1985 Topps – Gary Pettis
Take a look at this card. You might be wondering if Gary Pettis won a contest at his elementary school where the prize was the opportunity to appear on a Topps Major League Baseball card. The answer is no, that is not the case.
Gary Pettis was, in reality, 27 years old in 1985. However, that’s not him on the card. It’s his little brother Lynn, who was actually 16 at the time the picture was taken. Can you imagine pulling that off as a 16-year-old? I’d obviously get as many of them as I could and sign autographs for everyone I met, everywhere I went.
I don’t know anything about Lynn Pettis other than about his appearance on this card and clearly his legendary status at his high school, but his brother won five Gold Gloves. Not bad.
Gary was also nicknamed Pac-Man because of the way he ate up ground balls in the outfield. For you kids out there, Pac-Man was a video game of some note in the 1980’s. Look up some pictures, it’ll make sense.
Also, great job catching that one, Topps. Gold star performance.
1988-89 O-Pee-Chee – Brendan Shanahan
2009-10 O-Pee-Chee – Brendan Shanahan
In light of today’s announcement regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs, I thought we’d look at a little Now and Then of the man, Brendan Shanahan, who just hired the man who drafted him, Lou Lamoriello.
Shanahan began (in 1987-88) and ended (in 2008-09) his career with the New Jersey Devils. Even though there were four other stops in between, the connection is obvious.
A few things to note about Shanahan’s career between the bookends above:
-His signing with St. Louis as a free agent led to Scott Stevens being awarded to the Devils as compensation… that turned out pretty well for Lamoriello, I’d say.
-He was one of the first Canadian members of the Triple Gold Club after his Olympic gold medal win in 2002
-His request for a trade out of Hartford led to Paul Coffey being traded to the Whalers, where he played all of 20 games, which is more than he played for either the Boston Bruins (18) or Chicago Blackhawks (10). Useless fact, sure, but why else are you here?
We’ll see how this goes for the Leafs this season, but who wouldn’t pay money to be a fly on the wall for some of those conversations between Shanahan, Lamoriello and Mike Babcock? This is going to be fun.
1986 Topps – Gorman Thomas
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.
1986 Topps – Pete Vuckovich
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.
1981-82 Topps – Lanny McDonald
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.
1990-91 Pro Set – Ron Francis
Today, in Uniforms I Miss, the Hartford Whalers. Whether it’s the green beauty modelled above by Ron Francis, who was pretty good, or the blue one sported below by Robert Petrovicky, who is 41 years old and still plays professional hockey, the Whalers had a great look.
1993-94 Upper Deck – Robert Petrovicky
A few things that are worth noting about the Whalers franchise:
- They were originally based in Boston for the first two years of their WHA tenure, throughout which they were known as the New England Whalers.
- They had a theme song. It was called “Brass Bonanza“
- They were the first Avco Cup winners as WHA champions in 1972-73, but when the trophy wasn’t yet ready, the team had to use their divisional trophy instead for their celebration.
- They missed the playoffs in ten of their 18 NHL seasons, but, in a magical run in the 1985-86 season, made it all the way to the second round before losing. In fairness, they lost game seven in overtime to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, but the point is they were never very good. But they looked good.
All this and I didn’t even mention the Cooperalls!
1987 Donruss – Greg Maddux
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.