“Sweet Music” Frank Viola was 14-2 at the All-Star break in 1988, making him the easy choice to start the game for the American League. He pitched two innings and earned the victory.
“The Rocket” Roger Clemens was next up for the AL, and retired all three batters he faced.
Mark Gubicza was the first American League pitcher to enter the game that didn’t have a cool nickname. He was also the first (and only) to let the National League score; Vince Coleman came home on a wild pitch in the 4th.
Should Dave Stieb be in the Hall of Fame? I think not, but there are a lot of Stieb stumpers out there. He appeared in seven ASGs in his career, but only tallied 176 victories over 16 seasons.
Doug Jones had a breakout season in 1988; it was the first of five seasons in which he saved at least 30 games, and his first of five All-Star Games.
When I started collecting baseball cards, Dan Plesac seemed to be in every discount store box set. He had a solid 18-year career, but nothing that would have warranted his inclusion in so many “Young Superstar” and “Hottest Players”-type sets.
Dennis Eckersley was the only Hall of Fame pitcher on the American League roster. Of course, Clemens would have been enshrined long ago if he hadn’t derailed his chances by getting caught using performance enhancers.
Two pitchers were on the American League roster but didn’t get into the game. The first is the manager’s own closer, Jeff Reardon. I wonder if players get mad when they don’t get to play, or if the experience of being there is enough.
Doyle Alexander started his big league career in 1971 and was named an All-Star for the first time in 1988. He did not get an opportunity to take the mound.
You will never convince me that Vladimir Guerrero shouldn’t have an Expos cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
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.
Gaylord Perry was a much better pitcher than people remember. Yes, he used the spitball, but does anyone really care about that? 300 wins, 3500 strikeouts, and the 13th highest career WAR for pitchers. If my math is correct, at the time of his retirement, he was 8th all-time. Since then, he has been passed by Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Phil Niekro, and Bert Blyleven.
P.S. The Mariners really need to bring back the trident as their primary logo. So much more character and charm than the current borefest they wear.
Goose Gossage is best known as the reliever for the late ’70s/early ’80s Yankees, or for the mid-’80s Padres. He started his career in Chicago with the White Sox, but also spent time with the Pirates, Cubs, Giants, Rangers, A’s, and Mariners. Boy he sure looked funny in those ugly teal Mariners uniforms. I decided to use a photo from his days in Arlington, even though I personally remember him best from San Diego.
A lot of people call Pete Rose‘s hit total or Cal Ripken‘s game streak the most unbreakable baseball records, but I have a feeling Nolan Ryan‘s 5714 strikeouts will never be approached. The second guy on the list is Randy Johnson, who finished his career with 4875, nearly 1000 fewer K’s. The current active leader is CC Sabathia with 2846, and we all know he ain’t hanging on long enough to sniff 4000. He’ll be lucky to get to 3000.
There were seven Hall of Fame inductees in 1999: three from the BBWAA and four from the Veterans Committee. Nolan Ryan narrowly missed the highest voting percentage of all-time; Tom Seaver received .05% more support in 1992. He still ranks third today, as Ken Griffey surpassed both in 2016 with 99.32%.
Fergie Jenkins was the 1971 NL Cy Young Award winner for the Chicago Cubs, and nearly won the 1974 AL Cy Young with the Rangers. He received ten first-place votes for the award, while Catfish Hunter took twelve first-place votes. “Fly” was the first Canadian-born baseball player inducted into the Hall of Fame, gaining entry in his third year on the ballot in 1991.
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.
Jake Arrieta‘s no-hitter was awesome. Max Scherzer‘s 20-strikeout performance was epic. But neither of those events approached the magnitude of “The Punch.” After a supposedly “dirty slide,” Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor clocked Toronto superstar Jose Bautista and Twitter absolutely EXPLODED. Everyone was talking about “The Punch,” putting both a positive and negative spin on it. Even non-baseball fans were engaging in the discussion. IT WAS GREAT.
The record for most Topps Now cards sold so far is 8,826, featuring 42-year old Bartolo Colon hitting his first big league homer. No other card has reached a print run 4,000. Only two others have sold more than 2,000 (Max Scherzer and Noah Syndergaard). I am confident that “The Punch” would have exceeded 10,000 orders. It was an exciting play, and whether you like Odor or Bautista or not, it generated baseball discussion and interest in the sport.
To me, it was a throwback. It immediately made me think of the Eric Davis/Ray Knight scuffle in 1986. Others made reference to the Will Clark/Jose Oquendo/Ozzie Smith fight in 1988. Perhaps the most famous fight between a fielder and runner happened in 1973 when Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson went at it during the 1973 NLCS. And who can forget the time Nolan Ryan hit Robin Ventura with the ball, and then put him in a headlock and went to town when Ventura charged the mound? Twitter wasn’t around during any of those fights, but they persist in our memories. Topps Now didn’t exist back then either, and to my knowledge Topps never created a card to immortalize these fights. But today, with on-demand ordering, the opportunity was there…and Topps did nothing.
Has there ever been a fight depicted on a Topps card? Topps employee Sooz (@yanxchick) asked this question on Twitter, and so far no one has come up with an actual baseball card showing a fight. There was a hockey card in the 1970s, and several fan-made creations, but nothing official from Topps baseball.
I don’t blame Topps. They want to promote a good image for baseball, and bench-clearing brawls don’t exactly do that. But they are exciting. And where Topps is silent, bloggers and Tweeters are loud and sometimes obnoxious. Here are a few of the Odor v. Bautista cards that I saw floating around yesterday:
- Baseball and More went with the 1987 Topps style.
- Gummy Arts went hand-drawn with a design reminiscent of 2011 Topps Lineage.
- Bean’s Ballcard Blog utilized a Gypsy Oak design.
- Victor Ayala went with the 2016 Topps flagship.
- Topps Now was not ignored by the custom card makers, as Ernie Breakfast shows.
- The best, hands-down, was Baseball Card Breakdown’s use of the SuperStar Special subset from 1990 Fleer.
Of course, the 2016 TWJ set doesn’t shy away from violence on the basepaths either. One of my favorite GameCube games is MLB SlugFest 2003, so of course I wanted to include a card of “The Punch” in the TWJ set. You can see a slightly larger version at TWJ cards on tumblr, along with more than 80 other 2016 TWJ baseball cards.