Monday, March 26, 2012

Brian Kingman on baseball cards

Brian Kingman pitched five years in the major leagues for the A's and Giants. In 1980 he lost 20 games despite a respectable 3.83 ERA, the last 20-game winner until 2003. Now a baseball history buff whose blog Geezerball is full of interesting baseball history content, he kindly answered my questions about baseball cards.

"Being a baseball fan it's always interesting for me to learn more about players. I especially like to hear about the "old timers", (which I am quickly becoming) the players I knew as a kid back in the 60's and of course all the way back into baseball's beginning in the late 1800's.

I did collect baseball cards until about age 12. At the time my parents made me go to church every Sunday but baseball was my religion and to me Sandy Koufax was a god!

My favorite card was a Topps Sandy Koufax card:
My favorite story about baseball cards has to do with my two sons Matt and Alex. They both were avid card collectors when they were around 8-9 years old. We were on a family vacation that included some long drives. As kids will do they were always asking "Are we there yet?" Finally I stopped at a convenience store and noticed a book that was for baseball card collectors. It described all the cards and listed the price for each one.

After hearing them say things like 'Wow look at this, Ken Griffey Jr's card is worth $28" I knew it wouldn't be was long before I would have some explaining to do. Sure enough a few minutes later it happened "Hey Dad, Rickey Henderson's (an ex-teammate) card is worth $35......quickly followed by 'Dad, how come your card is only worth 6 cents!?"

Try explaining that to an 8 or 9 year old!

Here are my favorite cards now:
I don't have a baseball collection but if I did these would be in it. Well, maybe not. I would want the Pud Galvin card but I don't know if I could afford it. I imagine it is very expensive since it would be hard to find. Pud played about 130 or so years ago. He is baseball's first 300 game winner and a member of the Hall of Fame.

The reason these are my favorite cards has to do with my baseball career. In 1980 I lost 20 games, going 8-20 for the Oakland Athletics in 1980. It would be 23 years until another pitcher lost 20 (Mike Maroth of the Detroit Tigers in 2003)

After losing 20 and doing some research I discovered that there were several (20 now I believe) pitchers in the HOF that had lost 20 games in a season. As remarkable as it might seem Pud Galvin lost 20 games 10 times....and still made the HOF. Of course winning 365 games may have had something to do with that. Back in Pud's day, a team usually had two starters and it was not uncommon to have 60-70 starts a season.

Dolf Luque's card is also one of my favorites because we have something in common. Not only are we both 20 game losers but we are a rare breed of 20 game loser. We both lost 20 games for teams that had winning records. Luque was 13-23 for the 1922 Cincinnati Reds. 20 game losers weren't uncommon up until 1980, usually found on teams that lost 95-100 games. Today 20 game losers are rare - only two in the last 32 years. A 20 game loser from a winning team is even rarer - only two in the last 90 years. I don't think we will be seeing that happen again anytime soon either.
I like these two cards for different reasons. In 1952 Virgil Trucks lost 19 games going 5-19 for the Detroit Tigers. However in order to avoid losing 20 he won 3 games 1-0. In those three games he only gave up a total of ONE hit. Yep, 2 no hitters and a one hitter!

I like the Don Mossi card because I have never seen anyone with ears that big.
I guess there is a story for this card since it isn't me. It is Alan Wirth."
Thanks! Here are some of his other cards, all scans provided by Brian Kingman.

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