Thursday, April 30, 2015

Play Ball...Ball...Ball...

As you're probably aware of, a game took place yesterday between the Orioles and the White Sox that was closed off to the public due to the violence taking place in the city of Baltimore. As the photos of the empty yard started to hit Twitter, a thought came over me: If a game takes place and no one is there to watch it- did it actually happen? The whole scene was surreal.

While I never got to see any of the Braves games during the 70s, I do know that attendance at Fulton County Stadium was pretty horrible for the entire decade. The lowest point during that period came in 1975, when the team averaged 6,642 per game- not nearly as empty as Camden Yard, but still pretty miserable. The team failed to average 10,000 fans four different seasons during the decade, but the Braves early attendance problem went beyond just their days in Atlanta. The final season in Milwaukee (1965) saw an average of 6,859 at old County Stadium. Needless to say, the fans knew the team's days in Milwaukee were numbered.

For those who did attend Braves home games during the miserable 1975 season, they got to see...

Mike Lum hit his first homer of the season, while going 2-4 on Wednesday, May 7 in a loss to San Francisco. Attendance: 2,687

The next night (Thursday, May 8) saw a Braves hold on for a win against the Giants.  3,656 loyal fans witnessed the Giants score 2 in top of 9th to make it close, but still come up short, 3-2.  Ron Reed was the hero, going 8.1 innings, surrendering 10 hits and only allowing 2 runs to score; Tom House pitching the final 0.2 innings to get his third save of the season.

A couple of weeks later, the Montreal Expos came to town, but the fans didn't come out to see them:
Tuesday, May 20 attendance: 3,861 Vic Correll was the star: 2-5, 1 HR, 5RBI
Wednesday May 21, a 6-3 win against the Expos. 3,263 saw Darrell Evans go 2-4 with 2 homers and 2 RBI.

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse....

Wednesday, September 3, the Bravos suffered a 9-10 loss against the Friars. Announced attendance:  1,119.  Rod Gilbreath went All-Star, going 3-5 and leading a 15 hit attack where 5 player had multiple hits. But when the team's bad, losses are going to happen.

Runs weren't as plentiful the next night, Thursday, September 4 in Atlanta's 2-1 Win against that same San Diego team. With 1,062 people in the stands, Phil Niekro was outstanding, going 8 strong innings, with 8 hit and 1 run (earned) allowed, while striking out nine. Unfortunately, Knucksie did not get a decision. Marty Perez drove in the winning run in the bottom of 9th.

Of course there's always a 'rock-bottom' story, and for the 1975 Braves, it came on September 8th when an announced crowed of 737 were supposedly there to see Frank LaCourt take the loss against the Astros. Marty Perez was the star, once again, going 2-3 with 2 walks and 3 runs scored.

The team photo looks like it very well could have been taken prior to 1st pitch at any of a couple dozen home games that year. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kings and Queens

"Long ago when days I'm told were ruled by lords of greed. Maidens fared with gold they dared to bare their wombs that bleed. Kings and queens and guillotines taking lives denied. Starch and parchment laid the laws when bishops took the ride- only to deceive." Aerosmith's King and Queens

I've been on a crusade of late to acquire some of the Braves found in 2015 Donruss and 2015 Gypsy Queen- two sets that are about as popular as, well...the Crusades. But I've always been a contrarian, so I won't let the opinions of the masses sway my tastes.


With over 100 years of baseball history to choose from, Donruss decided to include two stars from the Braves glory days; players who were throwbacks; players who were Kings of the Diamond.

Although I am too young to have watched Eddie Mathews play, I couldn't help but think that I was somehow watching him whenever I would watch Chipper play. Except I never saw the fight in #10 that I would have seen in Mathews- who liked to duke it out from time to time. Jones, also known as the Old Battle Axe, seems to have made the Twitta his battlefield. And instead of fists, he uses a war of words.

He certainly wasn't a choirboy, but if the Professor had been alive during medieval times, I think he would have been in the university, studying to be a member of the clergy. They were often the educated ones. He would have gone on to be a master of theology. Or, if you've heard of some of his antics during his playing career, you might even think of him as being the jester in the Kings court. Another time period he would have fit in: The Renaissance. He was, as the back of his Donruss card tells us, a "master of painting the corners."


I have played very little chess in my time- mainly because I really suck at it- but it's my understanding that there's something called the Queen's Gambit Declined, which is any variation of the Queen's Gambit in which black does not play... uh...hmm....This Chipper is the mini variation from this year's Gypsy Queen set. He doesn't play, because he's retired. Queen's Gambit Declined...smdh

Last year, my boy Andrelton Simmons looked more like a throwback to the 70s, when you had slick fielding shortstops who didn't hit a lick. Well, working with new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer seems to have paid off for the world's best shortstop. He could fit right into Medieval lore, as well. The man is, after all, a wizard with the glove.

Another of my favorite current Braves, Julio reminds of me of the glory days, when pitching ruled fields of green. He hasn't looked too sharp his last couple of outings. Medieval life was full of illness- and Julio's looking (and pitching) a little tepid. He needs a little color in him...

and Guillotines

Really, Topps?

Off with their heads!!!!

Gotta draw the line somewhere....

Monday, April 27, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #33: The Ace of Spades

"If you like to gamble, I tell you I'm your man. You win some, lose some, it's all the same to me. The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say. I don't share your greed, the only card I need is the Ace of Spades."~ Motörhead, The Ace of Spades

I suppose there's always going to be risk involved whenever a professional franchise takes part in an expansion draft. Teams are choosing from a pool of players each of the existing teams have left exposed, most of whom are a) failed prospects (or, at least haven't developed as hoped) b) injured players c) older players d) veterans due to make a huge amount of money on the remaining time of their contracts. Some, like today's featured player, are simply the victims of being in a loaded organization.

David Nied entered the 1992 MLB season ranked by Baseball America as the 56th top prospect in the game. Despite a strong showing in spring training, Nied was one of the final cuts in camp and was assigned to the Braves team in Richmond- where he would get his first taste of triple-A ball. David continued to make himself known as a prospect during that season in the International League, posting a 14-9 record, along with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.119 WHIP. He pitched well enough to receive a call-up when rosters expanded that September.

Making his major league debut on September 1, David threw seven innings of four-hit ball against the Mets, allowing 1 run and picking up the win. He would get five more appearances over the next few weeks (including one more start) and finish 3-0, with only 10 hits and 5 walks allowed over 23 innings while striking out 19 batters. Nied's performance certainly made it a difficult decision to leave him unprotected in the expansion draft, where he would be chosen by Colorado with the first overall pick.

That offseason, Baseball America ranked the new face of the Rockies franchise as the 23rd ranked prospect in baseball. Not only would the new ace have to anchor the staff for a first-year franchise, but he would be doing it as a rookie and in the rarefied air of Denver. The deck, you could say, was stacked against him. Heh Heh.

For the first year Rockies, David went 5-9 with a 5.19 ERA in sixteen starts, missing three-and-a-half months with an injury during that inaugural season. He showed vast improvement during the '94 season, finishing 9-7 with a 4.80 ERA. At times during that strike-shortened season, Nied looked every bit the ace the team had envisioned after taking him in the expansion draft, while other times he showed his inexperience at the major league level. His best game came at home against the Astros on June 21 as he pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing only four hits against the powerful Houston lineup. Though he had his ups and downs that season, there was no reason to believe he would never win another major league game.

As major league players resumed play the next spring, following the nearly eight-month long strike, Nied came back at full-throttle, airing it out within 15 minutes of the first time he threw. His right elbow, injured. His career, pretty much done. Although David would pitch for Colorado at the major league level, he clearly wasn't the same- tinkering with his mechanics to compensate for the arm trouble. He would go 0-2 in 8 games between the '95 and '96 seasons, with a 16.76 ERA and a 2.793 WHIP over 9 innings. Nied's career was at that point all but over. He would sign a free-agent deal with Cincinnati the following year, but would retire before being demoted to AA Chattanooga.

Now, for something to cheer you up...

Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" and the Young Ones...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My New TV Crapped Out on Me, So I Bought Some Cards

After dinner last night, I went back into my office to watch the ending of the Barves-Phillies game while my wife and daughter entertained themselves with Mockingjay 1. Well, to my surprise the less-than-two-week-old tv wouldn't turn on. Rather, I couldn't get a picture- only purple and pink lines everywhere. What?!!! It's a Magnavox, and they made a hell of a tv 40 years ago! I guess that's what I get for making a decision based on my frugal nature. So, I pulled it off the wall and headed over to Target to get a different television (and a different manufacturer). I'm glad I did- as the Barves lost it 1-0 on a walk-off error.

The one two silver linings- and there's always gotta be a silver lining, right?- is that not only did I get a new, better TV, but I also finally got around to picking up the 1 pack of Gypsy Queen that I've been wanting to open.

The Value Pack contained 3 packs plus three framed parallel cards. Let's open some packs!!!

Pack 1:

246 Brian McCann - I hate to say it, but BMac just looks like he was born to wear pinstripes. Well done, Topps.

160 Hyn-Jin Ryu - I love these poses

40 Jorge Soler- MINI ROOKIE CARD! Whoo- am I gonna be RICH!

GWO-7 Walk off Winners David Freese -  Meh.

138 Greg Maddux - Hey everybody, a Brave!!

99 Roger Maris - Great looking card of the AL single-season Home Run record holder

Pack 2:

88 Justin Upton - Hey everybody, a...former Brave.

57 Jason Vargas - Is he still on the Royals? Is he a bad-ass, too?

173 Jason Worth - *vomits*

179 James Shields - I guess they couldn't get him into his Pads uni

271 Lance Lynn - Mini card of a Card

234 Jarred Cosart - Wanna bet that no one cares about this guy's cards?

Pack 3:

39 Lou Gehrig - Another Yankee. Really?

50 Salvador Perez - Another Royal. Is he also a bad-ass? I heard they get to fight the winner of Pacquiao/Mayweather

168 David Ortiz - One of my least favorites in the game. At least it wasn't ARod

8 Jose Canseco - Mini. I bet Wax Morgue, er Wax Heaven 2.0 would approve!

GWO-4 Walk-Off Winner: David Ortiz. What did I do to upset the cardboard gods?

222 Russell Martin - *Yawn*


Okay, maybe not- but I'm sure everyone was waiting on the framed parallels...

169 Ryan Braun - Tony can expect to see this at some point

9 Bo Jackson - ANOTHER ROYAL? Okay, I won't complain on this one. What a beauty!

82 Mookie Wilson - Everybody's talking about the new kid in (Bean)town- Mookie Betts, that is- but this is the original.

Ten bucks and I don't feel like I got my money's worth, but that's not what this is all about. It the enjoyment of opening something new- a brand that I have never liked prior to this year. And for the price of going to a movie, I'll take this pack any day.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: America's Team, America's Favorite Pizza

I feel like I've been out of the loop this week: with news, with sports, and with the hobby. That's because I woke up early Tuesday morning sick and then spent the rest of that day and Wednesday trying to get my energy (and appetite) back. It's not like I didn't have the time to keep up with what was going on- it's just that when I wasn't asleep, I wanted to be in that state of non-existence. But here it is, Friday, and I still don't have my appetite back entirely. I only hope that you are hungry for another edition of Food-Issue Friday...

I don't think my love of pizza will ever diminish. I know, it's not the healthiest of meals and it seems to be more popular among the tweener-teens demographic- but what can I say? I've never been the most health-conscious guy (I get maybe 6 hours of sleep a night and drink way too much coffee) and I collect cards, so some would even question my age. Or at least, my maturity. 

Anyway, while today's feature isn't a card, it is the latest addition to my Dale Murphy collection. And what a large addition it is, measuring 17-1/4"x 11-1/4". It's so large that I honestly don't know how to store it. I guess I should have thought of that before buying it. Perhaps I"ll frame it. Be what it may, I just couldn't pass it up. There apparently were three others distributed, each featuring two Braves, but this was the only one I just had to have.

Looking at this brings back memories of my only visit to Atlanta- back in September of 1993. I went there with my dad and his wife, to visit her sister and her family. Well, truth to be told, I went because it was free airfare and I got to take in some Braves games. Anyway, we went out for pizza and beer our first night in the ATL. Where? Yes, you guessed it: Pizza Hut. And, just like earlier this week, I awoke early the next morning with cold chills, my head spinning, and then, well, you can guess what came next. We had plans on going to the Falcons-Saints game the next day, as well as to Six Flags Over Georgia. Well, if I wasn't feeling up to attending a football game, I surely wasn't going to a theme park. And so I laid there, all day Sunday and Monday, regaining my strength for that ever so important date at Fulton County Stadium.

As you probably recall, the Braves used to dub themselves "America's Team," just as Pizza Hut dubbed themselves as "America's Favorite Pizza." It's been a few years since TBS ran those America's Team ads, but I never questioned the veracity of such claims. Pizza Hut- well, I may have liked them at one time, but something changed forever after that visit to the Peach State. And if it is America's Favorite Pizza, then something's terribly wrong.

Monday, April 20, 2015


Those of us who collect retired players can at times be spoiled. How? Well, if our guy was a big enough star at one time, we come to expect them to be included in every newer product. It's the curse of the inclusion of retired stars in current sets. We somehow end up with a sense of entitlement when player X appears in ten products each year.

As one who collects a retired player (Dale Murphy, among others), I'm to the point where I'd like to see him in one set per year-if even that. With so many different brands, Topps could rotate it so he's in a different brand each year. I know I'd appreciate his cardboard much more if that were the case. According to Beckett's database, Murphy didn't have any cards produced between 1994 and 1999- and collectors were hungry for them.

I started thinking about this last week after seeing the Celebzdirect twitter account post the following pictures of Andruw Jones signing for an upcoming (?) Topps product. I'm thinking it's Archives, but it's hard to tell now-a-days. The comment about it being redemption cards has me a bit confused, as I don't recall hearing about him being in any previous set. If they are signed redemptions, then it obviously can't be an upcoming product.

 Doesn't matter. I'm jacked to see a new card of 'Druw, whose last card was in...2013? I thought for sure that it was much longer since we have seen the former Gold Glover on cardboard. I will definitely be buying one of those, even if it is yet another 1989 design.

Back during Andruw's minor league days, I sent him a photocopied article from Baseball America- which he generously signed in two spots:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Guilty Pleasures

"Well I rolled the bones to see who'd own my mind and what's within. And it's a given rule that we're all fools, but need to have a little sin. So I'm ridin', well I'm ridin' on the gypsy- on the gypsy queen."~ Dio's Gypsy

All of us have guilty pleasures. Perhaps it's B-rate horror movies; a wife beater (shirt); a reality tv show. For me, it's 80s hard rock/hair metal. But I think I just might have discovered a new one last night: 2015 Gypsy Queen baseball.

Now let me be clear- I have despised the Gypsy Queen brand since its initial release in 2011 and, other than a few singles, have avoided it like the plague. When the sell sheet for this year's product came out, I ignored it. But I came across some on eBay last night and found myself shocked at how much I liked the 2015 design. And when I came across a listing for a guaranteed 'Hot Pack' I decided to take a chance. To roll the bones, as they say.

I didn't win the auction- my $5 bid was placed in the last 30 seconds- and looking back, I'm glad I didn't win. I mean, odds are the seller acquired this by pack searching- which I find deplorable. But still.. it is fun pulling an auto or a cool patch, no?

So, instead, I think I'll just try to complete a Braves team set and pick up the Chipper variations for my collection. The team set contains the following cards:

2 Hank Aaron (mini base variation available, also)
18 Tom Glavine (mini base variation available, also)
26 Freddie Freeman (base variation available, also)
48 Shelby Miller
68 Alex Wood
69 Nick Markakis
74 Julio Teheran
84 John Smoltz (mini base variation available, also)
112 Evan Gattis
115 Chipper Jones (mini base variation available, also)
135 Craig Kimbrel
138 Greg Maddux (mini base variation available, also)
245 Andrelton Simmons
259 Mike Foltynewicz
170 Mike Minor
302 Eddie Mathews-SP
332 Fred McGriff-SP

...and of course, plenty of inserts....

GQA-CJ Chris Johnson
GQA-EG Evan Gattis
GQA-FF Freddie Freeman
GQA-HA Hank Aaron
GQA-JS John Smoltz
GQA-PN Phil Niekro
GQA-TG Tom Glavine

Mini Autographs
GMA-GM Greg Maddux
GMA-JT Julio Teheran
GMA-TG Tom Glavine

Retail Mini Autographs
RMA-FF Freddie Freeman
RMA-JS John Smoltz

Autographed Relics
AR-FF Freddie Freeman

Laces Around the League
LAL-FF Freddie Freeman

Original Art Patches
OAP-CJ Chipper Jones
OAP-CKl Craig Kimbrel
OAP-FF Freddie Freeman
OAP-GM Greg Maddux

GQR-AS Andrelton Simmons
GQR-CKl Craig Kimbrel
GQR-FF Freddie Freeman
GQR-JH Jason Heyward

Jumbo Relics
GJR-AS Andrelton Simmons

Mini Relics
GMR-EG Evan Gattis
GMR-FF Freddie Freeman
GMR-JH Jason Heyward
GMR-JU Justin Upton
GMR-MM Mike Minor

The Queen's Throwbacks
QT-2 Andrelton Simmons
QT-24 Julio Teheran

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Wisely Chosen Friends

Quite some time back I posted a plea for someone- anyone- to help a brother out with some 1988 Donruss cards to go towards finishing my Braves team set. I received a few comments and one of them, Brian from Highly Subjective and Completely Arbitrary, recently hooked me up with 8 of them (plus friends)- all traveling in style. No, they didn't travel on the Madden bus, but arrived in a large envelope. They could have arrived in a leather bag by the Pony Express, for all I care; the main thing is that I have now completed the base set.

The back of this card tells us that Ken Sr. once hit three homers in a game against the Phillies, so it got me many times did Jr. hit 3 in a game? Thanks to BaseballReference.Com, I have my answer: twice. Once in '96 against the Yankees and once against the Blue Jays in 1997.

Zane's six seasons in Pittsburgh were much better than the six he spent with the Braves. Nineteen Eighty-Nine  was a particularly rough year for the lefty- as he went 1-12 in 17 starts with 58 strikeouts and 33 walks while allowing 102 hits over 99 innings before being traded to the Expos on August 8.

I graduated high school in 1987 and instead of enrolling in college, I spent the next year working a little and spending most of my time playing music. Thus, I did not spend much time (no time, really) following baseball. Had I done so, I would have surely pulled my hair out watching Andres Thomas make errors and striking out. He committed 29 errors in 1988, struck out 95 times and had a .268 OBP. The man was the antithesis of a selective hitter, walking 59 times in six seasons in Atlanta.

My second favorite Simmons to have played for Atlanta. First? Andrelton, silly.

Well captured expression on Oberkfell's face. I, too, was confused about Oberkfell. Was he really a third baseman? Well, he began at second and eventually moved to the hot corner. He sure didn't hit like a third baseman- he was a career .362 slugger, who never hit more than 5 homers in a season. And it's hard to like a guy who, while with the Cardinals, single-handedly beat the Braves in Game 2 of the 1982 NLCS when he scored the first run of the game on a wild-pitch and then drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. St. Louis would complete the sweep the next night in Atlanta.

I don't want to talk about Murphy in 1988. It was the beginning of the end. Let's move on...

My second favorite D(e)ion to play for the Braves.

Believe it or not, Mahler's Baseball page actually uses the photo from this card.

My question: why? He looks....creepy. Devilish. Like that crazy uncle your family is ashamed of.
Another believe it or not: the back of Rick's '88 Donruss card tells us that he tied Cy Young and two others for the most Opening Day shutouts (3) after his 6-0 complete game win against Philadelphia on April 7, 1987.

Let's see which friends of '88 Donruss showed up...

Awesome Impact- Awesome Player- Awesome Card!!

Well, hellooooooo Hank! Doesn't have a date on it- I'm thinking '88?

Much cooler than the original '89s. Well, I prefer the originals, but not as an oversized offering.

Like my mother used to say: choose your friends wisely. And I'm thinking Brian did a pretty good job choosing these friends for me. Thanks, Brian!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Food-Issue Friday: Grilled Cheese

Sometimes life just isn't fair. An artist has an inspired moment, but has no brush, nor paint. A musician has a melody- but is far from his piano. I have an idea for a custom faux food-issue card and my photoshop software says there's a licensing issue and the free on-line pixl editor sucks.

Now had I had the proper tools, my card would have been a Kraft Singles card celebrating grilled cheese and new Braves closer Jason Grilli (his nickname is Grilled Cheese). After all, who doesn't like grilled cheese? If you don't, you might just be missing out- at least according to a new study on the love lives of those who eat the popular sandwich. So instead of offering up some fresh grilled cheese, I guess I'll just have to serve left-overs.

Grilli has pitched really well so far this season, and while the Braves aren't expected to win very many games, should they do better than expected and Grilli save a lot of games... You might just see a baby boom in Braves Country.

Let's hear it for Grilled Cheese!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Appreciating Vintage Cardboard

I am many things: husband, father, employee, boss, sports fan- but one thing I'm not is a wine connoisseur (in fact, I don't know if I'm much of an expert in anything. Braves baseball and baseball cards, perhaps). I was reminded of this a few years ago when some friends invited us over to their house for a wine tasting party. Her cousin, who works for a distributor, got her a good deal on the fruit of the vine and was there to assist in the 'tasting' as the experts call it. And so there I sat, like a fish out of water, trying my hardest to look like someone I'm not, pouting because the only food available was sushi- and I won't eat anything raw. Well that and the fact that it was release day- meaning I had two fresh packs of 2011 Topps 1 in the car waiting for me to open.

What if we, as card collectors, had such parties? Would it be the 'vintage only' snobs and no one else; or, would there be some of those who are anathema to the hobby purists: those who collect modern stuff. What would one such party look like?

Appearance: Observe it- notice the colors, the use of line, photo selection. Anything about the subject stand out? How is the centering? Are there any flaws or defects from the printing process? Turn the card over- read the stats, familiarize yourself with the players biography. Is the card number easily identifiable? Notice the crude little drawing? We call that the comic.

Smell: Musty, as if it has been stored in the basement for 50 years. Perhaps it had been in a shoe-box, or maybe even some type of photo album. If you're lucky there's no distinguishable smell, as if it were pack-fresh.

Feel: Pull the cardboard out of its plastic case (we call this the top loader) and gently- GENTLY!!- run your finger over the front of the card. Notice the embossed-like crease in the card, feel the rough corner where the card was torn? Notice the slightly rounded corners, the frayed edges. You may also have a wax stain on the front or back (real- not contrived! WE DO NOT ALLOW CONTRIVED ERRORS!!!), so be sure to check closely for those.

Finish: Place the card back in its holder, re-examine it and contemplate the pure joy you just experienced. Live by the motto: Cardboard Life- Smell It, Feel It, Live It!

Of course, this card would never, ever be approved by the 'Purists'

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Base(ball) Oddity #32: Endangered Species

Once a common stadium giveaway promoting safety and public awareness, the team-issued Police sets have become an endangered species. While the 80's to 90's (and even into early 00's) were fraught with sets, I've only seen two team sets (Milwaukee and Minnesota) released in more recent years.

If you own- or have seen- any of these great oddities, then you are familiar with the words of wisdom each player (supposedly) has to say to the youth of America: Don't Do Drugs; Stay Out of Gangs; Stay in School; Report Burglars. et al.

Today's sets, were they to exist (or if?), would probably be heavy on the anti-bullying messages, domestic violence (while police officers have a much higher rate of domestic violence issues than the general population, but I digress) and anti-texting and driving messages. With the hit that the law enforcement community has taken in the media over the past nine months or so (whether it's fair or not. And I'm not trying to make a political statement), I have to wonder if we won't see these oddball sets making a comeback. Get re-connected with the community, ya know?

I never knew of this set's existence until I saw it on COMC a few weeks ago. The Avery card is the only one I know of and I haven't been able to find any information on this particular set. Can any fellow Braves fans out there in Braves Country pass along a good word regarding the 1992 PAL set?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Lucky Ed Halicki

My first encounter with today's card was accompanied with snickering. Lots of it.

It wasn't the gangly pitcher for the Giants that caused the giggles- it was his name. As you can see, it rhymes with hickey. And 'dickey.' You'll have to excuse me. I was between 10 and 11 years old at the time and things like that brought laughter. And... it reminded me of the line from the 1978 blockbuster film Grease, when Jeff Conaway's character says, "A hickey from Kenickie is like a Hallmark Card: When you care enough to send the very best." More laughter.

Halicki, who was a bit of a malcontent, was just as quotable as the Conaway character. Speaking about Giants GM Spec Richardson, the 6'7 righty once said, "I heard Spec was sick. Well, we have something in common. I'm sick of being in a Giants uniform." Geez, with an attitude like that, he could have been wearing the black leather T-Birds jacket.

The ten or eleven year-old ChopKeeper wasn't aware that Ed had once pitched a no-hitter during the 1975 season. No-Hitter? Who's got time for that?! This guy's name rhymes with Dickie!

The no-no was the first one in the National League since the 1973 season. Afterwards, the triumphant pitcher attributed it to luck: "A no-hitter has got to be luck. If it were skill, guys like Tom Seaver, Bob Gipson, Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan would have 20." No skill involved! Ha! I told you, a laugh a minute.

I'm guessing that the disgruntled hurler never sent a Hallmark Card to Spec when the GM was ill. Had he cared enough and wanted to send the very best, then surely a copy of this Topps card would have been sent instead.