There is a lot of 1992 to discuss here. I’ll start with the moustache. Thick and rich, getting in the way of food and drink… that’s what a real man’s moustache is supposed to look like. I’m told that he looks “like a vacuum cleaner.” I had to have that one explained to me, but think about it, it kinda makes sense. It would literally take me 17 years to grow anything close to that.
There are also the sunglasses. If you were into baseball in the early 1990’s and you didn’t want a pair of sunglasses like those, I’ll bet you didn’t even care about life. The strap on the sunglasses, you’ll notice, holds them securely in place while a glorious mullet is allowed to flourish. The sunglasses were for the business, and the flow was for the party.
Along with great fashion sense, Doug Jones was actually one of the best closers in baseball for a time, a five-time All-Star, and finished his career with 303 saves, playing for seven teams, most notably Cleveland, Houston and Milwaukee.
The card above (O-Pee-Chee Premier… classy) shows him when he was about to have the best season of his career with Houston in 1992, after his worst season with Cleveland in 1991. He had lost his closer’s job and got sent to the minors for a bit. But then he came back in September, started the only four games of his career, and was pretty decent (3-1 record) before being released and signing with the Astros in the offseason.
He also pitched in the Major Leagues until he was 43 years old. Could he have done that sans moustache? I doubt it.
I know what you’re thinking, and no, this picture was not taken at a truck stop in the movie Smokey and the Bandit and photoshopped onto this baseball card. This is actually what Gorman Thomas looked like near the end of his Major League Baseball career.
Outside of Mike Schmidt, who you might have heard of, nobody hit more home runs than ol’ Stormin’ Gorman between 1978 and 1983. Schmidt had 220, Thomas had 197. Not bad.
Now, I found a few clips here that will make you really understand Gorman Thomas. The first two are courtesy of the crew at Disciples of Uecker:
“They come to see me strike out, hit a home run, or run into a fence. I try to accommodate them at least one way every game.” – This is a quote from Gorman himself, and it makes me long for a simpler time.
“In Okrent’s account, it’s easy to understand why Gorman Thomas was such a fan favorite in Milwaukee. Thomas drank beers with tailgaters in the County Stadium parking lot, had a beer gut, and smoked Marlboros.” – I’ve never been to Milwaukee, but this pretty much embodies everything that I hope and dream Milwaukee stands for. I want Milwaukee to be a city from a simpler time and I don’t care if they’re mad at me for wanting that.
Now, this is from Wikipedia, a fairly popular website that you may have encountered:
“At present, he works under a personal services contract with the Brewers to make appearances in the community and welcome visitors to Gorman’s Grill at Miller Park.” – Basically, he’s a mascot for a restaurant/bar at a Major League Baseball stadium. This is literally my dream job. I want to meet this man and learn from him. He also wore the shit out of that hat.
In exciting news, pitchers and catchers reported for the Toronto Blue Jays today, February 22… along with the Minnesota Twins, they were the last team to report to Spring Training. Which means the injuries to their pitching staff will take place just slightly later than all the other teams. That counts as win number one, I’d say.
Now, speaking of Blue Jays pitchers, we need to talk about someone important. He is the man who saved the first win in Toronto Blue Jays history – you might recall a snow covered plastic field and a win over the Chicago White Sox (the team that let him go in the Expansion Draft) – and who also pitched the first shutout in Jays history, a 12-strikeout masterpiece over the Baltimore Orioles. I’ll bet there aren’t a ton of guys with stats like that. His name is Pete Vuckovich.
Vuckovich, now a Special Assistant to the GM with the Seattle Mariners, despite his contributions to Blue Jays history, should be most famous for his facial hair, and slightly less famous for his regular hair. He perpetuated the former image of “Toronto the Good” with his clean-cut, preppy image during his brief time in Toronto, but later, blew that shit out of the water when he decided to look like he did on the card above, a little bit in St. Louis, and then a lot with the Milwaukee Brewers. Put the moustache, the bowl-cut mullet, and the “I’m going to kill you with a hammer” facial expression together and you’ve got yourself a legend.
Maybe a team that went 54-107 in their first season should have tried to keep this guy for another year or two, even if they didn’t know he’d end up with the moustache.
Lanny McDonald played 142 games in one full season and parts of two others for the Colorado Rockies, scoring 66 goals and 75 assists for 141 points. However, for most people, it’s an easy part of his career to forget, stuck between some tumultuous years in Toronto with Harold Ballard and Punch Imlach, and eight seasons and a Stanley Cup back home in Alberta with the Calgary Flames.
Two things that were consistent for him throughout his career were his trademark moustache, which you’ve heard all about. It’s an incredible legend. He also wore a pretty ugly helmet, which, interestingly enough, he wore every game of his NHL career except the first. There, now you’ve learned something.
So you’ve probably heard of Greg Maddux. Pretty good baseball player who played for the Cubs, Braves, Dodgers and Padres. He ended up with 355 career wins, four Cy Young Awards, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014. He pitched 198 innings over thirteen appearances in the postseason – now, he spent most of those with Atlanta so he only won one World Series, but still, overall he had a decent run in the Majors, before getting fat in retirement.
What you might not know is that he once sported a moustache. You see, when Maddux arrived in the Major Leagues in 1986, he was just a few months past his 20th birthday, making him one of the youngest players in the big leagues. He clearly wanted to look older, more intimidating, more menacing on the mound. I’m not sure the moustache that he was able to grow really accomplished that goal, but overall, he must have done something right.
So, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed a Canadian catcher to a five year contract worth about eleventy billion dollars. His name is Russell Martin and he does not usually have a moustache. He is pretty good at baseball, but I think they signed him because they thought it would be easier to just sign a Canadian catcher rather than spend years trying to convert one.
Let me explain. They used to have a catcher named Ernie Whitt. Ernie Whitt definitely had a moustache. He may have, in fact, been born with one. By 1989, he was also the last player to play for the Blue Jays that started when they first took flight (see what I did there?) in 1977.
An internet search leaves things a bit murky as to whether Whitt actually ever became a citizen, but the Blue Jays fought the good fight for years, and eventually Whitt was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009. Citizenship or not, mission accomplished.
So, the Kansas City Royals are currently in the World Series. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t see that coming in 2014… and wouldn’t you know it, they’re fairly likeable. Hard to really hate a team like the one they’ve got. Somehow, they’ve turned the also reasonably likeable Giants into the hated Yankees.
Now, since you’re watching the World Series, you might have heard of a World Series legend named Bill Buckner. He was a first baseman with an unbelievable moustache. Whether it was his fault or not (it wasn’t) that the Red Sox lost in 1986, he’s a bit famous for missing a ground ball that October that a gentleman named Mookie hit for the New York Mets.
While with the Royals in 1988 and 1989, a time in the twilight of his career that few remember, Buckner made his first trip back to Fenway as a player, and then he actually returned to Boston for 22 games in 1990, before staying away for a long, long time… but then, this happened. Try not to get emotional.
But, let’s talk about the card above. Do you notice the tarpaulin rolled up along the wall in the background of the picture which forms a neat little black hole between Buckner’s legs? Well played, Upper Deck, you cheeky bastards.