Thursday, August 24, 2017

2017 Reds Hall of Fame Ballot

It's that time of year again ... the ballot for the Reds Hall of Fame has been released. Every other year, fans get to vote in one player from the "modern era" and the year after the vote is held, said player is inducted. Here's who made the ballot this year ...

Aaron Boone, 1997-2003 (7 seasons)

Aaron Boone is part of baseball royalty. He's brother to Bret Boone, son to Bob Boone (who managed him during his Reds tenure), and grandson to Ray Boone.

Boone made his debut for the Reds in 1997 and anchored third base until he was traded to the Yankees in 2003. In 668 career games over seven seasons he hit .271/.334/.450 and was the team MVP in 2002, tying for the NL lead in games played with 162. In 2003, he made his only All-Star team and was traded to the Yankees at the trade deadline that year. 

After his brief half-season stint with the Yankees, he was injured for the 2004 season, came back in 2005 and bounced around from the Indians, Marlins, Nationals, and finally 10 games with the Astros in 2009 before calling it a career.

Adam Dunn, 2001-2008 (8 seasons)

Where to start with Adam Dunn?

Let's start with him slugging a minimum of 40 homers a year from 2004-2007 and 32 more in 2008 before being traded to Arizona. He finished 4th in Rookie of the Year balloting in 2001, made the All-Star team in 2002, and finished in the top 30 of MVP voting in 2004 and 2005. He's ranked 4th on the Reds all-time home run list, and ranks 3rd in Reds history in both slugging percentage and OPS.

In August of 2008, the Reds traded him, along with a minor leaguer to the Diamondbacks, getting Wilkin Castillo and Micah Owings in return. After leaving Arizona, he spent the next two seasons with Washington, then 4 years with the White Sox, and finished up with Oakland in 2014.

John Franco, 1984-1989 (6 seasons)

I don't remember much about John Franco's tenure with the Reds as that was before a time where I actively followed them.

He debuted in 1984, appearing in 54 games that season while accumulating 4 saves. From there, he would become the Reds top reliever in the mid-to-late 1980s. Over his time in a Reds uniform, he logged 148 career saves (3rd in Reds history), was a three time All-Star (1986, 1987, 1989), and finished his stint with a 2.49 ERA (6th lowest in Reds history).

After the 1989 season, the Reds traded him to the Mets for Kip Gross and Randy Myers, who helped solidify the bullpen for the 1990 World Series team. Franco would pitch the next 14 seasons for the Mets and then one more season with the Astros before calling it quits with 424 career saves, good for 5th all-time.

Danny Graves, 1997-2005 (9 seasons)

Danny Graves was arguably the best Reds relief pitcher of the late 90s to early 2000s. I remember when he would come in, it would be lights out.

Graves was acquired from Cleveland in 1997 and by the next season, he established himself as a dominant member of the bullpen. He really found his stride in 1999, racking up 27 saves with a 3.03 ERA in 111 innings pitched for a surprising team that won 96 games that season. He was a two-time All-Star (2000, 2004), is the Reds all-time saves leader (182), won the team MVP award in 2000, and pitched in 465 games over his Reds career.

Unfortunately, during the 2005 season, the relationship went south as did his performance and he was released mid-season. He was scooped up by the Mets, spent two months with them, and was released in August. The next year he appeared in 13 games with Cleveland and that was it for his big league career.

Scott Rolen, 2009-2012 (4 seasons)

I remember when the Reds traded for Rolen at the 2009 trade deadline. In exchange, they sent Edwin Encarnacion and a minor league pitcher to Toronto. At the time, I didn't like Encarnacion, so I was happy to see the Reds get a veteran like Rolen.

In the three full seasons he played for the Reds (2010-2012), the team made the playoffs twice but never made it out of the divisional series. Rolen was a two-time All-Star while with the Reds (2010 and 2011), is the only Reds third baseman to win a gold glove. Unfortunately, his last appearance for the Reds was in game 5 of the 2012 Division Series where he struck out to end the game and allowing the Giants to advance.

Before finishing his career with the Reds, he played for the Phillies, Cardinals, and Blue Jays and was a five-time All-Star, won 7 Gold Gloves, and was the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year.

Reggie Sanders, 1991-1998 (8 seasons)

The final nominee on the list this year is long time outfielder Reggie Sanders, who was the right fielder when I started following the team.

While playing in 9 games in 1991, his true rookie season was 1992 where he finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting. He made his only All-Star game appearance in 1995 and was the starting right fielder on a Reds team that made it all the way to the NLCS that year, the last Reds team to do so. He also finished 6th in MVP voting that year. Over 8 seasons with the team, he hit .271/.353/.476 with 125 HRs (good for 20th in Reds history) and 431 RBIs.

After the 1998 season, he bounced around to seven different teams until he finally retired in 2007. In his overall 17-year career, he hit 305 HRs, had 983 RBIs and a career slash line of .267/.343/.487

As for who's getting my vote from this batch, I always enjoyed watching Aaron Boone play so that's who I'm going towards. As far as who will get elected, I think it'll be either Adam Dunn or Scott Rolen.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Back Packs: 1995 Donruss Series 2

Pardon the horrible picture here. I realized after I opened the pack that I had forgotten to take a beauty shot of the pack. Quite the beauty, huh Marge. Anyway, this is 1995 Donruss, a set that took foil to a new extreme as pretty much everything that wasn't part of the picture done in foil. This fine pack from series 2 yields 18 cards. Let's see what awaits us.

#548 Scott Brosius
#348 David West
#357 Rafael Palmiero

The design on these is definitely well, interesting. You've got a full bleed photo with the Donruss logo in foil in the upper left. The bottom has another shot of the player in an inset shaped like home plate with ... *cough, cough* ... more foil, this time with a stripe featuring the team name and the players name. Above the plate inset, the position is listed with some stars creating an arch above it. All the foil, makes the player name incredibly hard to read. So much so in fact that I had to zoom in like crazy to make them out in the scan.

As far as the first batch of players here, I remember Brosius catching the final out of a World Series (I think it was the 1998 Series) for the Yankees. Looking up his career stats, 1995 looked to be his first season as the A's primary third baseman hitting .262/.342/.452 in 123 games. His most notable years though as mentioned were with the Yankees, where he was an All-Star in 1998 and won a gold glove in 1999. 

#368 Mike Devereaux
#386 Rusty Meacham
#498 Don Slaught

Rusty Meacham I have zero remembrance of. Probably the most notable player here is Don Slaught who carved out a pretty decent season in 1995 in what would be his last season with Pittsburgh.

#396 Eric Plunk
#477 Chuck Finley
#493 Cris Carpenter

The action shots on these look like they were taken from the same vantage point. Chuck Finley played for longer than I thought he did, retiring after the 2002 season. He spent 14 years with the Angels, winning 165 games for them over those seasons. After departing Anaheim, he had stints with the Indians and Cardinals. 

#403 Tim Salmon
#442 John Roper
#468 Tony Tarasco

I may have told this story before here but John Roper was the first player I ever got an in person autograph from. He was doing an autograph signing at the local mall during a card show once but I didn't have anything for him to sign. Lucky for me, one of the vendors had extra Reds cards for 25 cents, one of which was a 1994 Pinnacle John Roper. I bought the card and took it over to the center of the mall to have it signed. I'm not sure whatever happened to that card now though.

#457 Zane Smith
#450 Bip Roberts
#550 Chili Davis checklist

Bip Roberts was on his second stint with the Padres in 1995, having resigned with them after leaving the Reds via free agency. After the season, he was traded to the Royals for Wally Joyner and would hang around for a few more seasons before retiring after the 1998 season. He is perhaps best remember for his time with the Padres, but his best season was 1992 for the Reds in which he was an All-Star, finished 8th in MVP voting, and hit .323/.393/.432 in 147 games for a Reds team that won 90 games that season.

#522 Joe Carter
#380 Kirby Puckett

The last two cards in the pack and two pretty solid players. The 1995 season was Kirby's last but he went out with a bang, being named an All-Star, walloping 23 homers, with a .314 average in 137 games. I guess that this could be classified as a sunset card as well, unless he had cards in the 1996 releases, which he very well could. Carter had a pretty good season in 1995 as well, despite being on the backside of his career. For a Blue Jays team that only won 56 games that year, Carter hit .253/.300/.428 in 139 games.

That's it for this pack. This was the last of the packs I had in reserve that were worth sharing. The other packs I opened were literally nothing special so I felt like there was nothing worth talking about. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

And In This Corner #2

Thanks to the deluge of old school footage recently uploaded on the WWE Network over the past few weeks, I've been binge watching a lot of it, from early 80s World Class to WWF house shows from the mid-1980s, there's been a lot to take in. Watching all that old footage though made me realize that it's been a while since I've dug through the old clippings I scanned in last fall. So I dove in and found a few more interesting scans that I think would be pretty fun to explore.

This particular card I believe was from 1960 as most of these clippings were in chronological order in the scrapbook. Previously, I talked about Magnificent Maurice but the person he's facing on this card, Oyama Kato, is someone I'm definitely not too familiar with. I was able to find some basic information on him but unfortunately my normal places where I dig info up from were little to no help. Kato was a former MWA Junior Heavyweight champion beating Frankie Talaber in January of 1954 and holding the title for only 27 days until Talaber beat him to reclaim the title. He also teamed with Danny McShain, winning the Ohio version of the American Tag Team titles and also won the San Francisco version of the NWA World Tag Team titles with Karl von Schober. Just under a year after this card occurred, Kato passed away at the age of 42.

Don Eagle was the son of wrestler Chief War Eagle and won a Golden Gloves title in the Cleveland area before getting into wrestling. Debuting in 1945 in the Indianapolis territory, by the time he wound up in Cincinnati, his career was nearing its end. During his career he fought the likes of Buddy Rogers, Antonino Rocca, Gorgeous George, and Hans Schmidt. During a match with Schmidt in 1953, he severely injured his back and went into semi-retirement and popped up in various territories until 1963 when he officially retired. During the course of his career, he held the Boston version of the AWA Heavyweight Title twice, was the last person to hold the MWA Heavyweight Title, and trained the likes of Billy Two Rivers and Chief Jay Strongbow. On March 17, 1963 it was reported that Eagle had committed suicide because of recent business failures and still dealing with the pain of the back injury ten years prior.

The Brunetti Brothers were a team I've never heard of but it turns out they were one of the top teams of the 1950s, holding the regional versions of the NWA World Tag Team titles in the Upper Midwest. Over the border, they also held titles in the Toronto and Vancouver areas and the Stampede International Tag Team titles. The caption of this clipping reads that on this particular card, they'll be facing the Shire Brothers, Roy and Ray. Roy Shire would later go on to open up the San Francisco territory and run cards at the legendary Cow Palace while Ray Shire would become Ray "The Crippler" Stevens and have a long run as a tag team wrestler with Pat Patterson and Nick Bockwinkle.

Judging by the caption, Gene Kiniski was facing Yukon Eric, most notable for having his ear ripped off in a match against Killer Kowalski, in a return match as their previous encounter ended in a draw. Kiniski was known as "Canada's Greatest Athlete" and after leaving the Cincinnati area, went on to capture titles in every major territory he competed in, including winning the AWA and NWA World Heavyweight titles.

This scan isn't the best but it's a picture of Dick the Bruiser, who at this time was involved in a feud in the Detroit region with Cowboy Bob Ellis. Before wrestling, Bruiser played 48 games over three seasons in the NFL as a guard for the Green Bay Packers. Bruiser would buy the Indianapolis region from Jim Barnett in 1964 and ran until 1989. His territory spawned many stars but most notably gave Bobby Heenan his start in pro wrestling. Newer fans may recognize Bruiser as the guest referee from the Starrcade 1990 main event between Sting and the Black Scorpion, in what would prove to be his final televised appearance.

Hope everyone enjoyed this dive through wrestling history, back to cards soon (I promise!) as things at work are finally starting to settle down.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Back Packs: 2006 Topps Series 1

I don't remember much about 2006, actually I don't remember a thing about that year.

Some things that happened that I don't remember: the Cardinals won the World Series, Barry Bonds passed Babe Ruth for second on the all-time home run list, and the Reds finished 3.5 games out of first place. 

I also don't remember baseball cards that year, especially since I was 21, three years out of high school, and the last thing on my mind was baseball cards. So, here's a pack of cards I'm not familiar with from year I don't remember much of.

#188 Gary Matthews Jr.
#44 Carl Everett
#88 B.J. Surhoff

I'll admit, I was thrown off when I opened these. I though 2006 was the year with team name at the top of the cards with the letters in the little circles. I certainly wasn't expecting this. What we have here is some multi-colored craziness with team names and player names written in shiny foil which makes it incredibly hard to read, especially when scanning these in. In terms of things I don't remember, I certainly don't remember Carl Everett ever playing for the Mariners (and he appears to be in a White Sox uniform) nor do I remember long-time Brewer outfielder B.J. Surhoff suiting up for the Orioles.

Speaking of B.J. Surhoff, I felt compelled to show off the back of the card, mainly because it's pretty wild. You've got the full career stats (up to that point) on the back, along with what appears to be the secondary logo for the team, and then ... what's that in the top left? By cracky it's an old-school Topps cartoon! Well, that's certainly unexpected and makes that pretty cool. 

#198 Kevin Mench
#295 Frank Robinson (MGR)
#66 Shawn Estes

2006 was the second year for the Nationals and I thought it was pretty cool to get a Frank Robinson card. Shawn Estes would appear in only one game for the Padres in 2006. The year prior he was in 21 games for Arizona with a 7-8 record and a 4.80 ERA. I barely remember Kevin Mench but he split 2006 between Texas and Minnesota appearing in 127 games total hitting .269/.313/.419 with 13 HRs and 65 RBIs

#82 Huston Street
#MHR1 Mickey Mantle Home Run History
#315 Tom Gorzelanny

My lone insert card was the Mickey Mantle "home run history" card. This went directly into the Yankees trade pile. The other two cards, Huston Street and Tom Gorzelanny are staying in the collection. Gorzelanny just retired after last season where as Street is still active with the Angels.

#168 Julian Tavarez
#318 Brayan Pena
#227 Corey Koskie

My last batch here. I'd forgotten completely about Julian Tavarez and Corey Koskie. Brayan Pena was a welcome site, considering it's his rookie card (at least it claims to be) and I liked him with for the few years he spent as a Red. Something about that batting pose though just looks unnatural.

Well, there's a pack of cards from 2006. Was it interesting? Somewhat. Was it memorable? Nope, not really but it was still a fun rip and for 50 cents what more can you ask.