1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie: An Appreciation, Part 4 – The Lost Art Of Posing For Baseball Cards

Today, in our week-long appreciation of the 1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie set, I’m featuring posed action shots that are fun just because they’re posed action shots.  I’ll start with the outfield, move to the infield, and let the cards do most of the talking.

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Dan Grunhard

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Jay Knoblauh

This one is one of my favorites, mainly because of the Stars logo he’s posing against.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Jim Vatcher

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Lonnie Maclin

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Scott Wade

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Stu Pederson

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Ted Wood

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Curt Ford

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Louie Meadows

Gerald Williams could’ve been featured as a “Before they wuz” card, but he had an important job here in this post.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Gerald Williams

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Tim Costo

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Chris Donnels

So simple, yet such a great shot. If I didn’t collect Greg Legg cards to begin with, this card would still have a special place in my collection.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Greg Legg

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Rich Aldrete

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Rod Robertson

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Steve Jeltz

Topps should really get their Heritage photographers to do a few shots like these. I miss the fakey posed action.

Tomorrow’s Post:  What the well-dressed (and not-so-well-dressed) AAA player wore in 1991.

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie: An Appreciation, Part 3 – The Other Guys You Know

Continuing on our week-long appreciation of the 1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie set…

One thing that the Line Drive sets has over other nationally-issued Minor League Baseball sets is that they included managers and coaches… Such as this guy who achieved a small amount of fame throwing the knuckleball…
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Phil Niekro
…A small amount of Baseball Hall Of Fame, that is.  One could make the argument that Phil Niekro is the biggest name in the set, although obviously not as a player.

I laughed when I looked up Ross Grimsley on baseball-reference.com and saw that one of his nicknames is “Crazy Eyes”… Even from seeing him on a baseball card, the dude does have very blue eyes that seem to go right through you sometimes. Naturally, you cannot see his eyes on this card…
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Ross Grimsley
…but you can on this one:
1979 Hostess Ross Grimsley
Grimsley was an All-Star in 1978, was a Topps All-Star Rookie in 1971 and won 124 games over 11 seasons, mainly with the Reds, Orioles and Expos. He’s made a longer career as a pitching coach, and has been with the Giants’ AA team (Connecticut Defenders –> Richmond Flying Squirrels) since 2010.

Chris Chambliss was the 1971 AL Rookie Of The Year with Cleveland, and is commemorated on a 1977 Topps card for hitting the ALCS-winning home run against the Royals in 1976.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Chris Chambliss
Chambliss’ London Tigers won the Eastern League title in 1990, and his 1991 Greenville Braves finished in first but lost in the playoffs. Chambliss is the cousin of former Celtic Jo-Jo White. I didn’t know that.

Don Gullett was 109-50 over his injury-shortened 9-year career with the Reds, and pitched in 5 different World Series. He’s a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall Of Fame.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Gullett Lett
Jim Lett has spent 40+ years working in baseball. He most recently was the Nationals’ bullpen coach in 2013.

I’ve developed an attachment to Lenn Sakata over the years, I’m not entirely sure why. He was a utility infielder with the 1983 World Champion Orioles, and also played for the Brewers, A’s and Yankees. He’s made a long career of coaching and managing, most recently having managed the San Jose Giants in 2014.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Lenn Sakata
Gary Ruby has pitched in the minors, been the Director Of Player Personnel with the Phillies, Minor League Pitching Coordinator with the Pirates, and has been the pitching coach of the AA Corpus Christi Hooks for the past 3 years.

Jerry Manuel would later be the manager of the White Sox and Mets.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Jerry Manuel

Kevin Kennedy managed the Rangers and Red Sox, but most of you probably know him as a broadcaster with ESPN, MLB Network and several teams.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Kevin Kennedy

Phillies fans will likely recognize this guy, and not just because he’s one of the guys they got from the Angels for Von Hayes:
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Ruben Amaro Jr
Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been the Phillies’ GM since 2009, and is currently the subject of “Ruben Must Go!” campaigns.

I’m sure everybody recognizes former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Charlie Manuel

Terry Collins is currently the manager of the Mets… I didn’t like him at first, but he’s won me over somewhat and I’m OK with the Mets sticking with him.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Terry Collins
…Unless they can convince Joe Maddon to come to Queens. Sorry, Terry.

Ron Washington achieved his fame by managing the Rangers until this past season.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Washington Apodaca
Bob Apodaca pitched a few years with the Mets and held the thankless job of being the Colorado Rockies pitching coach. In 1973, Apodaca has an infinite ERA as a 23-year-old rookie pitcher; he pitched to two batters, walked them both and one of them scored.

Tim Bogar managed the Rangers to a 14-8 record after Ron Washington resigned, and as I’ve always liked Bogar I’m disappointed that he didn’t get the permanent job.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Tim Bogar

Everybody knows Clint Hurdle as the Pirates manager and previously as the manager of the Rockies. What many may not know is that he was once a top prospect for the Royals.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Clint Hurdle

Eric Wedge was an Original Rockie (although he spent much of the 1993 season on the DL) and would go on to manage the Indians and Mariners.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Eric Wedge

Don Wakamatsu used to manage the Mariners, and is currently the bench coach for the Royals.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Don Wakamatsu
The one and only time I went to Spring Training was in the early 1990’s, and in a game between the Mets and Dodgers, the L.A. catcher had “WAKAMATSU” on his back. “Wakamatsu?!?” I exclaimed to no-one, “Who the heck is Wakamatsu?” That moment has stuck with me, and I’ve developed a bit of an attachment to the guy.

Two other guys I would’ve featured if I had their cards from this set:

John Stearns, Manager of the Knoxville Blue Jays and former Mets catcher

D.J. Dozier, outfielder for the Williamsport Bills who played 25 games for the Mets in 1992 but is probably better known as a running back who was the Minnesota Vikings’ first round pick in 1987.

Tomorrow’s post:  Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie: An Appreciation, Part 2 – The Guys Who Panned Out

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m going to spend the whole week going over what makes the 1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie set – something that many regard as junk – a fun set.

Since the average person is going to have the most interest in the cards that show players “back when they wuz”, I figured I’d go ahead and get that out here.

We’ll start with Jim Thome… I always had respect for Jim Thome’s talent, but I didn’t fully appreciate Thome The Man until he spent a year with the Orioles. His skills had diminished, but I still saw enough to become something of a fan of his.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Jim Thome

Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez… I’m not sure I have something to say about everybody I feature here, so guys like this I’ll just make a brief comment.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Ivan Rodriguez
The Tulsa Drillers were, naturally, the AA team for the Rangers.

Moose! The Orioles should’ve never let Mike Mussina go to the Bronx. I still remember feverishly wishing that if he had to go, he’d at least go to Cleveland.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Mike Mussina
While we’re talking about “shoulda/coulda/woulda”, It still doesn’t seem right that the Rochester Red Wings are not an Orioles farm team.

Mo Vaughn… can’t think of much to say about him, other than he was yet another player that the Mets picked up past his prime.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Mo Vaughn

Tino Martinez, with the Mariner’s top farm team in Calgary.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Tino Martinez

Bernie Williams… Another one of the rare breed of “Yankees I respect”… and a quite talented guitarist.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Bernie Williams

Eric Karros. As traditional as the Dodgers have always been uniform-wise, these are some pretty colorful unis on their farmhands.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Eric Karros
I also can’t help noticing that there’s no number on the back. Did they pass around a blank jersey for photo day?

Royce Clayton got around quite a bit over his 17-year career, but he started out with the Giants. The Shreveport Captains were the Giants AA team.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Royce Clayton

Tim Wakefield kicked around a bit before he found some success as a knuckleballer. Here he’s shown with the Pirates’ AA team, the Carolina Mudcats.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Tim Wakefield
The Mudcats are always among the leaders in Minor League merchandise sales… I don’t quite get it myself, but I’m in no position to argue with success.

NINER! Jeff Conine might be called “Mr. Marlin” in some circles, others might regard him as a Royal, but he remains one of my favorite all-time Orioles (I only go back as far as the mid-to-late 1990’s as an O’s fan)
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Jeff Conine

Mike Bordick is another former Oriole on my “most favored” list, and is the guy who replaced Cal Ripken at short.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Mike Bordick

Todd Hundley was a very good catcher for a long time, and is NOT related to  is the son of Randy Hundley… (Thanks, Hackenbush).
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Todd Hundley

Jeff Kent is a former Met that I should like more, but he seems to fall somewhere short of a mensch, so I can’t quite make him a player I collect.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Jeff Kent

Some of you might not know who Steven Wendell is, but you may know who Turk Wendell is.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Steven Wendell
(Hint: They’re the same guy)

Further evidence that Arthur Rhodes was once a kid (He was 21 when this card came out).
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Arthur Rhodes

Tomorrow I’m going to continue the appreciation of 1991 Line Drive by sharing the guys who you know for other reasons (i.e. not minor league players –> major league players).

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie: An Appreciation, Part 1

I was going through monster boxes looking for the next target for my purge, when I ran across a very large stack of 1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie cards… Over a thousand of them.  And we’re talking singles, I got rid of my doubles at the beginning of the purge.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Derek Bell

Obviously I bought a lot of these packs back in the day… they were cheap, they were fun, and they were wonderful for filling out my 40-Man Roster binders.  I bought enough that I came fairly close to completing the sets.  I say “sets” because the AA cards and AAA cards are numbered separately… 650 cards within each set.  And you thought Topps Total was big!

I had a few of these cards in a “Minor League Set” binder, but the ones that got the 9-page sheet treatment were mostly the guys who had made an impact in MLB as a player.  Those cards were not considered for purging.

But as I was going through the bulk of my collection, I realized that there are a lot of reasons to hang on to these cards.  I didn’t have a desire to hang on to guys who were, say,  pitchers in the Twins organization who had never made it past AA, and to whom I had no personal connection… But I started going through these cards and realized that there are a lot of reasons why I like this set.

There are players who had “made it”…
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Tim Salmon

…the guys who made it as something other than players, like former Cubs manager Mike Quade…
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Mike Quade

…the fun photos…
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Ken Whitfield

…and the interesting 1991 uniforms.
1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Tim McIntosh

I came to the realization that there’s a lot to like about this set, but I don’t need a complete set to maintain the “essence” of the set.

This week I’m going to be spending some time sharing the different ways I decided to keep the best parts of the set without keeping the entire set… And today I’ll start with players who are related to other, more familiar people.

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Rouglas Odor
If you’re familiar with Texas Rangers rookie 2nd baseman Rougned Odor, you might look at Rouglas Odor and think “What the heck is going on with these Odor people?”  Well, Rouglas is an uncle to Rougned.  This past season, Rouglas was the hitting coach with the Cleveland Indians’ AA club in Akron, and has spent 27 seasons with the Indians in some capacity.  Odor has the distinction (?) of being the only person to suit up for the Canton-Akron Indians, the Akron Aeros and the Akron RubberDucks… all different incarnations of the same team.

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Tim Stargell
As you might guess, Tim Stargell is the nephew of former Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych.  Kidding!  Tim is Willie Stargell’s nephew.  This card shows him at his peak with the AA Jacksonville Suns. This was also the last stop in his career.

1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie Terry Crowley, Jr
If you guessed that Terry Crowley, Jr. is the son of former MLB player and coach Terry Crowley, then you go to the head of the class. Terry Jr. also peaked at AA, playing through 1992.

So that gives you a general idea of what you’ll be seeing during this week.  I hope these posts will give you a new appreciation for this set… otherwise, I guess I’ll see you next week.

Creeping Ever Closer To The 1972 Set I’m Not Attempting To Complete

I’ve mentioned it several times before, I’m not attempting to complete the 1972 set, but I always enjoy picking up cheap cards I don’t have. I’ve completed the first two series, and my “official” goal is to complete the 3rd and 4th series.

With Mr. Dennis Higgins in hand, I only need two cards to finish the 3rd series.
1972 Topps Dennis Higgins
…and naturally, those two cards are Aaron and Clemente. I’m going to wait it out to see if I can’t find loved versions of those two.

Dennis Higgins is the cousin of former White Sox 3rd baseman Joe Crede (Yes, indeedy!)

Confessions: I am a Mets fan and I like Roy White, a career Yankee.
1972 Topps Roy White
Roy White is also from the 3rd Series, and – another confession – I actually picked this card up a couple of months ago.

I was trying to figure out why this Manny Mota was on my wantlist when it looked so familiar, and I just realized it’s because I have a 2002 Topps Archives version of this card (and now I can get rid of said Archives card).
1972 Topps Manny Mota

Looking at Joe Ferguson on this card, he kinda sort reminds me of Kevin Tighe, who played Roy DeSoto on the 1970’s TV show “Emergency!”
1972 Topps Joe Ferguson
Today’s “HO-LEEEEE CRAP!” moment: I just found out that Kevin Tighe was on 6 episodes of Lost… He was Anthony Cooper, “The Man From Tallahassee”. I did not realize this. Consider my mind blown a tiny little bit.

It’s Lew Krausse, son of Lew Krausse! (Lew Sr. pitched 2 years for the Philadelphia Athletics). Lew Jr. is airbrushed here because he’d been part of a 10-player trade between the Red Sox and Brewers. Among the notables involved were George Scott, Ken Brett, Jim Lonborg, Tommy Harper and Marty Pattin.
1972 Topps Lew Krausse
Here’s your stupid trivia for today: Lew Krausse Sr. pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics, and Lew Jr. pitched for both the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics. Should the A’s ever abandon Oakland for another city, they might want to look into whether there’s a Lew Krausse III or IV.

Off-Topic And Buying Time: My Bottom Ten Beatles Tracks

What are the 10 weakest Beatles tracks? That’s precisely the question I asked when I started pondering ways to write a quick post.

For the record, I’m limiting this to official releases through 1970. No “Free As A Bird” or “What’s The New Mary Jane” here.

1994 Topps John Franco

Revolution 9, from the album “The Beatles” (a.k.a. The White Album) – I can still remember the first time I heard this, I spent 8 minutes and 22 seconds waiting for the actual song to start… and then it was over.

Good Night, “The Beatles”  – As far as I’m concerned, the White Album ends with Paul’s little doodle after Cry Baby Cry:  “Can you take me back where I came from, can you take me back…”

The Inner Light, B-Side to “Lady Madonna” – I first heard this in the early 1980’s, when I found the 45 at a yard sale. When I got it home and listened to it, the disappointment was palpable.
1972 Topps Paul Schaal

Till There Was You, “With The Beatles” – A show tune? Really? Well, I guess they needed something to play for the Queen.

Honey Pie, “The Beatles” – I would be far from the first person to state that The White Album is a tremendously uneven effort.

Mr. Moonlight, “Beatles For Sale” – The song doesn’t live up to John’s introductory wail.

1980 Topps George Brett

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, “The Beatles” – Years ago, this song would’ve fared much better. It has not aged well.

Bad Boy, originally on the U.S. album “Beatles VI” – not a bad song, but a relatively weak effort.

I Wanna Be Your Man, “With The Beatles” – This Lennon/McCartney song was recorded and released by the Rolling Stones a few weeks before the Beatles version.

A Taste Of Honey, “Please Please Me” – Herb Alpert And The Tijuana Brass is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I have to say that Herb’s version is far better. Heck, I even prefer the version by The Hassles, a Long Island “Blue-Eyed Soul” band from the 1960’s that featured a young Billy Joel.

1993 River Group Beatles Collection #145

Please note that some decidedly odd tracks like “Wild Honey Pie” or “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” did not make the cut. Sue me, I like them….

…And I freakin’ love “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)”!  Let’s hear it for Dennis! HA HEY!

So tell me I’m an idiot. Tell me I’m deranged. Tell me what Beatle-y travesty I missed while quickly whipping this post together.



Contrast And Compare: 1980 Topps & Burger King Jerry Koosman

I got a 1980 Burger King Jerry Koosman in a semi-recent COMC shopping binge as part of my attempt to get the “variations” of the late 1970’s/late 1980’s Topps sets.  The 1980 Burger King Pitch, Hit And Run set was largely the same design as 1980 Topps, and most of the cards share the same photos with the Topps equivalent.  I’m collecting the Burger King cards that have a photo which is different from the 1980 Topps card.

In this particular case, I was a little disappointed when I actually got the card… Not because it was anything other than I’d expected, but because of expectations that were completely my own doing.

It’s easier to show you… Here’s the Topps Koosman…
1980 Topps Jerry Koosman

…and here’s the BK Koosman…
1980 Burger King Jerry Koosman

I had the BK card on my wantlist because I’d seen it listed as a different photo, but it wasn’t until I had the BK card in my possession and went to scan both that I realized how similar the two photos are.

Oh, well. Different is different.