June Returns

A decent month making May’s requests look very good as stuff arrived at the beginning of the month and just kept on coming.

June started off with a pair from lifetime Met Ron Hodges. Always fun to find a guy who played at least a decade for only one team. His 1985 is a career capper card and features a nifty catcher image that I really like. He returned these in 14 days.

A pair from Orioles pitcher Bob Milacki in 35 days added a interestingly-framed 1992 Topps to the collection. Milacki had a relatively short career but pitched a couple highlight-worthy games. The main one is a 3-hit complete game shutout in which he faced the minimum 27 batters. It’s an amazing and impressive game to look at since Milacki also walked two guys and only struck out three in 101 pitches. But he got 16 ground balls, four of which turned into double plays and one player got caught stealing. Milacki also pitched the first 6 innings of a combined no hitter in 1991 (exiting the game after being struck by a batted ball).

An 11-day return from Elliott Maddox brought another interesting story across my awareness. Maddox was a decent player but kept suffering leg injuries. The injury he got in 1975 (which derailed a very promising season) led him to sue the City of New York for the shoddy field conditions. While he won his initial suit he eventually lost on appeal as the court ruled that it was his responsibility to refuse to play if the filed conditions were unsafe. This strikes me as incredibly unfair.

Dale Berra sent back a 1981 Topps card in 8 days. He’s unfortunately, probably the most memorable for his baserunning fiasco with Bobby Meacham.* In 1983 he also became the first player since 1939 to play for a team that his father was managing when he joined the Yankees.

*Yes I’ve mentioned this before.

I feel a little bad mentioning the baserunning though since Berra also included a bonus 1980 Topps card and thank you note. Has been a while since I got a bonus card and it’s always nice when that happens.

Back to working sets from my youth. Tom Trebelhorn was the manager of that Brewers team which started 1987 with thirteen straight wins (let’s not talk about what happened after that). That being my first season as a real baseball fan it still stands out prominently in my memory. Was fun to add this, my fourth signed manager card of the set, in 34 days.

Kevin McReynolds is one of those guys I remember watching when he came through Candlestick. Those late-80s Mets teams were always noteworthy opponents with a scary lineup that was always in contention for the division and winning 90+ games. This was a quick turnaround in just 11 days.

Jeff Russell was another 11 day return.  I didn’t get to see him pitch but as the 1989 Rolaids Relief Award winner he was one of those extra notable players whose names I remember. He’s got a lot of nice cards but I like the photo on this Upper Deck.

I probably should’ve gone with a Cardinals card for Tom Herr since that’s how I remember him but I like 1991 Studio too much. That Cardinals team was just pesky. Get on base and run run run to the point that Herr managed to drive in over 100 runs one year despite fewer than ten homers. He’s  close by in Pennsylvania and got this back to me in 13 days.

Sometimes I wonder what it means to send cards to guys who are famous for being busts. Kirk Dressendorfer was one of the A’s vaunted Four Aces along with Todd Van Poppel. Unfortunately it seems like he had been overworked in college* and didn’t have anything by the time he reached the majors. Still, as someone who lived through the hype, his name brings me right back to that promise and I’m happy to get this card back in 42 days.

*I cut my teeth keeping score at college games and the amount of pitches college guys threw back then was insane. It didn’t make sense to me then and I totally understand why pitch counts have become so important now.

An 8-day return from Johnny Ray brought another of those names which just takes me back. Ray had a very good 11 year career with the Pirates and the Angels as a switchhitting second baseman who was a tough out—especially a tough strikeout—and for most of his career an above average fielder.

This is a pretty run-of-the-mill photo for 1986 Topps but is an example of how good most of the catcher cards are. Jody Davis started off as a big stick, no glove catcher but by 1986 had turned himself into both an All Star and a Gold Glove winner. He returned this in 17 days.

This was not a May request. I sent to Dave Lemanczyk in March and it came back in 98 days. I very much appreciate the extra photo of him on the Blue Jays since he was one of the originals and led the team in Wins that first 1977 season. And yes it’s a photo print of a JD McCarthy postcard which looks pretty good considering that the original was halftoned.

Both of these Gregg Olson cards are ones I distinctly remember from my youth. He was one of those hot rookies who turned out to be a great closer in those early days when everyone was trying to find their own Dennis Eckersley. Good fastball and a vicious curveball which was more like what you’d expect from a lefty. All his requests go through the Auburn baseball program so it was completely fitting that I sent the Auburn card. Both of these came back in 60 days.

The last return of the month was The Bull, Greg Luzinski in 24 days. I only ran into White Sox cards of him when I was a kid but I obviously had to send a Phillies card. One of these days we’ll get to a Phillies game and, hopefully, he’ll be there at his barbecue and the boys can get cards signed of him.

And that’s June. Summer is going to be a bit of a lull as vacations and things will get in the way of both sending and receiving mail. Hopefully some returns still trickle in though lord knows I have enough out there still.

Author: Nick Vossbrink

Blogging about Photography, Museums, Printing, and Baseball Cards from both Princeton New Jersey and the San Francisco Bay Area. On Twitter as @vossbrink, WordPress at njwv.wordpress.com, and the web at vossbrink.net

2 thoughts on “June Returns”

  1. A. Cool that Berra hooked you up with a bonus card.

    B. Nice McReynolds. I remember him having some very solid years for the Padres and Mets. I know Topps has a certified autograph of him representing the Mets, but I’m still hoping he’ll one day get an autograph for my Padres PC.

  2. Wow, love the Hodges, Maddox, Lemanczyk and Luzinski, those are all childhood guys. Like the Herr and Ray, too, but yeah, I would’ve selected other cards. … It’s a credit to these guys that they’re still returning cards in 11 days! And good for Dale, too.

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