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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

1981 Donruss, Luis Gomez

#88 Luis Gomez

There was no 2017 Topps out at my local Wal-Mart, so I have time to post a card. When I sent this card out to Luis, I thought I would be posting it when I last posted some '81 Donruss cards in 2013. But, this card had a longer turnaround time, and it came back just a tad late to be posted on the last go around. I sent the card to Luis towards the end of 2012 and it took six months to make it back home.

Luis played in the Majors for eight seasons with the Twins, Blue Jays, and Braves. He was mainly a back-up infielder, though he was a starter for two seasons. For his career, he was a .210 hitter with no home runs and 90 RBI. With the Blue Jays in 1978, Luis started 153 games at shortstop. He hit .223 that season with 39 runs scored and 32 RBI.

Luis was a horrible base stealer. He had 6 stolen bases in his career and was thrown out 22 times. That was a success rate of 21.4%. Ouch! The Blue Jays can take most of the blame for that low success rate. During that '78 season, they sent Luis running twelve times. He arrived safely twice, or 16.7% of the time.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #185

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Card Room

A few weeks back, My Cardboard Habit announced a contest for collectors to show off their card room. I was really excited to enter, but not quite ready at the time.

Back in November, we purchased our first house. One of the selling points on the house we bought, for me at least, was a room in the basement that I claimed for my card room. Unfortunately, there were some dumb things going on in that room that needed to be addressed before I could get all moved in and the work took much longer than I anticipated. Luckily, I got all of the hard stuff done and now I just need to finish decorating. So, my room is still a work in progress.

Since this post is about cards, let's start with how I store my cards. Last year, I had some time off after the birth of my son and I used that time to construct this shelf.

More importantly, the time off gave me an opportunity to get all of my older cards sorted by year and brand. So, the whole top shelf, and part of the bottom, is dedicated to cards of retired players. On the bottom shelf is where most of my cards of active players are, sorted by team. Since I am an autograph collector, it is easier for me to get ready to 'graph a Major League game if I can find the majority of the cards I need in one spot. That is why I split up my cards by retired and active players. In the shoe boxes are cards I need to sort still and all of my relic cards. On top of the shelves is ample space for me to get cards sorted.

Opposite my shelves is my computer desk. I have had this cheap thing since my college days, but it still gets the job done for me. The four binders hold the prizes of my collection, all of my autographed cards. I really need to start a fifth binder, but I am not sure it will fit in the space provided.

On top of the desk is some of my books and my scorebooks. Above the desk are my signed pictures that I always get at the College World Series. I only hang the Hall of Famers up there. So far I have Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter, Rollie Fingers, Jim Palmer, Johnny Bench, Rod Carew, Steve Carlton, Barry Larkin, Ozzie Smith, and Dennis Eckersly hung up. I still need to hang John Smoltz, Frank Thomas, Dave Winfield, and, later this summer, Ivan Rodriguez. I just need to buy some more picture frames first.

On the wall between my cards and desk is a map of all of the ballparks I have visited. When I first started this blog, I was using it just to get familiar with Blogger. Ultimately, I wanted to start a blog about my ballpark visits. Eight years later, this blog is still rolling along and the ballpark blog never came to be. Nevertheless, I still love checking out ballparks and this map is a great to show where I have been.

To the right of my desk are my display cases that have all of my signed baseballs and other things. The metal case is an old Oakley display case and it features balls signed by Hall of Famers on the top two shelves. The top shelf has balls signed by Tom Lasorda, Rod Carew, Frank Robinson, Gaylord Perry, and Harmon Killebrew. The second shelf has balls signed by Cal Ripken Jr. (two balls), Frank Thomas, Dennis Eckersly. The Royals helmet is signed by Billy Butler. The third shelf has a hat signed by Eli Manning and a helmet signed by Collin Klein. Those are the only football related things in this room. The bottom shelf has a ball signed by Buck O'Neil and a seat bottom from Rosenblatt Stadium, the longtime home to the College World Series.

Leaning on that case are four bats. I still have not figured out how I want to display these in my room. Hopefully, they will not stay like they are for long. The highlights of those bats is the one signed by Andre Dawson.

Next to the Oakley case is more shelves of balls. There are a random assortment of signed balls, game-used balls, and team-signed balls, as well as some some stuff from my Army days and binders of cards from my youth.

On the wall next to the signed ball is my signed Irving Falu Spring Training jersey. I picked that up at Royals Fanfest one year for ten bucks. I then got it signed, I think, at an Iowa Cubs game when the Omaha Stormchasers were in town. My wife gave the frame to me as a Christmas gift three years ago and it just leaned against a wall at our old rental until we moved here.

On the wall above my card shelves are all of my bobbleheads and other knickknacks I have accumulated over the years. All of the full size bobble heads are stadium giveaways and they are mostly from games I attended.

The last things to show in the room are my pride and joy. These are my stadium seats from Tiger Stadium. I purchased these in 2006 when they started to dismantle Tiger Stadium. They set me back $300, but I was single and in the Army at the time, so I had the money to blow. Today, that price seems like a steal. I think the Yankees and Mets were charging around a grand for their seats when they got new parks. Even the Royals charged $500 when they removed seats from Kauffman during their renovation. I love The K, but there was so much more history associated with Tiger Stadium.

So, that is my card room. Like I said, it is still a work in progress as I have more wall space that I need to fill. But, I am able to go through cards easily and that is the main point of the room. Thanks for taking a look.