Sunday, July 28, 2013

1981 Donruss, Frank White

#340 Frank White

After years of trying, I was finally able to get this Frank White card signed last summer. After being let go as a broadcaster for the Royals, Frank got hired to be a coach for the independent Kansas City T-Bones. I was able to get this card signed at a game when the Bones were in Wichita last year.

I had gotten Frank's signature many times at signings, but this was the first time I had ever got him at a game. He was a pleasure to talk to and I was very surprised at that. At the signings, he is very business-like and tries to keep the lines moving as fast as possible. But at the game, he was real down to Earth and I talked to him a couple of times before the game started. I took my girlfriend's son to the game, too, and Frank threw him a ball after one of the innings was up. It was really special.

Here is Frank coaching first at that game.

Here is the bobblehead that the T-Bones gave out later that season.

I actually got this card signed before, but it was accidentally signed by John Mizerock. You can see that card at the end of this post because I have no clue where that card is now.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 137/100

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

1981 Donruss, Bob Rodgers

#327 Buck Rodgers

Here is the first manager card that I have posted from this set in over two years. This one features Bob "Buck" Rodgers. I sent this card to Buck last November and I got it back a month and a half later.

Buck managed the Brewers, Expos, and Angels during his thirteen years of managing in the Majors. 1980 was his first season and Baseball Reference lists him as the first of three Brewer managers that year and the third of three. I guess he started out the season as the acting manager after the real manager, George Bamberger, suffered a heart attack. George came back, only to step down in September with Buck regaining the helm. The Brewers finished third that season.

They did a little better the next season and Buck got his only taste of the post-season after winning the second half of the strike-shortened 1981 season. The Brewers then fell to the Yankees in five games in the playoffs.

The team got off to a rough start in 1982 and Buck was let go. His batting coach, Harvey Kuenn, took the club to the World Series.

After that, he went to Montreal for seven seasons, but he could never get his club to finish higher than third. He then went on to Anaheim to manage the Angels for parts of four seasons in the early '90s. He never finished higher than fourth with them, though he did pull off his first and third of three again. That came in 1992 when he started off as the team's skipper, only to be hurt in a traffic accident on the teams bus. He missed almost ninety games before finally coming back to manage the team. 1994 was the last season that Buck managed in the Majors.

Buck was the National League Manager of the Year in 1987.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 136/100

Monday, July 22, 2013

1981 Donruss, Dwane Kuiper

#319 Duane Kuiper

Here is the card of Duane Kuiper that I got signed through the mail. Notice that this is the error version of this card that misspells his first name. I sent this card to him in January and I had it back in just eight days.

Duane played in the Majors for twelve seasons and spent time with the Indians and Giants. He was the everyday second baseman for the Indians for a few seasons in the '70s before switching over to a part-time role in the '80s. He was a .271 hitter for his career and he hit one home run. That one homer was a solo shot off of the White Sox Steve Stone in 1977.

Duane was a bad base stealer. For his career, he was 52 for 123. That is a .423 success rate.

Duane is the play by play announcer for the San Francisco Giants.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 135/100

Saturday, July 20, 2013

1981 Donruss, Dane Iorg

#311 Dane Iorg

Here is the card of Dane Iorg that I got signed through the mail. I sent this card to him in January and I had it back eleven days later.

I tried to get this card signed in-person once. And by trying, I mean that I gave my dad the task of getting it signed. Dane was in Kansas City a few years back when the Royals were celebrating the 25th anniversary of their 1985 World Championship. To commemorate it, they held a softball game between some members of the '85 Royals and '85 Cardinals. I decided to 'graph the Cardinals side since they had guys there that I have never seen in person before. I assigned my dad to the Royals side and wished him luck.

At one point I looked over to his side and I saw Dane signing for everyone. My dad was right there in the mix and I assumed that he got this card signed. When we finally met back up, I asked him who he got and Dane's name never came up. I asked him about Dane and my dad's mood turned sour because he was unable to find this card when Dane was signing. It amazes me how pissed my dad can get when he misses out on guys signing since the autographs are all for me and he really should not even care. But, that is my dad.

Dane played in the Bigs for ten seasons with the Phillies, Cardinals, Royals, and Padres. He spent a majority of his time with St. Louis and was mainly used as a utility type player that played the corner infield and outfield positions. He was a career .276 hitter that racked up 11 home runs and 216 RBI in his career. He played in two World Series and hit .526 in 19 at-bats. Five of his ten World Series hits were for extra bases.

In Dane's final season in 1986, he got the chance to pitch in two games for the Padres. The first game came in June and Dane entered the game in the eighth when the Padres were down 14-1 against the Giants. Dave gave up four runs in the frame and allowed two dingers, one to the Giants pitcher, Mike LaCoss. He did get one strikeout, though.

The second game was two months later at the end of August and Dane fared much better. He lasted two innings against the Expos and did not surrender a run while allowing just one hit with a walk and a strikeout. He finished the season, and his career, with a 12.00 ERA over three innings pitched.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 134/100

Thursday, July 18, 2013

1981 Donruss, Joe Nolan

#302 Joe Nolan

Next up is Joe Nolan. I sent this card to Joe at the beginning of March and I had it back in just six days.

Joe played in the Major Leagues for parts of eleven seasons with the Mets, Braves, Reds, and Orioles. He was mainly a back-up catcher throughout his career, though he did play in a majority of the Reds games during the strike-shortened 1981 season. He was a .263 career hitter who managed to hit 27 home runs and drive in 178 batters.

Since he was a part-timer, none of Joe's seasons really stand out as amazing. He did hit .309 in the 1981 season. He was traded to the Orioles after that season where he put up career highs with 6 home runs and 35 RBI. But, he only hit .233 that season

'81 Donruss Tracker: 133/100

Sunday, July 14, 2013

1981 Donruss, Britt Burns

#279 Britt Burns

Here is the Britt Burns card from the set that I got signed at Spring Training this year. Britt is the pitching coach for the White Sox AA affiliate in Birmingham and I was able to get this card signed after the minor leaguers scrimmaged the morning I was at Camelback Ranch.

It was a little difficult for me to ID the coaches at the Sox minor league camp. All of the players had names on the back of their jerseys, but that was not the case for the coaches. I thought there would be a lot of 'graphers there to help point me in the right direction for the coaches that I needed. But, it was towards the end of Spring Training and I was the only 'grapher out there. So, I spent a good deal of time on my phone looking for recent pictures of the guys I needed and was lucky enough to find one of Britt so that I could pick him out of the crowd.

There was one other White Sox coach there that was featured on an '81 Donruss card, but I was unable to get him. It seemed like the morning scrimmage was never going to end and I wanted to get into the park to try to get some 'graphs from a team that I never see play, the Milwaukee Brewers. So, I decided that my 50% '81 Donruss success was good enough and I called it a morning.

Britt pitched in the Majors for just eight seasons. All of them were with the White Sox and he went 70-60 with 3 saves and a 3.66 ERA. Britt's best season was his final one and he had career highs in wins (18) and strikeouts (172). He was traded to the Yankees after the season, but never pitched again as a degenerative hip condition ended his career.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 132/100

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

1981 Donruss, Pat Zachry

#275 Pat Zachry

Next up is this Pat Zachry card that I got signed through the mail. I sent this card to Pat in January and I had it back twelve days later.

Pat pitched in the Majors for ten seasons with four different clubs- the Reds, Mets, Dodgers, and Phillies. He split his time between starting and relieving and he finished his career with a 69-67 record with 3 saves and a 3.52 ERA.

His best season was his rookie year with the Reds in 1976. That season, he went 14-7 with a 2.74 ERA and 143 strikeouts. He even racked up two more victories in the post-season. The season was good enough to give him a piece of the National League Rookie of the Year Award, as he had to share it with the Padres Butch Metzger.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 131/100

Thursday, July 4, 2013

1981 Donruss, Barry Bonnell

#272 Barry Bonnell

Here is the second Barry Bonnell card that I got signed through the mail in December. I posted the first card earlier this year and it can be seen here.

It seems kind of bad to be posting a Blue Jay card on the Fourth of July, but that is just the way it played out.

Happy Independence Day!

'81 Donruss Tracker: 130/100

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

1981 Donruss, Steve Kemp

#249 Steve Kemp

Tiger appreciation week continues with Steve Kemp, the third straight Tiger I have posted on here. Like the last two, this one was obtained through the mail. I sent this card, and three others, to Steve in November, and they all came back signed about a month later.

I am pretty sure that this is the first, and only, time I had ever sent out four cards to the same person in the same request. I usually just send out one, but will occasionally send out two. Sending out three is rare for me, but not unheard of. That is usually where I draw the line. But I ended up finding three cards of Steve, besides his '81 Donruss card, that I wanted sign, so I said what the hell. I made sure to check SCN before I sent the cards out and Steve is a very generous signer. Because of that, I wasn't too worried about losing any of the cards.

Steve played in the big leagues for eleven seasons. He started out with Detroit and he had his greatest success there. He was their everyday leftfielder for his first three seasons in town and 1979 was the best season of his career. That season, he had career highs in average (.318), home runs (26), and RBI (105). He made his lone All Star team that season and was named the Tiger of the Year.

For such a short name, Steve sure has an interesting signature.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 129/100

Monday, July 1, 2013

1981 Donruss, Stan Papi

#246 Stan Papi

This is the card of Stan Papi that I got signed through the mail in March. I sent this card to him at the beginning of that month and I had it back two weeks later.

Stan played parts of six seasons in the Major Leagues. He saw time with the Cardinals, Expos, Red Sox, and Tigers. He was a utility player that could play anywhere in the infield, though seeing him at first was rare. The most games that he ever got into in a single season was 67 with the Expos in 1978. That season, he hit .230 with 11 RBI and had career highs with 11 doubles and 15 runs. For his career, Stan was a .218 hitter with 7 home runs and 51 RBI.

Older Boston fans remember Stan Papi as the guy they got in return for the Spaceman, Bill Lee. A .218 hitter for a three time 17 game winner. Sure, Bill's best years were behind him, but it still seems like Montreal got the better part of that trade.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 128/100