Goodbye, Lou Brock

Brock 1986 Topps Cardinals

Speedy Hall of Famer Lou Brock, the holder of the all-time stolen base record until Rickey Henderson came on the scene, passed away today. He was 81 years old. The six-time All-Star was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985 on the strength of his prowess on the basepaths and more than 3,000 hits.

Goodbye, Tom Seaver

Tom Seaver Cincinnati Reds 2020 Topps

Tom Seaver, nicknamed “Tom Terrific” for his immense talent on the baseball diamond, passed away August 31, 2020, at the age of 75. He was ushered into the Hall of Fame in 1992 with only five out of 430 voters declining to check his name. He was a tremendous pitcher for the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, and Boston Red Sox, and is a member of the Mets and Reds team Halls of Fame.

Fun Cards: 1986 Topps, 1993 Donruss, 1996 Topps Poison

Bret Michaels Poison 1986 Topps

Poison has been one of my favorite bands for a long time. Although I’ve been disappointed that they seem to only be interested in doing “greatest hits” tours for the past 20 years, they are still fun to see in concert. Bret Michaels is supposed to be playing a solo show in my hometown at the end of next month, if it doesn’t get Covid-canceled.

CC DeVille Poison 1986 Topps

But my favorite part of the music is the guitar. C.C. DeVille is, in my opinion, a vastly underrated guitarist. I love his riffs.

Rikki Rockett Poison 1986 Topps

Bobby Dall Poison 1986 Topps

The rhythm section is solid but a bit underwhelming. Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dall are consistent, but Bret and C.C. are where the show is really at.

After three studio albums and a live record, C.C. DeVille was ousted from the band and replaced by Richie Kotzen. He was an excellent guitarist, not as flashy but more technically competent than DeVille.

Richie Kotzen Poison 1993 Donruss

The 1993 Native Tongue release was the only album Kotzen appeared on, and he was fired near the end of the year, replaced by another young solo guitar whiz, Blues Saraceno.

Blues Saraceno Poison 1996 Topps

Saraceno worked on an album called Crack A Smile. It was originally scheduled for a 1994 release, but was delayed due to an injury Michaels sustained. In 1996, Capitol Records decided to release Greatest Hits 1986-1996 rather than Crack A Smile. It was finally released in 2000, but since two of the tracks appeared on the 1996 compilation, Saraceno gets the 1996 virtual cardboard treatment.

I really love the band’s remake of “Cover of the Rolling Stone.” Check it out below…

Fun Cards: 1977, 1983, 1986, and 1988 Topps Quiet Riot

Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali passed away on Thursday last week after battling pancreatic cancer. Banali joined the group in 1982 and made his recording debut with DuBrow and the boys on 1983’s Metal Health. I love making “fun cards” of musicians using classic baseball card designs, and his passing reminded me that I had not created cards for Quiet Riot yet. So, without further ado, the classic 1983 Metal Health lineup of Quiet Riot: Kevin DuBrow, Frankie Banali, Carlos Cavazo, and Rudy Sarzo

Kevin DuBrow Quiet Riot singer 1983 Topps

Frankie Banali Quiet Riot drummer 1983 Topps

Carlos Cavazo Quiet Riot guitarist 1983 Topps

Rudy Sarzo Quiet Riot bass guitar 1983 Topps

Metal Health was the first heavy metal album to reach #1 on the Billboard charts on the strength of their cover of the Slade song, “Cum On Feel the Noize.”

Unfortunately, the follow-up Critical Condition did not fare as well, and subsequent releases failed to recapture that spark from 1983. On 1986’s QR III, bassist Sarzo was replaced with Chuck Wright.

Chuck Wright Quiet Riot bass guitar 1986 Topps

By 1988 DuBrow was out of the band in favor of Rough Cutt vocalist Paul Shortino (as was Wright, replaced by Sean McNabb). Shortino only appeared on one album and the group disbanded in 1989 (only to be resurrected a couple of years later by DuBrow and Cavazo, with Kenny Hillery on bass and Pat Ashby on drums).

Paul Shortino Quiet Riot vocalist 1988 Topps

Sean McNabb Quiet Riot bass guitar 1988 Topps

Membership in the band was a revolving door, regardless of your role in the band. Eight singers, seven guitarists, eight bass players, and four drummers spent time with the group. Banali was the most consistent, appearing on every studio recording except for the first two (which were released in Japan only) and the underrated 1993 compilation that featured some of the best of those records and outtakes.

Speaking of the first two records…it was 1978’s Quiet Riot II that featured the first Quiet Riot “fun cards” on the back cover, styled after 1978 Topps football cards…

Quiet Riot II 1978 Topps Randy Rhoads Kevin DuBrow Rudy Sarzo, Drew Forsyth

Fun Cards: 1990 Topps All-Stars – Bill Murray, Don Zimmer, Roger Craig, Cecil Fielder, Rob Dibble, and MVP Julio Franco

I made a bunch of “fun cards” last night. I don’t devote much time to the hobby much anymore, but every once in a while I get on a roll.

I think I miss the All-Star Game more than anything else about baseball. The brightest stars, the unexpected breakout sensations, the hometown favorites. It’s a special time in the sport that was taken from us this year. The season itself simply isn’t that interesting to me, and has made me reevaluate my interest in the hobby. There is a good chance I will be getting rid of a lot of baseball cards once we get moved and start unpacking. But I still love the history of the game, and I look back on the 1980s and the 1990 season fondly.

Here is a bunch of “fun cards” commemorating the 1990 MLB All-Star Game. I present to you Cubs superfan Bill Murray, coach Don Zimmer, NL manager Roger Craig, 1990 breakout star Cecil Fielder, Reds “Nasty Boy” Rob Dibble, and 1990 All-Star Game MVP Julio Franco.

Bill  Murray

Cubs manager Don Zimmer

Giants manager Roger Craig

Cecil Fielder

Nasty Boy Rob Dibble

Julio Franco 1990 All-Star Game MVP

Fun Cards: 1952 Topps Johnny Vander Meer “sunset card”

Vander Meer double no-hitter

Some people call them “sunset cards,” others call them “final tributes.” They are a player’s final card showing their career totals on the back.

Vander Meer double no-hitter

Johnny Vander Meer never got one. So now he’s got one. Even if the photo is really from his days with the Reds, I can pretend it’s an Indians jersey, can’t I? The back is the key, and that’s his career line on the back. I don’t like making card backs; it is a very tedious process. Plus I don’t know what Vander Meer’s eye color or hair color was. That stuff ain’t listed on his BBref page.

Fun Cards: 1992 Topps George Foster “50 Home Run Club”

Foster hit 50 Home Runs in 1977

The Topps TBT set last week celebrated the sluggers who smacked fifty home runs in a season. Well, celebrated six of them, and six that are quite often celebrated by Topps. Forget the guys like George Foster here, who was the only player to go yard fifty times in the entire decade of the 1970s. In fact, between Willie Mays‘ 1965 season and Cecil Fielder‘s 1990 campaign, Foster was the only guy with fifty longballs. And did Topps celebrate him? Of course not. He played for the Reds and his name isn’t Johnny Bench, so he was completely ignored.

But the blogosphere rights Topps’ wrongs. We celebrate the underrated, overlooked, and ignored. So hold your head up high, Mr. Foster. Your 1977 MVP season will never be forgotten by this Reds fan.

By the way, Foster is a ridiculously nice guy. I had the pleasure of meeting him several years ago at the Reds Hall of Fame for an autograph signing, but he was interacting with fans and laughing and appeared to truly appreciate the blessings of being a former big leaguer.

Fun Cards: 1990 Pro Set Special “Holey Moley”

I can’t be the only one that loves the show Holey Moley, can I? Why has no company taken it upon themselves to create a set of trading cards? I mean, come on, this is comedy gold!

Curry

Tessitore

Riggle

Course Marshal Joe

Kenny G

I had no intention of making a Kenny G card, but the image was there and the template was made…

Speaking of templates, this is based on Pro Set’s 1990 special card of Payne Stewart which featured the NFL logo rather than the PGA. I believe it was sent to subscribers of the Pro Set Gazette, before their golf trading cards were licensed by the PGA.

Fun Cards: TWJ “Project 2020” 1988 Topps Eric Davis

Davis

I’m not a huge fan of the Topps “Project 2020” release. Some of the cards are okay, but they’re all overpriced, and the secondary market for these cards is stupid. I’m glad there are no Reds in the set, even though I have shied away from buying much lately at all anyway.

But since it’s all the rage, I thought I would fire up the PhotoShop while watching some Chuck on Amazon Prime. I miss Chuck and Sarah and their weekly adventures. That was such a fun show. But I digress.

Here is Eric Davis, one of the greats of the 1980s Reds. It’s rough around the edges…so it’s edgy, right? It’s art. I said it’s art, so it’s art, even if it looks awful. Because some of those Topps cards look REALLY awful. Some are nice. But some are absolute trash. I’ll let you decide for yourself which cards fall in what category, because your taste is different than mine. Some of the cards, though, barf. Can’t possibly be anyone’s taste.

If you can’t say anything nice…I’m shutting up now.

A conversation with Arnold Carter’s son

Carter

Arnold Carter was a wartime pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, appearing in 46 games over two seasons. The left-hander won 11 games in his rookie season in 1944, and his career ERA was 2.72. Since 1921, he is the only pitcher with 100+ innings pitched who hit more home runs (2) than he allowed (1) in a single season.

That’s all pretty cool. What’s cooler? His son is on Twitter, and agreed to share some stories and memories with the readers of the blog about his dad!

Charlie Carter was born when his dad was 46 years old, so he was not around when his dad pitched in the big leagues. But even several years removed from his time in the majors, Arnold Carter still shared some stories with his son.

Charlie remembers seeing photos and the uniform hanging in his dad’s closet. “I didn’t know just how awesome it was until I was much older. When you’re young you don’t appreciate things. You know, he was playing in a coal miners league before being discovered. His career ended early due to black lung.”

Carter attended Wayne High School in West Virginia and signed with the Logan Indians in the Mountain State League after graduation in 1939. All but one team in the Mountain State League were located in West Virginia; Ashland, Kentucky, was the only club in another state. The league existed from 1937-1942 and was shut down due to the war. Carter left the Logan Indians in 1941 when he began playing in the Reds minor league organization in Columbia, South Carolina.

Carter got the call to join the Cincinnati club in 1944 and answered with a fine performance against some pretty big names, including Hall of Famer Stan Musial. “I have an old newspaper article where Stan said he hit my dad a lot but never hard.” In 1944, Stan the Man went 3-for-9, hitting only singles against the 26-year old rookie.

Carter 1971 Topps

Of course, outside-the-lines antics often make for more interesting stories. Carter told his son that he “was so green being pulled from the mountains and going to the big leagues, and how all the city guys would pull pranks on him. They were always joking with him because he was so green and naïve. Keep in mind he had never been out of the mountains.

“He said one time the guys asked him to go out for pizza and beer. He said sure but was wondering why in the heck anyone would want peaches and beer. He had never heard of pizza before!”

It was clear in my conversation with Charlie that he had a great deal of respect for his parents. He said, “I wanted you to know that men like my dad aren’t around anymore. That generation. He believed in God, he had very high morals, super work ethic, always went to work, wasn’t rich but everything we had he earned. He believed in the golden things like standing behind your word and the truth. If more were like him today it would be such a better place. My mother was special as well and took care of us all. I was fortunate to have them as parents and hope to see them again in the next life.”

It was such a pleasure to communicate with Charlie, and I’m glad he agreed to allow me to share some of his memories with the readers here.

Go Reds!

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