Pages

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Baseball, Hold The Cards

It has been a great summer.  

I really needed a break from work for a few weeks.  My in-laws live in a small town in Northern Michigan that is on Lake Huron, we took a vacation to see them for a week.  I love living in North Carolina, but there is something really nice about getting outside in the summer when the high temperatures are in the 70s and there is a giant lake nearby.  

Here were some of my views.  




Besides staring at Lake Huron and enjoying the cool air, I also had a chance to take in a little baseball.  

Before this past week, I had been able to attend a few Durham Bulls games, as well as a Carolina Mudcats game that ended up getting rained out.  My two awesome kids had gifted me tickets to a Tigers and Twins game for Father's Day a few weeks back.  I was happy to spend a weekend in Detroit and take in a Tigers game.  


I go to Michigan all the time, but it has been a few years since I last attended a Tigers game.  We usually go for Christmas.  Nobody stops to see a Lions game.  

Being the first weekend game after the All-Star Break, the Tigers had promoted the game as a second Opening Day.  They had a good list of former players signing autographs at Comerica Park before the game.  Plus there were players from the Red Wings, Lions, Pistons, and Detroit FC.  

  


I went all-in on getting an autograph of Mickey Lolich.  He was on the Durham Bulls for a few years during the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Unfortunately, the autographs were limited and I am not sure if Mickey Lolich even ended up signing.  


I will hold onto my baseball for another day.  

In the meantime, there was a baseball game between the Tigers and Twins.  Plus, I got to spend time walking around Comerica Park, which is very nice.  If you are near Detroit and have some extra time, it's worth a visit.  

It seemingly never makes those "Best Ballparks" lists.  Is there another stadium with better entrance gates?  I would have to say the answer is no, but I also have not been to all the other stadiums.  The giant Tigers and baseball bats are what immediately catch the eye, but the walls around the gates have blue and orange tile.  


It's impressive.  

This is my panoramic shot from behind home plate.  


I like the view into downtown Detroit beyond the wall.  

The concourses were fun to walk around.  The Tigers were an original American League team, founded in 1901, and have had their fair share of good players and teams.  They have done a nice job of highlighting the history of the franchise with these kiosk-looking displays that are broken down by decades.  




Small detail, but neat considering it's Detroit.  Each of the kiosks is mounted on a set of automobile tires that match the automotive-style of the time period.  The 1960s has whitewall tires with plain hub caps.  I was not alive in the 1960s, but I am going to trust the Tigers that those were stylish at the time.  

I was trying to figure out the player on one of the 1990s banners.  


Pretty lean decade for the Tigers.  I would have gone with Cecil Fielder if I were choosing the player.  I was hoping this might be a slimmed-down Bob Hamelin, but I think it might actually be Dave Bergman.  He's more of a 1980s Tiger, but I know he is a popular player in those parts and played into the 1990s.  


They had a photo of Juan Gonzalez is one of the displays. Shout out to the Tigers for not sugar-coating your team's history, even when the teams were not very good.  It's not the Tigers' fault they cashed in their Minor League system the same year that a certain player decided not to use steroids anymore.  

Paws, the Tigers mascot, was also on the concourse before the game.  


He took a picture with my son, in spite of the fact that I wore a Cardinals shirt to the game.  I am pretty sure he was making fun of my shirt after the picture.  It's hard to do when you can't talk.  Maybe he was just pointing me to the team store.  

On to the game.  

I was happy to see Miguel Cabrera again.  I saw him early in his career while he was with the Marlins, also during his prime with the Tigers.  Miggy may be old and his numbers are down, but he is still a fan favorite.  


Cabrera hit a long, loud foul, along with a long loud fly out to the deepest part of the park.  More on Miggy's night later in the post.  Here is the long foul ball hit against Kenta Maeda in the first inning. 


The Tigers have a lot of young players at the moment.  I really enjoyed watching Akil Badoo.  He is a fun player, reminds me of someone who could have been on the 1980s Cardinals team.  Gap hitter with a ton of speed, which should play well in Comerica Park.  The outfield dimensions are huge.  

Here is a picture of Akil that I took in the third inning.  


The at-bat ended well for him.  He hit a bases-clearing triple to give the Tigers the lead.  



Definitely going to have to find a few Akil Badoo cards for the collection.  

In the end, the Tigers ended up winning the game on a single from Miguel Cabrera in extra innings.  

 


The Twins really did not defense that very well. 

Anyway, vacation is ending soon and I am back to teaching.  Hopefully, I can squeeze in a few more Minor League games before the season ends in September.   Might have to squeeze the Durham Bulls games into one large post.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Random Ray - 1998 Collector's Choice

I don't care what people say about Collector's Choice, I loved these cards back in the 1990s.  They were cheap retail cards that were often seen as a kid-friendly product.  I was in high school and college when Upper Deck was cranking out these sets.  I liked that the Collector's Choice sets were large and featured a lot of different players from the different teams.  There were quite a few 1990s Cardinals players who managed to make the checklist of Collector's Choice but never appeared in the Topps base set.  

Loved those mail-in home run cards too.  

I picked out the 1998 Collector's Choice card for today's Random Ray post but will get around to the others in time.  Players who reached the All-Star Game were given cards with gray borders and a little logo in the top corner of the card.  Ray Lankford only made the All-Star Game once in his career in 1997, which meant that the 1998 Collector's Choice card got the special treatment.  

(Sparkling sound) 





Nice action shot of Ray Lankford hitting in Coors Field.  This card was in Series 2 of the Collector's Choice, so it came out in June.  You can tell the photograph on the card was taken in 1998 because there is no number on the front of the jersey.  I love cards where you can trace the photograph back to a specific game.  

The Cardinals played the Rockies during the second week of the 1998 season in Denver.  The first game of the series was a day game, also the Rockies home opener.  It was a controversial game that was decided on a key play that involved Ray Lankford.  Woody Paige, from ESPN and Denver Post fame.....




had a write-up of the play and also made an offer to take a drug test to prove his version of the play was correct.  

From the April 9th, 1998 Denver Post.....  

"St. Louis' Ray Lankford made an extraordinary catch at knee level. Helton tagged at third while Castilla blew past second base. Helton slowed on his path to home and hollered for Castilla to return. The ball, meanwhile, was relayed to first base to get Castilla, but not until after Helton had scored.

Even though the inning was over on the double play, the score should have been 12-10. The Rockies scored a run in the eighth and another in the ninth, and the Cards and the Rox still could have been playing this morning to break a 12-12 tie.

But the Rockies didn't receive credit for Helton's run.........

I saw the entire sequence perfectly with my own two surgically improved eyes from the press box.

Following Lankford's catch, I looked down and watched a rather lackadaisical Helton cross the plate, then instantly shifted attention to first just as the ball arrived.

There is absolutely no doubt Helton touched home for the run before St. Louis' Mark McGwire touched first for the inning's last out. I've never been so certain. I'll take a lie detector, or a drug, test."


Back of the card.  

Well, this is an interesting photo of Ray Lankford bunting a baseball with his batting helmet on backward.  This photo was actually used on the front of another baseball Ray Lankford baseball card.  I will get to that in another post.  



Upper Deck seemed to reuse a lot of facts about players.  I am almost certain that Ray Lankford hitting two upper-deck home runs in Riverfront Stadium and his Texas League MVP are mentioned on at least five other Upper Deck cards.  I guess it's what happens when one company makes 15 different card sets.  

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Giant Project: Update #6

I am still working on my 1964 Topps Giant set project, even if I am posting here less often. The last card I added to the set was Mickey Mantle, so I have had a limited a budget the last few weeks.  The Mantle card is not one of the short-printed cards in the set, but it's still way up there in price.

In case you missed it, here is the Mantle. 

 

Last week, I was able to add another pair of cards from the set. No Hall of Famers this time around, but two players I would classify as being in the Hall of Very Good Players if you followed baseball in the 1950s and 1960s.  

The first card is a short-print and cost a little more.  Not Mantle expensive, but more than the normal card for this player.  

 
I was a little thrown off seeing Bill "Moose" Skowron on the Senators.  Happens every time I see one of his mid to late 1960s cards at a show.  The 1950s and 1960s Yankees teams had plenty of Hall of Famers, which Skowron is not, but he was a very good supporting cast member on many of those teams.  Skowron was good for 20 home runs and 70 to 80 RBIs a year hitting 5th or 6th behind players like Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.  In all, Skowron played in 8 All-Star Games and won 5 World Series with the Yankees.  
 
His play in the 1963 World Series is actually the subject of the "news story" on the back of his card, only he was playing against the Yankees as a member of the Dodgers. This was Skowron's 5th and final World Series ring. 

Skowron was a really good Postseason player which is summarized on the back of this card.  The numbers speak for themselves. Skowron never won any Postseason Awards, but had some really good performances in years where the Yankees lost.  In the 1960 World Series against the Pirates, he had 12 hits in the 7 games for a .375 average with 2 home runs, 2 doubles, and 6 RBIs.  Not bad for a guy hitting 6th in the lineup.  Skowron jumped around at the end of his career.  He spent time with the Dodgers, Senators, White Sox, and Angels.  Again, I am always a little weirded out to see him in a uniform outside of the Yankees. 

Speaking of the 1960 Pirates, my second card is an important member of that team.  

 
 
Bob Friend was on the Pirates forever.  He played 16 years in the Majors, 15 of them were with the Pirates.  In 1955, he led the National League in ERA.  In 1958, he led the National League in wins. In an average season, Friend won a bunch of games and pitched a ton of innings.  Friend had some shaky years mixed in too, but ended his career with almost 200 wins and 2,000 strikeouts and a ton of innings pitched.  I looked up his comparable players on Baseball Reference, some of his similar players were Curt Simmons, Claude Osteen, Rick Reuschel, and Jerry Reuss.  Wins and innings.  

Here is the back of the Bob Friend card. 

All-Star Game stats are fine, but Bob Friend had a great year in 1960 until the World Series.  He was in the top 5 in the National League in wins, ERA, and strikeouts that season.  Nothing about that?  

Thursday, July 8, 2021

I'll Go Ahead And Cave

One of the biggest reasons I was excited about the 2021 baseball card releases was getting my hands on some Jake Cronenworth cards. He was on the Durham Bulls a few years back. The Rays ended up trading him to the Padres before the 2020 season. I would have loved to see him stay in Tampa, but understand that if you follow a Minor League team, trades are inevitable.  I am just happy Jake Cronenworth made the Majors after a long journey through the Minors.  

My only Jake Cronenworth card entering 2021 was a Durham Bulls team issue card from 2019.  




Cronenworth has appeared in several 20201 Topps and Panini products, even signed a bunch of autographs.  I was not really happy about the prices of his cards on eBay.  Earlier this year I tried to lay out a case for people spending less money on Jake Cronenworth cards.  He's a 27-year-old rookie and he went to the University of Michigan.  Those are two really good reasons.  

I have waited patiently, but being a Rookie of the Year candidate and making the National League All-Star team doesn't really do anything to make your cards more affordable.  So, I decided to go the opposite direction two weeks back.  

Here are some reasons to buy some Jake Cronenworth cards.  

-Cronenworth is one of my favorite Durham Bulls players 

-I don't really mind the Padres and there are a ton of other former Durham Bulls on that team. 

-He's a Rookie of the Year candidate who just made the National League All-Star team. 

-Cronenworth cards are still less expensive than Wander Franco's cards.  

I picked up three Cronenworth cards, two autographs, and one insert.  




The first one is from Topps Finest.  The background on these cards is a little odd this year.  The left side looks very 1980s/1990s this year with the pink and green background with the different shapes mixed in.  The right side is very plain with the Chrome reflective material kind of standing alone.  There is a little color in there, but not much.  



This is my favorite card in this post.  Love the action shot of Cronenworth sliding into home, even if he is wearing a ridiculous camouflage baseball uniform.  Some of the recent Stadium Club designs with the large player name at the bottom haven't really done anything for me, but I like this year's design with the bar at the bottom.  Feels like a throwback to the original set released back in 1991.  

Last one. 



I really like this card with Jake Cronenworth on the 1986 Topps design.  There is an autographed 1986 Topps-style card of Cronenworth too, but it's a sticker autograph that looks terrible.  

That's it for today.  I am really happy with these cards, glad to have a few Cronenworth's to look at, and I will live with the fact that I caved on price this time.  

Monday, July 5, 2021

Random Ray - 2001 Stadium Club

Going with a later Ray Lankford card today, one of his last with the Cardinals.  Ray was traded in the middle of the 2001 season to the Padres for pitcher Woody Williams.  It was ultimately a good trade for the Cardinals.  Woody Williams was a good pitcher for several years in the early 2000s, even made an All-Star team.  Ray's knees were shot, while serviceable for the Padres, he was clearly declining offensively.  

The trade was disappointing, but you could see it coming a long way out.  To summarize the lead-up, Lankford's knees were giving him trouble and he needed to have one of them "cleaned up".  The Cardinals medical staff has a rather dubious reputation, so Ray found his own orthopedic surgeon.  The Cardinals weren't happy, Lankford was not happy the Cardinals weren't happy.  Ray's play declined, the Cardinals weren't happy.  Ray was traded.  

It's essentially the same story as Scott Rolen getting traded, but substitute shoulder for knee.  

Anyway, here is the card.  




The Stadium Club brand has always been all about photography and this card does not disappoint.  Love the angle of the picture on the card from the side-back of the player.  I also love the background on the photo too with the standing room area of Pac-Bell Park in the background.  Cards that capture the surroundings of the ballpark are always a plus in my book.  I am not a Giants fan, maybe I do not pay enough attention, but I cannot think of many baseball cards that utilize the background of the Giants ballpark.  

I wasn't sure who the Giants catcher was in the photo.  If I had to name a Giants catcher from the early 2000s, I would go with Benito Santiago or Bobby Estalella.  It's actually Doug Mirabelli.  Always think of him as a Red Sox, but was also a back-up with the Giants for a long time.  I don't remember that.  

All that focus on the ballpark and I didn't even talk about Ray.  First, we have the blue Cardinals road hats again this week.  I am still not sure why they don't wear those more often.  They are much better than the gray uniforms with the red hats.  Second, without looking for a specific game, I am guessing that this is a groundout.  The pitch is high and the ball looks like it's on a downward angle.

Mirabelli was a backup and this is clearly a day game.  He and Lankford did not cross paths often in 2000, so it was not hard to track down a game on May 10th in 2000.  Lankford pinch-hit in the 9th inning and grounded out to firstbase.  The Cardinals lost the game on a home run hit by Barry Bonds in the 8th inning off of Heathcliff Slocumb.  It pains me to even type that sentence.  

Back of the card.  




You can see the decline in the numbers here, not terrible, but definitely down.  The 26 home runs are actually not bad, but only 16 doubles and 5 stolen bases are really low for Ray Lankford.  Even in his later years when he was hitting in the middle of the lineup, Ray was stealing 15 to 20 bases.  I would also guess that the reduced number of doubles could be knee-related.  

The "smooth outfielder, able to play all three positions" is completely erroneous.  Ray Lankford was almost always a centerfielder and played left-field the last year and half he was a Cardinals after the team traded for Jim Edmonds.  Ray played 2 games in right-field during his career, which was more than 1,500 games.  Both were with the Padres at the end of 2001.  While Ray was a good defensive player, I would not say that throwing was a strength.  

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Set Appreciation Post #14 - 2002 Bowman


When you think of Bowman sets from the early 2000s, what comes to mind?  Black borders were a must.  Tons of hype for a bunch of prospects that may or may not (ding, ding, ding) have made a significant impact in the Major Leagues.  This post is about the 2002 Bowman set, but it could really be about all the Bowman sets between 2002 and 2006.  

There is a theme for this post.  Let's try this meme.  


Base Set 

The set has a black border because it is a Bowman set from the early 2000s.  You were expecting something different.  Tisk, tisk.  I usually use the first card in the set, but it appears that I am missing my Adam Dunn card.  I have this set marked complete, so I did a little investigating to see where the card went.  

The story of where the card was is more interesting than the second card in the set.  I scanned this one when I started writing the post, just in case Adam Dunn was gone.  



The veteran cards in the set all have a red border to distinguish them from the prospect cards which have a blue border.  The pictures on the card are mundane.  The Roger Clemens card has him batting, otherwise, they are not interesting.  



The backs of the Bowman cards have changed little over the years.  These write-ups aren't exactly 1988 Score and the descriptions of the players are generous.  I threw up in my mouth a little bit when I read that "fluid shortstop" part.  

Remember that time Jeter dove into the stands at Yankee Stadium and smashed some old women and his face into one of the seats?  


There is nothing fluid about this catch. 

Derek Jeter getting an overly generous biography from a baseball card writer.  


A Lengthy Side Story About The Adam Dunn Card 

Over the pandemic, my 10-year-old spent a lot of time reading about baseball.  As a two-teacher household, it was hard to work with him while we were teaching our classes online.  My wife and I frequently told him to find a book to read for a short time when he got stuck.  He also dabbled in baseball videos on YouTube.  

He is one of those people who can read a book and can recite every fact back to you that he read.  While he generally sticks to topics like stadiums, Hall of Famers, Cardinals, and Durham Bulls players, we went through a phase last summer when he got really into reading and watching videos about players with odd careers.  

If you have never read anything about Adam Dunn, he's a weird player.  There is a Dorktown video about the weirdness of his career.  This is the preview screen for the video on YouTube.  


I could see where the video has appeal to the average 10-year-old.  

Anyway, he also killed time during the pandemic by looking through my old scorecards, ticket stubs, and baseball cards.  He'd ask me frequently about taking cards from my collection, most of which I was indifferent about.  

Apparently, the 2002 Bowman Adam Dunn card was one of them.  



"You can scan my card" is the line I got when I asked him about the card.  I tried trading back for the card, but he is currently demanding a Ji-Man Choi autograph.  That's a little steep for an Adam Dunn base card.  

Luckily, I am on vacation, so writing an extra side story in this post doesn't really matter. 





The World's Most Smudged Autographs 

In the early days of this blog, I actually worked on finishing off a set of 2002 Bowman autographs.  I had pulled several out of packs back in the day, decided it would be an easy project.  There are very few cards on the checklist, no real big names.  

It would have been really easy, but 90% of the 2002 Bowman autographed cards are smudged.  

One-time Durham Bull and drug test failer, Wilson Betemit with smudges.  



Art Howe's favorite first baseman who would not take a walk, Carlos Pena.  



My favorite card in the set belongs to former Cardinal outfielder Ryan Ludick.  



I spent some time, that I am never getting back, trying to find these autographs in good condition.  There are several of these cards that I have multiple copies of due to trying to upgrade.  No matter how hard you look, they are all smudged.  

Big mistake.  

Topps having quality control issues......



  

Best Non-Cardinal/Non-Durham Bull Card 



I like looking through old Bowman sets to see the prospects that did not make it almost as much as those who became something in the Majors.  This Ronald Acuna card makes me feel old.  He was a career Minor Leaguer with the Mets who got a baseball card in the 2002 Bowman set.  Little bit different player than his son, Ronald Acuna Jr.  


Ronald Sr. had a career-high of 8 home runs playing for the Mets two A-Ball teams in the Florida State League and South Atlantic League. While he lacked power, Ronald stole 20 bases almost every season he played in the Minors and had several years where he crossed 30.  Ronald Sr. also has a card in the 2002 Bowman's Best set.  


I cannot find anything about what happened to Ronald Sr. after he stopped playing baseball outside of a ton of photos of him at Braves games (New Balance sweatshirt).   

Best Cardinal Card

This was such an easy pick for me.  The second I picked out this box from the stack, I knew the Cardinals card that I was going to pick for this post.  




So Taguchi was the first Japanese player signed by the Cardinals.  He was initially somewhat of a disappointment and ended up spending parts of his first seasons in the U.S. playing with the Cardinals Triple-A team.  In the end, he was a fourth outfielder for the Cardinals, but he was one of those lovable bench players. 



The back of his card was actually fairly accurate.  He was a spray hitter and superb defensive player.  The Cardinals ended up pairing him up with outfielders like Chris Duncan and Reggie Sanders, who could hit but had limitations on defense.  Frequently Duncan or Sanders would start the game, Taguchi would come in late as a defensive sub.  

While he was really known for his defense, I think his best moment in the Majors was his go-ahead home run off of Billy Wagner in Game 2 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.  The Cardinals lost the first game of the NLCS and were tied with the Mets late in Game 2.  I am sure that if the Mets win the game, go up 2-0, the series turns out differently.  

This is the home run.  



Taguchi ended up on the Phillies after his contract ran out with the Cardinals and he managed to pick up a second World Series ring with the team in 2008.  

Best Durham Bulls Card 

I chose a former Durham Bulls player pictured as a Blue Jays prospect.  Rich Thompson was a decade away from playing with the Bulls when this card was produced.  However, if you followed Triple-A baseball a while back, it was pretty hard not to know the name Rich Thompson.  He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2000 out of James Madison University and was in Triple-A by the next season.  Such a quick riser would surely make it to the Majors, right?

Here is his well-earned 2002 Bowman card that was likely made due to his rapid climb through the Minors. Topps also put him in their base set as a prospect and in T-206.  





He disappeared from major baseball card products after 2002, but he continued to play in Triple-A.  





Right up on the back of the card seems fair.   

So, here is what happened to Rich Thompson:  

+He played a total of 13 years in the Minors, he appeared for a Triple-A team in 12 of those seasons.  

+He played for the Triple-A teams of the Blue Jays, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Phillies, and Rays. 

+He twice made the Majors.  Once in 2004 with the Royals where he played in 6 games, but only got 1 at-bat.  He did not have a hit.  The Rays called him up in 2012 where he had 2 hits in 22 at-bats.  His career batting average is under .100 and he has more stolen bases (7) than hits (2).  Rich Thompson still made it, that counts for something.  

+His final two seasons in professional baseball were spent with the Durham Bulls.  He was excellent on the 2012 team, hence the call-up to the Rays.  Thompson had a rough year in 2013 and retired after breaking his foot while fielding a ball.  

Some years Rich Thompson was on your team, some years Rich Thompson was not on your team.  He was a scrappy player who was easy to support.  Further, while the Minor League records can be a little sketchy at times, I would have to think that his 300 career steals at the Triple-A level would have to be pretty far up the list.  Overall, he has almost 500 steals in the Minors.  Again, that has to be far up the all-time leader's list.  

Thompson is still loved around the Minors almost a decade after he retired.  The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Phillies Triple-A team, has given away multiple bobbleheads of Thompson and I have also heard there are pictures of him hanging in the front office of the team.  

How Does It Compare?  

This set is not really all that interesting, so it has to rank in the bottom half of the list.  This is post #14, so I will start at 2017 Topps Minor League Heritage and work down the list.

-Both 2017 Topps Heritage Minors and 2002 Bowman are prospect-driven sets.  While I am not a huge fan of the 1968 Topps design, a boring border with interesting cards is better than a boring border and uninteresting cards.  

-1995 Emotion XL is at least interesting and has good photography, even if some of the labels slapped on the players are really stupid.  Better than over glossed Derek Jeter bios.  

-1988 Donruss, while I don't love the borders, it's still more interesting than the 2002 Bowman set.  Plus, that set has a Tom Glavine rookie, which is better than any prospect card in the 2002 Bowman set.  Let's go down another spot.  

-2000 UD Ionix.  Now, we are talking about the right neighborhood.  Predictable short checklist with the same 2 or 3 players on each team getting cards.  Ionix has better autographs and some nicer high-end touches, but there is something nice about having the larger checklist of 2002 Bowman where you get cards of the players I put into this post.  

I am going with 10th place on my list.   



Tuesday, June 29, 2021

A College Kid And His Famous Cousin

Listen, friends.  I have had this post drafted for a while and really like the cards that I share at the end of the post.  I am well aware of what happened to the NC State baseball team last week.  More than happy to discuss the team itself, their play during the regular and postseason, but I am not getting into a debate about COVID or vaccines.  


I have always enjoyed collecting cards of players on the NC State baseball team.  It still amazes me that there are baseball cards of kids in college and high school.  In the past, I have dabbled with cards of Trea Turner....



Carlos Rodon 


and Will Wilson, just to name a few.  


After much searching, I have found that there is only one player on this year's team that has a baseball card.  I was a little surprised that none of them appeared in the USA Baseball U-18 sets, or more didn't make it into a Perfect Game set, which is where I found the card for this post.  



This is the team's catcher, Luca Tresh.  He led the team in home runs this season and is currently listed as the 84th best prospect who can enter the MLB Draft this year.  I am sure he will get selected, but there are a ton of college catchers in this year's draft.  I did a quick count, but there are at least 3 other catchers from just ACC schools rated ahead of him.  NC State has had a good run of catchers in the Draft lately with Andrew Knizner (Cardinals) and Patrick Bailey (Giants).  

Hopefully, he lands somewhere good and gets a few baseball cards.  

On to the Yankees connection.  Luca Tresh's cousin was a player on the 1960s Yankees teams, Tom Tresh. The first time I heard this fact, I had to go dig through my 1960s commons.  I knew the name but knew nothing about him as a player.  

Here is my 1968 Topps Tom Tresh card.  


Not the best condition even with a generous crop job on the corners, but he's actually a pretty interesting player and person.  He's a much better player than I realized.  Here is my quick rundown on Tom Tresh in the form of a bulleted list.  


+Tresh won the 1962 American League Rookie of the Year

+Played almost 1,200 games, almost all with the Yankees hit more than 20 home runs 4 times during his career.  

+Tom Tresh and Derek Jeter were the only 2 modern shortstops to start as rookies for the Yankees on Opening Day.  

+Hit a go-ahead home run against the Giants in Game 5 of the 1962 World Series.  

+Tresh made the American League All-Star teams in 1962 and 1963 

+He won a Gold Glove in 1965 


Tresh retired before the 1970 season.  He ended up working an administrative job at Central Michigan University where he also made an important invention to help out the school's baseball and softball teams.  Tresh called it the "Slide-Rite".  

You've seen these before.  


 

This is the second baseball player/inventor I have posted this year.  

Anyway, I was happy to add a card of a current NC State player and I enjoyed learning about Tom Tresh for this post.