Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tim Hulett, 1994 Stadium Club #430

Boring explanation: Tim Hulett is calling off Cal Ripken or another Oriole infielder on a pop-up. "I got it!"

More satisfying explanation: What look like flecks of dust from my scanner are actually rain drops falling from the sky, and Tim is taking a carefree run through the elements, arms flung wide in exultation.

Completely insane explanation: There is a sperm whale free-falling from miles above the stadium, and Tim Hulett has just noticed it and is frantically trying to call time out and warn everyone to run for cover. "VERY BIG WHALE!", Tim shouts. "We've got to get the hell out of here!"

"That's a good name - ground!", the sperm whale thinks. "I wonder if it will be friends with me? Hello ground!"

Friday, November 29, 2013

Rudy May, 1977 Topps #56

Rudy May has drawn his signature about him like a cape.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Brad Pennington, 1993 Fleer Final Edition #F-163

On this, my 32nd Thanksgiving, I am grateful for many things, including:

-My loving family, with whom I just had a joyous and delicious holiday dinner.

-My beautiful, bright, caring wife. I'm looking forward to spending many more holiday seasons with her.

-My job, which helps me to afford the important things like food, shelter, Internet access, and baseball cards.

-The Orioles, who are a competitive organization once again. They're not pinning their hopes to hard-throwing, no-technique dinguses like Brad Pennington.

-And of course you, dear readers, who repay my time and efforts on this blog with your comments and occasional cards and oddball memorabilia. Thank you, thank you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mark Williamson, 1988 Topps #571

I've often wondered why baseball cards sometimes feature photos shot from this angle. I just picture a photographer crouching in front of Mark Williamson, his camera trained upward at a severe angle. "That's it, Mark, look natural. Pretend that I'm not even here. Peer out at the field pensively. Chin up, sweetie. Okay, let's take five."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chris Hoiles, 1993 Studio #156

If this Chris Hoiles card could talk, it would say, "Haw, haw, haw...basebawl."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brooks Robinson, 1982 Topps K-mart MVPs #5

As you may have noticed, there is no greater balm for baseball blogger writer's block than the birthday post. Well, here's one better: a birthday post about a birthday post. Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times has posted a list of trivia tidbits about baseball players and their birthdays. Among the things I learned was that Brooks Robinson, born May 18, 1937, somehow played only a dozen games on his special day in the span of his 23-year career. However, he hit safely in all 12 birthday games, the longest such streak in baseball history. His overall birthday stats included a .435 batting average (20-for-46) with a double, a home run, and five runs batted in. He walked twice and struck out twice and hit into only one double play. His best May 18 game was a 1971 contest at the Yankees. Brooksie had just one hit in four tries, but it was a two-run homer off of Fritz Peterson in the fourth inning. It gave the O's a 3-1 lead which they would not relinquish. So I guess you could say that Baltimore's beloved third baseman was able to have his cake and eat it too.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Francisco Rodriguez, 2013 Topps Update Series #US78

Here it is: photographic proof that violent twit Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez came to Baltimore, pitched 22 mediocre innings in which he allowed five home runs, and presumably (hopefully) left as a free agent. I hope he doesn't let the door hit him in the ass on the way out.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Joe Gaines, 1964 Topps #364

It has been exactly 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas. That day also happened to be the 27th birthday of Orioles outfielder Joe Gaines; I can't imagine that he felt much like celebrating.

Gaines is the type of player that falls through the cracks of baseball history. His major league career spanned the years 1960 through 1966, but in three of those seasons he received little more than a cup of coffee. He played his best ball with the O's in 1963, when he appeared in 66 games as a fifth outfielder and pinch hitter. That year, Joe batted .286 with a .381 on-base percentage and .476 slugging percentage, and had six home runs and 20 RBI. But he started slow in 1964, and was dispatched to the fledgling Astros. By 1965, young Rusty Staub had replaced Gaines in the starting lineup. He prolonged his career by jumping to Japan in 1969, spending one season with the Hanshin Tigers. He's still alive and presumably well at 77 years of age.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Eddie Murray, 2004 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts #35

On this date in 1977, Eddie Murray was named the American League's Rookie of the Year. At just 21 years of age, the native Los Angeleno appeared in all but one of the Orioles' 161 games, starting at designated hitter 110 times and spelling Lee May at first base in 42 contests. He even mixed in a handful of games in left field. Steady Eddie batted .283/.333/.470 (123 OPS+) with 29 doubles, 27 homers, and 88 RBI. He tied May for the team lead in homers, and trailed only May and Ken Singleton in RBI (they had 99 each). All this for a 97-win club that finished just two and a half games behind the Eastern Division champion Yankees. Murray bested Oakland's Mitchell Page (.307/.405/.521, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 42 SB) in a close vote, with Bump Wills and Dave Rozema also receiving consideration. Page had the more impressive numbers overall, but Murray undoubtedly received extra credit for being on a contending team, hitting more dingers, and being a certified, stone-cold badass.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mike Mussina, 2001 Fleer Tradition #147

Mail day! I received an unannounced plain white envelope from Max today. It contained some new cards of my favoritest team, including my first O's cards of Bud Norris, Francisco Rodriguez (boo hiss), and Kevin Gausman...to be seen here later, of course. There was also this strange card, which is a thick cardboard punch in the gut to any orange-blooded Baltimore fan. It wasn't enough that Mike Mussina signed with the juggernaut Yankees after the 2000 season, but Fleer had to keep Moose in his Orioles uniform and put the team's banner on the card. It logically belongs in the completist's team set, but there's that stark black lettering under the veteran righty's chin, forever taunting Birdland, a reminder of things lost. I should hate this card, and yet I kind of like it because of the oddity of it all. I must be getting soft in my old age.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rick Schu, 1988 Topps Big #122

Hey Rick Schu, stop punching yourself in the head!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Geronimo Gil, 2004 Topps #163

I'm posting this one just for my wife, who bellows "Geronimooooooooo Giiiiiilllllllllll!" every time his name is mentioned.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Brad Havens, 1987 Topps #398

How is the Great Sorting and Storing of 2013 going? I just spent my entire Sunday collating all of the 1980s cards in my collection. It gave me no small sense of accomplishment, but checking out all of the boxes that are still littering my living room and lurking in my spare bedroom closet offered me a reminder that the 1990s cards are waiting with bated breath to kick my ass by the thousands. It's going to be a long week.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Brady Anderson, 1999 Skybox Thunder #78

I found a Skybox Thunder card that I hadn't posted yet. Do you know what that means? More terrible 90's faux-street verse!

"Goin' yard at Camden is all good for you, B, and you're one of the best at it...gettin' straight jiggy."

How did we ever survive that ridiculous decade?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Johnny Powers, 1960 Topps #422

I snickered the first time I saw this card. Johnny Powers is rocking that pompadour, leaving his cap tilted high atop his head so his 'do doesn't get mussed. That's quite convenient, since the Reds had sold him to the Orioles the previous December and Topps didn't have any pictures of him in his new uniform. To be honest, Johnny didn't spend much time in any big league uniform, though. The Red Sox signed him as a teenager in 1949, but his development was delayed by military service during the Korean War. He put up some gaudy power numbers in the higher minors, including 39 home runs in 1956 for the Pirates' AA New Orleans squad. Powers got his first taste of the majors in 1955, but struggled in parts of four seasons in Pittsburgh: .190/.275/.303 in 90 games (160 plate appearances). In his lone season in Cincinnati, he was used as a pinch hitter with fair results: .256/.319/.488 in 47 plate appearances. With the O's, Johnny was tabbed as the Opening Day right fielder, but after three games that experiment ended. He appeared in just ten games total, batting .111 with no extra-base hits before being placed on waivers in mid-May. He caught on with the Indians, but after eight games and 14 plate appearances his MLB career was through. He hung on in the minors through 1965, finishing with 298 career homers. That's not nothing.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Frank Robinson, 1991 Topps #639

A fun fact, courtesy of John Autin at High Heat Stats (and yes, I'm just now catching up to last month's blogroll):

There have been 11 1-0 final scores in postseason history with the only run scoring on a solo home run. Of those 11 games, four involved the Orioles. The bad news first: Sal Bando's round-tripper against Jim Palmer in the top of the fourth inning delivered Game Three of the 1974 ALCS to the Athletics. 23 years later, Tony Bleeping Fernandez took Armando Double-Bleeping Benitez deep in the top of the 11th to help the Indians wrap up both Game Six of the 1997 ALCS and the series as a whole.

But of course, there's good news in the form of astounding happenstance. The O's won their other two solo-homer-only 1-0 contests in postseason play...and they did it on back-to-back days. On October 8, 1966, Paul Blair touched 'em all against Los Angeles pitcher Claude Osteen in the bottom of the fifth inning. Wally Bunker six-hit the Dodgers, and the Birds took a three-games-to-none World Series lead. The following day (October 9, 1966, if you're not good with numbers), it was deja vu all over again. This time the instant offense came from Frank Robinson, against Don Drysdale, in the home half of the fourth. Dave McNally was the beneficiary of Robby's largesse, as he dispatched L.A. on four hits and a couple of walks to complete the sweep. Occasionally I feel like I've mined all the material that I possibly could from Baltimore's most dominating Fall Classic effort, but it seems like there's always another remarkable fact or statistic to be mined. I hope that this guy doesn't think I'm picking on him and his favorite team, especially since the events of October '66 took place before I was born and before he was even rooting for the boys in blue.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cal Ripken, Jr., 2001 Fleer Tradition Diamond Tributes #8

WARNING: Graphic images of a messy nature enclosed within. If you are a neat freak, germophobe, or any other variety of Type-A person, you may want to turn back now. This is what my living room currently looks like:

I am showing you this in an effort to shame myself into following through and getting all of these cards merged and stored, once and for all. After all, it's hard to relax on the couch when you've got stacks of loose cards and wayward shoeboxes cluttering up your line of sight. This poor Cal Ripken card has been waiting for a more permanent place for six months! In this instance, I've given myself a week and a half to get on with it. Most of the legions of cardboard pictured above are already sorted by year and brand. It's just a matter of combining them with the rest of my collection and getting them tucked away in a more sane and orderly fashion. A few small clusters of miscellaneous vintage (i.e. old sets that aren't close enough to completion to merit their own binders) need to be paged in the miscellaneous binder. I need to get off of my duff and start a long-overdue Orioles-specific binder...or five. And perhaps most of all, I need to cull out the scads of doubles (and triples, and quadruples, and...) and set them aside so I won't be caught flat-footed the next time I'm looking for trade bait. Piece of cake, huh?

If nothing else, let this serve as a cautionary tale. Whether you're buying a single rack pack at your big-box retailer or absorbing someone else's unwanted collection into your own, never put off the sorting and storage. It tends to snowball.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

John Lowenstein, 1983 Fleer #63

I'm still keeping tabs on Night Owl's breezy and informative 1971 Topps set blog, and you should be too. Just yesterday, he posted John Lowenstein's rookie card, which he shares with pitcher Vince Colbert. I've had this card for a couple years, so I was already acquainted with the strange sight of a clean-faced Brother Lo in an Indians uniform. But I guess I didn't pay close attention to the card when I added it to my own collection. Night Owl highlights the odd factoid about Lowenstein on the card back:

"In a Little League game John was once 6-for-6 with 4 Homers & 14 RBI's, & once walked & scored 6 times in Babe Ruth League."

It's funny enough seeing childhood feats highlighted on a major leaguer's card, but especially so because it's a noted loon like Lowenstein. I agree with Night Owl; I think there's a good chance that Lo goosed his numbers a bit to have a laugh at the expense of the folks at Topps. If not...well, I guess he peaked early.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sammy Sosa, 2005 Topps Total Silver #110

We've still got something like four and a half months until Opening Day. It seems like an eternity, especially after suffering through a Ravens game yesterday. Football is a bloated spectacle, and I can tolerate the endless commercial breaks and the empty announcing cliches and the blatant corporatism a little less each year. When my home team is taking their lumps as much as they are this season, I just don't have the patience to endure those three-to-four hours every Sunday. It leaves me about as empty as a 2005 swing off the bat of Sammy Sosa.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Paul Carey, 1994 Donruss #465

I'm not going to lie: I would love a pair of Paul Carey's 1954 Orioles throwback stirrups. The black stirrup with triple orange stripes is a damned sharp look.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Josh Bell, 2010 Topps Update Series #US225

In retrospect, that whole Josh Bell thing didn't turn out very well. Defense, offense, no matter what he did, he looked about as ugly as those patriotic caps. But the Orioles have Platinum Glover Manny Machado at third base, so all is well that ends well perhaps.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vintage Fridays: Paul Blair, 1972 Topps #660

I haven't paid close attention to the Orioles Topps want list hosted on my 1965 Topps blog for quite some time. I'll check in on it if I'm out bargain-hunting for vintage cards and I come across a member of the home team, or on the off chance that Ed or another fellow collector finds one of my needed cards. But off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you which cards have proved elusive...except of course the 1957 Brooks Robinson rookie. That's a doozy. Nor have I bothered to take inventory of the base cards I need from the last five Topps flagship sets, which mirrors the way that I've almost completely checked out on the modern product.

But I've spent a lot of time in recent weeks filling holes in some of my 1970s Topps set binders (1972-1974 and 1976-1978), and that piqued my curiosity. How am I doing on my 1970s O's? Not too bad, if my own shoddy record-keeping is to be believed. I have all of the Orioles from 1970 and 1973 through 1979. That leaves me with five suspects on the loose for the whole of the decade. The rundown:

1971 Topps (3): #330 World Series Game 4 (Reds Stay Alive), #595 Davey Johnson, #700 Boog Powell (short print). One postseason recap card left to get, and it's the only World Series game the Birds lost in 1970. I can wait on that one. The others are higher-series cards, and Boog is a dastardly short-print.

1972 Topps (2): #680 Davey Johnson, #731 Orioles Team. Of the 1970s sets that I've put any effort into building, it's 1972 that I have the lowest expectation of completing. With its monstrous-for-its-time 787-card checklist and pricey high-number cards, it's no wonder. If I can at least keep an eye out for this duo, I can earn the satisfaction of completing the team set. For now, though, Paul Blair is the uppermost Oriole in my 1972 set.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Adam Jones, 2013 Panini Prizm #33

Adam Jones, Chris Davis, J. J. Hardy. Just like that, the Orioles claim ownership to three Silver Slugger Awards in one season for the first time in team history. These awards are given out to the best offensive player at each position in both leagues, and all three Birds are first-time winners. In fact, Jones is the first O's outfielder to ever win a Silver Slugger. Davis and Hardy are in rarified air as well: Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro are the other pair of Baltimore first basemen to be so honored, and Cal Ripken and Miguel Tejada are the two previous shortstops on the team list. As a matter of fact, Aubrey Huff was the last Oriole at any position to claim this prize, based on his strong DH performance in 2008. I don't expect Chris Davis to beat out Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera for the big prize (American League MVP) when those results are announced in a week, but the rest of the league is serving notice that these aren't the same cruddy Orioles.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Jeff Manto, 1995 Stadium Club #597

If you're looking for your dose of mid-1990s nostalgia tonight (and aren't we all?), this will do in a pinch. Jeff Manto, recently relieved of his position as Chicago White Sox hitting coach, has rejoined the Orioles as the organization's minor league hitting coordinator. Manto hasn't been seen around these parts since 1995, when he slugged .492 in 254 at-bats for the stunningly mediocre Phil Regan-managed O's. Jeff Manto will be molding the minds and bodies of Baltimore's offensive threats of tomorrow. Who knew?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Javy Lopez, 2004 Upper Deck Sweet Spot #39

Today is Javy Lopez's 43rd birthday. Time flies, don't it? The former Oriole catcher played his last game seven years ago, and it's been a few months shy of a decade since he cashed in on an anomalous .328/.378/.687 season (with 43 home runs, no less) and inked a three-year, $22.5 million free agent deal with the Birds. Though Javy was a big-name player and I've got dozens of his cards from his 2004-2006 tenure in Baltimore, I've only featured him seven times in the near-six-year lifespan of this blog. I've come to the realization that I don't have any strong affection for Lopez, nor do I bear any antipathy. He didn't have any strong personality traits that I could tell, and there wasn't much that was memorable about his stint with the Bad Old Orioles of the decade past. He came, he hit well (.293/.343/.468, 46 HR in 329 games), he fielded poorly, he got pushed out the door by Ramon Hernandez. I understand that many fans of the female persuasion found him pleasing to the eyes. But he was not energic and tempermental like Miguel Tejada. He was not an overachieving fan favorite like Melvin Mora. He was just sort of there, until he wasn't.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bob Milacki, 1990 Donruss #333

Because I know how to drive a posting theme into the ground, here's yet another autograph from the five-pack that Alan sent my way. Bob Milacki had the good sense to sign his name across the bright white of his home jersey for optimal visibility. He's got one of the more legible signatures that I've seen by a baseball player, and yet it still allows for a bit of stylistic flourish. The blue marker contrasts nicely with the blood-red borders of 1990 Donruss, too.

Speaking of Bob Milacki, this blog post from 2012 features some quotes from the former O's pitcher about players he'd coached that season with the Reading Phillies, as well as a modern-day photo of Milacki. He still looks much the same as he did in his playing days, plus a few pounds and a goatee that I think suits him quite well.