Topps Baseball Card Of The Day
"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.'" -- Ben Franklin
I own every Topps baseball set since 1987, and every Score baseball card ever made. For years I thought long and hard how I could put these cards "to use" aside from sitting in their binders until the end of time. The Card Of The Day was born.
I'd hoped to introduce a new card every single day but that quickly proved impossible under the weight of a regular job and fatherhood—now I'm aiming for 2-3 per week.
I initially planned to include Score cards here, but decided they would over-saturate the 1990's and make it tougher to pull modern players—we don't want to be TOO nostalgic. So please enjoy randomly-selected Topps cards from 1987-present.
A = Alternate Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
Click on images for larger views.
7/7/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #84 Jonathan Schoop, Orioles
More Jonathan Schoop Topps Cards: 2014 2016 2017 2018 2018U 2019 2019U
In football, hang time is a thing—the better your hang time, the better a punter you are. In baseball, hang time was not a thing until Schoop came along; the guy's home runs seem to stay in the air longer than anybody else in the game—it's like he hits 400-foot popups. Teams don't directly benefit from the hang time on home runs, obviously, but the dramatic effect can't hurt the entertainment factor.
The other thing about Schoop: he is the toughest guy to walk this side of Jeff Francoeur. Being extra-aggressive has helped him some years (such as 2017) and hurt him in others (such as 2014, the year repped on this card).
Here, Schoop has just completed his rookie season. It was tough at times, but he did have his moments, such as his 3-for-5, two-homer game at Milwaukee on 5/26/14.
THIS CARD: For the record, it's pronounced "Scope". Certainly not "Shoop".
Here, Schoop is saying, "C'mon, buddy. Take that extra step. Go ahead. I dare ya." With the ball in his hand, Schoop is dangerous (in a good way).
That little cartoon Oriole does not fit well at all with the graphics on this card, in my opinion.
(flip) Schoop's first MLB blast, off Toronto's Kyle Drabek, traveled 430 feet (and I bet it had mega hang time). In 2015, he smoked a 484-footer off KC's Johnny Cueto.
Yeah, Schoop finished at just .209 in 2014. His averages alternated monthly from the .240s to sub-.200 and back, while almost all of his splits put him in the low .200's at best,. But Schoop did hit .280 with two home runs at Yankee Stadium in 2014.
2014: 13 walks in 455 AB is pretty difficult to do, unless you're playing vs. the computer in an EA Sports video game season. Not shown: Schoop's 122 K that year.
AFTER THIS CARD: Schoop improved his hitting (not his patience) and remained Baltimore's second baseman through the first half of 2018. A PCL/MCL injury derailed his 2015, but he averaged 161 games 2016-17 and made the 2017 All-Star team (a year he blasted 32 HR with 105 RBI).
Traded to Milwaukee in the Baltimore Purge Of 2018, Schoop did not impress as a Brewer in the regular or post season, and was not re-signed. He has since inked one-year deals with the Twins (2019) and Tigers (2020).
Jonathan Schoop has appeared annually in Topps since 2014. He's also got 2018-19 Update cards.
CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Baltimore Orioles
More July 2020 Topps Cards Of The Day
7/2/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #474 Rich Thompson, Expos
More Rich Thompson Topps Cards: n/a
I won't have much to say about Rich Thompson's career because there isn't much to say about Rich Thompson's career. He was a #8 pick by the Indians in 1980, picked up some saves as a prospect, then reached the Indians in 1985 at age 26.
Thompson was pretty decent in the first half of the year, but posted a 9.75 ERA from 8/26 on—including an 11-run drubbing by Boston on 8/29 from which his ERA never recovered.
From 1986-88 Thompson fluttered through the KC, Montreal, Yankee and Milwaukee organizations; Montreal brought him back for '89 and watched him excel as a starter for AAA Indianapolis. Here, Thompson has made his long-awaited return to the major leagues.
THIS CARD: I always remember this card because A) it was the last Montreal Expo I needed to complete the '90 Topps set, and B) Richard Thompson was the name of my buddy's now-deceased dad.
Thompson sits, possibly in the bullpen, possibly at Spring Training. He looks like either the happiest mad guy in the ballpark, or the maddest happy guy in the ballpark.
That's #48 Thompson wears, a number shared by no other Expos of note for any real length of time. Unless you count Joey Eischen. We do not count Joey Eischen.
(flip) More from Thompson's 1989 season: he was called up in August and promptly reeled off six straight scoreless appearances, including innings 15-20 of an 8/23 game against the Dodgers.(Great job, Rich!) Montreal eventually dropped that game 1-0 in 22 innings.
In fact, if you throw out the four ER from Thompson's lone start, he registered a sub-2.00 ERA for the Expos!
Check out those numbers for 1989 Indianapolis...told you he excelled.
AFTER THIS CARD: Next-to-nothing. Thompson faced four batters for the Expos on 4/22/90, split 1991 between the Texas and Toronto organizations, then disappeared off the planet. Many years later he resurfaced...as a lawyer.
Rich Thompson debuted in 1985 Topps Traded, then appeared in 1986 and 1990 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Montreal Expos
7/4/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #59 Eric Gagne, Brewers
More Eric Gagne Topps Cards: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007U 2008
The irony: on American Independence Day the Randomizer selects a Canadian for COTD.
Here, Gagne makes his second COTD appearance (in just six weeks). Having signed a 1Y/$10M deal with Milwaukee entering Spring Training 2009, Gagne entered the year as the Brewers' closer.
In short, he did not end the year as the Brewers closer.
THIS CARD: The emotional Gagne is fired up, presumably after recording a final out (or possibly witnessing a great defensive play). Opponents just loved Gagne's animated displays.
After switching to #83 with the 2007 Red Sox, Gagne has his familiar #38 back. Despite only lasting in Milwaukee for one tough season, he's still one of the most notable Brewer #38's in team history.
I can't identify the road ballpark, but I can tell you Gagne was miles better away from Miller Park in 2008, with a .211 BAA compared to .294 at home. Also, his ERA was well over two runs lower on the road.
Strange, as Gagne had previously retired six of six hitters as a visitor to Miller Park, whiffing four of them.
(flip) On our previous Gagne COTD selection, from 2006 Topps, he was 6'2", 235 lbs.—meaning he gained five pounds and lost two inches. Shawn Bradley would have probably tried Gagne's diet back in the day.
As you can see in the stats, just the year before Milwaukee signed him, Gagne had been lights-out as the Rangers' closer, so it was not unreasonable to believe he could at least be adequate for them in the role. It just didn't work out.
C'mon, Topps. Gagne wasn't reinvented as an eighth-inning specialist by anybody's choice. He was reinvented because he blew five of his first 15 save ops in 2008, with an ERA over six.
AFTER THIS CARD: Gagne went to Spring Training with the '09 Brewers, and the '10 Dodgers, but did not make either roster and retired at 34. Still, that 84-consecutive-save streak...let's see that one get broken anytime soon.
Eric Gagne appeared annually in Topps 2001-09; 2007 was an Updates & Highlights card with Boston. There exists a 2007 Topps Factory Team Set card of Gagne the Ranger.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers
7/6/20 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #487 Rafael Palmeiro, Rangers
More Rafael Palmeiro Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1989T 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1994T 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2004 2005
"Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids. Period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."
It is possible when Raffy Palmeiro spoke those words (while emphatically pointing his finger) to Congress in 2005, they were true. Is it likely? Not very, considering he tested positive for steroids later that summer. Yes, Palmeiro could have started 'roiding up after the Congressional hearing, but looking at his career numbers and factoring in the accusations from Jose Canseco—who's been proven truthful about the topic several times—what is more likely?
I want to believe Palmeiro wouldn't go in front of Congress (and the world) and flat-out lie like that. Let's just say the evidence is not on his side.
Here, Palmeiro has completed the fourth year of a 5Y/$45M contract with the Texas Rangers. He continued to rake as always, especially in the final three months, and led the team in doubles and walks (104, third in the AL).
THIS CARD: 2003 Topps harkens back to Palmiero's first Topps Rangers card (1990). Different uniform and park, but same camera angle and pic timing. It's welcomed, since Palmeiro's 2001 and 2002 Topps front images were nearly identical.
Not sure why there's so much yellow at a Rangers home game, or how the Orkin man got such a good seat to the event.
Palmiero charges out of the box at The Ballpark In Arlington, his home field. In 2002, Palmeiro batted 48 points higher at The Ballpark, but his home/road power splits were fairly equal.
The Randomizer picked this card just as I started updating and expanding the TSR section listing proven 'roid users. If Palmeiro was the first name to come to the universe's mind, it must mean something.
(flip) 1993: Rafael Palmeiro stole 22 bases??
1996: Rafael Palmeiro drove in 142 runs and didn't lead the league? (Nope; Albert Belle had 148.)
1999: Rafael Palmeiro drove in 148 runs and didn't lead the league? (Nope; Manny Ramirez had 165.)
All: just look at those games played totals. I never properly appreciated durable ballplayers until the "load management" trend hit the NBA; Palmiero was the epitome of durability. He never once hit the DL in his 20-year career—which would support the argument he wasn't juicing all those years.
AFTER THIS CARD: At 38, Palmiero's numbers dipped a little for the 2003 Rangers, but 90% or more of the league would have eaten mold for those numbers (.260, 38, 112). That winter, Palmeiro signed a one-year deal to return to the Orioles (where he played 1994-98). His numbers continued to dip, but Baltimore still brought him back for 2005.
You had the hearings in March, and the positive test in August. Palmeiro didn't handle things particularly well, and was eventually sent home for the year. He never returned to MLB, though he did resurface in the Independent League well past his 50th birthday.
The owner of 3,020 hits and 569 HR lifetime, Palmeiro lasted on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for four years, maxing out at 12.6% of the vote. In short, if the guy had been beamed aboard a spaceship to parts unknown right after the 2004 season, he'd be in the Hall. (Unavailable for the induction, perhaps. But IN.)
Rafael Palmeiro appeared annually in Topps 1987-2005 (nope, no sunset card). He's got 1989 and 1994 Traded cards, too.
CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Texas Rangers