Category Archives: baseball

Fun Cards: 1984 Topps Future Stars John Franco & Eric Davis

Franco Davis Cincinnati Reds

What if Topps made “Future Stars” cards in 1984? While the rest of the world was taking notice of the rookie card craze, Topps dropped the multi-player “Future Stars” cards after their 1982 release. But what could have been? What if John Franco and Eric Davis showed up on the same card in the 1984 set? I took the team leaders card and turned it into “Future Stars,” and created a back that included the players’ 1983 minor league stats. I did change the font on the front to match the regular base cards, rather than the “Arial Narrow” look of the team leaders.

Franco Davis Cincinnati Reds

This would have been a HUGE card in Cincinnati in the mid-1980s. Eric Davis rookie cards were highly sought after; there is no doubt in my mind this would have run in the $20-25 range in Cincy back in the day.

Fun Cards: 1984 Topps Tony Fernandez

(June 30, 1962 – February 16, 2020)

Fernandez

Donruss and Fleer both included the late Tony Fernandez in their 1984 releases, but Topps completely missed the boat (unless I’m overlooking something). I intended to make this card a few weeks ago when Fernandez passed away but I just had too much going on at the time.

Fernandez was a great ballplayer, probably the third-best shortstop for a time in the American League behind Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Alan Trammell. He was an All-Star three times in the 1980s for the Jays, in 1992 for the Padres, and again in 1999 for the Jays. He also played for the Mets, Reds, Yankees, Indians, and Brewers.

Book Review: Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate by Rich Westcott

Biz Mackey A Giant Behind the Plate

Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate
by Rich Westcott
Temple University Press, 2020

Who is the greatest catcher of all-time? The question is often asked, and arguments ensue between defenders of Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra. Occasionally, a Josh Gibson apologist will chime in. Rarely does another name creep into the conversation, but Biz Mackey might be deserving of some consideration. Author Rich Westcott does an excellent job of examining Mackey’s life and impact on the diamond in the biography, Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate. Excluded from baseball on a larger stage due to segregation, Mackey nonetheless influenced catchers and his Hall of Fame legacy contributes to the argument that he was at least among the greatest catchers to ever play the game.

Westcott provides several testimonials of Mackey’s talent from players he played with and against before launching into his background, briefly discussing his childhood leading into his love for the game and quick success. The author is known for his focus on Philadelphia sports, so it is no surprise that he devotes a good portion of the third chapter to the impact of African American baseball in the Philadelphia area; Mackey was a popular player with both the Hilldale Giants and Philadelphia Stars. Mackey also helped spread the love of baseball in Japan when he traveled to play exhibition games.

Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate also includes information about Mackey’s turns as a manager and his mentorship of fellow Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella. Sadly, Mackey died in 1965, long before he and other Negro League superstars were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His great nephew, Ray C. Mackey III, accepted the award and spoke on the legend’s behalf at the 2006 ceremony.

Who is the greatest catcher of all-time? Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate probably will not change your answer, but it is a good addition to any baseball fan’s library.

Purchase Biz Mackey: A Giant Behind the Plate by Rich Westcott.

Fun Cards: 1990 Topps Traded Dan Quisenberry

Quisenberry 1990 Topps Traded

Today is the late Dan Quisenberry‘s birthday. Quisenberry was one of the premier relievers of the 1980s, leading the American League in saves five times from 1980 through 1985. Kansas City released the submariner on Independence Day in 1988 and he signed ten days later with the Cardinals. After a year and a half in St. Louis, Quisenberry signed with San Francisco in January 1990. He pitched five games for the Giants before retiring.

In addition to his unique pitching style, Quiz was known for his poetic talents. A collection of poems was published in April 1998 under the title On Days Like This. It’s a nice collection and copies can be found relatively inexpensive on Amazon. I picked up a copy several years ago (to be more precise, seven years ago according to Amazon!).

Quisenberry passed away September 30, 1998, from brain cancer. He was only 45 years old.

Fun Cards: 1987 Donruss Axl Rose

Axl Rose Guns N Roses 1987

Finally, we get to the man who caused this blizzard of music “fun cards” today, the birthday boy Axl Rose. He was born William Bruce Rose Jr. and raised as William Bruce “Bill” Bailey in 1962 in Lafayette, Indiana…a long way from Hollywood. He has appeared on non-Guns N’ Roses songs with Don Henley, Gilby Clarke, and Sebastian Bach, and fronted AC/DC in 2016 when Brian Johnson faced health issues. Perhaps the coolest thing that Axl Rose has ever done, though, happened just a few years ago when he was animated and appeared on New Looney Tunes, performing a new song called “Rock the Rock” with Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig in the episode “Armageddon Outta Here.”

Happy birthday Axl!

Fun Cards: 1987 Donruss Slash

Slash Guns N Roses 1987

I often cite Slash* as the reason for getting a guitar when I was 16 years old. I’ve sadly never been able to learn how to play quite as well as the Guns N’ Roses axe-slinger. His recent collaborations with Myles Kennedy are very good, but nothing stands as tall as his work with Axl Rose and the boys.

* Aerosmith‘s Joe Perry also gets some credit. I was crazy for the 1970s output of Boston’s finest.

Fun Cards: 1987 Donruss Duff McKagan

Duff McKagan Guns N Roses 1987

Duff McKagan was at one time the most underrated member of Guns N’ Roses, but he has proven himself as a musician and writer over time and is now getting the recognition he deserves. In addition to GNR, McKagan released a solo album Tenderness last year and has been a member of Neurotic Outsiders, 10 Minute Warning, Velvet Revolver, and Loaded, and has performed with Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction, and Hollywood Vampires. He had dropped out of high school in the 1980s but has since completed his education and founded a wealth management business. Duff is also the author of It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) and How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions). He rejoined Guns N’ Roses in 2016.

I didn’t know until just now that yesterday was actually Duff’s birthday…56 years young! Happy belated birthday Mr. McKagan!

Fun Cards: 1987 Donruss Izzy Stradlin

Izzy Stradlin Guns N Roses 1987

Guns N’ Roses was the biggest band in the world when guitarist Izzy Stradlin walked away. After recording four albums with the group, he decided the spotlight was too much and opted to pursue a solo career with less pressure. His first post-Guns album, Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds, featured some great songs, and he continues to put out solid music under his own name. Corporate rock radio, however, has all but ignored his excellent output.

Fun Cards: 1987 Donruss Steven Adler

Steven Adler Guns N Roses 1987

Exactly how bad does your drug problem have to be for Guns N’ Roses to cite that as a reason for your firing? The group struggled with substance abuse for much of their early career, but Steven Adler‘s problems were so bad even his bandmates were worried about him. He has appeared on two seasons of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and one season of Sober House, both reality shows documenting the troubles of addiction in the spotlight. Adler has joined his former bandmates on stage a few times during the “Not In This Lifetime” tour a few years ago.

Fun Cards: 1991 Donruss Matt Sorum

Matt Sorum Guns N Roses 1991

Matt Sorum followed the troubled Steven Adler behind the drumkit for Guns N’ Roses, recording all but one song on the Use Your Illusion records. Aside from GNR, Sorum’s most notable work came with Velvet Revolver, the supergroup formed by ex-Gunners Slash and Duff McKagan and Stone Temple Pilots‘ singer Scott Weiland.

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