Saturday, February 14, 2009

#29 - Bill Bonham

Bill Bonham

This was Bill Bonham, set-up reliever/spot starter. He was decent in this role, with an ERA+ at 122 and 130. When the Cubs converted him to a starter, he was less effective, but his record was 11-22, 13-15 & 9-13. Then his fortunes changed. He went 11-5, 9-7 & 2-1. What changed? He went from pitching for the Cubs to pitching for the Reds. Arm problems brought a quick end to his career.
A highlight of his career: striking out Mike Torrez, Ron Hunt, Tim Foli and Willie Davis in order in the second inning of a game against the Expos. (Torrez reached on a passed ball and stole second for his only career steal. His only other attempt came a couple of months later when he was caught trying to steal 3rd. Had to have been a busted hit and run.) He also had 4 shutouts. He was a decent hitter for a pitcher and used 7 times as a pinch runner.
A lowlight was allowing Dave Cash (single), Larry Bowa (single), Garry Maddox (homer), Greg Luzinski (single), Jay Johnstone (double), Tommy Hutton (double) and Mike Schmidt (homer) to all get hits before he hits the shower in the first inning. This is the record for most consecutive hits allowed to start a game. Ken Crosby relieved and allowed a single to Johnny Oates before the parade was ended on Dick Ruthven’s sacrifice bunt. Why in the heck was Michael Jack Schmidt hitting 7th behind the illustrious sluggers Tommy Hutton and Jay Johnstone?

Friday, February 13, 2009

#28 -- Twins Rookies (Gebhard, Brye & Haydel)

Bob Gebhard
Steve Brye
Hal Haydel

More rookies. Steve Brye was the star of this show. The same Steve Brye that allegedly let a shallow fly off George Brett’s bat fall in on the final day of 1976 so he would win the batting title instead of Hal McRae. There are those who have opined he did so for not very nice reasons that aren’t worth repeating here. No matter what, it was an interesting day. Brett went 3-4, finishing at .333. McRae went 2-4 and finished at .332 and Rod Carew was 2-4, finishing at .331. Brye went on to be a somewhat below-average, weak-hitting outfielder with the Twins throughout the 70's, finishing up with the Pirates in 1978. Steve was also on a Twins Rookies card in 1971. If what he's alleged to have done on the final day of 1976 is true, there's not much reason to write more about him.

Bob Gebhard: as a 44th round draft pick, he overcame the odds by making the big leagues and getting 1 win and 1 save, later becoming the first GM of the Rockies. He looked like a genius with Andres Gallaraga, Vinny Cash-stealer, Dante Bichette and Larry Walker. However, a team ERA of over 6.00 doomed him. He then was Walt Jocketty's chief assistant in St. Louis and is now working with the Diamondbacks as a special assistant to GM Josh Byrnes.

Hal Haydel: his last game was in 1971, but only allowed 2/19 inherited runners to score in 1971. Don't know why he didn't get more of a chance. I guess Jim Strickland was just too much. Hal is from Houma, Louisiana, landfall point for Hurricane Gustav in 2008 and ancestral home of my father-in-law.

Card Show coming up

Living in southwest Missouri there aren't a lot of card shows. When I was in law school at Duke, I could find something in driving distance at least once a month. I even drove to Charlotte once for a big show at the Convention Center (coming back in an ice storm in a '84 Camaro with rear wheel drive...dang glad to have made it).

We have a mall show this weekend. Because it's Valentine's weekend, I'll have to squeeze it in Friday afternoon. I don't think I can get my wife out shopping this weekend and I sure don't want to take my kids. It's not like the neat shows I'd go to in the '80's, but there are 2-3 guys that bring stuff I like. There's one guy that I know will get about $50 from me, just on old assorted cards from '58 - '69 that he puts out. I'll spend a couple of hours at his table talking about old ballplayers and looking at cards. I end up getting a lot of his autographed.

I'm really looking this time to knock out a lot of my want list on the 1971 and 1972 sets. If I can find anything for 1964, I'll see about it, but those cards are probably going to go beyond what I forecast my budget for this show will be.

Anyway, guys like Cesar Gutierrez, Rick Monday, Bobby Murcer and Willie Davis can get ready to say "Hi" to me a little later on. Unless I'm really bowled over, I just don't see me picking up any 2009 cards at all.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

#27 -- Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson

Bob's another guy that lost an entire year to military service. He was cruising before leaving and struggled a little coming back, but rebounded well. His numbers look better than his win-loss record for the Royals. Believe it or not, Bob was responsible for building the Royals. He was in the trade that brought Amos Otis to the Royals from the Mets and the Pirates gave up Freddie Patek to get him. Those were two cornerstones of the Royals in the '70's.

It's kind of neat to see all the guys hanging around behind him. I wonder if they're making fun of his bent-over, finishing up the fake pitch pose? Bob was 6-4 and 220, which was a big guy back then, so if anyone was poking fun at him, I'll bet little Jose Pagan wasn't one of them.

That 1971 playoff game on the back of Bob's card was a big deal. The LCS (best of 5) was tied 1-1 and the Giants were going with Juan Marichal. Marichal shut the Pirates down on 4 hits, only allowing solo homers to Richie Hebner and Bob Robertson. Bob had to be better and he was, scattering 5 hits and allowing only an unearned run over 8 innings. The Pirates won that game to go up 2-1 and then closed it out in Game 4. Bob wasn't so strong in the Series against the Orioles. He started and lost Game 2, getting knocked out in the 4th.

There were 4 Bob Johnsons to have played in the big leagues. This Bob wasn't the best, but he's the only one with a World Series ring.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blog Bat Around #4 -- Where your heart is......

What card or set with have value in ten years?

That's a simple question in 1979. (I start there because I didn't have any cards in 1969) The answer would be the T210 Wagner and Topps. There really wasn't anything else. However, what was the rage in 1989? There are some cards that will always have value. The Honus Wagner is one and the 1952 Topps set is another. What I remember (I did no research) was that the 1984 Fleer Update set was a big deal, with rookie cards of Puckett and Clemens. The 1984 and 1985 Topps sets were big because of the rookie cards of Mattingly ('84), Gooden ('85), Clemens ('85) and McGwire ('85 Olympic).

Ask that question again in 1989? You'd think the Clemens, Gooden and Mattingly cards would be the big deals by the time Prince would be partying (1999). If you were talking about 1989 products, you'd expect Gregg Jeffries, Ken Griffey, Jr. and 1989 Score to be big deals. Possibly even Upper Deck, but it was such a new product that I wasn't quite ready to jump in with both feet until I saw if it was going to last.

I couldn't tell you what was big in 1999. I'd kind of moved away from collecting cards because I'd had kids and was buying diapers instead of cards in the mid-90's. I'd started to get back in and there was so much.......crap. There were all these insert cards that weren't part of the sets. What was that all about? I really wasn't knowing what to collect then. If you'd have asked me in 1999 what would be valuable in 10 years, I couldn't have answered it.

So that gets us to 2009. If you asked me what the big development has been in the last 10 years I'd give you 2. First, the development of ebay and the internet as the primary marketplace for cards. Second, the number of card companies has shrunk to 2, although they produce too many cards.

What developments will we see in the next 10 years? Who the heck knows. I can tell you that if the card market progresses on the same general path as the last 10 years, there may not be any "sets" that "valuable" because the card companies are getting away from set collectors with all the short prints, etc., even now supposedly getting into the flagship sets. However, I see a lot of cry on the blogs for more attention to the set collector....Hmmmm....perhaps the tide will turn.

I'd have to say that monetary value will be with vintage cards (vintage being anything before 1973). However, I'll place my own subjective value. In 10 years, I'll be 54 years old and the Duke Blue Devils will be celebrating another 2 national championships in college basketball as Coach K steps down (we're getting the crap kicked out of us by the Heels as I write this. Grrrrr....). Frankly, I value all the cards I have. Whether it's a Bob Gibson rookie card, my (almost complete) 1964 set, any Roberto Clemente card or a 1976 Randy Tate, a 1986 Bob Gibson (the Milwaukee Brewer) or my 1972 Johnny Bench with part of the front ripped off when I took it down from the bulletin board I'd taped it to in 1973, they'll all be worth more than what somebody would want to pay me.

When it comes down to it, I have always found "value" in my cards from my heart, rather than from a price guide. I hope that never changes, whether it be 10 years or 40 years from now.

#26 -- Andy Etchebarren

Andy Etchebarren

Andy had the bushiest eyebrows in the league. Leonid Brezhnev and a Jonas Brother (OK, I'm not hip enough to know which one) say he should wax those things. I’d always known him as a backup for the Orioles and was astonished to see he made 2 All-star teams and even garnered MVP votes in 1966, when he hit an astonishing .221 with 11 homers. Kevin must have been in charge of the MVP voting (don’t know how you can do that pre-natal….good job, Kevin!) because Frank Robinson was the unanimous MVP, Brooks Robinson was second followed by Boog Powell; Luis Aparicio was 9th, Stu Miller 11th, and Andy finished 17th. I don't have any problem with the Robinsons and John Wesley Powell, but I probably wouldn’t have voted Etchebarren as even the 17th most valuable Oriole.

He may not have been a relief pitcher, but Andy posted the most important save of 1966 for the Orioles. At a private party on August 22, 1966, Frank Robinson was struggling underwater until Andy dove in and saved him. Can’t you see Andy as a guest celebrity lifeguard on Baywatch, running through the sand with the other lifeguards, bushy eyebrows flapping in the breeze along with Pam Anderson’s…..wait, this is a baseball site. Maybe he got those MVP votes for making sure Frank Robby was around for a full season.

Andy was also the last man to bat against Sandy Koufax. If I were him, I'd be saying that facing me convinced Sandy to take early retirement. The truth, however, was that Andy hit into a double play in the 6th inning of Game 2 of the 1966 Series. After his playing career, Andy coached in the minors for a long time (dismissed by the Ripkens from managing Aberdeen at the end of 2007) and spent 2008 coaching in the independent Atlantic League.