Wednesday, September 2, 2015

1915 Phillies 100th Anniversary - Gavvy Cravath

The Offensive Leader of the 1915 Phillies was Clifford Carlton "Gavvy" Cravath.

 2006 Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame Gavvy Cravath

The then 34 year old Right Fielder led the NL in Home Runs, RBIs, Runs Scored, Total Bases, OBP and Slugging.  His 24 Homers sound modest by today's standards, but at the time it was the highest total in either league during the first 18 years of the 20th Century - more on this later.

If SABRmetics had been around a hundred years ago it would also have been mentioned that Gavvy Cravath led the NL in WAR at 7.0 or 6.4 oWAR for those of us who are skeptical about defensive metrics. Had their been an MVP award at the time I am pretty sure that Cravath would have won it. 

Unfortunately Gavvy's great regular season didn't continue into the World Series. He only picked up 2 hits in 16 At-Bats.  Cravath did get the Go-Ahead RBI in the 8th inning of game 1 on a ground out to Shortstop - it was the only game the Phillies would win in the Series. The Victory would remain the Phillies lone World Series game W until Game 1 of 1980.

2006 Toyota Phillies 
I am pretty sure this post card set was a giveaway item for the Phillies in the early days of Citizen's Bank Park. We are almost a decade beyond the original issue and these are probably in need of an update.

2006 Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame Gavvy Cravath (b-side)

The back of the cards include brief demographics and lifetime stats atop a profile photo. Gavvy Cravath's stats include a few brief stints with various clubs prior to joining the Phillies for the bulk of his career. 

Above we spoke of Cravath's 24 homer season in 1915. It was one of SIX TIMES that he would lead the NL in Home Runs. When he retired in 1920 Cravath was the Active Leader in Home Runs with 119 which was 19 behind the All Time Leader Roger Connor. A Year later Babe Ruth would eclipse both Connor and Cravath.

After retirement Gavvy Cravath returned to his native California and became a prominent judge in Laguna Beach California

Sources n Links  
1915 Phillies NL Champions  
SABR Bio by Bill Swank
SignOn San Diego

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1990: Year of the No-Hitter - September 2 Dave Stieb

On September 2nd of 1990 Dave Stieb’s quest for a no-hitter finally ended.

1990 Score #707 No-Hit Club Dave Stieb  

Stieb and his Blue Jays teammates defeated the Cleveland Indians 3-0. Stieb Struck out 9 while issuing 4 bases on balls. However he pitched to 2 over the minimum thanks to his batterymate Pat Borders throwing out a a pair of runners on attempted steals.

Box Notes

1990 Score #707 No-Hit Club Dave Stieb (b-side)

Not a lot of big names in the unit that Dave Stieb recorded his milestone game against. Two parts of the Indians lineup versus Stieb arrived from San Diego in a Trade for Joe Carter (Boo!) Carlos Baerga and Chris James. The Padres originally received James in a trade that sent John Kruk to the Phillies. 

Seifeld favorite Ken Phelps makes his 3rd appearance in our Year of the No-Hitter Series. He busted up Brian Holman's perfect game on April 20th and was struck out in a pinch hitting appearance versus Nolan Ryan on June 11th. Phelps went 0 for 2 versus Stieb but did reach base via one of the four walks.

Borders, Mookie Wilson and Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff are the Notables that backed up Dave Stieb in his outing. The Center Fielder for Toronto was future White Sox GM Ken Williams who we previously saw on the wrong side of a no-hitter pitched by Randy Johnson (June 2)

Tomorrow I'll be Perfect 
Notice above I state Stieb’s quest “Finally Ended” well I have no real way of knowing if this was really a quest for the Blue Jays Ace. But I do know that he came awful close to tossing no-hitters several times.

September 24th 1988 - with 2 outs in the 9th inning also against the Indians Stieb gave up a bad hop single to Julio Franco
September 30th 1988 - Versus the Orioles Pinch Hitter Jim Traber singled
August 4th 1989 – Stieb was perfect for 8 2/3 innings versus the Yankees prior to giving up a double to Roberto Kelly 

Dave Stieb’s autobiography titled “Tomorrow I’ll be Perfect” was released in 1986, two years prior to his No-Hitter string. The reference to Tossing a Perfect Game, which never happened but hopefully the No-Hitter he got on September 2 1990 was close enough.

Like Dave Stieb finally getting his No-Hitter, we have finally finished are year of the No-Hitter series. I enjoyed writing the series and find it fitting that it occurred in another heavy no-hitter year. While our coverage of the 1990 No-Hitters has ended, I see the series continuing by checking in on a smattering of the remaining 280+ No-Hitters and related trading cards

Sources and Links

Monday, August 31, 2015

ANNIVERSARY: August 31 1990 Griffey & Griffey Jr Join same lineup

25 Years ago on August 31 1990 Major League Baseball saw the first Father Son Game as Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr were both in the same lineup for the first time.

1991 Score #841 the Griffeys

Baseball is often called the game of Fathers and Sons. The above black n white Score card captures that sentiment well - the two legends are a portrait of happiness. 

1991 Score #841 the Griffeys (b-side)

The back of the card has what appears to be a sketch and text mentioning the game on August 31st which was a 5-2 victory by the Mariners over the Royals.  The card goes on to mention a game two weeks later when the Griffey's hit back to back Home Runs off Angels Pitcher Kirk McCaskill in Anaheim. Despite giving up the Homers The Angels prevailed in the latter game 7-5.

Box Notes 
The Mariners Starting pitcher for the first Griffey/Griffey game was 2015 HoF Inductee Randy Johnson and boderline HoF Edgar Martinez was in the lineup PLAYING THIRD BASE. The Away Royals featured former Phillie Steve Jeltz and Future 1993 NL Champion Phillie Jim Eisenreich. The starting Center Fielder for the Royals that day was Brian McRae, son of Hal McRae.

The latter game once again featured Edgar at 3rd for the Ms. The Angels had a number of interesting names in their lineup none bigger than Dave Winfield. Others are Dick Schofield, another second generation player who shares a name with his father. Dick the elder his the Grandfather of Jayson Werth, while the younger is Werth's uncle. Bryan Harvey got the Save for the Angels and will likely be the father of a major leaguer some day, his Son Hunter is in the Orioles system.  Phils connected players in the Angels lineup include Catcher Lance Parrish and First Baseman Rick Schu. The Winning Pitcher for the Angels that day was current Phillies Pitching coach Bob McClure

Sources and Links
Baltimore Sun

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Night Baseball

Cubs and Dodgers on Sunday Night Baseball Gives us a chance to toss out another Rollins Utley Card.

2011 Topps Heritage #72 Philly's Men Up the Middle Jimmy Rollins n Chase Utley

Every time I come across cards of departed members of the 2008 Phillies I get a tinge of sadness. However it is good to think of those players getting a chance at another ring and it is also nice to see the current Phillies move on and start looking towards the future.

Hopefully Rollins and Utley will get to play on the National Stage tonight. Neither player is having a standout year, but both are professionals and I would like to think they still have a few big hits in them.

2011 Topps Heritage #72 Philly's Men Up the Middle Jimmy Rollins n Chase Utley (b-side)

The back of the Heritage cards mentions the better times when the Phillies middle infield was capable of getting a hit every night and mashing a combined 50 homers. 

For a look back at our previous Rollins Utley card click here.

Sources and Links
2015 Playoff Contenders Index (includes links to both Cubs and Dodgers cards)

HoF 80th Birthday Frank Robinson

August 31st marks the 80th birthday for Frank Robinson.

1967 Topps #100 Frank Robinson

This is the first Topps Card to feature Robinson wearing an Orioles Cap. He was issued an O's card in 1966 but it was in the classic Topps 1960s era Hatless style of traded players and it is quite clear that the future Hall of Famer is wearing Reds colors.

On December 9th 1965 the Reds traded the 1956 Rookie of the Year and 1961 NL MVP to the Orioles for a Young Milt Pappas and a couple of other prospects.

The ensuing season the 30 Year Old Frank Robinson went on to win the AL Triple Crown, The AL MVP Award and a World Series Ring (including Series MVP honors)

1967 Topps
The photo from the 1967T card above likely captures Robinson sometime during that epic 1966 season.

Topps awarded Robinson the First Hero Card in the 1967 set (#100) - he also appears on a Special #1 card in the set. It was the 2nd time that Frank Robinson drew a Hero Number, he was on card #400 in 1963.

1967 Topps #100 Frank Robinson (b-side)

The back of Frank Robinson's 1967T card covers a lot of the info we have above, Triple Crown -Toon, World Series MVP -Toon and Rookie of the Year text. Had to bum out Reds fans of the era to see Cincinnati listed there 10 times followed by the MVP year with a different squad. 

1966 Triple Crown WAR and MVP
The Triple Crown resulted in a unanimous AL MVP award for Robinson. Had SABRmetrics been available at the time I doubt that there would have been the debate that occurred when Miguel Cabrera pulled off the trifecta in 2012 but was pushed by Mike Trout. In addition to leading Junior Circuit Hitters in HR, RBI and Batting Average Robinson also led the group in oWAR.

It should however be noted that Pitcher Earl Wilson led all AL Players in WAR for the 1966 season, he finished 14th in the MVP voting. In an Award Voting Quirk Wilson did not receive a single Cy Young award vote that season. At the time there was only one CY award shared by the two leagues - and voters cast the first place vote only. Wilson had the misfortune of having his great season while Sandy Koufax was having a better season. 1966 was the last time that MLB handed out only one Cy Young award.

Frank Robinson HoF Index
1959 Topps #435 (HoF Profile & price guide including 1957 rc)
1961 Topps #25 (Reds Heavy Artillery w/ Vada Pinson and Gus Bell)
1999 Hillshire Farms Home Run Heroes (autograph)
2010 Topps CYMTO Insert (1957 rc reprint)

Sources and Links
Baseball Hall of Fame

Friday, August 28, 2015

Little League World Series: Go Red Land PA!

Every Year I catch a few innings of the Little League World Series, On Saturday I will be looking on with added interest as a team from near where I was raised is involved in the US bracket championship - Red Land PA.

1981 Topps #459 Greg Gross

I have no idea if he was part of their little league but Greg Gross is an Alum of Red Land High School. He was also a member of the 1980 World Champion Phillies.

I remember Gross primarily as a no-pop pinch-hitter and fourth outfielder, but he was good enough at both those skills to stick in the Majors for 14 years including ten in Philadelphia.

1981 Topps #459 Greg Gross (b-side)

There are a number of things I like about the back of the 1981T Greg Gross card. First off the Bio info points out that he was born in the same county I spent my formative years, latter cards would ID his hometown as places I have enjoyed as an adult.

Secondly I like the informative cartoons especially the latter one that mentions Gross' contributions during the 1980 NLCS. The 1974 Rookie of The Year award mentioned in the first -toon went to another player that was on the 1980 World Champs, Bake McBride. Gross had the Higher WAR of the two (4.7 - 4.3) However McBride won the oWAR battle (4.0 - 3.1) likely due to his HR (6-0) and Stolen Base Advantages (30-12)

Sources and Links
(h/t @JeffBristol for reminding me Greg Gross was from Red Land HS)

Topps Card DB

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wax Pack Road Trip & Book: Don Carmen 1986 Topps

Earlier this week Nick Diunte's Terrific Baseball Happenings blog featured a column on a book that may interest Card Collectors  "Wax Pack" by author Brian Balukjian

The project involves opening a wax pack of 1986 Topps and personally tracking down all the players in the pack. The pack included 14 players and a a checklist, the lone Phillies card  was Don Carmen - Bualukjian's favorite payer from childhood (yes, I shook my hood as well)

1986 Topps Don Carman (image swiped from

Balukjian met with Don Carman on the 9th of July. Carman is a now a sports psychologist and works for Sports Agent Scott Boras. Balukjian and Carman spent the day at the Zoo, topics they covered included Evolution, Family and Mike Schmidt.

I am not sure if it was Biran Balukjian's goal, but it appears that much of the material covered in the discussions is how the players handle retirement along with off the field interests and activities.  

The other players in the pack range from the forgotten (Jaime Cocanower) to the semi-stars (Gary Templeton, Steve Yeager, Rick Sutcliffe) all the way to the Hall of Fame (Carlton Fisk). Two players that spent time with the Phillies represented other clubs in 1986T, Randy Ready (Brewers) and Richie Hebner (Cubs).  

Check out the WaxPack site to find out more about Brian Balukjian's journey and the various players he encountered. What little I have read of the blog has been fun to check out. 

Sources and Links
Baseball Happenings
Wax Pack Book
Brian Balukjian

a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions