 Ed Wojna

Card thoughts: Wojna is pronounced “Who-hee-na,” which in Polish means “war.” Seeing this card again, I kept on hearing in my head “Woe-jah-nah,” which must have meant I spent a lot of time in ’86 trying decide on what to make of his odd last name. But I’m not the only person who had trouble: Teammates #90 Garry Templeton and Marvelle Wynne would always call him “Wash-nuh.” Also:

 -- Because of a production error 10 times the amount of this card was printed (making it QUITE invaluable, even though it is a rookie card)
 -- Wojna is shot from almost the same angle as the player he was traded with,  #44 Lance McCullers

The player: Wojna was excellent in the minors for the Phillies, winning over 10 games in each of his three minor league seasons in their system. Traded to the Padres, he won 14 games for AAA Las Vegas in 1984. Since the Padres had an excellent starting staff in 1985 (held over from their 1984 division crown) there wasn’t much opportunity for Wojna to break into the rotation. They did give him 7 starts (among 15 overall appearances) mid-season when they sent down ineffective reliever Greg Booker. Even though Wojna walked few batters, he barely struck anyone out either, which led to a problematic 11.4 hits per nine innings and a 5.74 ERA. Part of the issue was that he was a very slow worker, which led to fielders not reacting as well as they should to balls hit to their right or left.

Wojna was very effective in limited duty the next season, once again starting 7 games but sporting a lower ERA (3.23) and a 2-2 record. He still was giving up more than a base runner per inning, but not as much as the previous season. Apparently, the main difference was that he began to pitch quicker and inside on more batters. In 1987, however, Wojna’s season was terrible as he lost all 3 of his starts, and once again had a high ERA.

He was traded after the season to the White Sox, with whom he would never play a major league game. Wojna was traded once again the following year to the Indians. He would pitch his final 33 innings there, over 5 games including 3 starts. Wojna went out well. In his final game in 1989, he pitched 5 innings in long relief of Rod Nichols without giving up a run. 

Rear guard: Wojna's first win was a gem, as he went 6 innings, giving up only one run against the Giants. However, he walked 4 against only 2 strikeouts.

Two intentional walks in one inning is pretty impressive, and very confusing. Those 2 walks were the only ones issued by Cubs starter Ferguson Jerkins, who shut out the Padres in that game. How can a batter come up twice in an inning, without the team scoring a run? The answer is, that statistic is wrong. Cannizzaro recieved two intentional walks alright, but it was in the 2nd and 4th innings. I still don't know why Fergie was walking him, when he was the 7th place hitter. Oh well, here's Canizzaro's card from that year.

This date in baseball history: How times have changed in baseball. Racist, Nazi sympathizer (they weren't neo-Nazi's back then) Ben Chapman, a Yankee first baseman, continuously harasses a Jewish fan of the team, including giving the "Sieg Heil" salute in 1934. Chapman was just as obnoxious several years later when, as manager of the Phillies, he vigorously protested Jackie Robinson breaking the color line.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

#210 Calvin Schiraldi

Card thoughts: Calvin Schiraldi does not deserve a card ending in 0. And that is a most bent over follow through. Is he ducking a line drive?

The player: Schiraldi was a hotshot young pitching phenom when this card was issued. This would be his only Topps card as a Met, however, as he was traded to the Red Sox the following season for #11 Bobby Ojeda, among others.

The Red Sox certainly got value out of Schiraldi during the regular season. After being called up from the AAA affiliate mid-season, he posted a sparkling 1.41 ERA and was the team’s closer by the end of the season. Unfortunately, that success was not translated into the World Series. While Schiraldi was fine in the ALCS with a 1.50 ERA over 6 innings of work, he imploded against the Mets. Of the three games Schiraldi appeared in, he saved 1, lost 2 (including the infamous Game 6) and carried a lugubrious ERA of 13.50 for the series. Boston fans never forgave him.

After a disappointing year the following season as a middle reliever with a heavy workload (ERA: 4.41 over 83+ innings), Schiraldi was traded to the Cubs with #181 Al Nipper for star closer Lee Smith—because we all know the Cubs needed World Series goat to “help” their team. The Cubs converted Schiraldi back into a starter (although he was supposed to replace Smith at closer), where he showed a good strikeout rate, but little else, going 9-13 with a 4.38 ERA.

Schiraldi was back in the pen the following year, but his real value to the Cubs came in August when he was offloaded to the Padres for stretch run hero #103 Luis Salazar and speedster Marvelle Wynne. Back in the rotation for the Padres, he pitched well for the rest of season, compiling a 3-1 record with a 2.58 ERA over 4 starts.

Apparently, the Padres believed that record was a fluke, and he was back in a middle relief role the following season, with his ERA around 4 as usual.

In 1991, late in spring training, Schiraldi was released by the Padres and wound up signing a minor league deal with Texas. A miserable 11.57 ERA in extremely limited duty got him released by the Rangers. Schiraldi was picked up by another Texas team that season, the Astros, but he never pitched above AAA with them.

Schiraldi today coaches baseball at a Catholic high school in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

Rear guard: Ed Charles was an interesting guy. Stuck in the minors for 10 years (mostly in the segregated South), he wrote poetry about racism and baseball. Charles was the Mets regular third baseman the season he hit his two pinch home runs, a feat even more impressive as they came on successive days. For the record, Charles had only 19 career pinch hits. Here's his card from '69.

This date in baseball history: The entire Cardinals bench was ejected from a game against the Astros in 1979 by a substitute umpire after bats and helmets were thrown on the field. No word on how the game was finished.

Monday, May 7, 2012

#209 Randy Ready

Card thoughts: Randy Ready sounds like the alias of a bassist in a hair metal band. This is one of the nicest smiles in the set. I look at this card and think, in the voice of a middle-aged matron, “What a pleasant young man!”

The player: Ready was an accomplished minor league hitter before he debuted with the Brewers in 1983 where he hit .405 in 43 plate appearances. But as a third basean, Ready was blocked by future hall-of-famer Paul Molitor. The Brewers traded Ready to the Padres midway through the 1986 season for a player to be named later (Tim Pyznarski), who had a Future Star card in 1987, but never amounted to much in the majors.

Unfortunately, soon after he was traded to the Padres, personal tragedy struck Ready’s family. His wife, a petite woman with no weight issues, was prescribed diet pills which caused her to have a heart attack, leading to permanent brain damage that left her with little motor or speech control and confined to a nursing home. Ready eventually won the largest medical malpractice judgment ever in Wisconsin against the doctor.

On the field, Ready enjoyed his best major league season. He had career highs in every offensive category, and hit over .300, to go along with an over .500 slugging percentage while playing third base, second base, and the outfield. After another two seasons of productive utility work, the Padres made a bad trade and sent Randy Ready along with John Kruk to the Phillies for Chris James.

With the Phillies, his average dropped from the .260s into the .240s, but he did almost complete an unassisted triple play against his former team in 1991. Granted free agency after that season, Ready was signed by the A’s, where he hit poorly for the division winners (3-17-.200). In his only post season at bat, he struck out. The next season Ready spent with the Expos, and it was the last that he would have over 100 at bats. While he hit better (1-10-.254), there wasn’t much advantage of carrying an over 30 year old utility man on the roster. After two more seasons with the Phillies spent mostly at AAA as an insurance policy for the big club, Ready retired.

After retirement, Ready became an decent minor league manager in the Tigers and Padres systems. In 2010, he was named the Padres hitting coach but was fired after just one season as the Padres finished in last place in the NL West, largely because of their poor hitting. 

Rear guard: Ready's first hit was an infield hit to the left side that Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles couldn't handle.

This date in baseball history: Over 90,000 fans, the most in big league history, saw the Dodgers beat the Yankees in an exhibition game at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1959. The occasion was Roy Campanella Night.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

#208 Ramon Romero

Card thoughts: Due to the lighting, I believe this picture was taken around the same time as the #172 Jerry Reed picture. Besides that, this is very weird angle for a picture. Romero is just looming there, with a goofy grin and a big blue (!) glove. This is both Romero’s rookie card and only Topps card.

The player: Romero took six years to get to the majors, and then retired only one year after reaching his goal. Looking at Romero’s minor league statistics, it’s hard to have any explanation other than sheer desperation by the Indians that he ever got to the majors. Although he was lefthander, he was extremely thin at 6’4” and 170 lbs.

Used mostly as a swing man in the minors, he played for 13 different minor league teams before his one game trial with the Indians in 1984. Romero split his time relieving and starting during the season shown on this card, and was ineffective at both, sporting a 2 and 3 record with a stratospheric 6.58 ERA. He walked as many (38) as he struck out.

The Indians, disgusted with his performance, actually found a sucker (I mean a taker) for his services. He was traded along with fellow disappointing starter #9 Roy Smith to the Twins for reliever Brian Oelkers. Romero, no doubt missing the Indians organization with which he had spent his entire career, pitched only one more professional season in the minors before retiring.

Rear guard: Very rare to see the small font for a player who barely played in the majors. Romero's first win was in the second game of a doubleheader against the Yankees. He pitched 7 2/3 innings, and, besides giving up 2 solo home runs, pitched just good enough to get the win, striking out 3, walking 1, and giving up 4 hits.

This date in baseball history: 2 no-hitters and 1 perfect game were hurled on this date. Cy Young pitched the perfect game (the first in American League history) in 1904; Ernie Koob (1917) and Bo Belinsky (a rookie) (1962) were the pitchers who pitched no-hitters.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

#207 Record Breaker: Fernando Valenzuela

Card thoughts: They really should have shown Fernando in his famous "eyes in the sky" portion of his delivery.

The record:  The record lasted until Valenzuela's fifth start. He actually gave up 4 unearned runs in that span, which led to losses on second day of the season to the Astros and on April 23rd to the Giants.

Rear guard: You would think after over 70 years, another pitcher would have broken this record. George Wiltsie, better known as "Hooks" only pitched 134 innings that year, and his ERA was a fairly high for the time at 3.14. This record is so obscure, I can't find out if it has been broken or not.

This date in baseball history: A new balk rule instituted in 1950 plays havoc with Yankees starter Vic Raschi. Unable to come to the required full stop, he balks four times in a game. Despite that, he gets the win.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

#206 Record Breaker: Pete Rose

Card thoughts: Two aging Reds in a row. This picture was likely sourced from a news organization which managed to get Rose right when he got his tie-breaking hit. I say this because a Topps night action picture is rare. I think they used to issue them in the 70s when they had those World Series cards.

The record: . . . should have made Rose a shoo-in for the hall of fame. But he gambled it away. If Ichiro had been playing here since he was a teenager, perhaps he would have had a shot at the record. I'd say this record is not insurmountable: most hitting records aren't these days.

Rear guard: Some say that Eric Show never got over the fact that he gave up the record-breaking hit, and it ultimately led to his premature death after years of drug abuse.

This date in baseball history: Roscoe Barnes, shortstop for the Chicago White Stockings, hits the first home run in National League history in 1876. Barnes also grew up in my hometown, and played on the local team when it was in the National Association.