Blog Archives

Goodbye, Don Baylor

(June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)

Baylor

Slugging outfielder and 1979 American League MVP, Don Baylor passed away today from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of plasma cells. Baylor his 338 home runs in his career, was an All-Star in 1979, and won the World Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1987. He presided over the Boston Red Sox’s kangaroo court, and fined Roger Clemens $5 for giving up a single to Spike Owen on an 0-2 count during his 20-strikeout game in 1986. He was also the Colorado Rockies’ first manager.

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Gary Gaetti

Gaetti

Wade Boggs started eleven straight All-Star games for the American League, and was featured in the 1988 Topps All-Star subset. Gary Gaetti was an easy pick to back up the future Hall of Famer at third. He had just come off two 30-homer/100-RBI seasons, and appeared to be on his way to another. He fell a little short, but his stats at the break were promising enough for manager Tom Kelly to put him on the roster.

Gaetti

Fun Cards: 1988 Topps All-Star Tim Laudner

1988 All-Star Tim Laudner Minnesota Twins

Tim Laudner would have been the starting catcher if players controlled the lineups, with Ron Hassey backing him up. It was Laudner’s finest season since he made his debut with the Twins in 1981, and he got a substantial raise in the off-season, but 1989 would be his last as a big leaguer.

Laudner

See all the TWJ ’88 All-Stars here.

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.

Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend by Thom Henninger (2015)

Oliva

Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend
by Thom Henninger
University of Minnesota Press, 2015
280 pages

Nearly every team has a player like Tony Oliva: immensely popular among both fans and players, yet forgotten by the world at large outside of their “home” city. Oliva’s career in Minnesota as a player and coach saw him spend time with Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Kirby Puckett. Author Thom Henninger’s new biography, Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend, covers all the bases, starting with his initial failed tryout with the Twins and the young player’s inability to return to Cuba afterward because of the Bay of Pigs operation. Henninger’s follows Oliva’s career, the ups and downs and personal, non-baseball highlights, interjecting memories of his teammates in with the statistical record.

That statistical record plays a major role in the author’s epilogue, “The Hall of Fame Question.” Despite Oliva’s popularity and success in Minnesota, he has not yet been rewarded with the ultimate honor bestowed upon baseball players. Henninger breaks down Oliva’s career, comparing his peak years of 1964-1971 to other men who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, both contemporary and those who came later, making the case that Oliva does belong among baseball’s immortals. It is a compelling case, but still short of a slam-dunk for the Cuban-born player.

Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend is an enjoyable book, one that Twins fans and baseball history fans will relish. Whether or not you believe Oliva belongs in the Hall of Fame, his story is worth reading.

Learn more about University of Minnesota Press.

Purchase Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend by Thom Henninger.

Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie by Stew Thornley

Minnesota Twins Baseball book review

Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie
by Stew Thornley
The History Press, 2014
128 pages

There are certain names that immediately come to mind when one thinks of the Minnesota Twins: Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Joe Mauer. The franchise’s history reaches much deeper than its Hall of Famers, though. Before the Twins came to town, Minnesotans were entertained by Ollie Bejma of the St. Paul Saints and Willie Mays of the Minneapolis Millers, and the franchise that eventually became the Twins had its own roster of greats, most notably Walter Johnson. After fifty years in Minnesota, however, the Twins no longer have to rely on those stories to thrill baseball fans. They have their own.

Author Stew Thornley has done an excellent job of tracing the Twins’ roots in Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie. Recalling anecdotes of Killebrew and Vic Power, Jim Kaat and Jim Perry, and more recently Mauer and Justin Morneau, the author presents an informative look into this underappreciated franchise. While the chapters are packed with details, the most entertaining part of this book are the asides about the All-Star Games, in-season exhibition matches, and the pine tar incident that occurred years before George Brett’s infamous blow-up.

Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie is a nice primer at only 128 pages to help one start to learn about the Twins baseball club.

Learn more about The History Press.

Purchase Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie by Stew Thornley.

Change the Hall of Fame voting rules?

Morris for the Hall of FameThe teaser on ESPN‘s site reads, “When there’s no ballot room for players like Jack Morris, it’s time for the HOF to change the rules.” Since I’m not an Insider subscriber, I can’t read the rest of the article, but the inference is that Buster Olney supports Morris’ induction. I don’t argue on that point; Morris was one of the most dominant pitchers of his era, despite his ERA. In fact, two of his Tigers teammates should also have plaques in Cooperstown (Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker), but for whatever reason at least 25.1% of voters disagree on all three counts.

Olney’s insistence that the rules should be changed for players who could not get 75% of the voters to check their name in fifteen years is not new; many have been calling for an updated system for years. However, just because one writer (or 67.7% of the writers) think a guy should be in, that is no reason to change the rules.

Let me repeat: I think Morris should be a Hall of Famer, but I’m not stomping my feet and demanding the Hall of Fame change its rules based on my opinion. There is a reason for the 75% threshold. It is difficult to reach that degree of support, and it should be difficult to gain entrance into the most exclusive Hall in all of sports.

So I clicked on the “read more,” and ESPN delivers another tease before they make you pay for the full article. Olney lists sixteen players he would “definitely vote for” (including steroid poster boys Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) and three others to “consider within the shifting landscape of who is already in the Hall of Fame” (Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, and Trammell).

Do I agree with some of Olney’s choices? Of course. Holdovers Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Morris are on both of our lists. Newcomers that we agree on include Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, and Frank Thomas. But there are others that I see as poor choices, mostly because of the steroid connection. I’m not completely sold on Curt Schilling yet, but I don’t necessarily think his inclusion would hurt the integrity of the Hall.

Again, I’m not an Insider subscriber, so I don’t know what new rules Olney suggests (if any). But I doubt he believes those new rules should deal with the voters. His new rules probably want to either extend the life of a player on a ballot, or lower the percentage needed to be called one of baseball’s immortals, or—and this is the most likely suggestion—increase the number of players a writer can vote for. Any of those suggestions is misguided.

Extending the life of a player on the ballot really does little for guys like Morris. This is his fifteenth year on the ballot; he is getting more press because of that and will receive more votes than if he had another five years.
Hodges for the Hall of Fame
Lowering the percentage needed for induction does not really lower the integrity of the Hall itself, but it is unnecessary. Guess how many non-Hall of Famers (current nominees excluded) would have been included if the threshold was lowered to 65%: zero. Gil Hodges has the most support at 63.4%, and that came in his last year on the ballot in 1983. Everyone who has received at least 65% of the vote has eventually gotten into the Hall of Fame. In fact, Hodges is the only player to ever receive 60% and still be on the outside. That may change after this vote, but there is still the Veterans Committee to consider in a few years.

Increasing the number of players a writer can vote for is a non-issue most years. There are several newcomers this year that will eventually be inducted, even if they are passed over initially. Most writers do not vote for ten players most years; this year might be an exception, but exceptions to the rule do not necessitate changes to the rule.

The rules are fine, Mr. Olney. Jack Morris is not considered a Hall of Famer by at least 25.1%, as much as you and I would like him to be.

2013 TWJ cards…updated daily (so far)

Mauer Minnesota Twins

Are you following TWJ Cards on tumblr? A new card is being posted daily (at least so far). We have seen Chris Heisey, Yonder Alonso, Fernando Rodney, Joe Mauer (pictured above), and Adam Lind so far, with Justin Upton, Prince Fielder, and prospect Jurickson Profar coming up soon!

Have any players you would like to see featured on a 2013 TWJ card? Drop me a line via the comments below, e-mail me, or leave me a message on tumblr!

R.I.P. Frank Pastore

(August 21, 1957 – December 17, 2012)

Pastore 1984 Topps

Former Reds pitcher Frank Pastore passed away yesterday after nearly a month in a coma following a motorcycle accident. He pitched for the Reds from 1979-1985 and the Minnesota Twins in 1986.

New TWJcards on tumblr

XFL running back “He Hate Me,” Doctor Who, and Dexter have all been featured on TWJcards on tumblr over the past couple of weeks. There are, of course, also baseball players among the bunch, including Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Cy Young Award candidates Felix Hernandez and R.A. Dickey, and rookie sensation Wade Miley. I also made a card for one of my favorite American League players, Joe Mauer:

custom Mauer

Check out all the latest TWJcards on tumblr.

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