Sunday, July 16, 2006

Three random 1979 Topps baseball cards

One little, two little, three little Indians . . .

I don't know what's cooler: that Horace Speed actually is not a stage name (dammit, put him on your stupid All-Name team already, Trupiano), or this little irony: He stole just 4 bases in 9 attempts in his big-league career. Indeed, Speed had none.

After I used this as a Completely Random Baseball Card a while back - for once, it actually was random - an intrepid reader sent me this little snippet. It's from an old column by Bill Madden in the New York Daily News:

While watching Wayne Cage, a hulking 6-4, 205-pound first baseman for the Cleveland Indians in 1970s, take infield practice before a game at Yankee Stadium one day, Graig Nettles deadpanned: "He's the only player in history to wear his home address on his back."

That's Graig Nettles, folks. How 'bout a round of applause for a True Yankee.

You know, I'm pretty sure this guy was my eight-grade bus driver. Insisted on listening to crap-kickin' country on the radio, threatened to "whittle a hole" in that smart-aleck Olson boy with his Swiss Army knife, ass-crack always showing . . . yeah, that's definitely him. Must have won a Be A Major Leaguer For A Day contest or something. (Seriously, who knew Rick Reuschel, no prize himself, was considered the good-looking one in his family? I hope they don't have sisters.)

As a special bonus to all three of you who somehow made it this far, here's one more in the form of a book except from Terry Pluto's criminally underrated "The Curse of Rocky Colavito":

I first met Wayne Garland in 1980, and I thought he was perhaps the most miserable human I'd encountered in baseball. Baseball clubhouses are often the breeding grounds for guys who act as if they're beginning a life sentence on Devil's Island. They complain about everything, and then they complain because someone is complaining too much.

But no one quite complained like Wayne Garland. He never talked, he growled. His face was frozen in a scowl, and he looked at most people as if they were lice.

Garland never liked anything. I thought it was due to the fact he had signed a 10-year, $2.3 million contract with the Tribe in 1977 and then blew out his shoulder. He was one of the first huge free agents, and he was certainly the first free agent bust.

"Nah, that isn't why Wayne acts the way he does," Baltimore manager Earl Weaver told me. "You know what his nickname was with us? We called him 'Grumpy.' That guy was a big grouch while he was winning 20 games for me in 1976. I had to run him out to the mound four times in September so he'd win that 20th game, and he bitched about it the whole time."

Sounds like Garland would have fit in well on the 2001 Red Sox.

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