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.
Long a major oversight of Hall of Fame voters, George Davis was championed by baseball historian Bill James prior to his induction. In 1995, James wrote that Davis was the best player outside the Hall, while Total Baseball rated him as the 21st greatest baseball player in history. He had never appeared on a BBWAA ballot, but the Veterans Committee finally decided Davis could join the other immortals in Cooperstown in 1998. According to JAWS, he is the fourth-best shortstop of all-time, behind Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken, and a stinkin’ cheater. In other words, Davis is the third-best.
I swear my memory is slipping. Before starting this project, if you had asked me when Nellie Fox was inducted into the Hall of Fame, I would have answered without hesitation, “Sometime in the 1970s. Not as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but definitely within seven or eight tries.” If you had corrected me, telling me that it was actually the Veterans Committee that selected him for enshrinement in 1997, I would have immediately whipped out my smartphone and looked up his B-R page to prove you wrong, because…oh. Wow. The BBWAA obviously missed one, and why in the world did it take the VC so long to correct that oversight? He was an MVP! He made 15 All-Star Games! How was he not a 1970s inductee?
In his final year on the ballot, 1985, Fox missed induction by two votes. TWO VOTES. And it still took another 12 years for the VC to put him in? Incredible.
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…
Bill Veeck was one of the most innovative marketing minds in baseball history. His most infamous publicity stunt came in 1979: “Disco Demolition Night.” The stunt led to a riot, forcing the White Sox to forfeit the game against the Detroit Tigers. Veeck was selected by the Veterans Committee to join the baseball legends in Cooperstown in 1991.
Ozzie Guillen represented the White Sox in Cincinnati in 1988, but did not play due to a nerve injury in his right leg.
The visiting clubhouse attendants pranked Guillen before the game. A steel cage in the visiting clubhouse housed a fake mongoose; veterans of the prank would approach the cage warily, rattling the cage, until an curious, unsuspecting player got too close. That’s when a spring was sprung and the ball of fur leaps…just like the victim. Many rookies fell victim to the gag through the years, and Guillen took the prank in stride, saying, “It was really something funny.”
Guillen made it back to the All-Star game twice, in 1990 and 1991. He went hitless in two at-bats at Wrigley in 1990, and had a sacrifice bunt off Rob Dibble at Toronto’s SkyDome in 1991.
To recap the actual 1988 All-Stars at shortstop…
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.
(February 11, 1941 – May 13, 2016)
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.
God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen
by Mitchell Nathanson
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016
One of the most polarizing players of the 1960s and 70s, Dick Allen never seemed to be happy. He had enormous talent, but he did not believe he received the respect he deserved. He faced racism, bad press, hecklers, and more during his career, and made plenty of enemies along the way. In this new biography by Mitchell Nathanson, those events are chronicled and put into historical context in the best possible way, using newspaper articles and archived interviews as the primary source for information, with newer interviews conducted to flesh things out when needed. Allen himself declined to participate in the interview process, but the quality of reporting throughout his career served to paint a portrait of the oft disgruntled star.
There is very little to criticize in this book as far as the writing goes; Nathanson deals with the material honestly and openly, not shying away from the negativity that always seemed to surround Allen. My primary criticism would be with the title, God Almighty Hisself. Not knowing the context, one might assume that Allen referred to himself in such a way. The quote from which the title is taken actually refers to the troublesome nature of dealing with the player, with a former manager quipping, “I believed God Almighty hisself would have trouble handling Richie Allen.” As such, the book should have been titled differently.
Overall, however, this biography of Dick Allen is an enjoyable read, shedding light on the surly superstar who often held out for more money, was frequently traded, and was dismissed all too soon by the voters for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.