Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Return of Beer League Softball: My Favorite Frankenset Card by Page; Page 9 (Cards 82-90)

We haven't been deprived of all sporting options here in Fargo this summer. I am fairly certain slow pitch softball leagues are in action here, but it's probably been close to a decade since I played so I can't say for certain. I do know, however, that since early this month, we've had the rare sight of minor league baseball here. The American Association, home to our Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, is an independent minor league, so it was not impacted by the cancellation of the MILB season. There are only six teams in action this season (vs. the usual 12), and games are happening in just three cities, Fargo being one of them. The other two cities are Franklin, WI, a suburb of Milwaukee, and Sioux Falls, SD. The goal was to play in areas where COVID cases haven't been as prevalent. 

The #1 card today looks like it came straight out of a slow pitch game, so that's what prompted me to give an update on our unique baseball situation here. Now let's jump into the countdown:

3) 2017 Panini Chronicles #83, Bartolo Colon

Colon made pit stops in Atlanta and Minnesota in 2017 before finishing his major league career with the Rangers in 2018. Big Sexy put together a 5 and 6 record with the Twins, a 5.18 ERA, and 0.3 WAR over 15 starts in Minnesota. An underwhelming card, but there aren't many out there showing Colon with Minnesota. I think this set would have benefitted from looking into a newspaper theme of some sort. I think that has worked well on other cards. 

2) 1991 Classic Best #90, Mickey Rivers Jr.

The lesser-known Rivers topped out as a member of the Class A+ Winter Haven Red Sox, the team he is featured with on this card. Can you see the "W" and the "H" on the hat? Not sure if they are big enough, so thought I would point them out. Anyway, 1991 was the younger Rivers' last year in organized baseball. He hit .208 for Winter Haven over 71 games.

1) 1992 Donruss #86, Pete O'Brien

This is a sneaky-cool card in my opinion. It looks like it's straight out of a custom-made set put together by the Seattle Beer League Softball Association. You've got the spring training or practice jersey or whatever that is, then there's the mullet, and when you add the glasses it just fits so well together, doesn't it? I can just see Pete and his teammates cracking Budweisers in the parking lot after the game. 

With page 9 of the Frankenset in the books, it's time to look at the top categories for the cards we've seen so far:

Lesser Known:4.5
Odd Team:4
Pitcher Hitting:3
Field Action - Awkward:2
Equipment Oddity:1
Facial Expression - In Action:1
Field Action Fail:1
Pitcher Running Bases:1
Position Player Pitching:1
Why is he bunting?:0.5
Funny Name/Nickname:0.5

What was your favorite card from page 9? Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

See Other Side for More Fun

In building my Frankenset, I made a rule fairly early on: the card had to qualify based on the front of the card alone. I wanted it to be apparent looking at the front of each card why it belonged in the set. I always thought this was a good decision, but wondered about those pesky card backs. Because there are some good ones out there. Where do they fit into the Frankenset world I have created? There must be a place for them somewhere.

Then it hit me. It happened a few weeks ago when I was looking at the gallery view on an early 90s Upper Deck set on TCDB. I was searching for card numbers that might fit my Frankenset, so I went to the gallery view to get a good look at the front of the cards. But right next to the front of the card is an image of the back. I noticed some really interesting ones and planned to go through some of my own that I already had to see what I could find. And what did I find? Plenty of material for ANOTHER Frankenset. A Frankenset just focused on the backs of the cards.

Now with two young children at home, I don't have much time for anything much less tracking and hunting down cards for another Frankenset, so I'm going to start slow. Here, I am going to feature some of the cards that inspired me to go down this path, in addition to some others I have found so far. Some of the cards fit the existing categories in my main Frankenset, but with card backs, you have more written material to work with, so there will be some new avenues to explore, which is exciting.

Two cards right off the bat that I really enjoyed were this Mickey Hatcher card and this Luis Polonia card where he is being harassed by, I am assuming, Lance Parrish's son. 

1991 Upper Deck #666, Mickey Hatcher

1992 Upper Deck #147, Luis Polonia

These are both fantastic. If you didn't catch it, Hatcher is experiencing a hot foot. The front of the Hatcher card also made it qualify for my regular Frankenset. Luckily I have two copies.

Another category I found was cards describing players in much too-glowing ways. I found this example fairly absurd:

2001 Topps #183, David Segui

Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Thomas, Albert Pujols, David Segui. Umm...no. 

Then there was the flipside. Cards basically bashing the player's abilities in one way or another. 

1991 Score #153, Mickey Hatcher

There's Hatcher again. Ol' gray haired, bad kneed Mickey. At least some compliments followed.

Another fun one was Dave LaPoint ripping himself with a classic line.

1990 Score #357, Dave LaPoint

A body made for bowling. I can relate. 

A final category that I enjoy is random facts on the backs of cards.

1992 Topps #18, Greg Cadaret

Greg Cadaret enjoys Huey Lewis? Who doesn't?!

Another random fact comes from the 1991 Topps card of Mickey Tettleton, who I found out was nicknamed "Froot Loops" in researching a previous post. Now I know why.

1991 Topps #385, Mickey Tettleton

I'm looking forward to finding more of these diamonds in the rough, but it might take a while to put together a full set. I have probably about 200 so far, and don't have that many more cards to look through here at home. But like I said, I don't have time to work on it anyway! 

Saturday, July 18, 2020

My Favorite Frankenset Card by Page; Page 8 (Cards 73 - 81)

It's time for another installment of my favorite Frankenset card (by page), where I show off my Frankenset by giving you my top three favorite cards from each page of the set. Let's jump right in.

3) 1993 Donruss #78, Damon Berryhill

I have what I suppose is a perverse love of cards showing failure and pain. This is one of them. My guess is this photo captures a moment right after a strikeout. 

2) 1992 Donruss Triple Play #80, Roger McDowell

Legendary jokester Roger McDowell has several unique cards, and this is one of them. Here, McDowell is shown bringing the lineup card out to the umpires while wearing a tool belt and a conspicuously large piece of sandpaper in his back pocket. Also note the sandpaper wrapped around his socks. By all accounts, the guy kept things interesting.

1) 2001 Fleer Futures #81, Tom Glavine

There are at least a few cards featuring Tom Glavine batting, which shouldn't be too surprising considering he played 22 seasons in the major leagues. I really like this one, courtesy of a nice set called Fleer Futures. Any guesses on Tom Glavine's career batting average? (Answer below.) 

With page eight now in the books, I thought I would start a standings section at the end of these posts tracking the Frankenset categories these cards fit into. For this post, we have an "Field Action Fail" with the Berryhill, a "Field Action - Awkward" with the McDowell, and a pitcher hitting with the Glavine. If a card happens to fit more than one category, I take the top two categories that made it qualify for the Frankenset, then split it into half points. I went back and calculated the previous seven pages, so after eight pages, here's what we've seen:

Category  Points
Lesser Known: 3.5
Glasses: 3
Mustache: 3
Odd Team: 3
Pitcher Hitting: 3
Field Action - Awkward: 2
Equipment Oddity: 1
Facial Expression - In Action: 1
Field Action Fail: 1
Pitcher Running Bases: 1
Position Player Pitching: 1
Why is he bunting?: 0.5
Chew: 0.5
Funny Name/Nickname: 0.5

Tom Glavine's career batting line:
  • 1323 at-bats
  • .186 BA
  • 1 HR
  • 90 RBI
  • .454 OPS

What was your favorite card from page 8? The Berryhill fail? The McDowell shenanigans? Or the Glavine follow-through?

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A Vegetable, a War Hero, and Julius Caesar: Donruss Names Series Part 5

My middle name is John. Solid saint name, but not particularly exciting. Luckily for us, some baseball players have quite interesting middle names, and I'm going to give you seven of them in today's post.

In the first installment of the Donruss Names Series, Night Owl made me aware of a post he wrote back in the twenty aughts about unique middle names as discovered on the backs of some 1975 Topps cards. The Topps company featured full player names during several different sets in the 70s. Some of those players featured in those sets of course lasted into the Donruss Full Name on the Back of the Card Era, like Jonathan Trumpbour Matlack and Vida Rochelle Blue. So because I am now aware of Night Owl's usual brilliance on the topic and knowing I cannot come near replicating it, I will present to you only new unique middle names not on his list.

This is part five of the Donruss Names Series. Here's a recap of parts one through four, which can be accessed here:

Part 1: Famous players who went by their middle name
Part 2: Players who you thought had a nickname, but their nickname was their real name
Part 3: Players with a unique first name (Part 1)
Part 4: Players with a unique first name (Part 2)

Let's dive in, looking at these unique middle names in reverse uniqueness order:

7) Mike Huff

1992 Donruss #579, Mike Huff

I don't think of Kale as a name. I think of it as a terrible vegetable.

6) Gary Sheffield

1990 Donruss #501, Gary Sheffield

Antonian seems to come from Anthony and there are some historic references on it, but nothing really stands out. I just thought it seemed unique. Bonus points if you can tell me what the ad on the front of the card is for, because I have no idea.

5) Doyle Alexander

1984 Donruss #439, Doyle Alexander

The historical figure, the Marquis de Lafayette, was a French military officer who came to America to direct American troops in the Revolutionary War against the British. Donruss would have had a hard time getting his full name on a baseball card: Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette. 

Do you think Doyle every felt strange playing for a city in a nation subject to the British? Like he let the ol' namesake down?

4) Tom Candiotti

1990 Donruss #256, Tom Candiotti

Candiotti played 16 years and racked up 151 wins in his career. Tom Caesar sounds a lot like Tom Seaver. That's all I've got.

3) Barbaro Garbey

1985 Donruss #456, Barbaro Garbey

The Garbey Garbey made me think of Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former U.N. Secretary General. When I think double names, I also always think of the quote "the guy so nice, they named him twice," which I guess is a reference to the eccentric radio station owner Jimmy James (James James) from the sitcom NewsRadio from the 90s. Jimmy James was played by Stephen Root, who you might remember better as Milton from Office Space. Another interesting fact from the card back: Garbey came to the U.S. as a refugee during the Freedom Flotilla from Cuba in 1980. 

2) Cecil Cooper

1981 Donruss #83, Cecil Cooper

Celester likely derives from the Latin caelestis, meaning heavenly. That 1980 stat line was out of this world, so let's say it works. 

1) Mike Lum

1982 Donruss #300, Mike Lum

A unique middle name and an interesting back story. Lum was the first American of Japanese ancestry to play in MLB. His mother was Japanese and his father was an American soldier. They gave him up for adoption, and he was adopted by a Chinese couple who gave him his name. (Source: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/mike-lum/) I

Hope you got a good dose of random from today's post! And were at least moderately entertained. What was your favorite middle name of the bunch?

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Hollywood Connection: My Favorite Frankenset Card by Page; Page 7 (Cards 64 - 72)

It's time for another installment of my favorite Frankenset card (by page), where I show off my Frankenset by giving you my top three favorite cards from each page of the Frankenset. This week's cards feature a player on an odd team and two "lesser knowns".

3) 2000 Topps #71, Tim Raines

Raines played a forgettable 58 games with the A's. I don't remember it. You probably don't either. Unless you were a big Raines or A's fan, then maybe you do. If so, kudos to you! Gotta show you the back, too, because I love seeing stat lines from a long career:

2) 1990 Bowman #68, Jose Cano

This one might be puzzling you. It's a card from one of the most boring card designs ever of a little known player standing in front of a jail or something. So, I'll give you a hint. Look at the last name again. Yep, that's Robinson's dad. The definition of a "lesser known" if there ever was one. Robbie's dad pitched in 6 big league games in 1989 and later enjoyed some moderate success playing in China. 

1) 2004 Bowman Draft #69, Ray Liotta

I don't remember how I found this card, but I saw a listing for it on a website before I saw the card itself. Despite this, when the card arrived, it still boggled my mind. I think what made it even more jarring was the fact that this Ray Liotta played in the White Sox organization. And who did the actor Ray Liotta portray in Field of Dreams? Shoeless Joe Jackson, of the White Sox. So fitting.

Random: did you know Ray Liotta married Mark Grace's ex-wife? The Graces divorced in 1993, and Ray Liotta and Michelle Grace were married from 1997 to 2004.

I'll let the back of the card answer the question that may be spinning through your head right now.

Not too surprisingly, no relation. After dominating the competition in Rookie and A ball, Ray Liotta topped out at AAA Omaha (Royals Organization) in 2009.

Which card is your favorite of this week's group?

Friday, July 3, 2020

Chico, Tino, Torey, and Ty: Donruss Names Series Part 4

Back for another installment of the Donruss Names Series. This series takes advantage of the fact that Donruss printed the player's full name on the back of their cards from 1981 to 1992. So far, this is what we've seen:

Part 1: Famous players who went by their middle name
Part 2: Players who you thought had a nickname, but their nickname was their real name
Part 3: Players with unique first names

Part 4 is another set of players with unique first names. There are some surprises here from a few all-star caliber players, along with some names I've never heard of before or since. Again, we'll proceed in what I arbitrarily deem to be reverse uniqueness order.

7) Torey Lovullo

1989 Donruss The Rookies #17 Torey Lovullo

The current manager of the Diamondbacks goes by a derivation of his first name, but instead of Sal, he opted for Torey.

6) Tino Martinez

1992 Donruss #410, Tino Martinez

His given name just doesn't have the same ring to it as Tino Martinez. 

5) Danny Tartabull

1990 Donruss #322, Danny Tartabull

There's currently a Brazilian soccer player named Danilo apparently who might be really popular. I'm not sure as soccer does not hold my interest. Danilo Gallinari is a solid NBA player from Italy. Danny Tartabull's parents are of Cuban heritage. His father, Jose, played 9 seasons in MLB.

4) Al Leiter

1990 Donruss #543, Al Leiter

The most famous Alois was probably Hitler's dad. With that in mind, Al was a very good choice. I might have even gone with Lois before Alois.  

3) Toby Harrah

1986 Donruss #159, Toby Harrah

When I typed in Colbert first name on Google to try to find the most famous Colbert, I just got a bunch of results for Stephen Colbert so I gave up. So let's call Toby Harrah the most famous Colbert.

2) Chico Walker

1992 Donruss #439, Chico Walker

Cleotha Staples, a female soul and gospel singer, is probably the most famous Cleotha. Chico was a good choice for Mr. Walker.

1) Ty Gainey

1986 Donruss #31, Ty Gainey

Tyler? Tyrus? Tyrone? Nope.

I couldn't find anyone else named Telmanch. Anyone. In fact, searching for that name brings up pretty much exclusively results of Ty Gainey, with the exception of what looked like a German site for one of the results. I typed in Telmanch in the German to English translator and struck out there, so this first name wins the uniqueness title in my book.