31 October 2009

let's turn two!

this has nothing to do with halloween, but here are a bunch of double play turns!

2000 upper deck miguel tejada (nomar sliding in!)
1998 upper deck tony womack (x3) and only one sammy sosa
1998 upper deck chris gomez with an appearance by a jack murphy outfield palm tree
1997 topps craig biggio forcing out barry bonds
1994 upper deck collector's choice robby thompson in a pcl throwback jersey
1994 upper deck collector's choice chris gomez and the 1988 al mvp (runner up) mike greenwell
1993 topps craig biggio in wrigley
1992 upper deck lance blankenship at home in oakland
1992 topps stadium club monty fariss in what has to be one of the least interesting double play cards i have seen
1992 topps bill doran with dodger lenny harris sliding in way too late
1992 topps jeff blauser - he's at wrigley, too!
1991 leaf tim teufel with an appearance by the expos and their awesome helmets!1990 upper deck domingo ramos with vince coleman and dormant ivy at wrigleyand last, but not least, 1990 upper deck jim gantner with brian downing doing a steamroller into second.

nothing quite like a good ol' 6-4-3!

30 October 2009

red adams through the mail success!

it took former dodgers pitching coach red adams less than two weeks to sign and return this 1978 topps card to me.that's red to the right of tom lasorda seated in the front row (which reminds me, i have been meaning to post my 'who's who' of the 1978 team card). some of you had asked what i had planned to do for the team card, and the answer i gave was pretty vague: that i had a few ideas. this is the first one that has been returned to me, but hopefully not the last.

charles 'red' adams won almost 200 games as a minor leaguer. in the majors, he was 0-1 for the 1946 cubs. after his playing career ended, he became a scout for the dodgers and then joined the coaching staff as the pitching coach in 1969. he held that role until 1980, and was succeeded by ron perranoski. i will let the words of don sutton pay tribute to the coach that red adams was: "red adams is a standard by which every pitching coach should be measured. no person ever meant more to me in my career than red adams, and without him i wouldn't be standing in cooperstown today."

red also kindly signed my 1973 topps card, and included a signed 4x6 as well. just for good measure, he added a note and signed my letter, too!

this is the 18th piece of my modest 1978 topps dodgers autograph project.here's the tally:

team card (red adams) - through the mail success!
dusty baker
glenn burke
terry forster
ed goodson
burt hooton
tom lasorda
rick monday
rick rhoden
elias sosa
don sutton
steve yeager

18/29 = 62%
thanks red!

29 October 2009

the evolution of the catcher

i enjoyed the trip down dodger memory lane so much the first time, i figured i would do it again. so, here's a look at the evolution of the dodgers' catcher position. a quick note - this isn't just the opening day starters (sorry, chad kreuter), but rather the primary catcher over the course of a given season. we'll start in 1948, which seems appropriate enough, since that's when roy campanella took over the tools of ignorance.

roy campanella (1948-1957)campy was a three time mvp and played in the all star game in eight of his ten major league seasons. he was paralyzed in an automobile accident in january of 1958, and so never played for the los angeles dodgers. over 93,000 turned out to the la coliseum for roy campanella night in 1959 - a then record crowd for a major league baseball game. the dodgers retired the hall of famer's number 39 in 1972 - the same day they retired the jerseys of jackie robinson and sandy koufax. roy campanella died in 1993.

campy's accident gave way to john roseboro (1958-1967)
roseboro was an all star in his first full season with the dodgers, and won a couple of gold gloves as well. he hit .251 over his 11 seasons in los angeles, with an ops of .709. he hit just .157 in the 4 world series he played in with the dodgers, although he was a three time world series champion. after the 1967 season, the dodgers traded him to the minnesota twins (with bob miller and ron perranoski) for mudcat grant and zoilo versalles. roseboro died in 2002.

tom haller (1968-1970)haller was acquired by the dodgers from the giants (!) prior to the 1968 season for ron hunt and nate oliver. a two-time all star with the giants, haller made the all star team two more times with the dodgers, setting a career high in hits with la in 1968. he didn't hit with as much power for the dodgers, but did hit for a higher average (.276) than he did over the course of his stay with san francisco (.248). after three seasons as the primary catcher, haller would essentially platoon with duke sims in 1971. the dodgers failed to make the postseason during haller's four seasons with the club, and they sold him to the tigers after the 1971 season. haller died in 2004.

duke sims (1971) as mentioned above, sims platooned with haller in 1971, although duke played slightly more games (74) at the position than haller (67), so he gets a full mention here. acquired from cleveland for alan foster and ray lamb prior to the 1971 season, sims hit .274 with 6 home runs and an ops of .757 in 1971. he stayed with the club through about half of the 1972 season when he was picked up off of waivers by the tigers, and once again, joined tom haller behind the plate. while both haller and sims would go to the postseason with detroit in 1972, their successor was not so lucky.

chris cannizarro (1972) cannizzaro was picked up on waivers by the dodgers from the cubs prior to the 1972 season. he caught in 72 games for the dodgers, but the other games were split amongst the next two catchers to be featured, so cannizzaro gets the nod for this season. kind of like jesse ventura winning against two career politicians as a third party candidate. anyway, chris's time was short lived, and he was released late in the 1973 season after batting just .235 for the dodgers during his stint in la. he was picked up by the padres, and his 1975 topps card may well be the worst card ever. stay tuned to night owl's new blog to check it out.

joe ferguson (1973)ferguson was one of the players selected by the dodgers in their legendary 1968 draft. he made his debut in 1970, and slugged a career high 25 home runs as he became the dodgers' primary catcher in 1973 (although the next guy would supplant him late that same season). as a result, ferguson would also spend time in the outfield, and is perhaps best known for his assist in the 1974 world series when he threw sal bando out at the plate. ferguson had two stints with the dodgers as a player (he was traded away for reggie smith, and the dodgers later gave up jeffrey leonard to get him back), and would then return again as a coach. he currently manages in the atlantic league. btw, baseball almanac tells me that would be craig robinson, foreground lurker.

steve yeager (1974-1980, 1983)as the catcher of my youth, yeager probably could, and should, be considered as part of the longevity story that is usually applied just to the dodgers' infield of garvey, cey, russell, and lopes. he was the primary catcher for their three 1970's pennant winners (and filled in during the 1981 postseason), although he was not a major offensive threat. he was known for his strong arm, and his defense was pretty good. plus, he could call a game well. over the course of his career, yeager threw out 38% of the runners attempting to steal off of him, made just 88 errors and retired with a fielding percentage of .987. after being named the backup in 1981, yeager would reclaim the starting role in 1983 when mike scioscia went down with an injury. after the 1985 season, the dodgers would trade the 1981 world series co-mvp to the mariners for ed vandeberg. with the mariners, yeager appeared in roger clemens' first 20-k game. to his credit, yeager struck out only once that day in two at bats. yeager has managed in the dodgers' farm system, but i think he is now involved in public relations for the team.

mike scioscia (1981-1982, 1984-1992)scioscia took over for yeager in 1980, some might say, but didn't claim the majority of the playing time until 1981. like yeager, scioscia wasn't the biggest offensive threat, but he was a smart catcher who called good games, and man did he know how to block the plate. he also became the first dodger catcher to start an all star game (in 1990) since roy campanella. the dodgers made the postseason three times with scioscia behind the plate, and won two world series, with scioscia hitting a crucial home run in the 1988 nlcs against dwight gooden. good times. some would say that the dodgers' all time leader in games caught went on to play for the padres and rangers, but i choose not to believe that since it doesn't show up in his career stats. of course, the dodgers did allow him to go to orange county and manage a different team - that we know for sure.

mike piazza (1993-1997) perhaps the greatest offensive catcher since roy campanella was inexplicably traded by the dodgers early in the 1998 season. this after winning the rookie of the year and posting 5 top ten mvp finishes in each of his first 5 seasons with the club, leading them to the postseason twice. the should-have-been 1997 mvp (no disrespect to larry walker intended - walker beat piazza in pretty much every offensive category, but he played in coors field and piazza played in dodger stadium and was a catcher for goodness sakes!) had a .331 average with 177 home runs and an ops of .966 over his career with the dodgers. piazza, dubbed by then radio schmuck jimmy kimmel as the 'italian-american superstar slugger, mike piazza' also became only the second person to hit a ball out of dodger stadium. willie stargell was the other. stupid fox.

charles johnson (1998)cj was one of the guys the dodgers got for piazza. he had been one of the heroes for the 1997 world champion marlins, and had finished 11th in the league mvp voting that year. he didn't do much in la, though, hitting just .217 with an ops of .638 in his one (partial) season with the dodgers. perhaps realizing that they had dealt away a huge part of their offense, the dodgers sent johnson to the mets after the 98 season (with roger cedeno) for todd hundley.

todd hundley (1999-2000)hundley had, in fact, hit over 40 home runs as a catcher for the mets before he was injured. while he was out, they traded for mike piazza, and hundley, now without a position, made an ill-fated attempt at playing the outfield. he came to the dodgers and was inserted as their primary catcher for 1999. that year he hit only .207 and had the strange statistic of 24 home runs with just 55 rbi. the following year, he rebounded nicely, hitting 24 home runs again but with 70 rbi and a .284 batting average in just 90 games. he signed with the cubs as a free agent after the 2000 campaign, but would return to the dodgers for the 2003 season when he was traded with chad hermansen for eric karros and mark grudzielanek.

paul loduca (2001-2004)loduca burst on the scene in 2001, putting up career highs in home runs (25), rbi (90) and batting average (.320) in his first full season. of course, we know now that he was using peds. anyway, paulie made us forget all about todd hundley, and to some extent mike piazza, until he followed in piazza's footsteps and got traded to the marlins in 2004. the trade (loduca, guillermo mota, and juan encarnacion for brad penny, hee seop choi, and bill murphy) was lambasted in the press by the la columnists (plaschke) and even mourned by the manager (jim tracy) who traded in his number 12 jersey to wear loduca's number 16. if i recall correctly, the dodgers still won the west in 2004, even if paul depodesta forgot to line up a decent catcher to replace the traded 'heart and soul' of the team.

jason phillips (2005)
i kind of wish that 2005 would have belonged to dioner navarro, but jim tracy didn't see it that way. in fact, if you look at who the primary position players were in 2005, you might think tracy was trying to get fired. anyway, phillips didn't perform that badly, and the mets did agree to take kaz ishii off our hands in exchange for him. a free agent after the 2005 season, phillips signed with the blue jays, allowing the next guy to take over.

russell martin (2006-present)
although sandy alomar, jr started the 2006 season at catcher, martin quickly took over and we haven't looked back since. in his four seasons, martin has a .276 average and an ops of .774. here's hoping russell nathan coltrane jeanson martin rebounds from a subpar year in 2010. after all, next year is his '27' year...

28 October 2009

i fell into a burning ring of honor...

i went down down down, and the dodgers went higher...

why, it's steve garvey!always nice to see garvey in a current release (and in a dodgers uniform)! 1981 was his only world series championship, although he went to 5 in 11 years.

i need to see the checklist - what other 1981 dodgers made the grade? i know i have a dusty baker around here somewhere...

not to be outdone by the young whipper snappers, here are some bums from 1955:

campy pee wee jackie and popeye (or, if you prefer, the gerbil)and it burns burns burns, the ring of honor!

27 October 2009

another team collector dilemma, 1983 topps super veteran style

so far, i have shared my thinking about some topps cards that i have, in the past, waffled about as far as whether they should be included in my topps (flagship and traded) dodgers team set (from 1970 on) binder. first, there was the 1975 world series cards (out), and then the 1972 tom haller in action card (in). next up, we have this 1983 topps super veteran don sutton card. i will admit that it has never been part of the binder and not once in 26 years have i given it a second thought. back when i was opening these packs, sutton was a brewer - plain and simple. the dodger photo was in black and white, and every team set checklist resource (then and now) will include this card as a brewers, not a dodgers, card.

today, i say no more. i am proudly adding this to my 1983 topps dodgers team set. i figure it's no different from a 'turn back the clock' card, or a 'then and now', or a 'big league brothers', or a 'who would have thought' like they had in the 2002 topps traded set. the garvey from that set is part of my dodgers topps binder, so why not this sutton card? i can think of no reason.

welcome to the binder, super veteran don sutton!

how about you other team collectors - do you include these cards with your team, even if it's not the current team shown on the card?

26 October 2009

i don't know is on third, literally

after being completely enthralled with the all star shield on the 1978 topps cards, i began paying particular attention to the all star designation on cards from other years. i was so happy that topps went to a separate all star card for the 1982 set so as to avoid steve garvey lacking the all star denotation on his base card for the first time since 1974.

anyway, the 1976 set has a few interesting all star cards, including jim wynn, who is pictured on the braves but was an all star for the dodgers. most interesting to me, though are the ron ceyand pete rose cards. notice that both are given the distinction of being nl all stars at 3rd base. knowing that topps gives these designations only to the starters (except for you, richie zisk), cey and rose couldn't both be deserving of the star. or could they? cey played no position other than third base until his final season in 1987. and, we all know that rose began his career as a second baseman, but switched to the outfield in 1967 and then, in 1975, he switched to third base. just for good measure, he would switch again, this time to first base, in 1979 when he joined the phillies.

so, if rose played 3rd base in 1975, the star on the 1976 card is correct, right? technically, it is - third base was his primary position the previous year. but, having played the outfield in 1974, rose would have been listed on the 1975 all star ballot as an outfielder, not a third baseman. so, cey started the game at third and rose started in the outfield. both deserving of the star, but still only one third baseman.

thanks baseball reference!

25 October 2009

fan appreciation, dodgers style

i used to love going to the last game of the season at dodger stadium. they would give away a bunch of stuff - airline tickets, union oil auto scripts, even a sailboat that they would parade around the warning track. good times, even though i never won anything.

i do know that they didn't give out baseball cards when i was attending 'fan appreciation' day, and i'm not sure that they do now. i did come across these beauties on ebay a while back, and they were described as 'fan appreciation sga' items, and were included on promotional sheets highlighting some end of season clothing and souvenir sales. sounds good to me.

here are the 1997 cards:

hideo nomoone of approximately 1,402 cards issued of nomo in 1997.

mike piazzawearing his cap as if he were in a tom emanski commercial

and chan ho parkpretty eclectic designs. unlike the first two, park's last name shows up only once, but he gets two photos. plus dodger stadium in the background.

in 1998, they used a singular design:

gary sheffield

aside from bobby bonilla, probably my least favorite dodger

eric karrosfigures - of all the dodgers' mid-90's roys, i liked karros the least and he was the one they kept the longest

raul mondesi triple exposure! for a while, raul was my favorite dodger

in 1999, things got a little retro:

eric karros
him again. notice the bad blue jerseys that i associate with the fox/davey johnson/kevin malone wasted years. the best part about this card is that you can see the hodges tribute patch karros wore that year. i have a garvey and a gibson patch. most players seemed to wear jackie robinson, which makes sense. there was a koufax patch, but i think he asked them to discontinue it since he severed ties with the dodgers during the fox years.

kevin brown
after bonilla and sheffield, possibly my least favorite dodger

adrian beltre
back then, i thought beltre would be our third baseman for the next 15 years. guess not.

in the year 2000, the stars came out

gary sheffield


eric karrosmeh.

shawn greentraded for raul mondesi, both in real life and in my favorite dodger rankings.

the backs of these cards complete a puzzle picture of the team maybe it's just me, but that's a lot of non-uniformed personnel.

in 2001 they went a metal route

gary sheffield seems like they were trying to force feed this guy to the fans as the face of the franchise.

chan ho park not much to say about him. stupid phillies.

paul lo ducaplaschke's heart and soul. what a fraud.

not sure what happened in 2002, but 2003 brought about some black borders!

and, hideo nomo was back in town! not the same pitcher, but still had pockets of brilliance now and then

paul loduca after bonilla, sheffield and brown, possibly my least favorite dodger.

eric gagne'game over' was huuuuuuge in 03 and 04.

so, with this season officially in the books, i salute the dodgers and their attempts at fan appreciation through the production of baseball cards.