Friday, June 21, 2019

Removing the Float Head

Page 22 of the Hall of Fame Binder yielded a floating head. Poor Travis Jackson!
Ghastly, if I do say so.

As soon as I finished writing the post I scampered off to Ebay to see what I could do about finding a replacement.
For $3, which included shipping, I was able to find a 58 year old piece of cardboard that not only had Travis Jackson's head, but also a body. What a deal!
 Thank goodness for 1961 Fleer Baseball Greats! For the record, this card was produced 21 years before Jackson got the call to Cooperstown.

The HOF Binder has been updated and I'm much happier. 😀

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

HOF Binder: Page 23

Today we continue that run of beautiful pages that I mentioned in my last HOF post. There's only one card I'd like to upgrade on this page and that's the Pee Wee Reese card on the upper-right of the page.
Without further delay, here is page 23!

2003 Flair Greats, #28 -- Rick Ferrell
 Rick Ferrell hit 0.281 during his eighteen year career. He was a difficult man to strikeout, as he averaged only 24 whiffs a season. Ferrell only hit 28 homers during his career, but he was elected to eight All-Star games. In fact, Ferrell caught all nine innings in the inaugural All-Star game in 1933. Ferrell was known for being a stout defensive player, but in 1944 and 1945 he led the league in passed balls because the four man rotation he caught all featured the knuckleball. That poor guy!

1972 Topps, #51 -- Harmon Killebrew
 Harmon Kellebrew is one of the great power hitters in the game's rich history. Eight times he hit more than 40 home runs in a season and six times he led the league. He was a patient hitter, as shown by topping the century mark in walks seven times, and just as feared as he led the league in intentional base on balls three times. The corner infielder played twenty-one of his twenty-two seasons with the Senators/Twins franchise. Killer won one MVP award and was elected to thirteen All-Star contests.

1977 TCMA, #31 -- Pee Wee Reese
 Pee Wee Reese played his entire sixteen year career with the Dodgers. He missed his age twenty-four through twenty-six seasons due to World War II. He earned MVP votes in thirteen of his seasons and was an All-Star in ten of them. The career 0.269 hitter was known as the field captain for many great Dodger teams. 

1970 Topps, #340 -- Lou Brock
 Lou Brock rewrote the stolen base record book. He held the marks for most steals in a season (118 in 1974) and most in a career (938) until Rickey Henderson came along. Brock was a good hitter (0.293) average who wasn't afraid to take a walk. During his career he was voted to six All-Star games, was the MLB Player of the Year in 1974, and won two World Series. The NL stolen base leader is given the Lou Brock Award at the end of each season.

1956 Topps, #109 -- Enos Slaughter
 Enos Slaughter had a nineteen year career, thirteen of which were with the St. Louis Cardinals. During those years Slaughter was elected to ten All-Star games, earned MVP votes in eight different season and won four World Series titles. Over his career, which was put on hold for three of his prime age seasons due to military service, the outfielder hit 0.300 and showed plenty of gap power. For the record, this card was given to me by my sister. Thanks, Jane!

1982 TCMA Baseball's Greatest Hitters, #44 -- Arky Vaughan
 Arky Vaughn, primarily a shortstop during his career for Pittsburgh and Brooklyn, was a tremendous hitter with a superior eye. He was elected to eight consecutive All-Star games and in 1935 he walked 97 times and only struck out 18 times. That season he also led the league in hitting (0.385) and on-base percentage (0.491). He retired in 1943 at age 31 and took to starting a family, but three years later he was talked out of retirement by the Dodgers, hit 0.325, and was a calming influence in a Brooklyn locker room during Jackie Robinson's rookie year.

1954 Bowman, #57 -- Hoyt Wilhelm
Hoyt Wilhelm is arguably the best knuckleball pitcher of all-time. Up until Wilhelm's time the knuckleball was used by older pitchers, as a change of pace pitch, to extend their careers a couple of years. Wilhelm broke the mold in two different ways: he started throwing it as a teen and he used it as his primary pitch. Wilhelm was buried in the minors until his age 29 season because he didn't throw hard, but was given a shot in the bullpen by Leo Durocher because "he can fool 'em four or five innings even if he doesn't have the hard stuff to go nine." During his rookie year he became the only pitcher in major league history to qualify for AND win the ERA title as a relief pitcher. He retired when he was 49, after 21 seasons, with a 2.52 career ERA and 143-122 record.

What a great page! I love the 1954 Bowman card, but for me the Enos Slaughter card with him diving back into first base is the winner on the page. What do you think?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Gasp! I Have a Summer Job!

I just finished my nineteenth year of teaching and the last time I had a summer job was back in 2001 when I taught 3rd graders during summer school. Yikes! That was an experience!

Generally, my normal school year doesn't end until late May and then things start up again in late July with junior high softball tryouts. There's typically a six week window during June and July where I'm doing some summer coaching, but not this year. School affiliated summer baseball is dying in central Illinois, but that's a story for another day.
My view from my work station.
A former player of mine is slowly working his way into baseball and he inspired me to give my longtime dream of working in baseball a chance. Knowing ahead of time that I wouldn't have my typical summertime coaching responsibilities I applied with the Peoria Chiefs for a summer job.

I had grand ideas of being the official scorer, but my spring and fall coaching duties conflicted with the Chiefs' schedule of games quite a bit and that bubble burst fairly quickly.

I'm a Data Entry guy! I found my niche with the TrackMan system the Chiefs use.
TrackMan tracks all kinds of numbers and I love it!
A Bradley University intern worked the TrackMan system most of April and May and I filled in a couple of times when needed. The intern graduated and moved back home so now I'm one of four guys who works on a rotating schedule to operate the TrackMan system. As of this post I've worked five games in June and eight overall.

I have a badge!
I clock in about thirty minutes prior to first pitch and enter the starting lineups into the computer.

In general, I'm responsible for numbers 1 through 4, in the picture below, during the game. The main two I spend most of my time are #2 and #3, which includes the umpire's call of each pitch or the outcome of the ball put in play and identifying the pitch type. Pitch types can be tricky!
I watch each pitch live, but sometimes it's difficult to determine the difference between pitches so I look at the data the TrackMan system gives me with each pitch. The velocity and spin rates of each pitch are often good indicators. Once I combine the numbers with my veteran eye I usually can tell the difference between a fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. There are other options, but I'm not privy to information on the movement of the pitch so I try to stay away from sinkers, cutters and splitters.

At the end of the game I upload the data into the system and after it's "cleaned" by the TrackMan staff it is then sent to the Chiefs and Cardinals to digest and dissect. I'm usually clocking out and walking to the parking lot about five minutes after the conclusion of the game.

 Here's a picture of my work station.
The dry erase board is for the radio broadcast. When a home run is hit I'm supposed to write down the distance of the homer and the exit velocity off the bat and show it to guys in the booths to my right (visiting broadcast) and left (home broadcast).

The two gentlemen in front of me run the live GameCast of the game for internet viewers and Dozer Park's scoreboard. The guy on the left has another career and just does this for fun and extra spending money. The gentleman on the right is working for a living in baseball. He does three innings of radio, is in charge of the post game summary and numerous other jobs. They are both twenty-something guys and love to talk baseball, food and women. For the most part I just play the role of "fly on the wall" but occasionally I'll chime in or I'll be asked to settle a debate. For instance, last Monday they asked me to settle the hot dog condiment debate! LOL

The red pieces of paper on the tabletop are "Chiefs Bucks" that I may use how I see fit. I get $10 each day to spend on concessions. Nice perk!

In summary, I get paid to watch baseball. I also get the behind-the-curtains view of how a minor league baseball staff produces its product on game day. Baseball talk and other musings keep me entertained between innings and I also get some coupons to spend on ballpark food.

I'm really enjoying it and am hopeful that I'll be lucky enough to continue working this position during upcoming seasons. For yours truly, it's like the best summer job ever!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Public Service Announcement

Just a quick announcement for the betterment of all baseball loving individuals.
We all need more Vogelbach in our lives!

Here's a quick read on whether Vogelbach would participate if asked. has him listed as their #2 choice to be in the derby. Some guy named Joey Gallo sits in the top spot.

And here's a plea from Lookout Landing. Very good stuff.


That is all.

Have a great weekend and Happy Father's day to all the dads out there!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Pack Wars by Jane, Part 2

A couple of days ago I broke the Pack Wars hiatus on this blog by posting a pair of packs sponsored by my sister, Jane. Her mystery pack was stuffed with vintage cardboard and four Hall of Famers who are now resting in my HOF binder.

Um, well, this time around the mystery pack is going with a very different theme. Let's just put it this way . . . she has a sense of humor and an eye for unique cardboard. I think you'll get the idea after the first round.

Jane's pack of mystery and surprise is on the left and the 1986 Topps pack will be on the right for the majority of this post. (Somehow I switched up the order for Rounds 11 & 15. Oops.)

Round 1
 1986 Topps comes out swinging with Steve Balboni and his wonderful mustache dawning the Royals' road powder blues. It's a nice looking card of a guy I randomly followed during my first time through the hobby.

Steve Sharts. Yes, Steve Sharts. Poor Steve should go see his family doctor or something.
Tell me if that's one of the most unfortunate last names you've ever come across!

And so the wackiness begins.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  1
1986 Topps =  0

Round 2
 The infamous unibrow and mustache combo. It's like Sammy Stewart has two fuzzy caterpillars on his face. Jorge Bell is sporting the cock-eyed hat, bling around the neck and wristbands. Sammy could take a few lessons from Jorge on style. Style points to 1986 Topps!

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  1
1986 Topps =  1

Round 3
  I have multiple copies of this Leo Gomez card and it has always struck me as something cross between a high school yearbook photo and a very nerdy picture. I like how Mike LaCross is eyeing Gomez as appears to be saying, "Man, you're in the Bigs. Get your $#!+ together!" Another win for 1986 Topps.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  1
1986 Topps =  2

Round 4
  I think we have a battle of spring training photos here. I don't know enough about old Candlestick Park to be sure this isn't the Giant's former home field, but the folding chairs say "Spring Training" to me. Jack does jumping jacks. What a unique photo for a baseball card. This one is going in my Folder of Fun. Very cool.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  2
1986 Topps =  2

Round 5
  I think Tim Lollar's hair stylings would fit right in with 2019, which makes for a pretty boring 1986 card. Oddibe is about to limbo. That's a win in my book.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  3
1986 Topps =  2

Round 6
  Now, this is a match-up! In his only season on the north side of Chicago, Goosage saved 13 games with the Cubs in 1988. Goose was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008. Hendrick was a former #1 draft pick and went to four All-Star games during his eighteen year career. Yet, their career numbers are not what makes this match-up the best yet.

Fantastic facial hair and the bad-a$$ery is so evident! I gotta go with Hendrick, because he wears that hitting jacket so well.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  3
1986 Topps =  3

Tie ballgame!

Round 7
  Fernando versus Nate Snell. Again, it looks like a couple of spring training shots to me. I've never heard of Snell-mania, but I have heard of Fernando-mania. Fernando takes this round.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  4
1986 Topps =  3

Round 8
  I really like batting cage shots, but Neon Deion rookie card! Most excellent!

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  5
1986 Topps =  3

Round 9
  Here's an odd turn of events... a miscut football card. Donnie Hill's yellow jersey top is something I would like to see more of in MLB . . . but, Chuck Muncie is wearing glasses under his helmet. That's a lot of goodness on one football card!

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  6
1986 Topps =  3

Round 10
  I was a HUGE Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan back in the day. Andrew Dawson. The Hawk.
Wow. Another great match-up. I gotta go with the TMNT. Crime fighting, fun loving, pizza eating turtles don't happen along everyday, you know?

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  7
1986 Topps =  3

Round 11
  Shoot, I got these flipped. 1986 Topps should be in the right, but at least this way we can see how in awe John Felske is of Huey Lewis. I don't know what your parents listened to around the house when you were growing up. But, I know about every song by Chicago and Huey Lewis and the News. Good times. Here's one of my favorites.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  8
1986 Topps =   3

Round 12
  Da Coach! Great card of a Chicago legend!

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  9
1986 Topps =  3

Round 13
  I was a big Derrick Thomas fan and I even had a player collection of him when I was younger. He was left paralyzed after a car accident and then died suddenly a couple of weeks later. Sad, sad story.
Charlie Hough was a model of knuckleball consistency. He pitched over 200 innings during his age 45 season. Only eleven pitchers did that in 2018. Wow.
Charlie and his sweet stirrups for the win!

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  9
1986 Topps =  4

Round 14
  Another great-match up! I think you've probably seen this Keith Comstock card before. This Kirby Puckett is probably one of the top five cards in the 1986 set. I'll hang on to both of these. The Comstock will go in the Folder of Fun and the Puckett will find it's way to humble Twins collection.
If I could only bring home one of these from a card show the Puckett would get left behind, but it would be a very tough decision.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  10
1986 Topps =  4

Round 15
  Do you remember Collector's Edge? You could put these cards in your bicycle spokes, take a couple laps around the block, and they'd still come back a PSA 9 or higher. I wonder why the material used didn't catch on? A point to Jane for reminding me of a set I had forgotten about.

Updated Score:
Jane's Pack =  11
1986 Topps =  4

Round 16
 A Hank Aaron Collect-A-Books "card" versus a defunct contest for spring training. Ha! That's a good one!

FINAL Score:
Jane's Pack =  12
1986 Topps =  4

Wow, what a wide assortment of cardboard within the mystery pack from Jane! No surprise here, but her hand-picked cards dominate the field yet again.

Thanks again for the cards and the blogging material, Jane!