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Sunday, June 29, 2008

1985 Donruss Tribute: Sweet Mets Action

I had a blast sharing my favorite and most interesting cards from my oldest complete set, 1976 Topps. I thought I would continue with the very first set I ever completed, 1985 Donruss. I remember buying rack packs with cards I needed on the front. Early on in the life of Stats on the Back, I showcased the last card I bought to complete this set. The fact that it was Razor Shines made it all the more memorable. I have since obtained a replacement set for the one I collected but will never get rid of my original set, complete with white edges and creases.

1985 Donruss looked great. Nice black borders with classic red stripes, running horizontally through the card. And how about that team logo? I still say that the team logo should always appear on the front of cards. Big picture, simple border, and small Donruss logo with the year. This set had diamond kings, rated rookies, and a Lou Gehrig puzzle. Let's dig in!

Check out this sweet Mets action! Backman is laying down a perfect bunt. There is no way Dan Petry is getting to that one in time. (See Tigers in the Dugout) And Mookie is looking at Larry Herndon in left field, deciding whether or not to stretch it into a double. (Same dugout, same Tigers) Those blue pull-overs look nice with the pinstriped pants. The whole set isn't this action packed but these two shots are FANtastic for us Mets fans.

Walter Wayne or Wally was drafted by the Mets in the first round in 1977. He played 14 years, 9 with the Mets. Backman was an on-base guy with speed. Oddly, his OBP was above .350 every other year for his entire career. 1986 was one of the good years. Backman almost became the manager of the Diamondbacks until his financial and legal troubles caught up to him. He currently manages his son and the rest of the Independent Joliet Jackhammers.

William Hayward, nicknamed Mookie by his grandmother, was drafted in the 2nd round in the same year as Backman. The two of them had pretty equal careers. The fact that he hit the ball through Bill Buckner's legs and has a cool nickname has placed him firmly in the hearts of Mets fans and in the Mets Hall of Fame.
And how about those Tigers in the dugout? Morris won 19, Petry won 18, and Wilcox won 17. (yes, that's Milt Wilcox) Big Willie Hernandez led the team, winning the MVP and Cy Young awards. These Tigers went 7-1 in the playoffs, beating the Royals and Padres.
Remember when Trammell and Whitaker guest starred on Magnum PI?
The Mets were well on there way to being good too!

Next Up: My 2 cents, then back to 85 Donruss!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

76 Topps Tribute: Best of 76

It's time to move on to other baseball card goodness. Here are some of the "big cards" in the 1976 Topps set:
I showed off the Pete Rose card back in an early edition of Best and Worst so it is not included here.

George Brett (2nd year card) - Brett followed up a good rookie season(not as good as Mike Hargrove) with an outstanding sophmore effort. 1 MVP, 13 All-Star Games, 3 Batting Titles including a .390 season in 1980, and 1 one improbable ring 1n 1985. Brett batted .370 in that Series but needed help from the original killer B's, Balboni and Biancalana.

Dennis Eckersley (Rookie Card) - See Eck's list of HOF accomplishments in this ERA Leaders Post.

Nolan Ryan (Card somewhere in the middle of a long career) - Ryan's career is so interesting. He never won a Cy Young and was on only 8 All-Star teams. He is the career leader in K's, Hits allowed per 9 innings, and no hitters. He is also the career leader in walks and wild pitches. He won 324 games (14th all-time) and lost 292 (3rd all-time). You might say he was feast or famine, but when he was feast, there was none more dominant. He did play on some bad teams. His only World Series win came with the Miracle Mets. He is a HOFer mainly because of those noogies he gave Robin Ventura.

Hank Aaron (Last Regular Card) - Anybody know why Topps did not make a card of him in 1977. Hank played 85 games in 1976 and added 10 more homeruns to his historic total. He only won 1 MVP but received votes 19 years in a row. He was an All-Star 21 straight years. Like Ryan, Aaron played on many bad teams, winning 1 World Series early in his career in 1957. Hammering Hank was great for a long time.

These four players may not measure up to the raw star power of Tito Fuentes or Felix Millan but they have their place in this set too. I would like to thank my parents for having me in 1976, which made this tribute possible.

Next Up: Showing off some gift cards from Dinged Corners, way too late contest update, and 1985 Donruss!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

76 Topps Tribute: Tito's Hat

I'm getting close to the end of my tribute to my birth year set. Here is one of my favorites:

As a veteran in the league, Tito must have gotten pretty tired of rookies messing with his hat. So he grabbed the masking tape, wrote his name in big letters and stuck it on his hat, Tito's hat. In this picture, he's leering at 22 year-old Mike Ivie, who recently filled Fuentes' hat with shaving cream. Did I mention that you should not, under any circumstances, mess with Tito's hat!

Fuentes led the league in errors in '71 and '72, then set a record in '73 for fewest errors. Ryne Sandberg broke the record later.

Here's proof that I may be a Tito Fuentes Super-Collector:

Fun Facts about Tito Fuentes.
1. Actual first name: Rigoberto
2. When he reached base: fans yelled "Go-Go"
3. Hobby: Ping Pong
4. Current Occupation: Analyst for the Giants Spanish broadcast.
5. Autograph: Dots his "i" with a star (See '75 Topps card)

Next Up: I put this tribute to bed, show off Eck, Brett, Ryan, and Aaron, and move on to something new. Maybe even follow-up on the contest I held long ago!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

1976 Topps Tribute: Bevacqua Blows

Airbrushing and painting Topps cards to get players in their new uniforms has become an honored tradition. As has Bazooka Joe. These 2 traditions culminate in 1 popular 1976 Topps card:

Bevacqua beat out Johnny Oates for the 1975 championship. On the back, I noticed that Bevacqua appears to have gotten a bye into the 2nd round. Surely there should be an asterisk somewhere on the card. Oh there is!!! Glenn Abbott did not win the A's competition. Angel Mangual should have been the team's representative. AND the Tigers and Pirates did not even participate. Who's to say that Ron Leflore or Richie Zisk couldn't have made a Cinderella run to the title?

And what about that bubble? It is either airbrushed or Bevacqua was using the thickest bubble gum ever. Shouldn't acting Bubble Gum Commissioner, Joe Garagiola, have done something?

Yes, 33 years later I am protesting the results of this competition. It is time we cleaned up this once proud championship. Maybe the senate can get involved. No Hall of Fame for Kurt Bevacqua!!!

According to , this card finished 2nd in Sports Collectors Digest funniest card competition. They claimed the winner was a bit x-rated and did not mention which one it was: Billy Ripken, maybe? Any ideas on what really should be the funniest card?

Next Up: Don't Mess with Tito's Hat!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

76 Topps Tribute: Bat Fun

We have honored cards with silly hats, glasses, HOFers, and a possible 6-man tent in a back pocket, so here's to the bats, but not the maple bats that are attacking women and children at the ballpark. (Oh, they're attacking the men too. We just don't mind that so much.)

Back in little league, the big green bag of equipment always had three old bats, with no grip, that nobody used. There was always one kid who's parent bought him the newest Easton and everybody used it. We even had a Wiffle bat that everybody used. It just hit better than all the others. The knob had come off so we taped the bottom so that no one would cut their hand on the plastic shards on the end. I miss that bat.

These two bats and the players attached ease the pain of losing that classic yellow stick:

Felix Millan is demonstrating the extreme choked-up style that set the Mets record for hits with 191 in 1975. (Surprising Stat: Lance Johnson holds the current Met record w/ 227 hits in 1996) I'm not sure if Felix hit with the part above his hands or the equally available part below his hands. (If Felix was Mr. Potato Head and dressed as Darth Maul and painted his choked-up bat red, he would look like this.)

Gene Locklear did not get the MLB memo that stated that aluminum bats were not permitted. Maybe he was the "kid" whose parents bought him the new Easton. It could be the fungo. Anybody know why its called a fungo? Here are a couple of possibilities.

Millan played for 12 years, was a 3-time All-Star (3 consecutive with the Braves) and even received MVP support in 1973. His career ended after Ed Ott threw him to the ground in an on-field brawl.

Not much on Gene Locklear. He is from Lumberton, NC. Baseball Reference says his best offensive comparable is Rufino Linares. I'm sure I'll post about Rufino at some point. Locklear was traded for a player to be named. I think he could have played longer if he had used that Easton in MLB games.

Who would you take in a fight?
Locklear has that bat but Felix has the jumbo 'stache and the mad Jedi/Sith skills.
Millan in round 3!

Next Up: Bevacqua Blows!