Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Vintage Saturdays: Chuck Estrada and Milt Pappas, 1961 Topps #48

I goofed last night and didn't post. I enjoy Vintage Fridays most of all, so I'll just make Vintage Saturday a one-time special attraction. Even better, you get two Orioles for the price of one, as 18-game winner Chuck Estrada and 15-game winner Milt Pappas rub elbows with the rest of 1960's top winners in the American League: Jim Perry, Bud Daley, Art Ditmar, and Frank Lary. All of them are floating on a blood-red background, which is a tad unsettling. It's also worth noting that 1960 represented only the second full season in American League history without a 20-game winner. In 1955, Whitey Ford, Bob Lemon, and Frank Sullivan all tied for the loop's top win total with 18. Estrada was the first Oriole to pace the A.L. in wins, doing so as a rookie; he'd follow up with 15 wins in 1961, but only totaled 17 thereafter. Pappas, however, won at least 15 games in seven different seasons and retired in 1973 with 209 W's.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Alan Mills, 1994 Fleer Ultra #5

Alan Mills is climbing the ladder in the Orioles' organization. This year, he will be coaching the club's pitchers at AA Bowie, a roster that will likely include first-round picks Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey. Nice work if you can get it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

David Wells, 1997 Fleer #15

David Wells comes across as a guy who enjoys his beer. After all, he tossed a perfect game for the Yankees in 1998 while "half drunk", by his own admission. I'm also a bit of a suds aficionado, so my wife finally got me one of those home-brew kits. A little over a month later, I finally got to taste-test my India Pale Ale...I think I can chalk it up to a learning experience. I didn't go blind or anything, but the taste was pretty bland. There was a foamy explosion when I opened one of the bottles. Even worse, I didn't activate the yeast thoroughly enough when I fermented it, so I only got half as much beer out of it as I should have. But Rome wasn't brewed in a day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mike Flanagan, 1993 Topps #381

I often feel cheesy when I post the same card on two blogs on the same day, but when I examined this Mike Flanagan card for my 1993 Topps series earlier today, I was struck anew by the dynamic photo. It's the last Topps card of Flanny's career, and he went out on top, as we get to peer over the catcher's shoulder at the 40-year-old lefty's follow-through while the ball spins toward the plate. I want to say that he's pitching in Yankee Stadium, but I reserve the right to be wrong. I also find myself wondering when I'll be able to hear Mike Flanagan's name without thinking about the tragic and avoidable way that he left us. It might not ever happen, really.

Monday, February 23, 2015

George Kell, 2001 Topps Archives #329

Back in 2008, when this blog was still a young pup, I posted the genuine article that this card replicates - George Kell's 1958 Topps card, #40. I still haven't gotten around to upgrading that well-worn artifact, which has Kell's position, team name, and the Orioles logo scratched out by hand. That same hand scrawled a proclamation that George was the Oklahoma City 89ers manager, though Baseball Reference begs to differ. In general, reprint cards don't do much for me, but in this case, I've got an interesting frame of reference for the battered, altered original card, so I guess that's worth something.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Eddie Murray, 1997 Skybox Metal Universe #5

My scanner doesn't really know what to do with all of this prismatic foil, but you can probably see the most pertinent detail. There is a chunk of space rock that looks poised to strike Eddie Murray square in the ass. 1997 Metal Universe never ceases to confound and amaze me.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cal Ripken, Jr., 1999 Upper Deck Victory #452

Much as this card is flashing back to Cal Ripken's rookie season of 1982, I'm flashing back to Saturday to time-stamp this blog entry, even though I'm writing it past midnight. Pretty scandalous. Meanwhile, I'm quite confident that Junior's hair was never that thick and dark...but that's probably my own creeping sense of mortality talking, considering that this photo is about as old as I am. At least I still have my hair.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Jim Palmer, 1976 Crane Potato Chips Discs #NNO

When I found this flat, circular food premium a few weeks ago at Orioles FanFest, I had to buy it. It's literally all that and a bag of chips. The 40-year-old snackfood was not included, actually, but I couldn't resist a bit of terrible wordplay. The Crane logo on the back is almost as great as Jim Palmer's blank-faced cap and the two-tone baseball design, so I'll share that with you as well.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Jimmy Myers, 1996 Fleer Update #U6

Pitchers and catchers reported today! So even though it's currently 10 degrees in my back yard, with a wind chill of -5 and an overnight low of zippo, Spring Training is here. Still, my excitement is somewhat subdued. After all, the next two weeks are nothing but practice and bland jargon-filled quotes from players and coaches. Then there's a full month of exhibition games with no stakes whatsoever. The bulk of the playing time will go to minor leaguers and retread veterans - the Jimmy Myers types. He was the "other Myers" on the 1996 Orioles, a ten-year minor league journeyman who inexplicably made the big league bullpen on Opening Day. The 27-year-old righty was scored upon in seven of his 11 regular-season appearances, including eight runs in his final two and one-third innings. That left him with a 7.07 ERA, a 1.5 WHIP, and a ticket back to Rochester. He'd hang around with various AAA clubs through the 1999 season, never returning to the majors.

What was I saying? Oh yeah...Spring Training! Think warm thoughts.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Albert Belle, 2001 Upper Deck Vintage #73

In case you've forgotten, Albert Belle was an intensely terrifying athlete. Thanks to Deadspin, some  video evidence to that effect is making the rounds this week. The video shows highlights from the Orioles' home game vs. the Angels on July 25, 1999, the much-maligned "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotion that put both teams in pullover jerseys with itty-bitty sleeves and vertical name plates, among other fashion don'ts. In his first five trips to the plate, the mercurial slugger had gone 4-for-4 with a walk, three home runs, and six RBI. Albert was almost singlehandedly responsible for keeping the O's alive into the 11th inning, considering that the score was 7-7 after nine innings. His three-run homer in the seventh erased the bulk of a 7-3 deficit, and his first-pitch solo shot off of Troy Percival tied the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. His final plate appearance came with one out in the 11th, after B. J. Surhoff's walk put the winning run on first base. Shigetoshi Hasegawa was brought out of the bullpen to relieve Mike Holtz, and his second pitch ran high and inside. Home plate umpire Ed Hickox ruled that the ball struck Belle, but the right fielder...refused to take his base. That's how locked-in he was, and how intent he was on winning the game. After some tense moments at home plate, manager Ray Miller and coach Marv Foley convinced Albert to yield. Three batters later, Cal Ripken capped his own impressive game (3-for-5, 2B, HR) with a walkoff single through the left side. Go check out the video, and consider yourself lucky if you've never run afoul of #88.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Brooks Robinson, 2000 Topps Stars #106

It doesn't quite come through in the scan, but the larger, background image of Brooks Robinson on the front of this card has a silvery sheen. It gives an impression of the third baseman as an ice sculpture. A Brooksie ice sculpture would not have been out of place in the Mid-Atlantic yesterday afternoon, as the region was blasted with its first significant snow storm of the year. My wife and I drove smack into the wintry weather on our way home from a weekend visit to her family in Charlotte (hence the lack of updates to this blog since last Wednesday - well, that plus a nasty cold that laid me low on Thursday). As we traveled northbound on I-81 through Virginia, the white stuff began covering the road rather quickly. Near Christiansburg, we saw evidence of three accidents within the span of a few miles, two of them involving tractor trailers. That was enough to convince us to postpone the final 300 or so miles of our trip. By 3:30 Monday afternoon, we were checked in at the lovely Quality Inn in Salem, VA. And so a holiday weekend was extended by a day; we would've rather hunkered down at home for today's day off from work, but we made ourselves comfortable in our hotel room and were grateful to have clear highways to travel when we resumed the drive today. And now, I return you to our regularly scheduled blog nonsense.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Rich Dauer, 1981 Donruss #232

Occasionally I flip through my 1981 Donruss cards and I wonder how the company ever got off the ground. Who looked at this out-of-focus, washed-out picture of Rich Dauer at Comiskey Park and said, "Yeah, good enough...print it." It looks like something your nearsighted aunt snapped with a Polaroid on Photo Day. When I scanned this card, it came out crooked...that seemed to be in the spirit of the half-baked, blurry, shadowy, paper-thin 1981 Donruss set, so I left it like that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Craig Worthington, 1988 Fleer Update #U-4

Craig Worthington probably shouldn't have taken a nap before his session with the photographer.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Storm Davis, 1985 Donruss #454

Storm Davis was one of 142 players who made their MLB debuts in the year of my birth, 1982. Other notables on that list include Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Don Mattingly, and Julio Franco. The only one of these men who is still playing professional baseball is...Franco.

Julio, now 56 years of age, will be playing in an independent league in Japan, where he will also perform managerial duties for the Ishikawa Million Stars. I love the notion of somebody who is nearly my father's age still working as a pro athlete. He had a 23-year big league career, and was still an above-average hitter as a reserve for the Braves at age 46. In addition to the 2,527 games he logged in the majors, he also spent time in the top pro leagues in Japan, Mexico, and Korea. Last year he played sparingly as player-manager of the independent Fort Worth Cats, collecting six hits, two walks, and a sac fly in 30 trips to the plate despite being nearly 30 years older than the average player in his league. Now that Minnie Minoso is no longer taking his swings, I'm glad there's another evergreen ballplayer to take up his mantle.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Jake Arrieta, 2010 Topps Chrome #213

You might notice that this Jake Arrieta card scan is blurry at the bottom. That's because it doesn't lay flat on the scanner bed. Like most 2010 Topps Chrome cards, it's curled more than your average potato chip. I should go put my small handful of 2010 Chrome cards underneath one of my giant, dense baseball encyclopedias and see if they flatten out.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Jay Tibbs, 1990 Score #480

I bought two 36-card packs of 2015 Topps today, just to scratch that new-card itch. I figured that I'd post my first Orioles card of the current year. Naturally, I got none. Not a single Baltimore-centric card out of 72. In my indignation, I chose to feature a 1990 Score card of goony ol' Jay Tibbs, with all of the primary colors represented in the bright contrasting borders. Take that, 2015 Topps. I also determinedly sorted the new stuff by team, to see just how effective Topps was in trolling me:

-Five cards each: Dodgers (two inserts!), Giants, Phillies

-Four cards each: Astros, Indians, Nationals, Tigers

-Three cards each: Angels, Cubs, Padres, Pirates, Rockies

-Two cards each: Blue Jays, Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Rangers, Yankees

-One card each: Athletics, Braves, Mariners, Marlins, Rays, Red Sox, White Sox, Dr. Jonas Salk

-No cards: Orioles, Reds, Royals, Twins

Yep, I got an insert card highlighting the freaking polio vaccine, but nothing doing when it came to my favorite team. On the one hand, at least I didn't get bombarded with Yankees and Red Sox for a change, and there were no K.C. players to rub salt in the still-open wounds of the 2014 ALCS. On the other hand, four stinking Nationals? Barf. At least the irritation I felt after opening these packs strengthens my resolve to deny Topps more of my hard-earned dollars.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Vintage Fridays: Jim Palmer, 1975 SSPC #380

I guess a full week is long enough to leave you hanging. Here's the card that I had signed by Jim Palmer last Saturday at FanFest. It's a classic 'Cakes card, in that he's posing without a cap, the better to air out his luxuriant chestnut locks. I made a remark to Palmer in that vein, and he told me that once he posed for a photo while wearing former pitching coach Ray Miller's cap. He assured me that "the Rabbit" had a huge noggin, hat size eight-something, so it was a funny visual. (To be fair to Miller, a quick check online for game-used memorabilia suggests that he wore a seven and a half, barely bigger than Palmer's seven and a quarter cap size.) I likened it to the time that Adam Jones swiped the Oriole Bird's oversized headgear and tried it on for himself. So that's the context for these photos, helpfully snapped by my sister. From left to right, Brian Matusz, Caleb Joseph, and Palmer are seated at the autograph table.

As for the signature, I'm glad that Jim appended the "HOF 90" inscription without being asked. I'm sure he takes a lot of pride in his first-ballot selection to the Hall of Fame, but it makes the autograph that much more special to me.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Miguel Tejada, 2010 Topps National Chicle #90

Remember when the Orioles brought Miguel Tejada back to play third base, just two years after trading him to Houston? Except that he had aged four years in that span, and become a lumbering singles hitter. He didn't last a full season in Baltimore the second time around, getting shipped off to San Diego for the unforgettable Wynn Pelzer in the middle of the summer. Baseball is weird.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nolan Reimold, 2010 Topps 206 #168

Was 2009 really so long ago?

That was the first - and last - time that Nolan Reimold played 100 games in a major league season. In the blink of an eye, he's gone from a 25-year-old rookie leading his team in on-base percentage and runner-up in slugging to an injury-prone 31-year-old who has changed organizations three times in seven months. This is the baggage that Reimold brings back to the Orioles, who agreed to a minor-league deal with the outfielder that comes with an invitation to spring training and an opt-out clause. The O's spent at least four spring camps hopefully penciling him in as a starting left fielder, but yesterday Brady Anderson flat-out said that there are "several" players ahead of Nolan on the outfield depth chart. It's probably not realistic to expect him to contribute to the Orioles in 2015. Then again, it wasn't realistic to expect Steve Pearce to bang out a .930 OPS last year, either. You never know which Duquette/Showalter bargain signings are going to break out.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Nick Markakis, 2008 Upper Deck #368

Nick Markakis might not be an Oriole anymore, but this is how I'd like to remember him: unflappably gloving a fly ball in right field as a gaggle of goony Red Sox fans jabber in disappointment behind him.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Sammy Sosa, 2006 Topps Heritage #60

Crappy Anniversary to the Orioles, who made a desperate stab at relevance on Groundhog Day in 2005 by acquiring Sammy Sosa from the Cubs just thiiiis much past his expiration date. As it turned out, the path back to the postseason was to focus on top-to-bottom roster depth: strong defenders, strike-throwing mid-rotation pitchers, and fungible power hitters. It had little to do with tossing millions of dollars at whichever mid-to-late career "name players" were willing to go slumming at the bottom of the American League East. Who'd have thunk it?

This is as good a time as any to share a photo of a true oddball item that my friend Mike picked up at a recent garage sale. For a dollar (or maybe even less), he brought home this Sammy Sosa "CelebriDuck":

Because I don't know what's good for me, that abomination is now sitting on a shelf above my TV. So share in my pain.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jim Palmer, 1984 Donruss Champions #35

Here's one of the three Jim Palmer oddball cards I picked up at FanFest yesterday. It's from the Champions (Yesterday & Today) set that Donruss released in 1984, with 60 postcard-sized cards (3.5"x5") featuring 10 retired "Grand Champions" and 49 current stars who were chasing their records. The Grand Champions cards featured artwork by Dick Perez. The back of Palmer's card compares him to Cy Young, whose 511 career wins outpaced Jim's 268 by just a bit. Interestingly, it also notes that "Cakes" and his contemporary Phil Niekro were tied in wins after the '83 season. Of course, Palmer hit the wall in the very next season and was released after five winless games, and Niekro rode his knuckleball to another 50 W's in the following four years. But Jim still made it to the Hall of Fame seven years before "Knucksie", proving that pitcher wins don't tell the whole story.