Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring in my backyard

I took the cat out for a walk and snapped a few pictures and thought I'd share (while I try to stay away from the pile of papers that need to be shredded in the living room floor).

Ok, back to cleaning.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Two more TTM tries going out...

I don't know if through the mail autographs will become a hobby or not. I guess we'll see how this first round of four attempts works out. If I'm successful, I'll keep at it.

Going out tomorrow are letters to Rafael Belliard and Marquis Grissom.

I spent many afternoons and evenings hoping for Raffy to hit a second home run, and when he did I couldn't stop smiling for hours. These days he's the infield coach for the Tigers, so hopefully my letter won't get lost in the stadium mail room.

Marquis Grissom is responsible for my favorite and longest lasting baseball memory. When ever I see one of his cards, my mind replays the catch he made for the final out of the 1995 World Series. Because of that catch Marquis Grissom will be forever linked to Skip Caray, in the same way I always think of Skip when I see a Sid Bream card. I watched the game on TV, but right after it was over, I went to bed and tuned into WSB 750am to listen to Skip and Pete's post game celebration. Skip was kind enough to replay his final call several times so listeners could record it, and I did.

And as an aside, I probably won't be around too much until my box of '88 Fleer gets here. The spring cleaning bug bit me about a week ago and I'm still going at it. Unfortunately, when I clean I tend to make a bigger mess in the process, so I clean one room and then have to clean another because all the stuff from the first room piles up in the second. There's gotta be an easier way.

Friday, April 24, 2009

My first TTM attempt

I want to first thank everyone who gave me advice on how to go about TTM autographing. Two envelopes are going out tomorrow morning to Steve Avery and Orel Hershiser.

The cards are: Steve Avery - 1990 Donruss Rated Rookie, 1990 Bowman; Orel Hershiser - 1988 Score, 1988 Topps.

We'll see what happens.

1988 Fleer, coming soon.

I ordered a box of 1988 Fleer this afternoon, so my 1989 Bowman site will soon become 1988 Fleer. Now I need your help in deciding on a new banner. The choices are

Number 1:

Number 1b (added another little element from the front of the card):

Number 2:

Number 2b (I cleaned up some clutter):

Number 2c:

Right now, 2b is my front runner, but I wanna see what the readers think. They are still rough drafts and I'll be tinkering with them off and on until the box gets here.

I'm open to any ideas or criticisms.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Want lists updated...

With the completion of my 1989 Bowman box, I've updated my want list. I'm 105 cards away from the completion of the set.

I realize that I'm a bit behind on some things here. I've got another part of a package from Howard to write up and I still intend to finish the '88 Score Rookie Prospects. So stay around for those.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I want to try through the mail autograph

I realize my writing here has been a bit lacking of late, and I don't really know why. Like I said in today's post over at '89 Bowman, I'm just not feeling it right now.

But, as the title of this post implies, I've been kicking around the idea of giving TTM a shot lately, but I really don't know where to start.

Is there a source for current addresses of players who are good TTM signers? I don't want to just send cards off into the void, but I also don't want to feel like a stalker by going to a phonebook or using a name search online (but for some reason, having someone else do that work for me feels less wrong).

I've recently acquired an extra 1990 Donruss Steve Avery Rated Rookie card and since it's my favorite card ever made, what's a better choice for an autograph? I've also got an extra 1990 Bowman Steve Avery that would look nice with an autograph. I've never read anything about him signing through the mail, so I don't know if he's a good candidate or not, but the cards are extras that I can afford to lose, so what the hell?

Does anyone have some advice on where to start? Any websites to look at? Anything at all?


Monday, April 13, 2009

Where Are They Now? John Davis

John Davis was drafted in the seventh round of the 1981 draft and made his major league debut on July 24, 1987. He was used primarily as a middle reliever in his short career. He had a pretty good rookie season with Kansas City going 5-2 with a 2.27 ERA in 43 2/3 innings pitched. Walks were a problem for him though (26 in 1987 and 50 in 63.2 innings a year later).

He played his final Major League game on August 15, 1990, but attempted a comeback with the Nashville Sounds in 1995.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Where Are They Now? Keith Hughes

Keith Hughes made his professional debut as an amateur free agent for the Bend Phillies in 1982. In 1984, he was traded to the Yankees along with Marty Bystrom for Shane Rawley. He made his major league debut May 19, 1987 for the Yankees but was traded back to the Phillies less than a month later.

On March 21, 1988 he was traded to the Orioles and played in 41 games that season, but spent the 1989 season at Triple-A Rochester before being traded to the Mets in November 1990.

He resurfaced in the Majors briefly in 1993 with the Reds. He last played professionally in 1995 with the Omaha Royals.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

An update.

This is from WLOS-TV in Asheville:

Deputies arrest a third suspect in yesterday's deadly home invasion in Henderson County. 17 year old Mykel Waters turned himself in early this morning. The two other suspects in the case turned themselves in last night. Waters, Steven Ramirez and Terry Landrum all face first degree murder charges in the beating death of 63 year old Oscar Corn. Corn's family members say deputies tell them the three suspects first broke into a trailer on Corn's property early Friday morning, but found nothing. That's when they broke into the home and found Oscar sitting at the table. Deputies say the men beat Oscar to death, and hit his wife, Joyce, in the back of the head with a pistol. News 13 has also learned more about the background of one of the suspects. 33 year old Steven Ramirez's criminal history in the mountains dates back to 1993, when he was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In 1994, Ramirez was convicted of armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. He served 14 years for those crimes, and was released last September. Deputies still have not said if Oscar Corn was targeted, or if this was a random act of violence.

Another sad day in baseball...

This one probably won't get any national coverage though.

Former minor leaguer, and one time West Henderson High School assistant baseball coach Oscar “Poochie” Corn was beaten to death inside his home on Howard Gap Road in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He was attacked while reading his bible in the kitchen around 1:30am on Friday morning. His wife was then pistol whipped and forced to watch as her husband was beaten to death.

Their twelve year old grandson was in the house with them and hid in a closet and called 911.

According to the Asheville Citizen-Times two suspects had been arrested late Friday. A third was still on the run.

From the Times:

Authorities arrested Terry Lee Landrum, 16, of Ida Rogers Drive, and Steven R. Ramirez, 33, of Woodcock Avenue. A third person, Mykel Waters, 17, of Cedar Bluff Apartments, was being sought late Friday.

Police charged each of the three with first-degree murder; second-degree burglary; first-degree burglary; and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

This video is from the 6:00pm news cast from WLOS-TV in Asheville, and this is from 11:00pm

What the fuck is wrong with people?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Where Are They Now? Dave Clark

Think back to all the best birthday presents you've ever received. I'm sure there have been some great ones, but how many of us can say that we made our Major League Baseball debut on our birthday? Better yet, how many can say they got their first Major League hit on their birthday?

That's exactly what Dave Clark did on September 3, 1986, his 24th birthday. In the top of the 8th inning, facing Dave Stieb at old Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Clark hit a line drive to center that dropped in for a hit. The Indians went on to lose the game, but that's a memory he will never forget.

After retired in 1998, Clark worked his way up the Pirates lader as a hitting instructor, eventually spending two seasons with the big club. He has a local connection for me because he managed the Sally League's Hickory Crawdads.

After his time in Hickory he managed in the Astros system and is their current third base coach at the Major League level.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

RIP Nick Adenhart

This isn't breaking news anymore, but I want to echo everyone's words today.  My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends, and all of the California Angels players and staff for the loss of young Nick Adenhart.

Here's the story from Baseball America.

There are no words that can help in a time like this. Again, to everyone who knew and loved him, you're in my thoughts.

Where Are They Now? Darrel Akerfelds

The information on the back of the card is sort of confusing. It leads you to believe that he pitched with the Indians in 1988, which he didn't. He pitched in 16 innings with the Indians in 1987, but spent the entire 1988 season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he went 3-7 with a 4.34 ERA in 49 games of relief.

On December 5, 1988 he was taken in the Rule 5 draft by the Rangers and spent most of the '89 season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. 1990 was his only full year at the Major League level when he pitched in 71 games for the Phillies. After appearing in 30 games for the Phillies in 1991, he split the remainder of his career between Double- and Triple-A with the Pirates, Rangers, Blue Jays and Angels.

These days he's the bullpen coach for the Padres.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Where Are They Now? Gary Thurman

Here and here.

Mailday - In Purple I'm Stunning: Part 1

After spending close to an hour driving around looking for a FedEx office, I came home annoyed to find a package from Howard at In Purple I'm Stunning. Inside were two smaller packages of cards.

We'll look at the first one today and the other one tomorrow.

Package number one contained a large chunk of the remaining cards I need for my 2008 Topps Opening Day set. I know most people in the hobby don't like Opening Day, and in particular 2008 Opening Day. But I do. 2008 was my return to the hobby after fourteen years, and while I know that the design is flawed I still like it because it helped bring me back.

For several years before getting back into the hobby it had been on my mind, but I'd never done anything about it. It was 2008 Topps that brought me back.

It could have been a successful design with just a few little tweaks. If the size of the team name was reduced by maybe a third, it would still be readable and open up a lot more space for larger photographs. The major failing of '08 Topps was the uninspired photography, not a lot we can do about that though. I wonder how this design will be received in 2047 or so when it makes its way into Topps Heritage?

I need four more to complete the set.

My thanks go to Howard and check back tomorrow for part two.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Where Are They Now? Steve Kiefer

There are a lot more topless men on this card that I really want to see. I count four, and there's possibly a fifth near the top.

Steve Kiefer played for parts of six seasons with the A's, Brewers and Yankees. His brother Mark played four seasons with the Brewers between 1993 and 1996. Steve's son Cory, a pitcher, was drafted in the 43rd round of the June 2008 draft by the Kansas City Royals.

He had more at bats against Frank Tanana than any other pitcher and managed a .111 average.

He's another that I can't find any current information on, other than probably hoping his son Cory has a longer and more productive career than he had.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Where Are They Now? Rob Ducey

For much of his career Rob Ducey was a part time player. He got more regular playing time in 1998, 1998 and 2000, but never played in more than 76 games any other season.

Neither his defensive or offensive numbers jump out at you, though he certainly wasn't a bad player.

What does jump out at you is his 2000 season. On July 26, 2000, the Phillies sent him to Toronto for a player to be named later. Five days later the Blue Jays sent John Sneed packing to Philly to complete the deal.

Sounds pretty normal. And it would have been if it had ended with that.

On August 5, 2000, the Blue Jays sent a player to be named later to Philadelphia for Mickey Morandini. Two days later, to complete the trade, Toronto sent Rob Ducey as that player to be named later.

Strange. Almost like he was traded for himself.

After being released by the Phillies in June 2001, he signed with Montreal making him the only Canadian player to have played for both Canadian teams.

Where is he now? Probably sitting at home trying to make sense out of that 2000 trade.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Braves win number one

Pretty good game. Great pitching by new-comer Derek Lowe for his first win as a Brave. It got interesting in the ninth, but it all worked out in the end.

But, the Braves four runs came in the first two innings. I know it's just the first game of the season, but one of the problems Atlanta had last year was scoring runs late. We'll see how the next 161 go.

But... Braves win!


Jordan Schafer in his first Major League at bat just took Brett Myers deep. Welcome to the show, kid!

Braves up 4-0.

McCann and Frenchy have also homered.

Where Are They Now? Pete Stanicek

Pete is the younger brother of Steve Stanicek. Pete made it to the bigs first, making his debut on September 1, 1987, Steve made it fifteen days later. Steve, however, managed to stay in the game for a day short of a year longer.

Of the two brothers, Pete had the better career, playing in 113 games and batting .243 for the Orioles in 1987 and 1988. Steve had little more than two cups of coffee with the Brewers (4 games, 7 at bats) in 1987 and the Pirates (9 games, 9 at bats) in 1989. Steve never even got to play in the field.

I guess the point in all of these is Pete Stanicek didn't have a very memorable career. He was an up and coming second baseman, but the Orioles were pretty well stocked there with Billy Ripken, and most of his playing time in 1988 came in left field.

Two of his four home runs came off of Frank Tanana.

Where is he now? I have no clue.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Where Are They Now? Kirt Manwaring

It took some time for Kirt Manwaring to get comfortable behind the plate, but once he did, he was a very good defensive catcher who really knew how to handle a pitching staff.

He never hit much, .246/.311/.318, but his glove work more than made up for it. In 1993 he posted a .998 fielding percentage behind the plate, committing only two errors and he gunned down 51 of 111 would-be base stealers (45%, second in the league).

After his playing career, he's been a spring training catchers instructor for the Giants.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Where Are They Now? Shawn Abner

The Mets had had what some would call success with some of their first round picks in the early 80s. In 1980, a kid named Darryl Strawberry was the first pick of the draft and a few years later Doc Gooden was the fifth overall pick.

When 1984 came around and the Mets were once again in control of the first pick in the draft, they took an outfielder out of Mechanicsburg Area High School named Shawn Abner ahead of Cory Snyder, Jay Bell and this guy from USC named Mark McGwire. Oops.

Abner never made it to the Majors with the Mets and was traded to the Padres, along with three Kevins (Armstrong, Brown and Mitchell), and Stan Jefferson for, you guessed it, another Kevin (McReynolds), Gene Walter and Adam Ging. I wonder if there's been another trade in baseball history where so many Kevins were moving around.

His career ended in 1992 with an above average fielding percentage but batting numbers that looked like .227/.269/.323, 65 OPS+, with 11 home runs and 71RBIs in 840 at bats.

According to Wikipedia, these days Shawn is a beer distributor in Mechanicsburg, Pennslyvania. At least he's doing something for the good of mankind with his life (hooray beer).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Where Are They Now? Jody Reed

The first sentence on your baseball card souldn't says "Jody is not a spectacular player at short..." It's true, but there had to be something better to open with than bashing the guy's ability right off.

Jody Reed was drafted three times before he signed with the Red Sox in 1984 and was then drafted again by the Rockies in the 1992 expansion draft.

While Jody didn't have a great career, he certainly didn't have a bad career. He was a solid defensive player (though apparently not spectacular) with an above average fielding percentage at second base where he played most of his games.

He was fairly dangerous with the bat as well and led the American League with 45 doubles in 1990. According to the card, he was a good bunter and the stats back that up. Between 1988 and 1990 he was in the top ten in the AL in sacrifice hits (which includes bunts) and was number two in the NL in 1993.

In 1990 he even picked up a few points in the MVP voting, more points than Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr and Nolan Ryan in fact (not that that means much at all).

These days Jody's running a baseball training website, at Jody Reed Isn't it amazing what they can do with the internet. I guess the time had to come where coaches would be replaced by computers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

An early birthday present.

It's not a baseball card, but it's just as cool.

My birthday isn't for another month (5/2), but a friend is in the process of moving and sent my present early (as opposed to losing it in the move).

I've always loved Matchbox cars, but have never let myself buy any. Because I know that I'd be hooked. But this one is special, since it's exactly like my car (except my spoiler is differet... less like a park bench).

I've been looking for one of these for a long time and I'm not sure where she found this. Oh well, I'm a happy boy.

But I'm not sure of the proper way to store these things as an adult. I assume I'm not supposed to take it out of the package and run around the house going VROOOM VROOOM. BUT I'm almost 28 years old and I'm excited about a toy car, so there's no telling what I may end up doing with it.

She also sent me some nice shot glasses and a toy for my cat, but the cat seems more interested in (and is currently sleeping in) the box that it all came in.


Where Are They Now? Kevin Elster

I'm going to let this card speak for itself, since we just saw him here, and I wrote about him here as well.