Monday, April 30, 2012

This Day in Braves History- April 30, 1990

On this date in Braves history...April 30, 1990

1992 Pinnacle "The Idols"
   With Dale Murphy on second and catcher Ernie Whitt on first base, Mark Lemke hits a grounder that Mets second baseman Gregg Jefferies fields and throws to pitcher David Cone, who had run over from the mound to cover first base. When first base umpire Charlie Williams calls Lemke safe, ruling that Cone had missed the base, the pitcher goes berserk-arguing vehemently with Williams. In the meantime, since the play is still live, Murph and Whitt both come around to score- giving the Braves a 4-1 lead. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Senor Smoke

  We ditched satellite tv about 16 months ago, so our viewing options are rather slim. However, as I was lying around yesterday afternoon, I ran across an over-the-air Spanish television channel that was televising a game from the Mexican Baseball League. On the mound was a pitcher who was far from being slim-yes, he was a very stout man. In fact, he reminded me of former Major League pitcher Juan Berenguer. It got me thinking: what if Berenguer hadn't got injured while wrestling with his kids back in 1991. Senor Smoke had converted 17 of 18 saves prior to his season ending injury, while sporting a WHIP of 0.979 over 64.1 innings. After his injury, the Braves briefly used rookie Mark Wohlers in the closer's role before trading for Alejandro Pena on August 28th. Pena went on to save 11 games in the last month of the regular season with an even more impressive 0.724 WHIP. Come playoff time, Alejandro earned three saves and allowed no runs (earned or unearned) in the LCS against Pittsburgh. Pena wasn't as effective during the World Series that year, as he blew a save in game 3 of the World Series (which Atlanta still won) and then took the loss in the historical game 7 in which Smoltz and Morris battled like two warriors. Which takes me back to my original question. If Berenguer hadn't been injured, would he have continued to pitch well enough to lead the Braves to the NL pennant? If and so, would things have turned out differently in that Game 7-had he been the reliever instead of Pena? We will never know.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Food-Issue Friday: 1992 McDonald's Derek Bell

  My first year of participating in a fantasy baseball league was 1992-the same year that McDonald's issued this Baseball's Best set. Heck, I don't think I even knew that fantasy baseball existed prior to that year. I had a co-worker who was telling me about the league he had been doing with some buddies of his. His excitement was infectious and he made being a GM/Manager sound so easy that I decided I wanted a piece of the action. We discussed it and got some friends to join us in a league of our own.

   How did I spend my time preparing for my first ever draft? Well, I sure didn't visit any websites to analyze statistics (remember, this was 1992); nor did I purchase any magazines that were dedicated to the science of fantasy geekdom. Nope- I relied upon the wisdom and knowledge imparted to me from Baseball America.

  My third pick of the draft, which consisted of about six teams, was the 1991 International League MVP and Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year, Mr. Derek Bell. When my turn to pick rolled around and Bell was still on the draft board, I couldn't believe my luck! I had to contain the joyful laughter that was welling up deep inside, and nearly wet myself from the excitement. My joy soon turned to sorrow, as my team stunk it up so bad that I lost interest by July and basically gave up. I didn't join another league for about thirteen years. Bell played a whopping 61 games, in which he hit.242, 2 homers, and 15 RBI over 161 at bats. That pick was indicative of how the rest of my draft went. 

  Derek Bell's promising career wasn't as bad as that '92 season; he was actually pretty good from about 1994-1998. He will be best remembered, however, for his mouth. For instance, remember the time in 1999 when the Astros honored manager Larry Dierker on the night he returned from brain surgery? Bell could only criticize the skipper because he dropped Bell from third to sixth in the lineup. He was hitting .239 at the time. The moment that really took the cake came during Spring Training, 2002 while he was with the Pirates.  Bell, who hit .173 the previous season, didn't think he needed to compete for a job. "If it is [a competition], then I'm going into 'Operation Shutdown.' Tell them exactly what I said. I haven't competed for a job since 1991." Bell never again played in the majors after being released March 31st. He was paid a cool $4.5 million to stay home, or rather, his yacht Bell 14. That led a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist to call Derek, "The ultimate pirate: lives on a boat and steals money."


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

JJ Up. JJ Down.

  On the day that struggling Braves starter Jair Jurrjens got shipped down to AAA Gwinnett, former Braves prospect J.J. Hoover was recalled from the Reds' AAA team in Louisville. Congrats on the recall, J.J.!
Here's hoping that Jurrjens can figure things out during his demotion. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Birthdays: Andruw Jones

  It's hard to believe that the 19 year old kid who homered in his second major league game and then went on to homer in his first two World Series at-bats turns 35 today. Starting in left field tonight against the Rangers, Jones went 0-4 in the Yankees win.

  How has 'druw done on April 23rd? In 15 games on this date, he has gone 13-52 (.250, which is only 6 points under his career average), with 9 runs, 1 2B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 6 BB. Hist best birthday game came two years ago as a member of the White Sox, when he went 2-4 with two solo home runs against Seattle. The homers were bookends: his first coming in the first to give the ChiSox a 1-0 lead, and his second came in the ninth to give the Southsiders a 7-6 victory.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Food-Issue Friday: 1948 Kellogg's Corn Flakes Cuban Postcards- Ozzie Guillen Custom

  I wonder if Cubans love Corn Flakes?

Kellogg's issued a Corn Flakes Postcard back in 1948 which measured approximately 3 1/2 x 5 1/2. The postcards featured a thin border which encased a sepia colored portrait. While not much is known about the set, there appears to be six players cataloged with others possibly existing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Don't Blame Ted for These Floating Heads

1963 Topps #1 N.L. League Leaders
  Nope, they aren't the Democrats whose heads the Motor City Madman wants to chop off-just a few guys who believe in the redistribution of baseballs to infielders, outfielders, and various fans in the stands. 

 I've been wanting to pick this card up for sometime now, and finally got a good deal on the 'Bay. You can never go wrong with multiple Hall of Famers on the same card. This one just so happens to feature two of my favorite old-timers.

 The 1963 season would be the twenty-second and final season of Stan Musial's storied career. Musial, who finished third in hitting during the '62 season, would see a precipitous drop in his average in his final season-going from .330 to .255

  Hank Aaron, who finished fifth in the batting race with a .323 average, would go on to an even better season in 1963, as he nearly pulled off the Triple Crown. His 44 Homers tied Willie McCovey for 1st, his 130 RBI led the league, and his average of .319 was third-only 7 percentage points behind leader Tommy Davis.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Now Batting Third...Ted Williams (Sort Of)

1992 Upper Deck #HH2

  With Tupac's appearance at Sunday's Coachella music festival in California, I've got to wonder how long it will be before Bobby V. dabbles in holography and inserts Teddy Ballgame into the Boston lineup.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Originals: 2013 Chopps Youk Valentine Cards

  Ladies, do you have a difficult time expressing your feelings for the man in your life? Nothing says "I appreciate you" like the Youk Valentine card. Get yours today!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chipper's Home(r) Opener

   Home should be an oratorio of the memory, singing to all our after life melodies and harmonies of old remembered joy."~ Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

  Having missed the team's official home opener on Friday night, Chip made his 2012 home debut today against the Brewers. How has Number 10 done in Home Openers over his career? Well, coming in to today, Chip was hitting .400 (26-65) with 10 runs, 1 2B, 1 HR, 15 RBI, and 12 BB. In his first 17 home openers, only once has he gone hitless- that was on April 5, 1999 against the Phillies (although he did have a walk and scored a run that day). 

  His first full season home opener came in 1995 against the Giants on April 26 (remember, the strike caused a late beginning to season). That day, he went 2-5 with 2 RBI and 3 Runs scored. His first home opener homer came in 2006 against (who else?) the Mets. In nine H.O., he has had multiple hits. 

  And so, true to form, Number 10 once again had a big day on what would be the final home opener of his career. After walking in his first plate appearance, Chipper came up in the bottom of the third with two on and connected for a three-run homer. Quite similar to his first game this season, against Houston, where he singled before hitting a two-run bomb in his second AB. The man may be closing in on forty, but, dang, he can still swing it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Braves Birthdays: Cory Gearrin

  While David Justice, Greg Maddux, and Steve Avery are three popular Braves who share a birthday on this date, a lesser-known Brave is also celebrating today.

  Minor league relief pitcher Cory Gearrin was born on April 14, 1986 in Chattanooga, Tn. Cory, who made his major league debut last April 25, is currently in AAA Gwinnett-where he pitched two scoreless innings tonight against Durham. The side-arm slinger allowed no hits while striking out three as the Braves beat the Bulls. Hopefully Gearrin can earn his way back up to the big club at some point this season.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Food-Issue Friday: 1954 Red Heart Dog Food

  Collectors have heard the stories of someone breaking a box, or perhaps a case, and getting a redemption card (s) which has expired. Some get nothing in return, while others might get a different player of 'like-value'. Whatever the case may be, it's certainly been a controversial subject in the hobby.

  One company in the past didn't have a problem sending out cards to the collectors who requested them. According to the Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, the 1954 Red Heart Dog Food cards, produced by the Red Heart Dog Food, Co., were still being sent out to collectors who requested them as late as the early 1970s. Try getting your redeemable 2012 Yu Darvish auto in the year 2027. Ain't gonna happen, folks.

  The thirty-three card set consisted of three 11-card series, each of which had either a red, blue, or green background. The red series is the more scarce of the three. Each of the series were available through a mail-in offer-all collectors needed to acquire a set were two dog food labels and ten cents. Imagine that: a Mantle or Musial for such a small sum! It would have been quite the acquisition, as neither were included in the Bowman or Topps sets that year.

  If it is true that sets could still be obtained from the company during the early 70's (and there's at least one person who claims it's a false rumor), then today's card companies can certainly learn a thing or two about customer relations and honor such said cards. And in case you missed it, one collector from Michigan recently won his suit vs. Upper Deck over expired redemption cards. You can read it here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Out of the Cellar!

  Expectations can be a b*tch. Just ask the kid who is coming out of college and becomes a high draft pick, but doesn't have the mental make up to succeed in professional sports-or whose skills are overrated (e.g. Ryan Leaf). Perhaps it's a rock band whose debut LP is a huge commercial success, only to realize they hit their peak and had nowhere to go but down-like 80s Hair/Metal band, RATT. You remember the man who followed Paul 'Bear' Bryant as coach at Alabama? I'm sure Fredi Gonzalez can relate to the pressure that Ray Perkins must have felt.

  Congratulations, Fredi- with Miami's loss to Philadelphia tonight, you're finally out of the cellar-.5 games ahead of the Fish. No pressure or anything.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Custom Cards: Mr. Jones

  Sha la, la la la la la la...Mr. Jones and me...~ Counting Crows

Who needs a few minor league rehab at bats? Certainly not Mr. Jones

Monday, April 9, 2012

Let the Cyber Riot Begin

 Starting out the season 0-3 wasn't the end of the world. I've even heard some baseball pundits claim that the Mets will be a good team this year, so that eased a little of the pain and embarrassment. So going into Houston for the opening game of the series, those of us who are Braves fans felt pretty confident that this ship would get righted. Wrong. On a night which celebrated the anniversary of the first baseball game in a dome (Yankees-Astros exhibition at the Astrodome, in 1965), I could swear that I was watching the team who played at the Astrodome in 1977. Yes, that's right-the Bad News Braves in Breaking Training. Is is possible to have a 'cyber riot'? Let the burning, looting, and car-tipping begin!

  Juan Francisco can't field (3 errors), Beachy still can't make the pitches he needs to get deep into a game-efficiency is not part of his vocabulary, Livan and Durbin  have looked like bleep thus far, and Frediot still can't manage. Oh- and the last time this team started the season 0-4 was 1988, when they lost their first ten and went on to a 54-106 record. What'dya think:
Has a nice ring, no?

  At least we have 1995.

R.A. Dickey and Transparency

  After watching my beloved Braves get swept in New York this past weekend, the last thing I want to do is talk about the M-E-T-S, Mets Mets Mets. And while this post isn't about the devil's team (well, one of the teams of the prince of darkness), I will take a moment to suggest you pick up a copy of pitcher R.A. Dickey's recently released memoir, "Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball."

  Authenticity is something that many of us claim to desire, but only few attain. Whether it's in the clothes we purchase (brand-new pants that look well worn, ballcaps with a frayed bill), the relationships we develop (how many people do I REALLY know?), or the cards we buy (I'll take a '91 Topps Archives Eddie Mathews, please), true authenticity is scarce. Especially among the 'beautiful people' in the sports and entertainment business, where artificial enhancement, boob-jobs and nose jobs reign.

 But perhaps the title of Dickey's book should have read Transparency, rather than Authenticity. That's because it is exactly what you will find in the 352 page book.

 As you have probably heard by now, Dickey, the former Texas Ranger first round draft pick, brings to light many dark secrets from his childhood which shaped a broken, angry man. And because there has been so much publicity proceeding the release of the book, I will not provide a review here-just a recommendation. In an age where our sports heroes often display an inflated sense of self-importance, Dickey's reflections on his past, present, and the hope that the future holds are a breath of fresh air (sorry for the cliche). If you read one book this year-make sure it's this one; you will not be disappointed.

  Finally, as a husband and father who struggles with anger at times, I would be remiss not to include the following quote from the book. The context is Dickey visiting a counselor, who gives the pitcher the following wise words, "If you aren't willing to face your demons-if you can't find the courage to take on your fear and hurt and anger-you might as well wrap them up with a bow and give them to your children. Because they will be carrying the same thing...unless you are willing to do the work."

 May God grant me the grace to do the same.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Killer of Former Braves Pitcher is Released from Prison

  At thirty years old, and having been out of the game for three years, Dave Shotkoski was hoping for one last chance to fulfill his dream of pitching in the big leagues. That's why the husband and father to an infant daughter put his job as a production supervisor at an Illinois Coca-Cola bottling plant on hold during the winter of 1995.

  Reporting to West Palm Beach, Florida, Shotkoski didn't expect to be with the Braves once the strike ended. Dave's best hope was to make an impression and land a job somewhere else in baseball-whether it be as a player with another team, or-more likely, as a coach or scout. But there he found himself, with the organization that had originally drafted him in the forth round of the 1985 January phase of the MLB draft.

  Shotkoski's six-year minor league career began in Pulaski, Virginia - with the Braves' Rookie affiliate in the Appalachian League. It was a short stay, as he only pitched in one inning and picking up the win. The following season, he appeared in ten games (in which he started seven) for Idaho Falls, the Braves' short-season team in the Pioneer League. The right handed pitcher struggled that season, and was released after going 1-3 with a 7.18 ERA. Signed by the A's organization, Dave spent the next three seasons playing at four different stops: Low A, High A, AA, and finally AAA Tacoma. At each stop, the Illinois native was plagued by allowing a high number of runners on base. He was out of the game for the 1990 season, before signing in 1991 with the Angels-for whom he pitched for at AA Midland. Surprisingly, Shotkoski threw in more innings that year (130.1) than any of his previous seasons (56.2 being the previous high, in 1988). It would be his final year in organized ball until the '95 major league players' strike.

  The dream that Shotkoski shared with many other "replacement players" ended abruptly one spring evening on the streets of West Palm Beach. Walking back to the team's hotel after dinner that evening, he was gunned down during a robbery attempt by a man who was looking for drug money.

  Shortly after the murder, former Brave and Shotkoski's replacement teammate, Terry Blocker received a phone call from two teammates, telling him of the news. Stunned at the news of the murder of the man he had recently become acquainted with, the former Pentecostal deacon decided to do something to help bring about justice. Blocker was familiar with the city and knew some people from the time he spent there in the late-'80s while with the Braves. One friend agreed to go with him in search for any information about the murderer, and the two men roamed the streets talking about the player who had been shot-without giving away their identities or their motive. After an unsuccessful first night, Blocker and his friend were able to come up with the street name of the braggart, and soon an arrest was made.

  The assailant, twenty-nine year old Neal Evans, was also wanted for parole violation. His rap sheet had enough information on it that it would have looked right at home on baseball reference's website. It was Evans' eighteenth arrest, which included crimes such as burglary, vehicle theft, drug possession, and weapons' charges. Prior to the murder, Evans had also been given conditional release from prison five times-returning each time after violating the terms of his release.

  When offered a share of the $10,000 reward put up by West Palm Beach police and the Atlanta organization, Blocker refused- instead suggesting the money go to the wife of his slain teammate. As a man who was soon to be unemployed (the Braves had already decided he wouldn't make the team), he certainly could have used the money to help support his wife and two children.
  Surely justice would prevail, right? Hardly. After an 11-1 hung jury, Evans' attorneys were able to plea-bargain and get their client 27 years in prison. This past Tuesday, Evans was released- a free man due to  time earned for good conduct. Seventeen years (including two years served prior to his guilty plea) for the cold-blooded murder which left a woman husband-less, and an infant daughter fatherless. Unbelievable.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cards You're Not Likely to See: Drakes Big Hitters- Nolan Ryan

'My fist your face, that's for sure!"~ Aerosmith's "My Fist Your Face"

Today marked the first meeting between Nolan Ryan and Robin Ventura since their infamous fight nineteen years ago. I would like to have heard what some of his White Sox teammates had to say to him after the game. Probably heard some laughs. What do you suppose the two talked about today during their visit? Probably laughed.

 Robin must have been pretty stupid if he thought he was going to go show the old Texan a thing or two. Nolan handled Ventura like he was one of his cattle.

To commemorate the occasion, I decided to use an odd-ball card manufactured by Topps for Drakes (a Hostess brand snack), which was appropriately named "Big Hitters."

Timing is a funny thing. I got home tonight from our Good Friday service, and sat down to work on my latest custom card. As I was working on it, I checked some of the blogs I follow and noticed Night Owl Cards ran a piece tonight which features the '83 Drakes Big Hitters. Oh, well...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Satirical Look at CBS' Death of the Hobby

Drivers Lament Driving on Empty

  Driving down a busy street in my hometown, I notice my Subaru is running on fumes. Having inadequate time to fuel up, I search for that favorite place of my youth- but there's an irony to be found: the 7-11 is missing.

  There used to be one or two franchises. But now, there's no 7-11's. No Citgo.

  Today, the gas station/convenience store sucks compared to the 1980s and 1990s, when a driver had a place to go gas up, pick up some cards, nachos, and a Slurpee or a Big Gulp. Dirty, middle-aged old men might have picked up some porn.

  Now, in Caldwell, as well as in other parts of Idaho, there's only a Jacksons Food Store. Well, there's four. One on Linden, one on Logan, one on 10th, and one on Montana.

  "Seven-eleven, for the most part, has  always offered Citgo gas," said Jamie Davidson, author of "Convenience Store Corruption", a detailed account of the rise and fall of gas stations and convenience stores.

  Eighty year old franchisee Allen "Big Gulp" Ginter became a millionaire from the business-but laments as he considers a future where transportation involves horse and buggy.  "When the twenty-year contract with Citgo expired, well, 7-11 was no longer valuable. People stopped buying gas. I've heard some places even stopped taking checks. What?! How in the world can you fuel up?"

  Today, the price of a barrel has fallen to below $104-down $40 from forty-one months ago.

  "I think it's all the gas-guzzling vehicles out there," said Davidson. "I think the blame can be spread around. It can certainly go to the auto-makers, who built these gas-guzzlers. Blame the consumer: they're sticking to the old, beat-up boats that get horrible MPG. They can't afford to drive."

  Add in the rise of the smart-car, dollar-menus at many fast food restaurants, internet porn, scooters, mopeds, and an increasingly cashless society, and what you get now are barren streets in Caldwell- as empty as American's pocketbooks.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Red Redux

We don't seem to have many ballplayers who go by the name of Red today, but it hasn't always been like that. Baseball history is replete with nicknames derived from the emotionally intense color, and it's time to take in a few more. But first, what else do we have that's red?

We've Got the Band Red

Red the Movie


and...Who Can Forget 99 Red Balloons

for our German readers, I offer up to you this- 99 Luft Balloons

Red Schoendeist
Hall of Famer ('89) who won 2 titles as a player, and 3 more as a manager/coach. Joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and at the age of 16 had a nail ricochet into his left eye. Doctors thought he would lose the eye, but Red refused to let them take it out. It gave him troubles thenceforth. 

Yeah-not only do we not have guys named Red in the game anymore, but neither do we have TOUGH guys, either. So put that in your pipe...

Red McGlothlin

Seeing double. Red as a Red, and Red wearing ChiSox... red?

Red Faber

Another Chicago White Sox player, this one's a Hall of Famer (Class of '64).

Red Munger
Red threw a complete game to pick up the victory in Game 4 of the 1946 World Series against who else but the Red Sox. He only had two wins that regular season, and that World Series game was his only career post-season appearance. 

...and finally, one more Red-  
Red Moore

Negro Leagues legend James "Red" Moore only played seven seasons before his playing career ended prematurely because of military service. During his playing days, the first baseman was known as a great defender, despite the fact that the lefty often had to take a right-handed glove and turn it inside out in order to play defense. Moore, who was born in Atlanta, received the nickname 'Red' because of his fair skin, which would turn red after a few innings on the field. The former Atlanta Firecracker was drafted by the Braves in a special Negro Leagues draft in 2008-the picture above commemorating the special occasion. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Let the Music (and the Bat) Do the Talking

"Cheese cake baby, maybe if I take another bite; I'm a real fat city, I'm an aero delight. Threw out my pipe, and my alkaline. Got a squeaky clean body, and a dirty mind. I'm a real fine dancer, I'll be cuttin' the rug. Got a brand new baby, she's my brand new drug. I got one for the money, two for the show, three for my honey, and four to let you know I....Let the Music Do the Talking..." ~ Aerosmith "Let the Music Do the Talking"

 We will be celebrating two birthdays in the next week and a half. My youngest son turns 17 today, while our baby-my daughter- will turn 11 next week. Since our son is a junior, we've been having an ongoing discussion with him about the future: what do you want to do? How can your gifts and interests serve a better purpose- one of vocation, of a calling?

  When I was my daughter's age, all I wanted to do was play for the Atlanta Braves, just like my childhood sports hero Dale Murphy. By the time I was my son's age those aspirations had grown to be a guitar god like Joe Perry of Aerosmith (well, actually Eddie Van Halen). Could I have picked two other people who are such polar opposites?

  Everyone knows about Dale Murphy: he's got a squeaky clean image, an example of humility, and although people debate whether or not his playing career merits a Hall of Fame induction-there's no question that he's a Hall of Famer when it comes to being a nice guy. You would probably have a hard time finding a former teammate who had anything negative to say about Murph. Years after his playing days ended, he even served as President of the Boston, Massachusetts Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.

  Then there's Mr. Style, Joe Perry. Drugs. Booze. Women. Plenty of each. Joe is brash, and it shows in the music he and the band produces. His playing is full of bravado- built upon bluesy licks and nasty riffs. And believe it or not, after leaving Aerosmith in 1979, he employed a singer by the name of Ralph Mormon in his Joe Perry Project (I swear I'm not making this up!). He has a history of personal conflicts with the face of the band, Steven Tyler. They're Boston's Bad Boys. And unlike Murphy, they're already in the Hall-albeit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

  I'm now forty-two, soon three, and if I can someday take part in the Braves fantasy camp, I guess I can put an asterisk next to my vocational dreams. I once upon a time recorded a demo tape with my old band, Mr. Bones.

   In the mail today was a birthday card for my son, as well as a card for the old man- this 1989 Topps Baseball Talk Dale Murphy. I never knew it even existed until a few weeks ago, when I saw it on eBay. After watching it for some time I decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I might never know what's recorded on it. Being a child of the 70s and 80s, I at one time had a turn table (or two), but that's no longer the case. Perhaps it's an interview with Murph. Maybe it's some guy with MLB talking to a Topps rep. Like some sort of pre-existing podcast.
  With its resurgence in popularity today, the turntable is once again a viable option for my listening pleasure- only I won't be pursuing one for the sake of listening to a baseball card. Vinyl is for guys like Joe Perry-not Dale Murphy. The only record I want to see attached to Murph are the ones he never attains.

  "Let the Music Do the Talking" originally appeared on Joe Perry's solo project, whose album was similarly titled, "Let the Music Do the Talking." It later appeared on Aerosmith's reunion album-1985's Done With Mirrors. While critics panned it, I think it's a very solid release-classic Aerosmith. And while I won't say it was the end of the band, I didn't think the band was ever the same afterwards. I pretty much lost interest in the band with subsequent releases.

This card of Dale Murphy from 1989 represents the same kind of crisis to the story. The Atlanta icon got traded to Philadelphia, of all places, the next season. No, my interest in him didn't disappear, but his production continued to decline. And before long he was done.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Nicknames and the Color Red

"I read that it's all black and white, ooh-the spectrum made a shade I like. Ooh, the crimson rays of ruby bright, Ah! the technicolor light..." ~ Sammy Hagar's "Red"

                            We've got Red Rockers

Red Asses

                            Red Bordered Cards

Red Jerseys

And of course...Players Named Red

Red Muff

Murff had quite the baseball resume, although it's not quite one that you would expect. Since there was no baseball program at his Rosebud, Texas high school, John Robert (Red) Murff did not play the game until he was in World War II. After finishing his military service time, Murff eventually signed a contract in the Class C Evangeline league at age 29. And despite being older, Red quickly established himself as a prospect with a promising career. As a 34 year-old rookie, Red injured his arm in his arm three innings into his first major league start, and never was able to recover from the injury. His major league playing career lasted less than two seasons. He would go on to pitch three more years in the minors, although he was never the same pitcher. His playing career finished, Murff still had many more years and many important contributions to the game of baseball. As the manager of the Jacksonville Braves, he helped a young struggling pitcher by the name of Phil Niekro gain confidence which he lacked, telling him, "if you can get that knuckleball over the plate, you can pitch in the big leagues." Knucksie, of course ended up in Cooperstown. As a scout, Red was instrumental in scouting and signing players who helped bring the "Miracle Mets" their championship: Jerry Koosman, Jerry Grote, and a fellow Texan from Alvin, Texas-Nolan Ryan.

Art 'Red' Herring

A red herring is defined as: something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand.

Art 'Red' Herring was a member of the 1946 Brooklyn Dodger team which finished seventh in the N.L. with a 63-91 record. I wonder if the Dodgers wore these hideous satin uniforms that season. One look at those, and you forgot just how bad the team was.

Lloyd 'Red' Hittle

The recently deceased (March 3, 2012) Hittle played in only two seasons at the major league level ( for the Washington Senators in 1949 & 1950). He's pictured here in a 1953 Mother's Cookies card as a member of the Oakland Oaks.

Charles "Red" Embree

Another Red from another Mother(s) (Cookies). This 52 Mothers Cookies features Red Embree, while with the San Diego Padres. Yes, the team actually existed before 1969, albeit in the PCL. The Padres pitcher had pitched in the Major Leagues from 1941-1949, and was in his third season in San Diego when this card was distributed.

Ralph "Red" Kress

We're talking old-timer here, folks. Red Kress played fourteen years in the Bigs-beginning in 1927 until 1940,  and then again for one more season in 1946. Looking at his baseball page, the thing that sticks out is that in over 5000 career at-bats, the man had more walks than strikeouts. And his strikeouts were less than 500! He was also caught stealing more than he was successful at stealing (46 SB/56 CS).

to be continued...