Sunday, September 29, 2013

1981 Donruss, John Goryl

#527 John Goryl

Here is the John Goryl autograph that I was able to get through the mail. I sent this card to John at the end of November and I had it back about eight days later.

John only got one chance to manage in the Major Leagues and it wasn't much of one. He was promoted to manage the Twins at the end of the 1980 season. He took the helm with only 36 games left and he lead the club to a 23-13 record down the stretch. He was brought back to manage the '81 club, but was fired 37 games into the season when the team started off 11-25.

That was the end of John's tenure as a Major League manager. He managed 73 games over parts of two seasons and went 34-38.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 160/100

Friday, September 27, 2013

1981 Donruss, Carlos Lezcano

#521 Carlos Lezcano

I've got about a month and a half to go on this set, but this one is the last of its kind. This is the final card that I got signed in-person. All of the rest of the '81 Donruss cards should be through the mail returns.

I was lucky enough to get this card signed at a Wichita Wingnut game this year. Carlos started the season as the hitting coach for the El Paso Diablos. By the time they made it to Wichita, Carlos was the manager for the Diablos, even though I did not know it at the time. Tim Johnson was the original manager, but he left the club because of an undisclosed medical issue. The Diablos were pretty hush-hush about the whole deal as I never saw anything about it on their website. Eventually I noticed that they removed Johnson from the website and some Google searching informed me of why he was not with the club. I was a little bummed out that he was not in Wichita as I had a '75 Topps mini that I wanted him to sign for me. I had met him the previous year and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. I hope he is doing OK.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 159/100

Thursday, September 19, 2013

1981 Donruss, Willie Norwood

#516 Willie Norwood

I had been on a bit of a spree this month with my posting, but that all came to an end last weekend. I had hoped to make up for that this weekend when I was supposed to have a five-day weekend. But, I had to fire someone at work and now it is only a two-day weekend, which is the first one of those in two months. And, those two days off are going to be spent at Kauffman Stadium where I get to see my Royals try to gain some ground against the Rangers. My dad and I have been going to the last Royals home game just about every year since 2000, so we are definitely looking forward to one that actually matters.

Anyways, here is the Willie Norwood card that I got signed through the mail in January after a week-long wait.

Willie played in the Majors for four seasons with the Twins. He was a career .242 hitter with 18 home runs. His best season was in 1978 when he got the bulk of his playing time (half of his career at-bats). That year, he had career highs in average (.255), home runs (8), doubles (22), and RBI (46).

Willie was traded to the Mariners in December of 1980. Unfortunately, he was released by Seattle during Spring Training and never appeared in a game for them. He went on to play a couple of years in Mexico, but never made it back up to the Majors.

Is that a Nike swoosh under Willie's last name?

'81 Donruss Tracker: 158/100

Thursday, September 12, 2013

1981 Donruss, Kiko Garcia

#514 Kiko Garcia

Here is the card of Kiko Garcia that I got signed through the mail last year. I sent this card to him at the beginning of November and I had it back nine days later.

Kiko played in the majors for parts of ten seasons with the Orioles, Astros, and Phillies. He was a part-time guy for most of his his career, though he was the O's regular shortstop for a couple of seasons. He was a .239 hitter who finished his career with 12 home runs and 112 RBI.

Kiko's best season came with the O's in 1979. He played in 126 games that season and hit .247 with career-highs in doubles (15) and home runs (5). He even started five games of the World Series that fall and he hit .400 with 2 doubles, a triple, 4 runs, and 6 RBI. Most of that damage was done in game three when he went 4-4, drove in 4 runs, and was a home run away from the cycle.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 157/100

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

1981 Donruss, Dave Rader

#512 Dave Rader

Here is the second card of Dave Rader that I sent out this past November. The first one was posted about nine months ago and it can be seen here.

There really isn't much to say about Dave that wasn't said in the first post about him. I will say, though, that Dave's tenure in Boston lasted just one season and he made the most of it. He only got into 50 games with the Sox, but he hit a robust .328 which is 70 points higher than his career average. Plus, over a quarter of his hits were for extra bases and he walked a few more times than he struck out. He finished the year with a .802 OPS, which was about 200 points higher than his career total. That just happened to be the final season that he played in the Majors. Had Billy Beane been a GM back then, he surely would have gotten another look with the A's.

Anyone notice that the Royals are still in the hunt with just two and a half weeks to go?


'81 Donruss Tracker: 156/100

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

1981 Donruss, Terry Crowley

#507 Terry Crowley

I am past the 500 card mark, so we are heading down the home stretch for this set.

Here is the Terry Crowley card that was sent to me from Ryan of The Great Orioles Autograph Project. He sent this card to me in April, along with the Al Bumbry card from the set and a bunch of other autos.

Terry was the batting coach for the Orioles fairly recently and I took my '81 Donruss card to get signed at a couple of O's/Royals games. But, I never had any luck getting this card signed by Terry. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when I saw this card in the package that Ryan had sent to me. I was even more excited when I saw that Terry now charges $12 per autograph through the mail.

Terry played fifteen years in the Major Leagues and spent time with the O's, Reds, Braves, and Expos. He played some outfield and first base, but he spent the majority of the time as a designated hitter or pinch hitter. He was a .250 hitter for his career with 42 home runs and 229 RBI. His best season came in 1980 when he had 200+ at-bats for just the second time in his career. He responded with career highs in home runs (12) and RBI(50).

As always, thank you , Ryan!

'81 Donruss Tracker: 155/100

Monday, September 9, 2013

1981 Donruss, Mike Sadek

#498 Mike Sadek

Next up is the card of Mike Sadek that I got signed through the mail. I sent this card to Mike in January and I got it back in just seven days.

Mike played in the Majors for eight seasons and all eight were with the Giants. He was the team's back-up the entire time as he never played in more than 64 games or have more than 151 at-bats. He was a career .226 hitter who hit 5 home runs and drove in 74 RBI. But, he did draw more walks than strikeouts over the course of his career.

His best season was probably the 1980 season when he played in a career-high 64 games. That year, he had career highs in batting (.252), walks (27), and RBI (16).

'81 Donruss Tracker: 154/100

Sunday, September 8, 2013

1981 Donruss, Mike Cubbage

#492 Mike Cubbage

It was a nice three card stretch of in-person autographs, but now it is back to the TTMs. And next up is the Mike Cubbage card that I got signed last September. It took just twelve days for this card to make it back to me.

Make played in the Majors for eight seasons, seeing time with the Rangers, Twins, and Mets. He was a career .258 hitter who drove in 251 runs and hit 34 home runs. His best season was with the Twins in 1978 when he hit a career-best .282 while driving in 57 runs and hitting 9 dingers.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 153/100

Friday, September 6, 2013

1981 Donruss, Tim Stoddard

#475 Tim Stoddard

Here is the Tim Stoddard card that I got signed in Wichita last spring. Tim is the pitching coach for Northwestern and I was able to get three cards signed by him when the Wildcats visited Wichita State. Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the game as it was the Wingnuts home opener that night. So, I stopped by there, bought a ticket, got my cards signed, and then left. It wasn't the most efficient use of my money, but I was able to add another '81 Donruss card to my collection. Plus, I was able to do it in-person, which is becoming harder and harder with this set.

This is one of the more unique photos that I have seen in this set. It reminds me of some of the pictures I have taken at big league games. The photographer is positioned a little higher than the player, like the picture was taken from the stands. It looks like Tim is warming up in the bullpen which is a nice change from most of the posed shots.

Tim is a big guy (6'7") and he makes those numbers look a little under-sized on his jersey. And at the angle the photo is taken from, the name on the jersey almost looks like STOOOARO.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 152/100

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

1981 Donruss, Jim Palmer

#473 Jim Palmer

Here is a card that I got signed at the College World Series in 2012. The CWS usually starts on a Saturday, but in 2012 it started on a Friday. That was the day my dad and I headed up there and we were graced by Jim Palmer's presence at the AT&T tent at Fanfest. Since it was a Friday, there was less people there than there usually is for the first day of the Series. Because of that, I was able to go through the line about five times and I got my two cards signed as well as three 8x10s. Jim was one of the few guys that have signed at that tent that signed something besides the provided 8x10s.

Some of the superstars in the '81 Donruss set were lucky enough to get two cards in the set. They had the standard card with the previous seasons stats on the back and some bullet-style career highlights. Then they had their career highlight card that had a paragraph style write-up on the back and some interesting stats. This card happens to be the career highlight card and the back focuses on the Palmer-Hunter-Seaver decade. It lists wins-losses, ERA, and Cy Young Awards for each pitcher for each season in the '70s. Palmer had the most wins, Cy Youngs, and best ERA, by the way.

Unfortunately, I did not have the other Palmer card from this set. Yet another reason why I really need to complete this set.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 151/100

Monday, September 2, 2013

1981 Donruss, Gaylord Perry

#471 Gaylord Perry

Here is the second card of Gaylord Perry that I got signed at All Star Fanfest last summer. I posted the first card about nine months ago and it can be seen here. I can't believe that I was posting cards from the '60s last November and I still haven't made it through '81 Donruss yet.

Gaylord's career spanned twenty-two seasons and he saw time with the Giants, Indians, Rangers, Padres, Yankees, Braves, Mariners, and Royals. He made five All Star teams and won two Cy Young awards. He was a five-time 20 game winner and is in the top-ten all time for innings pitched (5350), strikeouts (3534), and starts (690). Gaylord finished his career 314-265 with 11 saves and a 3.11 ERA. He was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 150/100

Sunday, September 1, 2013

1981 Donruss, Jim Frey

#464 Jim Frey

Here is the Jim Frey card that I got signed through the mail. I sent this card to Jim at the end of October and I had it back two weeks later.

Jim managed in the Major Leagues for for parts of five seasons with the Royals and Cubs. He debuted with the Royals in 1980 and lead the club to the World Series where they lost with to Phillies in six games. He was then fired by the club twenty games into the second half of the strike-shortened 1981 season.

He was picked by the Cubs to lead them in 1984 and the club won the division before losing to the Padres in the NLCS. For his efforts, Frey was named the National League Manager of the Year. The team slipped to fifth place the following season and Jim was fired fifty-six games into the 1986 season when the club was eleven games under .500.

Two years later, Jim was hired as the Cubs general manager, a position he held for four seasons.

'81 Donruss Tracker: 149/100