Friday, June 28, 2013

1981 Donruss, John Wockenfuss

#242 John Wockenfuss

Here is one of the most unique TTM returns that I have ever received. I sent this lone card to John at the beginning of March asking him to help me out on my '81 Donruss project. I got it back twelve days later with some extra stuff. The extra stuff included two additional signed cards ('78 Topps and '85 Donruss) and a hand-written note.

 The unique part was the note as it wasn't the usual "thanks for writing" note that you sometimes get from older ballplayers. This note was more of the "hey, I am a bow hunter and I see that you are from Kansas and I hear there are some good-looking deer there; if you know of any place that I could hunt, please give me a call" variety. Yes, John Wockenfuss actually gave me his phone number just in case I might know of some prime deer hunting grounds in the state. How strange is that?

 I love how he added a couple of extra cards to help sweeten the deal. I checked his stats on SCN and, while John is a great TTM signer, there was only one other instance where he included any extra autographs.

For me, this was a very cool return, but a little bit awkward as well.  And, while I do not own any land, I am sure I could arrange for him to hunt on some friend's or family land.  I just don't know that there are any trophy deer out there that would be worth his while to make the trip from Maryland.

So, here is my question.  If you got this return in the mail, would you call John Wockenfuss?

I love the 1-B/CAT/0-F position on this card.  Only on '81 Donruss can you find positions listed out like that.

'81 Donruss Tracker:  127/100

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

College World Series Finale

For the first time since I started running this contest, it has lasted through the finals. In the previous years, the winner had been determined by the time the finals were set. This was by far the closest finish I had ever had and it almost came down to the tie-breaker. This year's winner rode UCLA from the get-go, picking them to advance to the CWS and then to win it all. In fact, his pick for them was the only one that he got right in the initial round. Had he picked another team to advance besides UCLA, he would have lost in a tie-breaker. So, this year's winner is Greg Zakwin, from the blog Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle. Congrats Greg! Here is what you won.

Last year, I gave away autos from Hall of Famers. This year, it is a couple of autographs from future Hall of Famers John Smoltz and Ivan Rodriguez.

Greg, send me your address as soon as possible to I can get these items mailed out to you. My email is zman40 at hotmail dot com.

Thanks to everyone who participated and I look forward to doing this again next year.

*editor's note: in my last post, I basically said that the series needed to go to three games for Greg to win. I honestly thought that and was prepared to name spankee the winner before I double checked myself before I posted. Somehow, I missed one of Greg's points, eliminating the need for the tie-breaker. If anyone is unsure of the scoring, you get one point for each team you pick to advance to the CWS, and then one point for games 1,2,4, and 5, two points for game two, and three points for games 6/7 and the finals with any extra point if you pick the correct number of games.

Here are the final standings
Greg: 12 (11 bracket points and 1 advancing point)
Spankee: 11 (8+3)
Joey Dean and Wilson: 10 (7+3)
Ryan: 4
The Lost Collector: 3 (1+2)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

1981 Donruss, Bob Shirley

#242 Bob Shirley

Next up is the Bob Shirley card that I got signed through the mail. I sent this card to Bob's Oklahoma home in November and I got it back just over a month later.

Bob pitched for the Padres, Cardinals, Reds, Yankees, and Royals in his eleven season Major League career. He came into the league predominantly a starter in 1977 and he eased into the bullpen, with a few spot starts, as his career progressed. He had double digit win seasons twice in his career, though he lost more games than he won both times. He saved 18 games throughout his career, with a season high of 7 with the Padres in 1980, and he struck out 100 or more batters for three straight seasons to start his career. Bob was 67-94 with a 3.82 ERA when he retired after the 1987 season.

Game one of the CWS finals is in the books with UCLA winning 3-1. UCLA needs to lose tonight and win tomorrow to have a decisive winner in the contest. If they win tonight or lose the next two, we are going to have to go to the tie-breaker.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 126/100

Saturday, June 22, 2013

1981 Donruss, Bob Lacey

#240 Bob Lacey

Next up is the card of Bob Lacey that I got signed through the mail. I sent this card to Bob at the end of November and I had it, and another card that he included, back within two seeks.

Bob pitched in the Majors for parts of seven seasons. He spent the first half of his career with the A's before bouncing around with the Indians, Angels, Rangers, and Giants in the second half. He pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen and he racked up a 20-29 record with 22 saves and a 3.67 ERA. His best season was probably his rookie campaign in 1977. He had career highs that season in innings (121.2), strikeouts (69), and saves (7).

As for the College World Series, the finals are set. Mississippi State will be taking on UCLA. A few people picked MSU to be there, but no one picked them to win. One person picked UCLA to win it all, so it will probably come down to UCLA winning or losing to determine this years winner.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 125/100

Friday, June 21, 2013

1981 Donruss, Willie Wilson

#223 Willie Wilson

This is a card that I had been trying to get signed for several years without any luck. I originally took it to a Royals old-timers game to get signed and did not succeed. I then took it to a Kansas City T Bones game when Willie was the starting centerfielder, but was unable to get it signed before the game. There was a post game autograph session, but I did not feel like spending the ten bucks to get the card signed.

I finally got it signed this past winter when the Royals Caravan made an appearance at Wal-Mart in my hometown. My town had been dropped of the Caravan route for the previous three years, so it was nice see them stop there again. It was even nicer that they had a decent line-up of guys signing at the event. Willie was obviously there, along with Everett Teaford, Aaron Crow, and Eric Hosmer. The signing was held during the day on a Thursday, so there wasn't a huge crowd. That was great as I was able to go through the line twice.

North Carolina State was knocked out of the College World Series last night, so we are down to four teams left. Oregon State and Mississippi State play each other and North Carolina and UCLA play. UCLA and Mississippi State are undefeated, so they have to lose twice to be sent home. We will know our final two teams by tomorrow night.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 124/100

Thursday, June 20, 2013

1981 Donruss, Bill Lee

#211 Bill Lee

Here is the Spaceman card that I got signed on my second attempt. I originally wrote to Bill in 2009 and I sent him three cards to sign. I sent him this card, a '75 Topps, and a Senior League card. The last two came back signed, but the Donruss card was never seen again. After finally re-acquiring this card, I sent it back out to him in October and I got it back a month later. This card was sent to Bill's home address in Vermont, but the return envelope was postmarked in Oakland.

My first attempt will Bill came back without an inscription. I must have got lucky this time around to get his famed "EARTH" inscription. It seems a little bit pointless, but I like the quirkiness.

On the college baseball front, Indiana has been eliminated. Luckily, none of you had them going to the finals.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 123/100

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

1981 Donruss, John Tamargo

#210 John Tamargo

The next '81 Donruss comes from John Tamargo. I sent this card to John at the end of January and I had it back eight days later.

John played parts of five seasons in the Majors, seeing time with the Cardinals, Giants, and Expos. He never saw any real significant playing time and only played in 40+ games twice in his career. Both of those seasons were spent split between two teams. His best tenure came with the Expos in 1979 and '80. After being traded to them midseason, he hit .381 in the 12 games he got into. Then, in 1980, he hit .275 in 37 games and had a career-high 13 RBI. That was five more than his previous best despite having 41 less at-bats. For his career, John was a .242 hitter with 4 home runs and more walks than strikeouts.

According to John's Baseball Almanac page, he was drafted five times before he finally signed with a team.

About five years ago, I took this card with me to get signed at a Tulsa Drillers game. The Drillers were hosting the Corpus Cristi Hooks and John was listed as one of their coaches. After the game, I asked him to sign this card as he was heading back to the clubhouse. He said that he would and I handed him my card just to have him give me a funny look and tell me that this was a card of his dad. Whoops.

John needs to warm up his pen before signing cards. His last name came out great. I can't say the same thing about his first name.

On the college baseball front, the CWS field is down to just six teams as Louisville and LSU have been eliminated.

On a side note, I started looking at everyone's pick for the Series and I noticed something interesting. Of the six entries (yes, only six), only four teams were picked to advance to the finals. Pool A had Oregon St and Mississippi St and pool B had LSU and UNC. Of those four teams, Mississippi St is the only one that has yet to lose a game.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 122/100

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

College World Series Contest, Phase 2

In case you haven't noticed, I've been running a little contest here for the past two weeks that revolves around the College World Series. Twelve people have already entered and have a tiny head start. But, it is not too late to get in on the action. There are plenty more points to be earned and no one is even close to locking this thing up yet. So here is all you have to do- fill out a College World Series bracket.

Keep in mind that this bracket is nothing like filling out a March Madness bracket. The reason for that is because of the loser's bracket. But, I am going to try to make this as simple as I can. Here is my homemade bracket. Click on it to hopefully see a bigger view.

Here is a how the bracket breaks down. There are two groups in the bracket- A and B. Each group has six games in it. All you have to do is guess who is going to win each of the games as they advance towards the championship round. 

For instance, group A has Mississippi State and Oregon State squaring off in game 1 and Indiana and Louisville going in game 2. Pick who is going to win each of those games and then those two teams will square off in game 3. The losers of games 1 and 2 will then square off in game 4. Then, the loser in game 3 plays the winner of game 4 in game 5. 

At that point, there will be one team left in the group that is 2-0 (winner of game 3) and one that is 2-1 (winner of game 5). Those two teams play in game 6, which is an elimination game. If the 2-0 team loses, they play a game 7 and the winner advances to the championship. If the 2-0 team wins game 6, they go straight to the championship without game 7. BUT, for the sake of this bracket, I am going to count it as one game. Just pick who you think is going to advance. It doesn't matter how they do it. I am going to call it game 6/7.

After that, you should have a team advancing out of group A. Do the same for group B. Those two teams are your final teams. In the CWS, they play a best of three series for the championship. Pick who you think will win it all and if they will win it in two games or three. Then, for a tie breaker, guess how many runs will be scored in the championship series (the final two or three games).

It might be easier for you to fill it out on paper first. But to enter the contest, leave a comment looking something similar to this.

A1: Oregon St
A2: Indiana
A3: Indiana
A4: Louisiville
A5: Louisville
A6/7: Indiana

B1: NC St
B3: NC St
B6/7: NC St

Indiana over NC St in three games, 42 runs scored

For the sake of the tie breaker, do not pick a number already chosen by someone else. Even if your teams don't make it to the finals, the tiebreaker will still apply to you in the event of a tie.

If you guess every game right, including how many games will be played in the finals, you can come out with 22 points.   As for the prizes, I haven't figured that out yet. It will probably mostly consist of stuff brought home from Omaha.

The CWS begins at 3:00 PM, eastern, on Saturday, June 15. So, all entries must be in by that point. If you have any questions at all, feel free to email me at zman40 at hotmail dot com. Or, just ask in the comments.

Here are the standings through Phase 1
Play at the Plate: 4 (3+ the bonus plug)
Dhoff: 0
Arpsmith: 3
JediJeff: 1
Backstop Cards: 0
Greg Z: 1
Spankee: 3
cardanathema: 3
irondequoit36: 2
Wilson: 3 (2+ the bonus plug)
Justin: 1
Lost Collector: 2
JoeyDean:  3

There were quite a few upsets in the Super Regionals this year, so everyone is still very close.  This thing is anybody's to win.  Good luck!

If you think I might have made an error in the scoring, just let me know.  I will be happy to look into it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

1981 Donruss, Bruce Benedict

#208 Bruce Benedict

Next up is the Bruce Benedict card that I got signed through the mail. I sent this card to Bruce at the end of November and I had it back about ten days later.

Bruce spent his entire twelve year career with the Braves. He was their starting catcher for four seasons in the early '80s before becoming the teams back-up for the remainder of his career. Bruce made two All Star teams as a starter and got one at-bat in each game while collecting one hit in the second game. For his career, Bruce was a .242 hitter that tallied 18 home runs, two of which were grand slams. His best season came in his second All Star season in 1983. He played in a career high 134 games that season and responded with a career-high average of .298.

In college baseball news, three teams have punched their tickets to Omaha- LSU, UCLA, and Indiana. So, if you picked one of those teams, you are on the board.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 121/100

Friday, June 7, 2013

1981 Donruss, Reggie Cleveland

#206 Reggie Cleveland

Here is the Reggie Cleveland card that I got signed through the mail in December. I sent this card to him at the end of November and I had it back six days later. Reggie charges one dollar per autograph and I was more than willing to cough up the buck for his signature. I wish everyone charged a dollar for an autograph. That would offset the guys that charge five, ten, or twenty dollars or more.

Reggie pitched for thirteen seasons with the Cardinals, Red Sox, Rangers, and Brewers. He was mainly a starter, though he did move to the bullpen towards the end of his career. He was a double-digit winner in eight of the seasons he played, including a seven year stretch from 1971-77. He topped out for a career-high of 14 wins twice. He struck out 100 or more batters four times with a career high of 153 in '72. For his career, Reggie was 105-106 with 25 saves and a 4.01 ERA. He is a member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.

Reggie never pitched for the Indians.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 120/100

Thursday, June 6, 2013

1981 Donruss, Paul Mitchell

#205 Paul Mitchell

Next up is former pitcher Paul Mitchell. Paul pitched for six seasons with the Orioles, A's, Mariners, and Brewers. He sure did get around during his six year career.

Paul was mainly a starter and he finished his career with a 32-39 record with a save and a 4.45 ERA. He never had a double digit win season, coming as close as nine with the A's in 1976.

I sent this card to Paul in November and I had it back about ten days later. Paul was nice enough to personalize this card and he even spelled my name right, which has become a problem of late. Good job, Paul!

I have a little more time today than the last time I posted, so I am going to break down the College World Series contest a little more. Here is everyone's picks that still have a chance of making it to Omaha. These teams still need to win two out of three this weekend, so they are not a sure thing yet.

Play at the Plate: North Carolina, Cal State Fullerton, LSU, Vanderbilt, Florida State, Virginia, Oregon State (7 points possible plus 1 bonus)
Dhoff: South Carolina, Cal St Fullerton, Kansas St (3 points possible)
arpsmith: North Carolina, LSU, Florida St, Virginia, Oregon St (5 points possible)
JediJeff: Rice, Cal St Fullerton, LSU, Virginia (4 points possible)
Backstop Cards: South Carolina, Cal St Fullerton, Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, Virginia (5 points possible)
Greg Z: UCLA, Virginia (2 points possible)
Spankee: North Carolina, NC St, Florida St, Virginia, Oregon St (5 points possible)
cardanathema: North Carolina, Rice, Cal St Fullerton, Indiana, Virginia, Oregon St (6 points possible)
irondequoit36: Cal St Fullerton, LSU, Vanderbilt, Florida St, Virginia, Oregon St (6 points possible)
Wilson: North Carolina, Cal St Fullerton, Louisville, Florida St, Virginia (5 points possible plus 1 bonus)
Justin: South Carolina, Rice, Cal St Fullerton, LSU, Vanderbilt (5 points possible)
The Lost Collector: South Carolina, Cal St Fullerton, LSU, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Oregon St (6 points possible)
Joey: South Carolina, Rice, LSU, Louisville, Florida St, Mississippi St, Kansas St (6 possible points)

Super Regionals start tomorrow!!!

'81 Donruss Tracker: 119/100

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

1981 Donruss, Rick Manning

#202 Rick Manning

I am finally past card number 200, so I guess that I am about a third of the way through posting my most recent additions to the '81 Donruss set. Yes, I am going to be posting these cards for some time to come.

Here is the Rick Manning card that I got signed through the mail last July. I sent three cards for him to sign and he signed all three for me. I already posted the first one and it can be seen here.

As for the College World Series Contest, the teams for the Super Regionals are set. The teams play a best of three series and the winners go on to Omaha. So, if you picked one of the teams listed below, you have a fifty-fifty chance of getting a point for that spot. Interestingly, every number one seed, except for two, won their regional. The exceptions were Oregon and Virginia Tech, who lost to Rice and Oklahoma, respectively.

1. South Carolina at North Carolina
2. Rice at North Carolina St
3. UCLA at Cal St Fullerton
4. Oklahoma at LSU
5. Louisville at Vanderbilt
6. Indiana at Florida St
7. Mississippi St at Virginia
8. Kansas St at Oregon St

Super Regionals start Friday.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

1981 Donruss, Tom Veryzer

#199 Tom Veryzer

This is the card that Tom Veryzer signed for me through the mail this past September. It took just ten days to get this card back from him.

Tom played in the Majors for twelve seasons with the Tigers, Indians, Mets, and Cubs. He was primarily a shortstop, though he did play a few games at second and third, as well. He saw a majority of his playing time with the Indians as he got into 100 or more games in three of the four seasons that he played in Cleveland. But, his best season probably came in 1975, his first full season in the Majors. That year, he hit .252 and had career highs in home runs with 5 and RBI with 48. For his career, Tom was a .241 hitter with 14 dingers.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 117/100

On the college baseball front, I have had the privilege of going to three of the four games hosted by the Big 12 Champion Kansas State Wildcats. There has been some exciting ball being played in Manhattan over the weekend and I am looking forward to the two games today. Hopefully the Cats can wrap it up tonight so I don't have to make the drive out there for game seven tomorrow.

So far, there have been just sixteen teams eliminated for the tournament. Here are the teams that are out that contestants picked to be in the College World Series along with how many people picked them.

Binghamton(1), Bowling Green(1), Florida(2), Wichita St(1), Savannah St(1), Canisius(2)