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Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Fergie Jenkins

Jenkins

The Cubs retired uniform number 31 in honor of both Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux in 2009; they were the first pitchers so honored by the club. The other Cubs players whose numbers are retired are Ron Santo (10), Ernie Banks (14), Ryne Sandberg (23), and Billy Williams (26).

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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” Mariano Rivera

Mariano

Everyone knew Mariano Rivera would get the call today. The question was whether he would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously. No one had ever done it before—not Babe Ruth, not Mickey Mantle, not Ken Griffey. One writer stated earlier in the year that he would not vote for Rivera, then revealed he wouldn’t vote for anyone. However, he declined to submit his ballot, therefore Rivera still had a chance. As of late last night, according to the Ballot Tracker by Ryan Thibodaux, the all-time saves leader was still at 100%. Today, the question was finally answered. Mariano Rivera is the first unanimous selection to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Mike Mussina

Mussina

Mike Mussina was one of the most dependable pitchers of his era, though he was never flashy. In 18 seasons, he collected 270 wins and struck out 2813 batters. He had six top-five finishes in Cy Young Award voting, and two additional sixth-place finishes. Is that enough for a Hall of Fame plaque? For five years, more than 25% of the voters have said no, but tonight he can start adding “HOF 2019” to his autograph.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Roy Halladay

Halladay

A dominant force on the mound, the Blue Jays and Phillies relied on the late Roy Halladay to eat innings and win games. Halladay was the Cy Young Award winner twice, and finished in the top five for the trophy five other times. Eight times an All-Star, Halladay won 203 games and struck out 2117 batters in his 16-year career. The BBWAA recognized him as a Hall of Famer in his first year on the ballot, and he will be inducted this summer, less than two years after his untimely death.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Edgar Martinez

Edgar

Finally, the long wait is over for Edgar Martinez. In his tenth and final year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot, the standard by which designated hitters are judged gained entrance into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Since the modern era began (1961), only three players have bettered his .418 OBP. After a sluggish start on the ballot, Edgar’s candidacy gained traction three years ago and he received 70.4% of the vote in 2018.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals – SNUBBED” Curt Schilling

Schilling

Does Curt Schilling talk too much? Yes. Should that affect his Hall of Fame candidacy? No. He has a 79.6 WAR. He struck out 3116 batters. He finished 2nd in Cy Young Award voting three times. Three World Series rings. Once he was the World Series MVP. And don’t forget THE BLOODY SOCK. This guy’s performance SCREAMS Hall of Famer. But he just can’t keep his mouth shut.

The tracker shows him at 70.5%, needing 156 more votes to reach 75%. Generally, the numbers go down when the final totals are released, so it does not look like 2019 will be Curt’s year.

Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals – SNUBBED” Fred McGriff

McGriff

This is the one I just don’t understand. Clean player, 493 home runs, 1550 RBI. Five-time All-Star. Three Silver Sluggers. If it weren’t for the strike in 1994, Fred McGriff would have certainly hit the magic number 500 home runs. This guy is, in my book, hands-down a Hall of Famer. Yet, in his first nine years on the ballot, he couldn’t garner even 25% support from the BBWAA. He is polling at 38.7% tonight, far short of the necessary 75%. I’m sure the Veterans Committee will set it right in a few years, but it is disappointing that the Crime Dog isn’t getting the support now.

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