Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, May 2022

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Topps Kosuke Fukudome
Topps Kosuke Fukudome

5/31/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #342 Kosuke Fukudome, White Sox

More Kosuke Fukudome Topps Cards: 2009 2010 2011 2011U

 

Few, if any, dudes during my MLB fandom have made such a debut splash as Kosuke Fukudome, signed out of the Japan League by the Chicago Cubs in December 2007. Back on 3/31/2008, the new Cub went 3-for-3 with a double, walk and a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the 9th!!! And though Milwaukee eventually won the game, all anyone wanted to discuss was the great Fukudome.

Chicago's newest hero remained scorching hot into May (.348 through 5/3), and was a no-brainer selection to the 2008 All-Star team. But here, Fukudome is with his third team in a year—the White Sox signed the free agent to a 1Y/$1M deal in January 2012 (with a team option for 2013).

THIS CARD: Fukudome wore #1 throughout his five-year MLB career. Other notable White Sox to wear #1 include 2B Scott Fletcher in the mid-1980's and OF Lance Johnson in the 1990's. Most recently, hot-hitting 2B Nick Madrigal wore it prior to his 2021 trade to the Cubs.

According to Getty Images, this pic was shot 3/6/2012 in a Spring Training game against the Angels. From what I can gather, Fukudome was not competing for a starting job that Spring (Chicago seemed set with Dayan Viciedo, Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios in the outfield) and if he was, he did not win one.

More from Fukudome's early 2012 season: he did not play a ton, earning about half his run as a PH/DR. On 4/22, Fukudome's RBI single in the T8th provided insurance in a win over Seattle. But on 4/25, after doubling home a run against Oakland, Fukudome was caught too far off third base on a blown suicide squeeze by Brent Morel—if he scores, perhaps the game doesn't drag on for 14 innings and Paul Konerko's 400th career homer doesn't go to waste.

(flip) Fukudome was the Central League (Japan) batting champ in 2002 and 2006 (.343 and .351, respectively).

On 4/25/2011 or 4/26/2011, depending on your locale, Fukudome singled in all five of his at-bats and scored once—upping his season average to .478—but the Cubs still lost to the Rockies 5-3.

I probably waited too long to inform you it is pronounced Ko-SU-kay Foo-koo-DOUGH-may. But then again, you're probably smarter than Matthew Brock of NewsRadio.

AFTER THIS CARD: Fukudome went 7-for-41 in 24 games with the White Sox before being released in June. He eventually returned to the Japan League where—get this—he still plays in 2022 at age 45 (though not regularly)! At present, Fukudome has 1,952 hits across 19 seasons in Japan.

Kosuke Fukudome appeared in 2009-12 Topps, as well as 2011 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 

More May 2022 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Josh Hamilton
Topps Josh Hamilton

5/1/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps #29 Josh Hamilton, AL MVP

More Topps AL MVP Cards: 2008

From 2008-12, there might not have been a better player in MLB than healthy Josh Hamilton, unless it was a crucial postseason game. He made all five All-Star teams in that stretch (putting on an incredible Derby show in 2008) and was Top 7 in MVP voting thrice, including 2010 when he finished first after leading the AL with a .359 average.

 

The 29-year-old Hamilton joined Jeff Burroughs (1974) Juan Gonzalez (1996, 1998) Ivan Rodriguez (1999) and Alex Rodriguez (2003) as Texas Rangers to win the award.

THIS CARD: According to Getty Images, this image is Hamilton going yard against my Giants in Game 3 of the 2010 World Series. That solo shot, hit off Jonathan Sanchez 10/30/2010, helped Texas to its lone win of the Series.

I scanned this card three times and this is the BEST that Hamilton's name appeared. It doesn't appear so blurry on the card and no other 2011 Topps card we've scanned has looked like this. It's one of those mysteries a smart man could solve.

Playing for an eventual pennant winner no doubt helped Hamilton win the MVP, award, but (in spite of my earlier dig) he was the primary reason they held off the Yankees for said pennant. Hamilton went 7-for-20 with four jacks and seven RBI in the 2010 ALCS, taking that MVP award as well!

(flip) I do not own 1983 Topps, but as I've said before, perusing this set makes me want to sift through Topps cards of yesteryear. If you put a pack of '83 Topps in front of me right now, by next week I'd own at least a third of the complete set. (BTW, Randy Jones was a top pitcher for the Padres 1973-80 who finished second and first, respectively, in NL Cy Young voting 1975-76. He finished with the Mets 1981-82, so 1983 was Jones' Topps swan song.)

Even for the old Ballpark At Arlington, .390 is a divine home batting average. Furthermore, 22 of Hamilton's 32 homers were hit at home, even though he only had 10 more at-bats there than away.

Looking back, I'd long forgotten that the Rangers who opposed my Giants in the 2010 World Series won just 90 regular season games. They were nine games up on the second-place A's and never challenged for first place after late July. The Giants won just 92, so there was no clear WS favorite.

AFTER THIS CARD: After his dream 2010, Hamilton had just one more great season—he finished fifth in AL MVP voting after hitting .285, 43, 128 in 2012. The Angels gambled $125M that Hamilton could continue challenging for MVP awards, but he only gave them 31 HR and 123 RBI from 2013-14 before being dumped back on Texas. Plagued by knee and personal problems, the nine-year veteran simply faded out of MLB, unable to even challenge for the MVP among players named Hamilton by the end. 

CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps, Award Winners

 
Topps Juan Encarnacion
Topps Juan Encarnacion

5/2/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #397 Juan Encarnacion, Tigers

More Juan Encarnacion Topps Cards: 2004T

It's difficult for the casual fan who didn't see Juan Encarnacion on a regular basis to not first recall the horrifying way his career ended ahead of anything else he did on the diamond. It's the Joe Theismann syndrome—whenever that former NFL quarterback's name is mentioned, does anyone initially think of his 1982-83 Super Bowl win, or his 1983 MVP award, or his 25K passing yards...or do they think of his final, grotesque play on the gridiron?

Encarnacion wasn't just a bullet point on a "Top 10 Injuries" list. He was a solid player for over a decade in MLB, one who did a number of things well, and we'll try to focus on that here. In 1998, Encarnacion was just 22 and still held official rookie status; he spent the final six weeks with Detroit and the AL had quite a time getting the kid out.

THIS CARD: Encarnacion doesn't seem to have a whole lot behind this particular swing, but he was strong enough to make good contact even without his lower half fully into it.

If I had to guess, I'd say Detroit was at the Oakland Coliseum here. On the road in 1998, Encarnacion slashed .359/.381/.576—impressive for anybody but especially for a noob.

More from Encarnacion's 1998 season: he was with AAA Toledo until being summoned to Detroit 8/18. He promptly ran off an 11-game hit streak that included five multi-hit games, and when the streak ended in Game 1 of a doubleheader, Encarnacion promptly went 2-for-4 with a three-run jack in the nightcap!

(flip) Encarnacion's Tigers did not win that game, according to baseballreference.com. But it was indeed wild—the teams combined for 41 hits in the 12-inning affair! But here's the crazy stat: the Tigers and White Sox combined to strike out just 18 times. Today's clubs would double that total.

 

It has to be beyond frustrating to get the hardest two "legs" of the cycle without completing it. A fair comparison is correctly guessing Z and Q in a Wheel Of Fortune puzzle—only to find there isn't a single S.

Geez, Encarnacion could snag a volleyball in that massive mitt.

Check out Encarnacion's line for AA Jacksonville in 1997: he was 15th in the Southern League in average, fourth in homers and ninth in RBI, earning him a promotion straight past AAA to Tiger Stadium.

AFTER THIS CARD: Encarnacion received regular run as the Tigers LF, then CF, then CF/RF through the 2001 season, but did not approach the stardom predicted for him as a prospect. He was traded to the Reds in December 2001, then swapped to the Marlins (for SP Ryan Dempster) in mid-2002. As a 2003 Marlin, Encarnacion started 155 times in RF without a single error, hit .270, 19, 94, and helped the Fish to their second World Championship.

Though Florida dealt Encarnacion to the Dodgers (for a failed prospect) that December, they brought him right back in July and he remained there through the '05 season. After batting .287, 16, 76 in 2005, St. Louis inked Encarnacion for 3Y/$15M that December and watched him put up very similar numbers in '06.

Now 31, Encarnacion was enjoying another solid year in '07 when, on 8/30, teammate Aaron Miles fouled a pitch directly off Encarnacion's face as he stood in the on-deck circle. I'll spare you the unsettling details and just tell you that although doctors saved his sight, he never played in MLB again.

Juan Encarnacion appeared in 1998-2008 Topps, as well as 2002 and 2004 Topps Traded plus 2006 Topps Update.

 

CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Topps Jason Phillips
Topps Jason Phillips

5/3/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2005 Topps #190 Jason L. Phillips, Mets

More Jason L. Phillips Topps Cards: 2004 2005U 2006 2007U

You might not have known his name, but if you watched MLB during the 2000's, you noticed Jason Phillips. With his beefy build and trademark goggles, the man kind of stood out. And for a short time, he was a productive offensive player with a bit of a cult status.

Originally a Mets catching prospect out of San Diego State, Phillips rose to MLB fairly quickly and by 2003, he was starting 108 games between 1B and C in New York. Phillips was over .300 most of that summer before finishing at .298, and he entered 2004 with a job to lose. 

THIS CARD: One of my favorite front images in the set. 2005 Topps didn't have a load of horizontal front images, but the ones it DID have were usually clear enough to do fan identification.

This image was shot at Dodger Stadium, where Phillips played 8/22-24. He went 3-for-12 with an RBI.

There's been a long list of notable Mets utility/backup players who wore #23, but no real stars unless you count Javier Baez's 2021 stint. Today, SP David Peterson wears #23 for the Mets.

(flip) Kyle Phillips—also a catcher—did eventually reach MLB, getting in five games for the 2009 Blue Jays and 36 games for the 2011 Padres. He hit .191 with two bombs in 94 at-bats. (This Jason Phillips is no connection to Jason C. Phillips, who made 17 pitching appearances for the Pirates and Indians 1999-2003.)

As you see, Phillips was a #24 pick who beat the odds to even reach MLB, let alone shine for a while. From that draft round, only RP Jose Rodriguez joined Phillips in MLB, appearing 12 times for the 2000-02 Cardinals and '02 Twins.

As you see in the stats, Phillips' 2004 numbers took a dive from 2003. As New York tried to transition Mike Piazza from C to 1B, Phillips found the majority of his time behind the plate in '04 after playing far more first base in '03. For whatever reason—perhaps the added defensive responsibilities—Phillips never got hot, struggling just to stay above .200 most of the year. 

AFTER THIS CARD: During Spring Training 2005, Phillips was traded to the Dodgers in exchange for SP Kaz Ishii; in Los Angeles, Phillips started 106 times, most of that at catcher, and hit .238 with 10 bombs. That wasn't enough to earn a new deal for '06, and Phillips joined Toronto over the winter on a MiLB deal.  

The Jays outrighted Phillips twice during the year; he only got in 25 MLB games in 2006. Toronto brought him back in '07 on a 1Y/$500K deal, but he did not play well on either side of the ball (.208, 4-for-47 CS) and was released in July. Despite MiLB deals with the 2007 Marlins, 2008 Braves and 2009 Mariners, Phillips never returned to the majors.

Jason L. Phillips appeared in 2004-06 Topps, as well as 2005 and 2007 Topps Updates & Highlights.

CATEGORIES: 2005 Topps, New York Mets

 
Topps Jack Morris
Topps Jack Morris

5/4/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps Traded #82 Jack Morris, Twins

More Jack Morris Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1992T 1993 1994T

 

For Morris, the winningest pitcher of the 1980's as the ace of the Detroit Tigers, the news of his defection to the Twins as a free agent should have been bigger news than it was. But because A) Morris was coming off an 18-loss 1990 season, B) his deal with Minny was only for 1Y/$3M, and C) Detroit and Minnesota were not yet division rivals at the time, the transaction was almost an afterthought in the (many) publications 10-year-old me browsed.

But the signing wound up setting the stage for one of the greatest World Series games ever.

THIS CARD: This selection proves I spend too much time with baseball cards. I did not know who 1991 Topps Traded #82 was from memory, obviously. But I DID know the set was numbered alphabetically by last name. So I took a wild guess that Morris was card #82 of the 132-card set...and I was RIGHT. You can believe it or not, but I swear on everything it is truth.

Pre-Morris, the #47 was practically banned. Post-Morris, it's been worn by the likes of Corey Koskie and Francisco Liriano, two solid Minnesota Twins. Pitching coach Wes Johnson has worn #47 since 2019.

This image does not appear to have been shot anytime during the early 1991 season. I suspect some serious airbrushing at work—Morris even appears to be pasted onto the background.

(flip) Miscut alert!!!

Note the 1990 GS and CG aren't bold or italicized, though they do have the diamond indicating a tie for the league lead. Same with Morris's 1991 Topps base card. (They were both corrected in 1992 Topps.)

Geez, I look at those innings and CG totals and just salivate. I LOVE the complete game and I LOVE the workhorse starter; Morris was the best of his era. See those double-digit complete games every year? We'll be lucky if MLB gets 10 TOTAL this year (so far, as of 5/4, there's been a pair. One each by Walker Buehler of the Dodgers and Patrick Corbin of the Nationals).

No blurb, so I'll create one: After three losses, Morris earned his first Twins victory 4/24/1991 against the Oakland Athletics, throwing 124 pitches across 7.2 innings. He walked four and K'd six.

AFTER THIS CARD: You may have heard about Morris's epic 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against Atlanta. The 36-year-old then declined his $2M player options to sign with Toronto, where he won an AL-best 21 games for the 1992 World Champs. The 1993 Jays made it three straight rings for Morris, and four overall, even though he himself had a terrible season (7-12, 6.19)

The 17-year vet moved on to Cleveland in 1994 and went 10-6 despite a 5.60 ERA; the Indians controversially released him just prior to the strike before contract incentives could kick in. Though he was through in MLB, Morris did gain election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018 (through the Veterans Committee); Detroit FINALLY retired his #47 that same year after keeping it out of circulation for 28 years. Morris has worked as a Tigers broadcaster since 2019.

Jack Morris appeared in Topps 1978-1993, with Traded appearances in 1991, 1992 and 1994.

CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps Traded, Minnesota Twins

 
Topps Rafael Furcal
Topps Rafael Furcal

5/6/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps Update #75 Rafael Furcal, All-Star

More Rafael Furcal All-Star Topps Cards: 2010U

 

For 15 seasons, Rafael Furcal tore up NL basepaths and—errors aside—showed high athleticism and a STRONG arm defensively. He was never a superstar, but for periods Furcal was one of the top leadoff men in the NL and certainly among the top two-way shortstops. I wasn't crazy about his multiple DUI's, but I gotta say I enjoyed watching him during his Braves...and Dodgers (GAG) days especially.

In 2003, Furcal was recognized as an All-Star for the first time, an honor he'd receive again in 2010. Here, Furcal has made his third NL All-Star team—and first as a starter—despite overall first-half numbers that do not jump off the page. But so hot in April and May (.333 with a .391 OBP) was the veteran shortstop that it didn't matter to voters in the end.

THIS CARD: This image is indeed from the 2012 All-Star Game. If that's fellow Cardinal Matt Holliday on deck behind Furcal as I suspect, the pic was shot in the 4th inning, the only inning where Holliday batted.

And assuming all that is true, we're watching Furcal rip an oppo triple off Texas SP Matt Harrison (Raffy only swung at one of three pitches he saw during the at-bat). PH Holliday would single Furcal home to give the NL a 6-0 lead—which increased to 8-0 by inning's end and stood up as the final.

Often, the ASG logos give away the location, but I got nothing from this one. Turns out the 2012 Midsummer Classic was held in Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium.

(flip) DAVID ECKSTEIN led shortstops in All-Star voting during his Cardinals days?! What the hell was Furcal doing that year?

Also tripling for the NL was San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.

In June 2012, Furcal dropped to .177 with two XBH and one steal, dropping his overall first-half average to .275 with five homers and nine steals. That's still not BAD for a shortstop, but he was on pace for some special things before that mysterious slump.

AFTER THIS CARD: UCL surgery in September 2012 essentially ended Furcal's career; Cal Ripken might have been popular enough to earn All-Star consideration while on the season-long disabled list, but not Rafael Furcal, who played nine games with the '14 Marlins before retiring at 36.

Rafael Furcal received All-Star cards in 2010 and 2012 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps Update, All-Stars

 
Topps Jon Gray
Topps Jon Gray

5/7/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #9 Jon Gray, Rockies

More Jon Gray Topps Cards: 2016 2017 2019 2020 2021 2022

 

One of my favorite teams ever is the 2018 Rockies, because for one of the rare times (maybe the ONLY time) in their history, they had four starters healthy and effective to send to the hill 30+ times. Jon Gray was one of those starters, winning 12 times with 183 K for that team.

But here, we catch up with Gray on the heels of an encouraging 2017 campaign. After some early inconsistency and an injury, Gray came on strong down the stretch for Colorado—more on that below. Forget that he was knocked out in the second inning of the NL Wild Card Game against the D'Backs; the future was still bright for the 26-year-old.

THIS CARD: Gray's mane was not nearly that wild all season; this pic was shot 4/8/2017 against the Dodgers, a game Colorado won 4-2. But by the All-Star break, said mane didn't even reach Gray's shoulders. Thank you yet again, Getty Images.

Gray wore #55 his entire seven-year Rockies career; he's switched to #22 with the Rangers. (What, 10-game MLB "veteran" Sam Huff couldn't be bought?)

More from Gray's 2017 season: Gray was sidelined from mid-April until the end of June with a foot stress fracture suffered while fielding a grounder from San Francisco's Eduardo Nunez. But once he returned, he went at minimum five innings—and often six-plus—in 16 of 17 starts to close the year. On 9/12, Gray walked ZERO and whiffed a season-high 10 in a win over Arizona, part of an 11-start  August/September stretch during which Gray went 7-2, 2.44.

(flip) Oh...that's where his hair went. Am I EVER going to read the blurbs first?

Injuries? Pjural? I only uncovered the aforementioned foot injury. 

That massive homer Gray clubbed was a two-run shot off Cincy's Scott Feldman at—where else—Coors Field. It helped the Rox to a 5-3 win and represents the lone homer of Gray's career to date (and thanks to the universal DH, likely the last).

Gray does have a Twitter account and it's been open since 2011; not sure why it didn't get shared here. @MrGrayWolf22 for anyone interested; he's semi-active.

AFTER THIS CARD: Gray followed up that 2018 season with an 11-8, 3.84 line in an abbreviated (August foot fracture) 2019 campaign. Gray's 2020 was rough (8.39 home ERA and shoulder inflammation) but he bounced back somewhat in 2021 (8-12, 4.59). Texas signed the 30-year-old to a 4Y/$56M deal that December, but so far in 2022 he's battled a knee injury and appeared just three times with a 7.50 ERA.

 

Jon Gray has appeared in 2016-22 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Colorado Rockies

 
Topps Joel Piniero
Topps Joel Piniero

5/8/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps #263 Joel Pineiro, Angels

More Joel Pineiro Topps Cards: 2001T 2003 2004 2005 2006 2009 2010 2012

 

The 2022 Angels are off to a strong start, and it's largely because for the first time in quite a while, they have at least four quality starting pitchers performing up to their capabilities. And that's not including young Reid Detmers, who's still hitting some bumps, or former capable starter Jaime Barria, who's transitioned to relief for the moment.

The 2010 Angels also had four guys capable of a quality start every time out. Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana, Joel Pineiro and Dan Haren combined for 45 victories (Haren was only there for half that season), though it wasn't enough to secure their fourth straight AL West title.

Pineiro, a former big winner for the early 00's Mariners, joined the Angels on a 2Y/$16M deal in January 2010 after winning 15 times for the '09 Cardinals. He slid into the #4 starter role and—the occasional beatdown notwithstanding—gave Los Angeles a quality starter when healthy.

THIS CARD: Have I ever seen #35 on another Angel? Well, no one of note. The great Tommy John wore it in 1982-83 before I followed the game, and underachieving 1B Casey Kotchman had it from 2004-08. Today, C Chad Wallach wears #35.

Pineiro makes his second Topps COTD appearance; we presented his 2001 Traded card back in  back in November 2017. Which is a month I'd like to forget, considering I totaled my car on the 17th.

Per Getty Images, we are seeing Pineiro during his 4/14/2010 start at Yankee Stadium. He was the winner that day, scattering five hits in seven innings and whiffing seven. 

(flip) Coleman was a new Mariner in 1996 Topps, but he did not last there long enough to see the organization draft Pineiro. (This might be the first "Dark Era" card I've encountered in the 2011 Topps Flashback box.)

That 2010 shutout went down 5/16 against the visiting A's; Pineiro scattered four hits and struck out five.

Pineiro was limited to those 23 starts in 2010 by a strained oblique that sidelined him from late July to mid-September. (I LOVE that he still went the distance three times, although one was an eight-inning loss in which he allowed 10 hits and six runs to the Royals...but threw just 98 pitches.)

AFTER THIS CARD: The second year of Pineiro's Angels deal began well, but serious bumps were hit and he was removed from the rotation for half of August. Despite an improved—but not necessarily strong—performance upon rejoining the rotation, and signing MiLB deals with five organizations through 2015, no other MLB opportunities arose for Pineiro—a badly torn labrum in 2012 and a PED suspension in 2014 may have played roles.

 

Joel Pineiro debuted in 2001 Topps Update, then appeared in the 2003-06 and 2009-12 base sets. He was one of several glaring omissions from 2002 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2011 Topps, Los Angeles Angels

 
Topps Mike Timlin
Topps Mike Timlin

5/9/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #402 Mike Timlin, Red Sox

More Mike Timlin Topps Cards: 1991T 1992 1993 1994 1995 1997 1998 2000 2001 2002T 2004 2005 2006

 

Not to be confused with Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Whether as a starter early in his career, or a middle man, or a setup man, or as a full-time closer for the 1996 Blue Jays, 1999 Orioles and other clubs, Mike Timlin never refused the ball. He wound up appearing in the eighth-most regular season games in MLB history (1,058, plus 46 more across 11 postseasons), and collected four World Series rings for his efforts. 

But perhaps my favorite Mike Timlin fact: after throwing five wild pitches as a 1991 rookie, he threw exactly 13 over his final 17 seasons. True, Timlin threw to the likes of Charlie O'Brien, Dan Wilson, Mike Matheny and Jason Varitek—dudes who could block an errant bowling ball if necessary—for chunks of his career, but here at TSR we give full credit to all parties due. 

Here, Timlin has just signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. Little did Timlin know he'd end his career with Boston six seasons—and two historic championships—later.

THIS CARD: Timlin has what might be a two-seam grip going there. By the time he reached Boston, he featured low-90's gas, a sharp slider and a sinker to get ground balls. Timlin wasn't much for tricking dudes; he usually came right at hitters.

Classic STUN (Spring Training New Uniform) image here. While I'd LIKE to believe Timlin naturally posed like that during Spring Training down time, it's more believable that a photographer asked him to pose.

Timlin joined the Red Sox on a 1Y/$1.85M deal—strangely low considering he'd had a good 2002 season with the Cards/Phillies and salaries for non-closers were on the rise. The Red Sox re-upped Timlin for 2Y/$5.25M in November 2003, then brought him back for 1Y/$3.5M in November 2005, 1Y/$2.8M in October 2006 and 1Y/$3M in December 2007. So in all, Timlin ended up signing with Boston for 6Y/$16.4M.

(flip) No blurb, so we'll tell you that Timlin made five RA of three-plus innings for the 2002 Cardinals before being traded.

That lone start of 2002 was not an "open"; Tony LaRussa would have let Timlin go nine if effective enough. In the place of injured Garrett Stephenson, Timlin started at Milwaukee 4/19, giving up four earnies (all in the 5th inning) in 4.1 innings. He had made 569 relief appearances since his last MLB start in 1991!

Timlin went from St. Louis to Philadelphia in the 7/29/2002 Scott Rolen trade. IF Placido Polanco and no-hit artist Bud Smith also headed east.

AFTER THIS CARD: As we previously informed you, Timlin remained with Boston through 2008 and collected World Series rings in 2004 and 2007. In '05, Timlin led the AL with 81 appearances and saved 13 contests with a 2.24 ERA; he racked up nine more saves in 2006 but missed time in 2007  and 2008 with shoulder and knee tendinitis, respectively.

The 42-year-old was not effective in 2008 (5.66 ERA) and was not re-signed. He ended his career with 141 saves and a 3.63 ERA.

Mike Timlin appeared in Topps 1992-95, 1997-98, 2000-01 and 2003-06. He's also got 1991 and 2002 Traded cards.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Boston Red Sox

 
Topps Joey Cora
Topps Joey Cora

5/11/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps Traded #125 Joey Cora, Mariners

More Joey Cora Topps Cards: 1988 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998

 

Here, the veteran 2B Cora has just joined the Seattle Mariners after two quality seasons as a White Sox regular. Chicago had given Cora his first full-time job in MLB, but with exciting young prospect Ray Durham waiting in the wings, they let Cora walk after the 1994 season.

Little did Cora know he was joining what eventually became one of THE most special major league teams/seasons/pennant races ever.

THIS CARD: With the facial hair, Cora looks considerably larger than 5'8", 155 lbs, at least to me. Clean-shaven, he could pass for 12 sometimes.

Cora looks better in Mariners colors than he ever did in White Sox stripes; his deal with the M's, however, was worth an embarrassing $325K. Of course, the team was having attendance and ballpark issues entering the 1995 season but Holy Christ, NINTENDO owned it!

More from Cora's early 1995 season: after taking an oh-fer Opening Day, Cora went 7-for-his-next-13 with five RBI! The owner of four MLB homers in over 1,600 at-bats entering 1995 went yard 4/28/1995 against Detroit's John Doherty.

(flip) Searching for this card in my album was harder than it should have been, simply because 1995 Topps base card numbers were printed in a hard-to-decipher shadowy black. But as you can see, the company (wisely) changed things for the Traded set.

The Mariners' 1994 second base situation was in flux all season, and the man who played there most frequently, Rich Amaral, was NOT what anyone would call a strong defender. Cora's 22 errors in 1995 were a tad high, but I attribute that to adjusting to turf after years on grass. 

I see we came dangerously close to presenting this card on Cora's 57th birthday!

AFTER THIS CARD: We all remember Cora sobbing on the bench after the Refuse To Lose 1995 Mariners finally fell to the Indians in the ALCS, with then-rookie Alex Rodriguez attempting consolation. One of the iconic images of the decade, IMHO.

 

Cora's salary more than doubled to $850K for 1996, and he turned in another quality season. The veteran belted 11 HR in 1997 (two fewer than his career total entering that season), setting a team record with a 24-game hit streak, and finally reaching a seven-figure salary after signing a 2Y/$3.3M extension (1998 club option included) in November 1997. Cleveland traded for him in late '98, but he only hit .229 down the stretch followed by a 1-for-17 postseason showing.

 

Cora went to camp with the 1999 Blue Jays, but retired in March two months shy of 34. He's since gone on to a long coaching career, most notably on former teammate Ozzie Guillen's White Sox and Marlins staffs. Cora spent several years as Pittsburgh's 3B coach before joining the 2022 Mets in the same role; he now works for the same manager he helped oust from the 1995 ALDS, Buck Showalter.

 

Joey Cora debuted in 1988 Topps as a Padre, then appeared annually in the 1992-98 sets (he was one of many flagrant omissions from the 1999 Topps set) as well as 1995 Traded​

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps Traded, Seattle Mariners

 
Topps Terry Leach
Topps Terry Leach

5/12/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #457 Terry Leach, Mets

More Terry Leach Topps Cards: 1987T 1989 1989T 1990 1990T 1992 1993

 

Not long ago, TSR profiled Hall-of-Famer Jack Morris's 1991 Topps Traded card, which was released just months before his legendary World Series Game 7 performance for Minnesota.

Morris's 1991 teammate, Twins middle reliever Terry Leach, cleaned up a huge mess in Game 3 of that same Series. He entered with full bases and quickly dispatched Mark Lemke on strikes before Atlanta could blow the game wide open. The Twins later tied the game, and though they eventually lost, Leach's effort on the big stage deserves props.

Here, however, Leach is still with his original MLB team, the New York Mets. After years up and down from AAA, the submarining righty finally spent a whole season in the majors in 1987. Manager Davey Johnson used him as a starter during the middle months, but Leach eventually settled back into his more familiar relief role.

THIS CARD: Even here, you can tell Leach was a little, uh, funky when throwing the baseball. Limbs went in all directions; I don't know how any RHB ever picked up the ball from his hand. Which was barely off of the dirt when he let pitches go.

This appears to be old Riverfront Stadium, although the Reds logo on the wall may be subliminally affecting my conclusion.

More from Leach's 1987 season: from June into late August, he was in the Mets rotation, and for the most part pitched very well. He even shut out the Reds on two hits at Cincinnati 7/2; Leach's front image could be from that game.

(flip) Leach spent 1983 and 1984 making 80 appearances in the minors, in case you're wondering why those rows are missing.

In that first major league start, Leach went five innings, allowing just an unearned run and four hits to the Phillies. He received no decision, but New York won 3-1. That first major league save was of the three-inning variety—also against the Phillies—as New York won 8-4.

As for This Way To The Clubhouse, Leach had been traded by the Mets to the Cubs for two failed prospects in September 1983. The Cubs dealt him to the Braves in April 1984, but Atlanta cut him a month later. Re-enter the Mets!

AFTER THIS CARD: After putting up a 2.54 ERA in 52 RA for the '88 Mets, Leach was traded to the Royals in June 1989. He then spent two seasons in the Twins' bullpen, picking up his second World Series ring in 1991, then signed with the Expos for '92. After Montreal cut him in Spring Training, Leach joined the White Sox, and his 1.045 WHIP in 51 games that year was the best of his career!

In 1993, the 39-year-old made 14 first-half appearances for Chicago before elbow trouble shelved him for the season, and ultimately for good, as his comeback attempt with the 1995 Tigers did not pan out.

If I were Leach, this would have upset me greatly.

Terry Leach appeared in 1982-83, 1986, 1988-90 and 1992-93 Topps. He's also got 1987, 1989 and 1990 Traded cards.

CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, New York Mets

 
Topps Brandon Barnes
Topps Brandon Barnes

5/13/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #376 Brandon Barnes, Rockies

More Brandon Barnes Topps Cards: 2013 2014 2014U 2015

 

There have been times throughout history that being a regular outfielder for the Houston Astros was something to brag about. 

The year 2013 was not one of those times.

Still, for young Brandon Barnes, having a semi-regular role on a big league team—lousy as it may have been—was definitely a step forward, one that thousands of minor leaguers don't receive the opportunity to take. Barnes started 115 games for the 111-loss Astros of 2013, then was dealt to the Rockies.

Here, Barnes has just wrapped his second season with Colorado. After opening the year in AAA, Barnes rejoined the Rockies in May and wound up starting 67 times across all three outfield positions, most of that in LF during Corey Dickerson's first two trips to the DL.

THIS CARD: Barnes is known as a talented artist off the field; those tats were Barnes original designs and he actually tattooed his other three limbs himself.

Longtime TSR visitors will notice the "All-Star Game" logo present on all of our 2016 Topps base cards to date is absent—I finally got sick of the stamp and replaced the entire set. Sure, replacing the standard set cost almost four times more than the stamped set did...but it was worth it in my eyes. I was really sick of that stamp.

More from Barnes' 2015 season: he batted .360 through his first 17 games back from AAA, including a pair of three-hit games. On 8/26, Barnes broke out of a 4-for-36 slump with a three-hit game, missing the cycle by a triple! The homer was an 8th-inning, two-run insurance shot off Braves RP Edwin Jackson—before now, I never knew (or long forgot) Edwin Jackson relieved for the Braves.

(flip) Sure, Barnes' homers dipped in 2015, but he made a conscious effort to sacrifice power for contact in Spring Training after whiffing 100 times in 292 AB in 2014. It worked in that regard; Barnes' K rate fell from 32% down to 24% in 2015. It didn't help his average, but hey, whatever.

Of those eight homers in 2014, two were inside-the-parkers, and one sank my Giants in walk-off fashion. Grrrrr....

That Trade With Astros sent OF Dexter Fowler to Houston. The Rockies also nabbed versatile P Jordan Lyles in the deal.

AFTER THIS CARD: Barnes hit just .220 in 2016 and was cut by the Rockies in September. He didn't resurface again in MLB except for a couple handfuls of games off the bench for the 2018 Indians—surprising to me, as I'd assumed Barnes was still kicking around somewhere. He officially retired in 2020, as it turned out.

Brandon Barnes appeared in 2013-16 Topps, as well as 2014 Topps Update as a new Rockie.

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Colorado Rockies

 
Topps Howie Kendrick
Topps Howie Kendrick

5/14/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps Update #217 Howie Kendrick, Phillies

More Howie Kendrick Topps Cards: 2006U 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2015U 2016U 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021

 

As a longtime Giants fan, Howie Kendrick will always hold a special place dear to me.

You see, I loathe the Dodgers (who Kendrick once played for but escaped my wrath), and in 2019 they were trying to reach the World Series for the third straight year. But Kendrick, then of the Nationals, had other ideas—his tiebreaking grand slam off RP Joe Kelly in the T10th sent Los Angeles home from the NLDS.
Whenever anything bad happens to the Dodgers, I rejoice. Howie Kendrick was my friend that night, and the friend of millions of other Giants fans who were just...plain...sick of seeing the Dodgers experience success.

But here, Kendrick has just joined the Phillies via trade from the Dodgers, who foolishly failed to see into the future and basically saddled themselves with a postseason loss. Figures...

THIS CARD: Kendrick doing what he did—putting good wood on the ball. Kendrick had one of his era's most consistent, reliable swings; he was rarely off-balance and seldom chased outside of the strike zone except for the occasional breaking ball in the dirt.

Per Getty Images, this pic was shot 4/10/2017; in that game against the Mets, Kendrick went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run.

More from Kendrick's early 2017 season: he opened the year as the Phillies' LF until straining his oblique and missing six weeks. On Opening Day (4/3), he went 3-for-5 with a double, and followed that up with a three-hit, four-RBI game five days later.

(flip) As you see in the stats, Kendrick entered the 2017 season 35 hits short of 1,500 lifetime and five homers short of 100 lifetime. He reached the former milestone 6/18 and the latter milestone 8/15.

Kendrick's IG account is still active; in fact, it's where he announced his retirement after the 2020 season. But few of his recent posts have anything to do with baseball.

Sigh...there was a time when .279 would have been a down year for Miggy. Now it would represent an unexpected surge. BTW, whoever unearthed that stat has too much time on their hands. Even more than me, which is saying something. 

AFTER THIS CARD: Kendrick only lasted half of 2017 with the Phillies before being traded to Washington, for whom he smoked a walk-off grand slam in August against my Giants that mercifully, I cannot recall. Selective memory is a thing, people.

Off to a fine start in 2018, Kendrick's season ended after 40 games with an Achilles injury in May. He bounced back with a .344, 17, 62 campaign (plus postseason heroics) for the eventual World Champion 2019 Nationals; Kendrick then experienced a so-so 2020 season that ended a month early due to hamstring issues. He initially expressed a desire to continue playing, but ultimately retired at 37.

Howie Kendrick appeared annually in Topps 2007-21, except 2016. He's also got 2006, 2015, 2016 and 2017 Update cards.

CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps Update, Philadelphia Phillies

 
Topps Jesse Crain
Topps Jesse Crain

5/16/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps #469 Jesse Crain, Astros

More Jesse Crain Topps Cards: 2004T 2005 2006

 

Longtime Twin Jesse Crain was a tough-to-hit reliever for years.

And then he was out of the game, justlikethat.

Spend that money WISELY, young ballers of the future...

Crain debuted in 2004 with Minnesota, posting a 2.00 ERA in 22 relief outings. He immediately became a key figure in the Twins' pen, averaging 67+ annual appearances for the rest of the decade (except 2007, more on that below), winning 12 games in 2005 and posting a 3.04 ERA in 2010.

After inking a 3Y/$13M deal with the rival White Sox in December 2010, Crain continued to ball, posting a full-season career-low WHIP in 2012 and opening 2013 with an 0.74 ERA in 38 games for the Sox. He even had become acquainted with the strikeout, something he did not rely on in Minnesota. This caught the attention of the Tampa Bay Rays...

THIS CARD: Crain returns to Topps after a seven-set absence. Despite being one of the top non-closing relievers around, he got the shaft from the company year after year and had to make the 2013 All-Star team to get recognized again.

Crain is depicted as a new Astro for 2014. He'd finished the 2013 season with the Rays, but never actually pitched for them due to a strained shoulder that also kept him out of the All-Star Game. The Astros had visions of Crain closing when they signed him for 1Y/$3.25M on New Year's Eve 2013.

Since Crain never actually pitched for Houston either, I don't need to guess that this image is airbrushed. Nobody else wore #26 for the '14 Astros, so it appears Topps did bestow the proper digits upon him.

(flip) Those 38 games in 2013 included 29 scoreless in a row, setting a White Sox record.

Crain was replaced by Cleveland SP Justin Masterson for the All-Star Game.

More about the Rookie Fact: Of those 17 hits Crain allowed in 2004, only two left the park (although one was a go-ahead grand slam to White Sox IF Juan Uribe on 9/21).

AFTER THIS CARD: Crain underwent biceps surgery in October 2013, but it was hoped he'd be ready to pitch for Houston in early 2014. His return date kept being pushed back, however, and ultimately he never took the mound as an Astro. The White Sox signed Crain to an MiLB deal for 2015, but he continued to have setbacks related to his operation and never returned to the majors. Again—be wise with that cash, kids.

Jesse Crain debuted in 2004 Topps Traded, then appeared in the 2005, 2006 and 2014 base sets.

CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps, Houston Astros, Quirks

 
Topps Rickey Henderson
Topps Rickey Henderson

5/17/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #277 Rickey Henderson, Mets

More Rickey Henderson Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1989T 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1994T 1995 1996 1997 2000 2001 2001T 2002 2002T 2003 2003T

 

It took eight years, but FINALLY we have selected a card from my favorite player ever, one Rickey Nelson Henley Henderson.

We SHOULD have presented a card in acknowledgment of his 60th birthday on 12/25/2018, but I blew the opportunity. Still displeased about that.

Henderson, the all-time greatest leadoff hitter in MLB history, was 40 and obviously not the force he'd once been by 1998-99. But he could still draw a walk and steal a base with anybody, two skillz the Mets sorely lacked. Though his season ended in controversy—more on that below—the future Hall-of-Famer wound up having a surprising offensive season for the '99 Mets, posting his highest SLG in six years while leading the club in average.

THIS CARD: Henderson, presumably in warmups. As odd as he could be, I don't think even he would wear a jacket during an actual game.

Henderson returns to Topps after a mysterious one-year absence, save for inserts. I couldn't care any less about the Anaheim Angels, but I would have liked a Topps card of Rickey in all of his uniforms.

Henderson joined the Mets on a 1Y/$2.3M deal (with a club option that was exercised) after his fourth stint with the Athletics in 1998. New York ranked dead last in the NL with 62 SB in 1998, and who better to help them remedy that than a man who stole 66 bases all by himself in 1998?

(flip) Ordinarily, I would make a joke about Rickey warming up in front of the Gates Of Heaven in this image, but given the fact three of his 1989 A's teammates reached those Gates prematurely in recent years...no joking around about that.

As you see, Henderson led the league in steals in 1998 after a seven-year drought. That HAS to be some sort of record. 

Somehow, Henderson's 56 walks with the 1989 Yankees didn't get colored red as part of his combined AL-leading total. I'd check if it was corrected in 2000 Topps, but I'm sure it was.

AFTER THIS CARD: Was Henderson playing cards with teammate Bobby Bonilla in the Mets clubhouse during the elimination NLCS Game 6? We may never get credible verification, but in any event, Henderson's relationship with Mets management soon became damaged beyond repair and the team chose to move on in May 2000. He joined the Seattle Mariners for the rest of that year, batting .238 in 92 games and playing in his final postseason.

From there, Rickey kept his bags packed, moving on to Stint #2 with the Padres in 2001 and  becoming MLB's all-time walks and runs leader while stroking his 3,000th hit. (Barry Bonds has since broken Henderson's walks record.) He then spent 2002 as a Red Sox reserve, opened 2003 in the Independent Leagues, then got his final MLB run with the 2003 Dodgers at age 45. Henderson wanted to keep playing and never officially retired, but he'd run out of interested teams.

Henderson remains MLB's all-time SB (1,406) and leadoff homer (81) leader; he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 (click here for his uncharacteristically humble speech) and had his #24 retired by the A's shortly after. I have an album dedicated solely to Rickey Henderson cards, so if you ever want to part with any...

Rickey Henderson appeared annually in Topps 1980-2003, except 1998. He's also got 1985, 1989, 1994, 2001, 2002 and 2003 Traded cards.

CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, New York Mets

 
Topps Luis Sojo
Topps Luis Sojo

5/18/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #583 Luis Sojo, Mariners

More Luis Sojo Topps Cards: 1990 1991 1991T 1992 1993 1998 2001 2002

It's funny how during his Blue Jays and Angels days, Luis Sojo might get A line in the usual annual MLB publications. Baseball Weekly might—MIGHT—devote a few words to him if he caused a more important player to get hurt somehow. Even in baseball circles, there seemed to be more conversations about the texture of catcher's masks than about Luis Sojo.

Then Sojo became a Yankee and did a couple things for their 2000 Championship squad. Suddenly, the whole country wanted to know which side of Sojo's face he shaved first, did he believe in aliens, what was his stance on the Seinfeld finale, and on and on. I wanted to gather the media and yell "HE'S UNKNOWN BECAUSE YOU PEOPLE WENT OUT OF YOUR WAY TO IGNORE HIM!!!"
 

But even though I was slimmer and younger back then, it's doubtful anyone would have paid me attention. After all, what did do for the Yankees?

Here, Sojo is fresh off a 1994 season spent as a part-time middle infielder for the Mariners. The 28-year-old rebuilt some of the positive momentum he'd built as the Angels' primary 2B for much of 1992, and set career highs with his .277/.308/.423 slashline.

THIS CARD: For the record, it's pronounced "So-hoe".

Sojo is listed as a 2B, where he made 36 of his 51 starts in 1994. He also played two innings at 3B.

It's fitting to see Sojo hitting on the road, since A) he hit .292 away from the Kingdome as opposed to .250 inside it in 1994, and B) Seattle spent the last several weeks of 1994 on the road after the Kingdome had some, uh, issues.

(flip) THAT'S the Sojo I remember, not the goateed version shown on the front.

That muscle injury? I tried and tried but was unable to gather details about it, though I CAN tell you that "wrist instability" plagued Sojo throughout Spring Training 1993. While Toronto—who traded former star 3B Kelly Gruber to California to acquire Sojo—got little from the deal, the Angels might have got even less.

To paraphrase Homer Simpson, "The best season of his career SO FAR." I'd report on Sojo's V-League batting titles, but I'm not really interested in leagues that aren't MLB, MiLB or Japan.

As you can see in the stats, you had to work hard to walk Sojo. He finished his career with 124 walks in nearly 2,800 plate appearances, or eight less than what Barry Bonds drew in 477 PA in 2007. Granted, Bonds was a little scarier to face than Sojo, but still.

AFTER THIS CARD: As Seattle's SS for much of 1995, Sojo batted .289, but was waived in August 1996 after falling to .211 in a fill-in role for 2B Joey Cora, SS Alex Rodriguez and 3B (fill in the blank). Sojo hit .307 in 77 games, for the 1997 Yankees and was set to take over as their 2B in 1998...until Chuck Knoblauch was acquired from the Twins.

So the veteran infielder claimed a backup role for the 1998-99 Yankees, both of whom ended up as World Series champs. Seeking more run, Sojo signed with the Pirates for 2000, but was dealt back to New York in August of that year (Knoblauch was injured at the time). In Game 5 of the 2000 World Series, Sojo singled home what proved to be the game—and Series—winning run in the T9th!

From there, Sojo appeared 39 times for the 2001 Yankees, temporarily managed their AA farm team in 2002, and returned to the Yankees as a player for four hitless at-bats in 2003. He retired for good at age 38, then served the Yankee organization in various on-field capacities through at least 2017.

Click here for a very interesting Sojo interview.

Luis Sojo appeared in 1990-93, 1995, 1998, 2001 and 2002 Topps. He also shows up in 1991 Topps Traded.​

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Seattle Mariners

 
Topps Walt Weiss
Topps Walt Weiss

5/19/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps Traded #18 Walt Weiss, Marlins

More Walt Weiss Topps Cards: 1988T 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1994T 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001

The longtime Athletics SS had become expendable by the end of 1992, so here, we find Weiss with his new club—the expansion Florida Marlins, who acquired him in an Expansion Draft-day trade with Oakland. Weiss gave the mostly inexperienced, mostly unestablished Marlins a bit of credibility, having been a former AL Rookie of the Year and a participant in each of the 1988-90 World Series with the Athletics.

THIS CARD: Weiss launching a throw presumably to first base. He didn't have a cannon arm, but nobody ever talked about switching him to second base that I can remember. And I TOTALLY didn't party every weekend and imbibe copious amounts of alcohol in my early twenties.

Teal overload! Why did the Marlins have to abandon their original colors? It was a distinctive look and they won two championships with it. I don't DISLIKE their subsequent looks, but the teal was unique.

More from Weiss's early 1993 season: each of his first two games as a Marlin were multi-hitters, and on Opening Day, he ripped a two-run triple off the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser to help Florida to the win! Atta boy, Walt!

(flip) I also enjoy the music of Bruce Springsteen, namely the 1984 hit "Dancing In The Dark". The entire Born In The U.S.A. album was a winner, though.

That radio tidbit was also included on Weiss's 1993 Topps base card. I live in the SF Bay Area and still couldn't dig up which station Weiss cameoed at.

On 4/5/1989, Weiss homered in the B2nd off Seattle SP Scott Bankhead, then did the same in the B8th off RP Tom Niedenfuer. Weiss finished with four RBI, powering Oakland's 11-1 victory.

AFTER THIS CARD: After one solid season in Miami, Weiss hooked up with the Rockies for 1994-95, re-upping with the team for 1996-97 and setting most of his offensive career highs in 1996.

 

Atlanta signed the 34-year-old FA to a 3Y/$9M deal on the 1997 Expansion Draft day—the second time he'd changed teams on an Expansion Draft day without actually being drafted. In the '99 playoffs, Weiss executed the defining defensive play of his career, a diving stop on the Astrodome Turf followed by a ballsy throw home to force out Houston's Ken Caminiti and protect the 10th-inning tie in a game Atlanta later won!

 

In 2000, however, Weiss separately strained his hamstring, thumb and knee, limiting him to 80 games and allowing Rafael Furcal to emerge as NL Rookie Of The Year. Unsurprisingly, the Braves did not re-sign the 36-year-old Weiss, nor did any other club.

 

Weiss worked extensively for the Rockies post-retirement, serving as an advisor 2002-08 and as manager 2013-16. At present he is bench coach for the defending champion Atlanta Braves.

 

Walt Weiss debuted in 1988 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1989-2001, except 2000 (despite his 1999 highlight). He also appears in 1993-94 Traded​.

CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps Traded, Florida Marlins

 
Topps Jean Segura
Topps Jean Segura

5/21/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2019 Topps #21 Jean Segura, Mariners

More Jean Segura Topps Cards: 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2017U 2018 2020 2021 2022

Jean Segura is the only player in MLB I can identify by his head/helmet shape. I can't describe it with words, but Segura's protected noggin just looks different from everybody else's.

Perhaps he wears a special helmet, which would add up since he's been beaned no fewer than FOUR times since reaching MLB (twice in 2015, once in 2016 and once in 2019; click here for details). Credit to his toughness; the first two beanings didn't even knock him out of the game!

Here, the 28-year-old has shut the book on his second season with the Seattle Mariners, one which began with him signing a 5Y/$70M extension. Segura eclipsed .300 for the third straight year in 2018, led Seattle in hits, and made his second All-Star team!

THIS CARD: Segura's common front images generally show him fielding, or in the act of running/celebrating (as he's doing here). In fact, only his first Topps base card (2013) depicts him batting, which is strange considering he's a pretty good batter.

Per Getty Images, this image was shot 5/20/2018 after Segura's walk-off single against the Tigers. Pointing to the dugout in 2018 was generally reserved for big hits late in games such as this one—especially during the postseason. Four years and some MLB promotion later and you have dudes pointing to the dugout in jubilation after 5th-inning bloop singles in May.  

More from Segura's 2018 season: on 4/10 he went 3-for-5 with two RBI, missing the cycle by a home run in a win over KC. In early May, after opening a series at Toronto 0-for-5, he promptly went 7-for-11 over the final two games. And on 8/29 at San Diego, Segura singled off SP Joey Lucchesi for his 1,000th career hit!

(flip) I'd totally forgotten Segura led the 2016 NL in hits. He was 10 ahead of Dodgers SS Corey Seager, but behind Houston's Jose Altuve (216) and Boston's Mookie Betts (214) for the MLB lead.

That Trade With Diamondbacks sent Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker back to Arizona. The M's also got Mitch Haniger in the swap, however, so both teams came way with a valuable outfield piece for the foreseeable future.

That Twitter account is still up, but has no public posts since early 2017. The Instagram only has 27 total posts, the most recent one coming on 5/10/2022. 

AFTER THIS CARD: After the 2018 season, Seattle had a chance to acquire promising young SS J.P. Crawford along with slugging veteran 1B Carlos Santana from Philadelphia, and they jumped on it, sending Segura east. (Santana was dealt to the Indians 10 days later in a deal for DH Edwin Encarnacion, FYI).

As a Phillie, Segura initially started at SS but has since become their regular 2B. He hit .290 for Philadelphia in '21 and if his current .465 SLG holds up, it'd be the second-highest of his 11-year MLB career. Segura is slated to hit free agency for the first time after the '22 season.

Jean Segura has appeared annually in Topps since 2013, and also has a 2017 Update card.

CATEGORIES: 2019 Topps, Seattle Mariners, The Injured

 
Topps Cliff Floyd
Topps Cliff Floyd

5/22/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Topps #334 Cliff Floyd, Expos

More Cliff Floyd Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1994 1995 1997 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007U 2008 2009U

Today, he's an enjoyable personality on MLB Network. Yesterday, Cliff Floyd played 17 major league seasons, was a 2001 All-Star, and during his prime, NOT somebody pitchers wanted to face in critical situations. Floyd lost huge chunks of his career to injury, but still banged out 233 home runs with a healthy .482 SLG.

Here, Floyd has just finished a 1995 season that could have been his last, thanks to a freak injury that we'll detail later. Before getting hurt, Floyd hadn't really warmed up offensively yet, but he did enjoy the first multi-steal game of his career 4/30 at the Cubs. 

THIS CARD: Floyd's mighty lefty swing in action at Wrigley Field, where he played April 28-30, 1995. That swing, and the power behind it, had helped Floyd rise to #1 on Montreal's prospect list entering the 1994 season (per Baseball America). 

That's #30 Floyd wears; Montreal didn't retire it until Tim Raines finished playing after the 2002 season, and as you can see they didn't even bother to take it out of circulation.

More from Floyd's 1995 season: he went 2-for-3 on Opening Day to kick off his second year as an Expos regular. But overall, he'd been cold prior to his injury (.255 SLG; 1-for-his-last-14). I always use this spot to share bright spots from an individual's season, but the Floyd from April-May 1995 gave me little to work with.

(flip) To this day, I can still remember Floyd sitting in the Expos dugout while on the DL from that wrist injury—his cast ran almost up his entire arm. Mets runner Todd Hundley accidentally crunched him trying to beat a dribbler to 3B 5/15...it was not pretty.

 

We see Floyd in a position similar to the one he was in when injured. Other than a smattering of games from 1996-97, he never played first base again, eventually making the outfield his permanent home.

I have no idea where Topps got the number "four" from because Floyd actually got in 11 September games—three as a starter and eight as a PH/DR. He went 0-for-17 with two walks, but at least he was able to play at all...which was NOT a given.

AFTER THIS CARD: Floyd played part-time for the 1996 Expos and 1997 Marlins, earning a World Series ring with the latter club. He took over as Florida's LF in '98 and batted .282 with 22 homers, fulfilling some of his potential at long last and earning a 4Y/$19M extension in January 1999. Knee and Achilles injuries cost Floyd over half of '99, but he bounced back with a .300, 22, 91 season for the 2000 Marlins.

In 2001, Floyd made his lone All-Star team, as he finished up with a .317, 31, 103 line for the Fish. Off to a strong start in '02, the pending free agent was traded back to Montreal, then to Boston during the 2002 season; he finished at .288 with 28 jacks in all and signed a 4Y/$26M deal with the Mets that December.

In his four seasons in New York, Floyd missed at least 49 games to injury three times, the exception being 2005 (.273, 34, 98). He spent 2007 in a part-time role with the Cubs and 2008 in a similar role with the AL Champion Rays before signing with San Diego in February 2009 (1Y/$750K plus bonuses). 

Floyd began '09 on the DL, went 2-for-16 upon activation, underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and never returned to MLB. He's good on MLB Network; check him out.

Cliff Floyd appeared annually in Topps or Topps Update 1992-2009, except 1998.

EDITS: The first version of this profile listed Floyd as omitted from 1997 Topps; he was actually omitted from 1998 Topps. Also, the first version inaccurately stated Floyd's injury would be detailed; said details are now added. Expanded contract information has also been added.

CATEGORIES: 1996 Topps, Montreal Expos

 
Topps Ronald Torreyes
Topps Ronald Torreyes

5/23/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2021 Topps Update #324 Ronald Torreyes, Phillies

More Ronald Torreyes Topps Cards: 2017U 2018 2019

Topps Update exists in part because of guys like Torreyes, the ex-Yankee infield plug-in who'd also suited up for the Dodgers and Twins for a handful of games each. Torreyes received extensive run for the 2017 Yankees squad that almost reached the World Series, only to disappear into obscuri