Friday, September 28, 2012

#9 Eric Plunk

The first regular card in the set. Plunk was a big right-hander with the A's and for a couple of years I thought he was the team's future closer once Dennis Eckersley's career came to its conclusion in another year or two. :o (Yes, I actual thought that at the time.) 
Originally a Yankee farm-hand he was sent to the A's in the big Rickey Henderson deal. Oddly enough he came back to the Yankees for a player named Rickey Henderson. Who'd a thunk it? 
PItching well for the Yankees he signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1992 and from 1994-6 was at his peak in 96 with a 2.9 WAR numbers-while not great it still shows he was contributing to the Indians. He won two pennants in his career but lost with Oakland in 1988 to the Los Angeles Dodgers and in 1997 as a member of the Indians to the Florida Marlins. Traded to the Brewers in 1998 for reliever Doug Jones Plunk pitched his last game in the majors as a Brewer on October 2, 1999. 

#8 Cal Ripken-Record Breaker

How great was Cal Ripken Jr.? Seven years into his major league career and he was already setting career marks. The card pretty much explains it and I can't wait to get to the player cards! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

#7-89 Record Breaker

In the early 80's I had three players who could be counted as idols: Reggie Jackson being the main one, followed by Dale Murphy-WTBS, anyone? and Rickey Henderson. The only reason I would go to A's games was to see Rickey and usually I was rewarded with a couple of stolen bases a game. This is the Rickey of his return to Oakland in 1989 and his MVP season after his stay in New York. How did he not get the 1985 American League MVP has been something of a mystery. Yes, Mattingly did have that scary number of RBI's but the only reason he had them was because Rickey was constantly on base. If there wasn't a Mattingly Rickey would still have found a way to score including stealing home. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

My article in the Modesto Bee

I write a local history article for the Modesto Bee and today's is about Dave Duncan and his record setting 1966 season for the then Modesto Reds. Here is the link to that little bit of writing of mine.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

#6-89 Record Breaker-Vince Coleman

Just another feather in the cap of one of the most disappointing players I've ever seen. Blazing speed and he could get on base consistently-which might not sound like much but as the old saying goes "you can't steal first." I thought he would break Ricky Henderson's stolen bases in a season record and break the then career stolen base leader Lou Brock's record. He didn't. Lets see, the firecracker, the breaking of Doc Gooden's arm and his inability to hit once he left St. Louis which made him a useless leadoff hitter no matter what his speed. Because: You can't steal first base! 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

#5-Nolan Ryan-The Rangers Years

Again with the hideous background, but at least the jersey is much better looking. If Ryan was fading into obscurity during his last few seasons with Houston he certainly burst back to the forefront of the game with Texas. He would get his 300 win, another no-hitter,  cement his place as the greatest strikeout pitcher ever, and help the Rangers get their beautiful new ballpark.  However, other than that what did he do for Texas? :) Did I mention his front office job that has lead to two straight pennants? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#4-Nolan Ryan-The Astros Years

Again with the 5,000 K's in the background and those 1980's Astros' uniforms. Ugh! While he, as the back says, racked up some impressive numbers in Houston he wasn't as dominating as he had been with the Angels or would be with the Rangers. Ryan hadn't wound down it was simply the lack of a DH and I also remember manger Hal Lanier having an early hook for Ryan.  In 1986 and 87 Ryan started 64 games and finished 1. His first year in Texas-6 complete games. 
People tend to think of Ryan as just having a dominating fastball but his out pitch was a big curveball. For example on June 8th 1980 in the top of the 5th inning at the Astrodome Ryan faced the San Francisco Giants Johnnie LeMaster. Ryan blew a fastball past LeMaster for a called strike one. Second pitch LeMaster was gunning for the fastball but was still to slow as he swung and missed. Now LeMaster knows its got to be a fastball as he loads up and Ryan drops his agonizingly slow curveball that Le Master swings wildly at and makes the first out of the inning. That was how Ryan did it. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

#3-Nolan Ryan: The Angels' Years

Here's a pic of Ryan in the classic Angels' uniforms of the 1970's. Such a beauty but in 1990's came the change to those hideous jerseys during the Disney era. Then came the awful solid red caps and dull uniforms, however, those aren't going to change anytime soon since the first year of that look was 2002 and the Angles won their first World Series that year. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

#2-Nolan Ryan: The Mets Years

Card #2 is another Nolan Ryan this time in his Mets' uniform at least before the infamous trade with the Angels. This card would have been much better without the yellow/green background and the '5000' lingering about like a 1970's Joker appearance in a Batman comic book. 

#1-Nolan Ryan

#1 Nolan Ryan
Being the #1 card was something of an honor-a previous example being Pete Rose (or as Topps currently refers to him "baseball's all-time hits leader") in the 1986 Topps set. Ryan was coming off a return to his 1970's type of dominance after his first season with the Texas Rangers. The less said about the second half of his time with the Astros the better. As the first card of this 1990 set I want to see if I have the hang of this yet.