Thursday, February 28, 2013

1981 Coke Teams Sets, Willie Aikens

#1 Willie Aikens

Here is a card that I got signed at Royals Fanfest last month. I have been picking up some oddball cards of former Royals over the past few years as I see many of the guys on a yearly basis and it is fun to get some less well known cards signed. This year I took this Coke card, a Squirt card, a Drakes card, and a SSPC card to get signed, but this is the only one I had any luck with.

As with most oddball sets, I know nothing about this one. The card is of the same stock as the regular 1981 Topps cards, so they were not cut out of a box. I can only assume that the cards were inserted in twelve packs or that there was some way of redeeming the cards through the mail. Maybe someone who remembers these can fill me in.

As for Willie, he recently published a book titled "Safe at Home". I picked up a signed copy at Fanfest, but I have yet to start reading it.

Prepare yourself for large dose of 1981 Donruss. At the rate I am going, I will probably be posting that set for the next six months.

Monday, February 18, 2013

1980 Topps, Fergie Jenkins

#380 Fergie Jenkins

Here is the second and final card that I got signed by Ferguson Jenkins at All Star Game Fanfest last summer. The first one that I got signed featured him as a Cub since that is how I always picture him. This one features him as a Ranger and I bought it because it was super-cheap. I wish that I did not have to buy a card of Fergie as a Ranger because somewhere I have an unsigned '81 Donruss card of him that I need to add to my collection. I took it to an old timers game to get signed in 2008 and failed and I haven't seen the card in a few years. I know it is laying in some unsorted box somewhere, I just haven't come across it in some time. However, though, I recently made my first purchase from sportslots and I finally picked up another '81 Donruss Fergie Jenkins. Now I will be ready if I ever run across him again.

Fergie pitched for the Rangers for six seasons. He never made an All Star team with them which is amazing considering that he won 25 game in his first season in Arlington. Since the All Star Game takes place in the middle of the season, maybe he won all those game after the break. In those six seasons, Fergie was 93-72 with a 3.56 ERA. Those 93 wins are still good for fourth place on the Rangers all time wins list and the 25 in a single season is one Ranger record that will probably never be broken.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

1980 Topps, Fred Howard

#72 Fred Howard

This is the last card from the Topps Diamond Giveaway that I have to post. I have very few cards from 1980, so I was more than willing to add one lone card from the decade to my collection. Even though this was the newest card that I had shipped to me, this one was one of the worst condition-wise. It has rounded corners that are peeling back, but oh well. It was free.

This is the only mainstream card of Fred Howard. He pitched in the Majors for just one season and he went 1-5 with a 3.57 ERA over 68 innings. It was back to AAA the following year and he must have ended up hurting his arm as he missed all of the 1981 season. He pitched in just four minor league games in 1982 and two in 1983 before calling it a career.

Fred apparently went to medical school after his playing days were over since he added M.D. to his signature. After doing a quick search, it appears that he is a surgeon in Winter Lake, Florida.

I sent this card to the doctor at the end of last April and I had it back a month and a half later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1979 Topps, Ed Ott

#561 Ed Ott

Last season, both the American Association and the Can-Am League fielded an odd number of teams. Rather than have a team sitting out for a three or four game stretch, the two leagues decided to play interleague ball against each other. As a result of that, I was able to get Ed Ott's autograph at a Wichita Wingnut game as Ed is the pitching coach of the New Jersey Jackals. The Jackals were the lone Can-Am team to travel to Wichita last year and it appears that they will be the only one this year, as well.

Ed signed all three cards for me before the game I went to. He was in good spirits despite being less mobile than he was in his playing days (it was fairly obvious that his time behind the plate took its toll on his legs). I knew the Jackals had a small road trip through the American Association, so I was curious if they brought a bus or if they ponied up the money for a plane ride. Ed said that they flew into Kansas as there was no way his body would have survived the bus drive from New Jersey.

Ed is still the pitching coach of the Jackals and I am sure that I will try to make it to one of their games in Wichita again this season. If anyone needs an autograph from Ed, let me know and I will probably be able to get one for you.

For such a short name, there is a lot going on with Ed's signature.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

1979 Topps, Barry Bonnell

#496 Barry Bonnell

This is another card that I got signed through the mail, though I did not unlock the card on the Topps Diamond Giveaway. I was going to send Barry his '81 Donruss card to sign for me and then I noticed that he had this card, too. So, I bought this card from checkoutmycards and the reason why I did that is because I love the late '70s Braves jersey that Barry is sporting on it. It really is a unique jersey and, luckily for Braves fans, one that was only worn for four seasons.

I sent this card to Barry right after Thanksgiving and I had it back about three weeks later.

Barry played for the Braves, Blue Jays, and Mariners during his ten year Major League career. He played in 100 or more games in seven of his ten seasons and, for his career, he was a .272 hitter with 56 home runs and 355 RBI. His best season probably came in 1980 with the Jays when he had career highs in home runs (13), RBI (56), and walks (37).

Of the fifty pitchers that Barry hit home runs off of, he had the most off of the knuckle ball throwing Charlie Hough.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

1979 Topps, Tim Johnson

#182 Tim Johnson

Here is the third and final Tim Johnson card that I got signed in Wichita last summer. The other two cards he signed for me were Brewer cards, so I had to mix it up by getting a Blue Jay card signed. And I picked out a good one, too, as Tim is sporting a very stylish perm in this card. However, I have to point out that he unfortunately no longer wears his hair in this style.

Tim spent his last two seasons in Toronto after being traded there early in the '78 season. He played sparingly and hit .212 while playing all four infield positions.

After his playing days were over, Johnson scouted and coached. In 1998, he was named the manager of the Blue Jays and guided the team to a 88-74 record, third in the AL East. After that season, Tim got into some hot water after admitting that he lied to his players about his time in Vietnam and about being an All-American high school basketball player. He went to Spring Training with the club in 1999, but was let go about a month before Opening Day because he had become too much of a distraction.

After Toronto, Tim managed in Mexico and various independent teams. He is slated to manage the El Paso Diablos again this coming season.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

1978 Topps, Tim Johnson

#452 Tim Johnson

Here is the second of three cards that I got signed by Tim Johnson last season in Wichita. Tim managed the El Paso Diablos for a majority of the season and I got him to sign at the Wingnuts final home stand of the regular season. You can see the first card I posted here.

Tim played in the Majors for seven seasons with the Brewers and Blue Jays. He was a light-hitting middle infielder that was mainly used as a back-up. The one exception to that was his rookie year in 1973 when he played in a career-high 136 games. That season, he hit .213 with 25 runs, 99 hits, 10 doubles, and 32 RBI (all season highs except average). For his career, Tim was a .223 hitter that never hit a Major League home run.

He did accomplish an unusual feat in 1974, though. That season, he hit 7 triples, which matched his total for doubles on the year. He had so many triples that year that it was over half of what he got for his career (13).

Saturday, February 2, 2013

1978 Topps, Andy Hassler

#73 Andy Hassler

Oh boy, I am about done with my Topps Diamond Giveaway cards. There is only one more to go after this one and it will be a few days before I get to it. The one features Andy Hassler. I sent this card to him at the beginning of last May and I got it back about three weeks later. I sent another card with this one and part of the signature ended up on the back of that card.

Andy pitched in the Majors for parts of fourteen seasons. He was well traveled and spent some time with the Angels (twice), Royals, Red Sox, Pirates, Mets, and Cardinals. He mostly relieved in his career and he finished with a 44-71 record with 29 saves and a 3.83 ERA. Andy had a career high of nine wins with the Royals in 1977 and ten saves with the Angels in 1980.

Nothing really stands out in Andy's stats. But something did stand out to me on Andy's transactions page. Andy changed teams six times. Out of the six times, he signed as a free agent twice. For the other four times, he was sold to the other team. He was never traded for another player.