Monthly Archives: May 2009

Happy Birthday Eric Davis!!!

Amazingly, Eric Davis turns 47 years old today!!!

Wow, I remember the hype around Eric Davis as he began his career with the Cincinnati Reds.  He was a ‘5-Tool player’ that could do it all and he was going to rescue the Reds franchise and deliver them back to baseball glory.  Davis had the speed, power, charisma, and personality to carry the franchise to the promised land!!!

After 7 remarkable seasons with the Reds that were littered with All-star appearances, Gold Glove trophies, Silver Slugger awards, and even a World Series championship, Davis was on his way to becoming one of the games biggest stars.  Talk about becoming baseball’s second ’40/40 Man’ was a daily occurrence in baseball circles.  As one of the game’s premier players, ‘Eric The Red’ was riding high.

Unfortunately, a terrible string of injuries and then an unfortunate battle with cancer stalled Davis’ ability to dominate the game.  This 1-time hero became just a regular role player.  On occasion, Davis gave us more memorable moments to add to his impressive highlight reel, but he was never able to recapture and string together seasons of success like he had in the late 1980’s when he was on top of the baseball world.

For his birthday, I would like to give Eric back the 1987 season.  I believe that this was his best all-around effort, and he only played in 129 of the team’s 162 games.  In those 129 contests, Davis hit .293 while collecting 37 homers and 50 steals.  Something tells me that if he had been healthy for the entire year we could be referring to him as the original ’40/40 man’ and quite possibly the lone ’50/50 Guy’ too.

Happy Birthday to ‘Eric The Red’!!!! 

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‘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 

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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!!!

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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!!!

 

Randy Johnson’s Countdown To 300 Wins – Part 4

Tonight Randy Johnson takes his 3rd shot at career win #299.  In his last outing Johnson was dazzling – He pitched 6 innings while allowing just 1 run and striking out 7 batters.  Unfortunately it was not enough as the Giants fell to the Mariners in extra innings.

Will tonight be any different for Johnson?  His Giants team is at home tonight, where they are 14-8, as they take on the Atlanta Braves.  In 12 career games versus the Braves, Johnson is 5-5.  Hopefully start #13 is indeed lucky as ‘The Big Unit’ continues his march towards career victory #300.

Johnny Bench Book Signing – Results

This happened in such a flurry that I don’t even know where to begin this story… 

I try to search the autograph webpages that I follow often so I keep on top of what is happening in that part of the hobby.  Of the sites I follow, some deal with in-person autograph experiences, some are strictly for TTM collectors, and then there are the ones that encompass the entire subject.

One that I use quite often is www.sportsgraphing.com.  This site has 2 options for the user – (1) free listings of all professional athlete autograph appearances in the country.  The only limit is that these are often not revealed until just days prior to the occurrence making it hard to plan ahead.  (2) a paid membership allowing total access to dates and times of events so you can plan accordingly.  Obviously the second plan is much better, but I stick to the free listings in hopes that I can move quickly to add some pretty sweet autographs to my collection.

And now I have added this….

Johnny Bench was doing a signing at a Barnes and Noble store in Arizona.  Although Bench was only offering free autographs with the purchase of his new book, I took this chance to grab a Hall of Fame autograph from one of the greatest players this sport has ever seen.

Check it out…

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And now the autograph…

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NNNIIIICCCEEEE!!!!!  My signed book collection is growing by leaps and bounds.  I am thrilled to add this HOF and 2-time MVP to my collection and look forward to reading this book in the very near future.

Thank you Mr. Bench!!!

Happy Birthday Frank Thomas!!!

‘The Big Hurt’ turns 41 years old today.

I have to say that of all of the players in the 40-ish age group that are no longer active, I think that Frank Thomas still could be a great contributor in the majors today.  Thomas was a rare player and his offensive abilities were limitless.  Had it not been for injuries that effected his daily performance and eventually prematurely ended his career, Thomas would certainly have gone down as one of the greatest ‘Big Men’ in the sport.

His resume is impressive – a 2-time MVP, 521 home runs, .301 lifetime batting average, 1,704 RBI, 2,468 career hits.

For his birthday I will be granting numerous wishes.  Thomas leaves the game with a Hall of Fame caliber career – but I believe he deserves much more than that.  In the last 10 years of his career, Thomas missed more than half of the games his teams participated in.  I want to give him back those 10 years.  And with those 10 years, I am positive that he would easily eclipse the 600 home run and 3,000 hit plateaus adding him to a very elite and superior group of ball players that he deserves to be ranked alongside of.

 Happy Birthday Mr. Thomas!!!