Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Interview with Talmadge Nunnari

Talmadge Nunnari played six seasons in the Montreal Expos organization, reaching the major leagues in 2000. He is currently the Manager and GM for the Pensacola Pelicans of the American Association, an independent minor league. He kindly took the time to answer my questions about baseball cards.

- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
Yep, one photo is actually a pic of me hitting a home run.


- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?
Its hard to find but the Venezuela baseball card is my favorite.

- Do you collect baseball cards?
I have since I was little. 8 or 9 years old is when I started. I would save $20 and go to the store and buy a box.

Thanks!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Predictions: NL East


1. Phillies. Still the class of the National League. If Roy Halladay stays healthy he could win 25 games in the weaker league. Rest of the staff is a bit of a question mark, but none of the other teams look strong enough to topple the NL champs.

2. Braves. The Braves may have the best young, untested talent in the National League. Heyward, Hanson, Jurrgens, and crew will have their first real pennant race in 2010, and experience which will make this team really dangerous in 2011.

3. Marlins. Florida also has some good young players, but they're not quite at the Braves' level.

4. Mets. They won't be as bad as last year, but with Beltran and Reyes already hurt, they won't be much better either.

5. Nationals. They're on the verge of a really good young pitching staff. If they can develop some bats, 2010 could be their last cellar finish for a while. For the first time in decades there is hope for baseball fans in DC.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Baseball card stories from Kent Tekulve

Kent Tekulve pitched sixteen years in the major leagues for the Pirates, Phillies and Reds. His best year was 1979, when he pitched in a league-leading 94 games, winning 10 and saving 31, finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting and eighth in the MVP voting. He topped that season off by saving three games in the World Series, including Game Seven. He is still with the Pirates organization today, as President of the Pirates Alumni Association, which raises funds for charity as well as assists former Pirates. He kindly shared with me his baseball card stories.

"I have one card when I was with the Phillies where I am pointing to my glove and have this "s*** eating" grin on my face. I have no idea when they would have taken that shot and more disconcerting is why any reputable company would pick that shot for my card when there were SO MANY other shots available. It is not like I was a rookie at that point and there were not many photos to pick from.

Actually my favorite card is of myself AND another player. I have a card with my stats and facts on the back and Bo Jackson's picture on the front. That will be the only time that my body and Bo's body will share the same conversation.

I collected cards when I was a kid but not now (although I do have a few complete sets from over the years that were given to me by some dealers). I now have many of my own cards as I have had the practice for years of not answering autograph requests that are sent to my home (I am a private person there) but do sign requests that are sent to any place where I am a public figure (ballpark, etc.). I also limit the autographs to three per person and I keep all of the extra cards to be used for charity events."

Thanks! It looks like there are quite a few Bo Jackson cards with Kent Tekulve backs from 1987 Topps, as there are multiple auctions for these online.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Predictions: AL West


1. Angels - They're maybe a little weaker than last year, but still significantly better than either of the two other contenders in the West.

2. Mariners - They have too very good starting pitchers, which is a great asset to build a team around. Unfortunately, there's just not enough team around Hernandez and Lee to make this a truly dangerous team.

3. Rangers - Promising young pitchers + Nolan Ryan riding them like it's the 1970s + the Texas heat = a bunch of needlessly burned-out arms. I think the Rangers' decision not to build a dome, unlike Houston and Arizona, will haunt this franchise for decades. That Texas heat has swallowed up dozens of promising Rangers teams already.

4. Athletics - Their roster looks like a Class AAA team. Some promising youngsters mixed with some major league castoffs.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Baseball card story from Jim Beattie

Jim Beattie pitched nine seasons in the major leagues for the Yankees and Mariners. He had a complete game victory in game five of the 1978 World Series for the Yankees against the Dodgers. After his playing career, he has become a baseball executive. The General Manager of the Expos from 1995 to 2001 and the Orioles from 2003 to 2005, he is currently a Major League Scout for the Toronto Blue Jays. He shared with me this story from his playing days:

"The only story I can think of is connected with Mothers Cookies cards from Oakland CA (no longer being printed) while I was with the Mariners. Mothers has one card of me in catchers gear and in a crouch, like I am receiving a pitch. They listed my position as PC, which many people thought was pitcher/catcher, but which they told me stood for "privileged character." They caught me in a playful mood one day when taking pictures and I decided to do something different from the ordinary pose for a pitcher."

Thanks!

David from TribeCards found a picture of the 1985 Mothers card - it is in the middle of this picture. (There is a link to the ebay auction in the comments of this post).

Here is a Beattie from my collection, from the 1979 Yankees Burger King set.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Baseball card stories from Ray Smith

Ray Smith played ten years of professional baseball, playing in the major leagues with the Minnesota Twins from 1981 to 1983. He is still a member of the Twins organization today, as manager of the team's rookie-league affiliate, the Elizabethton Twins. He kindly answered my questions about baseball card experiences, including sharing a great story about former teammate Dave Engle.

- Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
One story that comes to mind, that I am reminded of every time I see one of my old bats in my office here, has to do with a shipment of Louisville Sluggers, Dave Engle (one of my roomies with the Twins in the early '80's), and a baseball card. Kind of funny. Anyway....

I had broken my wrist in spring training vs the Mets, only nothing showed up on the x-rays until half way through the season. We had been on strike, so I was able to rehab without losing too much time on the field. September rolled around, and the Twins had decided to send me to Clearwater, FL to work out with our instructional league team prior to the start of winter ball in Venezuela. I had ordered a dozen bats sometime in August, and they had never shown up in Minneapolis. I told Engle to keep a look out for them (as well as the clubhouse guys), and to send them to me in Clearwater so that I could take them with me to winter ball. They never showed up, and after a few calls to Dave E. (where he told me that no, he had not seen them numerous times), I guessed that they had been lost somewhere.

To continue, the winter passed and spring training came and went. Early in the season the new baseball cards came out from all of the various companies. Somehow I had seen one of Engle's cards and it showed him posing with ONE OF MY MISSING BATS (saw my autograph on the bat head)! Picture must have been taken that previous September. Ha! I confronted him and he gave me some lame excuse. "Oh, THOSE bats..." or something like that. Bats HAD shown up after all.....

They were 7 and 8 grained T - 85's. Unfinished. Big league wood. Really nice. The same bats that George Brett used to use. He ended up giving me a couple that he still had (at least). I still have one of them here (says ENG on the end of it - he claimed 'em). I guess he recognized their quality and thought they would do him some good.....how about that from a roomie?

- Do you have a favorite card of yourself or of another player?
Don't really have a favorite card of myself. Wife keeps all that stuff. First one was somewhat special at the time it came out - but don't think about them much anymore.

- Do you collect baseball cards?
Don't collect cards. We used to gets boxes of freebies from all the companies during the playing days, but I used to give them away to the kids in the stands. Growing up, I used to collect them. Still have them too. All sealed in plastic, and some good ones. Many various Mantles, Roses, Nolan Ryan rookie etc. mostly from early to mid '60's (some earlier). Some valuable cards I'm sure.


Thanks!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Predictions: AL Central


1. Tigers
There is a lot of good young talent on this team, starting with young aces Verlander and Porcello. It will be a close three-team race, but Detroit just has fewer weaknesses than the other two teams.

2. White Sox
With the Tigers and Twins fighting it out for the AL Central crown late last September, you could have forgotten that it was the White Sox who actually led the division most of the year. However, their "ace" pitcher has never pitched in the American League and is coming off major surgery.

3. Twins
As a Yankee fan, I've go to always root for the Twins to make the playoffs because the team, and especially the manager, hold the Yankees in such awe that they don't give themselves a shot. Still, the only way they make the playoffs is if both Detroit and Chicago collapse for the second year in a row.

4. Royals
Nowhere close to competing, but starting to develop some good young players.

5. Indians
Indians fans are probably the nicest people in the baseball card blogging universe, so it's a shame that they're saddled with a team that doesn't seem to even want to try. Enjoy Shelley Duncan, Cleveland fans!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Predictions - AL East

Is it too soon for predictions for 2010? I don't think so.

I'll start with the AL East.

1. Yankees
Well of course I could never pick against the Yankees. This seems pretty reasonable, though - this doesn't look like the type of team that is going to get complacent. I just worry about age and injuries. If Jeter, Rivera, and the gang can keep up their high level of play, the Yankees should win the division again.

2. Red Sox
Their success boils down to the health of the starting rotation. All five starters have the potential to be Cy Young winners, and all five have the potential to spend most of the year on the DL. If all five starters stay healthy all season the Red Sox will win 100 games. If two or more pitchers can't stay healthy, an offense that suddenly has a lot of question marks outside of Youkilis and Pedroia will find itself having to carry the team.

3. Rays
The Rays will certainly be better in 2010 than in 2009. They're a piece or two short of seriously challenging the Yankees or Red Sox, though, and I don't think Rays management has the guts to go after the missing pieces, as evidenced by the Scott Kazmir trade.

4. Orioles
Baltimore is quietly putting together a real nice young lineup. Their young pitchers have yet to prove anything, however.

5. Blue Jays
Years of bad management don't get fixed overnight. It will be a while before the new GM can put together a contender.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bobby Cox at Yankee Stadium

There will be a lot of talk about Bobby Cox this year, as he retires after a long and successful career managing the Braves. Not too many people remember, though, that he won his first World Series ring as the first base coach for the 1977 Yankees. On this interesting card from 1978, Topps airbrushed a Braves uniform over his Yankee uniform. However, you can clearly see the upper deck of Yankee Stadium in the background!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Miguel Dilone - protecting his soul

Yesterday I came up with some pretty childish reasons why Miguel Dilone was looking away from the camera on the 1978 Pirates team card. Reader GCRL came up with a much better reason - "Maybe he believes that the camera will snatch his soul if he looks directly into the lens."

Looking at Dilone's travels through the major leagues would seem to give credence to that theory.

Oakland - facing the camera but looking off to the left.

Chicago - head shot, but looking to the right.

Cleveland - head shot, but looking to the left.

Montreal - Topps didn't even bother with a posed shot this time, just snapped him from the side during batting practice.

Hate to end the post on a down note, but any discussion of Miguel Dilone's eyes has to note that he lost an eye last March in a freak batting practice accident in the Dominican Republic. Hope he is doing well a year later.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

1977 Pirates

Everybody in the 1977 Pirates team picture is looking at the camera, except Miguel Dilone, third from the right in the middle row. Why is he looking at Frank Taveras? Did Taveras tell an off-color joke? Or deal a smelly fart?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Diamond Night for the Padres

August 10, 1977 was a scheduled doubleheader [remember those?] as San Diego hosted Atlanta. It was also Sears Diamond Night. Did they actually give out diamonds to the fans? If they tried that at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees had a bad game they'd be pelting the players with diamonds.

The Sears Diamonds brought good luck to the home team that night. In the first game, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was seeing the knuckleball well, belting fellow Hall of Famer Phil Niekro for two doubles and four RBI in the Padres' 8-6 win.

In the second game, the tired hitters scuffled to a 1-1 tie into the bottom of the eleventh. In that frame, rookie Duane Theiss, who escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the tenth, failed to retired a batter in the eleventh. Dave Winfield hit his third double of the night, and Gene Tenace won it with a bases-loaded, walk-off walk.

So for anywhere from $2.75 to $4.25, Padres fans got 20 innings of baseball, two wins, and a Sears diamond. Great value!

Friday, March 19, 2010

David Pember's favorite cards

David Pember pitched three years of professional baseball, including four games in the major leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002, before injuries ended his career prematurely. He is now an agent for State Farm Insurance in Birmingham, Alabama with a cleverly-named website, RememberPember.com. He kindly shared with me his thoughts on baseball cards.

"My favorite card of me is the Fleer Patchworks card. I like the one with the red background.

Although, the Bowman refractor card is pretty neat too.

Yes, I collect cards, but it has been a while since I bought any. I will probably start up again when my son gets old enough to be interested. "

Thanks! Here is one from my collection.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

George Lombard on baseball cards

George Lombard played professional baseball from 1994-2009, playing parts of six seasons in the major leagues for Atlanta, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Washington. After finishing out his career last year with the Long Island Ducks and Columbus Clippers, he begins his coaching career this year with the Lowell Spinners in the Red Sox organization. He kindly took the time to reply to me with his thoughts on baseball cards.

"I can't say I have a favorite baseball card. I had some fun doing a couple of the cards. One of them we set up to look like I was making a catch to bring back a home run when I was with the Braves. It was really just a catch from about 10 feet.
I also like one of the action shots taken when I played in Detroit.
I was just happy to have one baseball card and excited they shot a few more. Pretty cool to show my two boys. I never collected any baseball cards when I was young. Too busy playing sports."

Thanks!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dow Sound City T-Shirt Night - and Singles Night?

July 22, 1977 was "Dow Sound City T-Shirt Night" in San Diego as the Padres hosted the New York Mets. I couldn't find much about Dow Sound City - it was a southern California electronics chain that seems to have been big in the 1970s, but I see no record of it existing after 1983.

Like most promotional games (and indeed, most games) in 1977, the Padres lost, this time by a 5-0 score. Interestingly, the two teams combined for seventeen hits in the game, sixteen of which were singles. The only extra-base hit? A double by losing pitcher Tom Griffin.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Steve Garvey spoils Padres family day

On the 1977 Padres schedule, July 16 was listed as "Player's Family Game." Is this one of those games where the players play on the field with the kids, like you would see on early 90s Upper Deck cards? If it was on the schedule, I am guessing that was done not in an empty stadium but with fans watching.

The stresses of playing in the family game before the real one must have worn out the hitters, as there were only seven hits in the game. The game was scoreless into the top of the eighth, when the Dodgers pushed across a run in a way that started with a play you never see anymore. With one out and nobody on, Steve Garvey, who by this point in July had 22 home runs, and just played in his fourth straight All Star Game, bunted for a hit. Can you imagine Mark Teixiera or Albert Pujols doing that today? It's a pet peeve of mine that more good hitters don't do this, especially how often the defense is practically giving the guy the bunt hit. If a good hitter had this in their arsenal, they could not only get a few key hits bunting the way Garvey did here, but by forcing the fielders to defend against the bunt, they could open more holes in the infield for ground ball and line drive hits. Great play, Garvey!

Rant over, back to the game. With Garvey on and one out, Dusty Baker hit a ground ball to third, retiring Garvey but putting Baker on first. Baker then went to third on a Glenn Burke single and was driven home by Steve Yeager for the only run of the game, won by the Dodgers 1-0.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fireworks from KGB and Dave Kingman

Another intriguing date from the 1977 Padres schedule was April 29 against the Mets, listed as "KGB Sky Show." What was this? A Cold War-era show of strength from the Soviet Union? An advertisement from a company that answered your questions via rotary phones? Nope, it turns out that KGB is a radio station in San Diego and, according to their website, have hosted a fireworks show called the KGB Sky Show since 1979. (Well, at least two years earlier than that!)

I don't know if the KGB fireworks came before the game or after, but during the game the fireworks were provided by Dave Kingman, who hit two 3-run home runs in the Mets 9-2 win. The Padres must have been impressed, because they traded for him six weeks later. After hitting 11 home runs for the Padres in 56 games, he was waived by San Diego and signed by California. In mid-September, the Angels waived him and he was picked up by the Yankees, becoming the only player to play in four divisions in one season. Appropriately enough, his 1978 Topps card features him on none of his four 1977 teams but on the Chicago Cubs, with whom he signed as a free agent after the season.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why John McNamara must hate English Leather Cologne

The date that immediately jumped out at me when I looked at the 1977 Padres Schedule SpastikMooss sent me was May 28 - English Leather Cologne Jacket Night. A jacket sponsored by a cologne company - very 1970s. I looked around the internet but couldn't find a picture of it. Their print ads were quite raunchy though.

To my surprise, the weirdest-sounding promotion of the season was also the biggest day of the Padres' disappointing 1977 season. The Padres actually won the game that day, nearly blowing an eighth inning 6-0 lead against Houston, squeaking by for a 6-5 win. However, they were still only 20-28, and Padres management decided to make a change, dumping manager John McNamara and hiring Cubs coach Alvin Dark.

According to the Associated Press, Dark who was fired as Oakland manager in 1975 for saying owner Charles O. Finley would go to hell if he didn't start believing in Jesus, was a bit sorry to leave the Cubs, saying "You hate to leave a club that's going so good." (At the time they were in first place with a 27-14 record; they would end up 81-81.)

The weirdest moment of Dark's departure from Chicago was when, according to the Chicago Tribune, Dark "was out the door and headed for San Diego when a nude Bruce Sutter, headed for the shower, sent somebody after him."

Unfortunately the article is not free, so it's up to your imagination as to what happened next. Was Sutter really nude, or was he actually wearing Interwoven socks and English Leather?

Amazingly, the cheapest English Leather ($4.50) cost more than the most expensive Padres ticket ($4.25).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Specs'd!

Just to be clear from my "Little Dawgs" post the other day, I'm not so much interested in collecting the specific "Little Dawgs" set from Skybox, but in players who would in general be considered "Little Dawgs," who had just a quick cup of coffee in the major leagues. People like Jose Munoz, whose entire career consisted of 27 at bats with the White Sox in 1996, wearing the number 71.

This card came in a little surprise package of cards I got this week from SpastikMooss. It was entitled "Specs'd!" because most of the cards featured players wearing flip-top specs, like in this picture.

The coolest card by far, however, was this non-specs'd autographed Bob Davis card. The front of the card, with the Jim Rockford look-alike in sepia tones is cool.

The back is even cooler - the 1977 San Diego Padres schedule. Check out those ticket prices! I'll enjoy looking up some of these games to see who the star of the game was on for example, English Leather Cologne Jacket Night. That will make some fun posts this week.

Thanks, SpastikMooss!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tom Trebelhorn on baseball cards

Tom Trebelhorn played five years in the Angels and A's organizations in the early 1970s, then turned to managing, where he made the major leagues as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers from 1987 to 1991. His 422 wins are third on the all-time Brewers list. He is currently the manager of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, a Class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. He kindly shared his thoughts on baseball cards.

"I started collecting cards in the late 50's - I was a big Pirates fan so Vernon Law's card was a treasured one - he ended up my pitching coach in the AAA Pacific Coast League in 1982.

Probably my most valuable card is a mint Roger Maris from his 61 homer season.

Having my own Topps manager card from seasons 87-91 is a real honor and I am always amazed at how many people still track me down for my autograph on one of these cards."
Thanks!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Little Dawg" Time

This card that I got in the TribeCards giveaway is perfect for Spring Training - a card of Ricky Ledee as a "Little Dawg".

What is a "Little Dawg"? Barry Larkin explains on the back.

"Major league teams invite as many as 70 players in Spring Training each year. With so many players, it's sometimes difficult to learn everybody's name, so Barry Larkin simply refers to the players he doesn't recognize as 'Little Dawgs'."

I enjoy getting cards of the "little dawgs" - if you have cards of players you've never heard of, I'd love to trade for them!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Too early to call Pat Kelly

1993 Studio has one of the stranger tidbits to be found on a player's card - their pet peeve. The strangest one I've seen is that of Pat Kelly - he doesn't like early phone calls.

It would have been awesome if under that Studio had printed his phone number and written "Now don't call before 9AM. ;) "

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The fans steal the show

Dinged Corners wants to see our favorite cards where other things are going on. I personally like cards with great fan concentration in the background, where you can see things like:

A Yankee hat at a Twins-Angels game in Anaheim (a partial explanation as to why we are so hated around the country).

A beach ball bouncing in the stands in Anaheim (a partial explanation as to why we Yankee fans look down on casual California fans).

A larger-than-life Don Mattingly head T-shirt.

A Jim Morrison T-shirt.

Someone giving Melido Perez a dollar bill to sign.

What are some of your favorite fan shots on baseball cards?