Category Archives: baseball

Goodbye, Roy Halladay

(May 14, 1977 – November 7, 2017)

Roy Halladay perished in a plane crash today in the Gulf of Mexico. He was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation, winning 203 games and striking out 2117 batters in his 16-year career with the Blue Jays and Phillies, 1998-2013. Halladay was an 8-time All-Star, 2-time Cy Young Award winner, and finished in the top 5 for the Cy Young five other times. In 2010, he threw the second no-hitter in postseason history as the Phillies topped the Reds in the NLDS.

Advertisements

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Otis Wilbury (Jeff Lynne)

Jeff Lynne Otis Wilbury Traveling Wilburys

The most underrated member of the Traveling Wilburys is arguably Jeff Lynne. He is a producer extraordinaire and excellent songwriter, but was the last of the Wilburys to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His group, Electric Light Orchestra, was finally honored by the Rock Hall in 2017. The band was introduced by Dhani Harrison, also known as Ayrton Wilbury, who played the guitar solo on “Like A Ship” from the vinyl edition of The Traveling Wilburys Collection. Lynne produced George Harrison‘s 1987 album, Cloud Nine, which included the #1 hit “Got My Mind Set On You.” He also produced Roy Orbison‘s 1989 release Mystery Girl, featuring the top 40 hit, “You Got It,” and co-produced Tom Petty‘s Full Moon Fever. And of course, Lynne—or rather, Otis Wilbury—co-produced Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 with George Harrison (er, Nelson Wilbury). The Wilbury’s 1990 follow-up, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3, was produced by Clayton and Spike Wilbury (Jeff and George, respectively).

Fun Cards: 1988 Fleer Nelson Wilbury (George Harrison)

George Harrison Nelson Wilbury Traveling Wilburys

George Harrison, with the Beatles, opened for Roy Orbison in the 1960s. He brought Bob Dylan back to the stage in the 1970s. And he utilized the masterful production of Jeff Lynne in the 1980s. Where does Tom Petty fit in? Apparently, Harrison and Petty formed a friendship and were known to jam together privately. Put all five of those names together and you have the greatest supergroup of all-time. One would be hard-pressed to improve on the lineup of the Traveling Wilburys.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps Record Makers Lucky Wilbury (Bob Dylan)

Bob Dylan Lucky Wilbury Traveling Wilburys

Like the other Wilburys, Bob Dylan‘s reputation was firmly in place long before the 1980s. His legacy was as a singer-songwriter and the voice of the late 1960s generation. Dylan joined George Harrison and friends for the epic “Concert for Bangladesh” in 1971, performing “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” with the former Beatle. The accompanying album won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1973.

Fun Cards: 1988 Score Young Superstars Lefty Wilbury (Roy Orbison)

Roy Orbison Lefty Wilbury Traveling Wilburys

The date: 1963. The headliner: Roy Orbison. The opening act: The Beatles. Orbison was on tour in Great Britain and allowed local bands such as the Beatles and Gerry and the Peacemakers to open for him. In 1987, Bruce Springsteen inducted Orbison into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; a year later the Boss inducted Bob Dylan. Orbison teamed up with George Harrison, twenty-five years after allowing his little band to open for him in Britain, and the others in the Traveling Wilburys. The debut single and album was released on October 17, 1988.

Fun Cards: 1988 Donruss Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr. (Tom Petty)

Tom Petty Charlie T Wilbury Jr Traveling Wilburys

How did the Traveling Wilburys come to exist? Over the next few days, I’ll piece together a few of the happenings that brought five legendary musicians together to form the greatest supergroup in rock history.

The first piece, Tom Petty, a.k.a. Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr. In 1988, Bob Dylan recruited Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to be his backup band during the True Confessions tour. A year later, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers release Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) album, featuring a song co-written by Dylan. Petty and his cohorts again back Bob Dylan in 1987 for his Temples in Flames tour. The following year, Petty and Dylan joined forces with Roy Orbison, Electric Light Orchestra‘s Jeff Lynne, and the BeatlesGeorge Harrison to form the Traveling Wilburys.

Fun Cards: 1976 Topps Tom Petty

Tom Petty

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakersself-titled debut was released in November, 1976, by Shelter Records. The first single, “Breakdown,” was a Top 40 hit, and has been covered in the studio by Grace Jones and Suzi Quatro, and by numerous artists in concert, including the Replacements and Foo Fighters. The band then released “American Girl,” which unbelievably did not chart in the United States until it was re-released in 1994. The song was used in several films, including FM, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and The Silence of the Lambs.

Hungry for more Tom Petty? Check out Greg’s tribute at Night Owl Cards, matching baseball cards to the songs from Petty’s 1994 release, Wildflowers (one of my favorite Petty albums).

The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs: A Decade-by-Decade History edited by Joe Knowles (2017)

Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs: A Decade-by-Decade History
edited by Joe Knowles
Agate Midway, 2017

No longer the “lovable losers,” the Cubs finally overcame their 108-year drought by winning the World Championship in 2016. With the team poised to make another run at the title this year, there is no better time to revisit the team’s rich history. The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs: A Decade-by-Decade History goes all the way back to the team’s beginnings as one of the charter members of the National League in 1876. Those first 24 years, during which they changed from the White Stockings to the Colts to the Orphans, are covered in just a few pages. Beginning with the 1900s, the book goes into much more depth, featuring several player profiles, decade highlights, and a “Team of the Decade” feature.

The Cubs were first called the Cubs in 1902, but that did not completely settle the name of the club. It was not until 1907 that the nickname was officially adopted due to the support of Frank Chance. Replete with photographs from the Tribune’s vast archives, this volume is a treasure trove for fans of baseball history, the Cubs in particular. Add to the player profiles a number of topical articles of interest, including “Tinker to Evers to Chance” and “Babe Ruth’s ‘called shot’,” and the history of the franchise comes alive.

Of course, the book features the all-time greats like Greg Maddux, Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, and Fergie Jenkins, but there are also stories about lesser-known players, such as Jeff Pico, who held the Reds to only four hits in his big league debut, and Chuck Connors, who is better known for his role as “The Rifleman” on television. The decade break-downs conclude with the celebration of the Cubs’ World Championship in 2016.

But wait, there’s more! In a section called “Extra Innings,” The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs delves into everything else: the ballparks, the award winners, the postseasons, no-hitters, best and worst trades, and the legends, curses, and myths that surround the team.

Pound-for-pound (and it is a heavy one, measuring 9.5×11 and 344 pages), this is the best book on Chicago Cubs history on the market. Cubs fans will absolutely love it, regardless of the results of the 2017 season.

Learn more about Agate Midway.

Purchase The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs edited by Joe Knowles.

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.

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.

%d bloggers like this: