Wednesday, February 27, 2013

ESPN 30 for 30 Short...The Holy Grail

I have been a baseball card fan for as long as I've loved baseball.

My collection of Detroit Tigers cards, especially the 1968 set and my 1963 Bill Freehan rookie card, mean a lot to me.

Baseball cards have become very hard to to collect.

The price of packs have gotten out of hand, and special inserts have driven the cost of collecting up and up.

I saw this terrific ESPN short film today, on the most famous baseball card, the T-206 Honus Wagner.

The short story is well done, and I would recommend it to any baseball fans or card collectors.

Below is a link to the short story.

Honus Wagner Card/ESPN 30for30 Short Story

I also recommend the book, The Card, written by Michael O'Keefe and Teri Thompson.

I learned a lot about the card business from this book, and also suggest it as a must read for collectors.

Card collecting used to be just that, collecting, but not now.

Cards are bought and sold without regard to the fan, the collector, it's all for profit.

A pack of Topps baseball cards at Walmart is $1.99, and that's OK, but the same pack at a card shop is $3.00.


Because certain chase cards are inserted into Hobby Boxes, cards sold only at card shops.

The card shop has to survive, and that's fine, but Topps didn't have to allow Walmart, or Target, or anyone else sell their cards.

They went into those places because they make more money, that's the reason.

The collectors can't get inserts from Hobby Boxes at Walmart or Target, and the card shop packs cost more because the shops have to survive, thus the higher pack price, even though you may, or may not, get a certain insert.

The local card shop here in JAX does a great job for collectors, as many shops do.

It would be nice if collectors, not speculators, were the reason baseball cards still existed.

Play Ball!

Today's Baseball Birthday...John Wockenfuss

Today's Baseball Birthday wishes go out to former Detroit Tigers catcher John Wockenfuss.

If you grew up following the Tigers in the late 1970s you'll probably remember John for his quirky batting stance.

John was drafted by the Washington Senators in the 42nd round of the 1967 baseball draft.

The Tigers acquired Wockenfuss in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals, and he made his big league debut with Detroit on August 11, 1974.

In 10 years with the Tigers John Wockenfuss played in 677 games, batting .262, with 80 home runs and 284 RBI.

I always like John, he was a good back up catcher and also played lots of first base, outfield and DH for Detroit.

Happy Birthday John Wockenfuss, and Go Tigers!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Today's Baseball Birthday.....Sparky Anderson

Today the Detroit Tigers take the field against the Atlanta Braves in the first game of spring training.

With the start of spring baseball games we say Happy Birthday to Hall of Fame skipper Sparky Anderson.

Sparky Anderson was born on February 22nd, 1934, in Bridgewater, South Dakota.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Anderson during a spring game around 1990 or 1991.

When I asked him were Cecil Fielder was, he said 
"...she don't play on Wednesday."

I will always treasure this baseball, signed by Sparky that spring day, Tigers vs. Reds in Plant City, Florida. 

Sparky led three different World Championship teams, the 1975-76 Big Red Machine and then in Motown with the 1984 Tigers.

Sparky played briefly in the big leagues for the 1959 Philadelphia Phillies.

Sparky hit .218, collecting 104 hits in his only big league season.

Happy Birthday Sparky!

Play Ball!!

Detroit Tigers Spring Training - Voice of the Turtle - Ernie Harwell

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Today's Baseball Birthday...Alan Trammell

Alan Trammell should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

There, that's out of the way.

The former Detroit Tigers shortstop turns 55 years young today.

Trammell is my favorite Tigers shortstop, and he's the best Tigers shortstop ever.

For 20 years nobody played shortstop better than Trammell, a 4 time Gold Glove winner, and the 1984 World Series MVP.

Trammell played in 2,293 games, hit .285 lifetime, with 185 home runs and 1,003 RBI.

A native of San Diego, Trammell was the Tigers 2nd round selection in the annual players draft.

On September 9th, 1977, Trammell made his debut, at age 19.

His final game was September 29th, 1996.

It's been a couple of terrific two days for birthday's and the Tigers.

Yesterday Tigers ace Justin Verlander turned 30.

Happy Birthday Alan!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

42 Movie Ball Cap

I just saw this terrific new baseball cap, made for the upcoming movie "42," about Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

                                                   Images from New Era 59Fifty Collection

I love this hat... "The True Story Of An American Legend."

The movie comes out on April 12th, just before the annual Jackie Robinson Day in Major League Baseball.

I look forward to watching "42."

Thanks to Vin Scully is my Home Boy for the story.

Play Ball!

Today's Birthday Wishes... Justin Verlander

Today we say Happy 30th Birthday to the 2011 American Cy Young winner and Most Valuable Player, Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers.

The ace of the Tigers is entering his 8th season in Motown, and will continue his climb up the Tigers record books.

Verlander is 124-65, with a 3.40 career ERA.

Those 124 wins place Verlander 10th All-Time in Tigers history, and his .656 winning percentage is #1 in Tigers history.

Justin's 1,454 strikeouts place him 5th in Tigers history.

Here's classic Justin Verlander, his no hitter, vs. the Milwaukee Brewers on June 12, 2007.

Happy Birthday Justin!

Go Tigers!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

1968 Detroit Tigers Game 5 introductions

Since today's my birthday I figure I'll write about my favorite team, the 1968 Detroit Tigers.

I found this terrific NBC opening 15 minuets of Game 5 of the 1968 World Series.

Hall of Famer and former Tigers 1935 World Series hero, Goose Goslin, throws out the first pitch, just after the 12 min. mark, to Tigers catcher Bill Freehan.

Freehan, my baseball hero,is introduced around the 8 min. mark.

It's a great video of old Tiger Stadium, with George Kell, the former Tigers announcer, takes you around the old ball park, including the famous right field over hang.

The Tigers introductions start at the 7 min. mark.

Play Ball!!

Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout on cover of ESPN the Magazine

As soon as I wrote about this weeks SI cover of National OF Bryce Harper, I see this picture on Twitter of the new issue of ESPN the Magazine.

The reigning Triple Crown winner, and American League Most Valuable Player, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers gets the cover alongside L A Angeles of Anaheim OF Mike Trout, the A.L. Rookie of the Year.

Thanks to The Mighty Flynn for the cover link.

Another baseball cover issue...outstanding!

SI baseball cover this week

Bryce Harper, the 2012 National League Rookie of the Year, is this week's Sports Illustrated cover boy.

There's just something special about baseball on the cover of SI, or any other weekly publication.

Spring is here, and that means big league baseball is almost back.

Thanks to the Church of Baseball for the feed to the D.C. Sports Blog post on the Harper SI cover.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Presidents Baseball Day

Today we celebrate all 44 of our Presidents and the game of baseball, from George Washington, who played the game of Rounders at Valley Forge, to Barack Obama, a Chicago White Sox fan.

Presidents Day is observed on the Monday in between the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, February 12th, 1809, and the Father of our Country, George Washington, born on February 22nd, 1732.

Lincoln had the pleasure of playing the earliest forms of baseball.

President Andrew Johnson was the first President to host a baseball club, in 1865.

Here's some more Presidential baseball stuff I found on the old Internet, starting with President #1.

President Andrew Johnson was the first President to host a baseball club, in 1865.

President Taft started the tradition of Opening Day First Pitches, at a Washington Senator's game in 1910.

It's a tradition that has not stopped, with every sitting President since tossing out a first pitch on Opening Day.

I wanted to be a real major league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. .. President Dwight D. Eisenhower

"I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going." - Franklin Roosevelt (during WWII)

"I think that both baseball and the country will endure." - John F. Kennedy

"I had a life-long ambition to be a professional baseball player, but nobody would sign me." President Ford

"I really do love baseball." - President Ronald Reagan

"I think just about everybody ought to get a second chance and I'd like to see it worked out, because he (Pete Rose) brought a lot of joy to the game, and he gave a lot of joy to people, and he's paid a price - God knows, he's paid a price." President Clinton

Then there's the Presidents Bush, #41, George Herbert Walker and#43, George Walker, father and son.

In addition to the Presidential first pitch, President Bush #41 actually played baseball in college, at Yale.

And while at Yale, the young future President met the Sultan of Swat, The Bambino himself, George Herman "Babe" Ruth.

"He (Babe Ruth) complimented the Yale ball field, it was like a putting green, it was so beautiful." President GHW Bush

Baseball and the White House, American History coming together as our young country formed a more perfect union.

Play Ball!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Happy Baseball Birthday...Drew Henson

Today's Happy Baseball Birthday! wishes go out to former New York Yankees 3rd baseman and Michigan Wolverine quarterback Drew Henson.

Drew was born 33 years ago today, February 13th, 1980.

He grew up in Brighton, Michigan, and became a baseball legend at a young age.

In 1998 he enrolled at the University of Michigan, his dream since he was a little boy.

Henson was the National Baseball Player of the Year as a Senior in High School, where he blasted prodigious home runs and threw touchdowns with his rocket right arm.

At Michigan Henson battled Tom Brady for playing time, and he played well when he got the chance.

Henson was drafted by the New York Yankees, gave him a ton of money, and Drew left Michigan after his Junior year to play baseball in the minors, no more college football.

Drew never made it in baseball, playing in just 8 games in two years with the Yankees, going 1-9, with a .111 batting average.

I still believe had Henson stayed at Michigan for his Senior year he would have won the Heisman Trophy.

Drew did play briefly in the NFL, with the Cowboys and Lions, but he was well removed from playing football, and his skills were not the same.

Over on my Twitter page I follow Drew, and have had Twitter conversations with Drew, he seems to be a good guy.

Happy Baseball Birthday Drew...and Go Blue!

Play Ball!

Topps omits Pete Rose from 2013 baseball cards

I tried writing this earlier, but got let down, again, by my shaky hands.

I first read about Topps Baseball ignoring Pete Rose on their 2013 baseball card backs in a article by Rob Harris over at Chicago Side

On the back of every player card this year Topps includes a special CAREER CHASE line, showing how many home runs, hits, stolen bases, etc., that player is from the All-Time leader.

Look at the back of Ryan Howard's card, third row under PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES...

Howard is 462 home runs away from Barry Bonds All-Time home run record of 762.

Now look at this card of Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

Kirk is just 4,185 hits away from the All-Time record of 4,256.


Baseball is so ridiculous that it prohibited Topps from putting Pete Rose's name on the back of a baseball card?

Because Rose is suspended from baseball, he cannot be a part of any MLB promotions.


How could Rose be part of the Topps promotion, it's just his name, no likeness, no Reds cap or uniform.

Oh, by the way, Topps must have forgotten the 25 years Pete Rose was on their baseball cards.

Look, I get that Rose is suspended.

I get he can't be part of baseball.

That said, I think it's very silly that MLB and Topps won't even acknowledge in print, on the back of a baseball card, that Pete Rose actually recorded every one of those 4,256 hits.

Topps and MLB will, however, allow Barry Bonds name to appear on cards, even though Bonds is widely accepted as a know steroids user.

 Because Bonds actually hit every one of those 762 home runs.

I'd say every one of Rose's 4,256 hits were legitimate hits.

I seriously doubt that about many of Bonds home runs.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Topps BIG Prince Fielder baseball card

Topps created the largest baseball card today in Lakeland.

The HUGE baseball card of the Tigers Prince Fielder was rolled out in a little league field in Lakeland, Florida, the city where the Tigers hold their team's annual Spring Training.

Little Leaguers were on hand to meet Fielder and open up packs of Topps 2013 baseball cards.

This is what baseball, and baseball cards, should be

Tigers Spring Training Baseball

This is the thing we Detroit Tigers fans look forward to every February.

Tigers ace Justin Verlander started his preparation today for the 2013 baseball season down at Tiger Town in Lakeland, Florida.

Verlander recently declined an invitation from Team USA to pitch in this years World Baseball Classic,  focusing his complete attention on being the best pitcher in baseball.

For the sixth consecutive season, Justin Verlander will be the starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers on Opening Day, April 1st, against the Minnesota Twins.

Happy Baseball Birthday...Joe Garagiola

Today's Happy Baseball Birthday wishes go out to one of my favorite announcers ever, Joe Garagiola.

The NBC Game of the Week was the must see baseball game of the week, and Garagiola was there for mot of them, along with Tony Kubek and Curt Gowdey

Garagiola was also a decent baseball player, and was a member of the 1946 Cardinals World Series winning team.

Garagiola had a .257 lifetime batting average with 42 career home runs and 255 RBI.

Happy Baseball Birthday! to Joe Garagiola, 87 baseball years young today.

Play Ball!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Today's Birthday....Tom Veryzer

Happy 60th birthday to former Detroit Tiger Tom Veryzer.

In remember how much I liked watching Veryzer play shortstop for the Tigers in the mid 1970s, even if he committed to many errors.

I also remember getting this '76 Topps Veryzer in a pack of cards.

Tom was the Tigers 1971 1st round draft pick, the team's future at shortstop.

Tom got to the big leagues in 1973, at age 20.

In five years as a Tiger Tom hit .231, with 10 home runs, 112 RBI, in 390 games.

After the 1977 season, the Tigers traded Veryzer to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder/DH Charlie Spikes.

Why was Veryzer traded, you ask?

Because of this guy, who made his big league debut with the Tigers on September 9th, 1977.

Tom Veryzer played in the big leagues through the 1984 season, with the Indians, Mets, and Cubs.

Imagine, if you will, what it would have meant to Veryzer to play in the 1984 World Series against his former club.

Veryzer played in 45 games as a Cub in 1984, and going 1-3 in the playoffs versus the San Diego Padres.

The Cubs won games 1 & 2 in Chicago before going to San Diego, where the Padres came back to win all three games at home, and winning the National League pennant.

Tom's final big league numbers... 996 games, 687 base hits, a .241 batting average, 14 home runs, and 231 RBI.

So, Happy Birthday Tom, thanks for playing for my Tigers.

Negro National League Birthday

Thanks to Joe Posnanski and his post on Facebook today, I found out that the original Negro National League was founded on this day, February 11th, 1920.

The Paseo YMCA in Kansas City was the birthplace, led by Rube Foster, the former player and Chicago American Giants owner, known as the father of Negro Leagues.

Kansas City is also the home of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, a place I hope to visit one day.

The Negro National League played baseball...great baseball, from 1920 until 1948, and some form of Negro Baseball, like the Negro American League, was played until the early 1960's.

Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Ernie Banks, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, and Hank Aaron, all played in the Negro League's before they played their ways into the Major Leagues.