Wednesday, October 22, 2014

OBRC: 1992 ACTION PACKED ASG YOGI BERRA

GREAT ON-DECK SHOT.


PROTOTYPE WATERMARK ALWAYS LOOKS IMPRESSIVE.


WHY I LIKE IT

  • Calling Action Packed embossed cards from the junk wax era oddball is a bit of a stretch. Like Sportflics, these carved in cardboard cards have a gimmick look to them, thus qualify as oddball to me. But you don't look at them; you feel them, like a topographical map. And, yes, you can feel the creases of Yogi Berra's blousy flannels and pudgy face.  

WHAT'S THE STORY?

  • ASG stands for All-Star Gallery, an 84-card set that honors former All-Stars. However, one of the players featured, Joe Garagiola, was never an All-Star. 
  • As you can see clearly on the back, this is part of a prototype preview set. The other cards are Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, Warren Spahn and Willie Stargell

HOW I ACQUIRED IT

  • Included inside the giveaway bag for the 1992 National in Atlanta.

Monday, October 20, 2014

PURSUE THE PENNANTS: #109 WALT BOND

THE INDIANS SCREWED HIM OVER.


WHAT'S KNOWN AS A 10 GALLON HAT, I RECKON.


WHO'S THE HERO?

  • Walt Bond had one of the best late-season call-ups in major-league history. And it left absolutely no impression on the clueless Indians of the 1960s. In 50 games in '62, he hit .380 with six homers and 17 RBI and slugged .800. The Indians never gave him a chance to start in '63 and traded him to the Astros in the off-season. In '64, his first full season, he hit 20 homers and drove in 85 for Houston. His career tragically lasted only six seasons in which he hit 41 homers with 179 RBI.

WHY IT'S SLICK

  • This was one serious physical specimen at 6-foot-7, 228 pounds. He'd blend right in today.

GROOVY BITS

  • The Indians' handling of Bond was a joke. He was 25 when he debuted in '62 but they brought back 35-year-old Joe Adcock to play first in '63.
  • Bond played nine years in the minors, slashing .299/.341/.488 with 116 HRs and 400 RBI.
  • Diagnosed with leukemia in '62 while in the Army and died from the disease in '67.

BACK IN '65

  • On March 8, 3,500 Marines arrive in South Vietnam, the first American combat troops to join the civil war in the easternmost country in Southeast Asia. The conflict would end 10 years later at an extraordinary cost of human lives, including 58,220 Americans.


Friday, October 17, 2014

FACE TIME: 1982 TOPPS JOEL YOUNGBLOOD



It's one thing to be needed; it's another to be in two places 665 miles apart within a few hours. 

That was the dilemma Joel Youngblood faced on Aug. 4, 1982. 

The versatile infielder/outfielder made the most of it and history in the process.

The Mets traded Youngblood to the Expos after he drove in two runs with a single during their afternoon game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He was yanked from the lineup in the fourth inning and told to get to Philadelphia, stat, where the Expos were playing that night at 7:30.

Looks like Youngblood's '82 Topps card perfectly captures his shock to the timing of the trade.

To complicate matters, he realized in the cab to the airport that he left his glove in the Wrigley clubhouse. He risked missing the plane but retrieved it and made the flight.

Good thing. Youngblood was called on by Manager Jim Fanning to replace right fielder Jerry White in the sixth inning and singled in the seventh. In so doing, he became the first player in major-league history to get hits for two teams in two cities on the same day. 

Another way of looking at it: He played in a twi-night doubleheader with a road trip thrown in the middle. Those hits, by the way, came off Hall of Famers; Fergie Jenkins gave up the two-run single in Chicago, and Steve Carlton surrendered the hit in Philadelphia.

"I just remember that was a very, very long day,'' Youngblood said in '07 on the 25th anniversary of the trade in which pitcher Tom Gorman was later sent to the Mets as the player to be named.

Youngblood split his personal doubleheader, with the Mets beating the Cubs 7-4 and the Expos losing to the Phillies 5-4. In 216 plate appearances in 80 games for the '82 Mets, he slashed .257/.302/.361 with three homers and 29 RBI; with the '82 Expos, he had 104 plate appearances in 40 games, slashing a microscopic .200/.291/.222 with three homers and 21 RBI.

Numbers alone won't tell the story of Youngblood's '82 season. 

Except for these: 2 hits, 2 RBI off 2 Hall of Famers in 2 cities for 2 teams within 24 hours.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

AUTOS FROM THE ARCHIVES: BILLY ZABKA

PLAYED CHARACTERS WHOSE TEETH YOU'D LOVE TO KICK IN.


BUT CAREFUL MESSING WITH THIS BLACK BELT OR HE'LL HUMILIATE YOU IN FRONT OF A CHICK.


THE CARD

  • The second and final The Karate Kid box-topper in the faux 1984 style from the '12 Topps Archives set honoring everyone's favorite Valley Bullies, the Cobra Kais.
  • Billy Zabka played Johnny Lawrence, Sensei John Kreese's evil toadie. If Zabka looked any more smug, he'd be Roger Goodell. 
  • What is it with bad guys and hideous jackets?

THE AUTOGRAPH

  • While Martin Kove added "Sensei'' to his signature on KK-1, Zabka unfortunately didn't add "Sweep The Leg'' on KK-2. 

THE PLAYER ACTOR

  • If Johnny boy didn't give you nightmares about high school bullies, you were one yourself. 
  • After seeing the movie, Zabka's first major Hollywood role, I felt like I went to high school with the guy. I mean, he had the rich-boy bully charm and look down cold. 
  • His role as Chas Osborne in Back to School in 1986, staring Rodney Dangerfield, was basically Johnny Lawrence goes to college to demean the less-cool. 



Monday, October 13, 2014

AUTOS FROM THE ARCHIVES: MARTIN KOVE

HIS ROLE AS MARY BETH LACEY EARNED CRITICAL ACCLAIM.



NO FOOLIN' AROUND WHEN THIS SUB ARRIVED AT MELVILLE HIGH.


THE CARD

  • One of two The Karate Kid box-toppers from the 2012 Topps Archives set, celebrating the rascally Cobra Kai clan from the 1984 coming-of-age hit. Martin Kove, of course, played Sensei John Kreese, owner and ninth-degree asshole of the Cobra Kai dojo.
  • Kove makes a fashion statement with a Count Dracula-inspired jacket and pose. How fitting.
  • This is another mail-it-in design effort from the Big T using the '84 template, but the idea is sound. What it has in common with baseball, though, I have no idea, but if you were around when the movie came out and are a fan, these box-toppers scratch a tingly, nostalgic itch.

THE AUTOGRAPH

  • Adding "Sensei'' was a nice touch, like spitting on the ground after you KO someone. 
  • I'm no handwriting expert, but this looks like the autograph of a ruffian prone to intense bouts of mayhem and insecurity.

THE PLAYER ACTOR

  • Kove was born to play the part of Kreese. He had the look and attitude of someone who after taking your belongings and dignity went home to drown baby chicks in the toilet.
  • Had one other martial arts role occurring in '93-'94 in two episodes of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, playing ''The Shadow Assassin.'' What, you thought he'd be playing a Tibetan monk?
  • As a homage to his Kreese character, Kove and several other The Karate Kid cast members reprise their roles in the '07 No More Kings music video parody Sweep The Leg. It's pretty funny in an oddball sort of way.



Friday, October 10, 2014

NAMES OF THE GAME: SHOOTY BABITT






For a rookie second baseman who played sketchy defense, Mack Babitt had a catchy nickname.

At 5-foot-8, "Shorty'' would've fit, but ''Shooty'' was a hit. 

Shake, shake, shake ... shake, shake, shake ... Shooty Babitt

A four-syllable gem, it's more jingle than name, rolling off the tongue like drool from a Lab. If he didn't exist, Hollywood would've had to create him. Shooty hit .256 in 156 at-bats in 1981 for his hometown A's and was fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting. 

Shucks, it sucks he didn't stick around. 

After those 54 games, Babitt, 22, never played in the majors again. Moody manager Billy Martin, a sure-handed second baseman in his day, cursed Shooty's shoddy glove. Babitt committed six errors in 215 chances.

"If you ever see Shooty Babitt play second base for me again, I want you to shooty me,'' Martin snorted at one point, never shy about taking a giant doody on a player before backing the team bus over him.

Sure enough, Babitt was left off the '81 postseason roster, and next spring, the A's acquired 37-year-old four-time All-Star Davey LopesBabitt was back in the minors. 

This marvelous '82 is his only Topps card. A shame, but it shines.

The A's traded Shooty to the Expos later that year, but he was destined never to get out of the minors and retired in '84. Since, he's worked as a scout and is part of the Athletics broadcast team.

Good to know a great baseball name like Shooty Babitt is still associated with the game.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: PAGING Nos. 145-153

OTHER THAN WELCH AND BAINES, ARE THESE REALLY BASEBALL'S FINEST?



HALL OF FAMERS

  • None.

FINEST OF THE NINE

  • No. 153 Harold Baines has the most RBI (1,628) for any eligible player not in the Hall of Fame. He also could hit for power in the clutch, clubbing 384 homers and is 10th all-time with 13 grand slams. 

FINEST MOMENT

  • Facing a slugger with the game on the line is daunting for any pitcher. It's especially true in the postseason. When it's the World Series in the bottom of the ninth and the slugger is Reggie Jackson, it's either nut up or upchuck. No. 151 Bob Welch nutted up and struck out Jackson swinging after a nine-pitch duel to earn the save in the 4-3 Game 2 victory.

DESIGNED TO THE NINES

  • Baines' card, with the tremendous contrast of the home whites against the rich sleeves, helmet and eye black, really gleams from the shiny chrome treatment.