Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Deivi Cruz, 2003 Topps Traded #T68

By now you've probably heard that the Orioles signed a Cruz yesterday...don't worry, it's not a reunion with Deivi, who clunked his way to a .269 on-base percentage in Baltimore's last pre-Tejada season. Instead, they've filled a hole at designated hitter by bringing in former Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz on a one-year, $8 million contract. As February rolls on, Dan Duquette seems hell-bent on making my two-week old rant about the team's lame offseason look as stupid as possible. I love that the Birds are only committed to Cruz for one year, and I trust that they're smart enough to keep an outfielder's glove away from him. He's paid the price for his dalliance with performance-enhancing drugs, having served a 50-game suspension last season. Nelson has slugged .515 over the past six years, and he should give the Orioles another productive bat in the middle of the lineup. The O's are a better team today than they were a week ago. I don't know why that surprises me.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Curtis Goodwin, 1995 Score Summit Edition #123

Sometimes it takes me entirely too long to find a suitable card to feature on the blog. Tonight was not one of those nights. I picked up my box of 1995 Orioles cards, lifted a stack of Score products from the middle of the box, and immediately my senses were assaulted by the sparkliest Curtis Goodwin card I have ever seen. "My word," I could have said but didn't, "That is one bright and shimmery baseball card. I must share it with the world." It was just that easy, as well it should be on a lazy Saturday night in February.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Eddie Murray, 1980 Topps #160

I'm a bit preoccupied this weekend because I'm having my wisdom teeth removed on Monday. Yes, all four of them, and the top two are impacted. So it's a bona fide surgery, with the cutting into the gums and all of that fun stuff. It's not the ideal way to celebrate Eddie Murray's 58th birthday; instead of raising a glass to one of the all-time great Orioles, I'll be getting the knockout drugs. I've never had surgery of any kind before, and I've heard just enough horror stories from friends and coworkers (two words: dry socket) to give me pause. So keep me in your thoughts next week, and try to understand if I'm scarce around these parts for a few days.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Jim Palmer, 2011 Topps Kimball Champions Mini #KC-88

I've owned this card for a couple of years, and I was so put off by the waxen Photoshop-filter grimace of older Jim Palmer on the top half of the card that I completely failed to notice the awesome action scene below. It's a tableau from Game 4 of the 1970 World Series, with a younger Palmer in his home whites reaching back for a little heat as Boog Powell tries to hold the Cincinnati runner (Lee May? Looks like a pretty big dude) close to first base. Sure, Palmer ran out of gas in the eighth and Eddie Watt blew the O's lead - and the game - behind him, but Baltimore clinched the Series a day later behind Mike Cuellar, so it's all good.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Mike Devereaux, 1992 Pinnacle #165

I don't care what anybody says, it takes an awful lot of dexterity and athletic talent to punch yourself in the butt while running to first base.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Kevin Gausman, 2014 Topps #190

Now that I've finally cobbled together a fair-to-middlin' return package of cards to send his way, I'll allow myself to talk about the padded envelope of O's cards that I received from Max last week. Blogdom's favorite Mets/Saints/Football Giants fan made good with a handful of 2014 Topps Orioles, including the dearly Birdland-departed Nate McLouth and Future Stars cards (they're back!) of Kevin "Goose" Gausman and Manny Machado. Gausman's inclusion seems to be keeping more in the spirit of the prospect-focused 1980s and 1990s Future Stars, as he has only 47.2 big league innings to his name and just saw his odds of breaking camp with the Birds next month get a bit worse. Ubaldo Jimenez is the kind of guy that bumps a rookie from the starting rotation, top draft pick or no. On the other hand, I would argue that Machado is already a star, by dint of his 2013 All-Star Game selection and Gold Glove Award. But if Topps wants to shield itself against the hindsight mockery that has been heaped upon the likes of Tim Pyznarski and Steve Searcy, who am I to argue? Max also supplemented my O's collection with a few shiny Bowmans of Chris Davis and Jim Johnson, an even shinier Prizm rookie card of ex-Oriole and current Astro Little Jerome Hoes, and a 2013 Topps Chasing History insert of Manny. The Cal Junior Turkey Red card that graced yesterday's post was also from this unassuming bubblelope, as was a 1993 Score base card of Joe Orsulak and a 1998 Fleer Tradition Harold Baines. Though these cards were sent blindly, only a pair of the dozen I received were duplicates - Harold Reynolds and Brady Anderson's 1993 Studio cards. Whether he realizes it or not, Max continues to find ways to surprise me. That's what makes for a good trade partner.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cal Ripken Jr., 2005 Topps Turkey Red #305

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Ubaldo Jimenez? Provided that he passes the ever-perilous physical, the Orioles have finally made a significant free agent signing. The ex-Rockies and Indians righty agreed to a four-year, $50 million contract with the O's. It's risky business, as Baltimore is giving up their first-round draft pick and giving out their most expensive free agent deal since Miguel Tejada's five-year, $65 million contract a decade ago. Jimenez was very good in 2010 (19-8, 2.88 ERA, 214 K's), but had a much worse go of it in 2011 through the first half of 2013. He probably earned himself a bigger paycheck based on his second-half numbers last season (1.82 ERA, 100 K/84 IP), but it remains to be seen whether that was an anomaly or if he's figured some things out. But I'm just encouraged to see the Birds taking some action.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rafael Palmeiro, 2005 Donruss Diamond Kings Update #321

This portrait is probably the creepiest picture of Rafael Palmeiro that I have ever seen. That's really saying something, considering that he: A) has had a mustache for his entire adult life, B) was a pitchman for Viagra, and C) once posed for this photograph.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Whitey Lockman, 1959 Topps #411

On this date in 1959, the Orioles purchased the contract of Whitey Lockman from the St. Louis Cardinals. Earlier in the decade, Lockman (born Carroll Walter Lockman) had been a feature player for some strong Giants teams. He helped set the stage for Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" pennant-winning home run in 1951 by chasing Brooklyn starter Don Newcombe from the game with a double. He made his lone All-Star team in 1952, when he batted .290 with a .363 on-base percentage and scored 99 runs. Whitey was nearing the end as he came to Baltimore, and he appeared in only 38 games with the O's, batting 78 times with an underwhelming .217/.299/.261 line. On June 23, 1959, he was traded to the Reds for Walt Dropo. A year later, Cincinnati released him and ended his 15-year career.

I haven't spent much time lately working to complete my 1959 Topps set, but in paging through the binder to find Whitey, I was happy to see several completed pages. I'll share a scan of one such page below, featuring Lockman, Orioles Hall of Famer Moe Drabowsky (in a Cubs uniform), and an excellent Luis Aparicio/Nellie Fox combo card.
So much color, so many circles...some day I hope to see this set in its full 572-card glory.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

David Segui, 1992 O-Pee-Chee Premier #153

I got my snow day today, and as an offering of gratitude I finally resumed the Great Card Sorting. Basically that means that I set up the folding table I'd bought last week and rooted through the closet in the spare bedroom, trying to remember exactly where I left off. As near as I can tell, I'm somewhere in the 1992-1993 range, which means that I made more progress a few months back than I'd realized. Once I get organized through 1994, the ensuing years will be a piece of cake. But until that happens, the cats are barred from the room. They'll have to make do with having the run of the rest of the house.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rick Dempsey, 1986 Topps #726

Rick Dempsey is adrift in a hazy field of white, much like all of us here in Baltimore. It's been an unusually snowy winter in the Mid-Atlantic region, but even so we haven't had any truly heavy snowfalls yet. The storm that just started an hour or so ago promises to be the heaviest of the year, with my neighborhood projected in the four-to-ten inches range. At any rate, I've already got the day off tomorrow and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a five-day weekend. If nothing else, it would make Friday's drive down to North Carolina to visit the in-laws a little more of a relaxing proposition. Anyhow, if you're anywhere in the path of this frosty precipitation, hunker down if you can and be careful if you must take to the roads. I'll be housebound on Thursday, and I prefer it that way.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wei-Yin Chen, 2012 Topps Chrome #188

I know that yesterday's post was a bit of a downer, and that's not a tone that I like to set around here. So let's have a little collectorly fun! Saturday afternoon my wife and I took an impromptu trip to Philadelphia to visit a good friend of hers. Along the way we stopped at the Christiana Mall in Delaware because, hey, tax-free shopping. In the mall-adjacent Target, I availed myself of four discounted packs of cards that I otherwise would not have touched with a ten-foot bat: a pack each of 2008 Upper Deck Documentary and 2012 Topps Chrome, and a couple of packs of 2012 Bowman Platinum. I didn't find much to blog home about, but a few cards have already been set aside for my long-neglected trade partners, and those that don't get redistributed will be welcomed into my collection to fill the oft-overlooked shiny quotient. Oh, and there was this Chrome rookie card of Mr. Wei-Yin Chen, who will hopefully be a bit more durable in 2014 than he was last season. No card-buying activity is ever truly a waste unless you allow it to be.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Greg Walker, 1991 Crown/Coca-Cola All-Time Orioles #471

In three days, pitchers and catchers will report to Sarasota for Orioles Spring Training. It's probably just about time to give up on the hopes of any significant trades or free agent signings in this rapidly-concluding offseason.

Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter have developed an M.O. in Baltimore of quantity over quality, scooping up minor league free agents and fringe major leaguers by the sackful in the hopes that a few will pan out and make a positive impact on the big league club. That's how Nate McLouth and Miguel Gonzalez came about, but it's frustrating to see a team that's got a promising young core steadfastly refuse to loosen the purse strings. I want to be proven wrong, but I just don't think that a Grapefruit League roster that reads like a "Who's Who" of "Who's That?" is going to pass muster in the cutthroat American League East.

Yes, yes, there is that foundation of Jones, Davis, Wieters, Hardy, Machado, Tillman, Chen, and Gonzalez. Not a bad start. But take a look at the reams of extras the O's have gone bargain hunting for this winter and tell me what you think.

On the 40-man roster, they've added Brad Brach, Kelvin de la Cruz, Edgmer Escalona, Liam Hendriks, Ryan Webb, Johnny Monell, Michael Almanzar, Jemile Weeks, David Lough, Francisco Peguero. Beyond the 40-man, you'll find Cord Phelps, David Freitas, Chris Marrero, Ivan DeJesus Jr., Xavier Paul, Quintin Berry, Luis Vizcaino, Delmon Freaking Young, Alfredo Aceves, Aaron Laffey, Alex Gonzalez, Jack Cust(!), Evan Meek, and Matt LaPorta. Breathtaking.

Sure, I'm being a bit cynical. Several of those guys will probably be stashed at Norfolk or even Bowie to fill roster spots, only to be called upon in a roster emergency. But those are all of the players with MLB experience who have been added to the Baltimore organization since the end of the 2013 season. Webb and Lough are the big gets. A setup reliever and a 28 year-old defense-first outfielder. The sheer volume of the names is staggering to me, and I just wonder if other teams operate in those kind of numbers.

On that note, remember Greg Walker? He was the White Sox' pre-Frank Thomas first baseman, and had three 20-homer seasons for the Pale Hose in the mid-80s. He went downhill in a hurry, and the O's picked him off the heap in May 1990 after Chicago cut him loose. But at age 30, he was done. He played his last 14 games in Baltimore, batting .147 with no extra-base hits, and receiving his walking papers in July. Greg Walker himself probably doesn't remember being an Oriole.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fred Lynn, 1985 Fleer Update #U-75

I wonder if Fred Lynn could pull those stirrups up any higher. Frank Robinson would be proud.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Vintage Fridays: Don Baylor, 1973 Topps #384

As promised, here's the fourth in a series of pictures from an early 1970s Orioles' photo day at Memorial Stadium. All had been in my grandmother's possession throughout the later years of her life.

If today's player is wearing number 25 (which is my best guess), this is a very young Don Baylor. "Groove" debuted with the O's in 1970, but played a total of just nine games with the big league club in 1970 and 1971. So my slightly informed supposition is that these pictures were all snapped on one day between the 1972 and 1974 seasons.

Baylor was already managing the Colorado Rockies by the time baseball caught my attention in 1993, and even the 1980s cards that I accumulated in adolescence showed him as a barrel-chested veteran slugger. It's almost surprising to see him as an athletic, streamlined prospect. But indeed, Don swiped at least 22 bags in each of his first eight MLB seasons, peaking with 52 steals in 1976. I imagine that whoever took these pictures, be it my grandmother or one of my aunts or uncles, they couldn't help but feel starstruck while milling around on the Memorial Stadium field in the presence of all-time greats like Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson, as well as stars of present and future like Boog Powell and Don Baylor. Some of them were close enough to reach out and touch. It was the 1970s, and the Baltimore Orioles were the class of baseball.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Boog Powell, 2003 Fleer Tradition #68

Hey, would you like to see another piece of ephemera rescued from my grandmother's former basement apartment in my childhood home? If not, then why are you here, exactly?

There's a strong possibility that the photo above was taken on the same "photo day" as the Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer snapshots that I showed off way back in 2009. I used carbon dating (or, ya know, uniform-based context clues) to determine that those pictures were taken in the 1971-1974 window of time. The presence of one John "Boog" Powell, though he looks awfully blurry and kind of disinterested, does nothing to disabuse me of that notion. Tomorrow I'll share another photo from this set that may help narrow down the date range further. Are you intrigued? Why do I ask so many rhetorical questions on this blog? Aw crap, that was another rhetorical question, wasn't it?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Chris Davis and Adam Jones, 2014 Topps #153

Alright, alright. I broke down and bought myself a hanger box of 2014 Topps at Target, just so I could try it before I knock it. It's at least a better value than the blasters ($10 for 72 cards as opposed to $20 for 81 cards). The design is inoffensive, the inserts are boring, and there are too damned many parallels. I'm not telling you anything you haven't heard elsewhere, probably. But I'll do you a solid and share the first Oriole card that I pulled in 2014...it's a two-for-one deal! It's still a rare thrill to see orange and black on league leader cards, and Chris Davis' race to 53 homers was such a marvel that it's easy to overlook the fact that he also edged Miguel Cabrera in the RBI ledger, 138 to 137. Adam Jones was a distant third with 108 driven in, but who cares? I didn't do too badly with my box in all, as I also plucked out a Chris Tillman base card, a Manny Machado insert, an Ian Desmond bat relic, and the early clubhouse leader for non-O's card of the year. Now, back to my regularly-scheduled programming, which is filled with days of not buying new Topps products.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Eddie Murray, 1988 Fleer Star Stickers #2

Eddie Murray has neither the time nor the inclination to deal with this crap today. Freezing rain overnight? A rainy, foggy, 40-degree Wednesday? That's the sound of winter overstaying its welcome.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lenn Sakata, 198? Orioles Postcards

Here's another one of the paper treasures recently unearthed from my grandma's old photo collection. It's completely blank on the back, so I have no idea what year it was printed and distributed to Orioles fans, except that it would have been some time during Lenn Haruki Sakata's illustrious tenure in Baltimore. That narrows it down to the 1980 through 1985 seasons. Perhaps it was issued in my birth year of 1982, which also happened to be Lenny's best overall season. He played in 136 games, far and away a career high, and batted .259/.323/.370 with 18 doubles, 6 HR, and 31 RBI. Of course, the most memorable inning of Sakata's career took place in 1983, so it would be neat if this were a postcard of '83 vintage too.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Jim Palmer, 1982 Fleer #175

Jim Palmer, rocking and firing, Memorial Stadium, Baltimore. Sometimes that's all you need.

Last week, my mother was going through some of my grandma's old photos and found a few that she thought would be of interest to me. I'll share them with you in the coming days, starting with a scenic postcard of Memorial Stadium:

I don't quite have the encyclopedic knowledge of the old haunts on 33rd Street to pinpoint the date that this lithograph was made, but maybe some of you can help me. I think that's the Schaefer Beer sign on top of the right field scoreboard, and the electronic left field scoreboard isn't there yet. That should narrow it down. Any hints?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Adam Jones, 2012 Bowman #45

Here's the card that I had Adam Jones sign this afternoon at Orioles FanFest. I'll show off the signed postcards from Ryan Flaherty and Steve Pearce in due time as well. While Adam was scribbling his name and number on my card, I noticed that he had a small card in front of him with an unfamiliar male name printed on it in a child's handwriting. I asked him if he were also collecting autographs, and he confirmed that a young fan had given it to him earlier. That was the best thing that I heard today.