Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pack 18 - Halfway Home.

Pack 18 +12
395 Steve Bedrosian
442 Willie McGee
126 Bo Jackson
172 Don Slaught
34 Mike Greenwell
310 Ron Oester
255 Tom Lawless
302 Rick Mahler
199 Glen Hubbard
181 Rickey Henderson
408 Curt Ford
318 Mark Portugal

Here we are at the halfway point. This is actually a really good day for the mid point of the box. To celebrate Opening Night 2009, I can start opening the second half of the box.

Pack number 36 will be opened on April 22. That day coincides with the final game of a three game series between the Braves and Nationals in DC. My prediction: At the end of play on April 22, the Braves will be 9-6. There it is, I'm sticking to it.

As to today's cards. Nothing great, but I did get the other new Hall of Famer.

Not much more to say.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pack Seventeen

Pack 17 +12
307 Bo Diaz
417 Mike LaValliere
370 Dave Martinez
374 Randy Myers
35 Dwight Evans
83 Andy Allanson
349 John Shelby
104 Al Pedrique
382 Tim Teufel
234 Rick Leach
134 Chris Bosio
180 Stan Jefferson

Not much in the way of interesting cards today. There's not a single player in this pack that made me scratch my head and ask "who?" Rick Leach threw me at first, but then I started thinking "didn't he play for the Giants?" I'm not entirely sure how I remembered that, but a check at Baseball Reference shows that he did play for the Giants in 1990.

I remember an obscure baseball player because he played for the Giants for one season 19 years ago and I can't remember to take my shopping list with me to the grocery store. grrr

This box's fascination with death continues here with Bo Diaz, who was memorably killed in a satellite dish accident.

The only point of interest in this pack was the reprint card:

1953 Bowman Mickey Mantle. With this card, I'm only one card short of having all the reprints. Interestingly enough the last reprint is also a Mantle (his '51 rookie card). Even in 1989 Topps was flooding the market with Mickey Mantle.

Pack Sixteen

Pack 16 +12
89 Cory Snyder
473 Robby Thompson
450 Dennis Rasmussen
305 Rob Dibble
320 Jim Deshaies
29 Luis Rivera
178 Steve Sax
84 Pete O’Brien
391 Mike Maddux
433 John Ericks
292 Curt Wilkerson
296 Mitch Webster

I didn't mean for this to be so late, I've gotten hooked on Guitar Hero again. Hopefully I'll be getting my grubby little hands on the Metallica Guitar Hero for Wii sometime soon... actually, the money I'm saving for a box of Heritage may/probably/very likely will go into that game.

I started playing yesterday afternoon and the next thing I knew it was 3:30am, then today I had every intention of watching the Simpsons re-runs at 5pm and then it was 10:30. D'oh.

Anyhoo, cards... Nothing much to speak of today. I saw Maddux and was hoping for Greg, but it was just the Rangers pitching coach. Oh well.

For that very reason I feel sorry for Mike Maddux. He didn't have the kind of career that his brother did, but he played Major League Baseball for fifteen seasons and now he's a pitching coach at the Major League level. There aren't a lot of people who can say that about their life. That's pretty damn special, no matter who your brother is.

Since Bowman's focus today is on draft picks and prospects, from this point forward, unless I have something important to say, the main feature of this site will be the rookies. It should be fun to look at guys that very few of us have ever heard of.

Today, I give you John Ericks.

Ericks was the 22nd pick in the first round of the June 1988 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals out of the University of Illinois. He pitched relatively well through the end of the 1990 season, with his best year coming in 1989. That year, pitching for Savannah of the South Atlantic League, he went 11-10 with a 2.04 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 211 strikeouts in just over 167 innings of work. Not too shabby.

Things started going downhill for him in 1991 when he went 5-14 with a 4.77 ERA for Double-A Arkansas in the Texas league. 1992 wasn't a whole lot better and he was released on September 8.

The Pirates picked him up on February 12, 1993 but he didn't pitch in the Pirates orginazation until the 1994 season. He finished the '94 season at Double-A Carolina of the Southern League.

He began the 1995 season at Triple-A Calgary but on June 24, 1995 he made his Major League debut as the Pirates starter against the Expos. He pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs (all earned), five hits, struck out two and walked two. He gave up his first Major League home run in the bottom of the first to David Segui with a runner on first.

His first win was a solid performance against the Phillies on July 4, 1995. In seven innings of work he gave up four hits, no runs, and struck out eight. Four days later he pitched the only complete game of his Major League career against the Mets.

He spent some time in the minors in both '96 and '97, and was used mostly out of the bullpen at the Major League level those years. He was granted free agency on October 15, 1997 and signed with the Cleveland Indians on January 8, 1998 but never pitched for them at any level.

His Major League stat line reads (for three season): 8-14, 4.78 ERA, 132 strikeouts.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pack Fifteen

Pack 15 +6
(duplicates are indicated by bold text)
226 Jeff Russell
347 Mickey Hatcher
460 John Kruk
257 Jesse Barfield
242 Todd Stottlemyer
238 Pete Incaviglia

59 Melido Perez
479 Tracy Jones
162 Kirby Puckett
397 Larry McWilliams
20 Tom Fischer
447 Donell Nixon

Here's the second pack with a large block of doubles, these are from pack twelve. Doubles don't bother me, but when there's six of them in a pack of twelve cards, especially when I'm less than half way through the set I get irritated.

I can't really complain too much because I've opened fifteen packs so far and only two contained doubles, but in those two packs I've essentially lost an entire pack because half of each were doubles.

In the end, I'm just thankful that collation in 2009 is much better than it was twenty years ago. I look at '09 Heritage, it's comparable in size to '89 Bowman (500 in Heritage, 484 in Bowman) and out of two blasters I have no doubles.

But whatever, onto the cards...

This box is getting a bit morbid. For the third day in a row, I've pulled a card of someone who is no longer with us. This time it's a Hall of Famer.

What could he have done with another six or seven years? I don't think 350 home runs would have been out of line, 1800 RBIs.

We'll unfortunately never know. But what he did accomplish in his 12 seasons was nothing short of greatness and he was deserving of the Hall of Fame.

Moving on.

Eric Show's picture was creepy, this one is just flat out horrible. It looks to have been taken on a high school field and judging from the position of his bottom lip, he's about to say something that rhymes with "duck pew" to the camera man.

What can we say about Tom Fischer? He was the 12th pick in the first round of the June 1988 draft by the Red Sox out of the University of Wisconsin. His minor league numbers aren't great, but they're not really terrible either. He was one game under .500 for his career (41-42) and struck out 468 batters in 643.2 innings of work. Certainly not terrible. I'm a bit surprised that he never got a chance to pitch at the Major League level, especially considering how bad the Red Sox were in '92 and '93 (years where Fischer was playing in either Double- or Triple-A). His ERA was on the high side though.

He ended his career after the 1993 season with Double-A New Britain.

At some point, I'll have to go through this set and find out how many players never made it to the Majors.

Pack Fourteen

Pack 14 +12
219 Jay Buhner
25 Bob Stanley
105 Alan Trammell
113 Jeff Montgomery
421 Jose Lind
1 Oswald Peraza
434 Frank DiPino
205 Mark Langston
236 Cecil Espy
475 Ernie Riles
153 Johnny Ard
8 Bob Melvin

Not really a whole lot to talk about tonight. But let's at least look at the rookie of the pack, Johnny Ard.

Johnny Ard was the 20th pick in the first round of the 1988 June draft by the Minnesota Twins out of Manatee Community College.

He pitched in the Twins system until after the 1990 season when he went to the Giants system to finish out his career.

His minor league numbers are pretty good overall, but he never got a chance to pitch at the Major League level. In six seasons he put together a 49-33 record with 485 strikeouts and a 3.54 ERA. He ended his career after the 1993 season with the Double-A Shreveport Captains of the Texas League.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Pack Thirteen

Pack 13 +12
446 Eric Show
251 Kelly Gruber
161 Greg Gagne
50 Chili Davis
342 Mike Scioscia
78 Doug James
461 Tony Gwynn
61 Jack McDowell
225 Nolan Ryan
334 Cameron Drew
287 Lloyd McClendon
228 Julio Franco

This pack 13 was a lot better than my last pack 13. At least this time I have no expectations of being able to complete the set out of this box.

Today we get a very nice reprint card. Everytime I see pictures or hear stories about this guy, I just think what could have been...

What could he have done had he spent his prime in the Major Leagues? Records from the Negro Leagues are so spotty in some places that today it's hard to get a real good idea of just how well he really pitched. The stories about him are amazing, and more than anything else, it's unfortunate that better records don't exist.

I won't debate the racial issue in baseball at the time. Looking back at it nearly 60 years later it seems wrong that the color of someone's skin kept them out of the game. But it's hard to say that they were wrong in doing so because they were following society's lead. The world is a much different place today. We're still a long way away from settling our racial problems, and we won't settle them until people of all races realize how stupid it is.

The game of baseball is of course a lot better off now than it was before integration and knowing what we know now, and thinking the way we as a society do now, segregation wouldn't have lasted very long. But the fact still remains that baseball was racially segregated and a lot of people missed out on seeing some great players. And a lot of great players missed a chance to proove themselves at a national level and in the end a lot of careers have been lost because of substandard record keeping.

I've been interested in Negro League ball ever since watching the Ken Burns Baseball documentary back in the early 90s. Their style of play was exciting and their uniforms were a lot more interesting. Us white folk don't know how to wear brightly colored uniforms.

One of my favorite things on my baseball shelf is a replica of a 1938 Philadelphia Stars cap.

It's between my old Braves hat (I really should get a new one), and a replica 1914 Chicago Cubs road hat. Next to the old Cubbies hat is a Hickory Crawdads hat that I got at one of my many trips to LP Frans stadium in the late 90s. I'm hoping to ad an Asheville Tourists cap to the shelf this year. Not seen in the picture is a modern Cubs hat and a Baltimore Orioles cap that I got at Camden Yards back in '97.

Ok... I didn't intend for that section of the post to be that long. Oh well. Let's more on to the rest of the pack now.

I've said before that I deem a pack successful if it includes a Hall of Famer. When a pack gives me one of my favorite players, it's also a success. So far, of the first thirteen packs, this one has been by far the best. Not only did we get a Hall of Famer, who happens to be one of my very favorite players of all time, I also pulled another of my all time favorites.

I'll start with the Hall of Famer first.

Next to Cal Ripken, there's not another player in the history of baseball that I have more respect for or like more than Tony Gwynn. He played for twenty years with one team, he played the game the way it was meant to be played, and he was fun to watch and watching him you knew he was having a lot of fun playing.

The only times I didn't enjoy seeing Gwynn play was when it was against the Braves. Tony Gwynn batted against Greg Maddux more than any other pitcher, 103 plate appearances. His stat line against Maddux reads .429/.485/.538 with a 1.023 OPS, with 10 walks, 9 RBIs and no strike outs.

He batted .312 against Glavine with only two strikeouts, .462/.482/.738 with 12 RBIs and two home runs against Smoltz, and .357 against Steve Avery.

And this is yet another Padre where the signature is nearly unreadable.

It'll be a long time before we see another player like Tony Gwynn.

Up next is another of my favorite players.

I'm still all for Julio making the Hall of Fame. He'd get my vote. Maybe when the time comes, I'll sit outside Cooperstown and lobby for him.

The next card I want to show for two reasons.

First, this is a Padre with a readable signature. So they're not all that bad.

But, the combination of the pose and the facial expression make this a highly disturbing card. He either looks like a used card salesman, or a pedophile. I'm having a hard time deciding which.

Also, this is the second pack in a row with a player who died well before his time because of substance abuse (we saw Frank Williams yesterday).

This was a lot longer than I had intended, so I'll stop here. Check out 1988 Score, for the first post in a series about the Rookie Prospects of 88 Score.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pack Twelve

Pack 12 +12
226 Jeff Russell
347 Mickey Hatcher
460 John Kruk
257 Jesse Barfield
242 Todd Stottlemyer
238 Pete Incaviglia
183 Roberto Kelly
355 Kevin Gross
449 Eddie Whitson
376 Doc Gooden
206 Erik Hanson
100 Frank Williams

First we'll have a look at today's reprint card.

1951 Bowman Whitey Ford. Something went horribly, horribly wrong here. It looks a little like Whitey, but the hat is terrible. There are lumps where there shouldn't be lumps and the logo is too high. I know it's not possible to perfectly recreate a photograph, but look at the Willie Mays card, it's beautiful. Whitey just didn't fare too well (I'm sure there's some sort of racial joke to be made there if you really try).

Moving right along, to a sad note.

It was no secret that Frank Williams had problems since the end of his relatively short career. I didn't realize that he died in January at the age of 50. Here's an article written in 2007 about his time on the streets, and another just after his death.

And next is a story just about as tragic, but without the unhappy ending.

What could he have done without drugs and injuries? 300 wins? Hall of Fame?

Not a bad pack and no doubles. Hopefully yesterday's pack was a fluke.