Do you like listening to podcasts? I listen to a bunch of religious podcasts, but there is one baseball program that has been in my regular podcast rotation for quite a while. I’m talking, of course, of the Baseball Beyond Batting Average Podcast. For the past two weeks, BBBA teamed up with another baseball podcast, Two Strike Noise, to cover the 1990 season. And yes, Two Strike Noise has now been added to my podcast subscriptions.
I say all that to present a “fun card” inspired by the American League segment (which aired on the TSN feed)…a 1990 Fleer “Super Star Special” featuring Junior Felix and Felix Jose. Of course, they are not Hall of Famers like Steve Carlton and Carlton Fisk, but it is a card that definitely should have been in the early 1990s.
If you’re not already a regular listener of Baseball Beyond Batting Average or Two Strike Noise, pull up your favorite podcatcher (I use Stitcher, but they are available on all the major podcast apps) and subscribe right now!
(June 30, 1962 – February 16, 2020)
Donruss and Fleer both included the late Tony Fernandez in their 1984 releases, but Topps completely missed the boat (unless I’m overlooking something). I intended to make this card a few weeks ago when Fernandez passed away but I just had too much going on at the time.
Fernandez was a great ballplayer, probably the third-best shortstop for a time in the American League behind Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Alan Trammell. He was an All-Star three times in the 1980s for the Jays, in 1992 for the Padres, and again in 1999 for the Jays. He also played for the Mets, Reds, Yankees, Indians, and Brewers.
In memory of Number 1. Forever in our hearts 💙 pic.twitter.com/lUCfBpc1U3
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) February 16, 2020
This is how I will remember Tony. Smooth as silk, graceful, giving, joyous, focused, and always someone you can count on not just in baseball but in life. Just an all around sincere person. Gone way too soon!! pic.twitter.com/eAMQyWmX8T
— Jesse Barfield (@JesseBarfield29) February 16, 2020
So sad to hear about my teammate, friend and W.S. Champion Tony Fernandez this morning. Not only was he a great ball player but a great human being as well. R.I.P. my brother. We will all miss you. pic.twitter.com/XN08dT1xtj
— Joe Carter (@JoeCarter_29) February 16, 2020
“I am heartbroken by the passing of Tony Fernandez. Tony was a truly special person who cared so much about helping people and making a difference in the lives of others. He was a great friend, teammate, father, husband, and minister. My thoughts and prayers are with his family” pic.twitter.com/0aDcwvHr6d
— Alomar Sports (@AlomarSports) February 16, 2020
I’m so sorry to hear about Tony Fernandez passing. A great teammate and friend. A pitchers dream to have him at shortstop when your pitching. One of the best ever. R.I.P. my friend.
— david wells (@BoomerWells33) February 16, 2020
Heavy Heart for me world lost a good one Rip Tony Fernandez smoooooth as can be. Thanks for teaching me to compete. You will be missed a true gentleman on and off the field.
— Ozzie Guillen (@OzzieGuillen) February 16, 2020
2008 Hall of Famer Tony Fernandez passes away
Hall of Fame official statement:
“We are heartbroken to learn that Tony Fernandez has passed away. Tony was a baseball legend in every sense. He was a five-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove Award winner, a World Series champion… pic.twitter.com/enr8u45Nl5
— CDN Baseball HOF (@CDNBaseballHOF) February 16, 2020
Joey Votto today honored the late Tony Fernández with a message on his cap. A four-time Gold Glove shortstop, Fernández’s career spanned 17 major league seasons including 12 with Votto’s hometown Toronto Blue Jays and one season with Cincinnati (1994). #RedsST pic.twitter.com/dyuh8vVTlE
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) February 19, 2020
My custom Tony bobblehead pic.twitter.com/lVd9yFpgbW
— Daveme Images (@DavemeImages) February 17, 2020
— erich ‘heinz’ rigonan (@h_n_z) February 20, 2020
“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.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. made his debut for the Toronto Blue Jays on April 26, 2019, less than two months ago. So far, he has at least twenty different cards designated with the “RC” logo (not including autographs and parallels). In less than two months. Eight of those are in the Topps NOW series. Three are Topps NOW Moment of the Week cards (and there have only been nine NOW MOW cards total so far this year). Three are Topps #TBT releases. Another two in the On Demand brand. So far, I’m counting only one each in Series 2, Total, and The Living Set. And then I got tired of counting. I probably missed a few.
- Topps NOW = 8
- Topps NOW MOW = 3
- Topps #TBT = 3
- Topps On Demand = 2
- Topps Series 2 = 1
- Topps Finest = 1
- Topps Total = 1
- Topps The Living Set = 1
Which one is his “real” “RC”? Am I the only one who thinks this who “RC” system is foolish? I do not believe Topps NOW, #TBT, The Living Set, etc. should be branded with the “RC” logo. That designation should be reserved for a player’s base card, whether that appears in Series 1, 2, or Update.
What confuses this old man even more is the different rules for Bowman releases. Ol’ Junior started appearing in Bowman products—wearing Toronto Blue Jays gear and identified as a Toronto Blue Jays player—way back in 2016. Back in the old days, the first time a player appeared in a major set, that was considered the player’s rookie card. Nowadays, Bowman doesn’t count; only Topps, and only after a fella appears in a big league game.
I’m so confused.
I’m glad I don’t chase rookie cards just because they are rookie cards. I’m glad I don’t collect Toronto Blue Jays or sons of major leaguers or Vladdy the Second. I’m too old to keep up with these shenanigans.
Now get off my lawn.
Paul Molitor took home the Hutch Award in 1987. While several superstars have won the award (including Mickey Mantle, Andre Dawson, Carl Yastrzemski, and Johnny Bench), it is not necessarily given to a big-name player. It has also gone to Ron Oester, Don Robinson, Dennis Leonard, and Mark Teahen.
According to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center website, “MLB teams have the opportunity to nominate one player from their team that exemplifies the fighting spirit of the legendary leader Fred Hutchinson. Former winners then vote on the nominees to select the next Hutch Award winner.”
A lot of athletes are hyped up while in college, but perhaps none as much as Dave Winfield in the early 1970s. Winfield was the best hitter and pitcher for the University of Minnesota Gophers’ baseball team, and was a star power forward for the basketball team. He was drafted fourth overall by the Padres and never spent a single day in the minor leagues.
The Atlanta Hawks tried to persuade him to try his hand at professional basketball, drafting him in the 5th round of the 1973 NBA draft. Add to that the ABA’s Utah Stars selection of Winfield in the 6th round of the 1973 ABA draft.
Winfield never played a single football game in college, but the Minnesota Vikings were impressed with his athleticism so much that they used their 17th round draft pick on him.
I’m glad Winfield chose baseball.
A dominant force on the mound, the Blue Jays and Phillies relied on the late Roy Halladay to eat innings and win games. Halladay was the Cy Young Award winner twice, and finished in the top five for the trophy five other times. Eight times an All-Star, Halladay won 203 games and struck out 2117 batters in his 16-year career. The BBWAA recognized him as a Hall of Famer in his first year on the ballot, and he will be inducted this summer, less than two years after his untimely death.
This is the one I just don’t understand. Clean player, 493 home runs, 1550 RBI. Five-time All-Star. Three Silver Sluggers. If it weren’t for the strike in 1994, Fred McGriff would have certainly hit the magic number 500 home runs. This guy is, in my book, hands-down a Hall of Famer. Yet, in his first nine years on the ballot, he couldn’t garner even 25% support from the BBWAA. He is polling at 38.7% tonight, far short of the necessary 75%. I’m sure the Veterans Committee will set it right in a few years, but it is disappointing that the Crime Dog isn’t getting the support now.
Jeff Kent probably doesn’t care that the BBWAA is overlooking his career. His 55.4 WAR isn’t overly impressive, but he retired as the all-time leader in home runs by a second baseman. He won an MVP award and made three All-Star teams, and his hitting statistics are solid: 2461 hits, 377 homers, 1518 RBI, and .290 average. Not bad at all, but his attitude toward baseball in general will likely keep him out, at least until until a Veterans Committee reviews his case.