Friday, February 29, 2008

What do they have in common?

Here is an extensive list of players. They all have something in common (hint: it has nothing to do with Indians...):

Luke Easter, Charles Nagy, Rich Yett, Dave Clark, John Farrell, Gary Gaetti, Tony, Gwynn, Mark Kiefer, Quinton McCracken, Fred McGriff, Gus Polidor, Bobby Thigpen, Roberto Machado, Torii Hunter, Ray Durham, Willy Taveras, Johnny Vander Meer, Mark Portugal, Danny Graves, Jose Rijo, Josh Barfield, Bob Johnson, Steve Finley, Charles Johnson, Orlando Cepeda, Omar Vizquel, Jeremy Giambi, Dom DiMaggio, Kenny Lofton, Juis Gonzalez, Rick Monday, Steve Karsay, Tony Pena, Todd Zeile, Joe Torre, Mike Piazza, Art Howe, Frank Viola, Marcus Thames, Mel Stottlemyre, Scott Sanderson, Reggie Taylor, Taylor Buchholz, Kyle Abbott, Juan Salas, Rocco Baldelli, Terrell Wade, Travis Lee, Casey Candaele, Craig Biggio, Donald Harris, Julio Franco, and about that many other players once over again?

Need a hint? The answer is written all over their faces...

Yeap, you guessed it: They are each featured on cards while they are SMILING! Why would I show you a bunch of cards with people smiling on them? Because I received an email from Patricia whose daughter Lucy collects "players who are smiling" among other specific traits. Patricia's interests are more in baseball history, so some of the smiling faces are from days gone by! :-)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 6 (Part 3 of 3)

Today, I present to you the final installment of the Uniform Number 6 contenders. I will let you mull over the players, and then I will post my pick for All-Time Triber in a #6 uniform sometime this weekend. Enjoy the trip down Tribe-way #6:

Jorge Orta - 2 seasons (1980-81) - Orta may have only played two seasons with the Tribe, but he batted .291 his first year and .272 his second. In 1980, he was selected for the All-Star game, but in those days, not everyone played, so he sat the bench. Over his time with the Indians, he struck out only 10.6% of the time! He was walked just hair more than that. When I was a kid, he was one of my favorite Indians players, and until now, I had not realized that he only played in two seasons with Cleveland. Here's an interesting tidbit: "On June 15, 1980, while playing for the Cleveland Indians, Orta collected 5 singles and 1 double in 6 at bats in a nine inning game, making him one of only 35 American leaguers to have accomplished such a feat" (Wikipedia). I also read that Harry Caray called him "George" Orta, which is funny, because also until now, I thought his name WAS George...

Jose Escobar - 1 season (1991) - Escobar played in 10 games during his MLB career. In his 15 at-bats, he got 3 hits (1 RBI), 1 walk, and 4 strike outs. His time with the Indians and his baseball career ended with a .200 average. I found the image on eBay, and to be honest, I don't even know if it is the same Escobar or not. For the sake of argument, I'll say it is.

Ken Keltner - 12 seasons (1937-1944, 46-49) - Keltner couldn't decide just what number he wanted to wear. He spent 4-1/2 as Number 25, then 3-1/2 as Number 8, and three as Number 6. Figuring out just where to cast him in the voting is going to be tough. Keltner appeared in SEVEN All-Star games and the '48 World Series. He batted in one game his rookie year, and though he was not walked nor did he get a hit, he managed to score an RBI. I have no idea how he managed to do that, so if you know, feel free to chime in. While wearing Number 6 (1947-1949), he scored 175 runs on 362 hits. He had 62 doubles, 9 triples, and 50 home runs, which led to 225 RBIs over the three year span. His average during that time was .262, giving him two all-star appearances and his ALCS amazing feat. Feat, you ask? Keltner had a single, a double, and a three-run homer that went over the Green Monster in the first-ever one-game playoff. Over his entire Tribe career, Keltner's stats include: 5655 at-bats, 735 runs on 1561 hits with 306 doubles, 69 triples, and 163 home runs, all of which led to 850 RBIs. He was walked 511 times and struck out 474 times. He came to play. His Indians career average was .249. And if all that weren't enough, he is the guy whose career is responsible for the "Keltner List" of thought-provoking questions Hall of Fame voters should ask themselves before making a selection. (more info on the Keltner list here) Sidebar: I reference Wikipedia more often than I personally care to, but when it comes to down-and-dirty easy-to-find info, it is hard to beat. Just remember to take everything on "what-the?"-pedia with a grain of salt, okay?

Larry Doby - 10 seasons (1947-56, 58) - I hate to disappoint you, but Doby only wore the Number 6 for part of one season. He wore the Number 14 for every other season (including the pother part of the one he wore Number 6). Because of this, he is listed in the Number 6-wearing players as a matter of being "official," but I am going to save my all-out discussion of him for Number 14. I will say, however, for those that may not know, Doby is the first black baseball player to play in the American League. Jackie Robinson received much of the "fanfare," and I think Doby himself had a lot to do with the muted celebration of his initial appearance in the MLB: "Lawrence, you are going to be part of history." - Indians' owner Bill Veeck "Part of history? I have no notions about that. I just want to play baseball." - Larry Doby (as quoted on

Mark McLemore - Part of 1 season (1990) - McLemore finished out the 1990 season with Tribe, after being let go by the Angels. He batted in 8 games, getting 2 runs on 2 hits and striking out 6 times. He came to the Indians with a .146 average and left the Indians with a .167. That about says it all.

Minnie Minoso - 3+ seasons (1949, part of 51, 1958-59) - Minoso, like Keltner, did not sport the Number 6 for long. In fact, he wore it only during his 8 games in 1951. He wore the Number 18 in '49 and the Number 9 for the other times as a Triber. While wearing Number 6, though, he managed to pull off a .429 average. Now, this was 1951, in which he only had 14 at-bats. Those 14 at-bats netted him 3 runs on 6 hits with 2 doubles, 2 RBIs, a walk, and a strike out. He was also hit by the ball twice. Ouch. I have no idea what the Indians were thinking, but they gave up a guy batting .429 to the White Sox for Lou Brissie. Brissie was a pitcher who had 3.20+ ERA's while with the Tribe. That'll make you scratch your head. We'll be taking a closer look at Minoso's career when we get to Number 9. But, to whet your whistle, except for his rookie year, he never batted less than .302 for the Tribe, and amazingly, he batted that .302 in back-to-back seasons!

Moose Solters - 2+ seasons (1937 - half of 1939) - Julius (as he was born) came to the Tribe from St. Louis in 1937 and knocked out a .323 average. He belted a career-high 20 home runs that season. In 1938, he played in half as many games and his average sank to .201, getting just 40 hits on 199 at-bats. He pulled things together in '39 for a .275 average before being traded back to the St. Louis Browns. He was born and died in my hometown of Pittsburgh.

Paul O'Dea - 2 seasons (1944-45) - What happens when you take an outfielder and ask him to pitch? In his rookie year, O'Dea pitched 4.1 innings and had an ERA of 2.08. The next year, he pitched in one game (2 innings) and gave himself a 13.5 ERA. That's what happens! His rookie year at the plate was a different story. In 173 at-bats, he had 55 hits, 25 runs, 9 doubles with 13 RBIs for a very nice .318. That fell off his 2nd year, dropping to a .235 before he was let go. At least his overall career average was .272, all the while keeping the same number on his jersey. Oh, did I mention he was completely blind in one eye as the result of a freak accident during training camp in 1940? A .272 career with only ONE EYE!?

Ray Mack - 8 seasons (1938-1944, '46) - We first met Mack wearing the number 2. In 1940, Mack was part of the Feller/Boudreau killer defense of the Tribe and managed to get himself on the AL All-Stars with a .283 average (his full-season career high). He is most notably known for saving Bob Feller's 1940 opening day no-hitter with a diving catch for the final out. His eight-season stint with the Indians was a roller coaster ride, ranging from a rookie-year two-game .333 average to a 61-game final Tribe year average of .205. He covered the gamut in-between that time span. As a Triber, he ended up with a .235 overall average that covered 2629 at-bats which produced 264 runs on 612 hits with 107 doubles, 24 triples, and 32 homers for a total of 266 RBIs. He was walked 256 times while sporting an Indians uniform and struck out 350 times. He sported the Number 6 for five of his seasons, but wore #36, #38, and #2 for one season each.

Rocky Colavito - 7+ seasons (5 games in 1955, 1956-'59, 1965-'67) - Colavito was a fickle a jersey number wearer could be. He wore #38 his first three seasons, #6 for the next two, then #21 when he came back in 1965. During his full major league career, Rocky has ELEVEN straight 20+ home run seasons, and actually averaged 32 homers during that time span. Holy smokes! Some folks may not know this, but he actually pitched in a game in 1958. He pitched three innings with 3 walks and one strike out. There were no hits made against him, so he accrued a 0.00 ERA. Talk about an all-star player! Unfortunately, he is also blamed for the drought of post-season appearances by the Tribe until the 90's (refer to Kuenn, another #6 uniform wearer). In his first season with the Tribe, he played in five games. In 9 at-bats, he scored 3 runs on 4 hits with two doubles and two strike outs - a whopping .444 out of the gate! As an Indian, he had only two sub-.250 seasons, 1966 and '67. His overall Indians career stats are full of big numbers: 464 runs on 851 hits with 136 doubles and 190 home runs. He also hit 9 triples (better than one per season average) and brought in 574 RBIs. He was walked almost as often as he struck out (468 walks, 478 strike outs). In just over seven seasons, he earned a .287 batting average with a 369 OBP and a 508 slugging percentage. Oh yeah, he also made six career all-star appearances, half of which were during his Tribe-playing days. We'll take a look at some of his other feats as the countdown rolls on!

Willie Tasby - 1+ seasons (part of 1962-'63) - Tasby was better known for his days as an Oriole, and even more so for his being on the Red Sox with Ted Williams. Like other Tribers in this list, he couldn't decide what number to be. In '62, he wore #6 and in '63, he switched to #28. If there are any players out there, or future players, please, for the love of Pete, please pick a number and stick with it... I digress as the wee hours of the evening begin to creep in. As a #6er, Tasby had 199 at-bats with 25 runs on 48 hits. He was also walked 25 times. I'm sure there's a connection there somewhere. His average for that season was .241, and the next, he may have traded up in uniform numbers, but his average slipped to .224. At least he can say he played with Williams and watched from the bench as Williams hit his last home run.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 6 (Part 2 of 3)

Today, I continue looking at the players who wore the Number 6. We have some serious contenders for the All-Time Number 6 in here, and I'm looking forward to seeing who else is left in the Number 6 countdown! This is part 2 of 3:

Eddie Robinson - 2 full seasons and 3 partial seasons (1942, '46-'48, '57) - Robinson previously appeared in our All-Time list wearing Number 3. During his brief appearance in 1957 with the Tribe, he sported Number 6. As reported before, he played for three teams in 1957 (Tiger, Indians, Orioles) but his best run during that time was during his 19 games in Cleveland (batting .222 versus batting .000 for the other two teams). Here is a recap of the rest of his Indians career: He played in 8 games each for his first two seasons with the Indians. In '47, he hit 14 homers and brought in 52 total RBIs. He then went on to help the Tribe win the World Series in '48 after batting in 83 RBIs and 125 hits in 134 games. He is most notoriously known for not lending Larry Doby his first baseman's mitt (according to snopes and other internet sources).

Ever Magallanes - 1 season (1991) - Magallanes batted in three games, though only appeared at the plate twice. He was sent to first on balls and had a strike out, netting him a .000 average yet a .333 OBP. In 1995, after several years in various minor league systems, the Indians re-signed him in 1995, only to drop him two months later (no pro-appearances).

Harvey Kuenn - 1 season (1960) - The story goes that Kuenn was booed often during his time in Cleveland. Evidently the fans blamed him for Colavito's leaving town. So much so in fact, that he is solely responsible for what Tribe fans called, "The Curse of Colavito," which even earned its own Wikipedia page (here). Despite the not-so-warm reception, in 474 at-bats, he knocked 65 runs on 146 hits with 24 doubles and 9 homers. He also managed to bring in 54 RBIs and only 25 strikeouts. He left Cleveland fans with a .308 average to mull on...

Jack Kubiszyn - 2 seasons (1961-62) - In 1961, he wore Number 6, but switched to Number 2 in 1962 (which ironically together gives him the final year of his major league career - 62). He is another Triber who we have seen before. He played in 25 games each year his baseball career. He averaged 214 the first year and fell off to 164 during his second. His 50-game stint in the Bigs netted him 1 home run.

Jim Thome - 12 seasons (1991-2002) - It is no secret that Thome is one of my all-time favorite players. In his rookie year, he wore the number 6 briefly before switching to his preferred Number 25. Thome's career with the Tribe set home run records, including the farthest hit in a Cleveland stadium (511 feet, thank you), strikeout records (while maintaining .265+ averages), and base-on-balls records (often having as many walks as hits during many seasons). His Indians career gave him 4640 at-bats in which he got 917 runs on 1332 hits with 259 doubles and 20 triples as he knocked in 334 home runs, resulting in 927 RBIs. His Indians-career average of .278 includes 997 walks and 1377 strike outs. Not only did he knock the ball around, he also swung at a LOT of balls, but also laid off more than a fair share (for which he was often criticized). He made three All-Star appearances as a Triber, helped the Tribe in six division series seasons, three league championship series, two World Series showings. While doing some research, I found this little ditty: "Thome, who wears his socks high to honor his late grandfather, grew up a Cubs fan in Peoria, Illinois. At the age of ten, he jumped onto the Wrigley Field turf to get Dave Kingman's autograph, only to be hoisted back into his seat by Chicago backstop Barry Foote." Though not a contender for Uniform Number 6, he certainly has a shot at Number 25, so we'll see him later in the countdown (count-up!?).

Joe Altobelli - 2 seasons (1955, 1957) - Another number-jumper, Altobelli wore 45, 6, and 5 during his Indians days. In fact, he wore 45 and 6 during his rookie year. In 1955, his 75 at-bats earned him 8 runs on 15 hits, with 3 doubles, 2 homers, giving him 5 RBIs. He also walked 5 times, ending the season with a .200 average. We saw him recently in the Number 5 list, and here is what we uncovered then: Most notable known for managing the O's to their 3rd World Series championship, Altobelli barely squeaked out .200 averages during his time in a Tribe uniform. One area he was scarily consistent? How about this: In his 3 years as an MLB player, he struck out 14 times EACH YEAR...

Joe Azcue - 7 seasons (1963-1969) - Azcue wore the Number 6 for his entire Indians career except for 1967, in which he wore Number 7. Azcue's 100 hits, 23 runs, and 42 RBIs earned him a spot on the 1968 All-Star team. He came to the Tribe in '63 from the A's, and he finished his first year in Cleveland with a .284 average. During his Indians career, he only had one season below .250, and five of his Indians' seasons were better than .270! His career in Cleveland gave him 1904 at-bats with 506 hits, 229 RBIs, 132 walks, and an overall average of .269. A couple of his interesting career facts include catching two no-hitters, and being the first person to hit into an unassisted triple play since 1927 (41 years) (July, 1968) - ouch.

Joe Vosmik - 7 seasons (1930-1936) - Who says looks don't mean anything? According to, Indians' manager Billy Evans asked his wife what she thought about the tryouts. She reportedly chose "the good-looking blond boy," and what a choice she made. Vosmik grabbed a spot on the 1935 AL All-star team with his incredible .348 batting average: 620 at-bats, 93 runs, 216 hits, 47 doubles, 20 triples, and 10 homers, grabbing 110 RBIs with only 30 strike outs. During his Tribe time, he nailed FOUR .310+ avg seasons. His others? .231 (rookie), .263, and .287 (his final with the Tribe). He batted 3207 times with 1003 hits, 312 walks, and only 147 strike outs. His overall Indians career average? How does .300 sound?

Johnny Gray - 1 season (1957) - Gray pitched in 7 games. In his 20 total innings pitched, he managed to give up 17 runs (including 1 homer) and walk 13 players. His 3 strikeouts couldn't save him from a 5.85 ERA. He also managed to have 4 at-bats, which amounted to a .000 average.

Jolbert Cabrera - 4+ seasons (1998-part of 2002) - In '98, Cabrera batted in only one game, which netted him a goose-egg average for the year. The next season, he came up to .189. His strength lies in his ability to play anywhere on the field except pitching and catching. In 2000, he brought his average up to .251 and in 2001, he helped the Tribe during the LCS by getting on base in his only at-bat. His average that year was .261. In 2002, his .111 average in 72 at-bats got him traded to the Dodgers.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fear Strikes Out

For Christmas, my wife got me "Fear Strikes Out," a baseball movie based on the book by the same name about Jimmy Piersall of the Red Sox. Today, since I am getting over the 'crud,' I decided to pop in the video and take it for a spin.

The DVD itself has nothing special or 'bonus' about it. You get the main menu which basically consists of SETUP, PLAY, and CHAPTER SELECT.

For those of you that don't know about this baseball movie, it stars a young Anthony Perkins (three years before Psycho) and Karl Mulden. Perkins plays Piersall in his early days as he battles with his grip on reality which ultimately leads to a breakdown. The movie was made in 1956/57, so there is a lot of that 50's "cheesy melodrama" in the movie, but it is actually pretty well done. Perkins definitely shows some of Norman Bates behind those eyes during the darkest (both literally and emotionally) moments of the movie. The movie holds it own, even today, in the story it tells - a father who forces his child to live out unfulfilled dreams. The fact that it is based on a real player makes the story even more poignant. He batted in only 6 games his rookie year before his breakdown, then came back two years later to play a total of 17 years in the majors. He played two years with the Tribe (1960-61), wearing Number 37, so we'll see him again later in the Uniform countdown! His overall career average? How about .272!?

If you have not seen this movie, I whole-heartedly recommend it. It is unrated (seeing as it was made in 57), and there was nothing in there that I saw that would be a problem for children to see.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

World Record Card Collection?

At lunch today, I saw on CNN something about the World Record for a baseball card collection being handed out: 520,000 baseball cards. I tried looking up more about it when I got back to the office, but couldn't find the right search terms to find the story. Anyone out there got the scoop, please post a link!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 6 (Part 1 of 3)

Here, we begin the quest to find the All-Time Triber wearing the #6 on their uniform. There are more than 30 players in the list, so we start with the first ten (again, alphabetically by first name):

 Alex Escobar - 2 seasons (2003-2004) - In a bone-headed move, the Indians and Mets came up with an 8-layer swap which basically gave Roberto Alomar to the Mets for Alex Escobar. I know, I often bemoan Cleveland's knack for serving as the farm team to the rest of MLB, but dang, Roberto flippin Alomar!? I digress. Escobar came to the Tribe in 2002, and managed to tear his ACL during Spring Training, so he didn't get to play until 2003. He played in 28 games, batting 99 times that year. His 16 runs on 27 hits with 27 hits, 2 doubles, 5 homers and 14 RBIs brought him a .273 average. The next season, he batted in 46 games (152 at-bats, 32 hits, 20 runs, 8 doubles, 2 triples, and just one homer) and his average dropped to .211.

 Andy Allanson - 4 seasons (1986-1989) - Allanson helped turn the bumbling Tribe of the mid 80's around in 1986. He was named the Topps All-Star Rookie (which you see the golden cup on his card). His batting wasn't bad, but his consistency defensively (3 out of 4 seasons had .986 fileding average). Speaking of batting, though, his Indians career covers 1,204 at-bats with 296 hits. On those, he got 121 runs, 33 doubles, 4 triples, and 12 homers. He also managed to strike out 176 times (ouch, that's basically 60% of the time). He left the Tribe with an overall batting average of .246.

 Bill Glynn - 3 seasons (1952-1954) - Glynn is one of the 336 players who have managed to hit three home runs in one game (his came on July 5, 1954). In his first season with the Tribe, he had 92 at-bats and got 15 runs on 25 hits, bringing in 7 other guys. His first year as an Indian netted him his highest career average: .272. In '53, he got 100 hits on 411 at-bats in 147 games. His 65 strikeouts helped him drop his average to .243, and in '54 he had 171 at-bats in 111 games. Un fortunately, his stats were still down (43 hits, 19 runs) and despite his 3 homers-in-a-game that year, he ended his baseball career with a .251 average. He also managed to earn a .500 average (1 double and 1 strikeout) in the 1954 World Series. Not too bad of a way to end a career, I'd say.

 Billy Harrell - 3 seasons (1955, '57-58) - Harrell played in only 13 games his rookie year. He had 19 at-bats and only struck out 3 times. He had 8 hits, 2 runs, and a single RBI, all of which add up to a rookie year .421 batting average. He was out for the '56 season, and his return in '57 gave him 57 at-bats with 6 runs on 15 hits (.263 avg). The next year, he batted 229 times in 101 games, and watched his average fall to .218 before giving him up to the Cardinals (who ultimately lost him in a Rule 5 draft to the Red Sox).

 Bip Roberts - part of 1 season (1997) - If you are going to play for the Tribe for only one season, then playing for them when they go to the World Series ain't a bad gig. He batted in 23 games, making 85 appearances at the plate. His 23 hits, 19 runs, 3 doubles and 3 home runs drove in 8 RBIs for a .248 batting average. In the World Series, he went 6 for 22, giving him a .273 WS avg.

 Bob Lemon - 15 seasons (1941-42, 46-58) - Lemon wore the #6 only one season, and #21 for the rest. In 1946, Lemon sported the Number 6, and came out pitching a 2.49 ERA and batted a .180. He struck out exactly twice as many players (39) as he struck out himself (18). He ended the season with a .444 w/l average. He would ultimately help form the

 Chuck Tanner - 2 seasons (1959-60) - Tanner previously appeared in our countdown wearing Number 5. He is one of the players that wore multiple numbers, and he wore 5 and 6 during the 1960 season (he wore #26 in '59). Here's a refresher: As a Triber, he played in 35 games total, scored 9 RBIs on 8 runs (19 hits, 15 strikeouts) and came up with a .250 in '59 and .280 (his 2nd highest average) in 1960.

 Dave Pope - 3+ seasons (1952-55, 56) - Pope wore Number 34 for most of his Indians career. He came to the Indians in '52, and wore the Number 6 during his rookie year. He batted in 12 games, and his 34 at-bats netted 10 hits with 9 runs (1 double, 1 triple, 1 homer, and 4 RBIs), giving him a .294 average.

 David Bell - 2 Seasons (1995, 1998) - Bell wore Number 6 during his sting with the Tribe in 1998. If the name seems familiar, it is because he wore the Number 4 in 1995. Here's a recap: he shares his name with two other "David Bells" - an alleged ghost of Bell House in Georgia, and former Triber David (better known as BUDDY) Bell. He began his MLB career with the Indians by stepping up to the plate twice and getting nowhere fast (goose-egg average). The Tribe traded him to the Cardinals, and in 1998, they picked him back up again. This time, he batted 340 times for 37 runs, 89 hits, 21 doubles, two triples, and 10 home runs. He scored 41 RBIs and struck out 54 times. The Tribe sent his .262 average to the Mariners later that season.

 Doc Edwards - 1+ seasons (1962, part of '63) - Edwards (who was a Navy medic) wore Number 25 in his rookie year and Number 6 his 2nd year. In that 2nd year, he batted in 10 games for 31 at-bats. He got 6 runs on 8 hits, 6 strike outs and 2 doubles, leaving his Indians playing career with a .258 average that year. He actually came back to the Tribe in 1967, but he was traded away before he could don an Indians uniform. He is more notably known for his managerial work with the Tribe. Basically, he was sucked into the vortex that was the Tribe of the 80's, and he was let go in favor of John Hart.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

All-Time Uniform Numbers Update

All-Time Indians Uniform #6 has presented a dilemma that I faced with uniform #2. That is, several players in the list have worn other uniform numbers in addition to the #6 (Bob Lemon and Jim Thome, for example). Now, because I am only 6 numbers in, and after a review of my previous choices (1-5), I have decided that in the fairness of choosing the BEST of a certain number, I will only take into account players wearing that number for the bulk of their career. For example, Lemon played most of career wearing number 21, while Thome is known for his affinity of wearing Number 25.

As I mentioned, I reviewed the Uniform Numbers 1 through 5, and #2 - Sewell is the only one that this system will affect to this point. Sewell actually wore the Number 8 more (2 seasons) than the Number 2 (one season). I am going to leave Number 2 alone, giving Sewell his earned place on the list. Purists may ask that I put an asterisk on his selection, but he was chosen before this updated selection method was put into place, and therefore, he shall retain his rightful nod at the All-Time #2-wearing Triber.

This may not matter one iota to anyone else, but I feel it maintains the integrity of what I am doing. In the end, I want to feel good about my choices, and I just can't convince myself that the "All-Time" uniform number should go to a player who only wore the uniform once in a multi-year career with the Tribe compared to another player who wore it their entire Indians appearance. Of course, I then have the challenge for players such as Billy Harrel, who played three seasons with the Tribe and managed to wear a different number every season. These guys couldn't make it easy, could they?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Card Collecting Software

I've had several folks write and ask me what program I use to keep track of my cards. The short answer is a program called The CardCollector 7.0 (found here).

I have gone through several different methods of keeping track of my collection. I "grew up" using Microsoft Access for any database that I had to program myself. So, once I decided to move from paper to computer, I created my own very rudimentary database. The problem was that I wanted a pre-populated database. That is, I wanted something that someone else had already loaded up with cards, manufacturers, etc, so that I could just look up cards and add my quantity to the program.

That is when I discovered a program called WinCards (from the now defunct WinCards was an Access-based program that came pre-loaded with a lot of cards. It was not perfect (as I have found that no one program will ever be), but it let me put in my cards and it let me add sets for cards that were not already in there. I did not care for the reports it generated, and from what I remember, I could not easily create custom reports. The other problem I had was support. The guy who wrote it did it as secondary to his main job (which I can understand), but the updates and fixes were slow in coming. The program was supposed to be updated monthly, and for a while it was. Eventually, it was bought out by another company, but soon even they couldn't keep it going. The Access-based application was showing its age - database size limitations, the Access 2.0 backend would conflict with newer versions of Access, demand for updates, delays in updates, etc.

I tried Beckett's online inventory thing, but that is way too cumbersome for me. I need to be able to input cards quickly, and web-based interfaces just are not as fast/friendly as I need. So, that got scrapped pretty quickly.

After that, I looked online for free card collecting software (hey, I'm cheap!). There are a lot of programs out there. None of the free ones I found come pre-loaded. For me, that was a big deal. For you, it might not be. Frankly, I didn't want to have to take the time to create sets, add cards, etc. So, free was out for me.

After giving up on those programs, I really didn't do much at all as far as electronic record-keeping goes. I decided that I wanted to wait until I found a program that met my criteria: Updated regularly, allowed for custom reports, allowed for custom sets, easy to use, came with players assigned to their pictured team, allowed for import and export of information in comma separated files so that I could manipulate the data myself if needed, and whatever other features I thought were cool.

I have not found that program yet, but CardCollector was close enough for me. It has all the features I want except the export/import from fully comma-separated files. Evidently, that is not a big deal to most collectors. I can live with that. CardCollector comes with a TON of cards pre-loaded, is updated monthly, lets me add my own card sets for those that have not been added already, allows me to create custom reports (though sometimes that is a bit frustrating), and allows for rapid entry of large inventory. It does let you export to a comma-separated file, but it is not very user-friendly (that is, I can't take it into Access or SQLExpress and manipulate the data very easily). Before you run out and buy the program, let me say that once I started entering my own custom sets, I haven't bought an update yet. I am going to buy the current update so that I can see if it hoses my collection (that is, if it wigs out when it finds a collection I have added that it then tries to add). I'll let you know how that goes. Also, before you try to run any reports, be sure you click the "Save Changes" button. I spent hours entering data without leaving the program and without saving (I didn't know it did not auto-save), and when I tried to run a report, I chose something that caused the program to crash and I lost all the entries I had done up to that point. UGH!

I think the two main features that I use regularly are the ability to only display cards from a given set by team and the use of the keyboard shortcuts. By limiting the view to, say, Topps, baseball, 2005, Chrome, Indians, I can easily use the keyboard to add cards and move to the next player. In this example, I would hit the "+" key to add a card, then hit "PgDn" to move to the next card in line. This is great for going through a stack of Topps Chrome cards from 2006.

The downside to this program (to me) is that I have not found a way to bulk-enter cards by player. So if someone sends me a stack of Sabathia cards, I have to sort them by manufacturer, then by year, then by "model" (Chrome, etc) before I can put them in the database. Not too bad for, say, 20 cards. But, not too fun for, say, 150 cards of the same player. UGH.

When I first started putting my cards into the computer, I had about 4500 Indians cards and about 2500 non-Indians cards. It seemed like a daunting task, but I eventually just sat down and started putting the cards in. I'll warn you now: when you first start out, it may seem overwhelming. But, take it in steps, and before long, you'll find that your collection is in the computer. Now, when I get cards, I place them in a "To Be Recorded" box. When the box gets full, I sort the cards and then enter them into the computer. Once a card is entered, it goes into a "To Be Filed" box that has has dividers with the years marked on them (I used the dividers like the ones you can get from BCW). After I enter all the cards, I simply pull the cards from their year's section and put them in my binders. Because I collect Indians cards, it is easier for me to organize them by year. My Non-Tribe cards are organized by player's last name, so the "To Be Filed" box for Non-Indians have dividers with the beginning letter of the last name. I'm not saying this is the way everyone should do things, it's just the way I do it. If it helps, then feel free to steal the idea! :-)

Sorry for the long-winded post, but I figured I would share my ups and downs in the hopes that it helps someone else. :-)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Oddball Checklists

Okay, I was pretty sure I had posted this information, but a quick search through my own posts, and I didn't see it. So:

There is a VERY cool site if you're looking for oddball checklists:

There are a bunch on there, and there are a lot of pictures to help you identify the cards in question. I can't remember the card I was researching when I came across his site, but when I found the site, I knew I had to bookmark it ASAP!

Bart, the baseballcardman, sent me a stack of Indians cards a bit ago in exchange for a stack of Royals. Unfortunately, he is still waiting for those Royals to arrive. Have no fear, they are being sent out on Thursday! Sorry for the delay, but I wanted to make sure I found some 1986 Topps Tattoos (hope ya need 'em!) before I sent them along. :-)

My Indians collection has been growing, especially lately with various by-mail trades and purchases I've made in relation to my All-Time Jersey Numbers. According to my database, I am sitting at just over 6600 non-duplicated singles. The program is not really a "complete inventory," so 6800-7000 is probably closer to the latest tally. One thing I have learned about collecting a particular team's cards - no matter how big the collection gets, there will always be cards you need... One of the difficulties in collecting team sets, though, is that you never REALLY know how 'complete' your collection is. In 2002, I bought a CD with only Tribe cards listed (got it on eBay, not a bad purchase, but not very helpful in a lot of ways since I do database programming), and it had roughly 15,000 cards listed. I knew that was incomplete because I had many cards that were not in that database. Unfortunately, I have yet to understand the crazy reporting system in CardCollector to get it to simply tell me how many INDIANS cards it has in its database. I must be thinking too hard on that one. In any case, I would venture to say that if I aimed for 50-75,000 individual cards, that would be a good start. So, in some respects, I am sitting at roughly 10% of the total population of Tribe cards.

Am I trying to collect one of each and every Tribe card? Yes. But, as I've said here before, my actual "primary" goal is one set-type card for every style of Tribe card made. I am not a fool, knowing full well that snagging some of the greats from very early sets would cost a small fortune even in "Tipton" condition. That is why I am shooting for set-type examples, and then expand into full sets as I can or as they come to me. For example, I suddenly find myself owning 4 or 5 "Fine Pens" through my Uniform posts. Likewise, I currently have one set-type of the "Play Ball" and "Batter-Up" sets. And for me, that's a great place to start (or should I say continue to build?)....

Monday, February 11, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 5 (Part 2 of 2) Lou Boudreau

While researching players for the All-time Triber Uniform #5, one name jumped out: Lou Boudreau. From his nearly-perennial All-Star appearances (sometimes in nomination instead of in-game) to his World Series win to his Hall of Fame induction and Indians jersey being retired, Boudreau evokes both the memories of days gone by and of what baseball players should aspire to become.

Lou Boudreau - 13 seasons (1938-1950) - I feel like I could not say a word, and if you know anything about Indians players, or HOFers at all, you know without a doubt who the all-time #5 Triber is. Nonetheless, I don't feel I would do the list justice if I did not at least touch on some of the highlights of this amazing Indians player. In 1938, Boudreau had one at-bat in one game. He was walked. Over the next 12 seasons, he would not hit anything less than .257 per year. Add to that EIGHT All-Star selections, an AL championship and the 1948 World Series title. In 1944, he won the AL batting title. In three seasons, he led the AL in doubles. In '48, he helped the Tribe end the seasons tied with the Red Sox (while limping on an injured ankle, no less). This led to a one-game tie-breaker, where Boudreau hit 4-for-4, knocking in two homers for good measure. Defensively, he held the record for the most double plays in a season (134) for TWENTY-SIX YEARS (only three other shortstops have bested that record). In 1970, he was elected to the Hall of Fame, and the Indians retired his number that year. His baseball resume' is pages long, and not only covers his playing career, but also his managing and sportscasting work as well. Oh yeah, and he also played pro basketball.

Lew Fonseca - 4+ Seasons (1927 - part of 1931) - Lew was truly an all-around player. While with the Indians, he played shortstop, 1b, 2b, and 3b. On the 1930 W554 I bought, he is listed as an outfielder (not a position he played while with the Tribe, though he did play OF for the White Sox). Later in life, he also pitched for the Sox. In his time with the Tribe, he batted .279+ each season, but this does not really cover his true averages. He batted .311 his first year, then .327, .369, .279, and .370 respectively for each year with the club. His 1929 .369 average was his career high and also earned him the AL top-hitter title that year. An interesting tidbit about Fonseca is that he is one of the first guys to use film in order to find weaknesses in other players. In 1928, he broke a leg, and in 1930, he broke an arm. Looking at his stats from those years, it is easy to speculate just how far he might have gone: 1928 - 263 at-bats (in 75 games), 38 runs, 86 hits, 19 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homers, 36 RBIs with only 17 strikeouts. 1930 - 129 at-bats (in 40 games), 20 runs, 36 hits, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 17 RBIs.

Ray Webster - 1 season (1959) - Webster played in 40 games for the Tribe. In 74 at-bats, he got 10 runs on 15 hits, including two doubles, a triple, and two home runs with seven strike outs. He left the Tribe with a .203 average before being traded to the Red Sox.

Roger Maris - 1+ seasons (1957 - part of '58) - Before Maris was "ROGER MARIS! 61 in '61!," he began his MLB career in a Tribe uniform. He batted in 116 games his rookie year for 358 at-bats. Would his rookie career be a taste of what was to become of this up-and-comer? You decide. He scored 61 runs (hmmm) on 84 hits with 79 strikeouts. He also got nine doubles, five triples, and fourteen home runs, bringing in 51 RBIs. In his rookie seasons, he hit an "on par for a Triber" .235 average, and his next stint (only 51 games) left him with a .225 avg. A little non-Tribe trivia: Did you know that he never batted better than .281? Did you know that his 61 homers in '61 netted him a .269 avg? Just some neat facts about Mr. Maris.

Roy Hughes - 3 seasons (1935-'37) - Nicknamed "Jeep" because of his speed, Hughes batted in 82 games in his rookie year with 266 appearances at the plate. In those 82 games, he got 78 hits with 40 runs, fifteen doubles, and fourteen RBIs for a .293 first-year average. The next year, he added .002 to his avg to bump himself up to a .295, before dropping to a .277 before being traded to the St. Louis Browns. He did not hit a lot of homers as a Triber (only hit 1), but he did have 209 runs (117 RBIs) on 362 hits. Just be sure not to confuse him with the Roy Hughes of "old west" days... :-)

Sammy Taylor - Part of 1 season (1963) - Taylor batted in 4 games for the Tribe. In his 10 at-bats, he scored one run on three hits and struck out twice. He finished his MLB career with his best average of his ball-playing years: .300 (which followed his career low of .000 in three games with the Reds prior coming to the Tribe).

Skeeter Webb - 2 seasons (1938-'39) - James "Skeeter" Webb came to the Tribe via Free Agency through the Cardinals. Bouncing between 2b, 3b, and shortstop, he ultimately found his permanent spot in the shortstop position for the Tribe late in 1938 and played there during the '39 season. His 20-game introduction to the Tribe netted him a .276 average and his 81-game sophomore season with the Tribe brought him his career-high .264 average. The photo comes from the Ole Miss alumni page...

Snuffy Stirnweiss - 1+ seasons (1951 - part of '52) - George "Snuffy" Strinweiss hung around the MLB just long enough to get himself a 1952 Topps baseball card, then he was done. He came to the Indians from St. Louis, batting in 50 games his first season and in just one game in '52. He had a total of 88 at-bats, netting 10 runs on 19 hits with 1 homer and 4 RBIs. Amazingly, he was walked 22 times (that's a walk in every four at-bats). He also managed to strike out 25 times, which left him with a .216 avg his first year, and a goose-egg his final year in the majors.

Steve Demeter - Part of 1 season (1960) - Demeter was born, ironically, in Homer, Pa. Ironic, you ask? His entire MLB career consists of 15 games (11 for the Tigers and 4 with the Tribe) and he had no homers in any of those games. In his 5 at-bats with the Tribe, he had one strikeout and no other hits at all. Like several of the Tribers in our lists, he left Cleveland with a zero average.

Willie Kamm - 4+ seasons (Part of 1931-1935) - Kamm charged onto the field for a .295 average his first year in an Indians uniform (his 2nd highest avg), and he followed that up with .286, .282, and .269 seasons. In his last season, he batted 18 times in 6 games for a .333 career-ending average (not a bad way to end a 13-year career).

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dover Reprints and a reply

I left the laptop that has my Indians Uniform database on it at the office (DUH!), so to keep my card collecting hobby (obsession?) going, I decided to wade through the cards I have yet to enter into my collection database. Things were going along smoothly until I ran into the two little guys you see above.

My regular readers know what a sucker I am for oddball stuff. Well, I have two specimens that I need some help with. These are Dover reprints, but there are NO date marks or anything on them. These cards are small (1-7/8" x 2=1/2") and have the familiar perforations of a Dover Reprint. These were obviously in some book of reprints, but I'm having trouble figuring out the date. Heck, I'd even take the date of the "original" cards that these were made from.

Anyone? Anyone?

Mr. Mosley (who supplied the two large stickers from my previous post) asked me if I was disappointed that he had cut the stickers apart (they were originally in a 4-up arrangement). My response is a hefty, "No way!" I am an avid Indians card collector, but I am not an avid "pristine condition" collector. In this specific case, the fact that they are cut down to their border size makes it MUCH easier for me to put them into one of my "Oddballs, Stickers, and Autographs" folder! :-)

To tell on myself, which also happens to show the lengths I will go to in order to make my cards more "collector" friendly than "prospective buyer" friendly, I recently won an auction for a 1934 Goudey "Batter-Up" Boze Berger card (the one I used for his picture in the Uniform contest). The card came in a PSA hard shell (graded PR-1, for those who collect graded cards). With a little elbow grease, I managed to get that puppy busted out of there, and now it will go into a 9-pocket page like 99% of my other Indians things. I like to "experience" my cards - touch them, turn them over in my hands, etc (though I did not actually 'fold it to make it stand up - I'm not quite THAT heathenistic(sp?)-LOL). Yeah, I could have left it in its 'graded state,' but that is not why I collect.

Some folks out there will keel over when they read this, and I can understand that. It's just not something I feel is a part of MY collecting endeavor...

So, the short answer is "No! I'm not disappointed at all that they were cut apart." :-)

Friday, February 8, 2008

1990 Publications International Stickers (Large)

Some time ago, I posted a message about receiving a couple of padded envelopes in the mail (refresh your memory, if you'd like). One of these contained a large Joey Belle sticker and a large Luis Medina sticker. I had not seen these before, but was told they would be about 1989/1990. After poking around several resources, I finally came across the answer! According to the "Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards, 2007," these are the large 4-panel versions of jumbo stickers produced by Publications International in 1990. There were two sets made: Hottest Players and Hottest Rookies. These shown, the ones from the envelope, are from the Hottest Rookies set. There were 56 stickers in each set, and the only way I knew which set these belonged to was because these are only listed in the Rookies set (whew!).

The stickers are identically laid out in each set: Player photo surrounded by white border, blue border at top, red border with name at the bottom. Players tend to "pop-out" of the white framing (see how the border goes "behind" Belle's right arm and Medina's bat barrel?).

I may have been the only person on Earth who needed to know this, but on the off chance there are others out there, now you know. :-)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 5 (Part 1 of 2)

There are 20 players who have sported the Number 5 on their uniforms. That's a little surprising, considering that in 1970, the number was retired by the Indians. We'll talk more about that later, though. Right now, let's take a look at the first ten players who have sported the Number 5:

Bobby Young - 1+ seasons (part of 1955-1956) - It's not often you find a player who experiences a career high average followed by his career low. But, Bobby Young managed to give the Tribe just that. In 1955, Young came to the Indians from the Orioles to bat in 18 games in which he got 14 hits and 6 RBIs. He finished up with a .311 average. The next season, he batted in one game and ended up with a zero average.

Bubba Phillips - 3 seasons (1960-1962) - In 1961, he hit two grand slams (the only ones of his career) and batted his highest Tribe-based average (.264). In his three years as an Indian, he had 151 runs on 353 hits with 32 homers in 1412 at-bats, getting 159 RBIs.

Buddy Booker - 1 season (1966) - Buddy only played in 18 games. At 28 at-bats, he got 6 runs, 6 hits, and 2 homers while bringing in 5 RBIs and striking out 6 times. He left the Tribe with a .214 batting average.

Cal Neeman - Part of 1 season (1963) - Neeman only played in 9 games as an Indian. In nine appearances at the plate, he was walked once and struck out 5 times. Unfortunately, he joins the list of Tribers who left Cleveland with a .000 average.

Chuck Tanner - 2 seasons (1959-1960) - Being from Pittsburgh, I am much more familiar with Tanner as a Manager/Coach during the "We Are Fam-I-Ly" days of the Pirates. As a Triber, he played in 35 games total, scored 9 RBIs on 8 runs (19 hits, 15 strikeouts) and came up with a .250 in '59 and .280 (his 2nd highest average) in 1960. Having the split personality of a person who likes both the Tribe and the Pirates, I have to say I'm glad Tanner went on to a Managerial career later in life.

Hank Majeski - 4 seasons (Part of 1952 - part of 1955) - There is a bad personal watercraft pun in here somewhere, but I'll leave it to you to come up with it. In his first three seasons with the Indians, he batted for .281 or better. He had 273 at-bats in a Tribe uniform, scoring 26 runs with 44 RBIs. In '52, he pulled a .296 avg (.377 OBP and .333 SLG) without hitting a single home run. According to, "he replaced Al Rosen at third base in Game Three of the 1954 World Series and delivered a pinch-hit home run in Game Four." Unfortunately, he left the Indians batting .188 before going to the Orioles.

Jim Lawrence - 1 season (1963) - It's hard to say he played for a season when he only caught for 2 games. He had no at-bats, so sadly, he represents yet another goose-egg Triber. The difference here is that at least he can say he never got the chance, right? I would have posted a picture, but the only one I could find was actually a scan of a 3x5 autograph for sale on eBay. Guess he gets a goose-egg there, too...

Joe Altobelli - 2 seasons (1955, 1957) - Most notable known for managing the O's to their 3rd World Series championship, Altobelli barely squeaked out .200 averages during his time in a Tribe uniform. One area he was scarily consistent? How about this: In his 3 years as an MLB player, he struck out 14 times EACH YEAR...

Johnny Romano - 5 seasons (1960-1964) - Romano scored 40 runs, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, with 52 RBIs on 86 hits during his first year with the Tribe (.272 avg). The next two years, he played for the AL all-star team (21 homers in 1961 and 25 homers in '62). During his Indians career, he maintained a .460+ SLG except for one season ('63) which he had fractured his hand. Though he won't be able to pull off the All-Time #5, we'll see how he fares in the #11 list of candidates.

Kit Carson - 2 seasons (1934-'35) - Carson shares his name with the American Frontiersman, which is always cool. Our Kit Carson, though, played right field. In his two seasons, he only played in 21 games, netting him 40 at-bats. He wasn't able to pull off any home runs, but he scored 5 runs on 10 hits. He also had 4 doubles, a triple and 2 RBIs during his career. He batted .278 his first season followed by a .227 avg.