This certainly isn’t the worst APBA card in the world. in fact, for a .232 hitter, 1984 Darrell Evans has a pretty decent on-base percentage. But consider the context…
In 1983 (the year before this card), Evans hit .277 with 30 homers with a nifty .516 slugging percentage. In 1985 (the year after this card), “Howdy Doody” went above and beyond and led the league with 40 homers for the Tigers albeit with a .248 average.
To be fair, despite the .232 average, Evans still maintained a .353 OBP which some of us would love to have.
APBA gave Evans six walks for his 1984 season and that is pretty cool. To be honest, if Evans wasn’t slow, he might make an okay leadoff man if you were desperate. I’m just stuck on his power numbers of 1-6.
Perhaps why I’m so hard on this card is that I’m a closet Evans fan. He’s on my list of “Favorite Players who aren’t considered Superstars”.
Just noticed that Evans never made the All-Star team in 1985 when he led the league with 40 homeruns. He had 18 homeruns in the first half of the season so I’m wondering if his performance in ‘84 had anything to do with it.
Lefty Grove deserves a mention in this column and there’s no time like the present.
Grove’s stats are amazing enough but what makes them most unbelievable is that he accomplished them in the batters’ heyday of late 20s and early 30s. When teams were scoring well over 5 runs a game, here’s Grove keeping the opposition to barely 2 runs.
The card above is Lefty Grove’s 1931 APBA card. That year was probably Grove’s best of his career. He led the AL in ERA (2.06), wins (31, the highest of his career) and strikeouts (175). Of course, that was nothing new to Grove. He led the league in those categories many times. He paced the AL in ERA nine times, wins four times, and strikeouts seven times (in a row even!).
Here’s a piece of interesting trivia: In 1925, his rookie year, Grove walked more batters than he struck out (131 to 116). He soon found the cure to his control issues though and became one the most stingiest pitchers when it came to the base on balls. Starting the next year in 1926, he led the league 8 times in K/BB ratio. After 1926, he never walked more than 83.
Take a sip of a mint julep and be prepared for a trip down retro-APBA lane.
How many of you watched the Kentucky Derby this past weekend? I admit I watched it while visiting my family this past weekend. It’s amazing how much hoopla the sports media can whip up over an event that takes just a few minutes. Such is the inspiration for this week’s Terrible Card. It’s Slick, a 2 year old bay colt from APBA’s Saddle Racing Game. Slick’s APBA card came with the game itself and was copyrighted in 1989.
Lone Star Stables’ Slick was sired by Alydar, one of the biggest racing stars of my childhood so I’m sure he had potential. Alas, he wasn’t so ‘slick’ as he is rated as one of worst racehorses in the set with a 10 rating. His rating goes down to a measly 7 on turf.
To give some comparison, look at the APBA card belonging to Alysheba, also sired by Alydar. He is rated a quite fancy 23.
With three 1s and only nine in double digits, his numbers look quite better.
Now, I’m not a horse racing fan and haven’t played APBA Saddle Racing for quite a while. I do remember it being kind of fun, though. I looked forward to those races with sloppy tracks. Looking through my box, I saw that I kept track of results by the jockeys. Not surprisingly, Pat Day and Angel Cordero were among the big winners.
The APBA Saddle Racing Game is no longer being sold by the Company though I’m sure it can be found on Ebay and other outlets at a price. Do any of you still get out to play?
We haven’t had a Negro League Monster Card in a while and this one is quite worthy. This is Hall of Famer Pete Hill and this card is based on Hill’s 1910 season with the Chicago Leland Giants.
Now, I raised this before with Josh Gibson’s entry but I wonder how APBA gets their numbers. As I said before, stats from the Negro Leagues are not the most complete but Baseball Reference does have unofficial numbers. Looking at his card, his power numbers might be a tad inflated judging from his actual stats.
Hill at the plate in 1909
A quick look at Hill’s 1910 stats:
54 AB, 28 H, .519 BA, 1 HR, 4 2B, 4 3B, 2 W
I’m sure these stats are league games only and don’t include exhibition, Cuban Winter League or barnstorming games. Perhaps APBA is factoring in those stats though I’m not sure where they would get those numbers.
But if you’re willing to suspend a little accuracy here, this card is quite fantastic. His 1-2-4-5-5 EBH numbers are good enough for anyone but he also has two 11s and a 10 plus a 55-7. Not only that, he has three 31s, for those who want to forgo his power and try to move the runner along.
This week’s Terrible Card comes from the 1986 World Champion New York Mets. Kevin Elster was just a rookie and didn’t put in much time, only 33 plate appearances. He didn’t make much of an impact with those precious at-bats, either.
In his debut, “Kev” Elster went 5 for 30 with one double and three walks. He also struck out eight times.
There’s not too much to Elster’s card. He gets a 66-6 and a 11-7 and that’s about it. That gives him a 25-39. Predictably, he gets three 14s and seven 13s. To make matters worse, he’s a SS-7.
I’d like to say that things got better for Kevin Elster throughout his 13-year career but they really didn’t. In 3225 plate appearances, he batted a yuck-inducing .228. His season with Texas in 1989 (some of us remember that year) was the one anomaly. That year, he hit .252 with 24 homeruns which was twice the amount he ever hit any other year. Hmm, suspicious.
Interestingly, Elster did get to make five postseason appearances in 1986, going 0 for 4.
This week’s MCM entry is ‘Gorgeous’ George Sisler who it turns out was a Big Ten alum, hailing from the University of Michigan (I learned something new today). This card is from the year of 1922 when he led the AL with a .420 batting average.
Sisler had the privilege of playing for the St Louis Browns for 12 of his 15 years of his career. He made the most of it, batting .344 for them and reaching .400 twice. He ended his career with a .340 mark which ranks 16th all time. Sisler was something of a speedster as well. He led his league in stolen bases four times and led in triples twice.
Sisler’s biggest accomplishment in 1922 was his AL record-breaking 41 consecutive game hit streak which was broken, of course, by Joe DiMaggio in 1941. His streak is still second among AL hitters and fifth overall. Sisler was also known for being one of the best fielding firstbasemen in baseball.
APBA rewarded Sisler well for his 1922 efforts. It is indeed a ‘gorgeous’ card. In addition to his 0-0-0-0, he has three 11s AND three 7s giving him a juicy 31-7. He also has three 14s and just one 13. He’s Fast and is a 1B-5.
I have to admit that the placement of Sisler’s numbers are bit strange. He has a 42-9 but also a 61-8 and a 64-8. Also, a 9 was placed at 53 and his error number was placed elsewhere, a 62-20. One other thing, he has two 31s but don’t look for one at 63. He has a 23-31 instead.
One more thing about Sisler’s 1922 card… it doesn’t have any 24s. As long as there isn’t anyone on first base, you’ll be ok rolling a 41. He has a 37 there.
Thanks once again to Pastor Rich for suggesting another great card!
Scott Fennessy passed on a very interesting card from the 1901 season set. Interesting in a couple ways.
First, while Scott passed this Harrison card on to me, both he and I didn’t know if he fit neatly into one of my categories. He has no hit numbers which is odd for a non-pitcher. However, he does have eleven 14s on his card. Pretty nifty. As Scott told me, it fits into a more ‘Weird’ category’.
Ben Harrison batted three times for the Washington Senators. In those three plate appearances, he walked once. That’s about the extent of his statistical presence on the baseball scene in 1901. That was the only year he played ball. In fact, all three plate appearances were in just one game.
What I found even more interesting about Harrison is that his entry on Baseball Reference.com was quite incomplete to the point of not even listing his first name. There’s also no data on which side he batted from or which arm he threw with.
I realize info on early baseball era players is a bit spotty but I’ve found that data on B-R is usually pretty solid. It did make me wonder how the APBA Company got the data. Sure enough though, I did find some info on this page on a Ben Harrison from 1901 with corresponding stats. Since I’m such an avid user of the site, I’ll forward the info on to Baseball Reference so they can update their database.
You just never know when someone might need to know more about Mr. Harrison from 1901.
Mel M sent this 1973 Hank Aaron card to me just in time for today’s Monster Card Monday. I don’t think I’ve had an Aaron card featured on this blog and this is a great card to do it. Mel told me when he opened the 1973 set, Aaron was the first card on top. As well he should be!
By 1973, Aaron was 39 years old and it’s probably safe to say it was his last truly great year. He slammed 40 homers in 465 plate appearances while hitting .301 and driving in 96 runs.
1973 was the year that Aaron was making the run for Babe Ruth’s all-time record of 714 homeruns. He didn’t quite make it, ending the year with 713. He had to settle for tying and eventually breaking Ruth’s record following year. For those interested, you can find a log of all of Hank Aaron’s homeruns on Baseball-Reference.com.
It’s not Aaron’s best card to be sure. However it’s a testament to the man when you can say that a card with power numbers 1-1-1-6 is not his best.
Another piece of common trivia… In 1973, Aaron was joined by two other Braves who also hit 40-plus homers. Darrell Evans hit 41 that year and Davey Johnson was a one-year power wonder and actually led the team with 43. That would be the only year Johnson would hit more than 20 in his 13 year career.
I’ll have to dig out my 1957 set sometime. His card with the Milwaukee Braves is something else if I remember correctly.
Catcher Jeff Reed’s 1987 card is one I’ve heard about from a few of you. In fact, I’m sure he’s got a few strange cards (he batted .225 or lower in a season seven times).
What makes Reed’s ‘87 card so unique is that this isn’t just a J-4 XB card. No, it is a full 75 games and 228 at bats of badness.
Reed had his good offensive years as a catcher with the Reds and the Rockies. But for Montreal, his 1987 season wasn’t as productive. He hit .214 with one homer. For what it’s worth, he did manage eleven doubles and got his slugging percentage up to a ferocious .280.
I took a week off from Monster Card Monday so I better make this count. I think it will. I promised Pastor Rich Zawardzki that I’d put up Willie Mays’ 1954 card. Indeed, it’s worthy of this column.
This was Mays’ breakout season when he not only led the NL in hitting with a .345 batting average but also cracked 41 homeruns and 87 extra base hits. In just his third year in the bigs, he won the MVP award.
Mays’ 1954 season was his first All-Star appearance which started a string of consecutive appearances which would not end until 1973.
I have several tests that help test a Monster Card… 7s across the top, six power numbers etc. Mays has one that I really like; he has a 5 at 44. Not only that, he has three 5s. With power numbers of 1-4-5-5-5 he defines the clutch hitter even in the realm of APBA.
With his .345 average, Mays gets a 55-7 plus a 15-10 (based on 8 stolen bases).
Mays has two 13s at the very prominent places of 26 and 46 but if you look closer, you won’t find anymore. For 1954, he only struck out 55 times. He does have four 14s though proving that Willie Mays can hit wherever Willie Mays wants to (though with those three 5s, I would try to convince him to not lead off!). He did strike out more than he walked for his whole career but not by much (1526 Ks to 1464 walks).
If all that isn’t enough, he’s Fast and is a OF-3 (what do you expect from Willie Mays?). Those still wondering why, this video should explain better than any words could: