With Pitchers and Catchers reporting this week, it's the best time of the year for fantasy and reality baseball fans. No team is on a losing streak and every player is in "the best shape of his life." The next six weeks will answer all of your questions and on April 6th, you'll be much more of a baseball expert. Of course, if you believe that, there's some beautiful beach-front property here in Arizona that's just waiting for a buyer like you.
The real question is, "What are the right questions?" As the Old Duck soars over the ballpark, here's what he observes in mid-February.
> Baltimore Orioles - "Can a lousy owner ruin a good team?"
The birds won the division by 12 games in 2014, but their off-season has been questionable. Steve Pearce and Travis Snider replace Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in the lineup and they have a $12M pitcher slotted for middle-relief. Bounce-back campaigns are needed from Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Matt Wieters but if Davis and Wieters produce, they'll be gone as free agents.
> Boston Red Sox - "Will they be able to contend with five #3 starting pitchers?"
The BoSox were 20 games under .500 last season, so contending is not a given. If your fantasy team had a staff of Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly, would you be confident?
> New York Yankees - "What kind of starting pitcher could they buy with A-Rod's salary?"
The Bronx Bombers rotation is even more suspect than the Red Sox due to the uncertainty of C.C. Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka coming back from injury. And then, there's going to be the drama of A-Rod's bonus if he actually hits at least six home runs.
> Tampa Bay Rays - "Will they ever be the same franchise without Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman?"
This small-market team has over-achieved for years, but leadership can be a fragile component. They still have good young arms but other than Evan Longoria, does anyone in their lineup put fear in opposing pitchers?
> Toronto Blue Jays - "Did their big splashes fill the right holes?"
The additions of Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson were impressive, but the division is wide open and they still have multiple question marks. They don't have a major league second baseman or an experienced closer and if Dalton Pompey isn't ready, who plays centerfield? They may have the best 1-5 hitters in the league, but 6-9 looks ugly.
> Chicago White Sox - "Are people getting excited about the wrong Windy City team?"
With all the news coming out of Wrigley Field, the Pale Hose have had a spectacular off-season. There's an emerging superstar in Jose Abreu, they've added Melky Cabrera to get on base in front of him and Adam LaRoche for protection behind him. David Robertson is an established closer and if an opposing team comes in for a three-game series to face Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana, it will be scary. The 4th and 5th spots in the rotation will be the key.
> Cleveland Indians - "Can they squeeze a few more wins out of last year's 85-win team?"
The Tribe was pretty much under the radar last season, but their lineup looks solid even before Francisco Lindor gets to the big leagues. Young arms are everywhere with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar while Cody Allen is an underrated closer.
> Detroit Tigers - "Is Father Time sitting in their dugout?"
Perennial favorites in the division, there seems to be some real concerns about their team. Miguel Cabrera is coming off foot surgery, 36-year-old DH Victor Martinez is already out due to knee surgery and 40-year-old closer Joe Nathan isn't reliable any longer. Add that to a shortstop who missed all of last season and a new centerfielder who sports a lifetime .234 BA and you have the makings of a disappointing result for 2015.
> Kansas City Royals - "Can the same squad minus James Shields find the magic again?"
The feel-good team of 2014 will send out essentially the same roster in 2015. Alex Rios replaces Norichika Aoki and Kendrys Morales takes the spot of Billy Butler, but everyone else is back except their best starting pitcher. If you think Edinson Volquez fills the void, you are a true fan.
> Minnesota Twins - "Will ownership let the fans see the future?"
Despite adding a quality arm in Ervin Santana, this team doesn't look very good. DH Kenny Vargas is projected to bat clean-up with the experience of 234 major league AB's and 39-year-old Torii Hunter will hit behind him. The only potential excitement in the Twin Cities is the arrival of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano...it needs to be sooner rather than later.
> Houston Astros - "No longer doormats but is the pitching competitive?"
The everyday lineup looks much better than a 70-win team. Jose Altuve is a genuine All-Star and bunches of HR's will fly off the bats of Chris Carter, George Springer and Evan Gattis. In order to take the next step toward respectability, fairly unknown pitchers like Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh and Brett Oberholtzer will need to perform. If they get a lead, the much improved bullpen will help tremendously.
> Los Angeles Angels - "Can they overcome the contracts?"
With one of the best owners in the game, the Halos have been very generous to their players. The result is $32M committed this season to C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver and $40M to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The average age of those four players is 33+, so the window might be closing.
> Oakland Athletics - "Is Billy Beane just messing with us?"
No baseball pundit has a clue what the A's GM is doing, but we can't help but watch. In September, when Brett Lawrie is an All-Star, Ben Zobrist has a WAR of over 6.0 and A.J. Griffin and Jarrod Parker are healthy, he might have the last laugh. If Billy Butler steals a base or hits a triple, just head for the nearest bar.
> Seattle Mariners - "Will this team be dominant and take the next step from 87 wins to 90+?"
The lineup is better with Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith and three of the top four starting pitchers are in their 20's. A strong bullpen keeps them in games, so they'll be tough to play.
> Texas Rangers - "After everything went wrong in 2014, can a lot go right in 2015?"
What do the following players have in common...Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar and Shin-Soo Choo? That's correct, they were all on the DL last season. If a team signed those seven players as free agents this off-season, you'd be impressed.
On our next visit, the National League goes under the bright light of questioning.
The Old Duck began subscribing to Sports Illustrated Magazine while in High School and that relationship still exists today. The excellence of the writing, the beauty of the photography and the in-depth detail of the reporting has not wavered over all these decades and looking forward to the publication is still part of my weekly agenda. In addition, if you were to visit the Duck Pond, you'd find almost 200 autographed SI covers in beautiful oak frames all through the house with the vast majority still showing the original mailing label. The project has been a rewarding labor of love over the years.
About 20 years ago, SI made a unique offer to their long-time subscribers. For the appropriate price, we could purchase an original copy of the magazine's first issue from August 16, 1954. This wasn't a replica or re-print. It was from the production press-run of approximately 600,000 produced at that time. It arrived in a beautiful leather binder with a certificate of authenticity and the signature of the publication's president. Since then, it has had a prominent spot on the coffee table of whatever abode I called home. Looking through the magazine with Braves slugger Eddie Mathews on the cover has always been akin to opening a time capsule. There are articles by legendary writers such as Red Smith, Grantland Rice and Budd Schulberg. Sports events covered included the Roger Bannister - John Landy mile race at the British Commonwealth Games, as well as the Rocky Marciano - Ezzard Charles fight for the Heavyweight Championship.
There was also an article titled "The Baseball Bubble Trouble" about a new phenomenon called baseball card collecting. To emphasize the written words by Martin Kane and Jerome Weidman, there was also a full-color fold-out of 27 1954 Topps baseball cards in their actual size. From Ted Williams to Willie Mays, from Ted Kluszewski to Duke Snider and from Jackie Robinson to Larry Doby, they're all there to admire and the replicas even include all the information from the backs of the cards.
On the most recent visit through the 146 pages, it struck me that this 60-year-old magazine is also a history lesson about more than organized sports. Sociology is defined as "the study of human social behavior, especially the study of organizations, institutions and human society." What better way to learn about America of the mid-50's than to look through this time capsule and review the advertisers trying to sell their products to the country's sports fans. Many are gone, some are still around but all offer a fascinating look at Americana.
> Inside Cover - Ladies alpaca coats from a company called Swansdown. The prices were $65 for the short version and $85 for the long coat...not exactly blue collar.
> P. 1 - High-Octane Ethyl gasoline. As a kid, I always thought "ethyl" meant the highest priced gas at the pump, but in '54, there was a company called the Ethyl Corporation.
> P. 3 - Ladies sweaters called "pringles" sold at Bonwit-Teller. The price range was $20-$28.
> P. 4 - Goodyear tires...the company was already 39 years old.
> P. 6 - Florsheim shoes...$18 and higher.
> P. 7 - The Stetson Railbird hat...$10.
> P.9 - Lincoln automobiles.
> P. 10 - Four color photos of Bob Hope promoting Catalina sweaters made from Orlon for $10 or cashmere for $27.
> P. 12 - White Stag outdoor jackets from Heller...$20-$25.
> P. 13 - Ronson's windproof cigarette lighter...only $3.95.
> P. 14 - Black & White scotch whiskey (86.8 proof).
> P. 15 - Wilson Sporting Goods including endorsements from Sam Snead, Jack Kramer, Ted Williams and Otto Graham.
> P. 16 (and P. 130) - Chrysler Corporation hyping their new 235 horsepower V-8.
> P. 18 - Great Western Champagne...a product of New York State.
> P. 53 - Cadillac Motor Cars.
> P. 59 - Winchester automatic shotgun, priced from $120. Their slogan was "The Gun that Won the West."
> P. 60 & 61 - Skyway luggage..."pack up your travels the smart way."
> P. 62 - Seagram's Golden Gin (90 proof).
> P. 64 - Bausch & Lomb binoculars...the model shown was $170.
> P. 67 - Keepsake Diamond Rings...the three wedding rings in the ad were $675, $575 and $500.
> P. 69 - Hamilton Watches that were water-resistant, shock-resistant and self-winding. The steel case model was $72 and the gold case $175.
> P. 73 - Bantamac Jackets...prices begin at $10.
> P. 74 & 75 - Ford Thunderbird! The car wasn't even out yet, but this two-page ad must have made young men drool.
> P. 76 - Cunard Cruise Line showed a painting of the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary ships.
> P. 77 - Heineken's Beer.
> P. 79 - IBM's executive electric typewriter..."it open doors."
> P. 82 - Walker's Deluxe Bourbon (90.4 proof).
> P. 83 - Sir Walter Raleigh pipe tobacco.
> P. 83 - Foot Joy golf shoes.
> P. 84 - Old Spice after shave lotion at $1 per bottle.
> P. 84 - Ace bowling balls made by the American Hard Rubber Company...they also made Ace combs.
> P. 85 - Union Oil Company and their purple royal triton motor oil.
> P. 86 - American Express Travelers Cheques..."100% safe, spendable anywhere."
> P. 87 Pontiac Motor Division with an artist's rendering of a red star chief convertible.
> P. 88 & 89 - Samsonite Luggage.
> P. 90 - Schweppes quinine water and club soda.
> P. 91 - Dunlop Maxfli golf ball...it pictures 1954 U.S. Open champion Ed Furgol.
> P. 94 - Ballantine's Blended Scotch Whiskey (only 86 proof).
> P. 95 - Hertz Rent-A-Car.
> P. 97 - United Air Lines.
> P. 98 - J.W. Dant Straight Bourbon Whiskey (100 proof).
> P. 100 & 101 - Kaiser Darrin 161 automobile. These cars were only made in 1954 and a total of 435 were in the production run. You can find photos on the Internet of this beautiful convertible sports car.
> P. 103 - Flex Action hair brush by Hughes.
> P. 105 - U.S. Royal Golf Balls made by U.S. Rubber Company.
> P. 106 - Mercury Mark 20 outboard motor.
> P. 109 - Brunswick Fireball bowling ball...it had a red-rippled color and the ad claimed that no two were alike.
> P. 110 - Cresta Blanca White Vermouth.
> P. 113 - John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance. This ad might tell more about the attitudes of 1954 than any other. The picture is of a grieving widow and a small child and asks "if you were to die perhaps your wife could eventually get a job, but do you want her to have to do this?"
> P. 114 - Arnolt-Bristol Sports Cars "for 100 discriminating Americans."
> P. 121 - Adler Socks, 90% virgin wool and $1 per pair.
> P. 124 - Goebel 22 Beer.
> P. 131 - Jockey Brand Underwear.
> P. 133 - Ben-Gay Baume had Ben Hogan as their spokesman.
> P. 134 - Lucky Tiger Hair Tonic.
> P. 136 - Miller High Life Beer..."it's the champagne of bottled beer."
> Inside Back Cover - Early Times Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (86 proof).
> Back Cover - Parliament Cigarettes with the "filter mouthpiece."
If your idea of fun is drinking and driving, it appears you were born too late. The good news is that some of us love baseball even without beer. Hope you enjoyed Sociology 101.
T206's were sold as a premium item in tobacco products from 1909 through 1911. Almost all the cards have only a tobacco advertisement on the back promoting the most popular brands of the American Tobacco Company. So, when you turn over a T206, it might say "Piedmont", "Old Mill", "Sweet Caporal" or some other name. There are 16 varieties in all and include numerous scarcities, the most famous of which is a Ty Cobb card with "King of the Smoking Tobacco World" on the red back portrait. Even though it wasn't a scarcity at the time of production, the Honus Wagner card has become the pinnacle of the hobby, as the star objected to the product and it was pulled from the set after only relatively few were made.
The series includes 524 different cards measuring only 1-7/16" by 2-5/8" with a white border and the size was dictated by the packages they shared with the company's products. The collection includes 390 cards of major league players as well as 134 minor leaguers and the speculation is that the minor league players were added late in the run to interest fans living outside the areas of major league cities. While the basic set is 524, there are thousands of variations due to the different tobacco backs, switched poses of the players and updated team affiliation due to trades.
The most amazing fact about the set is that there are 76 different cards featuring Hall of Fame members. In that category are famous names from the past that even casual fans might recognize. How about "Home Run" Baker, Ty Cobb, Tinker-Evers-Chance, Walter Johnson, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Plank, Tris Speaker and Cy Young?
A few months ago, this space chronicled a collection of 100-year-old baseball cards, where I've had the privilege of assisting the owners in preserving and sharing these beautiful collectibles. At that time, only a few cards had been authenticated by a third-party company and they were all eventually sold on eBay to lucky collectors. Now, 100 more of the cards have been verified by PSA and will be listed on eBay in the next few weeks (look for ID: rotisserieduck). Here's a preview highlighting some famous, and not so famous, baseball players whose cards are included in the collection.
> Jake Beckley, Kansas City Blues Manager - "Eagle Eye" Beckley was a 1B who hit over .300 14 times during his 20-year career in the National League. He was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1971.
> George Davis, White Sox SS - Batted over .300 nine times and led the Pale Hose to a World Series Championship in 1906. He was elected to Cooperstown by the Veteran's Committee in 1998.
> Miller Huggins, Reds SS - "Mighty Mite" played 13 seasons in the NL but his claim to fame came as the Manager of the New York Yankees from 1918-1929, which included the legendary 1927 team with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee in 1964.
> Christy Mathewson, Giants Pitcher - One of the five charter members of the Hall of Fame inducted in 1936, "Big Six" is one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. He won 373 games over a 17-year career and had 30 or more wins in a season four times.
> Gavvy Cravath, Minneapolis Millers OF – Even though he spent many years in the Minors, after joining the Phillies at age 31, he led the NL in Home Runs six times and was one of the great power hitters of the dead-ball era.
> Sherry Magee, Phillies OF - Played 16 seasons in the Majors and in 1910, led the NL in batting with a .331 average. He also led the NL in RBI on four separate occasions and swiped a total of 441 bases.
> John Anderson, Providence Grays 1B/OF - Born in Norway, "Honest John" had 14 productive seasons in the Majors and was in his last year at age 35 when he appeared in the T206 set.
> Bill Bergen, Dodgers Catcher - Considered one of the best defensive catchers of the time during his 11-year career, he was also one of the worst hitters. In over 3,000 lifetime at-bats, his batting average was .170.
> Bill Clymer, Columbus Senators Manager - "Derby Day Bill" knew early on that he wasn't destined to be a major league player when he went 0-for-11 in his 1891 debut. He went on to win 2,122 games as one of the best minor league managers of all time.
> Monte Cross, Indianapolis Indians SS - A weak-hitting infielder who played 15 seasons in the Majors, he hit the first home run of the 20th century on April 19,1900.
> Mickey Doolan, Phillies SS - "Doc" led the NL in fielding twice and was one of the most educated players of the day, with a degree from Villanova where he studied dentistry. He stayed in the game as a manager and coach until 1932, then practiced dentistry until his retirement in 1947.
> Clyde Engle, New York Highlanders Utility - "Hack" didn't have much of an overall career, but he was a significant part of baseball history. In the 1912 World Series, his lazy fly ball in the 10th inning of the deciding game was dropped by the Giants' Fred Snodgrass, leading to the Red Sox victory.
> Tommy Leach, Pirates OF - Amassed over 2,000 hits in a 19-year career and hit four triples in the first World Series game ever played (1903).
> Carl Lundgren, Cubs Pitcher - Played on two World Series championship teams with the Cubs (1907 and 1908) and had the nickname "The Human Icicle" for his ability to pitch in cold weather.
> Fred Mitchell, Toronto Maple Leafs Pitcher - Only an average player, he went on to coach with the Braves and then managed the Cubs to the NL pennant in 1918.
> Ollie Pickering, Minneapolis Millers OF - Played eight seasons in the Majors with six different teams. In 1901, he was the first batter in the new American League while playing for the Cleveland Blues.
> Frank Smith, White Sox Pitcher - He was the son of a furniture mover and claimed that he could carry a baby grand piano up four flights of stairs without a break. That led to his nickname..."Piano Mover" Smith.
> Mike Donlin, Giants OF - One of the most notorious characters of the era, "Turkey Mike" was a drinker and playboy known for his lifestyle and baseball ability. He hit over .300 in ten of his 12 seasons but also ended up in prison for public drunkenness in 1902. Donlin took several seasons off to act in vaudeville and appeared in silent movies after his baseball career ended.
That's just a sprinkling of the players from this amazing collection and it has been a privilege to be part of the project. Thanks to baseball-reference.com and the T206 book authored by Tom and Ellen Zappala for supplying some of the source material. Each eBay listing will have a scan of the individual card, so here's hoping you get a chance to look them over.
In 2015, as the game has become richer and more corporate, original and appropriate nicknames have begun to disappear. Of the top ten projected Fantasy players for this upcoming season, is there a decent nickname among them? Looking at baseball-reference.com, it appears that many of them have nicknames, but even the most ardent fan might not recognize them. Have you ever heard of the "Millville Meteor" or "Bigfoot"? Those are the nicknames listed for Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton. And Clayton Kershaw is "The Claw"? Add this to the weak efforts of "Miggy" for Miguel Cabrera and "Goldy" for Paul Goldschmidt and you can see that the new era of baseball is a wasteland for nicknames. The best in the group might be "Joey Bats" for Jose Bautista, but it wouldn't even get honorable mention in the old days.
So, as we muddle through the dog days of early February waiting for pitchers and catchers to report, let's travel back to a century ago and see what kind of nicknames we find for the players in the 1909-11 T206 tobacco card set.
> Frank "Home Run" Baker, A's 3B - This Hall of Fame member supposedly got the nickname by hitting home runs off both Rube Marquard and Christy Mathewson in the 1911 World Series. To put some perspective on the "dead-ball" era, Baker led the AL in homers in three consecutive seasons (1911-13) with totals of 11, 10 and 12.
> Charles "Chief" Bender, A's P - Another Hall of Famer, he was a member of the Ojibwa tribe and dealt with racial discrimination during his career.
> Charles "Heinie" Berger, Cleveland Naps P - One of over 20 major league ballplayers of the era that had the nickname, it was popular for German-Americans who played the game.
> George "Scoops" Carey, Senators 1B - Mostly a minor leaguer, he was known for his slick fielding around the bag.
> "Three Finger" Mordecai Brown, Cubs P - Your guess is correct, as he lost parts of two fingers on his pitching hand in a farm-machinery accident as a child. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1949, he had a lifetime ERA of 2.06. If you've been playing fantasy baseball for at least 15 years, you probably know that Antonio Alfonseca had twice as many fingers as Mordecai.
> Josh "Pepper" Clarke, Naps OF - His brother Fred was a Hall of Famer, but most of Josh's career was in the Minors. He once played for the Des Moines Undertakers and later managed the Omaha Robin Hoods.
> "Wahoo Sam" Crawford, Tigers OF - Had over 2,900 hits in his Hall of Fame career and played alongside Ty Cobb. He was born in Wahoo, Nebraska.
> James "Steamer" Flanagan, Pirates OF - Only played seven games in the Majors, but he was on the same team as Honus Wagner.
> Miller "Might Mite" Huggins, Cardinals 2B - The diminutive Huggins (5'6") eventually became the legendary manager of the Yankees in the 1920's.
> George "Peaches" Graham, Phillies C - His son, John "Jack" Graham, played with the Dodgers and Giants in the 1940's.
> Walter Johnson "The Big Train", Senators P - One of the greatest pitchers of all-time, he posted 417 wins.
> Ed "Battleship" Gremminger, Tigers 3B - His first major league campaign was with the Cleveland Spiders in 1895.
> "Wee Willie" Keeler, NY Highlanders OF - This Hall of Famer was only 5' 4" but had a lifetime BA of .341.
> Myron "Moose" Grimshaw, Boston Americans 1B - To give you an idea of the size of the players in this era, "Moose" was only 6' 1" and 173 pounds.
> Christy "Big Six" Mathewson, Giants P - A member of the first Hall of Fame class in 1936, the nickname referred to his height of 6' 1".
> Charlie "Eagle Eye" Hemphill, Browns OF - You guessed it, he was an outstanding defensive player.
> "Iron Man" Joe McGinnity, Giants P - Pitched over 400 innings in two different seasons, winning over 30 games both times.
> "Silent John" Hummel, Dodgers Utility - Played in Brooklyn for over a decade and actually wore the uniform of the Superbas, Robins and Dodgers.
> Honus Wagner "The Flying Dutchman", Pirates SS - Another member of the inaugural Hall of Fame class, he is arguably the greatest shortstop in history.
> Frank "Bald Eagle" Isbell, White Sox IF - Yes, he lost his hair at an early age.
> Denton "Cy" Young, Red Sox P - The most wins of all time with 511 victories. "Cy" was short for "Cyclone."
> "Bad Bill" Dahlen, Giants SS - After his playing days, he became a manager and was thrown out of 65 games!
> Davey "Kangaroo" Jones, Tigers OF - Batted lead-off for the Bengals in front of Ty Cobb.
> "Wild Bill" Donovan, Tigers P - His nickname came from his penchant for walking opposing hitters. While the manager of New Haven in 1923, he was killed while sleeping in the lower berth of a train during a wreck that killed a total of eight people. Team owner George Weiss, who was in the upper berth, survived his injuries and went on to become a Hall of Fame baseball executive.
> Jack "Schoolboy" Knight, Yankees SS - Signed out of the University of Pennsylvania at age 19.
> "Slothful Bill" Lattimore, Naps P - Evidently, he moved very slowly.
> Ulysses Simpson Grant "Stoney" McGlynn, Cardinals P - He had more names (5) than seasons in the Majors (3).
> Harry "Rocks" McIntire, Cubs P - Led the NL in hit batters three times.
> Tom "Dearfoot" Needham, Cubs C - His defensive skills kept him in the big leagues for a decade.
> Ennis "Rebel" Oakes, Cardinals OF - Not surprisingly, he was born in Louisiana. He was the player-manager of the Pittsburgh franchise in the Federal League (1914-15) and they named the team the Rebels.
> Barney Pelty, "The Yiddish Curver", Browns P - One of the first Jewish ballplayers, he obviously had a great curveball. Of the 117 games he lost over ten years, the Browns were shut out in 32 of them.
> Bob "Dusty" Rhoads, Naps P - You didn't really think the Giants outfielder of the 50's was the first one, did you?
> George "Admiral" Schlei, Giants C - Named after a hero of the Spanish-American War, Admiral Schley.
> "Death Valley Jim" Scott, White Sox P - Born in Deadwood, South Dakota (1888).
> Ed "Tubby" Spencer, Red Sox C - Had nine major leagues seasons at 5' 10", 215 pounds.
> Irvin "Kaiser" Wilhelm, Superbas P - The other Kaiser Wilhelm was the Emperor of Germany from 1888-1918.
> Charles "Deacon" Phillippe, Pirates P - He was a church choirmaster in the off-season.
> Ed "Batty" Abbaticchio, Pirates P - The first player of Italian heritage to play in the major leagues (1897). Prior to his baseball career, he was one of the first pro football players (1895).
> "Strawberry Bill" Bernhard, Naps P - Won 15+ games in seven separate seasons...and had red hair.
> Russell "Lena" Blackburne, White Sox IF - His claim to fame in baseball history is that, in 1938, he found the unique mud near the Delaware River that would dull the shine on baseballs without staining them. The product was known as "Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud" and has been used by organized baseball ever since.
> J.J. "Nig" Clarke, Browns C - Sad to say that this nickname was racial in nature due to his dark complexion.
> Harry "The Giant Killer" Coveleski, Phillies P - He beat the Giants three times in five days during the pennant race in 1908.
> Louis "Bull" Durham, Giants P - Only pitched 29 innings in his major league career and after his last minor league season in 1913, he became an actor in silent films.
> George "Pinch" McBride, Senators SS - A very poor hitter, he only seemed to come through in clutch circumstances such as pinch-hitting.
> Frank "Yip" Owen, White Sox P - Won 20+ games in three consecutive seasons and was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
> Charles "Gabby" Street, Senators C - The nickname came from his non-stop talking behind the plate and he is the legendary player who caught the ball dropped from the Washington Monument in 1908.
> Luther "Dummy" Taylor, Giants P - Another nickname that tells you much about the times, as he was deaf.
With over 500 players in this baseball card set, we could go on for pages and the dozens of guys nicknamed "Dutch", "Red" and "Doc" haven't even been mentioned. In fact, two guys named "Rube" (Marquard and Waddell) are in the Hall of Fame. Much of the source material comes from "The T206 Collection" book by Tom & Ellen Zappala.
Hope you enjoyed this throwback history lesson.
> Warren Spahn had 20 or more wins in 13 separate seasons...and 10 of them came after the age of 30!
> Nolan Ryan registered at least five wins in 26 consecutive seasons.
> Hoyt Wilhelm won 124 games in relief.
> Gene Garber lost 108 games in relief.
> Andy Pettitte pitched 18 seasons and never had a losing record.
> Steve Barber issued 10 or more walks in a game four times!
> In 1958-59, the Pirates Roy Face had 22 consecutive wins.
> Bert Blyleven won 15 games by the score of 1-0.
> Tom Seaver started on opening day 16 times.
> Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts allowed 505 home runs!
> Sandy Koufax pitched for 12 years and held opposing hitters to a batting average of .205.
> 2015 HOF inductee Pedro Martinez pitched for 18 years and held opposing hitters to an on-base percentage of .276 (Koufax was at .285).
> Bob Feller had 36 complete games in 1946.
> In the Mets inaugural season of 1962, Roger Craig lost 24 games (he had ten wins).
> In 1985, the Cardinals’ John Tudor pitched ten shutouts...he only had six others in his 12-year career.
> Pitching for the Mets in 1994, Bret Saberhagen had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11-to-1.
> In 1966, Tony Cloninger of the Braves threw 27 wild pitches and led the NL in walks, but finished with a winning record (14-11).
> Jose Lima started 33 games in 2000 and 32 games in 2005...his ERA in those seasons was 6.65 and 6.99.
> Bobo Newsom's 5.08 ERA in 1938 was the highest ever for a 20-game winner.
> In 1916, Babe Ruth pitched 323 2/3 innings and didn't allow a home run.
> Steve Carlton's 27 wins for the last-place Phillies in 1972 equaled 46% of their 59 team wins.
> Wally Bunker of the Orioles won 19 games in 1964 when he was 19 years old.
> Pitching for the Mariners in 1980, Mike Parrot had a record of 1-16...the year before, he was 14-12.
> Juan Marichal had six seasons in which he had 20 wins, 200 strikeouts and an ERA below 3.00.
If you've hung in there this long, a bonus is in order in the form of a few fielding facts to test your knowledge.
> In 1984, Steve Garvey of the Padres played 159 games at first base and didn't make an error.
> Dick Stuart finished last in fielding average for first base in 1961, 1963 and 1964...you don't get nicknamed "Dr. Strangeglove" for no reason.
> In his rookie season of 1984, the Phillies’ Juan Samuel made 33 errors at second base.
> Lou Brock made 19 errors in the outfield for the 1966 Cardinals.
> As the centerfielder of the Phillies from 1949-1958, Richie Ashburn had 495 or more putouts six times.
> In 2003, Mike Matheny caught 138 games for the Cardinals and didn't make an error.
> In 1974-75, Yankees Catcher Thurman Munson made a total of 45 errors.
> In 1968, the Cubs’ Randy Hundley caught 160 games...he caught 150+ in two other seasons.
> In 1974, Reds Pitcher Clay Kirby made 10 errors.
Hope a few of these names brought back some memories...talking baseball never gets old.