Tuesday, February 21, 2017

1981 Donruss, Brian Asselstine

#186 Brian Asselstine

When I send out a card from the '81 Donruss set, I usually send to some pretty good signers. I don't even have a complete set of '81 Donruss, so I don't send out to people deemed a long shot to get the card back. Because of that, I typically know what I am getting myself into when I send one off. That normally means that I have the card back within a month. That was not the case with this card here. This one took me just over eight months to get back. That was by no means the longest wait for a card from the set, but it is longer than normal. In fact, I had planned on having this card back in time for my last go-around here with the '81D in 2013. But, it just missed the cut-off and had to wait almost four years to finally make it on here.

Brian spent six seasons in the Majors, all with the Braves. The first round pick would go on to hit .254 with 12 home runs and 68 RBI for his career. Brian's best season was probably the 1980 season. That year, he got into more games and had more at-bats than in any other season. While his power numbers obviously were at an all-time best with the increased playing time, his average was also a career-high of .284

'81 Donruss Tracker: #192

Sunday, February 19, 2017

1981 Donruss, Johnny Grubb

#148 Johnny Grubb

Here is the Johnny Grubb card that I got signed through the mail in 2013. This card took one whole week to make it back home to me. This card was sent along with his Pacific Senior League card that I posted almost three years ago. That one can be seen here.

Johnny must have been a super-stud in high school and college. He has the distinction of being drafted four times in a three year span. The Red Sox originally drafted him in the third round of the 1969 draft. Then the Reds took a flyer on him in the secondary phase of that draft. The Braves then drafted him the next year in the secondary phase before the Padres nabbed him in the first round of the '71 draft. Johnny signed with San Diego.

Johnny played in the Majors for sixteen season with the Padres, Indians, Rangers, and Tigers. He pretty much saw it all at the Major League level, making an All Star team early on with the Padres and then winning a World Series with the Tigers towards the end of his career. Throughout that time, Johnny hit .278 and racked up 99 home runs and 475 RBI.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #191

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

1981 Donruss, Ken Forsch

#141 Ken Forsch

I got this card of Ken Forsch signed through the mail in 2014. It took less than two weeks to get it back.

Ken played for sixteen seasons with the Astros and Angels. Be bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, appearing in a few more games as a reliever. He made two All Star teams, once as a reliever for Houston and once as a starter for California. Over the course of his career, he accumulated a 114-113 record with 51 saves and a 3.37 ERA. From 1978-1983, Ken reached double-digit wins each season with a career-high of 13 with the Angels in 1982.

Ken's claim to fame is tossing a no-hitter with the Astros in 1979. It happened in the second game of the season, making it the earliest no-no in a baseball season. It also happened one year after his brother, Bob, recorded a no-hitter, making them the first brothers to ever toss no-hitters.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #190

Saturday, February 11, 2017

1981 Donruss, Mike Heath

#120 Mike Heath

Next up is the Mike Heath card that I got signed through the mail nearly three years ago. I sent this card to Mike in April of 2014 and I had it back in just eight days.

Every once in a while back then, I would send a second, or sometimes a third, card along with the '81 Donruss card. Normally, the second card would be from the Pacific Senior League set or maybe a random traded set I had sitting around. I sent Mike's '86 Topps Traded card along with this one just because. Any more, though, I seem to rarely send a second card along with the '81 D card. Since I have fewer cards from the set to get signed TTM, I guess I am just a little more paranoid about them turning out to be a one per signer and then not returning the Donruss card to me. Since that set is my focus, I send it out alone.

Mike Heath had a fourteen year career with the Yankees, A's, Cardinals, Tigers, and Braves. He was mainly used behind the dish in the Majors, but was never really a team's primary catcher. He only started over 100 games in a season once as a catcher, but he did start the majority of the games for a few seasons with Oakland and Detroit. Most of the time, he seemed to be used in a platoon role.

Out of all the teams Mike played with, he saw the most action with Oakland. He played with them for seven seasons and hit .251 with 47 home runs and 281 RBI as an Athletic. His best season came with them in 1984. Though he hit just .248, he had career-highs in home runs (13), doubles (21), and RBI (64).

'81 Donruss Tracker: #189

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

1981 Donruss, Gary Roenicke

#116 Gary Roenicke

Back-to-back Orioles! Here is another member of the O's 1979 and '83 teams that played in the World Series, winning it all in '83. Unlike Rick Dempsey from yesterday's post, who was the '83 World Series MVP, Gary played less of a role for that team. He played in just three games of the five game series and went 0-7.

Gary played in the Majors for twelve seasons with the Expos, Orioles, Yankees, and Braves. The majority of that time was spent in Baltimore where he could man all three outfield positions. With the O's, Gary played in 850 games and hit .250. 106 out of his 121 career home runs came in the orange and black. His best season was probably his 1982 season. That year, he had career-highs in average (.270), doubles (25), and RBI (74).

I sent this card to Gary in November of 2013 and I had it back about two weeks later.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 188

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

1981 Donruss, Rick Dempsey

#113 Rick Dempsey

Here is the card of Rick Dempsey that I got signed through the mail in 2014. I sent this card to Rick in April of that year and got it back four months later. It was a longer wait than most cards I get back from retired players, but it made it back and that is all that matters.

I was just looking over Rick's stats and I had no idea that he began his big league career in the '60s. Not only that, but I had no idea that he had played for two clubs before joining the Orioles. For some odd reason, I just assumed that he began his career with the O's in the mid to late '70s. I was way off.

Rick made his debut with the Twins in 1969. He would play in just a handful of games with them before being traded to the Yankees before the 1973 season. He played in New York for three and a half years before being dealt to the Orioles in a massive ten player trade. After a couple of seasons as the O's backup catcher, Rick became their primary catcher in 1978 and would stay in that role through the 1986 season.

Over that time in Baltimore, Rick hit .238 with 75 home runs and 355 RBI. He caught two World Series for the team and, as you can see by the awesome inscription he added to the card, he was the MVP of the 1983 World Series. In that series, Rick hit .385 with with all five of his hits going for extra bases.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #187

Sunday, February 5, 2017

1981 Donruss, Dennis Eckersley

#96 Dennis Eckersley

Here is a rarity for me these days with the '81 Donruss set. It is a card that was actually signed in-person. I got this card signed at the College World Series in 2014. AT&T always brings in former ballplayers to sign autographs during the opening weekend of the series. Most of the time, the player will only sign the 8x10 photograph that AT&T provides. I got lucky with Dennis, though, as he was signing everything that was given to him.

Some of the guys that I am missing from the set, that signed only 8x10s at the College World Series, are Dave Winfield, Johnny Bench, Rod Carew, Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter, Ozzie Smith, and Fred Lynn.

When I think of Dennis Eckersley, I do not think of him as a member of the Red Sox. He played for them from 1978-1984 and was a starter the entire time. He had four double-digit win seasons, including a career high of twenty in 1978. During his tenure in Boston, Dennis was 88-71 with a 3.92 ERA and 771 strikeouts and one All Star Game appearance in 1982. Those numbers include the final season of his career, which happened to be with the Sox in 1998.

In May of 1984, Dennis was traded to the Cubs in the deal that brought Bill Buckner to Boston.

I love that Dennis included the Hall of Fame inscription to the card. I do not remember asking for it, but I probably did considering that I did not get one on the 8x10s or the other cards that he signed.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #186