Jim Rice toiled for fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot before finally getting over the 75% threshold in his final year of eligibility. Rice was a feared slugger during his career, winning the 1978 AL MVP award and finishing in the top five during five other seasons. He finished his career with 382 longballs and 1451 RBI.
It was pretty clear early in Wade Boggs‘ career that he would eventually be a Hall of Famer. He batted .357 or better five times in his career, collected 3010 hits and finished with a .328 average. Twelve times in 18 years Boggs was named an All-Star, and eight times a Silver Slugger. The JAWS rating system puts Boggs at #3 among third basemen on the all-time list, behind Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews.
He is the fourth-best catcher in history (according to JAWS), but it took two tries on the ballot for Carlton Fisk to get into the Hall of Fame. Granted, 1999 was a pretty loaded ballot…but fourth-best in history! Eleven All-Star selections, 1972 Rookie of the Year, and that Game 6 homer in 1975 defined the original Pudge’s career.
Tom Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 as a New York Met. I get that. His greatest success came in New York, and the first team that everyone associates him with is the Mets. He won the Cy Young Award three times—as a Met—and won 198 games with the team. There was no question that the Mets would be featured on his cap on the plaque.
But he also played for the Reds, and it’s really difficult for me to not make a “Baseball Immortals” for Seaver without a Reds alternative…
And while I’m at it, I might as well make a White Sox card…
And a Red Sox card…
Fergie Jenkins was the 1971 NL Cy Young Award winner for the Chicago Cubs, and nearly won the 1974 AL Cy Young with the Rangers. He received ten first-place votes for the award, while Catfish Hunter took twelve first-place votes. “Fly” was the first Canadian-born baseball player inducted into the Hall of Fame, gaining entry in his third year on the ballot in 1991.
If you can spell his last name, I’m impressed, but if you have to call him “Yaz,” I don’t hold it against you. Carl Yastrzemski was one of the best players in Red Sox history, which is saying a lot considering how many great players have worn the Boston uniform. It is fitting that he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the same year as Johnny Bench, against whom he competed in one of the greatest World Series contests ever. Yaz only received eight fewer votes than Bench in the Hall of Fame vote, with 94.6% support from the BBWAA.
Yastrzemski’s career highlights include the 1967 AL MVP, the same year that the left fielder achieved the coveted “Triple Crown.” The Triple Crown had only been achieved fifteen times prior to Yaz’s 1967 season, and only once since (Miguel Cabrera in 2012). It is considered one of the toughest offensive achievements in baseball. His 12.4 WAR in 1967 is the most in a single season for any ballplayer not named Babe Ruth.
Yaz was no flash-in-the-pan, though. He was named to 18 All-Star teams while slugging 452 home runs and collecting 3419 hits in his 23-year career. I think Yastrzemski might be one of the most underrated players in history, perhaps because he followed Ted Williams, one of the greatest left fielders in history.
(June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)
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.
We mourn the loss of former Oriole Don Baylor. Our thoughts are with his family. pic.twitter.com/ewkdpEDAmA
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 7, 2017
Few have worn the Angels uniform with greater pride, loyalty and commitment and few have made a greater impact. RIP Groove. pic.twitter.com/MiwKw2Hkql
— Angels (@Angels) August 7, 2017
We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Yankee Don Baylor. He was a great man & we send our thoughts to his family & friends. pic.twitter.com/3t3UavXPs8
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 7, 2017
We're deeply saddened by the passing of Don Baylor, a beloved member of the '86 Red Sox. Our thoughts & prayers are with his family. pic.twitter.com/NmWT9qq9Db
— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 7, 2017
Sending love to the Baylor family today. RIP Don. pic.twitter.com/sXpafJ9L86
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) August 7, 2017
Very sad to hear about the passing of my former teammate and friend Don Baylor. RIP 🙏
— Bert Blyleven (@BertBlyleven28) August 7, 2017
Very sad last few days as baseball loses 2 strong leaders of the past, Darren Daulton & Don Baylor. Two old school tough baseball players.
— Ken Singleton (@29alltime) August 7, 2017
— Dave Winfield (@DaveWinfieldHOF) August 7, 2017
We are deeply saddened by the passing of original Colorado Rockies Manager Don Baylor. pic.twitter.com/hYo61JP1sF
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) August 7, 2017
The #Cubs mourn the passing of former manager Don Baylor.
We send our condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/LJCwJVRD7O
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 7, 2017
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 7, 2017
— Jim Abbott (@jabbottum31) August 7, 2017
— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) August 7, 2017
— Dontrelle Willis (@DTrainMLB) August 7, 2017
Don Baylor was a great coach, manager, player, mentor, and friend. Above all he was a tremendous human being. Rest easy "Groove".
— Raúl Ibañez (@RaulIbanezMLB) August 7, 2017
Thoughts and prayers go out to the Baylor family. Rest easy Groove!
— C.J. Cron (@CCron24) August 8, 2017
He always gave me confidence after a rough one,always ready to laugh, a great coach,a great friend,with both love and sadness RIP Don Baylor
— Huston Street (@HustonStreet) August 7, 2017
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.
(July 21, 1958 – December 27, 2015)
Fourteen-year MLB veteran Dave Henderson, nicknamed “Hendu,” suffered a heart attack and passed away today. Henderson played for the Mariners, Red Sox, Giants, A’s, and Royals, and was an All-Star in 1991. He played in four World Series for the Red Sox (1986) and A’s (1988-1990) and hit a dramatic home run in the fifth game of the 1986 ALCS against the Angels (video of the home run is above, or watch the full game here).
One of the best catchers to ever play the game, Carlton Fisk never backed down when facing an opponent on the diamond or in the front office. He hit one of the most legendary home runs in World Series history in 1975, but is also remembered for butting heads with ownership in both Boston and Chicago when he felt he was being treated unfairly. Opponents on the field also faced the wrath of Fisk if he felt they were not respecting the game—just ask Deion Sanders (or read chapter 17 in this book).
Author Doug Wilson has made a name for himself with some excellent baseball biographies on Brooks Robinson (Brooks, 2014) and Mark Fidrych (The Bird, 2013), and Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk is no exception. Wilson spends a good four chapters on the catcher’s early life, from his boyhood through the minor leagues, before arriving in Boston in chapter 5. Several chapters are devoted to a single season apiece, with special attention paid to Game Six in 1975, Fisk’s departure from Boston prior to the 1981 season, and the collusion battles of the mid-1980s. Wilson’s conversational style makes reading a joy, and he succinctly explains difficult and complex topics with ease.
Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk is an entertaining read (just as Wilson’s prior books), highly recommended to baseball fans.