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Fun Cards: 1988 American League All-Star Second Basemen

Molitor

Molitor

Paul Molitor played second base for the Milwaukee Brewers on July 9, the Saturday before the All-Star Game, because he hadn’t played the position all year. He was on the ballot at 2B, but Jim Gantner was the primary second sacker for the Brew Crew.

Ray

Ray

Johnny Ray and Harold Reynolds were chosen as backups for Molitor. Both were the lone representatives from their teams at the All-Star Game. The players’ choices would have changed all three second basemen on the roster:

Reynolds

Reynolds

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Don Sutton

Sutton

Don Sutton is often cited as a prime example of a “compiler,” a guy who is able to stick around for a long time and keep padding his statistical record while never truly dominating. And to that accusation (if you want to call it that), I say, “So what?” If he’s good enough to stick around, let him stick around.

Even though he was only named to four All-Star teams and only won 20 games once in 23 seasons, he had five straight top-five finishes for the Cy Young Award from 1972 through 1976. Outside of that brief brilliance, though, Sutton never received much recognition for his abilities. Even when it came time for Hall of Fame consideration, it took five ballot cycles for the BBWAA to decide to induct a 300-win, 3500-strikeout pitcher.

One other interesting note about Sutton: he attended four different colleges in three states. He started at the Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Florida, then went to Mississippi College in Clinton. From there, he went to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and finished up at Whittier College in Whittier, California.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Reggie Jackson

Jackson

Reggie Jackson was one of my first favorite baseball players. I didn’t start following baseball until the tail-end of his career, but I enjoyed hearing about his swagger. His 1988 Fleer card is one of my all-time favorites, and I just came into possession of his rookie card less than a year ago via a Twitter giveaway contest.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Dave Winfield

Winfield

A lot of athletes are hyped up while in college, but perhaps none as much as Dave Winfield in the early 1970s. Winfield was the best hitter and pitcher for the University of Minnesota Gophers’ baseball team, and was a star power forward for the basketball team. He was drafted fourth overall by the Padres and never spent a single day in the minor leagues.

The Atlanta Hawks tried to persuade him to try his hand at professional basketball, drafting him in the 5th round of the 1973 NBA draft. Add to that the ABA’s Utah Stars selection of Winfield in the 6th round of the 1973 ABA draft.

Winfield never played a single football game in college, but the Minnesota Vikings were impressed with his athleticism so much that they used their 17th round draft pick on him.

I’m glad Winfield chose baseball.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Rod Carew

Carew

Rod Carew was on his way out of baseball just as I started following more closely. My parents gave me the 1986 Topps factory set for Christmas, and that was Carew’s last card, career-capper that included all of his statistics. It was simple to see how great he was just by flipping over the card. 3053 hits and a lifetime .328 batting average. His dedication to the craft of hitting was evident in the numbers.

Carew played nineteen seasons. He failed to make the All-Star team once. Once. He was on the All-Star roster every year from 1967 to 1984. But wait, there’s more. He started fifteen of those eighteen games, and was selected by fans to start the other three but could not due to injury. He was the top vote-getter in the majors in 1975, 1977, 1978, and 1979.

The dude was an absolute beast on the field. I wish I had seen him play in his prime.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Frank Robinson

Robinson

Frank Robinson was one of the greatest players to ever wear the Cincinnati Reds uniform. And the Baltimore Orioles uniform. And the Dodgers, Angels, and Indians uniforms. Though he never played for them, Robinson was one of the greatest to pull the Giants, Expos, and Nationals jerseys over his head. Ok, so the Expos and Nationals were button-ups, not pullovers, but you get the point. The guy was a legend.

One of his nicknames was “Pencils” due to his unusually scrawny knees. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1956, NL MVP in 1961, and AL MVP in 1966. He also took home the World Series MVP in 1966 when his Orioles swept the Dodgers. He was selected to the All-Star team in twelve seasons. In 1975, the Indians named Robby the first black manager in big league history. He managed all or part of 16 seasons for four franchises (five teams, if you want to separate the Expos from the Nationals). He was named the AL Manager of the Year in 1989 on the strength of the Orioles’ second-place finish.

Robinson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982 along with Hank Aaron, Happy Chandler, and Travis Jackson.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Nolan Ryan

Ryan

A lot of people call Pete Rose‘s hit total or Cal Ripken‘s game streak the most unbreakable baseball records, but I have a feeling Nolan Ryan‘s 5714 strikeouts will never be approached. The second guy on the list is Randy Johnson, who finished his career with 4875, nearly 1000 fewer K’s. The current active leader is CC Sabathia with 2846, and we all know he ain’t hanging on long enough to sniff 4000. He’ll be lucky to get to 3000.

There were seven Hall of Fame inductees in 1999: three from the BBWAA and four from the Veterans Committee. Nolan Ryan narrowly missed the highest voting percentage of all-time; Tom Seaver received .05% more support in 1992. He still ranks third today, as Ken Griffey surpassed both in 2016 with 99.32%.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Rod Carew

Carew

Of the players inducted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, Rod Carew has the lowest career WAR and the lowest WAR7. However, he sailed into the Hall on the first ballot on the strength of his reputation as a fantastic hitter (.328 lifetime batting average) and career benchmarks (3053 hits). He was an immensely popular player in Minnesota, the Rookie of the Year in 1967, and finished in the top ten in MVP voting six times, winning the trophy in 1977. Carew was named to the American League All-Star team every year from 1967 through 1984.

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, Sammy Ellis

(February 11, 1941 – May 13, 2016)

Ellis 1966

Cincinnati Reds pitcher and 1965 All-Star, Sammy Ellis passed away on Friday in Florida. Ellis pitched for the Reds (1962-1967), California Angels (1968), and Chicago White Sox (1969), and served as pitching coach for the Yankees (1982–84; 1986), White Sox (1989–91), Cubs (1992), Mariners (1993–94), Red Sox (1996), and Orioles (2000). He was inducted into the Mississippi State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.

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