29 June 2011

the 1978 topps pedro guerrero card that should have been!

pedro guerrero turns 55 years old today.  happy birthday petey!  and, since guerrero suited up in 5 games for the 1978 dodgers, let's celebrate by showcasing his 1978 topps burger king dodgers/update card that should have been:
here's the back - pedro gets the hero number, 750 in the set:
as with rudy law, i took the image from a 1980 dodgers police card.  i just couldn't pass up a dodger stadium image
speaking of law, guerrero first appeared in a topps set in 1979 alongside law and fellow 1978 dodger joe simpson
we'll get to simpson's card that should have been soon, but this post is supposed to be about the birthday boy. guerrero started in the minor leagues as a third baseman, but the dodgers moved him to first base when he went to aa in 1976.  he was promoted to aaa albuquerque for the 1977 season and played first exclusively until he was injured as mentioned on the card back above.  the dodgers, meanwhile, had a guy named steve garvey at first base, and the penguin at the hot corner, so guerrero was sol in that regard.  after a full year of aaa in 1978 as a first baseman, pedro played most of 1979 as an outfielder.

before that, however, he enjoyed a september call up with the big blue wrecking crew.  he debuted on september 22, 1978 as a pinch-hitter for rick sutcliffe and singled, later scoring on a reggie smith sac fly.  he next appeared four days later as a late-inning replacement at first for the garv, but didn't bat.  he went 1 for 2 in each of his next two games, and finished the season in game 162 with a 2 for 3 performance after taking over for garvey in the bottom of the first.  in all, guerrero's first taste of the big leagues resulted in a .625 average and on base percentage, three runs, a triple, and one rbi.  after his debut, all of his appearances were at first base in relief of garvey.  i will admit, i was a little concerned about this guy replacing my favorite player.  still, it was obvious that the dodgers had to find a place for him in the lineup.

in 1979, guerrero was called up in may and again in september.  he was a bench player in may, pinch-hitting and playing some first and third, but in september he made a number of starts, all in the outfield.  in 1980, he played all over the place - all three outfield positions, third, first, and even second base.  that led to some confusion, as in 1981, his dodgers police card showed him at first, but listed him as an outfielder.  it also referred to him as 'pete'.
topps went a different route and listed him as 'of-3b-1b' even though he made more appearances at second in 1980 than at first and third combined.  here's a copy of that 1981 topps card that he kindly autographed.
1981, of course, was when he came into his own and captured one-third of the world series mvp.  there was a feeling of a 'changing of the guard' with this young guy forcing his way into the veteran lineup, and soon davey lopes was gone and the team of my youth was forever changed.  i don't resent guerrero (or saxy) though - his 1985 season was a thrill to follow, and john tudor really helped out in '88 as well.

here's to you pedro!  happy birthday and thanks for the memories.  i'm glad you were a part of the 1978 dodgers.

28 June 2011

what a difference a year makes

heckuva game last night, right?  the dodgers got that shutout i thought i had jinxed them on with my post yesterday.  plus, they scored 15 runs!  trent oeltjen was 90 feet shy of the cycle, matt kemp went 4 for 5 and chad billingsley pitched 6 strong innings.  the most surprising thing was hearing joe mauer booed by the twinkie faithful.  at least the weather was nice for a change.

i was thinking more about how the two teams have both been playing poorly this year, with each team in 4th place (the twins sunk to last in the al central after last night's debacle) and about 9 or 10 games out.  when i got home from the game, i was looking through my 1965 topps cards and saw this
 in 1964, the dodgers finished 6th in the national league.  here's the twins' team card from 1965
what a coincidence! the twins also finished in 6th in 1964.  well, we all know what happened the next year - the twins won the al pennant
 as the dodgers did in the national league
so, from 6th to first for both the twins and dodgers.  maybe there's hope for both teams yet this year.  although knowing what happened yesterday in the delaware court and based on what i saw last night, i wouldn't bet on it.

27 June 2011

meanwhile, 46 years later...

the dodgers are in town for the second time since the 1965 world series.  fleer reminded us in 1970 that the dodgers threw three shutouts (claude osteen and sandy koufax (twice)) against the twins in that fall classic.
it's unlikely that will happen this time, as the dodgers starters haven't been faring all that well lately.  still, i'll be at tonight's game - chad billingsley vs. nick blackburn - but i'll miss the ted lilly/brian duensing duel on tuesday.  hopefully, i'll be back at target field on wednesday to see rubby de la rosa take on scott baker.  it would have been nice to see kershaw, but displaced dodger fans can't necessarily be choosers.

the last time the blue crew was in town (2006), i dutifully went to all three games.  the dodgers came in to town in first place and left a game and a half back.  it was pretty embarrassing, as joe mauer went off and the twins swept the dodgers. 

forget the shutouts, i just want a win!

26 June 2011

garey ingram through the mail success!

back in 1994, i was rooting hard for garey ingram, a dodger second base prospect.  not because he was a minor league second baseman who might have replaced jody reed in the lineup after reed spurned the dodgers - in fact, ingram's arrival on the scene during the '94 season was too late to prevent the pedro for delino deal, and i am on record as having been a supporter of deshields.  no, i was rooting for ingram because of what had happened to jose offerman.

ingram, by the way, was kind enough to sign and return my 1995 score card last year.
ingram was called up in may of 1994, and debuted as a defensive replacement, taking over for deshields at second in the 9th inning of the dodgers' victory over the padres on may 15.  he got his first big league at bat on may 19 as a pinch hitter for orel hershiser, and he promptly jacked one out at coors field off of former dodger mike munoz,
becoming only the second los angeles dodger to ever hit a home run in his first big league at bat. 

about four years earlier, offerman had done the same thing, and many believe that it caused him to try to hit more home runs rather than play off of his speed and hit more grounders. 

whatever the reason, offerman (a highly touted prospect) 
didn't crack the mendoza line until 1992, his third year with the dodgers, and didn't really blossom until he went to the american league and was moved out of the shortstop position.

ingram stole a fair amount of bases in the minors, but i don't know that speed was his strongest asset, so maybe he was supposed to hit long balls.  he wound up batting .282 with 3 home runs and an ops of .751 during his month long stint as the dodgers' regular second baseman in 1994, but was sent down once deshields was ready to return to the lineup.  he got two more call ups 1995, but hit just .200 with no extra base hits while appearing mostly as a pinch runner and hitter. 

after a full season in the minors, ingram returned to the big leagues for the last time in 1997.  by then, deshields was gone, but the dodgers were playing wilton guerrero at second.  ingram was instead used as a left fielder, appearing in 12 games.  in his first game back, he was 3 for 4 with a walk and an rbi and i was hoping he would somehow stick with the club.  unfortunately, that was the only game he started, and he had only five more at bats afterwards.  still, he finished the season hitting .444 and hit over .300 in the minors the following year.  all that earned him was a ticket to the red sox organization, and after a couple years there plus some time in an independent league and mexico, ingram returned to the dodgers' aaa team for a final hurrah in 2002.

here's to you garey ingram!  thanks for signing my card and for not going offerman on us.

25 June 2011

thinking of sox

a while back (as in a few months ago), i received a package from thoughts of sox.  it was an 'out of the blue' package, but contained lots of blue.  with a small amount of red.  and fuschia, as seen on this 1995 topps archives brooklyn dodgers clem labine 1952 topps reprint.
perhaps topps used a photo from labine's senior portraits as a base for this card.  labine, of course, was the dodgers' "closer" for many years before moving on to the tigers and pirates before finishing his career as a member of the expansion mets in 1962.  he won three world championships - with brooklyn in 1955, la in 1959, and pittsburgh in 1960.  i only need a couple more cards from this set.  maybe by the end of the year it will be complete.

here's some red (sox).  a 1971 topps high number tom satriano
i love the old school shin protector in the background.  tom satriano don't need no catcher's gear!  satriano played most of his career with the angels, starting in 1961 with the expansion club.  only the last two seasons of his career were spent in boston.  in fact, this 1971 card is a final tribute, as satriano hung up the spikes after the 1970 campaign.  i need quite a few cards, especially high numbers, to complete this set.  i'll probably look to win a medium grade lot on ebay to knock out a bunch for what is hopefully a low price.

here's a 2007 upper deck first edition juan pierre
he looks like he is wearing a mask like brian hunter on his silly 1999 topps card.  no, it's just shadow, but that is a cubs jersey pierre is wearing.  this is a dodger card in name only, but that's enough for me.

i'll just show a couple more cards that adam sent, although there were more than just 5 cards in the package.  the last two are dueling jeff kents from 2005 topps update and highlights.
kent spent the last 4 years of his career in la, and was certainly worthy of his all-star selection in 2005.  that year, he hit .289 while scoring 100 runs and driving in 105.  he was the dodgers' primary second baseman for all 4 of his seasons in la (even though he missed a bunch of games in 2006 to injury) and he never hit below .280. today, the dodgers are still searching for his replacement three seasons after his retirement.  there are rumors that rafael furcal may return as a second baseman when he comes off the dl, but i'm not sure that's the solution.  maybe if he starts reading motocross magazines in the clubhouse...

thanks adam!  i'll get some cards out to you soon.

23 June 2011

travelin' man

over 60 years ago, billy delury was hired by the dodgers to work in the mailroom.  he soon began working in the ticket office, and, in 1979, became the team's traveling secretary - a post he held for more than 20 years.

in that role, made popular by george costanza (and i'm sure delury didn't have to do 'the opposite' to get the job), delury was primarily responsible for arranging travel accomodations for the team and for distributing tickets.  i don't know how many autographs he has signed, but i am thankful that took the time to sign and return my 1980 topps team card
that's him on the left in the dark suit, standing in left field at dodger stadium, sometime during the 1979 season.  delury and vin scully both started with the team in 1950, and i believe delury's last role with the team was as a part-time assistant to the broadcaster.  for all i know, delury may still be serving in that role, maintaining a tandem link to the days in brooklyn.

whatever he is doing now, i appreciate the time and service he gave to the organization and its players.  thanks mr. delury!

21 June 2011

boys of summer

today is the first day of summer.  that's what the calendar says - here in minny it's relatively cold and definitely rainy.  i sure hope the weather improves next week for the dodgers' visit.  anyway, the realistic pessimist in me says that the days are going to get shorter after today, and the optimistic realist in me says that there's still plenty of baseball yet to be played.  i can't help but think that it's not meaningful baseball, however, as the dodgers and twins are well back of a playoff spot at this point.

i've been focusing a lot more on the vintage part of my collection this year, due in large part to poor play of the current teams, as well as all the ownership drama going on in la.  therefore, i will look to a boy of summer for inspiration, specifically this roy campanella issue that he supposedly used by the hall of fame catcher as a giveaway after his paralyzing automobile accident when someone requested his autograph (the auto is a pre-print)
best wishes, indeed.

enjoy the rest of the summer everybody, shorter days and all.

19 June 2011

happy father's day dad

a while back i wrote about the 1966 topps jim lefebvre card i gave to my dad for father's day when i was younger - probably about 30 years ago.  i recently had the opportunity, through hall of fame sports, to get a copy signed by the 1965 nl rookie of the year and jumped at the chance.
it's nice and bold, not like most of the cards you see signed by frenchie, who i understood to be a reluctant signer.  whatever the case, i am pretty stoked to have this in my collection.  i just wish i had sent that rawlings glove in as well.

thanks jim, hall of fame sports, and you too dad.

18 June 2011

turn out the lights in twins territory

i've been sitting on this post for a few weeks now, and wouldn't you know - the twins are playing pretty good baseball right now.  it looked pretty grim in may and even the beginning of june, but who knows what will happen in the al central. 

here's the joe mauer stadium lights insert from 2011 topps opening day.
it's a pity that there are no dodgers featured in this set.  target field, in this case, makes a nice backdrop.  we'll see that it doesn't always offer aesthetic value.

first, we will further enjoy the confines with the minnesota limestone, concrete and glass on this 2011 topps twins joe mauer
this is a pretty, pretty card.  i am guessing that this is the same card in series 2, but i don't know for sure.  the twins are wearing their 1961 throwbacks at every home game this year in tribute to harmon killebrew.  i wish they would never go back. 

here's jim thome wearing one of the twins away variations.
i think now the blue jerseys say 'minnesota' instead of  'twins' which is more in line with other teams' away unis.

joe nathan, on his 2011 topps twins card
shows off the retired twins away pinstripes. that's because he didn't pitch in 2010 so topps used an old photo.  no problem.  does he have a card in series 2?  i am always pleased when a player misses a season but still gets a card a la tommy john in 1976.

so, while topps gets a pass on nathan, they do not get off so easily with brian duensing's card
sure it's got a lurking joe mauer, but it's still a photo from 2009.  duensing was with the big club and appeared in 53 games in 2010.  there's no reason why we should have a photo in 2011 topps with twins players wearing the 'last year in the metrodome' patch on their jerseys.

here's another lurker - this time it's manager ron gardenhire on tsuyoshi nishioka's topps twins card
nishi busted his leg early in the season but is back now.  he looked pretty nervous the first few games of the year, but the potential is there.

here's another nice shot of target field
unfortunately, ugly target center (home of the timberwolves) makes an appearance in the far right.  i used to work in the building just right of center field.  i could see the back of the left field scoreboard from my office window.

that is a much much better than the 2010 topps card that featured the outside of the metrodome and a street sign
no offense, kirby.  these days the metrodome has a sunken roof and is still adorned in purple and gold even as the vikings scheme to leave the site.
anyway, here's where target field suffers - 2011 bowman ichiro suzuki
the scoreboard in right field is pretty obnoxious when it serves as the background on a baseball card.  it's nice for the fans, though, as it's easy to read and has all of the out of town scores.  i just wish the photographer would have waited until ichiro was in front of some of that limestone.

win twins!  maybe those lights should stay on a little bit longer...

17 June 2011

do you remember when...

...the guy who led the national league in batting average in 2004 decided not to sign a contract with topps, so they couldn't use his image?  i remember thinking at the time that it was a bonehead manuever, although i suppose he could have signed exclusively with upper deck like alex rodriguez did early in his career or like nomar did late in his.  anyway, i became pretty happy about it because it meant that a dodger got to be featured on a league leader card
still, it looks weird to not have the number 1 guy featured on a leader card.  beltre, of course, also appeared on the home run leader card in the top dog position
thanks to his monster walk year, which must have really irked that slugger from san francisco.  these cards were bittersweet for me because i like beltre and appreciated the stability he was bringing to the dodgers' hot corner.  greener pastures (to the tune of $64 million) awaited beltre in seattle, and so he went for 5 years.  then, after a one-year stopover in boston, beltre is back in the al west this year as a member of the texas rangers. 

i will admit that i had hoped he would find his way back to la when he first hit free agency, and after he signed with the red sox i, on a lark, sent a card to beltre c/o the team's spring training facility in march of 2010.  i was not suprised when months passed and there was no return.  i was surprised, however, when the other day i went to the mailbox and found this
along with the card i had sent to him.  it's a pre-print for sure, but i appreciate the rangers sending something back (just as they did for vladdy and clint hurdle) and i appreciate beltre (or his people) holding on to my request even as he changed teams.  it's a bit strange that they did so, however.

16 June 2011

wreck your life and old 97

if it weren't for manny ramirez, joe beimel would hold the distinction of having the highest jersey number in dodger history.  he wore 97, not because he was a fan of the old 97s (whose album 'wreck your life' is fantastic) but because that was the year his first child was born.

beimel certainly hasn't wrecked his life (he's with the pirates now), but he did wreck his 2006 postseason while with the dodgers by cutting his hand on the eve of the nlds against the mets.  he originally claimed he cut it on a glass in his hotel room, but it was later revealed that he had been out at a bar when it happened.  the dodgers used mark hendrickson as their lefty out of the bullpen in the series instead of beimel, and he appeared in all three games.  he pitched pretty well, although he did let a couple of inherited runners score in game 2, but that was only because brett tomko loaded the bases with nobody out before hendrickson was called upon.

here is one of the very few joe beimel cards i own (and the only one made by topps as far as i know)
it comes from the 2008 topps dodger premium team set, and it celebrates beimel having appeared in more games than any other dodger lefty in a single season - he appeared in 83 games in 2007.  as you can see in the card, beimel had to cut his hair when joe torre arrived in 2008, but at least his long locks were commemorated with a bobblehead giveaway early in the season. 

i was happy to have beimel on the dodgers because he knew how to get barry bonds out.  in his career, bonds was just 1 for 16 against beimel, with 3 walks, 4 strikeouts and a solo home run, but that long ball came when beimel was a rookie in 2001 pitching for the pirates.

here's to you joe beimel (and here's to the old 97s as well)!

15 June 2011

some gcrl cards that should have been in 1972

in 1972, steve garvey, bill russell and ron cey were each featured on a card in the topps set.  none of them, however, had reached the status of warranting an 'in action' card, and in cey's case, he didn't even get a card to himself.  until now.  i'm filling in the gaps with the gcrl cards that should have been, and i am pretty pleased with the way these ones turned out.

here's the steve garvey in action card that should have been:
rather than bump a card from the set and put this card after garvey's base card which would have been the norm, i'll call it card 790.  i did come up with a back for it, which i will get to later.

first, here's the penguin, on his solo 1972 card
with a back - number 788 in the set.
card 785 in the set is cey's future teammate vic davalillo, so i gave him a nod with the trivia cartoon.

next up is davey lopes
i also incorporated davalillo's back on lopes' back.  here's davalillo's card - note the trivia cartoon:
here's the lopes back i created.  it would be number 789 in the set.
i was also pleased to get lasorda mentioned on both of the cards (using info from the dodgers' press guide) as he was their manager in spokane before he himself joined the major league coaching staff in 1973.

here's the penguin's in action card:
as well as bill russell's
and lopes'
no standing still for davey on his in action card.

now for the 'in action' backs.  as you know, some of these cards had advertisements on the back, some had 'so you think you know baseball' situational quizzes on the back, and some, like reggie smith's, were puzzle backs.
so, for the four infielders, i created a puzzle.  and, since these cards would have been in the last series, i used an image from june of 1972.  here are the 1972 topps gcrl in action card backs that should have been  
jackie, campy and sandy all had their numbers retired during old-timers day in 1972.  sandy actually pitched in the game, which included joe dimaggio, stan musial, mickey mantle and others.  i believe this was the game where leo durocher wore his famous uniform that had all the logos of the different teams he had managed.

so, there you have them - the 1972 cards that should have been.

14 June 2011

oh my o-padrographs!

rod at padrographs and i have made several trades over the last couple of years, and i am always happy to see a package in my mailbox from the pacific northwest.  recently, there was a package on my doorstep - too big to fit in the mailbox - from rod, and i was a bit confused when i first opened it up.

there were a couple of hundred loosely packed cards acting as packing peanuts, i guess.  that's ok because they were a bunch of wrestling and other non-sports cards.  there was this 2007 donruss americana jennie finch, however,
which i found because i dutifully went through the entire box just in case rod had included some cards i might actually collect.  i am being a bit sarcastic, because as soon as i moved some of the loose cards out of the box, i saw this
a baseball signed by former dodger closer and coach charlie hough.  on the sweet spot!  i believe rod picked this up at a goodwill store of all places, if i remember a long ago blog post correctly.

there were also five rolled up uncut card strips in the box. they were none other than 1992 o-pee-chee uncut strips
featuring many of the checklist variations as well as a juan samuel and an eddie murray text variation.  that is o-pee-chee awesomeness.  i am glad i have the complete 1992 set, otherwise i would have learned from rod's package that there are some undocumented (no mention of them in beckett or the baseball card catalog) text variations in this set.

after digging through most of the junk cards, i did find a 2010 topps allen & ginter andre ethier
and a 2003 carl's jr padres steve garvey card
that were nicely protected.

rod, thanks very much for the cards and the ball.  i'll get some more stuff to you soon.