Mike Schmidt‘s place among the baseball immortals was a foregone conclusion by the time the voting results were released for the 1995 cycle, and his 96.5% support was the fourth-highest at the time, and is still 11th all-time. Widely considered the greatest player to man the hot corner, Schmidt’s WAR is 10 points higher than any other third baseman and 19th overall for non-pitchers. He is the third baseman by which all other third basemen are compared.
This is the one I was most interested in, since third base is the most underrepresented position in Cooperstown. No one should be surprised that Mike Schmidt (307.72) is the greatest third baseman of all-time by a large margin, or that Brooks Robinson (277.18) is the second-best, thanks in large part to his stellar defense. George Brett (262.01), the recently retired Chipper Jones (258.35), Eddie Mathews (244.76), and Wade Boggs (230.68) come in at #3-6. The seventh name on the list is Scott Rolen, and I have to admit I was very surprised to see him so high on the list.
Rolen began his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1997 (note: Rookie of the Year is not one of the awards that count toward a player’s ranking in this project). He has driven in 100 runs five times, hit thirty homers thrice, but his biggest asset has been his glove.
After Rolen comes another Hall of Famer, Paul Molitor (222.43), and then two more non-Hall of Famers, Adrian Beltre (221.18) and Graig Nettles (219.86) round out the top ten, just ahead of 2012 inductee Ron Santo (219.3) and 1960s star Ken Boyer (214.23). While there have been steroid suspicions about Beltre, since he has not been specifically named by former teammates or the subject of leaked test results, I have decided to include him in this project.
The reason I was most interested in third base was Buddy Bell (210.83). Bell has such an interesting case, a solid career that went downhill fast after his injury in 1988 and losing the Reds third base job to Chris Sabo. Overshadowed by the vastly superior Schmidt and Brett during his playing days, Bell finished his career with 2514 hits, 201 home runs and 1106 RBI. Once all the numbers are plugged into the spreadsheet, Bell comes in at a very respectable #13. Hall of Fame material? I wouldn’t object, but can’t throw my support behind him either.
In 1986 Topps teamed up with Quaker to issue a 33-card set full of superstars, including a nice handful of future Hall of Famers. This week, we’re looking at the cards in the set; today we have cards 10-18…
This page almost looks like a dream line-up of 1980s stars…first baseman Don Mattingly, second baseman Ryne Sandberg, third baseman Mike Schmidt, shortstop Ozzie Smith, outfielders Darryl Strawberry and Tim Raines, and pitcher Fernando Valenzuela. Pete Rose was nearing the end of his career, having just broken Ty Cobb‘s hits record in September 1985. Many thought Nolan Ryan‘s best years were behind him, but he would actually pitch two more no-hitters in the next decade.
The Hall of Fame count for this group is four: Ryan, Sandberg, Schmidt, and Smith. Raines will probably join that group eventually, and really should already be there. As the premiere leadoff hitter in the National League, Raines was a seven-time All-Star for the Expos and is currently fifth on the career stolen base leaderboard. He received 52.2% of the vote in 2013 for Cooperstown, more than double the support he received in his first year on the ballot.
Eight players have been honored with their #20 retired by nine teams; Robinson gets double the glory from both the Reds and the Orioles.
Monte Irvin, New York Giants
Irvin was a 1973 inductee into the Hall of Fame via the Negro League Committee. He played with Larry Doby on the champion Newark Eagles team of 1946, and continued playing in the Negro Leagues through 1948. In 1949, he got his shot with the New York Giants, debuting July 8 as a pinch hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Irvin batted .293 in his 8-year major league career.
Don Sutton, Los Angeles Dodgers
Frank Robinson, Baltimore Orioles
Frank Robinson, Cincinnati Reds
Frank White, Kansas City Royals
Lou Brock, St. Louis Cardinals
Luis Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks
Mike Schmidt, Philadelphia Phillies
Pie Traynor, Pittsburgh Pirates
It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of modern-day baseball. With all the cheats in the game, and so few class acts left, it’s just difficult to retain my interest. But because of the internet, I can relive the days of baseball that I fell in love with.
I started collecting baseball cards in 1985. I got my first complete set in 1986 for Christmas (Topps, of course). And I started learning about the game’s history because of a man named Peter Edward Rose.
You see, when I started following baseball, Rose was chasing Ty Cobb’s career record for hits. That immediately created a strong desire to learn about Ty Cobb, and eventually other old-timers like Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Jackie Robinson, and so on.
And now, when I want to relive the glory days of the 1980s, all I have to do is fire up YouTube. Here’s a clip of Reggie Jackson and Howard Cosell running down the starting lineups, position-by-position, for the 1983 World Series teams, the Phillies (featuring Rose, Morgan, and Schmidt) and the Orioles (featuring Murray and a youngster named Cal Ripken Jr).
I don’t remember the ’83 Series (’86 was the first one I really paid attention to). But it’s cool to look back on it now. Five Hall of Famers in the infield alone…has that happened since?
Oh, that we could see the game played like it was back then…when it was still (for the most part) a game.
My son and I visited one of the local card shops this afternoon, and I walked away pretty happy (as did he). He picked up some singles…Ken Griffey Jr., Chone Figgins (have no idea why he picked him out), Warren Spahn, another baseball guy (can’t remember who though), and Michael Jordan (normally, I’m against basketball cards, but I make an exception for MJ). I picked up several packs, including a few from the dollar bins. Here’s what I got…
I grabbed two cello packs of these bad boys, even though I already have a ton. I just couldn’t resist the shiny All-Star cards on the top (pictured above). Add to that a Bo Jackson showing through the back of one of the packs, and it was a no-brainer. $1 per pack and 42 cards in each. Even if they are all doubles (which is quite possible), I still got Eric the Red and the HOF 3B Mike Schmidt.
1989 Fleer League Leaders
This is actually a set, 44 cards, and was only a buck. Again, Eric Davis is in the set, as well as Mark Grace, Don Mattingly, Jose Canseco…lots of late 1980s/early 1990s superstars. I would have picked up two if I had seen another box of them, but this was all I saw.
2006, 2007, and 2008 Topps
The 2006 and 2007 packs were $1 each, I think they were series 2, and there wasn’t much to brag about in them. I think I did score a Mantle (I don’t care how much they’re worth, I just like pulling the Mantle cards). I also got a Mantle out of the 6 packs of 2008 I got, as well as the Joey Votto A&G card, a couple of the All-Star Rookie 50th Anniversary cards, an Ichiro base cards and the A-Rod pictured above.
I was pretty happy with my purchases today. And I almost bought…
1988 Donruss Baseball’s Best
I’ve already got this set, but I was thinking the other day about how nice these cards would look autographed. The set was only $5, which I thought was a steal, but for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to buy it.
When I got home, I hopped on Beckett.com and looked it up (using the “My Collections” tool). The 336 cards in the set all add up to $70.90. $70.90!?!? The guy was selling it for $5…what’s wrong with him? I then headed over to eBay, and found this. Go down to the very bottom, and there’s a “Buy It Now” for $74.99…and that’s for a whole CASE of sets. Not sure how many came in a case, but I’m betting at least 12 or 15.
In any case, I will be making a purchase the next time I’m at the store, just because I really think they would look nice autographed and don’t want to break the set in case someone doesn’t return the cards.
They also have some old wax boxes cheap…1988 and 1989 Score for $5, 1988 and 1990 Donruss, and some football and basketball stuff too. I can’t wait for my tax refund to hit the bank.