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Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Derek Jeter

Jeter Baseball Immortals Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Yankees legend Derek Jeter, who was named on 99.7% of the BBWAA ballots for the Hall of Fame.

Fun Cards: 1988 and 1990 Topps Billy Martin

1988 Topps Billy Martin New York Yankees manager

I’m no Yankees fan, but I loved Billy Martin‘s fiery attitude as a manager. He was the skipper for the Yankees five different times: 1975-1978, 1979, 1983, 1985, and 1988. He took over for Lou Piniella after the 1987 season, but was fired after 68 games and Piniella was re-hired to finish out 1988. There is speculation Martin would be hired for another round of abuse from George Steinbrenner in 1990, but he died in an auto accident on Christmas day in 1989.

1990 Topps Billy Martin New York Yankees manager

Fun Cards: 1988 American League All-Star Outfielders

Henderson

Henderson

The top three vote-getters among American League outfielders were Rickey Henderson, Dave Winfield, and Jose Canseco.

Winfield

Winfield

Canseco went on to win the AL MVP Award on the strength of the first-ever 40 home run/40 stolen base season.

Canseco

Canseco

Coming in second for the MVP Award was Mike Greenwell, who believes he should be retroactively honored due to Canseco’s admitted steroid use.

Greenwell

Greenwell

Kirby Puckett rounds out (no pun intended) the AL outfield in 1988.

Was anyone snubbed? The players would have added Cleveland outfielder Joe Carter to the roster ahead of Henderson, but since the fans get to select the starters, Carter stayed home.

Puckett

Puckett

Fun Cards: 1988 American League All-Star First Basemen

McGwire

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.

McGwire

On the bench were Don Mattingly, who the players thought should have been the starter, and future Hall of Famer George Brett, who had just made the switch to first from third in 1987.

Mattingly

Mattingly

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:

Brett

Brett

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.

Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of by J. David Herman (2019)

Almost Yankees book

Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and
the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of

by J. David Herman
University of Nebraska Press, 2019

Labor disputes should never happen in baseball, but they do. In 1981, the sport faced a work stoppage in the middle of the season, forcing Major League Baseball to cancel games and reconfigure the playoffs once the dispute was settled. However, the big league strike didn’t affect the Minor Leagues, and the Yankees’ talented AAA affiliate took advantage of the spotlight. Armed with a pitching staff that was, in the mind of pitching coach Sammy Ellis, “better…than half the teams in the Major Leagues,” the Columbus Clippers took the baseball world by storm by virtue of being the best team anyone could watch when the Major Leaguers walked out.

Author J. David Herman recounts the Clippers’ 1981 season and the magic that it brought local fans in Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of. The team, managed by Frank Verdi, was full of guys who would go on to enjoy varying degrees of success at the MLB level like Dave Righetti, Steve Balboni, and Pat Tabler. There were also names that are not as well-known to modern fans, such as John Pacella, Tucker Ashford, and the author’s hero, Marshall Brant.

Herman runs down the list, entertaining readers with stories from the players’ careers but focusing mostly on their 1981 adventures. He also writes about journalists Jack Torry (Citizen-Journal) and Jim Massie (Columbus Dispatch), trainer Mark “Rookie” Letendre, and the Yankees’ broadcast team of Phil Rizzuto, Bill White, Frank Messer, and Fran Healy. Interspersed in all of this are brief memories from the author’s youth, memories of him listening to games on the radio and receiving advice from his dad: “Take life where you find it.”

The Columbus Clippers headed to the International League’s postseason Governor’s Cup, but after six playoff games were called for weather, the IL declared the Clippers champions and ended the season. Herman turned his attention to the bigs, where the Yankees were battling opponents in the American League Division Series, AL Championship Series, and finally the World Series. He fast forwards in his own life to 1999, the Mariners’ first game at Safeco Field in Seattle. To 2007 and the passing of his mother as the Giants play the World Series. To 2013 and a visit with his dad in a nursing home, where he “recalls the feeling of the ballpark and of spending time there with his son,” singing the Columbus Clippers fight song. To 2017 and a more important game to the author than any the Clippers played in 1981—a game featuring his eight-year old son.

Baseball is magic, and Herman masterfully brings that magic to the page. If you want to revisit the innocence of falling in love with the game, read behind-the-scenes stories, learn about the guys that may have been household names in other organizations, pick up a copy and read Almost Yankees.

Purchase Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of by J. David Herman.

Anyone want to do a set break of Topps TBT this week?

Topps TBT

The lineup for this week’s Topps TBT set has been announced, and as usual I only want one card. I checked eBay, and that one card is more expensive than I want to spend. Maybe there are others in the same boat, so I thought I might try to organize a set break. If you’re intersted, read on…

I’m claiming Nick Senzel, you can have any other player pictured above…$3.88 shipped PWE. Luke Voit, Tim Anderson, Fernando Tatis Jr., Willson Contreras, Carter Kieboom are available. The set is $19.99, divided by six and add 55 cents for a stamp, that’s $3.88 each. This way there is no need to order the full set if you only want one card. Claim in the comments, or on Twitter, or via e-mail. First claimed, first served.

UPDATE: All cards claimed!

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Yogi Berra

Yogi

Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Yogi, spring training is over.

BASEBALL STARTS TOMORROW.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Randy Johnson

Big Unit

When looking for a Hall of Famer to represent the Diamondbacks, it’s slim pickings. Roberto Alomar played all of 38 games there, which doesn’t necessarily disqualify him, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Then there is Alan Trammell, who was a coach from 2010 to 2014 and managed the final three games in 2014 after Kirk Gibson was fired.

The only guy left is Randy Johnson, and he ain’t no slouch. He is the only Hall of Famer so far sporting an Arizona cap on his plaque. Will Curt Schilling join him when (not if) he is finally inducted?

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Goose Gossage

Goose

Rich “Goose” Gossage was a reliever for the majority of his career, but in 1976 the White Sox used him as a starter. Despite a 5-7 record as the All-Star break, he was still recognized as a great pitcher due to his 2.91 first-half ERA and was named an All-Star. He was traded to the Pirates after the season, returned to the bullpen and never started a game again.

Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Wade Boggs

Boggs

Wade Boggs finished his illustrious career in Tampa Bay, collecting his 3000th hit while wearing one of the ugliest uniforms in MLB history.

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