A little detective work – 1994 Topps George Brett

12 10 2016

Every now and then I come across a card that I realize – hey you can definitely figure out the exact game and play that’s captured on that card.  I’ve done this a couple other times, and it’s always fun.  My card of the decade for the 90’s is one of those cards!

1994 Topps George Brett best card

Kevin Polcovich was the last player I did.  This one is a much more memorable name!  George Brett was a first ballot hall of famer and this is his last Topps card.  Similar to Robin Yount & Nolan Ryan – who with Brett made for a hell of a memorable first ballot class in 1999 – Brett got a 1994 card with his full line of statistics.

The scoreboard here is key, it enables me to narrow down which game this occurred and the surrounding circumstances.  And I’ve got to say – it was an interesting game!  I’ll blow the card up so you can see it better.

1994 Topps George Brett best card

I figured from the scoreboard they were playing the Brewers.  I don’t know if I could have known that otherwise.  Maybe you can tell from the pitcher, but otherwise it just looks like a classic gray/blue road uniform that could be quite a few teams.  You know from Brett’s uniform and the background that it’s a home game.  That in and of itself narrows it down to 6 games (MIL @ KC in Brett’s game log from 1993).  They played in Kansas City early September and early June.

The scoreboard itself is the key.  The royals lost both the September games Brett played in by the scores of 3-2 and 2-1.  They scored less than 3 runs, so those aren’t possibilities.  On June 5th they lost 10-2, so that’s also not a possibility.  That leaves Thursday June 3rd (6-5 victory), Friday June 4th (3-2 victory) and Sunday June 6th (8-7 victory).

Sunday June 3, 1993 turned out to be the winner here.  And like I said, it was a topsy-turvy game!  That’s Jamie Navarro on the hill for the Brewers, with Joe Kmak behind the plate.  Brett was in at DH, which was the only position he played in 1993.  Navarro had given up 3 runs in the bottom of the first, including an RBI sac fly by Brett.  You can’t see it here, but Brian McRae was standing on 3rd after tripling home another run in the bottom of the 2nd.  Brett worked a 2-2 count – as you can see on the scoreboard or in the Baseball Reference game summary.  Then he grounded to 2nd, which you’d think was a veteran move to get the run home.  But for whatever reason, McRae wasn’t able to advance, and the Brewers were able to get out of that inning without any additional damage.

Navarro settled down until Brett’s lineup slot came up in the 4th.  I’m not sure why, but with a runner on first Brett was lifted for pinch hitter Hubie Brooks at that time.  Perhaps given his age and that he’d played 7 straight days at this point, getting the aging vet an early exit made sense.  Whatever the reason, the play worked – Brooks knocked a 2-run shot that put the Royals up 6-1.

The game looked to be in hand at that point, but in the top of the 6th the Brewers exploded for 6 runs off starter Chris Haney and reliever Mark Gubicza to take a 7-6 lead.  The Royals pulled even in the bottom of the 7th, and won the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the 9th.  Brooks singled to start the inning, and Jesse Orosco came in.  Orosco got one out, but then gave up a double to Chris Gwynn that scored Brooks and sent the Royal fans home happy.

A little detective work – 1998 Topps Kevin Polcovich

12 08 2016

I have done this a couple other times, and it’s always fun.  I love when I can figure out the exact play that is depicted in an action shot.  The card that I thought was the best action shot in 1998 Topps – well, it’s one of those cards!

1998 Topps Kevin Polcovich

Kevin Polcovich is far from a memorable name, however this is a really cool card.  It’s a great action shot – better than the 1998 Stadium Club card that is clearly taken half of a second later.  But the other cool thing is – it was doable to figure out the specific play this card depicts.  To figure out when the photo was taken.

It was fairly easy to narrow down for a number of reasons.  First, the player sliding into second – Larry Walker – is clearly identifiable.  Second, Polcovich didn’t have a long career.  He played for the Pirates in 1997 and 1998.  Since this is a 1998 series 1 set – I know it’s from 1997.  That’s a Rockies road uni and a Pittsburgh home uniform – so it was clearly in Pittsburgh.  So just find a game at 3 Rivers where Polcovich either turned a double play or forced out Walker on second.

Polcovich played in 4 such games in 1997, in a series from July 31st to August 3rd in Pittsburgh.  Walker, who was the MVP that year, naturally played in all 4 of those games.  This picture came from the game on August 2nd – it’s the only possibly play that fits with this picture.  Walker was a stone cold killer in that series – he went 3 for 4 with a walk in this particular game.

The play in question occurred in the top of the 4th.  Walker led off with a single, then Andres Galarraga grounded into a force out from Tony Womack to Polcovich.  They didn’t get Galarraga at first.

The Pirates actually won this game, 6-5, despite Walker’s epic performance.  Walker was often viewed as a “Coors Field” MVP, but this series sure argues against that.  In Three Rivers (4 games), he went 10-16 with 2 walks, 4 homers and 3 doubles.  Pretty good, no?

A little detective work – 1993 Topps Gaetti & Ortiz (& Felix)

8 07 2013

After getting intrigued by two cards in the 1992 Topps set that were similar, I came across an even more similar comparison.  In fact, I think I found two cards that brought out the baseball card detective in me again.  I’ve blown these up as big as they go to show some of the detail.

1993 Topps Gaettie

That’s Gary Gaetti after his Minnesota days.  In 1992 he was playing for the Angels, and here he’s sliding into home with Junior Ortiz awaiting.  But I found another card…

1993 Topps Junior Ortiz

…that is clearly the same play!  Notice the guy in the blue plaid shirt above the dugout.  And you can tell that’s Gaetti by the number 3 in the background.  This is taken just a little earlier than the vantage from the card above.

I decided to do some work to see if I could determine the dates and details of the games.  The Indians are wearing home white, so it’s a game where California visited Municipal Stadium in Cleveland.  In 1992, Ortiz was a backup catcher for the Tribe, splitting time with Sandy Alomar, Jr.  So he didn’t play all that much – he had around 250 plate appearances in 1992.  From the game log in 1992 for Ortiz, he played every game in the 4-game series at Cleveland from April 30 – May 3.  Gaetti did not play in the April 30th game, but did play in the other 3.  So I’ve narrowed it down to those 3 games.

All I had to do was find an outfield assist or (maybe) a game where Gaetti scored.  It looked pretty clear that he was out at home from this picture, though.  Looking at the box scores, this play at the plate occurred on May 2nd – in the 4th inning to be exact.  Gaetti singled with one out to knock in Junior Felix and give the Angels a 2-1 lead.  He went to second on the throw home.  The next batter, Mike Fitzgerald singled to center on the next play, and Kenny Lofton gunned Gaetti out at home.  The play was key to the game – the Indians came back to win the contest, 3-2.

There’s another card that seems to be taken from the same vantage point, and – there we go! – that guy with the plaid shirt makes another appearance.  Sot that makes it pretty clear that it’s the same game.  There’s Ortiz featured in another play at the plate.  This time, it’s Junior Felix featured in a play at the plate.  Checking the box score again, this is actually the run Gaetti knocked in.  He singled Felix in from second, and when the throw was late, Gaetti went to second on the throw.

1993 Topps Junior Felix

My detective work is done for the day!

A little detective work – 1992 Topps Strawberry & Hubie Brooks

31 05 2013

I was pretty intrigued by two cards I dubbed “best action photo in 1992 Topps” in yesterday’s post.

First, the two cards in question, both of which have a similar picture from third base at Shea Stadium.

1992 Topps Strawberry Brooks best action

I decided to do some work to see if I could determine the dates and details of the games.  As you’ll see, I was successful for both, but I started with the Strawberry as there was more information available from the photo and I knew I’d be able to pinpoint the details for that card.

For one thing, it’s much easier to narrow down because the road team is featured. Whereas the Brooks card has 81 potential home games to get through (and much less information on the card anyways), there were only 6 games where the Dodgers played at Shea in 1991.  Plus, I can see the inning on the Strawberry card as well.  I’ll blow it up so you can best see it on the blog.

1992 Topps Strawberry

I liked what I found.  This one is from a game on July 21, 1991 and has a pretty cool back story.  Strawberry was not only facing off against his former team – none other than Dwight Gooden was on the mound that day!  Strawberry singled off him to lead off the 2nd inning and then Chris Gwynn walked to move Darryl over to second base.  Lenny Harris (#29 – you can see that on the scoreboard) then knocked a single to left field on a 3-2 pitch to score Strawberry.  Gwynn was later forced at 3rd, but Gooden gave up 3 runs that inning.

The Mets wound up getting Doc the victory anyways.  Interestingly enough – this was the only hit Strawberry ever got off the teammate he is forever linked with.  Oh, and last thing – that’s Mike Winters manning the second base umpire spot.

1992 Topps Hubie Brooks

The Brooks card was much more difficult, but I was able to pinpoint that one as well.  The only piece of info for that card that was more helpful?  There’s only one umpire I’d recognize just about anywhere, and if that’s not Eric Gregg over Brooks’ shoulder than I’m an Ewok.

The key here was that I could tell from the scoreboard that Mackey Sasser was batting, as he was #2 for the Mets in 1991.  I think that’s him rounding first, but can’t tell for sure as the number on the runner’s uniform is too difficult to see.  Anyways, Mackey being the hitter was very helpful.  If I assumed Brooks scored on this play, I would need to sift through 48 Brooks runs (25 were at home).  With Sasser, there were only 35 RBI (21 at home).  Linking the two up helped.  Of course, it’s always possible Brooks was thrown out at home in which case I’d have to learn how to figure that out.  Or just give up.

It was actually a little easier than I thought.  Using Baseball Reference, I found out that Mackey knocked Brooks in on 3 separate occasions in 1991.  Of those, only one happened at Shea Stadium – June 30th, in a 10-9 loss to Philadelphia.  Interestingly, Gooden also pitched this game, though it was the Phillies’ Danny Cox who was on the hill for this hit.  In the bottom of the 4th inning of a 4-0 game, Kevin McReynolds singled off Cox with one out.  Howard Johnson then flew out before Cox hit Brooks with the pitch.  Sasser then came up and doubled off Cox to knock both McReynolds and Brooks in to make it 4-2.  So, not seen on the card is the fact that McReynolds scored ahead of Brooks.

And yes, that’s Eric Gregg behind Brooks. Yub Yub.