Posts Tagged ‘1987 topps’

Check You out on the Flip Side: Mike Krukow (For Baseball Past & Present)

Mike Krukow: The Polish Prince for Baseball Past and Present:

http://baseballpastandpresent.com/2012/02/24/mike-krukow-polish-prince/.

Check You out on the Flip Side: Ken Schrom

For some reason, the cards with the most interesting information seem to be from players who had limited to no appearances after 1987 (and obviously the 1987 Topps set was the gold standard for back-of-card information – or lack thereof).

Schrom was no different. He wrapped up his seven-year career in 1986 by posting a 6.50 ERA, 5.70 FIP and 1.57 WHIP in 153.2 IPs.

Until then, Schrom had been a reasonably, albeit completely average, innings eater over the course of his career.

His best season (which wasn’t the year he made the All-star team, oddly (or not) enough) was 1983 for the Minnesota Twins. He went 15-8 in 196.1 IPs, and posted a 3.71 ERA, 4.23 FIP and 1.41 WHIP.

His All-star appearance in 1986 was almost entirely driven by the BABIP gods. Before the ASG, his BABIP was .241 and he had a 3.88 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. After the ASG, his BABIP was .291 and he had a 5.44 ERA and 1.39 WHIP – holy regression monster.

Schrom definitely learned the ins and out of baseball however. While playing, he spent over 15 seasons with the El Paso Diablos and now is an executive of the Corpus Christi Hooks. I always remark on the odd jobs players had to have in the off-season, even in the 80s. As odd jobs go, working with a minor league squad seems about the best.

If you don’t know the Diablos, the organization graduated such notable players as Tom Brunansky, Bob Ferris, Teddy Higuera, Randy Johnson, Byung-Hyun Kim, Carney Lansford, Lyle Overbay, Brad Penny, Gary Sheffield, Dan Uggla, Brandon Webb, Cory Lidle, Carlos Quentin and Chris Snyder.

It has to be pretty to cool to both be a major leaguer and help develop major league talent. Kudos to Schrom!

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Tim Lollar

I don’t know if I want to see a little bit of Ron Swanson in everyone, but clearly, if you major in Forestry, you have a bit of Swanson in you. According to the College Board, “If you go into forestry, you’ll have to balance growing trees for wood products with preserving the variety of living things in an area.” Apparently 119 colleges offer degrees in forestry, including SUNY Morrisville, which is near my alma mater.

Lollar had a meandering career for a guy who spent just seven years in the majors. He was drafted in the fourth round in 1978 by the New York Yankees, made his major league debut two years later and was traded the subsequent year to the San Diego Padres in a deal that brought our man and fellow flip sider, Ruppert Jones to the Pads.

He did his best and worst work for the Padres. By far, his two best seasons were 1982 and 1984. Unfortunately, his 1984 post-season experience was horrible. He started one game in the NLCS and World Series. In the NLCS, he pitched 4.1 innings and gave up three runs. He’d be mightily worse in the Series, going just 1.2 innings and giving up 4 runs.

After the season, he, Ozzie Guillen, Bill Long and Luis Salazar were traded to the White Sox for LaMarr Hoyt, Kevin Kristan and Todd Simmons. This wasn’t a particularly good trade for the Padres. Guillen was worth 14.9 WAR for the Sox and Long was worth 2.1 WAR. Salazar (-0.5 WAR) and Lollar (0.4 WAR) cancelled each other out. Meanwhile, Hoyt was worth 1.7 WAR and pitched for the Padres for just two years. Neither Kristan nor Simmons made the majors.

Aside from being part of the deal that brought Guillen to Chicago, Lollar is likely remembered for his hitting acumen. He finished with a .234/.286/.377 line, but hit 1.000/1.000/1.000 in his last year in the majors.

He did hit eight round trippers in just four seasons in the NL. And, somewhat bizarrely, he pinch hit for position players twice in the American League. The first was August 13, 1985, when he hit for Jackie Gutierrez (who finished with a .237/.261/.285 line).

The second was on August 12, 1986, when Lollar hit for Rey Quinones (another no-hit shortstop who finished with a .243/.287/.357 line). Lollar actually singled off Dan Quisenberry, but that no-hit slacker Wade Boggs grounded out afterward to end the game.

At least Lollar went out on top, singling in his last MLB at bat.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Len Matuszek

As you read this on a Kindle or iPad, remember that, not too long ago, it was odd that someone was into “audio and video recording.” Hell, I made three videos of my puppy last night. Fellow 1987 Flip Sider (and one-time Phillie), Dan Schatzeder also had a thing for video recorders.

Things sure have come a long way since 1987 – it does seem like the “nerds” have taken over. I’m not just talking about stat geeks, but if you watch commercials for the latest video games, some of the biggest stars (Kobe, Jonah Hill, etc.) are itching to be in them. It is, quite frankly, cool to play video games. Of course, I play MVP Baseball 2005, NCAA Football 2010 and GTA Vice City, so I might be behind the times.

Matuszek is a Pong-esque relic from a different era, a no-hit corner guy. He was drafted by Philadelphia in the 5th round in 1976.

He toiled in the minors from 1976-1980, touching double digit homers once, but showing a decent ability to get on base (he never posted an OBP below .345). He made his debut in 1981, but saw just 14 plate appearances. He got triple the plate appearances the following year, but hit horribly (.077/.119/.103).

He got significantly more run in 1983 (87 plate appearances) and looked good (.275/.306/.525), at least by 1983 Yuengling-goggles standards.

Following that small sample size opposition pitching drubbing, the Phillies installed Matuszek as their starting first baseman in 1984. He just happened to be replacing Pete Rose. He didn’t do so hot, though, hitting just .248/.350/.458. That OBP could play but the lack of power couldn’t.

He was shipped to the Blue Jays in April of 1985 and then from Toronto to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July for a broken down Al Oliver. He didn’t do anything for the Dodgers, aside from appearing in three games in the NLCS and going 1/1 with a run.

Two years later, he went .067/.125/.067 after 16 plate appearances, and his major league career would be over.

Hey more time for the AV club.

 

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out on the Flip Side: Ray Searage

I understand that baseball is the national pastime so someone probably thought it was cute to equate most leisure activities to pastimes for the 1987 Topps set, but scuba diving? A pastime? How is that possible? I mean the majority of equipment required for scuba diving are generally more modern inventions.

Now, carpentry, that’s truly timeless. People been building stuff with wood and whatnot since opposable thumbs.

Searage’s career wasn’t exactly timeless. He was drafted in 1976 and wouldn’t make the majors until 1981 at 26 with the New York Mets. He pitched 36.2 innings and posted a 3.68 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Not bad, eh? Well, he had a 0.94 K:BB rate, yikes. Still, he finished the year 1-0 and went 1/1 at the plate. The Mets traded Searage to Cleveland in 1982 for Tom Veryzer. This made Searage the only Met in history to have a spotless record and 1.000 batting average.

After 1981, Searage would toil in the minors, not reaching the majors again until 1984. He was now 29 and pitching for Milwaukee. He again had success (0.70 ERA and 0.94 WHIP) in limited innings (38.1). However, his success wouldn’t continue, as in the same basic amount of innings, Searage had a 5.92 ERA and 1.05 WHIP the following season.

He performed similarly poorly in 1986, so the Brewers traded him to the White Sox for Tom Hartley and Al Jones. He pitched well for the White Sox to wind down 1986, but showed very little in 1987. He was out of baseball in 1988, but came back in 1989 with the Dodgers at 34.

He pitched two season and 69 innings for the Dodgers, finishing with a 3.18 ERA and 1.28 WHIP for the club. He called it quits after 1990, arguably his best year.

With all the shuttles from the minors to the majors, it was good Searage could find work as a carpenter, maybe he even worked on erecting billboards in minor league parks. Anyway, I think he’s moved on to better pastures. And we also got more facts about Hoyt Wilhelm with this one!

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Floyd Rayford

Electric trains are not a hobby. Baseball cards are not a hobby. Collecting baseball cards is a hobby. Organizing, trading, reading and analyzing baseball cards is an obsession.

Collecting electric trains is a hobby, as is erecting electric train sets and villages and what have you’s – generally anything that gets you whacked by the mob.

I can understand the joy of electric trains…I think. When I was a kid, I had a long looping wooden track. I had hundreds of trains/cars/trucks, etc. I would set them up bumper to bumper in some order that made sense to a five year old. Then I would start with one and push them around. I would then swap some vehicle positioning and push them around the track again. My little mind found this incredibly fun and pleasing.

Hey to each his own, Rayford clearly needed a hobby to take his mind off the trials and tribulations of life in the minor/major leagues.

Rayford was drafted in 1975 by the California Angels and reached  AAA in 1979. The following season, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with a bag o’ cash for Larry Harlow, who had a decent season in 1980 for the Angles but would be out of baseball after 1981. Rayford wasn’t ready for prime time, however, as he spent the majority of 1980 and ’81 in the minors, appearing in the longest game in baseball history, a 33-inning, eight hour and 25 minute affair.

He got to play sparingly in 1982 with the big league club and was replaced by Cal Ripken at third on May 30, thus launching the longest consecutive games played streak in baseball history.

He was bounced between the Cardinals and Orioles for the next few years and would be finished in the majors after the 1987 season, the year this card was printed. Still, he had successes in limited opportunities. In 1985, he hit .306/.324/.521 and 18 HRs in 372 plate appearances.

Before he officially retired form ball, he played in the minors from 89-91, appearing in just 81 games as a player. He actually had a tougher task than playing, as he was a player-coach the last two seasons.

I do hope he got a World Series ring for 1982, that could be the centerpiece of this model train set.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Benny Distefano

This Flip Side joins Greg Minton’s on the list of things my fiancé loves that I fear mightily.

I don’t understand how dancing can be leisurely. I mean, if I’m enjoying dancing, I’m not leisurely drinking. I’m sneaking away from the fiancé to get secret Tequila shots. At one point, I believe I asked the finance “why can’t we just grind like normal white people.”*

I guess to each his own.

Distefano must have needed a good leisure activity as his career wasn’t overly successful and certainly was up and down, if we’re talking about minors/majors. He played in the majors in 1984, 1986, 1988-89 and 1992. He finished with a .228/.296/.350.

He ended up playing first, right field, left field and catcher during his career. Not exactly prime no-hit utility player slots, but since he threw left-handed that kind of eliminated the majority of the infield. However, he did play catcher. And, according to this New York Times story, Distefano was the last left-handed throwing player to ever catch a game.

One other interesting aspect of Distefano’s career:  he broke up David Cone’s no-hit bid on April 28, 1992, ensuring the Mets still haven’t had a no-hitter. Man, I’ve been picking on the Mets a lot lately.

“*But I’m white…”

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h2h corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side ~ Charlie Kerfeld

I feel like this entire card is an homage to a practical joke. While the grammar leaves one wanting, it’s pretty darn accurate. Kerfeld was absolutely a free spirit: when Jim Deshaies signed for $110,000 in 1987, Kerfeld demanded $110,037.37 and 37 boxes of orange Jell-O. His uniform was number 37.

Kerfeld, it is rumored, also always wore a Jetsons’ tee shirt because of the name of the dog in that particular cartoon. He hung out with Larry Anderson and Dave Smith in the bullpen while wearing Conehead heads…no talk of whether they played pong, drank Southern Comfort or ate bar-b-q.

A former first round pick in the June secondary draft of 1982, Kerfeld was a good reliever for exactly one season for the Astros. That happened to be 1986, which had to be the highlight of his life for so many reasons. He went 11-2 in 61 appearances, spanning 93.2 IPs. He walked a ton of batters (as he did his entire career), but made up for it with a good strand rate and BABIP.

The Astros happened to be a pretty darn good team in 1986 – good enough to win the NL West (back when the Astros were in the West division). If you don’t know, he gave, perhaps, the greatest drunken interview in the history of sports after they clinched: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xC2y3RmQUdw. Kerfeld is a good ole boy, who drank a Busch on camera and got away with pouring a beer on Nolan Ryan (1:48 mark).

He pitched pretty well in the post-season that year, making three appearances and posting a 2.25 ERA, 0.75 WHIP and 4 K:BB rate in four innings. Unfortunately, he gave up the winning run on a Gary Carter single in the bottom of the 12th inning of game five. Two-time flip sider, Jesse Orosco got the win…go figure.

Kerfeld would battle regression, poor walk rates and calcium deposits and other injuries for the rest of his career. He was out of baseball after the 1990 season.

You might wonder what that good ole boy is up to now. Well, he’s special assistant to the general manager for the Philadelphia Phillies…go figure.

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h2h Corner ~ Check you out on the Flip Side: Ron Roenicke

I think, initially, this card stuck out for two reasons. One, I love Gary Roenicke (more on him later) and, two, tennis is one of the more exasperating sports (second only to golf in my opinion). What is it with rich people and bizarrely intricate athletics?

When I was a kid, it was important to my parents that I be fluent in the art of the hardcourt. They had grown up without much money, put themselves through school and ascended to the upper middle class. So, on vacations, I’d always have to take tennis lessons. Mostly, during these lessons, I pretended I was Ken Griffey, Jr. or Barry Bonds and tried to hit every return over the fence. Exasperated, the tennis “pro” would send me off to the wilderness to retrieve the balls. Repeat this for one hour and you get the gist of my lessons. (Why I always emulated lefties is beyond me – maybe because I had a horrid backhand).

Anyway, I’d also play my father in tennis at the end of every trip. While he isn’t all that athletic, he was better at tennis than me. I was faster/quicker and in better shape, but I could never get the ball to go where I wanted (maybe it had something to do with those lessons). My dad would play well enough to keep me around in the match. Invariably (because we’re both poor losers and intensely competitive), though, he would put me away and I would get frustrated. I knew it was happening and couldn’t stop it. Well, I knew one way to stop it. I would slam my racket on the ground like a petulant child. Consequently, tennis is not relaxing but anxiety producing – worse than swinging a driver and missing the ball completely.

Roenicke had no problem with hand-eye coordination though, so tennis must have come easily to him. After all, he was a first round pick of the hometown Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977. He never really lived up to that billing though. He wouldn’t make it to the majors for four years (1981), when he was 24-years-old and he didn’t fare well in 22 games that year.

However, he did show some promise the following season, going .259/.359/.336. Sure, you’d want more power from a corner outfielder, but this was 1982 and he did get on base.

The Dodgers would release him in the middle of the following (unproductive) season, however. He bounced around for awhile, catching on here and there and not really getting to prove himself. From 1984-1986, he played for three teams and posted a .252/.389/.379 line in 535 plate appearances. That had to have been the highlight of his career (and he even played in a post-season with the Padres). It’s a shame he never got to show what he could do on the field. He finished with a .238/.353/.338 line.

So, why did the name Roenicke stick out (I pulled this card from a pack before he became the Brewers manager)? Well, his brother, Gary Roenicke, was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles in 1977 (along with Joe Kerrigan and Don Stanhouse) for Rudy May, Randy Miller, and Bryn Smith. He was an Earl Weaver type of player.

From 1979-1985, he appeared in 823 games for the Orioles, posting a .250/.356/.447 line. He hit lefties really well throughout his career (.255/.363/.454) and did a ton of damage for Earl Weaver as a platoon player. Gary finished with a .247/.351/.434 line, appeared in two World Series and won one. His final numbers are eerily similar to his brother.

I like to think that what Gary learned from Earl Weaver maybe had a little to do with how Ron Roenicke manages. But really, I just like to see Weaver and they heyday of the Baltimore Orioles in any successful baseball squad.

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h2h Corner ~ Check you out on the Flip Side: Jaime Cocanower

Hi, it’s me, Jaime.

Hi you!

Get it?

Ok, maybe not.

Let’s just say it’s a very good thing Cocanower was a numbers guy – as the numbers you see on the back of his card would be the last he ever compiled in major league baseball.

Oddly enough, he finished with a 3.99 ERA in 365.2 innings – seems like a usable pitcher, no?

Well, unfortunately, Cocanower was all wild thing (NSFW link)and no Vaughn. He finished second in wild pitches in the AL in 1984 and 1985 and second in hit batsman in ‘84 and sixth in ’85. He didn’t strike anyone out either – just 139 in his CAREER. He had a 0.69 K:BB rate.

Aside from the lesson on how to pronounce Cocanower’s first name on the back of this card, what stood out was the poor phraseology of the last sentence. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. There is a scant amount of space on the back of a baseball card, you’d think the goal would be an economy of words. Yet, instead of enjoying deep sea fishing, he “enjoys outings of going deep sea fishing.” I’m no accountant but that seems like three words too much.

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