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