01 August 2014

a few final tributes for a few different reasons

final tribute friday is in full swing today.  the final tributes in my collection can be broken down into four categories:

1. hall of famers
2. personal favorites
3. cards marked as a final tribute
4. significant players

this post has cards from each of those categories

curt schilling would be a significant player, although he probably finds his way into the hall of fame at some point.  his 2008 upper deck card is a pretty good final tribute
it's the only schilling card in my final tribute collection, even though there were bowman, topps, topps heritage, and other cards issued for him the year after he pitched in his last game.  here's the back with his full career stats.
things started out roughly for schilling, but he turned it around and became one of the best pitchers in the national league.  i was at the dodgers' opening day game in 1997 where schilling shut them down for 8 innings, allowing only 2 hits while striking out 11 - it was an impressive performance.  schilling's last big league appearance came in game 2 of the 2007 world series in which he beat the rockies to give the bosox a 2-0 lead in the fall classic.  schilling finished his career with three world series rings, 3116 strikeouts, and a bloody sock.  his strikeout to walk ratio is the best in the modern era, and the best ever for a pitcher who pitched for more than 10 seasons.

jack morris qualifies as a personal favorite, but i would consider him a significant player (the winningest pitcher of the 1980's) as well.  hopefully, he becomes a hall of famer at some point, too.  after leading the league with 21 wins in 1992 for the blue jays, morris struggled in 1993 and wound up 7-12 with a 6.19 era for toronto.  he spent 1994 with the indians, but was released just a couple of days before the players went on strike.  morris had passed 250 wins, but was a bit shy of 2500 strikeouts for his career, and whether motivated by milestones or not, he still wanted to pitch.  so, morris signed with the reds in december of 1994 and waited out the strike.  he retired shortly after spring training began, however, making the few 1995 cards issued of him final tributes.  here's his 1995 fleer ultra card
his 1995 upper deck special edition card
and his 1995 upper deck collector's choice card
that one is the best of the bunch, as it shows morris' complete career stats.  you'll notice that morris had shaved his mustache to pitch for the reds, but he made just one spring training start for them before calling it quits.

the only reason i have a 1996 upper deck collector's choice john kruk card in my collection is because it has the 'tribute' designation on the front.
 here are kruk's complete career stats
kruk retired with a .300 batting average, and he did so in the middle of the season.  i recall his final game because of the unusual highlight shown on espn:  after singling in the first inning on july 30, 1995, kruk asked for the baseball.  he was serving as the team's dh that day, and the hit broke an 0 for 15 skid that saw his average drop from .336 to .304 on the season.  when his spot came up in the order again, kruk wasn't even in the clubhouse - frank thomas pinch hit for him, and kruk's retirement had begun.  there are a lot of players who don't know going in to it that a certain at bat will be their last, but kruk knew.  i actually thought of that when i was playing amateur ball and decided to call it quits in the summer of 2000.  i knew that i was likely never going to play baseball again, and i was able to savor the last couple of at bats.  unfortunately, my warning track power was on display that last time up - f7.

kirby puckett didn't know that he had already experienced his final big league at bat when this card, a 1996 upper deck collector's choice card was issued in november of 1995
 but these are indeed his final career stats
puckett, of course, falls into the hall of famer category in my final tribute collection.  his final big league at bat came near the end of the 1995 season.  he was beaned in the face by cleveland's dennis martinez in the first inning of the game on september 28, 1995 and did not return to the lineup in any of the last few games in the season.  in spring training 1996, puckett was diagnosed with glaucoma and his career was over.  i showed some other puckett final tributes previously, but this one was left out of those posts for some reason.

like kruk's final tribute above, the only reason that this 1998 upper deck darren daulton
and this 1998 upper deck collector's choice tony pena
are in the collection is because of the final tribute designation given to each card.  here are the backs
both were catchers, but while daulton struggled with injuries, pena was able to stay healthy and play in a ton of games.  still, daulton was able to go out with a bang as he and the marlins won the world series in 1997.

the last card in the post is of a personal favorite - roy halladay.  this is his 2014 topps opening day card
which comes with his complete career stats on the back
i first heard of roy halladay when he lost a no-hitter in his second career start thanks to a home run hit by bobby higginson with two outs in the ninth inning.  i remember at the time hoping that he would get another chance and get the no-hitter (he did, twice).  i also remember starting to follow his career since i had a soft spot for the blue jays.  later, my halladay fandom was sealed when he saved my fantasy baseball season in 2001 with a final weekend shutout (my league gave points for complete games and shutouts).  unfortunately, halladay was forced to retire after last season due to shoulder problems.

halladay is one of a few 2014 final tributes in my collection, along with mariano rivera and lance berkman.  you know i'll be looking for derek jeter and paul konerko cards next year...

31 July 2014

random cards from the scanned folder are like a box of chocolates

look deep into scott erickson's eyes on his 2005 topps total card
he'll make you forget that this is a post of cards thrown together with little to no thought or common theme.  just a bunch of cards i have scanned over the years, but not posted for one reason or another.  as an aside, i forgot all about this card when i went to a signing that erickson attended three years ago when the twins celebrated the 1991 world series team.  that's ok - his wife was there, and i forgot all about baseball cards for a moment.

now it's time for some edwin jackson.  this is a 2005 topps turkey red card
and this is a 2005 upper deck all-star classics
jackson made his big league debut on his 20th birthday (9/9/03), squaring off against randy johnson and the diamondbacks.  the dodgers made him a winner that day, and again a couple of weeks later in san francisco (a game that i attended).  jackson was wild in that game, walking 8, but he struck out barry bonds and allowed no runs and only 2 hits in his 6 innings of work.  jackson was back with the dodgers for a handful of games in 2004 and 2005, but was traded to the devil rays prior to the 2006 season.  in his 12-year career (so far), jackson has pitched for 8 teams.

2005 upper deck espn cesar izturis web gems
izturis won a gold glove in 2004 which largely explains his appearance in an insert set

2011 panini playoff contenders chris reed

reed was the dodgers' first round pick in 2011.  he was born in london, but attended high school in socal and went to stanford after that.  he's currently a double-a chattanooga. 

2011 bowman andre ethier gold parallel
and 2011 bowman ted lilly gold parallel
ethier only gets one parallel in this post, but lilly gets three.

2011 topps ted lilly diamond anniversary platinum parallel
and 2011 topps update ted lilly cognac parallel
i still prefer lilly's 2013 topps card.

here's a few more from 2011 topps update.  remember javy guerra?
who comes in cognac form
and platinum parallel fashion as well
guerra was picked up on waivers by the white sox earlier this year, so he and ronald belisario are making it deja vu all over again in the chisox bullpen.

one more from 2011 topps update - it's matt guerrier
guerrier was dealt to the cubs last year for carlos marmol, but signed with the twins prior to this season. he was just recently dfa'd by the club, although aside from his last outing he hadn't pitched that poorly.  i was a fan - as much as one can be of a non-closer reliever.

in other news, chris capuano is now a yankee.  here's his 2012 topps update card
and his 2013 topps gypsy queen white framed parallel
he had started the season with the red sox after two years with the dodgers, but was released on july 1. after a short stint with the rockies' organization, capuano had his contract purchased by the yankees and made a start for them just the other day.  he turned in a quality start, but didn't get a decision.

30 July 2014

more from the garvey oddball binder - 1984 union oil dodgers most memorable moments sheets

here are some more sheets from my steve garvey oddball binder.  these come from the 1984 union oil dodgers most memorable moments set.  similar to the 1982 volpe portraits, these were available at your local southland 76 station (murph was the proprieter in the commercials, i believe).  there are some good moments captured in these sheets, including bob welch's strikeout of reggie jackson in game 2 of the 1978 world series and roy campanella night at the coliseum in 1959.  

garvey shows up on 5 of the 16 sheets in the set, and those are the ones in the binder.

30-home run quartet
in 1977, garvey, dusty baker, reggie smith, and ron cey became the first four teammates to hit 30 home runs in the same season.  topps didn't make a card (so i did), but seven years later, union oil came through with a sheet.

1977 nlcs
garvey shares space with teammates cey, baker, bill russell, davey lopes, vic davalillo, tommy john, manny mota, and don sutton.  cey is front and center on the sheet, but dusty baker was the series mvp with 2 homers and 8 rbi.  the majority of the text on the back pertains to game 3 of the series (black friday as it's known in philadelphia) wherein the dodgers used a bunt single by davalillo, a double by manny mota, and an infield single by davey lopes to tie the score, all with two outs.  an error and a bill russell single later, and the dodgers had taken a two games to one lead in the series.

the 10th player
this sheet is a tribute to dodger fans, with garvey, cey, sutton, mota, jerry reuss, and joe ferguson appearing on the front.  the fan tribute is centered around the end of the 1980 season when the dodgers were three games out of first with three to play.  as luck would have it, the astros were coming to town. the dodgers swept the series behind some big home runs by ferguson, garvey, and cey, but lost game 163 as the astros advanced to the postseason for the first time.

1981 world championship
garvey shows up on this one as part of the three-steves celebration - jumping in the air after the dodgers' game 6 win with steves howe and yeager.  also appearing on the sheet are series co-mvp's cey, yeager, and pedro guerrero.  tommy lasorda and nlcs hero rick monday round out the sheet commemorating the dodgers' first world championship since 1965, and first reached by beating the yankees since 1963.

record setting infield
this is, quite obviously, my favorite sheet.  it's all about the infield.

more garvey goodness to come; stay tuned.

the quest for a 1978 topps master set

1978 topps was the first set i ever completed.  it took me most of the summer of 1978 to do it, but i built the set through packs and neighborhood trades and singles purchased at the local card shop.  although i had been given a pack of 1977 topps the year before, and somehow had a few 1971 cards in my collection, it was the 1978 set that spurred my dedication to the hobby.  

i also spent a couple of weeks in the great white north that summer, and bought up packs of 1978 o-pee-chee cards, enjoying the variations that mixed the topps photos with new teams for some players and the clarifying text that was added to those cards.  i didn't finish the o-pee-chee set until the early 2000's, however, but once it was completed, i turned my attention to the other 1978 variations.

there was the 1978 topps zest willie montanez card, and the 1978 topps burger king cards issued for the rangers, tigers, yankees, and astros that included several cards not in the 1978 topps flagship.  beyond that, there are the cards that topps made as part of their archives and fan favorites sets using the 1978 design.  i showed most of them in this post, but left out two from the 2004 topps all-time fan favorites set.

here's keith hernandez
and a card made for national league umpire eric gregg
topps had to modify the design slightly to accommodate the lack of a team name, although i wish they had used the national league logo (or at least a larger mlb logo) and broken the border to make it look a little bit more like a 1978 card.  the back is all text, which is a departure as well
there is no mention of the generous strike zone gregg employed in the 1997 nlcs.

here's the back of hernandez's card, which looks more like the real thing
except for the stats beyond 1977 and the text reference to his 1979 co-mvp and batting title.

since the post that showed the other atff and recent archives cards that used the design, i was able to find one that had eluded me.  the 2012 topps archives george foster auto sp is now in the collection
i don't know why this card wasn't issued as a non-auto (same goes for the greg luzinski in the set).  meanwhile, it doesn't appear that the 1978 design was used at all in 2014 topps archives.  still, there was this card issued as an insert in 2014 topps series 2 that i picked up
it's a 'future stars that never were' card, re-imagining eddie murray's 1978 topps rookie card as a 'future star' subset card, had there been one in 1978.  topps did a nice job of using the stars that they used on the 1978 highlights cards, so i see how this design could have fit into the set.  however, i would have preferred to see a card that should have been of paul molitor, alan trammell, lou whitaker, dale murphy, or some other player who was featured on a multi-player rookie card that year instead of murray.  i'll still take it, though.

29 July 2014

the 1978 topps dodgers in 1993 - the return of johnnie b. baker

none of the three 1978 topps dodgers who were featured in the 1992 set dropped out in 1993, and they were joined by another member of the club.

we'll start with the lone dodger of the bunch - tom lasorda
topps went to a dual manager format in 1993 for the first time.  it calls to mind the dual all-star player cards of 1973 and 1974.  anyway, hal mcrae joins tommy on his card and he brought the royals back to the right side of .500 in 1993 just like tommy (almost) did.  lasorda's dodgers, having lost 99 games in 1992, rebounded to finish an even .500 at 81-81 in 1993.  this was due in no small part to the arrival of mike piazza, who hit 35 homers with 112 rbi and a .318 batting average in his rookie season.

charlie hough
hough had signed with the expansion marlins as a free agent following the 1992 season, and he wound up making the first start in franchise history.  as such, he recorded a lot of franchise firsts in that game against (who else?) the dodgers.  he was the first marlin starting pitcher, the first to strike a batter out, the first to issue a walk, the first to allow a home run, and the first to record a win (yes, the marlins beat the dodgers in their first ever game).  when the season ended, hough was 9-16 with a 4.27 era in 34 appearances, all of them starts.  he even recorded a couple of hits in his return to the national league, where he was the oldest player on any roster.

johnny oates
oates shares his 1993 topps card with hall of fame manager bobby cox, inducted to the hall just last weekend.  oates in 1993 led baltimore to their second straight winning season at 85 wins and 77 losses. that was four fewer wins than the team had posted in 1992, but the finish was the same:  3rd in the american league east.  oates' pitching staff in 1993 included fernando valenzuela, whom oates narrowly missed having as a teammate with the dodgers.  he did manage a former dodger teammate, however, as rick sutcliffe was a member of oates' starting rotation in both 1992 and 1993 for the orioles.

dusty baker
baker gets to share space with blue jays' manager cito gaston whose team won the world series for the second straight season in 1993.  baker meanwhile was brought in to replace roger craig as the giants' field leader following a 90-loss season and 5th place finish in 1992.  the giants turned things around for baker, winning 103 games in 1993.  in 1992, that would have been plenty of wins to garner the nl west title, but in 1993, it was one game short.  the braves, winners of 104 games in 1993, took the crown thanks to a dodger beatdown of the giants on the final day of the regular season.  i still recall baker choosing to start rookie salomon torres in game 162 and mike piazza hitting two home runs (including a grand slam) to end the giants' season.  i was happy to see dusty back on the diamond and back on cardboard, but also pleased that he wasn't taking the giants into the postseason.

unfortunately for me, topps would do away with the managerial cards in 1994 (and not bring them back  until 2001), so the coming years were going to be pretty lean when it came to the 1978 topps dodgers.  they weren't done yet, though - stay tuned...

here is the yearly tally of appearances to date:

baker 18 (1971-1987, 1993)
burke 2 (1978-1979)
cey 16 (1972-1987)
davalillo 14 (1963-1974, 1978-1979)
forster 16 (1972-1987)
garman 8 (1971-1973, 1975-1979)
garvey 17 (1971-1987)
goodson 6 (1973-1978)
grote 15 (1964-1976, 1978-1979)
hooton 15 (1972-1986)
hough 22 (1972-1993)
john 26 (1964-1989)
lacy 16 (1973-1988)
lasorda 19 (1954, 1973-1974, 1977-1981, 1983-1993)
lopes 16 (1973-1988)
martinez 9 (1971-1976, 1978-1980)
monday 18 (1967-1984)
mota 18 (1963-1980)
oates 13 (1972-1981, 1991-1993)
rau 9 (1973-1981)
rautzhan 2 (1978-1979)
rhoden 16 (1975-1990)
russell 18 (1970-1987)
smith 17 (1967-1983)
sosa 10 (1974-1984)
sutton 23 (1966-1988)
yeager 15 (1973-1987)

teams represented so far: 24 (dodgers, indians, colt .45's, pirates, white sox, astros, mets, a's, red sox, angels, expos, cardinals, braves, cubs, orioles, giants, phillies, yankees, rangers, tigers, padres, brewers, mariners, marlins)