You can tell from the picture on his 1988 Leaf baseball card that Rick Rhoden knows something you don’t. He’s got that sly look in his eye and a shady little grin. He knows some shit’s about to go down and he’s not going to tell you about it.
His name is Walt, like your father might be named. It was a middle name, following Charles, like your grandfather’s name might have been. He had an everyman mustache, like your coach or your teacher might have had. As evidenced by this baseball card, he tried really, really hard to achieve success, like anyone’s role model might have done.
He is from Jeffersonville, Indiana, the kind of made up town name they use in Disney movies and coming of age dramas on TV. He went to college in Morehead, Kentucky, a place recognized as a fourth class city within its own state.
And you just know he tells all his buddies that he was the guy who gave up Mark McGwire’s first ever Major League home run, even if the damn thing would’ve stayed in the park if it wasn’t for the steroids back then.
Walt Terrell, everybody, an Everyday Normal Guy who had a pretty good career playing baseball for money.
Sometime during the 1992 season, Andre Dawson fell awkwardly into a brick wall at Wrigley Field after making a catch (don’t question me, the ball is in his glove). Because they had the technology to do so, Upper Deck documented this incident with a multi-shot baseball card. This makes perfect sense, because they couldn’t find a usable shot of him slipping on his way up the stairs, or stubbing his toe on a coffee table. Great work depicting a future bench player for the 1996 Florida Marlins.
Most people know about the Pittsburgh Pirates wearing the old “pillbox”-style caps for a few years in the 1970’s and 1980’s. What I didn’t know was that the St. Louis Cardinals and a few other National League teams did the same in 1976 to celebrate the League’s centennial. The Cardinals even took it to a new level of ridiculousness by ensuring that their road helmets also had the striping painted on.
This is a decision that probably could have been reconsidered. Lou Brock would agree… and he’s in the Hall of Fame.
Let’s be honest here. Paul Householder isn’t really holding a lot of houses. It’s a funny sounding name, sure, but it doesn’t accurately describe his occupation or appearance. In looking at this baseball card from 1986 Topps, I’d suggest that his name should be Paul Myhairiswaytoocoolforahat.
That is all.
Tonight, Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers led his American League All-Stars to a 3-0 win over Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants and his National League All-Stars in New York. This leads us to a quick look back at 1987, the first time they appeared in a baseball card set together:
Jim Leyland was only 74 years old in 1987, still had a dark mustache, and was just entering his second year of an 11-year tenure as the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This, of course, was before he moved to Florida (as all old men do), Colorado (remember that? No?) and Detroit (because he thought it was still booming like it was 1955. It is not.).
Bruce Bochy was entering his final season as a player in 1987. Over 358 games with three teams, Bochy retired with a .239 batting average, a hit in his only World Series at-bat, and an excellent mustache, which later became a very boring old man goatee… which you can do when you’ve just won two World Series in three years.
Obvious edge here: Leyland
On Monday, July 15, 1985 (yes, exactly 28 years ago today), Major League Baseball staged its first ever home run derby at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Dave Parker of the Cincinnati Reds won the event, hitting a remarkable six home runs. This was despite the fact that his National League team, featuring Parker, Dale Murphy, Steve Garvey, Ryne Sandberg, and Jack Clark, lost the Derby by a score of 17-16 to Jim Rice, Eddie Murray, Carlton Fisk, Tom Brunansky and Cal Ripken, Jr. of the American League.
For the ensuing 28 years, Major League Baseball has battled steroid and other performance enhancing drug problems. Has anyone thought to blame the Home Run Derby? No? Well, maybe they should.
In August and September 1989, the Toronto Blue Jays were battling their way back to an AL East division crown and an 89-73 record after starting the season just 12-24. From August 8-22, a rookie pitcher named Mauro “Goose” Gozzo picked up four wins for the Jays, including three in a row in his only three starts of the season. For that very brief time, Goose captured the hearts of Jays fans. It was an entertaining team, and he had some competition in terms of names – Junior and Mookie and so on.
However, it wasn’t all rainbows and kittens for Goose. On the final day of the season, Goose allowed five runs, blowing the save and preventing his team from winning 90 games. He didn’t pitch in their five game loss to Oakland in the ALCS, and never pitched for the Blue Jays again. There’s a great summary of his career over at The Greatest 21 Days.
These days, Goose runs a baseball organization called “Goose’s Gamers,” which isn’t a ridiculous name at all. If you’re going to go by a nickname like Goose, you might as well get full mileage out of it.
So, a few weeks ago, Major League Baseball held its 2013 First Year Player Draft. During that draft, Mark Appel was selected first overall by the Awful Houston Astros. This took place after Appel was selected eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates (currently the best team in baseball) in the 2012 First Year Player Draft, but did not sign with the team by the signing deadline.
Back in 1971, a ballplayer named Danny Goodwin was drafted first overall by the Chicago White Sox, but did not sign, and instead attended Southern University and A & M. Then, in 1975, he was drafted first overall by the California Angels, who had been the Los Angeles Angels, and later became the Anaheim Angels, and then the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, due to a few ridiculous people who thought all of this made sense. This makes Danny Goodwin the only player to ever be selected first overall twice in the MLB draft.
Unfortunately, despite being drafted first overall twice, Danny Goodwin’s career only amounted to 252 games, which is still a lot more than you or I will ever play in the Major Leagues. Fortunately, Danny Goodwin’s career left baseball, America, the world, and, in fact, the universe, with one of the all-time greatest mustaches in the history of mustaches. Nobody can fault the White Sox or the Angels for taking such a mustache with a #1 overall pick. In fact, one might salute them for their selections.
So, we all know there was a bit of a donnybrook last week between the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Suspensions were issued to five players, including ten games to Ian Kennedy and five to Eric Hinske. In addition, they also suspended some coaches: Mark McGwire, the hitting coach for the Dodgers (I can picture the lessons: “Guys – the trick to hitting? Drugs. Lots of drugs.”) got two games, and managers Don Mattingly for LA and Kirk Gibson for Arizona got one game each.
This got me thinking – what if this brawl had taken place in, say, 1988? Some pretty big name players from my youth were involved: Gibson, Mattingly, and McGwire, as well as Alan Trammell and Matt Williams, among others. Yes, I know the Diamondbacks didn’t exist then, don’t ask me questions. So, let’s go through the list and why this brawl would have been spectacular back then, with the visual aids from 1989 Donruss.
–Kirk Gibson: was the National League MVP for the Dodgers in 1988 and hit a fairly big home run against Oakland in the World Series that same year, so could pretty much get away with anything. Epic mustache gave him toughness and street cred.
–Don Mattingly: although he is essentially the only player ever to play for the Yankees not to win a World Series, he owned the city of New York at the time and could have called in some questionable “friends” into any altercation.
–Mark McGwire: the Steroid Era was in full effect at the time, without all the irritating criticism and judgement from fans that you run into now. Rage factor of 10/10 would have been interesting to watch.
–Matt Williams: still hadn’t learned how to use steroids properly (BA .205 in 1988, .202 in 1989) so could have had an even higher rage factor than McGwire.
–Alan Trammell: easily could have gotten away with biting, eye gouging or other tactics due to the predictable response: “Alan Trammell was in a fight? Come on, don’t lie to me. I’m not an idiot.”
Sure, these guys have the “grandpa factor” that made this brawl pretty interesting in 2013, but I’d pay money for a quick DeLorean trip back to 1988 to see the fight then. Tell me you wouldn’t, too.