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.
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.
How times have changed. When Harmon Killebrew retired in 1975, he was fourth on the all-time home runs list behind Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays. Yet, it took the BBWAA four years to decide he was worthy of Cooperstown. Jim Thome‘s 612 home runs put him eighth on the all-time list, but he flew right into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe Thome is a Hall of Famer…I just question the sanity of the voters in the 1980s who kept Killebrew waiting so long.
Larry Doby was only considered by the BBWAA in 1966 and 1967, only receiving a handful of votes each time. He was a seven-time All-Star in thirteen seasons, but he is best known as the first black player in the American League. Doby is one of only four Hall of Famers who played in both the Negro Leagues World Series and the MLB World Series, along with Satchel Paige, Monte Irvin, and Willie Mays.
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.
It took three tries for Gaylord Perry to receive the requisite 75% support for the Hall of Fame. He won 314 games and struck out 3534 strikeouts, but his induction was stalled by allegations of using the illegal spitball to achieve these milestones. He was not ejected for doctoring the baseball until his 21st season in the majors. In addition to the spitball, Perry also utilized the “puffball,” described by Sports Illustrated writer Joe Posnanski: “My favorite trick pitch of his was the old Puffball, where he would load up on rosin so that a puff of white smoke would release while he threw his pitches. This was made illegal somewhere along the way (because of Perry, of course), but it’s so awesome — it’s like the sort of thing one of the villains on the old Batman TV show would do.”
The Veterans Committee voted today on the Hall of Fame “Modern Era” ballot. Several worthy candidates were included on the ballot, and ultimately two players were selected to join the elite in Cooperstown next summer.
Alan Trammell manned the shortstop position for the World Champion 1984 Tigers, and was named MVP of the Series that year. Overshadowed throughout his career by Cal Ripken, Trammell was named to six All-Star teams and won four Gold Glove Awards. In 1987, Trammell racked up more offensive WAR than anyone else in the American League, and narrowly lost the MVP race to Toronto’s George Bell. In fifteen years on the BBWAA ballot, Trammell’s best showing came in 2016 with 40.9%. Fortunately, the Veterans Committee recognized his worth and decided he belonged among the legends.
Another star of the 1984 Tigers, Jack Morris had a reputation as a big game pitcher for Detroit and Minnesota. While his career totals are somewhat lacking, his postseason prowess put him over the top. He collected 254 regular season wins and struck out 2478 batters in eighteen seasons.
Trammell and Morris will join those who receive 75% support from the BBWAA ballot, to be announced next month.
Bob Feller arrived in the majors in 1936 at the tender age of 17. In 1938, he made the first of four straight All-Star rosters, and from 1939-1941, the young pitcher finished either second or third in MVP voting. He turned 23 years old in November, 1941; less than a month later he enlisted to serve in the United States Navy after hearing of the attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7.
Stan Musial called him “probably the greatest pitcher of our era,” and Ted Williams said he was “the fastest and best pitcher I ever saw during my career.” High praise from two of the best hitters in history. Despite his baseball prowess, Feller walked away from the diamond temporarily to do his part in protecting this country.
Feller returned to baseball after three years with the military, and continued his Hall of Fame career. In 18 big league seasons, he won 266 games and struck out 2581 batters.
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.
You know how you get new cards, and you put them in a stack to sort later? And occasionally you get some cards in the mail from fellow bloggers, and they go in stacks too? But then you forget who sent what…and you feel guilty for letting those cards sit in stacks for weeks without scanning and posting…and then finally you start scanning but you don’t even know what some of the cards are…
This Tom Browning stamp was not on my wantlist. I was somewhat aware of the existence of these St. Vincent stamps thanks to the Tim Wallach blogger, but I’ve never attempted to make any kind of list of which Reds were included in the set. I believe this item came from 2×3 Heroes.
I love getting cards in the mail. I also love getting cards in person. A young friend at church who knows I collect cards recently gave me a shoebox full of “junk wax” that was made loooooong before he was born. But there were also some things made after he was born…
…like this gold Sandy Alomar Jr. card from 2007 that I had never seen before. There are apparently different versions and different years of this Danbury mint issue, including one showing Alomar as a member of the Colorado Rockies. I had no idea Alomar ever played for the Rockies until writing this post.
Thank you Jeff, Jim, and David for the cards!