These are a couple of the cards I pulled from the Heritage hanger I received on Father’s Day this year. I’m a Reds collector, but even though these guys aren’t wearing Reds uniforms, they are well known in Cincinnati.
Billy Hamilton was one of the great prospects for the Reds before fans realized he couldn’t get on base. Yes, he had blazing speed, but he couldn’t use that speed unless he got to first base. So the Reds cut ties with him over the off-season, the Royals picked him up in December, and Topps was able to snap a few shots of him with his new team in time for the Heritage release.
Derek Dietrich, on the other hand, is a newcomer to the team. He spent the first six years of his big league career in Miami and signed with Cincinnati as a free agent in February. Alas, Topps was unable to get Dietrich wearing his new uniform before going to press, so he appears as a Marlin in Heritage.
Will these cards remain in my collection? I have not yet decided. I don’t collect Royals or Marlins, but both of these players have Reds ties. Should I start a new collection of “players not wearing Reds uniforms”? I would not collect them all; I have no use for cards of Danny Jackson with the Phillies or Randy Myers with the Mets or Todd Benzinger with the Red Sox. I like seeing Jose Rijo cards before he came to Cincinnati, but I don’t really need to collect them. I think pictures on the internet suffice.
Back to the Hamilton and Dietrich cards. I don’t really collect these, but I can’t quite bring myself to get rid of them. At least not yet.
“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.
“The Rocket” Roger Clemens was next up for the AL, and retired all three batters he faced.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kurt Stillwell returned to Riverfront Stadium for the first time since the Reds traded him to the Royals for Danny Jackson over the off-season. By all appearances, he enjoyed seeing Barry Larkin again. Stillwell was added to the All-Star roster as an injury replacement for Chicago’s Ozzie Guillen.
Here are the results of the USA Today players poll:
Following his record-setting rookie campaign in 1987, Mark McGwire was voted by fans to start at first base in the 1988 All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
USA Today surveyed the players in each league on who they thought should start the game. Players were only allowed to vote for their own league, and could not choose teammates. Results for American League first base were as follows:
- Don Mattingly 83
- George Brett 76
- Kent Hrbek 17
- Mark McGwire 13
- Fred McGriff 9
- Pete O’Brien 2
- Carney Lansford 1
- Steve Balboni 1
The 1988 All-Star Game is special to me because it was held in Cincinnati. I started making these cards two years ago and finally finished the complete rosters (front and back, including managers) earlier this year. I plan to post them here over the next few weeks. Hope you enjoy!
Please note that these are NOT real cards. There are no physical copies and they are not for sale. They exist only in digital form.
George Brett was a career Royal. It’s so much more fun creating these cards when I can use different teams, or at least different hats, in the small photos. But the loyalty is impressive…21 seasons with a single team. Despite his 98.2% vote total for the Hall of Fame in 1999, he was not the top vote-getter that year. Fireballer Nolan Ryan beat him by three ballots.
Sometimes you read about the trades your team didn’t make, and you start to wonder how it may have reshaped the franchise. Everyone knows the might of the 1975 and 1976 Big Red Machine, but apparently the front office was trying to move Tony Perez prior to the 1975 season, and they were seeking a third baseman in return. One of the names that popped up was George Brett. Can you even imagine that lineup?
(March 23, 1943 – July 29, 2017)
Known as “The Big Bopper,” Lee May was a fan favorite in Cincinnati. He played for the Reds from 1965 through 1971, when he was traded to the Astros. Of his 354 home runs, 147 came as a member of the Reds. He was a three-time All-Star and played in two World Series. In 1976, he led the American League with 109 RBI as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. His career closed in 1982 with Kansas City. He is a member of both the Cincinnati Reds and the Baltimore Orioles Halls of Fame. May passed away Saturday at the age of 74.
Condolences abounded on Twitter from his former teams, teammates, fans, and more…
Reds mourn death of Lee May pic.twitter.com/KHwuXFDz3U
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) July 30, 2017
The Astros join the baseball community in mourning the passing of All-Star Lee May. Lee played for the Astros for three seasons from 1972-74
— Houston Astros (@astros) July 30, 2017
We mourn the loss of Orioles Hall of Famer Lee May and will honor him with a pregame moment of silence tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/MElnGXOKYw
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 30, 2017
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of three-time All-Star Lee May, who hit 354 home runs in his career. Rest in peace, Lee.
— MLBPAA (@MLBPAA) July 30, 2017
Mr. Noe was special! RIP Big Bopper Lee May
— Johnny Bench (@JohnnyBench_5) July 30, 2017
So sorry to hear of the passing of former teammate Lee May. A superb sense of dry humor was Lee's trademark. A feared slugger. #RIPBIGBOPPER
— Ken Singleton (@29alltime) July 30, 2017
— Dan Epstein (@BigHairPlasGras) July 30, 2017
— Mark Gubicza (@Markgubicza) July 30, 2017
— Jim Palmer (@Jim22Palmer) July 30, 2017
Want to say how deeply saddened I am today of the loss of the "big bopper" lee may. U made me laugh everytime we were together RIP my friend
— Todd Frazier (@FlavaFraz21) July 30, 2017
RIP, Lee May pic.twitter.com/oI01m19v7K
— Gummy Arts (@gummyarts) July 31, 2017
RIP Lee May. Traded for Joe Morgan, later took Mayday Malone all the way out of Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. pic.twitter.com/me5hRMZyte
— Joe Belock (@JoeBelock) July 31, 2017
So sad to hear of passing of The Big Bopper from B'ham. He tore up '70 WS (.389/2/8 in 5 gms) & ended career in Top 35 for career HRs. 🙏 RIP pic.twitter.com/KQZeRPhfki
— History Thru Cards (@CardboardHistry) July 30, 2017
Detroit Tigers’ general manager Al Avila traded his son Alex Avila (along with Justin Wilson) to the Cubs. According to Jon Morosi, this is the first time in almost fifty years this has happened at the MLB level. The best reaction on Twitter, and perhaps the best Tweet of all-time:
Theo like "uhhh Justin Wilson please and the blood of your first born" pic.twitter.com/8oJd0MLTC8
— Zack Goldman (@DaRealGoldMan) July 31, 2017
Morosi failed to provide the last dad-sends-son-packing deal in his report, however. In 1968, another Al—Dodgers’ GM Al Campanis—dealt his boy Jim Campanis to the expansion Kansas City Royals “as part of a conditional deal.” Dad’s reasoning was that Jim was more likely to get playing time with the new team rather than the established Dodgers. Perhaps the elder Aliva wanted Alex to have a better shot at a ring. The Cubs are the defending World Champions, and currently sit atop the National League Central division, while the Tigers aren’t even playing .500 ball.
Continuing the theme of shortstops this week, Kurt Stillwell was a late addition to the American League All-Star roster in 1988, replacing Ozzie Guillen. When John Wathan told him that he would have to cancel his plans during the break in order to attend a workout, Stillwell was disappointed, not realizing that his manager meant he made the team.
It was Stillwell’s first return visit to Riverfront Stadium since the trade that sent him to Kansas City for pitcher Danny Jackson, who made the National League squad. Stillwell was the Reds’ first-round draft pick, second overall, from Thousand Oaks High School in the 1983 draft.
We’ll continue this series with another American League shortstop tomorrow, and since this is becoming a regular thing, I’ve created a new tag for them. If you want to see all the cards in the series so far without wading through all the Reds birthdays, click “TWJ ’88 All-Stars.”
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.