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Baseball Immortals: “Fun Cards” Cal Ripken

Ripken

There was little doubt that 2007 would see two first-ballot Hall of Famers inducted; the question was who would get more votes. Cal Ripken edged out Tony Gwynn by five votes, both flying into Cooperstown their first year. Other first-timers on the ballot in 2007 included Mark McGwire, Harold Baines, Paul O’Neill, and Eric Davis.

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Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Eddie Murray

Murray

Steady Eddie Murray is one of the forgotten stars of the 1980s. He is one of only five players to collect 3000 hits and 500 home runs (Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Rafael Palmeiro, and Alex Rodriguez are the others, with Adrian Beltre possibly joining the group in 2018). Murray, though instantly recognizable, only appeared in eight All-Star Games (seven with the Orioles, one with the Dodgers), and never won an MVP award (though he finished second twice). Despite being overlooked much of his career, the BBWAA ushered him into the Hall of Fame the first time his name appeared on their ballot in 2003.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Lee MacPhail

MacPhail

He is part of the only father-son duo in the Hall of Fame, but neither Lee nor his father Larry MacPhail played baseball. I have never understood why executives (or other non-players) are included among the players in the Hall of Fame. I realize they played an important role in the game, but believe they should have a separate wing, like broadcasters and writers.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Ned Hanlon

Hanlon

Ned Hanlon was one of the principle innovators of “inside baseball,” now known as “small ball.” He is credited with perfecting the hit-and-run play, among other strategies. He is best known as the manager of the Baltimore Orioles and Brooklyn Superbas, winning three NL pennants with the O’s and two with Brooklyn.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Earl Weaver

Weaver

Earl Weaver managed the Baltimore Orioles from 1968 to 1982 and again in 1985 and 1986. His teams won four AL pennants and defeated the Big Red Machine in the 1970 World Series. Weaver was well known for his fiery disposition on the field, often getting in umpires’ faces while arguing calls.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Jim Palmer

Palmer

Eight 20 win seasons and three Cy Young Awards in the 1970s. Three World Championship rings in three different decades. A lifetime ERA of 2.86. It doesn’t matter if you fall short of 300 wins or 3000 strikeouts, if you dominate like Jim Palmer dominated, you are going into the Hall of Fame. In addition to his three Cy Young wins, Palmer finished second twice (beat by Sparky Lyle and Pete Vuckovich) and third once (behind Ron Guidry and Mike Caldwell). No wonder 92.6% of the BBWAA voters thought he was Hall worthy in 1990.

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, 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…

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Cal Ripken

Cal Ripken started thirteen straight All-Star games at shortstop…and then three more at third base. In 2000, Travis Fryman was the starter at third base, and Derek Jeter at shortstop. In his final MLB season, Ripken was again the starting shortstop for the American League. Nineteen All-Star appearances; 17 as a starter. What an amazing career this guy had.

Ripken

But Topps didn’t put him in the All-Star subset in 1988. Alan Trammell got the nod. Trammell was a fine shortstop, and in my opinion should be in the Hall of Fame. His 1987 season was phenomenal, and the Tiger should have been selected as the AL MVP over George Bell. That is likely the reason Topps included him here, breaking Ripken’s short streak of Topps All-Star cards. In fact, Trammell was again given the All-Star card in the 1989 set. It was back to Cal in 1990, then Tram in 1991, then Cal in 1992, Travis Fryman (?!?) in 1993, Cal in ’94…and I had stopped collecting baseball cards by this point, so I’m done.

Ripken

I don’t know when Ripken received the “future Hall of Famer” tag, but it seems pretty clear that Topps dropped the ball on numerous occasions when it came to deciding who would be the American League shortstop in the All-Star subset.

Goodbye, Milt Pappas

(May 11, 1939 – April 19, 2016)

Pappas

Milt Pappas pitched for the Orioles, Reds, Braves, and Cubs, winning 209 games in 17 seasons. He was involved in the worst trade in Reds history when Cincinnati received him in a lopsided trade for Frank Robinson. Pappas was a three-time All-Star and pitched a no-hitter for the Cubs in 1972. His first wife disappeared in 1982; her body and the car she was driving was discovered five years later in a nearby pond. Pappas was found dead in his home today.

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