Daily Archives: April 6, 2012

Dennis Eckersley 2001 Upper Deck – UD Decades 1970s

Dennis Eckersley 2001 Upper Deck – UD Decades 1970s

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – these UD Decades cards are FANtastic!!!

Have a look at my latest score from the set:

Just look at that great photo of ‘Eck’.

For some reason, I cannot remember those Red Indians uniforms – maybe a momentary brain fart, but man do they stand out!!!!

Rod Carew 1974 Topps All-Star w/Joe Morgan

Rod Carew 1974 Topps All-Star w/Joe Morgan

Two of my favorite second baseman of all-time.  Two of my favorites, period!!

This one will make its way into the Rod Carew player collection as I had already scooped one up for my Morgan set.

Have a look:

The card, from the 1974 Topps set, honors both Carew and Morgan for being the starters of the 1973 All-Star Game at second base.

For Carew, this game was his 7th All-Star contest, and would be part of his streak of 18 consecutive All-Star selections!!!

Did You Know…

On January 6, 1958, the San Francisco Giants signed Willie Mays to a 1-year contract for $65,000.  It was the most lucrative deal ever signed by a Giants player.

Happy Birthday Bert Blyleven!!!

Happy Birthday Bert Blyleven!!!

Bert Blyleven turns 61 years old today!!

Bert Blyleven may be more famous toady than he was during any time in his playing days.  His recent election into the Baseball Hall of Fame coupled with his success as the had coach for the Netherlands during the WBC in 2009 has brought renewed life into collecting all things Bert.

Mr. Blyleven has put together an amazing resume.  In 22 seasons, Mr. Blyleven recorded a win-loss record of 287-250.  He threw 242 complete games and 60 shutouts.  He has tallied 3,701 career strikeouts while finishing his career with a 3.31 ERA.  He also has 2 World Series rings from his days with the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates and 1987 Minnesota Twins teams.

Happy Birthday Mr. Blyleven!!!


New York Mets Hold Memorial Pregame Ceremony Honoring Catcher Gary Carter

New York Mets Hold Memorial Pregame Ceremony Honoring Catcher Gary Carter

By Associated Press

NEW YORK — Darryl Strawberry needed all of one game to know what new teammate Gary Carter meant to the New York Mets.

“Right there you just knew inside your gut as a player that sits on that bench, you knew we had just turned the corner,” Strawberry said Thursday before a pregame ceremony at Citi Field honoring Carter. “We were on our way to becoming the team that was going to win the championship because of the Carter presence in the lineup.”

The Mets unveiled a memorial logo in honor of the ever-smiling Hall of Fame catcher who died in February from a brain tumor. Opening day was a fitting occasion to pay tribute to the player many considered the final piece to a ballclub that would win the 1986 World Series.

Carter hit a game-winning home run on opening day 1985, his first year in New York. If there were any doubts about the player who spent his first 11 years on the Montreal Expos, they were dispelled right there.

“The first couple of days with the “Kid” was probably the most nervous I’ve been because a lot of us as ballplayers did not know who Gary was,” teammate Mookie Wilson said. “We played against him and, to be honest with you, we didn’t like him. And that’s mainly because of the attitude he portrayed as being that guy who was always smiling, always happy. You go up there to hit, he’s always talking to you. You’re just trying to get your job done.”

They learned quickly that Carter would get the job done, despite his sunny disposition on a ballclub known for infighting and hard partying ways.

“He really was that happy among a bunch of animals,” Strawberry said.

Known as “Kid” for his big grin and unbridled zeal for the game, the 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Gove winner wears an Expos cap on his plaque in Cooperstown but he will always claim a special place in the hearts of Mets fans.

“A tremendous leader, tremendous work ethic,” said Ryan Fennelly, 37, of Long Island. “He was really a leader for all the younger players on the team, the Strawberrys, the Goodens you know the substance and control in the clubhouse.”

The current Mets and coaching staff all wore blue practice jerseys with Carter’s name and number on the back during batting practice.

“Nice tribute,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

Added Mets manager Terry Collins: “It’s an honor to wear his number today.”

Carter’s wife, Sandy Carter, and their three children stood at the wall in left-center and pulled down a blue drape to reveal a black symbol shaped like home plate with “Kid” above an “8’’ — Gary’s nickname and number for nearly his entire 19-year career.

The players wore a similar patch on their right sleeve.

Members of his family were then escorted by former teammate and current Mets third base coach Tim Teufel to a spot in front of the mound where they watched a video tribute on the scoreboard.

Sandy and the three children, D.J., Christy and Kimmy, threw out ceremonial first pitches to Gary’s teammates on that championship club, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Mookie Wilson.

The Expos traded Carter to the Mets after the 1984 season for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. And Carter was a stabilizing force on a brash, young team that captivated New York. They won 98 games in ‘85, finishing second. The next year they won 108 and the World Series title in dramatic fashion.

His two-out single in the bottom of the 10th during Game 6 of the Series kicked off a stunning rally against the Boston Red Sox. Then in Game 7, Carter drove in the tying run in the sixth inning, and the Mets went on to win their most recent championship.

Tony Gwynn Sr. On The Mend From Cancer Surgery

Tony Gwynn Sr. On The Mend From Cancer Surgery

By Barry M. Bloom | MLB.com Columnist

SAN DIEGO — Tony Gwynn Sr. won’t be at Petco Park on Thursday when his Padres open the season against the Dodgers. But his son, Tony Jr., will be at the ballpark nestled on San Diego Harbor, wearing a Los Angeles uniform.

“Typical Aztec and Padre luck,” the elder Gwynn said on Wednesday.

Still, it was wonderful to see the eight-time National League batting champ, Hall of Famer and man called “Mr. Padre” board a bus outside the yard bearing his name Wednesday on the campus of San Diego State University. Gwynn coaches the Aztecs, who were about to embark on a six-hour drive to Las Vegas, where they are scheduled to play University Nevada-Las Vegas during the next three days while the Padres are battling the archrival Dodgers. That’s the way the baseball bounces.

It was little more than six weeks ago that Gwynn had a second malignant tumor removed from inside his right cheek. The tumor was wrapped around a nerve that controls movement on that side of his face. Doctors transplanted a nerve from Gwynn’s right shoulder, hoping to limit the damage. Gwynn’s cheek is still swollen and that side of his face is lopsided. He also says his right ear is numb. But he’s talking clearly and is slowly working his way back. He knows it could have been much worse.

“I could be dead,” Gwynn said bluntly.

Gwynn has had two serious surgeries on that cheek in the past 19 months. Doctors discovered cancer of the parotid (or salivary) gland when they removed a tumor in 2010. Because that tumor was wrapped around the nerve, doctors hesitated to remove it at the time, fearing permanent paralysis if they did. Instead, they opted for months of aggressive radiation and chemotherapy that left burns on Gwynn’s neck and face. That tact worked for awhile, but ultimately failed.

For a year, Gwynn went for monthly blood checkups, but by this past January, doctors suspected that the tumor had recurred. That diagnosis was confirmed by a biopsy.

“I was stunned. I thought it was just scar tissue,” Gwynn said when he learned that the tumor was back. “I figured, ‘That’s it.’ Then you get over it, rebound and try to figure out what to do next.”

The procedure took 14 hours and began in the morning hours of Feb. 14. Gwynn, obviously, wasn’t aware of the length of the surgery until he finally awoke in recovery at 4:30 a.m. the next day.

“I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Great, I’m still here. I’m alive,'” Gwynn recalled.

Gwynn then reached for his right shoulder and couldn’t extend his left arm. He had been positioned on that arm all day. Now he’s in rehab to rebuild strength in his right shoulder. He’s hoping that the transplanted nerve will regenerate, giving him full function on that side of his face. That could take as long as a year.

Gwynn suspects the cancer sprung from a lifetime of chewing tobacco, and he has quit the terrible habit, replacing it with a non-toxic herbal blend. Twice during his playing career, doctors removed what they called benign tumors from that cheek. Another was excised after his playing days were over. But he still continued what baseball people term, “dipping.” In August 2010, another biopsy revealed the latest growth was malignant, and on Aug. 31 of that year, Gwynn had surgery to have most of it removed. After that, he finally stopped.

But asked last summer if he still thinks about chewing tobacco, he responded: “Every minute of every day.”

Still, life is good. Gwynn was a 15-time NL All-Star in his 20 seasons as a player, all with the Padres. He amassed 3,141 hits. As a coach at State, he helped develop Stephen Strasburg into the high-profile pitcher picked first overall by the Nationals in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Now, Gwynn is back teaching kids, which is what he loves to do best. And though he won’t be in San Diego on Opening Day, he hopes to be there on Easter Sunday so he can possibly see his son play in at least the finale of the four-game series.

He said his energy level isn’t nearly what it should be yet and that the six-hour bus trip to Vegas “takes its toll on you.” But that hardly matters.

“You just don’t know how good it feels to be back to work,” Gwynn said. “I’m busy and it keeps my mind off all these other things.”

‘Opening Day Contest’ WINNERS!!!

‘Opening Day Contest’ WINNERS!!!

While ‘Opening Day’ may not have been as action packed as we all may have desired, it certainly was full of some great baseball – and unreal pitching, too!!!

But let’s get down to what matters most – the winners of my ‘Opening Day Contest’.

There were 6 home runs hit on Opening Day, so the player with the closest number of home runs hit was Stephen, who selected 7.  Stephen wins this great looking Game-Used Bat Card of Billy Williams.

And the pitchers were very sharp today.  In fact, there were 117 strikeouts during all of the day’s action.  So, with the prediction of 106, Stephen wins this great Manufactured Patch Card of Jim Palmer.

Congratulations to both Stephen and Stephen.  Hey, wait a minute – Did Stephen win both prizes??  Why, Yes He Did!!!

Congratulations, Stephen!!!

Thanks to everyone who played in this year’s ‘Opening Day Contest’.  Please stay tuned as my next contest is just a week or so away – and it will be a doozie, trust me!!!

I hope you all enjoyed Opening Day.  But more than that, I hope my Marlins enjoy their day off on Friday – Let’s get some hits fellas!!!