Thursday, April 30, 2020

2020 Topps Opening Day Blaster

I continue to have issues with pulling Red Sox cards this year.  I don't know what the deal is.  This is my second blaster.  My first blaster revealed zero Red Sox cards.  Out of something like 80 cards.  That is ridiculous.  This one went much better.
As you see, we have most of the big stars from the team, of course that's all Opening Day is anyway.  The last card is an insert showing Pesky's Pole.  I have several cards showing that and just lump them under "Fenway Park" in my collection.  It would be kind of interesting to show a picture of Johnny Pesky next to the pole next time.  Just a thought.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #947

#947 comes from 2013 Panini Hometown Heroes, one of my favorite Panini sets since their return, because it was so much like the old Topps Fan Favorites, only with a bigger player selection.  The Varitek is especially nice because, due to the catching equipment, you can't tell that the team name on the jersey has been deleted.  This is the Zip Code parallel.  I already had the State parallel.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Player-Only Case Break

I tried out one of those player-only case breaks seen on Ebay all the time, picking a player I liked that would be somewhat inexpensive: Christian Vazquez from Gypsy Queen.  I knew he did not have a lot of stuff in the set, just the base and the usual parallels, but I took a chance.  It did not go well:
That's the base card.  No parallels.  I am now the proud owner of about 20 base cards of Christian Vazquez.  Oh well.  At least I got something.  I did try this a couple more times, but I will get to those.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #944, 945, and 946

The last several couple years of Jason Varitek's career are not quite as well-covered in my collection.  I sort of drifted away from the Varitek collection in around late 2008.  I am starting to look at finding some of the cards I have missed out on.  Recently, I found a seller that was breaking up sets of some of the rarer Topps parallels and grabbed a few of the Variteks I needed:
The first card is the red-border card that came in small packages in factory sets.  The next two are the rare black parallels.  My favorite is the last one because it is Varitek's All Star card from 2008 Topps Update.  I was surprised I did not have that one already.  Well, I do now.  The Varitek collection is still going strong.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Random Online-Only Red Sox

I am not a huge fan of the online-only cards, but I do add them at times.  Here are some random online-only cards I picked up from an Ebay seller:
1.  Wade Boggs.  This card comes from the ceremony to retire Boggs's #26.  I am not sure why it took so long to retire his number.  I have mentioned before that Boggs was my first favorite player.  I still love getting Wade Boggs cards.

2.  Craig Kimbrel.  Kimbrel was an All Star all three seasons he played for Boston.  He had a monster 2017 season with the Red Sox, saving 35 games and striking out 126 in 69 innings with a 1.43 ERA.  His WHIP was a shocking low 0.681.  It was one of the best closer seasons in Red Sox history.

3.  Christian Vazquez.  This is a red parallel from last year's Topps Total, serial-numbered to 10.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Hope Diamond

The Hope Diamond parallels from 2011 remain one of my favorite of the colored Topps parallels from the time period.  Featuring a bright shade of blue, they are incredible to look at.  And collectors loved them, because they were often hard to find.  I only had Josh Beckett previously in my collection (I have never seen the Jason Varitek pop up).  Now, I added one more:
Alfredo Aceves.  Aceves had an interesting stint in Boston.  In 2011 he was terrific, going 10-2 with a 2.61 ERA, primarily as a middle reliever, striking out 80 in 114 innings.  His record flipped in 2012, but he was the closer after Mark Melancon struggled and Andrew Bailey was hurt.  He saved 25 games, but had a 5.36 ERA.  He only pitched in eleven games in 2013 before Boston lost patience with him.  He was 4-1 with a 4.86 ERA, splitting time as a starter and reliever.  I will always remember his 2011 though.

Friday, April 24, 2020

2020 Donruss Blaster Breaks

After struggling with Heritage, I was considering giving up on packs for awhile.  Then I saw Donruss.  And I caved.  But it worked out pretty well.  In fact, one pack in the first blaster contained FOUR Red Sox cards.  Out of eight.  That is just crazy.  I once opened a pack of 2000 Pacific Invincible with three cards in a pack, two of which were Red Sox cards.  That is still the record for percentage of cards being Red Sox, but this is damn close, and possibly more impressive given how many cards were in the pack.  The last four cards in the scan were the cards from that pack.
1.  Christian Vazquez.  I am anticipating Vazquez will be one player who will skyrocket in my collection.  After his impressive season last year, I think he will be in a lot more sets.

2.  Christian Vazquez.  This is one of the retail purple parallels. 

3.  J.D. Martinez.  

4.  Rafael Devers.  Devers is the other player I think will skyrocket.  He broke out in a huge way last year.  And with Betts moving on, Devers is probably the player who will take over as the face of the franchise. 

5.  Mookie Betts.  It is going to be awhile before Betts cards start showing up with Dodgers logos, so I have about half a year of new Betts Red Sox cards to go.

6.  Rafael Devers.  This is the Milestone Stat Line parallel, numbered to 200.

7.  Wade Boggs.  And here we have the 1986 subset.  I like this subset because it has so many stars from that time period with the teams they were on.  The Red Sox cards are not super-exciting, it could have used someone like Bill Buckner or Tony Armas, or someone completely off the wall like that.

After doing so well in the first blaster, I bought a second.  It did not do as well, but I will say there was a duplicate, so it was a little better than the scan.  
1.  Jim Rice.  Here is another of the 1986 subset cards.  There is also a Roger Clemens.

2.  Mookie Betts.  This is a photo variation.

3.  Mookie Betts.  And the purple parallel of the photo variation.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

2020 Topps Heritage Pack Breaks

Heritage was rough on me this year.  Apparently there are MASSIVE collation problems with this because I kept pulling the same cards over and over and over again.  And a lot of that was missing Red Sox cards.  

This is all I have managed to pull, and I have given up on it, despite not having close to the full team set.
1.  Xander Bogaerts.  Believe it or not, Bogaerts is just over 50 games from passing Nomar in games played, but he's about 20 WAR shy.  It may be a few years yet before he surpasses Nomar in the annals of best shortstops to play for the Red Sox.

2.  David Price. 

3.  J.D. Martinez.  This card is a short print, the only one I pulled for the Red Sox from the set. 

4.  Jackie Bradley Jr. 

5.  Darwinzon Hernandez.  Hernandez had an impressive first season the Majors.  The question is whether he will be moved to the rotation or stay in the bullpen.  I can see the arguments for both.

6.  Rafael Devers.  Well, at least I pulled the bigger stars still on the team.

7.  Andrew Cashner.  I have no idea why Cashner keeps appearing in these sets.  I'm not complaining, it just seems odd.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A JBJ Zippy-Zapping

After a winter full of trade rumors for Jackie Bradley Jr., he will be returning to center field for the Red Sox in 2020, assuming there is a 2020 season.  He will be a free agent after the season, so this could be his final one in Boston.  Again, assuming there is a season.  I would like to see him stay.  JBJ has been one of my favorite players since he arrived in Boston.  I can deal with his streakiness, just to see him play center field and his cannon for an arm. 

This card was a one-card mailday from Kenny, the Zippy-Zapper.  I always enjoy seeing packages from him in the mail.  Hope you are safe Kenny.  Thanks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Tzu-Wei Lin Card #112

This is the 2017 Topps Tier One Silver Ink autograph.  I have had my eye on one of these for awhile, but it was part of a large lot of Lin autograph cards, all the others of which I already had, and the price was way too high for me to go for it.  I tried offering just for the one I needed, but the seller turned down my offer.  I ended up winning this for significantly less than I offered on the other one.  So there.

Lin was in competition for one of the bench spots this Spring and looked to have the inside track before he suffered an injury.  Not sure what will happen now, but Lin is out of minor league options.  If he doesn't stick in Boston, they could lose him.  That would be very upsetting.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Topps Now: Feb. 4

With no baseball season going at this time, there is not much for Topps to present with the online-only Topps Now set.  But there were still a few cards in the Offseason set available.  And one of those came when Boston made the big Mookie Betts to L.A. trade.  The Red Sox acquired a couple of young players when the deal officially went down.  They received prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong, who are both still in the minors.  The major piece they received was Alex Verdugo, a young outfielder who played his first full season in the Majors in 2019 (106 games) and hit .294/.342/.475 with 12 home runs and 44 RBIs.  He looks promising and should be able to ease the loss of Betts somewhat.  He is also decent defensively with a very strong arm in right field.  I am not saying I like the Betts deal, but Verdugo looks like an interesting player.  Downs and Wong also look intriguing. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

2020 Topps Series 1 Pack Breaks

I am not keeping track of team totals from my pack breaks this year.  I was going to, but then I fell way behind due to work and everything got mixed up.  I still know which Red Sox cards came from packs, and I will keep track of that number.  I am not doing great this year.  I will get to that in a future post.  Topps Series 1 went okay.  I think I opened two blasters and a hanger pack.  Here are the results.
1.  Andrew Cashner.  Cashner was a trade deadline deal for the Red Sox in 2019 that did not work out terribly well.  He was 2-5 with a 6.20 ERA.  He was a little better in the bullpen.  I was surprised Cashner made it into this set.  I was pretty sure his only Red Sox card was going to be the Topps Total card from last year.

2.  Decade's Best Insert.  I did pull a couple of inserts, including this one celebrating the 2018 team as one of the decade's best.  Currently that is being tainted by the ongoing investigation into whether they were involved in a sign-stealing scheme similar to the 2017 Astros.  We have been waiting a LONG time for those results, which are supposedly done, but they have not been releasing it.  It's annoying.

3.  Michael Chavis.  I really have no idea what to think of Chavis.  He did well early after his promotion, but he struggled afterwards.  He also really does not have a set position.  Boston has Mitch Moreland at first, Jose Peraza at second, and Rafael Devers at third.  He could be a super-sub, but we will see.  His numbers last year were decent, .254/.322/.444, with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs.

4.  David Price.  Price was traded as part of the Mookie Betts deal to the Dodgers.  By and large, his stint with Boston was a disappointment, but his 2018 postseason run was terrific and he will be one of the things I most remember from that team.

5.  Brock Holt.  Holt signed with the Brewers as a free agent and I saw some fans upset about that as much as they were about Betts being traded.  It's not the same thing at all, but Holt was a lot of fun to watch.  Yeah, I would have liked him to stay in Boston for his career, but he's not exactly irreplaceable.  Not like Mookie.

6.  J.D. Martinez Home Run Challenge.  This is part of a contest where you can win prizes.  I was never good about doing it last year, and it looks like the contest will be closed this year.  Still, it's a nice insert.

7.  Matt Barnes.  Barnes has been an underrated and reliable member of the team's bullpen since 2015.  Last year, he was 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA and struck out a crazy 110 batters in only 64.1 innings.

8.  Christian Vazquez.  One of my favorite players right now is Boston's catcher, because of course I always like catchers.  He had a very good year last year, blowing away his previous best home run mark by hitting 23.  His previous best was five.  We will see if that is sustainable.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Insert Lot

Some time ago (I am way behind on this stuff), I bought an insert lot on Ebay primarily to plug some holes and grab some stuff on my wantlist.  It worked fairly well.  
1.  Jay Groome.  With the COVID-19 situation and a possible lost baseball season, I wonder how the development of prospects will be affected.  Groome finally got healthy last year, and now he might lose this season as well.  That can't be good.

2.  Pedro Martinez.  The Family Business insert reminds me that we never got a special card featuring both Pedro Martinez and his brother Ramon Martinez during the two seasons that they were together with the Red Sox.  Seems like the kind of thing that should be fixed.

3.  Carlton Fisk.

4.  David Ortiz.

5.  Chris Sale.  Sale recently had Tommy John surgery, in the first year of his nice new five-year contract.  He won't pitch for the first year-and-a-half of it.  That was money well-spent.

6.  Ted Williams/Mookie Betts.

7.  Mike Shawaryn.

8.  Carl Yastrzemski.

9.  Roger Clemens.
10.  Ryan Kalish.  Kalish is one of those players that was never really given much of a chance.  He was reasonably impressive in 2010, but didn't stay in the lineup afterwards.

11.  Ted Williams.

12.  Mookie Betts.  I will still probably try to complete this insert set.  It just is not terribly high on my priorities list after he was traded away.

13.  Mookie Betts.

14.  Mookie Betts.

15.  Michael Chavis. 

16.  Michael Chavis.

17.  Michael Chavis.

18.  Michael Chavis.  As you can see, lots of Chavis cards in the lot.
19.  Cy Young.  This is a manufactured patch for the first World Series.  Cy Young was one of Boston's first major stars, along with Jimmy Collins.  Topps should make some Collins cards.

20.  Mike Napoli.  Napoli was a big part of the 2013 World Championship team and hit 53 home runs during his three seasons in Boston. 

21.  Dustin Pedroia.  It remains to be seen whether Pedroia will ever make it back onto the field at this point.  If he doesn't he will go down as having an argument against Bobby Doerr for the best Red Sox second-baseman of all time.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The 1975 Team

Like with the 1967 team, the Boston Sports Collectors Club also released a set commemorating the 1975 AL Champions.  This is a team that I wish I had been alive to see.  From the changed uniforms (the team was wearing red hats now and my very first Red Sox cap was one from this team) to the fact that so many of my favorite Red Sox legends were on that team (Yaz, Lynn, Tiant, Rice, Fisk, Evans, and more), I feel like I would have loved this team.  I love them now, and I never actually got to see them.

It is disappointing that they were not able to win the World Series, but they came so close.  And of course they did win the fantastic Game 6, one of the greatest games in World Series history on a walkoff, majestic home run from Carlton Fisk.

And so, here we go:
1.  Carl Yastrzemski 1B.  I love this set for the photo selection.  There are so many great shots in this one.  This Yaz is a classic.  Yaz was getting up there in years and was no longer the threat he was in 1967, but he had a nice season, playing mostly at first this time.  He hit .269/.371/.405 with 14 home runs and 60 RBIs, a far cry from his 1967 season, but he was still productive enough.

2.  Fred Lynn CF.  Lynn had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, becoming the first player to win both MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season in 1975.  He hit an incredible .331/.401/.566 with 21 home runs, 105 RBIs and ten stolen bases.  He led the league in runs, doubles and slugging and also won a Gold Glove.

3.  Luis Tiant SP.  This is my favorite photo from the set.  Just a fantastic action shot.  Tiant had an 18-14 record with a 4.02 ERA, striking out 142 while walking just 72 in 260 innings.  He was an absolute workhorse.  He continued to impress into the postseason and delivered a gutsy performance in Game 4, throwing over 160 pitches in a complete game victory.

4.  Jim Rice LF.  Had Rice not suffered a season-ending injury late in the regular season, Boston might have won the World Series.  Like Lynn, Rice was also a rookie in 1975 and put up almost as impressive of a season.  The future Hall of Famer hit .309/.350/.491 with 22 home runs and 102 RBIs, while also stealing ten bases.  

5.  Carlton Fisk C.  Fisk suffered an injury in 1975 and was limited to just 79 games, but was phenomenal when he was on the field.  His season will be best remembered for his dramatic walkoff home run in Game 6 of the World Series, but he hit .331/.395/.529 with ten home runs and 52 RBIs in half of a season.

6.  Bill Lee SP.  The southpaw Lee was a character off the field and came to be nicknamed "Spaceman" for his oddball antics.  But he was a fiery competitor and a great pitcher when he was on his game.  He had a very good year in 1975, going 17-9 with a 3.95 ERA in 260 innings.  Lee was more of a crafty, finesse-type pitcher and only logged 78 strikeouts but only walked 69.

7.  Rico Petrocelli 3B.  Petrocelli was headed toward the end of the line by the time 1975 rolled around.  He would play his final season in 1976.  In 1975 he hit .239/.310/.333 with seven home runs and 59 RBIs.  He had a decent run in the postseason though and still played decent defense at the hot corner.

8.  Dwight Evans RF.  Evans was still finding his hitting stroke in 1975, but he was a terrific defensive right-fielder and had a cannon for an arm.  Evans hit .274/.353/.456 with 13 home runs and 56 RBIs.  He made an outstanding defensive play in the World Series, making an over-the-shoulder grab and doubling off the runner from first base.

9.  Ted Williams CO.  Well, I guess you gotta get The Splendid Splinter in there somehow.  A few years after his stint as manager of the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers, Williams returned to Boston as a sometime coach.  He was not even part of the primary coaching staff really.  But, who is going to complain about another Williams card?  
10.  Rick Wise SP.  Wise, who was once traded straight-up for Steve Carlton and was acquired by Boston in exchange for Reggie Smith, was Boston's big winner, leading the team with 19 victories versus 12 losses.  He had a 3.95 ERA, striking out 141 while walking 72 in 255.1 innings.

11.  Cecil Cooper DH.  Cooper was another dynamic young player in 1975.  Of course he would not really hit his stride until an unfortunate trade sent him to Milwaukee after the 1976 season.  In his second full season, Cooper hit .311/.355/.544 with 14 home runs and 44 RBIs.

12.  Dick Drago RP.  Boston's primary closer in 1975 was Drago, who appeared in 40 games, finishing 34 of them, though he did start two games.  He pitched 72.2 innings, striking out 43 and walking 31.  He notched 15 saves and a 2-2 record.

13.  Jim Willoughby RP.  Willoughby was a minor acquisition prior to the season, but paid big dividends as he finished second to Drago in saves with eight and had a 5-2 record with a 3.74 ERA.  He struck out 29 while walking 16 in 48.1 innings over 24 games.

14.  Rick Burleson SS.  The Rooster was one of the better defensive shortstops the Red Sox have ever had and was still developing as a hitter in his second season in the Majors.  He hit just .252/.305/.329 with six home runs and 62 RBIs, but he had a good run in the postseason.  And of course his defense was his most valuable skill.

15.  Juan Beniquez OF.  Beniquez was a valuable bench player and spent a significant time in left field.  He did not have much power, hitting only two home runs and driving in 17 runs, but he had a slash line of .291/.358/.402.

16.  Reggie Cleveland SP.  Cleveland was a serviceable back-of-the-rotation starter who had a fairly good year in 1975.  With a record of 13-9 and a 4.43 ERA in 170.2 innings, he was a valuable member of the staff.  He struck out 78 versus 52 walks.

17.  Deron Johnson 1B-DH.  Johnson had been a productive power hitter in the 1960's in the National League, primarily with the Reds and Braves.  He was in his second stint with the Red Sox after being acquired in a late September trade with the White Sox.  He played in just three games with Boston, but hit a home run in 12 plate appearances and had a nice slash line of .600/.667/.900.

18.  Doug Griffin 2B.  Paired with Burleson, the Red Sox had a strong defensive middle infield.  Griffin was not much of a hitter though and was eventually replaced in the lineup.  He hit just .240/.288/.272 with one home run and 29 RBIs.
19.  Bob Montgomery C.  The backup catcher played a bit more often in 1975 due to Fisk's injury.  Montgomery had a few decent years with the bat, but 1975 was not one of them as he hit just .226/.241/.318 with two home runs and 26 RBIs in 62 games.

20.  Jim Burton RP.  Rookie southpaw Burton turned in a nice season in 1975, but took the loss in Game 7 of the World Series and he never really had much of a shot after that.  He was fairly impressive in 1975 though, pitching 53 innings in 29 games with a 1-2 record and a 2.89 ERA.  He picked up a save and 39 strikeouts while walking 19.

21.  Diego Segui RP.  Another great picture here of the journeyman reliever.  Segui pitched in 71 innings over 33 games, picking up six saves and a 2-5 record.  His ERA was a less-than-impressive 4.82 and he had 45 strikeouts and 43 walks.  Segui was getting close to the end of the road for his career.

22.  Tim Blackwell C.  The third-string catcher Blackwell made it into 59 games himself, but he was no better than Montgomery.  The 22-year-old rookie hit just .197/.303/.250 with no home runs and six RBIs.

23.  Denny Doyle 2B.  After it became clear that Griffin was not cutting it at the plate, the Red Sox acquired Doyle in a trade with the Angels in June.  He took over at second and was much better with the bat, hitting .310/.339/.429 with four home runs and 36 RBIs in 89 games.  He made a couple of costly errors in the World Series though.  Ideally, Boston would have had Griffin's defense and Doyle's offense at second.

24.  Roger Moret P.  Moret was the most versatile pitcher on the staff, starting 16 games and finishing five.  He threw four complete games and picked up a save.  His record was a sparkling 14-3 and he had a 3.60 ERA over 145 innings.  The southpaw struck out 80 and walked 76.

25.  Bernie Carbo OF.  Carbo hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter, setting the stage for Fisk's walkoff.  He proved to be a valuable bat off the bench and hit .257/.409/.483 over 107 games, knocking 15 home runs and driving in 50 runs.  He walked more than he struck out, and it is something of a surprise that Carbo never really broke through as a regular player.

26.  Dick Pole SP.  The unfortunately-named Pole was a rookie in 1975, making it into 18 games and 89.2 innings.  He had a 4-6 record with a 4.42 ERA, striking out 42 and walking 32.

27.  This card features four players, none of whom played any significant amount of time.

Tony Conigliaro DH.  At just 30 years of age, Conigliaro attempted a final comeback, making the team out of Spring Training but retired for good early on due to continued issues with his vision stemming from the beaning in 1975.  He played in 21 games, hitting .123/.221/.246 with two home runs and nine RBIs.

Kim Andrew 2B.  Andrew played in just two games and a had a hit in two at-bats.  It was his only appearance in the Majors.

Butch Hobson 3B.  Hobson would eventually take over the third base job from Petrocelli, but he was just making his Major League debut in 1975.  He played in two games and a had a hit in four at-bats.

Andy Merchant C.  Another player who made his Major League debut in 1975, Merchant had a hit in four at-bats, scoring twice in one game.
28.  And another card with four role players.

Bobby Heise 3B.  Heise was a journeyman infielder who never really played full-time.  He played in 63 games with Boston, hitting .214/.246/.238 with no home runs and 21 RBIs.

Tim McCarver C.  McCarver had been a two-time All Star with the Cardinals in the 1960's, but was more of a role player at this point in his career.  He was acquired late in the season in 1974 and played a little early in the 1975 season before being released.  In 12 games, he hit .381/.409/.571.  I am sure there is a story for his release.

Dick McAuliffe 3B.  McAuliffe had been a very good second-baseman for the Tigers in the 1960's and early 1970's.  He was in his final season, playing in just seven games early in the season.  He only had two hits in 15 at-bats.

Steve Dillard 2B.  Yet another player in his debut, Dillard played in just one game, collecting two hits in five at-bats and scoring twice.

29.  Coaches Card.  This card features manager Darrell Johnson, who is particularly noteworthy to me since he is a Nebraska native, along with Stan Williams, Don Bryant, former Red Sox favorite Johnny Pesky, and Don Zimmer.  Pesky and Zimmer are the noteworthy names here.

30.  Team Card.

The 1967 set was missing three players.  This set is missing four players.  The biggest surprise is Rick Miller, who played in 77 games and was a fairly important extra outfielder.  I did a double take when I realized Miller was not here.  He didn't hit much, but he was a very good defensive outfielder and played several years in Boston.  Rick Kreuger was a lefty reliever who made it into just two games, pitching four innings.  Steve Barr was another lefty who started two games and made it into one more.  He had a 2.57 ERA, but walked seven versus two strikeouts in seven innings.  The missing player that annoys me the most though is Buddy Hunter.  Hunter does not have a Major League card, despite playing in parts of three seasons.  He played in just one game with one hitless at-bat.  So why does his absence bother me?  Because he is a native of Nebraska and an alumni of my own alma mater, the University of Nebraska.  There are not too many Huskers who played for the Red Sox (three), and only one has any Red Sox cards.  Hunter is also thus far the only Husker to be drafted by Boston.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Your 1981 Red Sox Pt. 18: Bob Ojeda

In this series, I will look at each player who played in 1981, the year I was born. Because, why not?
I can still remember some of the cards in my first pack of baseball cards.  It's weird the things we remember.  It was 1991 Topps.  Obviously I remember it having Dennis Lamp and Tom Bolton in it, because they were my first Red Sox cards and led to me picking the Red Sox as my favorite team.  But I also remember Walt Weiss, Sergio Valdez, Matt Williams All Star card, Bobby Bonilla, Lee Guetterman, and Bob Ojeda.  This was at the time he was with the Mets.  And so it is that Ojeda is a part of some of my earliest baseball memories, even if it was not while he was with the Red Sox.

The southpaw Ojeda was signed by the Red Sox as an undrafted free agent in 1978 and moved through the system rather quickly.  He made his Major League debut in 1980 with seven games and a 6.92 ERA.  Ojeda was part of an impressive youth movement in the rotation for the Red Sox in the 1980's, along with Bruce Hurst, Oil Can Boyd, John Tudor and later Roger Clemens.  

In 1981, he made it into ten games and was impressive enough that he finished third in the Rookie of the Year vote.  In those ten games (all starts) he was 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA.  He completed two games and threw 66.1 innings, striking out 28 while walking 22.  

Ojeda would take a step back in 1982, but then contributed three decent seasons as a mid-rotation starter.  In 1984 he led the Majors in shutouts.  Then after the 1985 season, the Red Sox were comfortable enough with their pitching that they sent Ojeda to the Mets for a package that included promising pitchers Wes Gardner and Calvin Schiraldi.  It would be a move that back-fired as Ojeda had a terrific 1986 season with the Mets and helped them beat Boston in the World Series, while Schiraldi struggled for Boston in the Series.  If the trade had not happened, who knows what would have resulted (though Schiraldi had a very good regular season for Boston and the team may not have made it without him in the bullpen).

Ojeda was involved in a very tragic boating accident in Spring Training before the 1993 season while with the Indians.  He was the only survivor in a crash that claimed the lives of Steve Olin and Tim Crews.  Ojeda was severely injured but was able to make a comeback.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Impossible Dream

I have not been very good about posting on this blog lately.  Previously I had been far too busy.  Now, things have kind of opened up due to the whole pandemic thing going on.  I am fairly insulated from that living in rural Nebraska.  There are a few cases around here, but not nearly as many as in other parts of the state.  I do find I have some more time on my hands.  I am still working, but not going to court quite as often and most of my clients have been laying low (though some are still out there committing crimes so I still have stuff coming in).  I miss baseball though.  I was kind of morbidly curious about how this season was going to go, losing Mookie Betts and all.  And now it looks unlikely that there will be a season at all.  

I guess in a way to make up for the loss of the sport I love for right now, I have been itching to write about one of my favorite subjects: Red Sox history.  And I also have a lot of cards to show off that I have been putting off.  So we will do both for a little while.

I recently bought a set I had no idea existed.  The Greater Boston Sports Collectors Club released a set commemorating the 1967 Impossible Dream Team, creating cards of almost everyone on that team.  Tony Horton, Jim Landis and Ken Poulsen somehow did not make the cut.  Horton is particularly surprising since he was in his fourth season with Boston and played pretty well in 21 games.  Landis had been a longtime star with the White Sox, but made it into just five games with Boston.  Poulsen only had five games in his entire Major League career.

With that out of the way, here are the cards:
1.  Carl Yastrzemski LF.  Yaz is synonymous with the 1967 season.  He had been good before, winning a batting title in 1963 and generally being the best player on a mostly bad team.  But he really broke through, having one of the best offensive seasons in Red Sox history on his way to the Triple Crown and the MVP.  He was at his best when the chips were down, having one of the greatest stretch runs in history.  His final numbers were .326/.418/.622 with 44 home runs and 121 RBIs.

2.  Tony Conigliaro RF.  One of the most tragic stories in Red Sox history, Conigliaro was on his way to greatness when he was beaned in the eye with a pitch during 1967.  He missed the rest of the season and all of 1968.  He did eventually make a comeback, but retired shortly afterwards.  In short work in 1967 he hit .287/.341/.519 with 20 home runs and 67 RBIs.

3.  Jim Lonborg SP.  Like Yaz, Lonborg also broke out in a big way.  His major change was to be much more aggressive on the mound and learning to pitch inside.  The result was a 22-9 record, 3.16 ERA and league-leading 246 strikeouts.  Oh, and the Cy Young Award.  Unfortunately, this was his peak season and he was never this effective again.

4.  Rico Petrocelli SS.  Another young star in the making, Petrocelli anchored the infield in 1967 with impressive defense.  He could also hit a little ending the season hitting .259/.330/.420 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs.  Petro would get even better in the coming seasons.

5.  Reggie Smith CF.  Smith was easily one of the best all-around players on the team exhibiting all five tools.  Smith almost gave the Red Sox a sweep of the three major awards, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year vote after he hit .246/.315/.389 with 15 home runs, 61 RBIs and 16 stolen bases.  Rod Carew had him beat in the slash line, but Smith was better everywhere else (including WAR).

6.  Joe Foy 3B.  Foy was an underrated player on the team, providing some decent numbers from the hot corner.  He was not a great defensive third-baseman, but he made up for that with his bat, hitting .251/.325/.426 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs.

7.  Ken Harrelson RF.  After Conigliaro went down with his injury, the Red Sox needed to replace his production in the lineup.  Harrelson had been cut loose by the Athletics and Boston swept him up.  He was slow to adapt to his new team, hitting just .200/.247/.388 with three home runs and 14 RBIs.  He was terrific in 1968 though.

8.  George Scott 1B.  I feel like if I had been alive to see him, Scott would have been one of my favorite players.  The surprisingly athletic first-baseman was terrific defensively, winning the first of his eight Gold Gloves in 1967.  He also had a great year with the bat, hitting .303/.373/.465 with 19 home runs and 82 RBIs.  He also stole ten bases and led the team with seven triples.

9.  Mike Andrews 2B.  Another underrated performer on the team, Andrews was a steady defensive second-baseman who had a decent year at the plate.  His numbers were not eye-popping but most second-basemen of the time period were not that impressive.  He did hit .263/.346/.352 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs.  Andrews would get even better in the next couple of years.
10.  Don Demeter OF.  Demeter was at the end of the line as a Major Leaguer in 1967.  He had been acquired as part of the trade that sent Earl Wilson to Detroit in 1966 (Boston could have used him back).  He played in just 20 games, hitting .279/.326/.465 with a home run and four RBIs.  He was traded along with Horton to Cleveland for Gary Bell in June.

11.  Dalton Jones IF.  Jones was the primary utility infielder for the Red Sox in 1967, making it into 89 games and playing first, second and third base.  He hit .289/.333/.409 with three home runs and 25 RBIs, meaning that the team was not really down much at the plate when he was in the lineup instead of one of the starters.

12.  Russ Gibson C.  Gibson was the primary backup catcher in his first season as a Major Leaguer at the age of 28.  He was not much of a hitter, hitting just .203/.263/.275 with a home run and 15 RBIs, but he was very good defensively, throwing out 50% of attempted base stealers and not making a single error.

13.  John Wyatt RP.  The Red Sox closer, Wyatt arrived in Boston in a deal with the Kansas City A's in 1966.  He had an impressive season, saving 20 games with a 10-7 record and a 2.60 ERA.  He struck out 68 and walked 39 in 93.1 innings.

14.  Elston Howard C.  Catcher was something of a black hole offensively for the Red Sox in 1967.  Neither Gibson nor Mike Ryan were cutting it, so Boston made a very rare trade with the Yankees (the Yankees were terrible, which is likely the only reason it happened) to acquire 1963 AL MVP Howard.  It did not help.  Howard played in 42 games down the stretch, but hit just .147/.211/.198 with one home run and eleven RBIs.

15.  Hank Fischer P.  Fischer had been a back-of-the-rotation starter for the Braves earlier in the decade and was picked up by Boston as a depth option.  1967 was his last season in the Majors and he appeared in nine games, going 1-2 with a 2.36 ERA, saving one game and pitching a complete game in another.

16.  Jose Santiago RP.  Primarily a reliever, Santiago was a very important member of the pitching staff in 1967.  He saved five games, but also started eleven.  His record was a sparkling 12-4 with a 3.59 ERA and notched 109 strikeouts in 145.1 innings.  Santiago also homered in his first at-bat in the World Series.

17.  Gary Bell SP.  As mentioned earlier, Bell was acquired from Cleveland for Demeter and Horton in June to solidify the pitching staff.  It was a trade that worked out well for Boston as Bell went 12-8 with a 3.16 ERA and 115 strikeouts the rest of the way.

18.  Sparky Lyle RP.  Lyle, who would later win the Cy Young Award with the Yankees, was a 22-year-old power-throwing lefty.  He made it into 27 games, saving five and putting together a 1-2 record with a terrific 2.28 ERA and struck out 42 batters in 43.1 innings.  Boston should never have traded him.
19.  Don McMahon RP.  McMahon was a journeyman veteran pitcher who landed in Boston the prior season and impressed.  He pitched in eleven games with a 1-2 record and 3.57 ERA, notching two saves, before he was traded in June to the White Sox for Jerry Adair.

20.  Dave Morehead SP.  Morehead never quite realized his talent, but had one major moment in the sun: throwing a no-hitter against the Indians in 1965.  1967 was a frustrating year for him as he pitched in just ten games, finishing with a 5-4 record and a 4.34 ERA.

21.  Dan Osinski RP.  A veteran reliever who spent time previously with the Athletics, Angels and Braves, Osinski notched a 3-1 record, two saves and a 2.54 ERA.  He struck out 38 and walked 14 in 63.1 innings.

22.  Dennis Bennett SP.  Bennett was acquired in a trade with the Phillies in exchange for troublesome but talented slugger Dick Stuart.  Bennett had a lot of potential, but never realized it fully.  In his final year in Boston, he went 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA.  He was traded to the Mets in June for a minor leaguer.

23.  Bob Tillman C.  Another catcher who did not provide much with the bat in 1967, Tillman once had a little bit of power.  He hit 14 home runs as a rookie in 1962 then hit 17 in 1964.  Unfortunately he was no longer a useful hitter in 1967, hitting .188/.224/.250 with one home run and four RBIs before being sold to the Yankees.

24.  Mike Ryan C.  Ryan appeared in the most games as a Boston catcher in 1967.  But that does not mean he was particularly good.  He hit just .199/.282/.261 with two home runs and 27 RBIs.  He did catch 44% of attempted base-stealers though, so at least he was decent behind the plate.

25.  Bill Landis RP.  Landis appeared in one game with the A's back in 1963 and finally made it back to the Majors in 1967.  He pitched in just 18 games with a 1-0 record and a 5.26 ERA, but would become an important member of the team's bullpen the next couple of seasons.

26.  Galen Cisco RP.  Cisco came up with the Red Sox early in the 1960's before spending some time with some really bad Mets teams.  He returned to Boston in June and pitched in eleven games with a 0-1 record and a 3.63 ERA.  He walked as many as he struck out in 22.1 innings.

27.  Jose Tartabull OF.  Danny's father was a decent Major Leaguer who was known primarily for his defense and speed.  Tartabull was not much of a hitter, but was versatile and made it into 115 games.  He hit just .223/.287/.243 with no homers, ten RBIs and six stolen bases.
28.  Darrell "Bucky" Brandon RP.  Brandon started 19 games and also relieved in another 20.  He was not terribly impressive however, accumulating a 5-11 record with a 4.17 ERA.  He struck out 96 and walked 59 in 157.2 innings.  He saved three games.

29.  Lee Stange SP.  Stange was part of the return when Boston traded former Monster Dick Radatz to the Indians in 1966.  Stange proved to be a useful member of the staff in 1967, starting and relieving and going 8-10 with a very impressive 2.27 ERA while striking out 101 and walking 39 in 181.2 innings.

30.  Jerry Stephenson SP.  Once a highly-touted prospect, Stephenson was never able to put it all together.  1967 was his fourth season with some time spent in Boston.  He made it into eight games with a 3-1 record and 3.86 ERA late in the season, even making it onto the postseason roster.  It looked like he had finally made it...until 1968.

31.  Norm Siebern 1B.  Siebern was once traded for Roger Maris.  He was a three-time All Star, but by 1967 he was mostly washed up.  Siebern was purchased from the Giants in July and played in 33 games for Boston, but hit just .205/.300/.295 with no home runs and seven RBIs.  1968 would be his last season.

32.  George Thomas U.  In 1967, Thomas appeared at all three outfield positions, first base, and oddly, catcher for a game.  Thomas's saving grace was his versatility, since he was not much of a hitter.  He hit just .213/.255/.270 with one home run and six RBIs.

33.  Billy Rohr SP.  Rohr nearly pitched a no-hitter in his Major League debut.  And it was against the Yankees.  Future Red Sox Elston Howard broke it up in the ninth.  It was an electrifying debut, but the rest of his sole season in Boston was not nearly as impressive.  He was 2-3 with a 5.10 ERA, striking out 16 versus 22 walks in 42.1 innings.

34.  Jerry Adair IF.  Longtime Orioles second-baseman Adair was acquired by Boston to solidify the infield in June.  Adair had an impressive stint with Boston, hitting .291/.321/.367 with three home runs and 26 RBIs.  Adair spent almost equal time at third and short and also spent some time at second. 

35.  Ken Brett RP.  George Brett's older brother was a highly-touted prospect as well, possibly even moreso.  Brett made his Major League debut in 1967 as an 18-year-old and pitched in one game in the regular season, striking out two in two innings, giving up a run.  It was impressive enough that he pitched in two scoreless games in the World Series.

36.  Dick Williams MGR.  Williams played with Boston a few years earlier and took over the managerial position in 1967.  He led the team to an unexpected pennant in his first season.  Unfortunately, his tough-as-nails style did not go over well with most of the players as time went by and he was out as manager in 1969.  He would eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame.