Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, December 2015
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12/30/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #335 Dave Henderson, Athletics
More Dave Henderson Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1993 1994 1995
TSR closes 2015 on a sad note. Former Mariners/Red Sox/A's outfielder Dave Henderson passed away on 12/27/15, and we eschew the random selection process to present his 1992 Topps card in memory.
"Hendu" was the #26 overall draft pick in 1977 out of high school by the Mariners, and in the big leagues by 1981. He eventually became a regular for the Mariners, although he never really produced like a first-round pick might be expected to. Henderson found himself traded (with SS Spike Owen) to Boston in mid-1986.
It was as a Red Sox fill-in (for Tony Armas) that the now-28-year-old enjoyed his most famous on-field achievement—snapping himself into the moment, turning around a two-out, 2-2 Donnie Moore splitter and smoking it over the LF wall at Anaheim Stadium in the 9th inning of ALCS Game 5, staving off elimination to Moore's Angels.
(Contrary to popular belief, it was not the game-winner; California soon tied it. But Henderson's sac fly in the 12th did win it.)
By 1988 Henderson was in Oakland, finally fulfilling his high potential and helping the A's to three consecutive World Series appearances and four LCS between 1988-92. Here, the 33-year-old center fielder is coming off his lone All-Star season of 1991.
THIS CARD: It feels blasphemous to see anybody wearing #42 today, even a black player.
We chose this card as it represented Henderson's best half in the majors—he entered May slugging .772 and batting .392! Though he tailed off in the second half, Henderson did hit three solo homers off Minnesota's David West on August 3 (but only three more for the rest of the season.)
The irony: Hendu's career year came as almost every other key Athletic except Jose Canseco slumped around him or suffered a major injury, leading to a 4th-place fall for Oakland following three straight WS appearances.
(flip) Those 15 games with the Giants came past the postseason qualifying date of 9/1/87. Did Henderson really go two whole seasons in a row without tripling? He wouldn't hit another until July 1994—his final MLB month.
AFTER THIS CARD: Henderson lost all but 20 games of 1992 with an injured hamstring that just wouldn't heal (interestingly, Oakland returned to contention without him), then simply went through all of 1993 unable to hit when the stripped-down Athletics desperately needed him to.
Finally, 36-year-old Hendu spent 1994 as a part-time DH/OF for Kansas City, his career ending when the strike began. My love for the NBA really ignited around this time, and I didn't even know Henderson was still active until pulling his 1995 Topps card.
Following his retirement, Henderson returned to Seattle and broadcast for the Mariners for 14 years over two stints; he remained in the role until his fatal heart attack, months after a kidney transplant.
Dave Henderson appeared annually in Topps 1982-95. His 1992 and 1994-95 poses were far too similar, and he was never shown playing defense on any of his 14 card fronts.
12/25/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #584 Scott Bullett, Pirates
More Scott Bullett Topps Cards: n/a
In an America ever sensitive to gun violence, would a player with this name even be allowed in the year 2015? I ask that non-facetiously—it won't seem so ridiculous if you read this.
Back on point: Scott Bullett was a part-timer for the Pirates and later, the Chicago Cubs, with whom he received the majority of his major-league run. Bullett went from undrafted out of high school in 1988 to hitting .298 with 63 steals at two A-levels in 1991—and a major league call-up that September! For a time, Baseball America ranked only pitcher Steve Cooke ahead of Bullett among Bucs prospects...not bad.
It took some time—and an injury—for the speedy outfielder to make it back to the bigs. He spent all of 1992 with AA Carolina and opened '93 with AAA Buffalo. But here, however, Bullett is filling in at the major league level for a now-lowly Pirates team.
THIS CARD: Pirates veteran Andy Van Slyke smashed his collarbone crashing into a wall in St. Louis that June, leaving Al Martin and several others to man CF in his stead. For a week in July, Bullett did the regular manning. Check out who I believe to be Orlando Merced working on his stance in the dugout as Bullett signs autographs—presumably for a fan; I don't think Frank Tanana was soliciting the Pirates rook on his way out of the league.
No position player has worn #47 for Pittsburgh since Bullett; it's since been issued to hurlers Jon Lieber, Scott Sauerbeck, Evan Meek and currently Francisco Liriano.
In one of his final games as a Pirate, Bullett flied out to Cubs RF Sammy Sosa—before he was Sammy Sosa—who mistakenly believed it was the third out and ran the ball in as two runs scored.
(flip) Bullett celebrates his 47th birthday today, XMas 2015.
More on Vicky Bullett: she represented Team USA in 1988 and 1992, averaged 17 PPG and 8.5 RPG in four years at Maryland, and later played three seasons each for the Charlotte Sting and Washington Mystics of the WNBA, retiring at 35 in 2002. (It took a couple of phone calls to the kind people at Martinsburg, WVA city planning to learn Vicky Bullett Street was formerly known as Eulalia Street...definite upgrade.)
Bullett technically was a switch-hitter in 1993, but gave it up during the season to bat lefty only, according to the website for his baseball academy.
AFTER THIS CARD: Bullett hooked up with the Cubs in a reserve role 1995-96, largely used as a late-inning defender/pinch-runner. He spent '97 with AAA Rochester (Orioles), then most of 1999-2006 in the Mexican League (with pit stops in Japan and AAA Colorado Springs, Rockies.) Bullett became quite the slugger south of the border, even putting up a .333, 35, 100 statline one year.
Scott Bullett only appeared in 1994 Topps, although he's featured in the 1992 Topps Major League Debut set as well as Stadium Club. He has Collector's Choice and Fleer Ultra cards as a Cub, for those interested.
12/11/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #719 Tom Hume, Phillies
More Tom Hume Topps Cards: n/a
Dipping once again into the early/mid-80's Reds well, TSR presents the longtime Cincy reliever (and sometimes starter) Hume—who more closely resembles a encyclopedia salesman than the 1982 All-Star that he was. Hume's career lasted 11 seasons, ending just as I was getting into the sport.
More on Hume: he was a full-time minor league starter (two RA in five seasons) prior to becoming one of the least-imposing stoppers in history from 1979 thru 1982—even earning the save in the aforementioned All-Star game! However, Hume had been pitching through torn knee cartilage and underwent season-ending surgery not long after. He'd never again effectively close full-time.
Here, Hume has served his first year of mandatory Phillies service—as an (unofficial) rule, all notable late-70s Reds had to eventually sign with the Phillies or be banned from baseball. Hume maintained his eligibility by suiting up for the club he smoked his first and only MLB homer against back in 1977.
THIS CARD: Proving intimidation isn't necessary to become a good closer if you have good stuff, which Hume did. (BTW, that doesn't look like even a spring training ballpark. More like somebody's farm.)
Hume's final 1986 numbers look nice, but it took work to get them there—a slow recovery from more off-season knee surgery kept him out until mid-May and he gave up earned runs in seven of his first 13 games before stringing a few zeroes together.
(flip) Hume was indeed a #1 secondary phase pick, 16th overall in 1972. (Topps would later abbreviate the "special" to "spec".) Nine of the 15 ahead of him never made the majors (including Robert Koeppel, who went first overall).
In fact, only Dave Collins—a future Reds teammate—did anything at all in MLB. In more fact, throw out Collins and picks #1-15 in the 1972 January draft combined for 215 major league games.
Hume was chosen out of the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. Fully expecting him to be one of about two all-time major leaguers from that school (with the other from the 1940's), I was suprised to find a steady stream of solid MLB alumni, including former Astro/Oriole Glenn Davis, former Boston infielder Jody Reed, and longtime A's coach/Rangers manager Ron Washington.
Others have reached MLB from Northeast High as well, but none as notable as above.
AFTER THIS CARD: Hume was 33 in 1986, and unable to carry over that year's late success into 1987. Philadelphia released him in August (not for shoving his manager officially, but let's be real); Cincinnati brought him back for 11 games before letting him go as well. That would be it for Hume as a player.
He returned to the Reds as bullpen coach from 1996-2007, through several managers and an ownership change. But incoming skipper Dusty Baker opted against inheriting Hume for '08; to our knowledge, he has not worked in pro baseball since.
Tom Hume appeared annually in Topps 1978-87, with 1978 being a shared "Rookie Pitchers" card.
CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies
12/7/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #402 Ryan Thompson, Mets
More Ryan Thompson Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1996
Is it better to be known for A) being the "other guy" in a major trade, B) smashing a dude's face with a line drive, or C) not at all?
Ryan Thompson wasn't a terrible player—he was good enough to be a starting outfielder for a major metropolitan franchise—but he'll forever be best known as A) the Toronto prospect who accompanied Jeff Kent to the Mets when they traded David Cone in 1992, and B) as a Yankee, striking the infamous liner that destroyed Red Sox P Bryce Florie's face and essentially ended his MLB career in 2000 (likely the bloodiest "groundout" in MLB history.)
Here, the young centerfielder is coming off what would be his most productive big league season. Starting 96 of 113 games for Dallas Green in 1994, only Bobby Bonilla (20) hit more home runs among Mets than Thompson's 18.
THIS CARD: As you can see, Thompson was a big dude (listed at 6'3", 200 on this card; that's above average for a 1994 CF). His left arm looks somewhat awkward here, but he gets bat on ball. He's balanced, and his eyes are squarely on the rawhide.
(flip) If they're comparing Thompson to Bo, I'm assuming he was a high school running back.
And since Thompson never actually attended Georgetown in any capacity, I'm also assuming Topps is referring to Baines' high school hitting records—even though, according to baseballreference.com, Baines is alumni of neither of Thompson's two Maryland high schools. Perhaps those were additional broken state records? I could research, but...nah.
Mike Stanton (the ex-Braves/Yankees RP) and Steve Finley went 11 and 10 picks before Thompson in that draft, respectively.
AFTER THIS CARD: Thompson did not have a good 1995, missing half the season with elbow/hamstring injuries and slugging just .378. New York acquired free agent CF Lance Johnson in the offseason, rendering Thompson expendable—the Mets dealt the 28-year-old to Cleveland just prior to the '96 season opener to acquire SP Mark Clark for a thin rotation.
Other than the unfortunate Florie at-bat—my first thought upon hearing that news: "Ryan Thompson still plays?"—Thompson made little MLB noise going forward, even going three years between big league games as he drifted through nine organizations (plus Japan) in the next nine seasons.
Thompson was able to stick with the Brewers for most of 2002 until tearing his hamstring late, but subsequent MiLB deals with Tampa and Houston led nowhere, and his pro career ended in 2004 at 37.
Thompson got in a bit of legal trouble in 2013; we were unable to track the fallout.
Ryan Thompson appeared in 1993-96 Topps, all as a Met.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, New York Mets