Orioles Card "O" the Day

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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Earl Weaver, 2003 Topps All-Time Fan Favorites #32

I would say that Earl Weaver was having his worst hair day when this photo was taken, but...I've seen footage of him rocking a perm in the ABC broadcast booth during the 1983 World Series. Whew.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Royle Stillman, 1975 SSPC #393

It wasn't easy being a prospect in the O's farm system in the 1970s. Royle Stillman arrived from the Dodgers in the Frank Robinson trade prior to the 1972 season. At age 21, he batted .297/.404/.505 with 23 home runs at AA Asheville. The following year, the young outfielder couldn't replicate that power stroke in his first crack at AAA Rochester, but he did lead the league with a .354 average in 94 games, with a .441 on-base percentage to boot. That earned Stillman a return ticket to the Red Wings in 1974, with Rich Coggins, Paul Blair, Al Bumbry, and Don Baylor blocking his path to the major leagues. He had something of a sophomore slump that year, but still held his own with a .292 batting mark. The third time was the charm, as Royle batted .313/.382/.484 with 30 doubles, 14 homers, and 75 RBI with Rochester in 1975 and finally made his Orioles debut in September. He went 6-for-14 in that brief exposure, but saw action in only 20 games in Baltimore the following year and scratched out two singles and three walks in 25 trips to the plate. He signed with the White Sox as a free agent at the end of the 1976 season, but put up a .210/.307/.361 line in 56 games in what proved to be his final crack at the bigs. But he does hold the historical distinction of being MLB's only player named Royle.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Boog Powell, 2002 Topps Archives Reserve #86

Did everyone survive that hellacious winter storm? Total snowfall in our neck of the woods was about 26 inches, making me think that the storm should have been named for Boog Powell. For our part, we came through the first blizzard in our new home no worse for the wear, aside from some minor aches and pains due to shoveling. I had a rare five-day weekend, as my office was uncharacteristically closed on Friday, Monday, and Tuesday, but my days at home were much more labor-intensive than they would have been if I'd been cubicle-bound. I would estimate that my wife and I each spent at least seven hours clearing snow from our driveway; of course, it was preferable by far to clearing the steps, sidewalk, and street-side parking area at our old row house. Besides, I did listen to a big chunk of my current audiobook of choice (Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr) while I toiled. I do have to remember to order a new shovel or two online before the next snowfall. One of our two current shovels is a crummy, bent-up aluminum number, and the other is a sturdy plastic model that is nonetheless about to split in two along the handle. Better tools will make the next winter cleanup a bit easier.

I had intended to do more organizing and decorating inside the house as long as we were going to be confined there, but all of the yard work (driveway work, really) ate up a good chunk of time, energy, and motivation. I did manage to hang a few items next to my wet bar in the basement - a wooden cutout of the continental United States that functions as a bottle cap display (yes, my collector's impulses bleed over into pursuits even more ephemeral than baseball cards) and a pegboard featuring an Orioles logo. I found the latter at a craft fair in Wrightsville Beach, NC during our Thanksgiving getaway, and figured I could hang a couple early-1990s O's promotional giveaway steins from it. They are hand-me-downs from my grandma Boots, and I wanted them to have a prominent place in my makeshift lounge. I'm pretty pleased with the results.
Though it would have been nice to cross a couple more items off of my to-do list during this unexpected January holiday, I was grateful to spend some extra leisure time with Janet. We watched some movies - Home, Frozen (of course), and the Mystery Science Theater 3000 take on the 1975 Joe Don Baker "action" flick Mitchell. We tried out Dominion, a deck-building strategy game that I'd received for Christmas; it would be unsportsmanlike for me to mention that I won. Whoops, ignore that. I enjoyed some of Janet's incredible cooking, including the best batch of beef stew she's ever made. And, though my plans to have some friends over on Sunday night to watch WWE's Royal Rumble pay-per-view event were scotched by the slick and snowy roads, I still had a blast watching it with my very patient and accommodating wife. (To be fair, I did brave the elements earlier in the evening, enduring a somewhat tricky six-mile round trip in order to bring home a Pizza Hut dinner.)

So, that's how I kept sane during Winter Storm Jonas. How about you?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Arthur Rhodes, 1991 Upper Deck Final Edition #13F

There is no pitcher in Orioles history who made more grotesque faces with more dependable consistency than Arthur Rhodes. I couldn't contort my face into that expression if I tried...now if you'll excuse me, I need to go spend thirty minutes in front of the bathroom mirror.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Joe Ginsberg, 1958 Topps #67

Here in Baltimore, we are smack dab in the middle of the path of Winter Storm Jonas, aka Snowzilla. So far, we're holding up alright. I'm stacked up on beer (Shiner Winter Cheer and a Breckenridge Mountain Series Sampler), firewood, ice melt, shovels, and groceries. We still have power (knock on wood), we've got several inches of snow on the ground, and we had a fairly leisurely day off from work. If you're getting nailed by snow, sleet, ice, wind, or any other chilly nastiness this weekend, stay warm and safe!

I couldn't find any O's player named "Jonas", so here's a Joe...Ginsberg, to be exact. It looks like somebody tried to take his picture in the midst of a blizzard, though I'm sure it's just a printing error on my copy of the card. That still doesn't explain why he doesn't have a number on the back of his jersey. I have it on good authority that Joe did actually have a number during his five seasons with the Orioles, and it was #22. I hope that he spent the last few decades of his life telling people that Baltimore retired his number. Technically, it's the truth.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Eddie Murray, 1983 Donruss 3x5 All-Stars #1

As promised last night, here's the exquisite Eddie Murray glass from Zach.
As you can see, I christened it with a celebratory long-weekend beer. (Snow day tomorrow!) A Google search tells me that these glasses were from Horn and Horn Restaurants, which offered a series of six in 1985. The others were Cal Ripken Jr., Rick Dempsey, Storm Davis, Mike Boddicker, and Fred Lynn. Now I kind of want to track down the other five. I mean, I only have an entire cabinet full of drinking glasses at the moment...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fredy Deza, 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC57

Every so often, longtime reader and commenter Zach sends me what he refers to as his "subscription fee" to the blog. So it was that I arrived home this evening and found a USPS box on my front porch, addressed to "Master" Kevin Brotzman. Nice touch!

Included inside were several small team bags and boxes full of various Orioles cards from the past three decades, a number of which were new to me. Thanks to Zach, I can now say that I own not one but TWO Fredy Deza cards. I believe Fredy lost the second "d" in his first name in a tragic bicycle accident as a preteen. That's almost assuredly not true, but I can tell you that the righthanded pitcher from the Dominican Republic spent nine seasons in the minor leagues, all of them in the O's organization, beginning as an 18-year-old in the Gulf Coast League in 2001. He had a career record of 38-61, a 4.26 ERA, and nine saves, and saw action in just 11 games at the AAA level. He never did get so much as a sip of coffee in the majors. But then, Topps always had a very liquid definition of the word "prospect" when it came to their Bowman brand.

Zach had hinted in an email that he had unearthed some treasures in his thrift store expeditions, and would include them in the package he sent. I made a point of thumbing through all of the cards in the box first, saving the big-ticket items for last. There was an Earl Weaver replica statue, a promotional giveaway from the 2012 dedication of the Hall of Fame manager's life-sized bronze likeness in the center field picnic area at Camden Yards. A white replica Melvin Mora jersey was folded in the bottom of the box, and it will go nicely with the Lou Montanez and Danny Valencia player-worn BP jerseys I've scavenged from FanFest in recent years. There was one last item tucked in a brown paper bag, and when I unwrapped it, I exclaimed, "NO WAY!". It was a drinking glass bearing Eddie Murray's likeness, circa 1985, and it is glorious. I'm already in bed, so I'll include a picture in tomorrow's post. In the meantime, I'm glad to know that I've got one satisfied subscriber.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cal Ripken Jr., 1998 Topps Prinivil Promo #1

This is one of the many cards that I've added to my collection courtesy of Max, and it is one of the most delightfully weird. As you can see, it looks like a 1998 Topps base card on the front, except that the background of the name bar is teal instead of the team-coordinated orange and black, and it reads "Limited Edition" underneath of Cal Ripken's name instead of "Baltimore Orioles". But it's once you flip the card over that the real fun begins.
You'll want to click on the scan above to enlarge, but let me walk you through it. Cal is wearing a dopey promo hat for Prinivil, a prescription drug used to treat hypertension. The caption on the photo reads, "Cal Ripken, Jr. is not hypertensive and is not taking PRINIVIL". The text underneath his career batting record is as follows: "Before prescribing PRINIVIL, please read the accompanying Prescribing Information." That's pretty good advice, I'd say.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nick Markakis, 2008 Upper Deck SP Legendary Cuts Destination Stardom Memorabilia #DS-NM

There are eight words in the brand, set, and insert set name of this card. I just find that really annoying. It also strikes me that the swatch of white fabric embedded in the card is placed directly in front of Nick Markakis' groin. It's like it's a makeshift loincloth. Enjoy that image, won't you?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Chris Davis, 2014 Panini Donruss #5

He's baaaaaaaack! Of course, he never officially left. At about eight this morning, news broke that Chris Davis and the Orioles had agreed to a seven-year, $161 million contract. This ends a lengthy staring contest between the O's and their most prolific power hitter. "Crush" has given me and the rest of Charm City a lot to cheer about in four-plus years with the team. Although I have my reservations about the Birds breaking the bank from now through age 37 for a player with such an uneven career record, I don't think there's any question that they're better in 2016 with Davis than they'd be without him. I'd like to think that Chris chose to remain in Baltimore in part because he wants to be the first player to hit the B&O Warehouse on the fly in an official game. That's what they call unfinished business.

There's still a month until pitchers and catchers report, and there may be moves left to make; there are certainly several significant free agents on the market. (I wouldn't mind a short-term splurge for Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton if the opportunity arises, and Doug Fister would be an intriguing rebound candidate in the rotation, for instance.) But the four major free agents from the Orioles - Davis, Darren O'Day, Wei-Yin Chen, and Matt Wieters - have all come off the board, and all but Chen are staying put. I wouldn't have predicted that, but then again, I came to terms long ago with just how little I really know about baseball.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ty Wigginton, 2010 Upper Deck #79

Man, it's hard for me to be in a bad mood when I look at photos of Ty Wigginton in a baseball uniform. A quick search of my archives shows that I have compared Wiggy to a fire hydrant in two previous blog entries, so I may as well adhere to the rule of comedy threes. And I just did; that was easy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wei-Yin Chen, 2015 Donruss #57

When this unlicensed card from Panini hit the shelves last year, Wei-Yin Chen was indeed a member of the Baltimore Baseball Club, better known as the Orioles...at least to anyone who is not a sentient robot masquerading as a human. But as of yesterday, the man I call "Weentsy" is now collecting his paychecks from the Miami Baseball Club. You know, the Marlins. I'll miss his under-the-radar competence, and I'll never forget his winning effort in Game Two of the 2012 ALDS - the Birds' first home playoff win in 15 years, and the first postseason game I ever had the good fortune to see in person. Chen closes the door on his four-year Baltimore tenure with a strong 46-32 record, a 3.72 ERA (110 ERA+), and 3.18 strikeouts for every walk. Best wishes for the Taiwanese lefty...especially when he's facing the Nationals.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Melvin Mora, 2003 Upper Deck #78

Next year, Melvin Mora will make his first, and likely last, appearance on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. This hardly seems possible, since I'm pretty sure it was just last year that I was cursing the name of Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who stubbornly stuck with his own left fielder (Garret Anderson) for four at-bats in the All-Star Game, and saw fit to give a 31-year-old Mora a measly pinch-runner appearance in his improbable All-Star debut. What's that? It's been nearly 13 years since the 2003 All-Star Game that I'm describing? I may need to sit down for a while and wrap my head around this.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cal Ripken Jr., 1992 Score P&G All-Star Game #5

I might have had something to say about this oddball card - a Score/Proctor & Gamble collaboration - but I think my retinas have detached after looking at it for three minutes. So much purple...giant segmented 3-D star...the pain...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Vintage Fridays: Willie Tasby, 1960 Topps #322

For my latest act as the Willard Scott of the Orioles blogosphere, I'd like to wish a very happy 83rd birthday to former outfielder Willie Tasby. The native of Shreveport, LA attended McClymonds High School in Oakland, which also produced fellow big leaguers Frank Robinson, Vada Pinson, and Curt Flood. He had an impressive minor league record, including a .304 average and 27 home runs and 121 RBI for the York White Roses in 1954, but never found consistent success in the major leagues. Willie was the Birds' regular center fielder in 1959, when he batted .250/.303/.378 with 13 homers and 48 RBI as a rookie. His claim to fame was a July 19, 1959 game at Memorial Stadium against the Tigers. After a thunderstorm-induced rain delay, he found himself standing in a puddle of water in the outfield in the bottom of the ninth inning. Not willing to act as a lightning rod, Tasby removed his spikes, placed them in the bullpen, and manned center field in his socks. We'll never know whether he could have caught a screaming line drive while shoeless, because Lou Berberet hit a foul pop to Brooks Robinson at third base, sealing a 2-1 win for the O's. Oh, what could have been.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

David Segui, 1992 Fleer Ultra #308

Do you think that David Segui's teammates ever called him "Twinkletoes"?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Nelson Cruz, 2014 Stadium Club #152

This blog entry has been nearly a year in the making.

When Janet and I got married in September 2013, we knew that we wanted to have children. After taking a few months to enjoy one another's company and to adjust to our new life together as husband and wife (or if you prefer, "man and wife, say MAN AND WIFE!"), we began trying to conceive. The news we had been waiting for finally came on a Sunday morning - March 15, 2015, to be exact. Nearly a year of uncertainty and frustration ended with a positive pregnancy test. Janet woke me up with an urgency and excitement in her voice that I will never forget. We stared at the stick. We embraced. We cried tears of joy.

We were bursting with the news, but tried to keep it under wraps, because that's what conventional wisdom dictates. There's a high risk of miscarriage in the early weeks, so you avoid spreading the word in order to save yourself from a lot of painful and uncomfortable conversations later on, if the unthinkable does happen. We told our parents as soon as we could, gifting them with St. Patrick's Day-themed announcement cards two days after we found out ourselves. The future aunts and uncles of the unborn kid found out that week as well, but that was it. Maybe a coworker here or there, because we couldn't spend 40 hours a week in the office without letting somebody know what was up. I didn't tell even my closest friends, although Janet shared with a handful of hers. I did a blog post about Larry Haney, because he was born on November 19, the original due date of our unborn child. (After the initial OB appointment, this was adjusted to November 16.)

We spent a few weeks with our heads mostly in the clouds, planning for our future life raising "Pantalaimon" (our code name for the little one, based on a character from Philip Pullman's book trilogy His Dark Materials). We took a mini-vacation to Sarasota for Spring Training, and bought a tiny Orioles onesie.

On April 3, Janet had an ultrasound. We could see a yolk sac, but no fetal pole. The sac measured about six weeks, smaller than it should have. The doctor told us that there was a strong possibility it was an "abnormal pregnancy", a terminology I'd never heard before. She clarified: it was likely a miscarriage, and we'd have to come back a week later for another ultrasound to confirm it. The doctor (not Janet's regular OB) was very sympathetic, and I remember her apologizing profusely for not having any tissues in her office.

We spent a week worrying, praying, searching for distractions, and hoping against hope that our worst fears would not come to pass. We decided to share our news with extended family on Easter Sunday, figuring that we could use all of the support that we could get. But the following week, we sat in the ultrasound room, hand in hand, and saw...nothing. "There's no baby," Janet said in a tearful tone that still breaks my heart when I replay it in my mind. The sonographer remained maddeningly silent, as they are instructed to do. After a brief consultation with the doctor, we were back in the reception area waiting to get paperwork and instructions for a RhoGAM shot. I felt absolutely helpless, unable to think of anything to say or do to stem my wife's tide of grief.

The next few hours were some of the longest, most tedious, and upsetting moments I can recall. There was the oblivious young pregnant woman and her equally oblivious mother carrying on loudly about their excitement over the positive outcome of an ultrasound, as Janet sat weeping ten feet away in the waiting room. I remember Janet's gobsmacked and furious response when the doctor's scheduling assistant told us that we'd have to go down to the labor and delivery area to have the shot administered. (As it turned out, there was a practical reason for that - the OB's office wouldn't be open by the time we received the RhoGAM solution from the blood clinic - but the scheduler did not communicate that to us effectively at the time.) The clinic took much longer to prepare the RhoGAM than they'd told us, and we sat stewing quietly while the staff gossiped at their desks. It seemed as though we might never get out of the hospital.

After another week of waiting in dread for nature to take its course, Janet decided to schedule a D&C to remove the fetal tissue medically. The procedure occurred without any complications, but the emotional scars persisted. As hard as it might be to go back and tell friends that you've had a miscarriage after sharing the news of conception, I think it's even harder to say, "Oh, by the way, we were expecting, but then we miscarried". We dealt with feelings of envy and sadness and even anger as family members and friends announced pregnancies and births, and subsequently felt guilty for feeling that way. There were reminders and triggers everywhere, and often it was hard to see them coming. There was a particularly stupid Burger King commercial for "chicken fries" that featured a talking chicken breaking the news to her parents that she had been impregnated by French fries. What might've elicited an eye-roll at any other time now made me furious; every time the ad popped up on TV, I scrambled to change the channel before the obnoxious punch line.

Once we got the all-clear, we began trying again, but each month that passed without a positive test was another twist of the knife. It was a cycle of cautious hope and bitter letdowns. We kept ourselves busy by searching for a new house, something we desperately needed before growing our family. Last fall, we found our grown-up house...and two days before we went to settlement, we found out that we were expecting again. That was October 25, and ten and a half weeks have somehow passed since then. I'm thrilled to tell you that all is well, and we've mercifully passed the first trimester. There have been plenty of anxious moments. We both felt a wracking fear heading into each of the first few doctor's appointments, but little "Kirjava" (another Phillip Pullman character reference) has passed every test with flying colors.

I can't tell you the relief and exhilaration we felt when we saw the sound waves of a heartbeat at six weeks, and a discernible head and rump at a seven-and-a-half-week ultrasound. The 12-week appointment brought a clearly audible and strong heart beat. With each of these positive milestones, I let the news leak out to a few more friends, acquaintances, and coworkers. I was determined to share this experience with as many people as I could this time, the better to count on their support if the worst should come to pass again. Now we can let the whole world know, and it finally seems real. July 1, give or take a few days or even weeks. Nelson Cruz's birthday, because of course that was one of the first things I checked. Thoughts/prayers/good vibes appreciated, as we've still got six long months ahead of us.

Monday, January 4, 2016

???, 1989 Star Hagerstown Suns #NNO

This is by far the strangest card that I received in last month's care package from Max. As you can see, I determined that it is a 1989 Star brand card featuring a player for the Hagerstown Suns, the Orioles' AA affiliate at the time. But that's the extent of my knowledge. There is no name, no position, and no stats on the back. See for yourself:

Thanks to the Trading Card Database, I was able to find scans of the entire 1989 Star team set for the Suns, but none of the cards pictured match the blank one that I possess. Nobody in that 22-card set even bears much of a resemblance to this skinny, mustached right-handed mystery man. So what gives? Was he originally supposed to be in the set, but got cut out midway through the printing process? Was it a prototype? A half-finished custom card by a collector with an odd sense of humor? Any information you can provide is appreciated, dear reader. Failing that, I'll accept conspiracy theories and cheap jokes.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Chris Tillman, 2015 Topps Allen and Ginter #212

It's a new year, the ninth in the life of this blog. My posting schedule over the final quarter of 2015 was much more sporadic than it's been at any time since I started scanning, writing, and posting way back in 2008 (known to historians as the Dave Trembley Era). But with a new year comes a fresh start, a clean slate if you will. I'm forever waging a war with the procrastinating and disorganized aspects of my personality, and in the words of Bart Simpson, "I can't say I'll try...but I'll try to try". 2015 brought challenges and learning experiences and exciting new developments in my personal life. I'll have more information to share later this week. Isn't that enticing? In the meantime, I thank you, whether you've been reading every day for years, or you just stumbled in somehow, or if you check in from time to time, or even if you wandered away for a while and just came back on a whim. And if you refresh this page on a daily basis, even when I go days or weeks between new posts...I know the feeling, and I hope I can reward your patience. So here's to new starts, right Chris Tillman? No more flirting with an ERA around five and more hits than innings pitched in 2016, right? Pretty please?