Thursday, April 27, 2017

1981 Donruss, Steve Carlton

#481 Steve Carlton

Here is a card of Hall of Fame pitcher, Steve Carlton, that I was lucky enough to get signed at the College World Series in 2014. Steve was signing at the always popular AT&T tent and was one of the few Hall members that would sign anything. Most of the guys in that tent will only sign the provided 8x10.

Steve was the first big name player that I had seen there more than once. I had the pleasure of getting an 8x10 signed by him at the CWS in 2007. That was my first trip to the CWS in ten years and I had no idea that they brought players in to sign. But, the big names that show up are one of the main reasons I keep going back every year.

Steve has two cards in the '81 Donruss set, his base card and this Cy Young card. I unfortunately do not have his base card, so I got a couple other random cards signed by him. Still, it would have been nice to have knocked off both of his cards from the set in one setting. All the more reason I need to put a want list up and get the set knocked out. One of these days.....

'81 Donruss Tracker: #217

Monday, April 24, 2017

1981 Donruss, Glenn Hubbard

#469 Glenn Hubbard

Here is something I have not posted in over four months. This card was not signed through the mail or purchased for me. This card was signed in-person! I had probably gone four years without getting an '81 Donruss card signed in-person. But, that slump came to an end last month when I was able to get two cards from the set signed at Spring Training in Arizona.

Glenn, who is a good TTM signer, is a minor league manager in the Royals system and he signed this card for me after minor league practice. Normally, I take three cards of a player to get signed. But, since not everyone will sign three at a time, I only took this one card of Glenn just to make sure I got my '81D signed.

The other card I got signed in Arizona was of Mario Soto. That one might not turn up on here for four years.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #216

Saturday, April 22, 2017

1981 Donruss, Dick Williams

#453 Dick Williams

This is actually the second card of Dick Williams that I have posted on here. I posted the first one in 2008. It was a cool '84 Fleer checklist card that Rod, from Padrograhs, gave me. Less than three years after that post, Dick passed away. But, I was still able to add him to my Donruss set thanks to my wife stepping up her game this past Christmas. This is the third card, out of four, that she bought me to help me out with the project. All four cards were of deceased players.

Dick managed in the Majors for 21 years. He was a constant presence with some team every year from 1967 to 1988, with the exception of 1970. Over that span, he managed the Red Sox, A's, Angels, Expos, Padres, and Mariners. He took the Sox, A's, and Padres to the World Series and won in twice with the A's in the early '70s.

One of the best seasons he had was with the Expos in 1979. That club finished 95-65. Those 95 wins were the second most victories he had in a single season. Unfortunately, the Expos came up two games short to the eventual World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

Dick finished his managerial career with a 1571-1451 record. He won manager of the year three times and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #215

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

1981 Donruss, Dave Lopes

#416 Dave Lopes

Here is the Davey Lopes card that I got signed through the mail 2014. Davey was coaching for the Dodgers at the time and I got the card signed care of the team. It took just over two weeks to get this card back.

Davey played for the Dodgers for ten seasons and he had a great run with the team. Over that time, he made four straight All Star teams, played in four World Series, stole over 400 bases, hit double digit home runs five times, scored 100+ runs twice, and won a Gold Glove. Along the way, he hit .262 with 99 home runs, 384 RBI, and 759 runs scored.

And, if all of that was not good enough, Davey went to college just down the road from my hometown at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.

Dusty does not work for the Dodgers any more. He is currently the first base coach for the Washington Nationals.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #214

Monday, April 17, 2017

1981 Donruss, Dallas Green

#415 Dallas Green

I know it is hard to tell, but this card really is signed. While I am not a huge fan of ballpoint pen signatures, they usually turn out OK on the thin '81D card stock. That was not the case with this card. I'm not sure what kind of pen was used, but that thing had seen better days.

Dallas managed in the Majors for parts of eight seasons. The Phillies were his first gig and he had the most success with them. He took the team to the playoffs in each of the two seasons he started the season out at the helm and won it all in 1980. He then became the Cubs general manager for a bit before going on to manage the Yankees for less than a season and then the Mets for about four seasons. He ended his managerial career with a record of 478-487.

Sadly, Dallas passed away last month from kidney failure. He was 82.

This card was signed through the mail in 2014.

'81 Donruss Tracker:

Sunday, April 16, 2017

1981 Donruss, Roy Howell

#392 Roy Howell

Here is the card of Roy Howell that I got signed through the mail in 2014. Roy was the manager of the Tacoma Rainiers at the time and I mailed the card to the team. I sent the card to him in April and didn't get it back until right after the season got over in September.

Roy played in the Majors for eleven seasons with the Rangers, Blue Jays, and Brewers. Over that time, the third baseman hit .261 with 80 homers and 454 RBI. He made one All Star team and played in a World Series with the Brewers in 1982.

Roy's best season came the year following his All Star Game selection. As a Blue Jay in 1979, he had career highs in both home runs (15) and RBI (72). He also tied his single season high in doubles with 28. That was one of four seasons where he hit 28 doubles.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #212

Friday, April 14, 2017

1981 Donruss, Ernie Whitt

#390 Ernie Whitt

This card is kind of a rarity for 1981 Donruss. First off, it is not a posed shot. It looks like an action shot, but it is hard to tell what is going on with the way Ernie is holding the bat. The second thing is that, unlike most of the cards in the set, the photo was not taken in Chicago. Ernie is in his home whites, so the picture was taken at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium. As far as I know, this is only the second '81D that I have posted on here that features a shot from Toronto. The first is a posed shot of John Wathan that I posted some time ago.

I got this card signed through the mail in 2013. It took ten days for Ernie to sign the card and get it back to me.

Ernie played in the Majors for fifteen seasons, spending all but three of them with the Blue Jays. Over that time, he racked up 938 hits, 134 long balls, and 534 RBI. He made the 1985 American League All Star team and went to the playoffs twice.

Despite being born in Michigan, Ernie seems to be Canadian from his long tenure with the Blue Jays. He is in the Canadian Hall of Fame and recently managed Canada in the WBC.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #211

Thursday, April 13, 2017

1981 Donruss, Doc Medich

#386 Doc Medich

Here is one of my latest additions to this set. Why I did not get it signed a few years back in my heyday for sending out TTM requests for this set is unknown to me. But, I noticed some successes from Doc on SCN a couple of months ago, so I gave it a shot. Obviously, it worked out in my favor and I had this card back to me in just two weeks.

Doc pitched in the Major for eleven seasons. While spending most of his time with the Yankees and Rangers, he also had short stints with the Pirates, A's, Mariners, Mets, and Brewers. His tenures with the A's, M's, and Mets were all squeezed into one season.

Over those eleven seasons, Doc won 124 games and hit double digits in wins eight times, including a career high of 19 with the Yankees in 1974. He also had his best strikeout season that year when he fanned 154 batters.

Doc finished his career with a winning record, a 3.78 ERA, and 955 strikeouts. Over that time, he never made an All Star team, but he did pitch one game in the World Series with the Brewers in 1982.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #210

Monday, April 10, 2017

1981 Donruss, Tim Corocoran

#367 Tim Corcoran

This is the second card of Tim Corcoran that I have posted on here. The funny thing is that this Tim Corcoran card is of a completely different Tim Corcoran than the first one posted. Who knew that two different Tim Corcorans played Major League Baseball? The first post I did can be seen here.

This Tim played in the Majors for nine seasons with the Tigers, Twins, Phillies, and Mets. He played first base and right field and hit .270 with 12 home runs and 128 RBI over his career.

His best season was with the Phillies in 1984. That year, he got into 102 games and had 208 at-bats. He hit a career-best .341 that year with 5 home runs and 36 RBI.

I mailed this card to Tim last summer and he had it back to me four months later.

Surprisingly, both Tim Corcorans have good looking signatures.

'81 Donruss Tracker:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

1981 Donruss, Brian Kingman

#360 Brian Kingman

Here is the last of the three straight A's. This one is of pitcher Brian Kingman. I got this one signed through the mail last year or the year before. For some reason, when I logged the return into my spreadsheet, I forgot to save it. So he is now logged in as "TTM, date unknown".

If you are unfamiliar with Brian Kingman, his claim to fame was being the last 20 game loser. He held that title until 2003 when Mike Maroth of the Tigers lost 21 games.

Brian lost those twenty games during the 1980 season, a season where the A's went 83-79. So, Brian lost over a quarter of his teams games all by himself.

Brian's big league career spanned five seasons with the A's and Giants. During that time, he went 23-45 with a save and a 4.13 ERA with 273 strikeouts to 205 walks. During the 1980 season, Brian finished the year with 8 wins and a 3.83 ERA. Somehow, he managed to pitch ten complete games that season with one of them being a shutout.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #208

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

1981 Donruss, Bob Picciolo

#357 Bob Picciolo

Back-to-back light-hitting A's infielders. Based off of the last two cards, you would think that the 1980 A's were not a good ball club. You would probably think that even more after my next post on here, which also happens to be an Athletic. But, the '80 A's finished in second place in the AL West that season. Sure, they were fourteen games back of the first place Royals. But, that second place finish was thirty wins batter than the previous year and helped springboard their playoff team in the strike-shortened '81 season.

I sent this card to Rob in 2013 and he had it back to me in less than two weeks.

Rob was a .234 hitter throughout his career that drove in 109 RBI and blasted 17 home runs over his nine year career with the A's, Brewers, and Angels. He saw regular playing time during his rookie season of 1977, but was mainly a utility infielder every year after.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #207

Sunday, April 2, 2017

1981 Donruss, Dave McKay

#350 Dave McKay

Here is the card of Dave McKay that I got signed through the mail in 2013. Dave was coaching with the Cubs that year and I sent this card to the club. He signed it and had it back to me in just two weeks. I was a little disappointed that I had to send this to him as I saw the Cubs play in Spring Training that year. But, my dumb ass forgot to take this card with me.

Dave played in the Majors for eight seasons with the Twins, Blue Jays, and A's. He mainly played second, though he did see some substantial time at third and a little time at short. For his career, he was a .229 hitter that had 21 home runs and 170 RBI.

Dave was mainly used as a utility player throughout his career. The one exception was the 1978 season with the Blue Jays. That year, he was the everyday second baseman and, with the extra at-bats, he put up his best offensive numbers. He had career-highs in doubles (20), triples (8), homers (7), and RBI (45).

Dave is currently the first base coach for the Diamondbacks.

'81 Donruss Tracker:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

1981 Donruss, Rich Gossage

#347 Rich Gossage

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. But, on a whim, the family decided to go to Spring Training this year. So, all of my free time in the the two weeks leading up to that was finding cards for the trip. All the time sorting paid off as I was able to get 94 cards signed in Arizona this spring.

Here is the Goose Gossage card that I got signed through the mail last summer. It was fairly well know that Goose charged for his signature through the mail ever since his induction to the Hall of Fame in 2008. But, last summer, I started noticing successes from him for free. So, like my Spring Training trip, I sent this card to him on a whim, without a donation, and it came back signed about five weeks later.

Needless to say, I was very excited to get this card back. While I have a few sigs from Hall of Famers from this set, this was the first one that was signed through the mail. On top of that, just look at that signature. That sig on this card is hard to beat.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #205

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

1981 Donruss, Gary Lavelle

#314 Gary Lavelle

This is the third card of Gary Lavelle that I have posted on here. I originally wrote to Gary in 2011 when I obtained his '78 Topps card in the Topps Million Card Giveaway. I did not own this card at the time, so I added a card from the '85 Fleer Update set to get signed. I finally bought this card three years later and sent it to him in early 2014. Gary had it back to me in less than ten days.

Gary was a two-time All Star for the Giants as a reliever. Over his career, he had three 20 save seasons. He racked up 136 during his career, with all but 9 coming with the Giants.

When I posted my first card of Gary in 2011, he was fourth on the Giants all time saves leaderboard. At the time, he was behind Brian Wilson and I speculated that Brian might be in first after the 2012 season. It turns out I was completely wrong on that guess as Brian only pitched in two games in 2012 before joining the Dodgers in 2013.

It looks like Gary's fourth place spot should be secure for the time being. I have no clue who the Giants closer is now, but Sergio Rome and Santiago Casilla have both joined other teams and they were the two closest active players to Gary. Casilla was only four saves behind him.

I am heading to Arizona next week, so this might be my last post until I get back from Spring Training. Follow me on Twitter (@zmills40) to see all the cards I am getting signed down there.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #204

Thursday, March 9, 2017

1981 Donruss, Manny Mota

#299 Manny Mota

How cool is this card? If you are not sure, just look at the position listed on it- coach/OF. By 1980, Manny was the Dodgers batting coach. But, once the rosters expanded in September, he got activated as a pinch hitter. He went 3-7 down the stretch with 2 RBI. Manny did not play at all during the strike-shortened 1981 season, but he did get one more at-bat in '82 at the age of 44.

Somehow, Topps failed to capitalize on making a card of Manny in 1981. The two new kids on the block did, though Fleer left out the coach part of the position.

I got this card signed through the mail in 2014. Manny is a broadcaster for the Dodgers and I mailed the card to the team. It took less than three weeks to get it back.

Are you tired of '81 Donruss yet? This card basically marks the halfway point of the set. Even though I have posted about 25 cards from the set, I think I only have 18 more to go and two of those are of Hall of Famers.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #203

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

1981 Donruss, Bobby Grich

#289 Bobby Grich

Last night, I posted a card that I got signed through the mail last summer and I referred to it as one of my more recent additions to the '81 Donruss collection. Well, here is my most recent addition. I got this one signed through the mail just last month. I have had this card for nearly eight years, so I have no idea why I never sent it to Bobby before. But, I noticed a success from him in early February and gave it a shot. Two weeks later, I had this back to me.

When I first got into cards in 1985, Bobby Grich was not a big deal to me. He was at the end of his career and would only appear in sets through the 1987 season. All I knew about him then was that he had a big mustache.

All of these years later and I know that Bobby was a hell of a ballplayer in the '70s and early '80s. Playing for the Orioles and Angels, Bobby made six All Star teams over the years and he won four Gold Gloves at second base. He probably would have won more if it wasn't for Frank White. His teams made the playoffs five times, but could never clinch the pennant.

For his career, Bobby was a .266 hitter with 224 home runs and 864 RBI. His best offensive season was with the Angels in 1979 when he clubbed 30 home runs, 30 doubles, and drove in 101 RBI. Frank White never hit 30 dingers or drove in 100 runs.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #202

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

1981 Donruss, Ted Cox

#238 Ted Cox

Here is one of the more recent '81 Donruss additions to the collection. This one was obtained through the mail just last year. I sent this card to Ted at the beginning of July and I had it back three weeks later.

Ted played in the Majors for just five seasons with the Red Sox, Indians, Mariners, and Blue Jays. Out of those teams, the Indians were the only team that he played with for more than one season. Over his five seasons, Ted hit .245 with 10 home runs and 79 RBI.

The former first round draft pick of the Red Sox got off to a good start when first called up in 1977. He got four hits in his Major League debut before getting two more hits in his first two at-bats the next night. As far as I can tell, Ted still holds the record for six straight hits to start his career. He ended up hitting .362 in his 13 games with Boston that season.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #201

Sunday, March 5, 2017

1981 Donruss, Rich Dotson

#280 Rich Dotson

Here is the next TTM success from the '81 Donruss set. This one was sent to Rich in 2013 and I got it back a week and a half later.

Rich pitched in the Majors for twelve seasons with the White Sox, Yankees, and Royals. All but two and a half of those seasons were with the Sox and he spent the majority of his career as a starter. Though he had a losing record for his career, which was a result of an 0-4 record in his final season, he still had seven seasons with double digit wins. He finished his career with a 111-113 record with a 4.23 ERA and 973 strikeouts.

Rich's best season was with the Sox in 1983. He was pretty good that year, going 22-7 with a 3.23 ERA and 137 strikeouts. The wins, ERA, and K's were all career bests for him. Despite the great season, he did not make the All Star team that year. Instead, he got his lone All Star selection the following season.

I love those White Sox jerseys.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #200

Friday, March 3, 2017

1981 Donruss, Jon Matlack

#266 Jon Matlack

This is the second card of Jon Matlack that I have posted on here. I posted the first one about four years ago and it can be seen here. That one was a card that I redeemed through the Topps Diamond Giveaway. Unfortunately, I did not own this card at the time or I would have sent it along with that one and posted it four years ago. I am not exactly sure how I acquired this card, but I most likely bought it since I am too lazy to post an '81 Donruss want list on here.

When I sent that first card to Jon in 2012, it came back "return to sender". I waited a bit and resent it to the same address and I got it back the second time. That time, I mailed the card to Texas and I got it back from New York. When it was time to send this card out, I could not find Jon's address. Luckily, Ryan from The Great Orioles Autograph Project, hooked me up with Jon's new New York address and I got this card, and one other, signed in eight days.

Jon spent the second half of his career pitching for Texas. Through six seasons, Jon logged just 200+ innings twice and ended up finishing up his career mostly pitching out of the bullpen. He had two double digit win seasons as a Ranger and finished his time in Texas with a 43-45 record with 3 saves and a 3.41 ERA.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #199

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

1981 Donurss, Bob Boone

#262 Bob Boone

Here is another player from the '81 Donruss set that would later go on to manage. This is the card of Bob Boone that I got signed through the mail in 2014. It took about three weeks to get this card, and one other, back from Bob.

Bob had a nineteen year career catching in the Major Leagues. Over that time, he did it all. He won one World Series, played in seven postseasons, made four All Star teams, caught a perfect game, and won seven Gold Glove Awards. That is an impressive resume. On a side note, I had no idea that the Phillies made the playoffs so many times in the late '70s. They were like the National League version of the Royals which would have made the 1980 Series that much better.

Bob managed the Royals and Red for six seasons and did not do too hot. He finished with a 371-444 record as a Major League manager.

I got this card signed by sending it to the Washington Nationals, Bob's current employer. He serves as the the team's Vice President, Senior Advisor to the General Manager.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #198

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

1981 Donruss, Art Howe

#258 Art Howe

We go from a player turned manager for the '81 Donruss set to a player from the set that later became a manager. I wonder how many future managers are in this set. Off of the top of my head, I can only think of Bruce Bochy, Jim Tracy, Clint Hurdle, Bob Baylor, Dusty Baker, and Bob Boone, but I am sure there has to be a few more.

Art played for eleven seasons with the Pirates, Astros, and Cardinals. He got some regular playing time with the Astros, but was mainly a utility infielder throughout his career as he could man all four positions. He spent he most time at third base during his career while batting .260 with 43 home runs and 293 RBI.

After his playing days were over, he managed the Astros, A's, and Mets for fourteen seasons. Over that span, he had a 1129-1137 record. He made the playoffs three times with the A's and came in second place for the AL Manager of the Year Award for four straight seasons.

The Astro cards from this set look great when they are signed with a blue Sharpie.

Other players from the set that would go on to manage that I just looked up- Alan Trammell, Bill Russell, Cecil Cooper, Pete Rose, Larry Bowa, Paul Molitor, John Wathan, Jerry Narron, Dave Lopes, Hal McRae, Jim Essian, and Ken Macha. There might be a few more in there, but that is all I could come up with from my list of autographs from the set.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #197

Sunday, February 26, 2017

1981 Donruss, Chuck Tanner

#257 Chuck Tanner

Here is the second of four '81 Donruss cards that my wife bought for me for Christmas this past year. This one features long time manager, Chuck Tanner, who passed away in 2011.

Chuck had played in the Major Leagues for parts of eight seasons with the Braves, Cubs, Indians, and Angels. He appeared in just 396 games over that time and hit .261 with 21 home runs.

Chuck got into managing after his playing career and managed four different clubs over nineteen consecutive seasons. He lead the White Sox, A's, Pirates, and Braves. Over those nineteen seasons, his clubs had five second place finishes and his 1979 Pirates team won it all. For his career, his clubs posted a 1352 and 1381 record. He won American League Manager of the Year with the White Sox in 1972.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #196

Saturday, February 25, 2017

1981 Donruss, Kent Tekulve

#254 Kent Tekulve

I got this card signed through the mail, but I went about it in a different way than usual. Rather then send this card to Kent's residence, I mailed it out last year to the Pirates Spring Training complex. I saw some returns coming from him from there and I gave it a shot and got my card back ten days later. While I have mailed cards to Spring Training for coaches and managers, this was the first time that I had ever sent one to a former player and got it back signed. Let's hope I can repeat that success this year with Ron Guidry.

Kent pitched in the Majors for sixteen seasons with the Pirates, Phillies, and Reds. He spent most of that time in Pittsburgh and became a staple in the Pirates bullpen. During his time with the Bucs, he went 70-61 with 158 saves and a 2.68 ERA. He won one World Series with them and made one All Star team.

For his career, Kent was 94-90 with 184 saves and a 2.85 ERA.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #195

Friday, February 24, 2017

1981 Donruss, Dan Quisenberry

#222 Dan Quisenberry

Obviously, I did not get this card signed through the mail as Dan passed away from a form of brain cancer in 1998. Instead, my lovely wife bought me this card for Christmas two months ago. She couldn't figure out what to get me, so I talked her into buying me some signed '81 Donruss cards from deceased players. She ended up getting me four of them, which was really cool of her. All four were PSA/DNA certified and all four will be unslabbed and put into my binder with the rest of the '81 Donruss.

Growing up in Kansas in the '80s, I certainly knew who Dan Quisenberry was. Even though I didn't realize how great of a closer he was in that era, I knew of him because of his side arm delivery. Playing catch in the backyard usually turned into imitating your favorite pitchers windups. At some point, you always had to uncork a Dan Quisenberry side arm pitch in there and it usually wound up ten feet to the left of the person you were trying to throw it to.

Dan pitched for the Royals, Cardinals, and Giants during his twelve year career. Over that span, he racked up 244 saves while making two All Star teams and leading the American League in saves five times.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #194

Thursday, February 23, 2017

1981 Donruss, Andre Thornton

#198 Andre Thornton

Here is a card of Indians slugger, Andre Thornton, that I got signed through the mail in 2014. It took Andre about three weeks to get this card back to me.

Andre played in the Majors for fourteen seasons with the Cubs, Expos, and Indians. The bulk of that time came in Cleveland as he was a regular there for most of his ten seasons on the team. Over his career, Andre had three 30 home runs seasons and two 100 RBI seasons and all of those came with the Indians. Since he was in Cleveland during the '80s, he obviously was on some bad clubs. Nevertheless, he continually put up good numbers on a regular basis there.

For his career, Andre logged 253 home runs and 895 RBI. He made two All Star teams and was 1-2 in his two at-bats in those games. He struck out against Steve Carlton in the '82 game and singled against Fernando Valenzuela in the '84 game.

Andre's best season was probably his 1982 season when he hit 32 home runs while hitting .273 with 116 RBI.

I haven't got a clue what is going on with Andre's signature. For a guy that played in the '70s and '80s, it is unusual that all, or at least part, of his signature is not legible. I think I see the last letter of his first name and a "t" in the last name.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #193

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

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.

1981 Donruss, Tom Griffin

#75 Tom Griffin

This is the card from Tom Griffin that I got signed through the mail about a year ago. I sent this card to Tom last January and I got it back nine days later.

Tom pitched in the Major Leagues for fourteen seasons with the Astros, Padres, Angels, Giants, and Pirates. He spent his first seven and a half years in Houston before starting to jump around a bit in the second half of his career. He both started and relieved throughout his career and amassed a 77-94 record with 5 saves and a 4.07 ERA.

Tom's best season was his rookie campaign when he went 11-10 with a 3.54 ERA and 200 strikeouts. Those 200 Ks were ninety more than he would ever get in any other single season.

Tom also had a little pop in his bat. Though he was just a .163 hitter, he did smack 10 home runs during his career. Two of those came off of Hall of Fame pitchers Fergie Jenkins and Steve Carlton.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #184

Sunday, January 29, 2017

1981 Donruss, Steve Garvey

#56 Steve Garvey

Next up is this Steve Garvey card that I got signed through the mail in 2013. I did not have this card of Steve, so I picked up up from Sportlots for $.18. Steve charges for his signature, but I had no problem paying the small fee to get this card signed. Steve has one more card in the set that I also need to get signed now. It took Steve just two weeks to get this card back to me.

Steve was winding down his career when I first heard of him. In fact, when I think of Steve Garvey, I think of his '85 Topps record breaker card from his days with the Padres. But, of course, he spent the better portion of his career with the Dodgers. And he had some monstrous seasons with them.

With Los Angeles, Steve had five seasons with 20+ home runs AND 100+ RBI. Plus, he hit over .300 in all of those seasons except for one in which he hit a meager .297. That happened to be the '77 season when he had career highs in both homers (33) and RBI (115). During his time with the Dodgers, he made eight straight All Star teams and he went to four World Series. Then, with San Diego, he made two more All Star teams and appeared in one more World Series.

During his career, Steve won two All Star Game MVPs, two NLCS MVPs, four Gold Gloves, and the 1974 National League MVP.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #183

Saturday, January 28, 2017

1981 Donruss Bert Campaneris

#50 Bert Campaneris

I had met Bert twice in person at events held by the Kansas City T-Bones. Those events were about eight years ago and, while I got cards signed by Bert, I did not get his '81 Donruss signed. Most of my '81 D were bought in an unopened box back in 2008. Since the cards were twenty-seven years old, and Donruss put gum in their inaugural packs, each pack had one card with a peice of gum glued to the front of it. Of course, the only card of Bert in that box had gum on it. So, I had to buy this card and get it signed through the mail. I did that in 2014 and got the card back two months later.

Yesterday, I went to Royals Fanfest. While I was able to get in some autograph lines, unlike last year, I still did not do very well. I came home with just eleven cards signed by five guys. That hardly justifies the $45 it costs to get the family in the doors. If I would have got Salvador Perez, it would have been a good day. Instead I got Ned Yost, Scott Alexander, Chris Young, Rex Hudler, and Hunter Dozier. Out of those, Hunter was the only one that I did not have anything signed by. We missed out on all the big name players and did not even see any Royals alumni signing.

While I have always criticized the Royals for how they run their autograph lines at Fanfest, they seem to get worse and worse every year. For starters, you have to get in one of five lines and hope for the best. They do not tell you who is signing where or when. It's a crapshoot. Then, they only allow 150 people in that line. We got to Fanfest as it opened and headed for the furthest line from the door. When we got there, the 2:30 line was full already. So, we got in the 3:30 line. Perez signed for the 2:30 crowd and we got Dozier at 3:30.

After we got Dozier, we got back in line. Of course, the 4:30 was full already, so we got in the 5:30. Scott Alexander signed at 4:30 and a third of the people in line jumped out to hope for a better person in whatever line they could get in. Did they let more people in line to make up for the mass exodus? Of course not. That would have made too much sense. So, Scott signed for everybody in his line in a mere twenty minutes compared to the fifty-five minutes it took for Sal to sign for his line.

Since I have cards signed by all the big name Royals except for Perez, I would have been more than happy picking off some of the younger or newer guys that aren't as popular. But, since they only sign for the people that made it into the line before it got closed off, whether those people stay in that line or not, that is impossible to do. The lesser known guys sign for the people in less than twenty minutes and then pop smoke and vanishes.

Less than five years ago, we used to be able to hit up more than one line per session. Yesterday, we were doing good just to get in a line for every other session.

"81 Donruss Tracker: #182

Thursday, January 26, 2017

1981 Donruss, Ed Farmer

#40 Ed Farmer

If you haven't figured it out yet, nearly all of these '81 Donruss I am going to be posting for the next couple of months were signed through the mail. It has been a few years since I got one of these bad boys signed at a game. I have two to post that I got signed at the College World Series and four that my wife bought me. The rest were all signed TTM, just like this one was. I sent this card to Ed in 2013 and I had it back two and a half weeks later.

Ed had a long professional career. He started playing in 1967 and his last season was 1986. During his two decades of pro ball, he pitched in the Majors for parts of eleven seasons with eight different teams- the Indians, Tigers, Phillies, Orioles, Brewers, Rangers, White Sox, and A's. Some of his stints were so short with a few of those teams that he doesn't even have a major card for half of them.

Ed pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen throughout his big league career. During that time, he racked up a 30-43 record with 75 saves and a 4.30 ERA. He never really had a defined role with a club until he was traded to the White Sox in the middle of the 1979 season.

His time on the south side lasted two and a half years and Ed made the most of it. He got into 42 games in the second half of the '79 season and he responded with a 2.43 ERA and 14 saves. In 1980, he had a 3.34 ERA and recorded a career-high 30 saves. The 30 saves was third in the league behind Goose Gossage and Dan Quisenberry, who each had 33. Ed made his lone All Star team that season.

Ed's ERA ballooned to 4.61 in 1981 and his saves dropped to 10 and the Sox let him walk after the season was over. But, over those two and a half seasons in Chicago, Ed had a 13-19 record with 54 saves and a 3.31 ERA.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #181

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

1981 Donruss, John Stearns

#35 John Stearns

Here is another through the mail request that I sent out in 2014. If I remember correctly, John was working with the Tacoma Rainiers at the time. I sent this card to him at the tail end of the season and I got it back a week later.

John played in the Major Leagues for eleven seasons. After being the number two pick in the 1973 draft, John made his Major League debut with the Phillies the following year. He got into just one game for them and went 1-2. The Phils traded him to the Mets after that season and John would go on to spend the rest of his career with them. During that time, he was the team's primary catcher from 1977-1982 and he had a .259 average with 46 home runs and 312 RBI as a Met.

His best season was the 1978 campaign. That year, John hit .264 with career-highs in home runs (15), RBI (73), and stolen bases (25). John made four All Star teams with the Mets, but he did not make the '78 team.

'81 Donruss Tracker: #180