Author Archives: JT
I love this time of the year, when the latest immortals are enshrined into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Of the 18,493 players who have made it into a Major League Baseball game, only 217 have been considered worthy enough to be called Hall of Famers. Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were in the spotlight this past weekend.
Griffey last played for my Reds in 2008, and if you trace the Reds’ rosters backwards, there was a Hall of Fame player all the way back to 1956 when Frank Robinson made his debut, an impressive 53 consecutive years of at least one Hall of Famer on the field. Interestingly, Tony Perez twice played the role of “bridge” player, first between Robinson and Johnny Bench in the 1960s, then between Bench and Barry Larkin in the 1980s.
This got me thinking about other teams and their Hall of Fame “most recent” streaks. Counting only players, the Tigers have the longest streak, starting with Sam Crawford all the way back in 1903 through their most recent player inductee Al Kaline, who was last active in 1974. That’s 72 straight years of at least one Hall of Fame player on the field, a feat that is absolutely amazing. Although I think Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell should have plaques in Cooperstown, they don’t (yet…keep your fingers crossed for the Veterans Committee).
Here’s the run down of the current thirty franchises (with Montreal in the place of Washington, who hasn’t fielded a Hall of Famer yet).
72 years: TIGERS 1903 (Crawford)-1974 (Kaline)
53: REDS 1956 (Robinson)-2008 (Griffey Jr.)
47: ORIOLES 1955 (Brooks Robinson)-2001 (Cal Ripken)
28: ASTROS 1980 (Nolan Ryan, Joe Morgan)-2007 (Craig Biggio)
28: PIRATES 1955 (Roberto Clemente)-1982 (Willie Stargell)
24: BRAVES 1985 (Bruce Sutter)-2008 (Tom Glavine, John Smoltz)
21: ROYALS 1973-1993 (George Brett)
20: BREWERS 1974-1993 (Robin Yount)
15: TWINS 1984 (Kirby Puckett)-1998 (Paul Molitor)
11: METS 1998 (Mike Piazza)-2008 (Pedro Martinez)
5: RANGERS 1989-1993 (Ryan)
4: EXPOS 1994-1997 (Martinez)
3: ATHLETICS 2006-2008 (Frank Thomas)
3: PADRES 2006 (Piazza)-2008 (Greg Maddux)
3: CUBS 2004-2006 (Maddux)
3: INDIANS 1999-2001 (Roberto Alomar)
2: MARINERS 2009-2010 (Griffey)
2: DIAMONDBACKS 2007-2008 (Randy Johnson)
2: BLUE JAYS 2007-2008 (Thomas)
2: YANKEES 2005-2006 (Johnson)
2: RAYS 1998-1999 (Wade Boggs)
1: PHILLIES 2009 (Martinez)
1: RED SOX 2009 (Smoltz)
1: GIANTS 2009 (Johnson)
1: CARDINALS 2009 (Smoltz)
1: DODGERS 2008 (Maddux)
1: WHITE SOX 2008 (Griffey)
1: MARLINS 1998 (Piazza)
1: ANGELS 1997 (Rickey Henderson, Eddie Murray)
The Yankees’ most recent streak will obviously hop up once Derek Jeter is enshrined; Wade Boggs will be the beginner (1993), with Jeter wrapping up in 2014. Though they could get an earlier bump if the voters do the right thing and put Mike Mussina where he belongs; he was in the Bronx from 2001-2008. The Astros will be unaffected by Jeff Bagwell‘s potential induction, as his career ended before Biggio’s.
Tim Raines could have an impact on the Expos, bringing them down to a one-year streak (2001), while keeping the Marlins at one year (2002), a few years later than Piazza’s week there. His four games in Baltimore will not affect the Orioles, as they occurred in 2001, which is currently the end of their streak. But should Vladimir Guerrero be ushered in, the O’s will get dropped to a one-year streak (2011), as will the Rangers (2010). The Angels, meanwhile, would get a boost to six years (2004-2009), and the Expos would be extended to 2003 and would be unaffected by Raines’ 2001 return.
Trevor Hoffman could extend the Padres’ streak backwards to 1993, but would reduce the Brew Crew to a two-year club (2009-2010).
The Famer-less Rockies’ only chance at dropping the goose egg comes in the form of Larry Walker, who spent ten years in Colorado. In my estimation he has a much better chance than Todd Helton, whose entire 17-year career was spent with the team, but it’s still a longshot.
Leave it to Night Owl to inspire me to blog for the first time in over a month. This started as a comment on this post, and I realized that it was probably long enough to warrant an actual post here.
The patheticness of the Reds this year (and the last couple of years, really) has caused my interest in baseball to wane A LOT. I don’t plan on getting rid of my Reds cards, but do I really need so many cards of Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Roberto Alomar, etc.? Great players, yes, but from the era of overproduction, so they’ll never be “worth” anything, I don’t ever look at them. I’ve got a 5,000 card box that is begging me to let it go.
There are some non-Reds that I would keep, and would probably put in binders so I could enjoy, if I ever decluttered. Bo Jackson will always be one of my favorite players. And Reggie Jackson. Kurt Stillwell already has his own binder, so why not Reggie and Bo?
These are hard decisions to make, though. I’ve had some of these cards for 20-30 years. I already sent off the majority of my commons, and haven’t really missed them at all. Is it really time to just package the up the superstars and Hall of Famers and send them away? Will I ever think, “Oh, I wish I still had that 1993 Donruss Craig Biggio card still”? I doubt it. But I’m not quite ready to pull that trigger. I’m getting close, but I’m just not there yet. Besides, I don’t know anyone who collects Biggio or the Astros.
I’m planning to spend some time with my collection on Monday and Tuesday. Perhaps I will start making some decisions then. Maybe I will split my remaining Dodgers between Night Owl and GCRL, or my White Sox between White Sox Cards and 2×3 Heroes.
A lot of people made a big deal of Ichiro Suzuki “passing” Pete Rose with his 4257nd hit earlier this month. They combined Ichiro’s professional Japanese League numbers with his big league totals, but ignored the fact that Rose had another 427 hits in the minor leagues, which is also professional. The Lifetime Topps Project did an interesting breakdown of players with more than 4000 professional hits, including not only regular season play in the majors and minors, but also postseason and All-Star appearances. One name stood out more than Rose, Ichiro, Ty Cobb, and Derek Jeter to me: Jigger Statz. Sounds like a guy that The Infinite Baseball Card Set should profile.
I am not denying that Ichiro’s accomplishment is a big deal. It is! But he is not the professional hit king. Pete Rose is, and probably always will be. Unless Ichiro sticks around for a few more years, which I highly doubt, he will not pass Rose’s professional regular-season mark of 4683.
TWJ contributor Patrick sent over a couple of great “fun cards” to remind us all that Pete Rose is still the Hit King, and with the Reds Hall of Fame induction happening this weekend, there is no more appropriate time to post them here. I see Ron Robinson, Tony Perez, Dave Parker, and Max Venable in that shot. Can you identify anyone else?
Ichiro’s achievement was commemorated by The Shlabotnik Report recently.
Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball by Ronald T. Waldo (2016)
[Review by TWJ contributor Jim.]
Characters from the Diamond
by Ronald T. Waldo
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016
Baseball, at its root, is a game, it’s meant to be enjoyed and to have fun. It’s hard to remember that as the great game of baseball has turned into a business that turns many fans away. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit back and be reminded about how much fun the game of baseball can be? Fun yet played at the highest level?
In Characters from the Diamond: Wild Events, Crazy Antics, and Unique Tales from Early Baseball, you will be reminded of how much fun this game can be. Focusing on the late 19th century and early 20th century, author Ronald T. Waldo does a great job of telling funny stories about those that made the game so great. From players’ high jinx on the field, to fiery managers and hot headed umpires, you will be captivated by stories that will make you laugh and show you how the pioneers of baseball had fun playing the game.
I have been sitting on this post for absolutely no reason other than laziness. I bought a handful of fifty-cent packs when I was in Orlando at the beginning of the month, and scanned a handful of them, even uploaded the scans, but just haven’t been motivated to post them. I have nothing else planned for today, so let’s see what I got…
First up is Eric Davis from the 1987 Fleer Star Stickers set. These cards are very similar to the 1986 set, but with a green border instead of maroon. Either way, the border clashes with the red jersey.
The 1988 Fleer Star Stickers went with a gray border sprinkled with colorful stars. This Don Mattingly is the best card I pulled from that pack.
Back to 1987, and a pair of Reds in a pack: the best centerfielder and the best relief pitcher of the second half of the decade. John Franco is criminally underrated.
I bought a couple of packs of 1990 Donruss. Don’t look at me like that. I did not have any Grand Slammers cards, and I wanted a couple. I pulled the Todd Benzinger from one pack, and Will Clark from another. If I had found another pack with Bo Jackson on top, I would have bought that one too.
I did not know the 1992 Fleer “The Performer” cards came in packs of their own. I assumed they were inserts. In a five-card pack, I pulled Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. And probably some ‘roiders, I can’t remember now.
Art cards will always be my weakness. I’m not sure why I picked up a pack of 1992 Score, but I was happy to pull these bad boys.
Also from the same 1992 Score pack.
There it is. I knew there had to be something cool showing on the top of a 1992 Score pack for me to buy it, even at only fifty cents. Jim Thome is the man.
Kirby Puckett from 1996 Pinnacle Denny’s. Not sure why I bought this one-card pack. Oh well, at least it’s a Hall of Famer.
Think this candy is still good from 1991?
Finally, a couple of 1990 Baseball Buttons. I already have several of these, so I probably shouldn’t have bought them, but it was only fifty cents.
Jake Arrieta‘s no-hitter was awesome. Max Scherzer‘s 20-strikeout performance was epic. But neither of those events approached the magnitude of “The Punch.” After a supposedly “dirty slide,” Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor clocked Toronto superstar Jose Bautista and Twitter absolutely EXPLODED. Everyone was talking about “The Punch,” putting both a positive and negative spin on it. Even non-baseball fans were engaging in the discussion. IT WAS GREAT.
The record for most Topps Now cards sold so far is 8,826, featuring 42-year old Bartolo Colon hitting his first big league homer. No other card has reached a print run 4,000. Only two others have sold more than 2,000 (Max Scherzer and Noah Syndergaard). I am confident that “The Punch” would have exceeded 10,000 orders. It was an exciting play, and whether you like Odor or Bautista or not, it generated baseball discussion and interest in the sport.
To me, it was a throwback. It immediately made me think of the Eric Davis/Ray Knight scuffle in 1986. Others made reference to the Will Clark/Jose Oquendo/Ozzie Smith fight in 1988. Perhaps the most famous fight between a fielder and runner happened in 1973 when Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson went at it during the 1973 NLCS. And who can forget the time Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with the ball, and then put him in a headlock and went to town when Ventura charged the mound? Twitter wasn’t around during any of those fights, but they persist in our memories. Topps Now didn’t exist back then either, and to my knowledge Topps never created a card to immortalize these fights. But today, with on-demand ordering, the opportunity was there…and Topps did nothing.
Has there ever been a fight depicted on a Topps card? Topps employee Sooz (@yanxchick) asked this question on Twitter, and so far no one has come up with an actual baseball card showing a fight. There was a hockey card in the 1970s, and several fan-made creations, but nothing official from Topps baseball.
I don’t blame Topps. They want to promote a good image for baseball, and bench-clearing brawls don’t exactly do that. But they are exciting. And where Topps is silent, bloggers and Tweeters are loud and sometimes obnoxious. Here are a few of the Odor v. Bautista cards that I saw floating around yesterday:
- Baseball and More went with the 1987 Topps style.
- Gummy Arts went hand-drawn with a design reminiscent of 2011 Topps Lineage.
- Bean’s Ballcard Blog utilized a Gypsy Oak design.
- Victor Ayala went with the 2016 Topps flagship.
- Topps Now was not ignored by the custom card makers, as Ernie Breakfast shows.
- The best, hands-down, was Baseball Card Breakdown’s use of the SuperStar Special subset from 1990 Fleer.
Of course, the 2016 TWJ set doesn’t shy away from violence on the basepaths either. One of my favorite GameCube games is MLB SlugFest 2003, so of course I wanted to include a card of “The Punch” in the TWJ set. You can see a slightly larger version at TWJ cards on tumblr, along with more than 80 other 2016 TWJ baseball cards.
(February 11, 1941 – May 13, 2016)
Cincinnati Reds pitcher and 1965 All-Star, Sammy Ellis passed away on Friday in Florida. Ellis pitched for the Reds (1962-1967), California Angels (1968), and Chicago White Sox (1969), and served as pitching coach for the Yankees (1982–84; 1986), White Sox (1989–91), Cubs (1992), Mariners (1993–94), Red Sox (1996), and Orioles (2000). He was inducted into the Mississippi State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Book and Kevin Cook (2016)
Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family
by Bret Book and Kevin Cook
Crown Archetype, 2016
Being the son of a major leaguer must be daunting, with athletic expectations high. Being a third-generation ballplayer, especially when no one ever followed both their father and grandfather into the professional ranks before, the pressure had to be immense. But not for Bret Boone, who was not satisfied to have a famous last name. He wanted to prove that he belonged, and not just a feel-good story for the media.
In Home Game, Boone admits that he regrets the way he approached his big league debut. He should have given more credit to his grandfather, Ray Boone, and father, Bob Boone, both who had solid careers. Ray led the league in RBI and was an All-Star; Bob showed him up by becoming one of the greatest defensive catchers in the game and making multiple All-Star Games. Bret carried on the tradition of family excellence, leading the league in RBI like his grandfather and becoming a stalwart defensive second baseman and All-Star in his own right. And he was not alone; he was joined by his brother Aaron Boone at the top level of professional baseball.
Boone honors his heritage, showing respect to his late grandfather and his father, relating a handful of stories that were passed down to him. He tells about growing up in the Phillies clubhouse, getting batting tips from Mike Schmidt, and later, when his dad was with the Angels, playing catch with Reggie Jackson. He discusses his disappointment in being drafted so low out of high school, and in not being drafted until the fifth round after a few years at USC. He recalls his time in the minor leagues and his struggle to get to Seattle, where he butted heads with Lou Piniella at first. He also tells of the hazing he endured from Jay Buhner, and the friendship that developed as he handled it in stride.
Boone mentions the allegations made by Jose Canseco, denying that he ever took steroids and stating emphatically that their supposed conversation at second base never happened. In his denial, Boone does admit to using greenies, but says of those who claim ignorance when steroids are found in their system, “It’s your job to know what’s in your body. It’s your job to stay clean and test clean.”
There is some foul language throughout—not as much as some autobiographies contain, but it is present. Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family is a good behind-the-scenes look at the game, covering three generations of All-Star baseball. Aside from the Boones, there is mention of Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey, and Barry Larkin, among others. It may be some time before we see another three-generational All-Star family, and this peek inside the family tradition of the Boones is well worth the read.
This has been an excruciating season for Reds fans so far. The bullpen is horrendous. Young starters are pitching well, but not long enough, and the ball is being handed over to guys that can’t keep the opponents from scoring. It’s a wonder they can even dress themselves.
The offense was supposed to be the bright spot this season, anchored by veteran Joey Votto at first base. But Votto has had a slow start, batting only .234 in the first 34 games with five longballs and 20 ribbies. For the sabergeeks, Joey’s WAR is an atrocious -0.1. Yes, negative 0.1. Hopefully he can turn things around soon and start hitting like he did during the second half last year. If the bullpen has a ten-run lead, surely they won’t blow it, right?
I’ve gotten a very late start to the Reds “fun cards” this year. I debated long and hard on the design to use, finally settling on the 1983 Topps style. This is a classic look, an update of sorts of the 1963 design, and just an overall good look. I hope you enjoy the cards, even if you have trouble enjoying the games this season.