Sunday, June 30, 2019

Vogelbach is an All-Star

The reserve rosters for the All-Star game were released this evening and I'm absolutely floored right now.

The Vogelmonster hit his 20th home run of the season yesterday and became just the third Mariner, age 26 or younger, to crank that many before July. (Griffey and A-rod were the other two.) Thus, I was pinning my hopes on seeing the Vogelmonster in the Home Run Derby. I honestly didn't think he would make the roster as a reserve.

Then this happened.
Vogelbach is the Mariners' lone representative in the contest, but I'm sure the gregarious Vogelmonster will have a great time in Cleveland nonetheless.

I, for one, will be watching the All-Star Game this year!  I'm still holding out hope he'll fill one of the other two vacant HR Derby spots for the AL. 😁

Lastly, I would have liked to have shown a new 2019 card of the Vogelmonster with this post, but unfortunately he's only had one card produced to date and I flashed it on the blog back when the retail team sets came out.  . . .   Topps, you are in my doghouse!


So, here's my newest purchase instead.

Congrats, Vogelmonster!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

HOF Binder: Page 24

Page 24 brings us another wonderful collection of cards which spans four different decades. All of these are keepers in my book. I'd love to replace all the Conlon cards in the binder at some point, but Doerr (much like Lombardi) played in the 1930's and 40's and their cardboard is scarce and expensive. Maybe I'll get lucky and find something on the cheap, but it would probably have to be all banged up like the Stargell on this page. Not that there's anything wrong with that!  I love my Willie Stargell card!

 1992 Conlon, #467 -- Bobby Doerr
Bobby Doerr's fourteen year career was spent exclusively as the Red Sox second baseman. The 0.288 hitter missed the 1945 season when he served in the military. He was elected to four All-Star contests before his tour of duty and five afterwards. Doerr had a little pop in his bat and actually led the AL in slugging percentage in 1944. Ted Williams once dubber Doerr as the "The Silent Captain of the Red Sox."

1986 Donruss Highlights, #33 -- Ernie Lombardi
Ernie Lombardi gained entrance to Cooperstown through the Veteran's Committee in 1986, thirty-nine years after his retirement. He won a World Series with Cincinnati, two battling titles, an MVP award in 1938, and he was an eight time All-Star. Lombardi hit over 0.300 ten times in his career and finished with a 0.306 average and 190 home runs. His most impressive stat to me is how he threw out 60% of would be base stealers during his MVP season. Wow! Honestly, Lombardi's stat lines remind a lot of Buster Posey. Is that Hall of Fame worthy?  I think I'm on the fence here with Lombardi.

1980 Topps, #2 -- Willie McCovey
 Willie McCovey's career began at age twenty-one in 1959 and he retired in 1980 at age forty-two. McCovey, primarily a first baseman, was the Rookie of the Year in 1959 and won an MVP award during his superb 1968 season. Remember, 1968 was the "Year of the Pitcher," but McCovey blistered that pitching to a tune of 45 homers, 126 RBIs and 0.293 batting average. He was walked intentionally 45 times that season! Whoa! McCovey currently sits twentieth all-time with 521 career home runs.

1986 Larry Fritsch Negro League Baseball Stars, #7 -- Ray Dandridge
 Ray Dandridge started his career in the Negro Leagues in 1933 as a nineteen year old and he retired in 1955 at age 41. He was known as a slick fielding infielder who would spray the ball to all fields. At an Old Timers game in 1988 he likened himself to Ozzie Smith. Dandridge played in the New York Giants minor league system toward the end of his career and even mentored a young Willie Mays in 1951, but he never received the call to The Show.

1973 Topps, #235 -- Jim "Catfish" Hunter
 Baseball-Reference lists Catfish Hunter's nickname as "Jim." Odd! Hunter was and eight time All-Star and the anchor to five World Series champion starting rotations. His four year stretch from 1972 to 1975 was simply phenomenal. During that time he led the league in wins twice, WHIP twice, ERA once and was in the top 4 for CY Young voting all four years, winning it in in 1974. Bonus points for this card featuring a mustached Catfish in the yellow Oakland jersey top!

1964 Topps, #175 -- Billy Williams
 Sweet Swingin' Billy Williams was a fixture in outfield for the Cubs during the majority of his eighteen year career. He is actually sixth all-time with 1,117 consecutive games played! Williams was the Rookie of the Year in 1961 and he won the Sporting News Player of the Year in 1972 when he hit 0.333 with 37 homers and 122 RBI. Williams finished his career with 2,711 hits, 426 home runs, and a 0.290 batting average.

1967 Topps. #140 -- Willie Stargell
Willie Stargell, a career Pirate for twenty-one years, helped the franchise to two World Series titles. Pops was a seven time All-Star, an NLCS MVP, a World Series MVP, the Sporting News Player of the Year winner, and the Associated Press' Male Athlete of the Year and the NL MVP in 1979 at age 39. Stargell, the leader of fun-loving Pirates, was known for giving gold stars to his teammates after well-pitched games or big hits. (This is something we did during my high school season this past year!) He finished his career with a 0.282 batting average and 475 home runs, but he surely would have topped 500 if have not played almost nine years in cavernous Forbes Field.

What a great page. I love how there are three lefty power hitters represented here and one of them earns top billing as my favorite card of the page. The cards for Stargell and McCovey are pretty sweet, but it's tough for anything to best that 1964 Topps card of Billy Williams. But, you probably expected that from this Cubs fan!

Thanks for stopping by today!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Removing the Floating 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!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

HOF Binder: Page 22

We're within one of my favorite stretches within my HOF Binder. Last week started it and it runs for another four pages or so. There's a bunch of recognizable names, little to no design repeats on each page and plenty of fuzzy-cornered vintage during these pages.
The two cards on the left-hand side of the page are on my radar to upgrade, but I absolutely love the rest!

1980 TCMA Baseball Immortals, #180 -- Travis Jackson
Travis Jackson was a shortstop for the New York Giants during his fifteen year career. He was voted to the second ever All-Star game toward the end of his career and probably would have made a few more had the ASG been around in the 1920's. Jackson was given entrance to Cooperstown by the Veteran's Committee, but I'm not so sure how deserving the lifetime 0.291 hitter was of enshrinement. He bashed 135 homers, which isn't bad for the era, but he also only rapped 1,768 career hits. He's probably best known for being the defensive glue on the infield that helped the Giants to seven NL pennants.

1964 Topps, #260 -- Frank Robinson
Frank Robinson was Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove, AL MVP, NL MVP, All-Star MVP, World Series MVP, Triple Crown Winner, member of the 500 home run club and a twelve time All-Star. Yep, that'll play.

1977 TCMA, #9 -- George Kell
 George Kell was a 10-time All-Star, earned MVP votes in eight different seasons and won a batting title. He manned the hot corner most of his fifteen year career, seven of which were for the Tigers. He was a career 0.306 hitter who launched seventy-eight homers in his career. Kell was voted into the HOF by the Veteran's Committee and lists Bill Madlock and Carney Lansford as similar batters to Kell. Good company, but not great company in my opinion.

1969 Topps, #370 -- Juan Marichal
 Juan Marichal was known as Laughing Boy because he was always smiling. For my money, Marichal had one of the more unmistakably recognized pitching motions the game has ever seen. He was a 10-time All-Star and he was absolutely dominant in those contests. Behind Sandy Koufax, Marichal is said to be the second best pitcher of the 1960's. He finished his career with a 2.89 ERA and a 243-142 record.

1973 Topps, #90 -- Brooks Robinson
 Brooks Robinson had one of the best nicknames ever: The Human Vacuum Cleaner. To this day he is the gold standard when talking about fielding ability at the hot corner. Robinson played 140+ games seventeen times during his 23 year career for the Orioles. During those seventeen seasons he was elected to fifteen All-Star games and earned sixteen Gold Gloves. Robinson wasn't just a fielder though, as he also won the MVP in 1964. Little known fact: When I played third base in little league I wanted to be like Brooks Robinson . . . but it was until high school that I stopped being afraid of the ball! FWIW, it's tough to be a vacuum cleaner when you don't stay down on ground balls.

1958 Topps, #483 -- Luis Aparicio
 During the time Little Louie played many say he represented the of growth and development of baseball in Latin America. Luis Aparicio was known for his defense and speed. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1956 and led the league in stolen bases that season, which is something he would also do the next eight years. Aparicio was elected to All-Star games in seven different seasons and he was a Gold Glove winner nine times. Two of the top three comparable players to Aparicio, according to, are Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel, which I think are very sound matches.

1959 Topps, #387 -- Don Drysdale
I think Don Drysdale sometimes gets overshadowed by the dominance of Sandy Koufax. He pitched fourteen years and recorded an ERA under 3.00 in nine of those seasons. He won a Cy Young in 1962, led the league in strikeouts three times, and he was elected to nine All-Star games. He retired after his age 32 seasons, due to nagging shoulder injuries, with 205 wins and an ERA of 2.95.

Again, I love the vintage on this page. But, wow. That Travis Jackson card. Jackson actually has some decent modern cards out there, any of which I would rather have represent his spot in my binder. The "floating head" is just not appealing whatsoever.

If I had to pick one card as my favorite out of the seven it would definitely be the 1964 Topps card of Frank Robinson. I remember Robinson as a much older individual when he was managing in the dugout. Seeing him pictured in his late twenties is pretty cool!