Daily Archives: May 28, 2009

‘Now That’s A Book I’d Read’ – Book #1 – ‘The 4th Wheel’

This book is the 1st book in this new feature at ’30-Year Old Cardboard’.

Title – ‘The 4th Wheel’

Synopsis – A tell-all book featuring all of the pitchers that pitched in the 4th spot for the Atlanta Braves while playing in the shadows of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.

Jacket  Content – Being a major league pitcher is a tough job.  The team’s success depends on your performance each and every time you take the mound.  The pressure is enough to end careers.  Now imagine trying to perform when you have to follow the excellence of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz.

‘The 4th Wheel’ tells the stories of those men with the un-enviable task of doing just that.  The 4th guy in the pitching staff that dominated baseball for more than a decade.  Some did well, while some floundered.  This is their story of how they dealt with playing under the magnifying glass as they tried to live up to the performances of their All-star playing, Cy Young Award winning, future Hall of Fame teammates.

Starting with the 1992 season, ‘The 4th Wheel’ allows the Braves’ ‘other guy’ to share how it felt to play alongside this talented trio.  Some of the stories are hilarious; some are gut-wrenching; and some are a roller coaster of both emotions.  The feelings you will emote as you read through this book will differ with each and every player you get re-introduced to.  But the ultimate feeling you will leave with is that the 3-headed monster of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz may have made up the greatest pitching trio of all-time.

Chapters

1 – The 3-Headed Monster

2 – Steve Avery & Charlie Leibrandt

3 – Steve Avery & Pete Smith

4 – Steve Avery & Kent Mercker

5 – Steve Avery & Kent Mercker

6 – Steve Avery & Jason Schmidt

7 – Denny Neagle

8 – Denny Neagle & Kevin Millwood

9 – Kevin Millwood & Odalis Perez

10 – Kevin Millwood, John Burkett, & Andy Ashby

11 – Kevin Millwood, John Burkett, & Odalis Perez

12 – Kevin Millwood, Jason Marquis, & Damian Moss

13 – Hall of Fame Bound 

fouraces

1983 Topps Super Veteran – Tug McGraw

1983 Topps Super Veteran – Tug McGraw

Although he may ultimately be best known as country music superstar Tim McGraw’s dad, Tug McGraw enjoyed a successful 19-year baseball career.

In 19 seasons, McGraw appeared in 824 games primarily as a relief pitcher.  As a member of the New York Mets for the first 9 years of his career and then spending the next 10 seasons with the Phillies, McGraw established himself as a dependable role player.  With a career record of 96-92 along with 180 saves, McGraw did not figure into too many decisions, but he did help his teams wins games and reach the playoffs quite often. 

McGraw’s team made it to the playoffs 7 times which included 2 trips to the World Series.  In 1973 his Mets team lost their opportunity to win the championship, but 7 seasons later while with the Phillies, McGraw won his lone World Series title.  In that series, Tug appeared in 4 games and collected 2 saves while working 7 2/3 innings.  His sold efforts helped solidify the Phillies bullpen which ultimately landed the team with the World Series title.

Tug McGraw was a 2-time All-star.  And although he was never considered to be an elite pitcher, he did finish in 5th place for the Cy Young award during the 1980 season.  In that season Tug went 5-4 with 20 saves.  He had a 1.46 ERA and struck out 75 batters while walking just 9.

Tug McGraw quietly put together an impressive career.  And the term ‘Super Veteran’ is a fitting one!!!

mcgraw

Happy Birthday Kirk Gibson!!!

Kirk Gibson turns 52 years old today.

Images of Kirk  Gibson’s fist-pumping, leg-limping jog around the bases during Game 1 of the World Series is undoubtedly the first thing that baseball fans remember when Gibson’s name is mentioned.  That night turned Gibson from a very good everyday player into a baseball legend!!  Very few people remember that this was Gibson’s lone appearance in that ’88 title match-up.  It’s amazing how with 1 swing of the bat, Gibson etched his place in baseball history and created a moment that none of us will soon forget!!!

Few recall that just 4 years prior as a member of the Detroit Tigers Gibson won his first championship.  In that ’84 series, Gibson hit .333 in 6 games while collecting 6 hits, 2 home runs, 7 RBI, and 3 stolen bases.  Some players just have a knack for making their presence felt during the most necessary times, and Gibson is certainly that player.

For his birthday, I would like to give ‘Gibby’ perfect health.  Perfect health for the 4 games of that 1988 World Series.  Heck, if he was able to create one of baseball’s grandest highlights with just 1 at-bat, imagine what he could have done with 16-20 of them…  I only ask for 1 thing in return – keep the limp.  It really adds to the dramatic flare!!

Happy Birthday Mr. Gibson!!!