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Congratulations, Alan Trammell and Jack Morris!

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.

Trammell

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.

Morris

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.

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“A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”

Feller Navy

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.

Baseball cards from Orlando

packs

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…

Davis

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.

Mattingly

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.

Davis mini

Franco mini

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.

Benzinger

Benzinger

Clark

Clark

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.

Big Hurt

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.

Griffey All-Star

Henke

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.

Ryan

Henderson

Also from the same 1992 Score pack.

Thome

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.

Dennys

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.

Double Headers

Double Header

I have always wanted some Double Headers, but have never seen them in person. Vince Coleman is from 1990, while Wade Boggs and Andre Dawson are from 1989.

Brett

candy

Think this candy is still good from 1991?

buttons

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.

Cards piling up…

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…

Browning

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.

Votto

Another package included this Joey Votto Bowman Chrome (does anyone else call it “Chroman” in your head? No? Just me?). If I’m not mistaken, this came from Jim of the late, great GCRL blog.

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…

Alomar

…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!

The Making of Major League by Jonathan Knight (2015)

Major League

The Making of Major League:
A Juuuust a Bit Inside Look at the Classic Baseball Comedy

by Jonathan Knight
Gray & Company, 2015
255 pages

One of the most enduring comedies of the late 1980s—at least for sports nuts—is Major League. There is perhaps no other baseball film as widely quoted and embraced both by fans and players in the history of Hollywood. In his latest book, Ohio sportswriter Jonathan Knight takes readers behind the scenes of the movie, showing how difficult it was for writer/director David S. Ward to initially get the green light. Knight weaves together information gathered from interviews with Ward and the stars of the show, including Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, and Wesley Snipes, telling the story of how the film came to be made and the excitement on the set while filming.

Those familiar with the movie are well aware of the raunchy language, and Knight does not hesitate to quote both lines from the movie and interviews without censorship. Readers who are able to look past the salty language will enjoy reliving the first time they saw Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn (Sheen) strike out Clu Haywood (played by major leaguer Pete Vukovich). Knight also touches on the ill-fated sequels, and the proposed fourth installment that has failed to gain any traction so far.

I love Major League, and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the highlights and hijinks of making the movie that ranks up near the top of my all-time favorite baseball flicks.

Learn more about Gray & Company.

Purchase The Making of Major League by Jonathan Knight.

I’ve been a little busy lately

I have just taken a new part-time job, which is a very good thing. I will still have time to read and draw and obsess over baseball cards and hair metal, but will be doing so to a lesser extent because of my new position. So the posts may be a little less frequent here.

I do have some book reviews on the horizon, The Making of Major League, 27, Tony Oliva, and The League of Regrettable Superheroes among them. And I still have several “fun cards” to post, as well as original sketches, like the one below.

Rick Vaughn

Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, star pitcher for the 1988 alternative reality Cleveland Indians in the Major League universe. This is the first non-Reds card I’ve drawn in several years, and I think the first fictional baseball player I have ever attempted. I’m kind of stuck on 1938 Goudey right now.

Major League is definitely one of my favorite baseball movies, along with The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings, Field of Dreams, 42, and Eight Men Out. I need to watch Bull Durham again, because I didn’t like it the first time I watched it over twenty years ago and have not seen it since.

What are some other baseball movies I should watch when I have the time?

Don Newcombe was a complete player

Rookie of the Year in 1949. Four times an All-Star. Cy Young and MVP Award winner in 1956. Don Newcombe149 wins. But Don Newcombe was more than just a good pitcher. He was a good hitter, too.

Often used as a pinch hitter during his career, Newk racked up 15 homers and 108 RBI in his 10-year career. In 1955 alone, he knocked the ball out of the park seven times on his way to a 2.5 oWAR score for the season. His batting average was .271, with 238 hits in 878 at-bats.

The Dodgers foolishly traded Newcombe during the 1958 season to the Redlegs for four players: Steve Bilko, Johnny Klippstein, Art Fowler, and Charlie Rabe. He continued his hitting display during three seasons with the Reds, pounding out 58 hits in 201 at-bats. That’s a .289 average!

The Reds sure could use a bat like Newcombe’s on the bench this year…or any year. He was an underrated player during his career, and while the Dodgers do a good job of recognizing his greatness, he is still overlooked by many fans.

R.I.P. Al Rosen

(February 29, 1924 – March 13, 2015)

1953 MVP and 4-time All-Star Al Rosen passed away last night. He was inducted into the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame in 2006.

Pitching To The Pennant edited by Joseph Wancho (2014)

Pitching to the Pennant 1954 Cleveland Indians

Pitching To The Pennant
edited by Joseph Wancho
University of Nebraska Press, 2014
352 pages

They won more games than the 1927 Yankees, boasted five future Hall of Fame players and a future Hall of Fame manager, featured two twenty-game winners, and fielded players who led the league in home runs, runs batted in, batting average, pitching victories and earned run average. Yet after four-game sweep by the New York Giants in the World Series and the most memorable catch in postseason history by Willie Mays, many people forget that the Cleveland Indians were that good in 1954.

Imagine having a pitching staff led by Early Wynn and Bob Lemon, who each won 23 games, and Mike Garcia with his 19 victories and league-leading 2.64 ERA. Add to that effective performances by Art Houtteman and an aging Bob Feller, and a bullpen that included Hal Newhouser. Not to be outdone, the offense featured hitting leader Bobby Avila and top slugger Larry Doby, along with a strong performance by Al Rosen. This was a team that had all the right pieces fall into place all season, until the World Series. General manager Hank Greenberg famously said, “We had a great season. It just lasted four games too long.”

The spirit of that 1954 season is captured in Pitching To The Pennant, edited by Jospeh Wancho, with biographies of each player written by members of the Society for American Baseball Research and monthly recaps of each game. Other articles discuss Cleveland Stadium, the All-Star Game that was played there, and game-by-game accounts of the 1954 World Series. Perhaps the most interesting piece, though, is “A Seven-Year-Old’s Perspective on the 1954 Indians” by David Bohmer, describing the writer’s personal recollections of that team from so long ago through the fog of time.

Pitching To The Pennant is another fine offering from the University of Nebraska Press, a book that delight the Tribe’s followers and educate baseball fans.

Learn more about University of Nebraska Press.

Purchase Pitching To The Pennant edited by Joseph Wancho.

R.I.P. Ralph Kiner

(October 27, 1922 – February 6, 2014)

Kiner

“Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords.”

Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, and Cleveland Indians, passed away today. For seven straight seasons, beginning with his rookie year in 1946, Kiner led the league or tied for the league lead in home runs. He was a six-time All-Star and finished in the top 10 MVP voting five times. Thrice he topped the 8.0 mark in WAR (1947, 1949, 1951). He finished his 10-year career in 1955 with 369 home runs. After a poor showing initially, Kiner was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame on his thirteenth ballot.

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