Finally, the long wait is over for Edgar Martinez. In his tenth and final year of eligibility on the BBWAA ballot, the standard by which designated hitters are judged gained entrance into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Since the modern era began (1961), only three players have bettered his .418 OBP. After a sluggish start on the ballot, Edgar’s candidacy gained traction three years ago and he received 70.4% of the vote in 2018.
James Paxton made history last night as the first Canadian-born pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Canada. The Mariners pitcher struck out seven Blue Jays batters while Seattle’s defense stepped up, making several spectacular plays to preserve the no-no.
I asked on Twitter last night what design I should use to commemorate the feat, and the most obvious answer came from the venerable Joe Shlabotnik of The Shlabotnik Report:
Seems like it should be something O-Pee-Chee for Big Maple.
— The Shlabotnik Report (@Shlabotnik_Rpt) May 9, 2018
The Kid. Need I say more? Ken Griffey came within three votes of being the first unanimous selection for the Hall of Fame. I’m not sure if anyone will ever get every vote.
Of course, Griffey is best known for his time in Seattle. He was an absolute monster in his first eleven years, and everyone knew he was on his way to Cooperstown. The Mariners shocked the world when they traded him to Cincinnati. As a Reds fan, I was stoked, and I’m glad I got to see him play in person on several occasions.
After nearly nine years in Cincinnati, Reds fans turned on Griffey (as Reds fans always turn on their heroes, sadly). The Chicago White Sox decided to add the legend to their roster for the remainder of the 2008 season. It’s always strange to see him in a Chicago uniform.
Griffey returned to Seattle for one last hurrah, finally retiring in June, 2010.
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.
Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family by Bret Book and Kevin Cook (2016)
Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family
by Bret Book and Kevin Cook
Crown Archetype, 2016
Being the son of a major leaguer must be daunting, with athletic expectations high. Being a third-generation ballplayer, especially when no one ever followed both their father and grandfather into the professional ranks before, the pressure had to be immense. But not for Bret Boone, who was not satisfied to have a famous last name. He wanted to prove that he belonged, and not just a feel-good story for the media.
In Home Game, Boone admits that he regrets the way he approached his big league debut. He should have given more credit to his grandfather, Ray Boone, and father, Bob Boone, both who had solid careers. Ray led the league in RBI and was an All-Star; Bob showed him up by becoming one of the greatest defensive catchers in the game and making multiple All-Star Games. Bret carried on the tradition of family excellence, leading the league in RBI like his grandfather and becoming a stalwart defensive second baseman and All-Star in his own right. And he was not alone; he was joined by his brother Aaron Boone at the top level of professional baseball.
Boone honors his heritage, showing respect to his late grandfather and his father, relating a handful of stories that were passed down to him. He tells about growing up in the Phillies clubhouse, getting batting tips from Mike Schmidt, and later, when his dad was with the Angels, playing catch with Reggie Jackson. He discusses his disappointment in being drafted so low out of high school, and in not being drafted until the fifth round after a few years at USC. He recalls his time in the minor leagues and his struggle to get to Seattle, where he butted heads with Lou Piniella at first. He also tells of the hazing he endured from Jay Buhner, and the friendship that developed as he handled it in stride.
Boone mentions the allegations made by Jose Canseco, denying that he ever took steroids and stating emphatically that their supposed conversation at second base never happened. In his denial, Boone does admit to using greenies, but says of those who claim ignorance when steroids are found in their system, “It’s your job to know what’s in your body. It’s your job to stay clean and test clean.”
There is some foul language throughout—not as much as some autobiographies contain, but it is present. Home Game: Big-League Stories from My Life in Baseball’s First Family is a good behind-the-scenes look at the game, covering three generations of All-Star baseball. Aside from the Boones, there is mention of Ted Williams, Pete Rose, Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey, and Barry Larkin, among others. It may be some time before we see another three-generational All-Star family, and this peek inside the family tradition of the Boones is well worth the read.
The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees were announced last night, and neither name was a surprise. The legendary centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. and slugging catcher Mike Piazza will be enshrined as baseball immortals this summer in Cooperstown, New York.
I decided to create a couple of “fun cards” to commemorate the newest legends, but I wanted to go back to their rookie years. Griffey, a #1 overall draft pick for the Mariners in 1987, debuted in the big leagues in 1989. He was included in all the major sets, either in the base set or the year-end updates: Bowman, Donruss, Fleer, Score, Topps, and Upper Deck. So I had to think outside the box, and decided to borrow a design from Fleer’s basketball release in 1989.
Piazza was a bit easier when it came to the design. While he was featured in the Bowman set, Fleer was the only other company that saw fit to include him in their year-end set. After all, what type of impact could a 62nd-round catcher possibly have in baseball? Topps and Upper Deck completely ignored Piazza, while Donruss saw fit to include him in an insert set, but not the base. As I am a bigger fan of Topps than any of the others (at least when it comes to the 1992 design), I decided to make a Topps card-that-should-have-been for him. However, in 1992, Piazza wore uniform #25 rather than #31, so it was a bit tricky tracking down an era-appropriate photo.
I’m happy with the way these turned out, and I’m happy to see these players getting their just due. Griffey, three votes short of a unanimous selection, and Piazza, who had to wait until his fourth year of eligibility, are true examples of baseball done right.
(July 21, 1958 – December 27, 2015)
Fourteen-year MLB veteran Dave Henderson, nicknamed “Hendu,” suffered a heart attack and passed away today. Henderson played for the Mariners, Red Sox, Giants, A’s, and Royals, and was an All-Star in 1991. He played in four World Series for the Red Sox (1986) and A’s (1988-1990) and hit a dramatic home run in the fifth game of the 1986 ALCS against the Angels (video of the home run is above, or watch the full game here).
A picture is worth one thousand words, so here are ten thousand nineteen (including these words, but not the title)…
The Home Run Derby champion for the second year in a row is Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. My guy made it to the finals, but just couldn’t find his groove, and Cespedes easily out-homered Todd Frazier to win the trophy.
Starting this afternoon, a special series of All-Star “fun cards” will appear on the TWJ cards page on tumblr. Each league’s starters (sans designated hitters) will be featured on an all new TWJ cards design to commemorate the 2014 game. What does the design look like? Well I could make you wait and go see them on tumblr, but I’m a nice guy so I’ll give you a preview here…
That’s starting pitcher Felix Hernandez on the American League design. The National League design is very similar with a few small tweaks. For that, you will have to wait until this afternoon.
If you’re not already following TWJ cards on tumblr, take care of that right now so you don’t miss any of the special All-Star cards today leading up to the game!