Saturday, January 26, 2008

#68 Dave Dravecky

Why this card is awesome: Because this photo of Dravecky looks to me just like actor David Strathairn as White Sox pitcher Eddie Cicotte from the movie Eight Men Out. Except Dravecky looks like he's been in the tanning booth.

Cool stat: Dravecky pitched very well in the post-season for two teams (the '84 Padres and the '87 Giants) that didn't make it out of the playoffs. Then, in 1989, when the Giants lost the World Series to Oakland (in the year that the Bay-area earthquake interrupted the series), Dravecky wasn't available to pitch in the post-season. He had broken his arm in August of that year, after a long rehab coming back from major arm surgery. As has been well-documented, Dravecky's arm was broken again in September when the Giants won the pennant, and less than two years later, the arm was amputated.

These days, Dravecky is a popular motivational speaker. (He's also very religious, as you'll see from that site. My linking to it is for informational purposes, and I'm not trying to either support or criticize him for that.)

#67 Ken Oberkfell

Why this card is awesome: Because Oberkfell is doing the State of Liberty.

Cool stat: Oberkfell walked 13 times in his career with the bases loaded. Two of them were walk-off walks: in a 12-12 game in the bottom of the 9th, and a 0-0 game in the bottom of the 11th. He also walked with the bases loaded in lots of other close games, and walked a lot more than he struck out in his career.

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#66 Shane Rawley

Why this card is awesome: Because 66s are wild on this card. It's card #66, and Rawley had 66 strikeouts in his first year on the card, and 66 walks in his last year on the card.

Cool stat: In 1983, Rawley completed 13 games despite just a .500 record. Since 1980, just 5 pitchers have had more CGs in a season with a .500 or worse record.

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#65 Leon Durham

Why this card is awesome: Because of a very thought-provoking trade on the back, essentially Leon Durham for Bruce Sutter. It's an interesting debate as to which team got the better side of the deal. The Cardinals got 4 years of Sutter plus one World Series victory. Then Sutter walked as a free agent. Durham played 7+ years for the Cubs, and made an error that some feel cost them a shot at the World Series in 1984.

Cool stat: People forget that Durham was a pretty good player in the 1980s. In fact, from 1982 to 1987, among players with at least 125 HR, Durham had the 10th highest OPS. He was grouped right around George Bell, Kent Hrbek, Dave Winfield, and Jim Rice, and he was higher than Cal Ripken, Harold Baines, Andre Dawson, Dave Parker, Reggie Jackson, and a bunch of others.

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#64 Ken Caminiti

Why this card is awesome: So soon after Tim Crews, we reach the next deceased player. There is a seriously awesome thing about this Ken Caminiti rookie card, though. As you can see from his stats, Caminiti was fairly pedestrian through 1994, before a nice 1995 and a hugely fluky 1996, his MVP year. This led a bunch of us to rummage back through our collections of common cards, to pull out all these Caminiti rookies that had been worthless for years but suddenly were worth something (only to become worthless again a few years later.)

Cool stat: Ken Caminiti won the NL MVP in 1996 unanimously getting 28 out of 28 votes, and never got another vote for MVP in any other year of his career. Has anybody else ever achieved this?

Deceased players and managers: 3

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Friday, January 25, 2008

#63 Jimmy Jones

Why this card is awesome: Because of no air-brushing whatsoever. Click on Jones' picture above to see the full-size image, and check out his face. That's all I'm sayin'.

Cool stat: Jones had a bad career for the Yankees. Across 1989 and 1990, he had the worst WHIP among all pitchers, minimum 90 IP.

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#62 Jeff Hamilton

Why this card is awesome: Because he played minor league ball in Lodi. A little CCR, anyone? (While we're at it, look at how well he hit in Albuquerque in 1986 and 1987. Sheesh!)

Cool stat: Hamilton, a hitter, pitched in one game, but it's not what you think. When hitters pitch, it's usually in a blowout. This was in a game in 1989 that went 22 innings, and the Dodgers ran out of pitchers. Check out the boxscore. Orel Hershiser pitched 7 innings in relief! After retiring the side 3 up and 3 down in the 21st, unfortunately, Hamilton got the loss in the 22nd. And, by the way, Hamilton played the first 20 innings as the third baseman!

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Reminder: Giveaway #3

Just a reminder that we have a big giveaway going on right here for a 1988 Topps Gallery of Champions aluminum set. Check it out and make your entry!

#61 Mark Knudson

Why this card is awesome: Because of that T-shirt peeking out from under his jersey. You can tell it's tiny bits of the letters "W" and "E" from "BREWERS". Also, you can see that Knudson was born in Colorado, and he eventually got to pitch for the Rockies in their inaugural year of 1993.

Cool stat: Boy oh boy did Knudson give up the long ball. But at least he gave them up to the big boys: Joe Carter, Ruben Sierra, George Bell, Cecil Fielder, Kevin Mitchell, Don Baylor, and Tony Bernazard lead the list.

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#60 Rickey Henderson

Why this card is awesome: Because of all the italics on the back of the card. They're all over the place! He led the league in stolen bases, walks, and runs scored a bunch of different times, and he held the career record for all three stats (until Barry Bonds took over for both walks and runs scored.) Check out the year-by-year progressive leaders for career walks, scroll down to the bottom, and you can see where Rickey passed Babe Ruth in 2001, before Bonds passed Rickey in 2004.

Cool stat: Henderson was a truly incredible player who had a massive impact on baseball as we know it today. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer next year. There are many, many cool stats about his career, but I'm going for a totally oddball one here. He's the only guy to be traded for Eric Plunk--TWICE. Check out his page and scroll down to transactions. The Yankees traded Plunk, Jose Rijo, Stan Javier, and others to Oakland to get Henderson in 1984, and then Oakland traded Henderson back to New York in 1989 to get Luis Polonia, Greg Cadaret, and Plunk. (I think Plunk got a bad rep due to name that sounds like 'Kerplunk' or something, but he was actually a damn fine reliever.)

As of now, I can't bump up the HOF count, but a year from now, Rickey will probably be in.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

#59 Danny Cox

Why this card is awesome: Because he was born in England, jolly old chap! To date, there have been 33 major-leaguers born in England.

Cool stat: Checking out Cox's main B-R page, you can see that he led the league in anything just once: hit batsmen in 1984. Even then, it was just 7 hit batters, which seems like a low total to me to lead the league. Indeed, if you hit the page for year-by-year leaders in HBP, you can see that 7 is a really low number. The total has been higher in both leagues every year since then. Cox had a pretty interesting career that I am shortchanging with this meaningless stat. Oh well.

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#58 Dave Magadan

Why this card is awesome: Because of those incredible walk/strikeout ratios in the minor leagues! Magadan was close to 2:1 at drawing walks. Great.

Cool stat: And Magadan continued that trend in the big leagues, although with a lower ratio of 718 walks to 546 strikeouts. He was really good at walking, but not so good with the extra base hits. In fact, he finished with a .390 OBP but just a .377 SLG. In fact, among players with at least 4000 ABs over 1500 or more games, Magadan has the second-fewest total bases since 1967. Only Eddie Yost has played as many games with worse OBP/SLG numbers than Magadan's.

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#57 Tim Crews

Why this card is awesome: I've got nothing funny to say about the late Tim Crews. His untimely and tragic death is poignant for me because every time I see a replay of Kirk Gibson's homer in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, I notice Crews celebrating with his teammates around home plate.

Cool stat: Crews was a fine reliever, and makes this list of relievers with at least 400 IP and no more than 40 HR. Of course, a list like that is a bit odd, since a pitcher who so rarely gives up homers would be more likely to have a long career, and eventual give up more than 40 homers (even if at a sparse rate.)

Deceased players and managers: 2

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#56 Ed Hearn

Why this card is awesome: Because of the puff of chalk and dirt, but also because Hearn's wearing glasses. Also, it's nice to see Hearn in his healthier days. He's had some well-documented serious health problems in recent years, and has become a renowned motivational speaker.

Cool stat: Check out Hearn's page at and scroll down to transactions. Hearn didn't have a long career and from his playing days, I remember him best as part of a great trade that the Mets made, sending him to K.C. for a little-known young pitcher. Who was that? David Cone. As for the cool stat, Hearn may have the highest ratio of game-ending plate appearances that were victories for his team. He only had 2 game-enders. One out in a loss, and one game-winning single. Fifty percent ain't bad.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

88 Topps Cards Giveaway #3

Time for giveaway #3!

This is for the 1988 Topps Gallery of Champions complete aluminum set, as seen here and here. You get the whole shebang: all 12 replica cards, the case, the original box, and the paperwork.

This contest has two parts:

First, you need to answer a series of questions as listed below. In order for your contest submission to be counted, you need to answer all these questions correctly.

Second, you need to submit a numerical guess (details below.) Among all the people who answer the series of questions correctly, the closest guess wins the Gallery of Champions set, mailed to you at no cost.

To enter, you must submit an email to the address provided below. Comments on this post are disabled, and it's not to your advantage to post answers anyway since that will only help others enter the drawing. Note that this is not my regular email address and should not be used for correspondence.

First the rules of the contest:
  1. Anybody can enter. It doesn't matter if you've won previous contests here or not, nor does it matter if you are brand new to the site.
  2. You can enter only once. If you make more than one entry, I will consider only your first entry.
  3. As with Giveaway #1, the guessing portion is essentially just a random drawing, and there is no way to verify that I am being fair. My blog, my contest, so tough noogies.
  4. My decisions are final.
OK, now here are the five questions you need to answer. You'll notice that I have cleverly designed them based on the Google ads that appear on this site, so you'll need to click through the relevant ads and find the information on the advertisers' websites. If you've got adblocking software on your browser, you'll need to disable it or use a different browser. If you don't see the relevant ads, reload the page once or twice and you should find them. Remember there are ads in a few places along the right-hand column and at the bottom of the page.
  1. offers a 14-baseball cabinet in the shape of what?
  2. Blowout Cards is located in what state? (see their contact page)
  3. Orange County (OC) Sports Cards is charging how much for a 2007 Topps Series 1 Baseball HOBBY Box?
  4. How much is The Baseball Card Shop asking for a 1990 Topps Traded set?
  5. Clicking on the ad for "Brooks Robinson Autograph" (usually at the very bottom of the page) takes you to what company's website? ***UPDATE: a number of folks have reported difficulty finding this ad even when reloading the page many times. If you reload a few times and don't see it, just put "didn't see it" as your answer to this question. Thanks.
Once you get the five answers, then head over to Steve Bedrosian's page at As we did with Galarraga, I've picked a number off that page, and all numbers are fair play. Now you pick a number on that page.

Now, email your 5 answers and your Bedrosian number guess to 88topps at gmail dot com. (Replace the "at" with an @ and the "dot" with a . and you're all set.)

I will not be responding to individual entries, nor will I be using that email address for ordinary correspondence. If you have a question about this contest, you can email it there and I'll post the answer for everyone to see.

The contest closes one week from today, Wednesday January 30th at 5pm EST. Emails must be received by then to count.

Good luck!

#55 Phil Bradley

Why this card is awesome: Holy cow, have you ever seen a baseball card that discusses (in a full sentence) a batting stat that involves more than 1000 at-bats? The way it's written on the back, it makes it sound like Bradley was batting 12 times per game.

Cool stat: Bradley hit a great home run that was lost for all time. The Phillies played in the first night game at Wrigley Field on August 8, 1988 and he led off the game with a home run. Unfortunately, rain came and washed that game away. So if you peruse the Cubs schedule from 1988, there is no record of an August 8th game, and the Mets get credit as being the first actual visiting team for a night game, coming on August 9th. Read about it here, third story down.

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#54 Jim Clancy

Why this card is awesome: Because of two eyes as wide as saucers. I love the concentration and exertion!

Cool stat: Any baseball stats geek worth his or her salt will already know that Clancy is the losingest pitcher of the 1980s. I hope it goes without saying that this means he needs to be a pretty good pitcher, actually. After all, other guys in the top 10 for losses in that decade include Jack Morris, Dave Stieb, and Nolan Ryan. For example, as you can see from this list, Clancy pitched extremely well in 1980 and still got tagged with 16 losses.

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1988 Topps Gallery of Champions (part 2)

As promised, here are the cards from the 1988 Topps Gallery of Champions. I scanned only the fronts (except for the Tony Gwynn back in the previous post) since they are the interesting part. Also note that the scans didn't always turn out great since the cards are 3D.

The players were selected based on 1987 awards and performances. Click on any image for a larger version.

Steve Bedrosian (NL Cy Young and NL Fireman)

George Bell (AL MVP)

Wade Boggs (AL Batting)

Jack Clark (NL Slugging)

Roger Clemens (AL Cy Young)

Andre Dawson (NL Home Runs and NL MVP)

Tony Gwynn (NL Batting)

Mark Langston (AL Strikeouts)

Mark McGwire (AL Home Runs, AL Slugging, and AL Rookie of the Year)

Dave Righetti (AL Fireman)

Nolan Ryan (NL Strikeouts)

Benny Santiago (NL Rookie of the Year)

I am working on the contest to give away this entire set. I should have it up tonight or tomorrow, so keep your eyes out.