Three thousand seven hundred one. When Bert Blyleven retired, he ranked third on the all-time strikeouts list, behind Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton. Despite his penchant for punchouts, it took fourteen voting cycles for the writers to select him for the Hall of Fame…and even then, he only received 79.7%. At least he’s in, where he belongs.
In his injury-shortened career, the late Kirby Puckett was a juggernaut. The centerfielder was selected to ten All-Star teams in just twelve seasons, and collected 2304 hits while hitting at a .318 clip. Add to that two World Series rings, and I’d say you’ve had a pretty good career. Plus, at the start of his career, Puckett got to wear those glorious powder blue road uniforms.
Of the players inducted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA, Rod Carew has the lowest career WAR and the lowest WAR7. However, he sailed into the Hall on the first ballot on the strength of his reputation as a fantastic hitter (.328 lifetime batting average) and career benchmarks (3053 hits). He was an immensely popular player in Minnesota, the Rookie of the Year in 1967, and finished in the top ten in MVP voting six times, winning the trophy in 1977. Carew was named to the American League All-Star team every year from 1967 through 1984.
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.
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.
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.
(June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)
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.
We mourn the loss of former Oriole Don Baylor. Our thoughts are with his family. pic.twitter.com/ewkdpEDAmA
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 7, 2017
Few have worn the Angels uniform with greater pride, loyalty and commitment and few have made a greater impact. RIP Groove. pic.twitter.com/MiwKw2Hkql
— Angels (@Angels) August 7, 2017
We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Yankee Don Baylor. He was a great man & we send our thoughts to his family & friends. pic.twitter.com/3t3UavXPs8
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 7, 2017
We're deeply saddened by the passing of Don Baylor, a beloved member of the '86 Red Sox. Our thoughts & prayers are with his family. pic.twitter.com/NmWT9qq9Db
— Red Sox (@RedSox) August 7, 2017
Sending love to the Baylor family today. RIP Don. pic.twitter.com/sXpafJ9L86
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) August 7, 2017
Very sad to hear about the passing of my former teammate and friend Don Baylor. RIP 🙏
— Bert Blyleven (@BertBlyleven28) August 7, 2017
Very sad last few days as baseball loses 2 strong leaders of the past, Darren Daulton & Don Baylor. Two old school tough baseball players.
— Ken Singleton (@29alltime) August 7, 2017
— Dave Winfield (@DaveWinfieldHOF) August 7, 2017
We are deeply saddened by the passing of original Colorado Rockies Manager Don Baylor. pic.twitter.com/hYo61JP1sF
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) August 7, 2017
The #Cubs mourn the passing of former manager Don Baylor.
We send our condolences to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/LJCwJVRD7O
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 7, 2017
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 7, 2017
— Jim Abbott (@jabbottum31) August 7, 2017
— Vladimir Guerrero (@VladGuerrero27) August 7, 2017
— Dontrelle Willis (@DTrainMLB) August 7, 2017
Don Baylor was a great coach, manager, player, mentor, and friend. Above all he was a tremendous human being. Rest easy "Groove".
— Raúl Ibañez (@RaulIbanezMLB) August 7, 2017
Thoughts and prayers go out to the Baylor family. Rest easy Groove!
— C.J. Cron (@CCron24) August 8, 2017
He always gave me confidence after a rough one,always ready to laugh, a great coach,a great friend,with both love and sadness RIP Don Baylor
— Huston Street (@HustonStreet) August 7, 2017
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.
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.
See all the TWJ ’88 All-Stars here.
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.
Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend
by Thom Henninger
University of Minnesota Press, 2015
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.
Minnesota Twins Baseball: Hardball History on the Prairie
by Stew Thornley
The History Press, 2014
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.