Category Archives: baseball

Dear A&G: Where’s Eddie?

The Night Owl posted a list on his blog last night of all the non-baseball subjects in Allen & Ginter since the brand’s 2006 inception. Has it really been around that long? I perused the list and only came up with a handful of cards that I would care to have in my collection: Jack the Ripper (2007), Bram Stoker (2008), George W. Bush (2011), Bobby Knight (2012), and Tommy Lee (2013). I had originally commented on his post that I only found four, but I had overlooked Stoker in my initial reading of the lists. A sixth would have been added if Mr. T was not identified as Clubber Lang in 2015. Hundreds of non-baseball cards in these baseball card sets, but only five that I would actually want.

As many others noted in the comments section, the checklist is getting worse each year. The biggest omission in my eyes is one of the greatest writers in American history, Edgar Allan Poe. You could make the case for other writers in the horror genre, such as H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Neil Gaiman, but Poe must come before all others.

Unlike Lovecraft, King, and Gaiman, however, Poe is not without cardboard glory. He was featured in the 1952 Topps “Look ‘n See” set, and the card is fairly affordable depending on condition. There is also the 1992 Starline Americana set, 2009 Topps American Heritage, 2009 Topps Mayo, 2011 Obak (which featured a younger Edgar along with his five brothers), 2011 Goodwin Champions, and 2012 Golden Age. I am almost ashamed to admit that I own none of these issues.

There is one other interesting Edgar Allan Poe card, and perhaps the one that I want above all others: the 2013 Garbage Pail Kids “Adam Bombing” Edgar Allan Poe. I’m a huge fan of GPK, and this card just captures everything there is to love about the brand’s irreverence.

Poe

One of these days I will load up my COMC cart with all the Poe cards I can afford. And I may pick up those five A&G non-baseball players I want at the same time.

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Goodbye, Don Baylor

(June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)

Baylor

Slugging outfielder and 1979 American League MVP, Don Baylor passed away today from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of plasma cells. Baylor his 338 home runs in his career, was an All-Star in 1979, and won the World Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1987. He presided over the Boston Red Sox’s kangaroo court, and fined Roger Clemens $5 for giving up a single to Spike Owen on an 0-2 count during his 20-strikeout game in 1986. He was also the Colorado Rockies’ first manager.

Goodbye, Darren Daulton

(January 3, 1962 – August 6, 2017)

Daulton

A three-time All-Star who played the majority of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, catcher Darren Daulton succumbed to brain cancer on Sunday. Daulton finished his playing career with the Florida Marlins, announcing his retirement after winning the 1997 World Series with the Fish.

Jim at The Phillies Room posted a nice memory of the time he and his son met “Dutch” and a retrospective of Daulton’s base Topps cards.

Goodbye, Lee May

(March 23, 1943 – July 29, 2017)

May

Known as “The Big Bopper,” Lee May was a fan favorite in Cincinnati. He played for the Reds from 1965 through 1971, when he was traded to the Astros. Of his 354 home runs, 147 came as a member of the Reds. He was a three-time All-Star and played in two World Series. In 1976, he led the American League with 109 RBI as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. His career closed in 1982 with Kansas City. He is a member of both the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles Halls of Fame. May passed away Saturday at the age of 74.

Condolences abounded on Twitter from his former teams, teammates, fans, and more…

Tigers GM trades his own flesh and blood

Detroit Tigers’ general manager Al Avila traded his son Alex Avila (along with Justin Wilson) to the Cubs. According to Jon Morosi, this is the first time in almost fifty years this has happened at the MLB level. The best reaction on Twitter, and perhaps the best Tweet of all-time:

The Cubs will send Jeimer Candelario, Isaac Paredes and either the infamous player to be named later or cash to the Tigers.

Morosi failed to provide the last dad-sends-son-packing deal in his report, however. In 1968, another Al—Dodgers’ GM Al Campanis—dealt his boy Jim Campanis to the expansion Kansas City Royals “as part of a conditional deal.” Dad’s reasoning was that Jim was more likely to get playing time with the new team rather than the established Dodgers. Perhaps the elder Aliva wanted Alex to have a better shot at a ring. The Cubs are the defending World Champions, and currently sit atop the National League Central division, while the Tigers aren’t even playing .500 ball.

Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue: Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Rivalry by Tom Van Riper (2017)

Cincinnati Reds Los Angeles Dodgers Tom Van Riper book

Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue: Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Rivalry
by Tom Van Riper
Rowman & Littlefield, 2017

Ask any baseball fan about rivalries, and you will likely hear about the Yankees and Red Sox, or the Giants and Dodgers, or the Cubs and Cardinals. But four decades ago, the answer may have included the Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers. Both teams played in the National League West, and consistently battled for a postseason spot. From 1970 to 1979, with the exception of 1971, these teams finished first and second in the division; seven out of ten years, one of these teams made it all the way to the World Series. If you were a Reds fan, you hated the Dodgers, and vice versa.

Author Tom Van Riper goes back in time in Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue, revisiting the rivalry of these 1970s powerhouses, taking a particularly close look at a game in late September when the Reds visited Dodger Stadium. Cincinnati won that game in extra innings, and refused to relinquish first place the rest of the year. Van Riper spotlights all of the major names from each team: the Hall of Famers (Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez, Don Sutton), the superstars (Pete Rose, Steve Garvey, Ron Cey), the executives (Al Campanis and Bob Howsam), and even the announcers (Vin Scully and Al Michaels).

Van Riper also touches on some of the off-the-field history revolving around these teams, including the surgery named after Los Angeles pitcher Tommy John, the free agency fiasco involving Andy Messersmith, and the late-‘80s gambling woes of the Hit King.

Covering so many players from two teams, Van Riper is unable to go into much depth in this relatively short volume, just over 200 pages. As such, some of the anecdotes seem disjointed and forced, even if they are relevant to the rivalry. There are better historical accounts of the Big Red Machine out there, and I’m sure the ‘70s Dodgers have had similar superior treatments as well. Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue is a good primer on both teams, but I would not consider it a must-have if your library already boasts other Cincinnati or Los Angeles team histories.

Learn more about Rowman & Littlefield.

Purchase Cincinnati Red and Dodger Blue: Baseball’s Greatest Forgotten Rivalry by Tom Van Riper.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Bob Walk

Bob Walk Pittsburgh Pirates 1988 All-Star Topps

The three best pitchers in the National League in 1988 were Orel Hershiser, Danny Jackson, and David Cone. No ifs, ands, or buts. But at the break, it was not so clear-cut. Pittsburgh pitcher Bob Walk had ten victories at the break along with a 2.47 ERA, while Hershiser sat at 13 wins/2.62 ERA, Jackson at 10/3.28, and Cone at 9/2.52. However, the latter three ended the season with at least 20 wins, while Walk was only able to muster two more victories in 1988.

Bob Walk Pittsburgh Pirates 1988 All-Star Topps

Still, at the break, Walk was in the mix for best pitcher in the National League. and he was rewarded with a trip to Cincinnati for the All-Star Game.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Jose Canseco

Jose Canseco 1988 Topps All-Star

Jose Canseco was on top of the baseball world in 1988, on his way to the first ever 40-40 season. He led the American League in homers, RBI, slugging, and OPS+, along with a .307 batting average. He was practically unstoppable at the plate.

Jose Canseco 1988 Topps All-Star

In the late 1980s, Canseco was simply the epitome of cool.

Jose Canseco 1988 Topps All-Star

While 1988 was long before variant chase cards were common, wouldn’t this have been a cool card to pull in a pack?

Fun Cards: 1985 Topps All-Star Zack Cozart

Ladies and gentlemen, your starting shortstop for the National League All-Stars, Zack Cozart

Cozart

Trying to keep it fun

Collecting baseball cards is supposed to be fun. I have no intention of selling cards for a profit. While I respect the abilities of Aaron Judge and Mike Trout, and don’t mind having a card or two in my collection, they are not my focus and I won’t be chasing their rookie or other high-priced cards. Even among my team (the Reds, in case you didn’t know), I don’t chase the high-priced parallels, autographs, relics, or whatever newfangled collectible Topps throws out there. For me, if it’s not fun, I don’t care.

This blog is also supposed to be fun. And most of the time it is. But then I get an idea for a big project and in the beginning, it is fun. But over time, it becomes more work, and the fun is sucked away. And so I abandon the project. That’s the case with the Reds birthdays. Until Sunday, I posted a “happy birthday” every day this year. And I had a subject for every day this year. But it’s not fun anymore, so I won’t be continuing those posts.

I have other projects going on that are not related to the blog. At the moment, those projects are still fun. I’m still here, and I will continue posting book reviews and “fun cards” and other things that interest me. Posts will not be daily here, but I am still always reachable via e-mail and Twitter.

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