Thursday, June 19, 2014

They come in threes

​It's been a somber mood in the baseball world these past couple weeks, as several well-known former players have passed away. You may recall my most recent post about the late Don Zimmer. Though I'm a few days late, I wanted to give a proper send-off to Mr. Padre as well.

1994 Score Gold Rush # 12 Tony Gwynn
I had the good fortune to see Tony Gwynn play toward the end of the 2001 season. According to everyone's favorite treasure trove of baseball statistics, Gwynn drew a walk as a pinch-hitter in that late September game, just weeks after 9/11. Further investigation and cross-referencing of my ticket stub collection indicates that, sadly, I never witnessed any of Gwynn's 3,141 hits.

Regardless, as a lifelong NL West fan, I'm sorry to see Mr. Gwynn go to that great baseball diamond in the sky at such a young age.

Though Gwynn and Zimmer have been prominent in the news lately, the recent and also-too-early passing of Bob Welch slipped under the radar a bit.

Though not quite a hall-of-famer, Welch earned plenty of accolades during his pitching career, being elected to the All-Star squad twice, winning three World Series rings (one as a coach with the 2001 Diamondbacks), and even earning the coveted Cy Young award in 1990.

1993 Flair #264 Bob Welch
Though much of this blogging community will remember Welch as a Dodger, he was an established Oakland A when I started collecting, so that's how I remember him. He retired before interleague play, which was long before the days of MLB.TV. Thus, during his playing days, I surely knew him only from baseball cards, like this premium piece from Fleer's Flair brand, printed on some of the thickest card stock around.

They say these things come in threes. Though we fondly remember their great baseball careers, here's hoping that's it for a while.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


As you may have heard by now, longtime baseball player and coach Don Zimmer passed away yesterday.
1994 Topps Archives 1954 #258 Don Zimmer
"Zim" had spent nearly all his adult life in professional baseball in some form, including coaching stints with two of my favorite franchises, the Colorado Rockies and the New York Yankees. He's had quite an impact on the game over the yearshe was hit in the head by a pitch in 1953 and suffered severe health problems that year. The incident led directly to the use of batting helmets shortly thereafter. More recently, Zimmer took on Pedro Martinez in a hotly-contested 2003 ALCS. Though Martinez defended himself valiantly, the world was reminded that Zimmer still had a fiery passion for baseball.

He earned six World Series rings throughout his career. Four came recently while on the coaching staff of the Yankees, and two on the Dodgers, the first going way back to the Brooklyn days where he played alongside Jackie Robinson. He has been one of the most recognizable faces in baseball for generations, and he will be missed.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Vast Bering Sea

​We're smack in the middle of another season of Deadliest Catch, which gives me the perfect opportunity to showcase one of my favorite non-baseball baseball cards.

2010 Topps Allen & Ginter #203 Sig Hansen
Sig Hansen is the captain of the fishing vessel Northwestern, one of the longest-running subjects of the Alaskan crab fishing documentary. Sig has become one of the most well-known faces of the Discovery Channel show, along with a few other colorful characters, some of whom are no longer with us. Pixar even called on him to do voice work in Cars 2​ as the character "Crabby".

Even after all these years, I find that the captains and crews who brave the Bering Sea each winter still make for a great TV show. They've been heavily advertising the fact that this is the tenth season of the show, and I'd bet that a decade ago, Captain Sig sure would have chuckled if you told him he'd have his very own baseball card within a few years.