31 December 2013

remembering roberto clemente

it's been 41 years since roberto clemente died in an act of service on new year's eve 1972.  in 1973, the pirates honored their fallen teammate first by wearing strips of black material during spring training.  luke walker's 1974 topps card represents that memorial in my binder
once the season began, however, the pirates switched to a circular patch with clemente's number 21 inside.  here's ramon hernandez's 1974 topps card showing the patch
another hernandez card represents that memorial in my collection - his 1974 o-pee-chee card
which, by the way, has a curious back.
there's a fair amount of information missing there.

the clemente tribute showed up in a later set, as topps used old photos in future releases.  take richie hebner's 1976 topps card, for example
or even lou brock's 1976 topps card, featuring jackie hernandez in the background with the patch visible on his left sleeve
25 years after his death, the pirates wore another patch in clemente's honor.  this time, they wore it on their right sleeves, as seen on kevin young's 1998 topps card
here's a better look at the patch.
we almost get a full glimpse of it on francisco cordova's 1998 upper deck card
but jose guillen's 1998 donruss collections leaf card is probably the clearest example i have
i believe that the pirates wore these patches at home in lieu of the jackie robinson patch.  the white sox did something familiar, but i'll cover that in a future post.  the 1998 cards don't show up in my binder since they aren't the 'official' memorial patches.

to close out this post (and the year), here are a couple clemente cards released well after his death.

1987 donruss
and 2001 topps golden moments subset
he was a good one.

happy new year everybody!

some notable final tributes

here now, at the end of the year, it seems to be a good time to post some final tributes.  most of the final tributes that i collect are of certain infielders, dodgers, hall of famers or other notable players.  however, i also collect the cards that carry the 'final tribute' designation (or similar notations) which were especially prevalent in upper deck releases of the late 1990's.  in many cases, these were the only such cards made for some retiring greats.

take this 1996 upper deck collector's choice kirk gibson card, for example.
it's the only card he received after announcing his retirement during the 1995 season.  the udcc tribute designation is not as elaborate as it is on the flagship releases, but it serves its purpose.  as you can see from the back of his '96 final tribute, gibson reached a couple of nice milestones - 1500 hits and 250 home runs - before he retired.
and there's that word - 'improbable'.

another former dodger who hung them up during the 1995 season was dave stewart.  like gibby, his 1996 upper deck collector's choice card is his lone final tribute
stew returned to the a's after a couple of seasons (and a world championship) in toronto.
things didn't go as planned in his return, and he retired after 16 starts.

another pitcher who returned to the scene of his greatest successes after spending some time with the blue jays was phil niekro.  here's his 1988 score card that captured his return to the braves for one final start
i much prefer this to the lame 'one-day' contracts that people sign these days (most recently roy halladay) so that they can retire as a member of their initial or most familiar franchise.  niekro did it right, although he got lit up in that one last start.  the back has his entire big league starts, as any self-respecting final tribute should.
niekro did get a card in the 1988 topps set (a record breaker with his brother joe in which he is still shown as an indian) which was the same way that topps said goodbye to the likes of al kaline, brooks robinson, lou brock, and the trio of gaylord perry, johnny bench, and carl yastrzemski.  i prefer the way score did things.  classic also put out a three card subset of niekro in their 1988 set - one with him as an indian, one as a blue jay, and one as a brave.  i don't have any of those, but nick does.

back to upper deck - here's a 1995 goose gossage card.  it lacks the final tribute designation, but gossage pitched his last pitch in 1994.
gossage had joined the mariners after he was released by the a's just before the '94 season started.  he was pitching well when the players went on strike in august.
gossage also had cards in the 1995 fleer, pacific, and score sets, plus the upper deck collector's choice set, as well as the fairly unnecessary 1995 upper deck collector's choice special edition set
this set gives us all of gossage's career stats
gossage became a free agent after the 1994 strike-shortened season ended.  i'm not sure if he tried to latch on with a team after the strike ended in 1995 or if he decided to call it quits on his own.

mickey tettleton did call it quits on his own - in july of 1997.  usually, a midseason retirement doesn't bode well for that player getting cards the following year.  thanks to upper deck, there are two mickey tettleton final tributes, complete with the final tribute designations.  here's his 1998 upper deck card
tettleton had only 4 hits in 1997 - all for extra bases - when he retired.  here's the back
and here's the collector's choice version
again with the complete career stats on the back
i can't believe neither card mentioned froot loops.

like tettleton, lee smith announced his retirement in july of 1997.  and, like tettleton, smith received final tributes from upper deck in their flagship and collector's choice sets in 1998.
here's what a career spent amassing 478 saves (then a record) looks like
i'm not sure why the border of smith's cc card has gray borders when tettleton's is white
whatever the reason, the back has the full career stats, too, with a note about smith becoming the first pitcher to appear in 1000 games.
even though smith announced his retirement in july and didn't pitch in the major leagues after that, he did attempt a comeback in 1998 with both the royals and later the astros.  that would have been embarrassing for upper deck if smith had returned after his career had already been celebrated with these final tributes.  or maybe not.

that exact thing happened to them with dennis martinez.  here is martinez's 1998 upper deck card with the final tribute designation
martinez was released by the mariners in may of 1997 and didn't pick up with another team.  he 'retired' with 241 career wins, just two shy of juan marichal's record for latin pitchers.
martinez also had a final tribute in the 1998 collector's choice set, but i haven't bothered to pick that one up because, unfortunately for marichal, dennis martinez signed with the braves for the 1998 season and once again had a final tribute in the 1999 upper deck set.
he wound up winning 4 games in his return to the national league, taking marichal's place atop the leader board.
martinez also had cards in the 1999 sets from pacific, fleer si, and pacific crown collection, but not collector's choice.  maybe upper deck wasn't completely convinced of martinez's retirement this time.

30 December 2013

a memorial patch and armband for jean r yawkey

earlier today i showed a card that featured the black armband that the red sox wore after their longtime owner, tom yawkey, passed away in 1976.  this post will focus on the memorial the red sox implemented following the death of his widow, jean r yawkey.  mrs. yawkey took over ownership of the team following the death of her husband and remained the team's owner until she passed away in february of 1992.  the team wore not a black armband, but rather a black stripe on their black sleeves with her initials in red above it.

this 1993 donruss triple play billy hatcher card is a good example
here are some others - 1993 score select phil plantier
1993 topps stadium club jack clark
1993 upper deck frank viola - front
and back
that viola card is nice because it features both home and away uniforms.  speaking of uniform variety, the red sox also used white initials with the black stripe on their spring training jerseys, as modeled by tony pena on this 1993 upper deck card
joining pena in my memorials binder is this 1993 upper deck ellis burks card which gives us a full glimpse of the memorial
mrs. yawkey was active in the boston community and also the first female on the baseball hall of fame's board of directors - a post she held.  through the yawkey family trust, the yawkey family retained ownership of the team for about 10 years following her death, until selling the team to john henry's group.  a more permanent memorial to both yawkeys exists on the green monster in fenway park - both of their initials are featured in morse code.

a black armband for tom yawkey

tom yawkey owned the boston red sox from february of 1933 until his death in july of 1976.  in his memory, the red sox added a black armband to their jerseys, as seen on bobby darwin's 1977 topps card.
jackie robinson referred to yawkey as 'one of the most bigoted men in baseball' due to yawkey's opposition to integrating the red sox and a charade of a tryout that robinson had with the team in 1945.  it wasn't until 1959 that the red sox had an african-american player - pumpsie green - and racism was thought to have continued to play a part in the team's roster make up even after that.  still, yawkey was posthumously named to the hall of fame in 1980.

as for darwin, he joined the red sox about a month before yawkey died, and was traded to the cubs about a year later.  i had never really taken a close look at darwin's card before prepping it for this post. the back is pretty interesting.
darwin went several seasons between his debut in 1962 and his next appearance in 1969.  and, tommy lasorda gets a mention for converting darwin into a position player.  a little more digging shows that darwin debuted as a 19-year old pitcher for the angels, getting the start in the final game of the 1962 season. he struck out 6 in 3.1 innings, but also gave up 6 runs (4 earned) and took the loss.  the dodgers picked him up in the 1968 rule v draft, and gave him another shot as a hurler.  of those 6 games that show up in his stats, 3 were appearances as a pitcher, and 3 came as a pinch runner.  after posting a high era in those appearances, darwin was sent down to the minors - the dodgers' aaa team in spokane - where lasorda was his manager.  darwin remained on the pitching staff, but did play one game in the outfield, according to baseball reference.  in 1970, he was sent to single a ball to really learn the outfield.  his manager there was don lejohn who probably deserves more credit than lasorda for the transformation.  darwin did return to spokane and lasorda in 1971 before getting the call up to the majors.  he had some decent offensive years for the twins, but led the american league in strikeouts in each of his full seasons in minnesota.

the armband is also visible on the '77 cards of dwight evans and carlton fist, but i figured darwin makes a good representative of the memorial, even though his card is the least visually appealing of the three.

a black armband for john mcgraw

when hall of famer bill terry broke into the new york giants' lineup as a rookie in 1923, his manager was john mcgraw.  that year, mcgraw led the giants to their third consecutive pennant (they would win another in 1924).  terry, meanwhile, supported mcgraw by accumulating hall-worthy stats, including 254 hits and a .401 batting average in 1930.  then, during the 1932 season, terry would replace the retiring mcgraw as the team's manager (terry would serve as player-manager just as mcgraw had early in his managerial career) and later lead them to three more pennants and a world championship.

after mcgraw passed away in early 1934, the team added a black armband to their jerseys in his honor.  terry's 2001 fleer greats of the game gives us a good glimpse at the memorial
at the time of his retirement, mcgraw had won more games than any other manager (he was passed by connie mack in 1934) and had been ejected from more games than any other manager (he was passed by bobby cox just a few years ago).  i knew of mcgraw from a young age mostly because he was blamed for the lack of a world series in 1904 due to his dislike of the american league and ban johnson, its president.  mcgraw was more than that, obviously, and he was named to the hall of fame in 1937.

29 December 2013

roberto alomar and the art of the double play

yes, it's double play dump time, but this post is different.  these are all roberto alomar double play turns that i welcomed into my collection over the past few months.

this 1994 fleer card
might look familiar, as it features the same play shown on his 1994 topps card.  if you ask me, sandy could have slid harder.

here's a 1993 score select card
with george brett sliding in.

i contend that this 1992 fleer ultra alomar award winners (gold glove) insert is, in fact, a double play turn
i base this on the fact that the umpire seems to be looking intently to make sure that roberto has touched second base.  that means that i believe alomar to be airborne on the card, even though it's tough to tell.

this one is much easier - 1992 topps stadium club
as is this 1992 score impact player insert
here we have a couple of cards from 1994 sportflics - first alomar's base card
and second, a starflics subset card
i have no idea whose glove that would be in the foreground.  it's not a second baseman since alomar played second base exclusively as a blue jay.  it's not a first baseman's glove, and if it were the pitcher covering first, i doubt that they would be wearing a batting glove.  very strange.

here's alomar's 1995 sportflix card (i don't know why the went to the 'flix' instead of the 'flics'in '95)
it's nice when these things scan well enough to see what it is that i want to see.  in this case, the double play turn.

this next card is from 1994 upper deck sp.  it's a holo view insert or something like that.
i am guessing that alomar made the pivot before landing on scott cooper on this 1995 bowman card
that's the thing about a lot of dp turns - what goes up must come down.

getting tired of seeing alomar yet?  let's mix things up with a card of alomar turning two as a member of the baltimore orioles.  this is a 1997 score hobby reserve card
it's almost a tatooine card too, if it weren't for that grass in the lower right corner.

this 1997 topps stadium club may not be a dp turn since kenny lofton is sliding headfirst
in fact, based on the game logs i found from '96 when the indians hosted the orioles, i am pretty well convinced that this is not a dp turn.

this one is, though.  from 1999 fleer ultra
as is this 2000 fleer ultra
and this 2001 fleer ultra
good on fleer to produce dp cards three years in a row for collectors like me.  you probably noticed that alomar moved to the indians during that timeframe, essentially replacing carlos baerga (although he was traded from cleveland to the mets in 1996) as omar vizquel's dp partner.  alomar and vizquel made some pretty incredible plays together.

alomar followed in baerga's footsteps once again when the indians dealt him to the mets after the 2001 season.  here's a 2003 fleer focus jersey edition card of alomar turning two in mets gear.
i probably have a few more alomar dp cards yet to share, but that's all the alomar i can handle in one sitting.