Monday, July 22, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 10 - 1985 Topps Andy Van Slyke

Before Whitey Herzog turned Jose Oquendo into a super utility player, he tried something similar with Andy Van Slyke during the 1984 season.  While he did not appear as a middle infielder, pitcher, or catcher, Van Slyke started games at every outfield spot along with the two corner infield position during both the 1983 and 1984 season.

A little odd considering Van Slyke was such a good defensive outfielder. 

Maybe just trying to find Van Slyke some extra at bats.  Either way, Topps listed Van Slyke as a third baseman on his 1985 Topps card even though he started more games as an outfielder, and the Cardinals played Terry Pendleton as the regular third baseman during the second half of the 1984 season.  

Beyond the curious position listing on the card, Van Slyke's 1985 Topps card is also one of my favorite powder blue uniformed cards from the 1980s.  His 1984 Topps card also has an action shot of Van Slyke in a powder blue, but he is looking up like a popped out to the first baseman.  This looks like it has some hopes of being a hit.  

It's a nice photograph.  I like George Hendrick standing in the background too.  No socks showing.  

Back of the card.  The trivia question is a tough.  

I like that Van Slyke was still young enough that you can see all of his Minor League stats on the back of the card.  Scott Van Slyke was born in 1986.  The son mentioned on this card is A.J. who played baseball at the University of Kansas, and was in the Cardinals Minor League system for awhile in the early 2000s.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Nice Card. Not A Nice Person.

I am down to my last few days of summer break.  It seems like school just ended, but my workdays start up again next week, and I have a new set of students in two weeks.  Still have a few more older Durham Bulls players to post before the new school year starts. 

My post today is actually a former manager of the Bulls Ben Chapman, who was a very good player with the 1930s Yankees.  Chapman is also one of the more infamous villains in the sport of baseball, whose notoriety has been renewed by a recently released movie.  The card is actually a coach card, but it is from one of the all-time great sets.

Love the 1952 Topps set.  

I picked this up at a small antique store while wandering the countryside during my break from school.  I actually had to go look this card up and make sure that there was not another Ben Chapman when I first saw this card.  Chapman looks young in the picture, I had my doubts that this was the same person.

This is well past his playing days, and also after his wildly unsuccessful stint as the manager of the Phillies during the late 1940s.  If you have ever seen the movie "42", he was the racist manager of the Phillies.  According to players from his era, Chapman could make "make Ty Cobb blush" with the level of trash talk he engaged in on the field.  Given the changing demographics of the game during that era, it's of little surprise that Chapman never got a Major League managing job after the Phillies fired him.   

The Reds hired him as a third base coach for the 1952 season, after he had managed a few years in the Minors.  The Bulls are not mentioned by name on the back of the coaches card, but he worked in Durham in between his stint with the Phillies and the Reds.  

Chapman did not last a full season coaching with the Reds.  He resigned in early August when Rogers Hornsby decided to manage and coach third base at the same time.  Chapman went on to spend the majority of his time after baseball selling insurance in Alabama.  

As for his attachment to Jackie Robinson, I think that perhaps Mr. Chapman learned to be a better person somewhere along the way. According to some different interviews and articles floating around, he was a different person later on in life.  He volunteered to talk to minority groups around Alabama about baseball, and seemed proud of the fact that he had raised his own children to have a different view point of the world than his own.  We can only hope.  

Monday, July 15, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 9- 1988 Fleer Doug DeCinces

Not really a player you'd put on the Cardinals.  

DeCinces played fifteen years between the Orioles and Angels.  Not a Hall of Famer, but a good everyday third baseman for most of the 1970s and 1980s.  He was an All-Star, won a Silver Slugger, and once had a top five MVP finish in 1982.  

He also appeared in 4 games for the 1987 Cardinals.  

The Cardinals were without Jack Clark and Terry Pendleton for parts of the final two weeks of the 1987 season, and DeCinces had been released by the Angels.  The Cardinals needed a power hitter to bridge them over the playoffs, and DeCinces got signed by the team towards the end of September.  He was not eligible for the Postseason, and the team actually released him in the middle of the National League Championship Series a few weeks after he was first signed.  

The Cardinals used a bunch of different players at third during the Postseason.  

They did alright.  

Not sure how Doug ended up with a Cardinals card with just 9 at bats in a two weeks period of time, with his release coming afterwards.  Seems like an odd choice to put into the set, but here we are with a card to remember his time with the Cardinals. 

Doug went on to plead guilty to insider trading, and paid a bunch of fines with the SEC to avoid time in jail.  He also agreed to work as a cooperating witness in another insider trading case.  That's sweet.  

A good movie from 1988.  Bettlejuice.  Bettlejuice.  


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Bland Mayo

Another night, and another old pair of cards connected to the Durham Bulls.  Last weekend I picked up two cards of longtime Reds farmhand Mayo Smith.  He appeared for the Bulls during the summer of 1936 staring alongside Frank McCormick and Johnny Vander Meer.   They went on to be a little bit better than Mayo.

Mayo Smith actually appeared in 73 games for the Philadelphia A's during the 1945 season, but he was better known for his time as a manager. 

You've never heard of him? 

He was better known as a manager.  Mayo Smith managed the Phillies and Reds during the 1950s, and moved on to manage the Tigers for a few years in the late 1960s.  His best year as a manager was easily 1968, but he was not really a standout member of the team.  Hard to believe the manager could fly under the radar, but he was described in Jerry Green's book about the 68 World Series winner as, "a bland man without any imagination"


Still, Topps threw him into some baseball card sets.  I could have gone with some Tigers cards, I will get there, but the 1950s cards were a little more intriguing.  I ended up with a copy of his 1955 and 1956 Topps cards. 

The 1955 Topps is up first.  I find the right side picture interesting on this card, that Smith is shown in a player pose instead of something to do with managing.  The only other managers card I have in this set is the Ed Stanky card, he was the Cardinals manager, and he is shown pointing, like he's giving a sign.  Just an interesting quirk. 


Same picture on the left side of the 1956 Topps as his 1955 card.  Topps made his other picture on the right more fitting for a manager, but the pose looks a little ridiculous.  Is that a stop sign?  His arms look enormous. 

Mayo may of been a really dull manager, but I really like his cards.  Maybe some Tigers cards the next time I make a post about him. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Something Different

At the beginning of the year I made a post all about the different goals that I was going to achieve collecting baseball cards this year.  One of my goals this year was to put together four or five different sets.  It has not really happened.  I am feeling done with sets at this point.  I am almost sure I have finished Topps Series 1.  I thought about working on a Bowman set until it actually came out, and prospectors started throwing around crazy amounts of money.  

The Stadium Club cards look nice, so maybe that will be a set I put together, but I am still not sure.  These are nice.....

So, single cards.  I have decided to give myself a little focus, and do something a little different with finding my single cards the rest of the year.  Sure, there will be plenty of the usual modern cards with autographs, Cardinals cards, and Durham Bulls cards on here.  Just going to spend a little bit of time finding some older cards.  That means different things with my Cardinals and Durham Bulls collections.  

Let's do the Durham Bulls for this post.  

I want some old Durham Bulls cards.  The team has been around since 1902 and there have been plenty of notable players who have appeared in Durham prior to some of the more modern cards that I post in this space.  I have posted a few cards from the 1950s and 60s, but not much from before that time.  

I want to do more with older Durham Bulls cards, but more outside of the single card posts I do about a former player.  I recently found two older Bulls cards last week.  Pretty nice cards from the 1940 Play Ball set. 

First up is former Bulls pitcher Mace Brown.  I have not written about him before, so he definitely deserves a post at some point.  He played for the Bulls in 1931 after graduating from the University of Iowa, and eventually ended up playing for the Pirates and Red Sox.  Brown was one of the first full time relief pitchers, and also spent time working for the Red Sox after he retired as a player.  More on Brown on a different day.  Love this card.  

Next up a little bit more consequential player.  

"Buck" McCormick is actually Frank McCormick who was the National League MVP in 1940 with the Cincinnati Reds.  He had played for the Bulls while he was in the Minors, and went on to become one of the better hitters in baseball during the late 1930s and early 1940s.  

I like the little pennant up in the top left corner of the card.  The Reds went to the World Series in both 1939 and 1940 with McCormick as their main offensive cog.  The 1939 team lost to the Yankees, but the 1940 defeated the Tigers.  Great card that will look nicely in my small collection of Frank McCormick cards.  

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A 1980s Card Part 8: 1986 Topps Traded Jose Oquendo

One of my favorite 1980s and 1990s Cardinals players.  Jose Oquendo did not make any All-Star games, or win any awards.  He was just a fun player to watch.  The Cardinals picked him up from the Mets in a trade at the beginning of the 1985 season.  I have seen different people put him in the Keith Hernandez trade, but that did not happen.

Hernandez and Oquendo were both starting infielders on the 1984 Mets.

Oquendo was the shortstop, Hernandez was the first baseman.  

The trade that brought Jose over from the Mets was really just a swap of light hitting utility infielders.  The Cardinals got Oquendo, the Mets got Angel Salazar.  

Jose was a bench player in 1986, but got a bigger role during the 1987 season.  He was dubbed "The Secret Weapon".  He played every single position outside of catcher for the National League Champions.  In fact, he started a game at each one of those positions outside of pitcher.  A unique player, who also contributed to the team that season on offense.  

Easily my favorite Oquendo moment as a Cardinal.  

The 1986 Topps Traded card was Oquendo's first appearance in a Cardinals uniform.  The building in the background was a part of the Cardinals Spring Training facility and shows up in a ton of 1980s Topps cards.  

Back of the card.  

Pretty standard card back with the brighter colors on the traded card.  Had to find where Grays Harbor was, and when they had a team.  They were a Mets team in the Northwest League that allowed Bill Murray to play a game for the team in 1979. 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Some Minor Cards

It's been really hard to watch the Cardinals this season.  The pitching has been a bit of a disappointment.  The offense has been a bit of a disappointment.  Yes, they are 2 games out of first, but it is just simply because all the other teams in the N.L. Central are also bad.  All the badness makes it difficult to look at Cardinals cards.

I have not touched anything in Pro Debut, so I decided to work on finding a few Cardinals cards from the set.  These are not the Cardinals players that have been disappointing me on a seemingly nightly basis.  I am looking at you Kolten Wong.

I found three new cards.  

This is the best of the three cards.  Nolan Gorman was their first round pick last year (2018) and has hit throughout his first year in the Minors.  I am not sure if he is rated as the Cardinals best prospect, but if he is not he will be soon.  His autographs been a little pricy at times, but this one is reasonable.  I have been trying to slowly add a few of his cards, but price is a bit of a factor at this point.

Not sure about Elehuris.  People are crazy about him.  He's only 20.  He's hit everywhere he has played prior to this season.  Elehuris has been injured most of this season, but he's already on the Cardinals Double A team in Springfield.  His Bowman cards have been crazy expensive, but this one was less than $10.  Seems like a good risk.

Last one.

I saw Luken Baker play for the USA Baseball College National Team.  He has a lot of power, and also has a lot of injuries.  Really cheap card, if nothing else I picked up an autograph of a player I watched in person.  If he makes it to the Majors, I will be pleasantly surprised.