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Random Awesomeness (part 2019.15)

Random Awesomeness


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Fun Cards: 1984 Fleer Yasiel Puig

Puig snake 1984 Fleer Cincinnati Reds

Earlier this year, while he was still employed by the Cincinnati Reds, Yasiel Puig visited the Cincinnati Zoo and spent some time with the reptiles. Snakes and baseball…where have we seen that before? Let’s go back 35 years…

Hubbard snake 1984 Fleer

Glenn Hubbard‘s 1984 Fleer card showed him holding a ginormous snake while the Phillie Phanatic loomed in the background (I’ve actually never noticed the Phanatic there before now). And wait…isn’t that Barney Rubble on the left-hand side of the card? Wild!

I’m getting off-track. Back to the snake.

It wasn’t difficult to connect the dots. Puig needed a 1984 “fun card” holding the Cincinnati Zoo snake, too.

Unfortunately, the idea didn’t come to me when I first saw the photo several months ago. By the time I got around to creating this card, Puig had been traded to the mistake-by-the-lake Indians for Trevor Bauer. No problem. 1984 Fleer is pretty easy to manipulate…

Puig snake 1984 Fleer Cleveland Indians

Something has to be done with that Cleveland logo. It’s so boring. I really wish they would use the angular C from the 1970s. Or change the team name to the Spiders and come up with something new.

Now back to Barney Rubble. How wild is that???

Fun Cards: 1988 American League All-Star Pitchers

Sweet Music

Sweet Music

“Sweet Music” Frank Viola was 14-2 at the All-Star break in 1988, making him the easy choice to start the game for the American League. He pitched two innings and earned the victory.

Clemens

Clemens

“The Rocket” Roger Clemens was next up for the AL, and retired all three batters he faced.

Gubicza

Gubicza

Mark Gubicza was the first American League pitcher to enter the game that didn’t have a cool nickname. He was also the first (and only) to let the National League score; Vince Coleman came home on a wild pitch in the 4th.

Stieb

Stieb

Should Dave Stieb be in the Hall of Fame? I think not, but there are a lot of Stieb stumpers out there. He appeared in seven ASGs in his career, but only tallied 176 victories over 16 seasons.

Russell

Russell

Jeff Russell was the “player to be named later” in the 1985 Reds-Rangers trade that saw Buddy Bell come to Cincinnati.

Cleveland Jones

Cleveland Jones

Doug Jones had a breakout season in 1988; it was the first of five seasons in which he saved at least 30 games, and his first of five All-Star Games.

Plesac

Plesac

When I started collecting baseball cards, Dan Plesac seemed to be in every discount store box set. He had a solid 18-year career, but nothing that would have warranted his inclusion in so many “Young Superstar” and “Hottest Players”-type sets.

Eckersley

Eckersley

Dennis Eckersley was the only Hall of Fame pitcher on the American League roster. Of course, Clemens would have been enshrined long ago if he hadn’t derailed his chances by getting caught using performance enhancers.

Reardon

Reardon

Two pitchers were on the American League roster but didn’t get into the game. The first is the manager’s own closer, Jeff Reardon. I wonder if players get mad when they don’t get to play, or if the experience of being there is enough.

Alexander

Alexander

Doyle Alexander started his big league career in 1971 and was named an All-Star for the first time in 1988. He did not get an opportunity to take the mound.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Eddie Murray

Murray

Is Eddie Murray the most underrated Hall of Famer? 500 homers, 3000 hits, eight All-Star Games, five consecutive top-five finishes for the AL MVP. How is he so often forgotten when talking about the greats of the past 40 years?

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Gaylord Perry

Perry

Gaylord Perry was a much better pitcher than people remember. Yes, he used the spitball, but does anyone really care about that? 300 wins, 3500 strikeouts, and the 13th highest career WAR for pitchers. If my math is correct, at the time of his retirement, he was 8th all-time. Since then, he has been passed by Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Phil Niekro, and Bert Blyleven.

P.S. The Mariners really need to bring back the trident as their primary logo. So much more character and charm than the current borefest they wear.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Bob Feller

Feller

“The Heater from Van Meter” missed three full seasons in his prime to serve this country militarily. In the four seasons before leaving for World War II, Bob Feller won 93 games with a 3.15 ERA and struck out 1007 batters. After coming back, he had three more 20-win seasons (including 26 in 1946) and struck out 348 batters in ’46. A no-brainer for the Hall of Fame, Rapid Robert cruised into Cooperstown with 93.8% of the vote in 1962.

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 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” Jim Thome

Thome

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.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Larry Doby

Doby

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.

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