Saturday, February 21, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Chris Bassitt

Card #172 - Chris Bassitt

Born: February 22, 1989

Chris was drafted by the White Sox in the sixteenth round of the 2011 amateur draft. He steadily climbed the ranks in the farm system until he comfortably settles in Birmingham AA. Bassitt made his MLB debut on August 30, 2014, at home, against the Detroit Tigers. He went six and a third innings, picking up the loss.

The outings slowly improved, until Chris was able to cut a seven plus ERA down to 3.94 over six appearances. Bassitt would get revenge over the Tigers, this time in Detroit, on September 22, 2014, when he would blank the Motor City Kitties over seven and two-thirds innings for his first MLB win.

Before the 2015 season, Chris was traded to Oakland, along with Marcus Semien, Josh Phegley and Rangel Ravelo for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Michael Ynoa.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Draft Years: 1966

 With the eighteenth pick of the 1966 draft, the Chicago White Sox selected Carlos May. Reggie Jackson was long gone by that point and so were a few men who had nice careers. All things considered Carlos May was not a bad pick.

May had a ten year MLB career, was The Sporting News' Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star and is the only player ever to wear his birth month and date on his uniform (May 17), when he switched his uniform number from 29 to 17. Perhaps he would have played longer and had better numbers if he hadn't injured himself during a stint with the Marine Reserves in 1969, where Carlos blew off one of his thumbs. Even so, he did very well for himself after the injury. He played from 1968 until 1977 in the majors, then played in Japan for four additional years.

There was a player taken by the Minnesota Twins as the sixtieth pick in the draft...

Steve Garvey.

A ten-time All-Star, who had four consecutive Gold Gloves and an MVP during a nineteen year career, Steve Garvey would have been a better selection in hindsight. For whatever reason Steve did not sign with the Twins in 1966. He would be drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1968 and play fourteen of his nineteen seasons with them.

There's no guarantee that Garvey would have signed if he was picked higher in the draft in 1966, but it definitely would have been an interesting path if he did. Carlos May was a really good sign. Steve Garvey would have been better.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

WSC All-Stars: Eddie Smith 1941

Card #17 - Eddie Smith

Eddie replaced New York Yankees outfielder Charlie Keller in the lineup for the top of the eighth, taking over the pitching mound from Washington Senators pitcher Sid Hudson, who blew a save opportunity. Eddie pitched two innings, giving up a two-run homer to Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Arky Vaughan, also scoring St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Johnny Mize, who doubled to right field.

The American League was down five to two, when Boston Red Sox outfielder Dom DiMaggio scored his brother Joe with a single in the eighth. Eddie came back out and retired the side in the ninth. He was pinch hit for by Cleveland Indians third baseman Ken Keltner in the bottom of the eighth, but New York Yankees outfielder Joe DiMaggio ground into a fielder's choice at second to score Keltner, then Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams hit a three-run home run to score New York Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon and Joe DiMaggio to win the game for Eddie Smith.

Monday, February 16, 2015

2015 Topps Toys R Us Series One

This is the best that the Topps flagship set has looked in a few years. After nearly blending in with Bowman and old Fleer sticker designs in the past couple of years, Topps has broken out with a sharp design that looks visually interesting without retreading too many past designs... then they tinted it purple and randomly inserted three cards per blister pack, all of which I have to sign for at work, when UPS drops them off.

Normally, Target and Wal-Mart have their own set Topps parallel colored sets (Target red and Wal-Mart blue), but this year, they have decided against retail exclusive parallel sets and instead opted for retail exclusive insert sets following the exploits of Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth. Toys R Us stands alone this year in all its purple majesty. I'm not quite sure why Target and Wal-Mart bowed out of the parallel sets this year, but it is a welcome change of pace. I had a love/hate relationship with three retail exclusive parallels and the trouble of chasing them all.

The White Sox have seven cards in the set.

22 - Tyler Flowers
65 - Alexei Ramirez
176 - Jose Abreu
177 - Paul Konerko
256 - Adam Eaton
276 - Conor Gillaspie
341 - Chris Sale (Corey Kluber, Felix Hernandez)

A short but sweet set for the White Sox that includes a final card for Paul Konerko is a nice thing. I suspect that with so few ChiSox cards in series one and so much offseason activity, that there will be a nice chunk of Pale Hose cards in series two. It will be nice to have this set in the Toys R Us purple.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

WSC Legends: Cespedes - Henderson

Card #7 - Yeonis Cespedes/Rickey Henderson

WSC Vintage: Vic Frazier

Card #50 - Vic Frazier

Staring out his career with the Class A Dallas Steers in 1928, Vic was a workhorse with slightly below average stuff, but in the 1929 season, he managed to turn his luck around, making a 4-12 record from the previous season turn into a 16-8 record, while lowering his ERA almost by two. Frazier made his MLB debut with the White Sox on April 18, 1931, in Cleveland, against the Indians. He would give up ten hits and eight runs, only five earned, and take the loss during five inning of work.

Vic's best MLB season would be his rookie campaign, where he went 13-15 with a 4.46 ERA in forty-six games. Never again would he reach those heights in the majors. He stuck with the White Sox until 1933, when he was traded to Detroit on June 2nd for Whit Wyatt. He would last with the Tigers through the 1934 season. He would next pop up in the majors in 1937 with the Boston Bees (the modern day Braves), appearing in three games, as a reliever. 1938 would bring him to Class AA pitching for the St. Paul Saints, part of the White Sox farm system. 1939 saw Frazier split time between the Saints and the White Sox, which would be his last gasp in the majors. Vic appeared in ten games for the Pale Hose, sporting a 0-1 record with a 10.27 ERA. In his last MLB appearance, Frazier gave up eleven hits in three and two-thirds innings at Yankee Stadium in New York. Vic came into the game in the fourth inning, relieving Jack Knott and giving up the last eight runs in a 13-3 loss, before being relieved by Eddie Smith.

Frazier would stay with the Class AA St. Paul Saints through the 1940 season. He pitched one game, lasting two innings, in 1941, for the Class B Pensacola Pilots, taking the loss, before calling it a career.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Few Cards From The Writer's Journey

 J.T., of The Writer's Journey fame, is one of the kindest card bloggers out there. We don't set up trades anymore. Sometimes cards just show up at my door, as in the case of this package.

I opened the plain white envelope to find a big Harold Baines Donruss card and a clear bag with a note written on a Carlton Fisk calendar page!

 Inside the calendar page were three baseball cards. One of Adam Eaton, one of Fred Howard and one of Richard Dotson. All in all, a pretty neat little package.

Wait! There's one more surprise.

These cards.
J.T. sent a bunch of them in an earlier package and I went gaga over them. Thanks for sending over a few more and thanks for the White Sox cards. I will be sending a little package out to you shortly.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Draft Years: 1965

 Drafting amateur players can be tricky. Hindsight is usually 20/20. Mistakes are made, bets are lost, but the risk can be worth the reward in rare cases.

The MLB amateur draft began in 1965. Since then, the process has essentially been a lottery for young talent. Most players drafted will never sniff the majors. The ones who do make it have a better shot at having a cup of coffee in the big show than to be a household name.

Big hype can fizzle quickly. Some players won't sign. There are all sorts of obstacles in the way of a successful pick, let alone a successful career. There are other factors to think about as well. Teams sometimes draft to fill holes in their roster. Sometimes the best candidate just won't be what a team is looking for. Other times, sure-fire picks end up going nowhere. Some decisions are based on money, some on agents. There are too many factors to get a crystal clear picture, but we can speculate pretty close.

This series will focus on the first pick of each draft for the White Sox.

It's easy to see on the surface why the White Sox chose catcher Ken Plesha with the seventeenth pick of the 1965 draft. He was a local prospect from McCook, Illinois, who went to the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. It had all the makings of a great story; local boy does good, becomes star player with local team.

I have no idea how the selections were made in 1965, but my gut tells me that the selection process wasn't as in depth as it is now. If the White Sox did their homework a little better in 1965, they may have selected another catcher in the same draft...

Johnny Bench.
Four other catchers were selected between Ken Plesha and Johnny Bench. Only Ken Rudolph, selected by the Chicago Cubs at number twenty-six, made the majors, for parts of nine seasons.

Ken Plesha would spend three seasons in the White Sox minor league system before dropping out of baseball. He never rose above A ball.

Johnny Bench would play for seventeen seasons in the majors, win Rookie of the Year, two MVPs, win two World Series, win World Series MVP, make several All-Star appearances and make the Hall of Fame. Bench slipped all the way down to the thirty-sixth player selected in 1965.

While it's easier to play "what if" several decades later, it just goes to show you that even with all of today's information about prospects, nothing is a given, but it is fun to wonder how history could have played out differently.

Monday, February 9, 2015

WSC Birth Years: Taylor Thompson

Card #171 - Taylor Thompson

Born: June 18, 1987

Taylor was originally drafted by the White Sox in the 25th round of the 2008 amateur draft, but chose not to sign. He was again chosen by Chicago in the 44th round of the 2009 draft. There he spent parts of six seasons in the White Sox minor league system. slowly working his way through, until his MLB debut with the Pale Hose on July 20, 2014 against the Houston Astros.

From July 20th until August 3rd, Thompson appeared in five games, giving up nine hits and six runs, culminating in a 10.13 ERA. Each appearance seemed to get progressively worse. Taylor's first two appearances went extremely well. A hit and two strikeouts in his first outing and only a walk and a hit in his second. Then Thompson appeared to derail and his ERA climbed higher in each successive outing. On November 4, 2014, Taylor was claimed off of waivers by the Oakland Athletics.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The First White Sox Card Of 2015 Is....

 Hey Tony LaRussa... do you know what time it is???

I can't hear you!!!

It's Pack Opening Day!!!

It is the first day for the first baseball card set of the new year. It's something I look forward to every year. Not only do I get to open a brand new pack for a brand new year, but after I open the first new pack of the year, it's that much closer to spring training, which in turn is that much closer to the new baseball season.

I had a 6 am start at work this morning, and with the snow that fell, it was a 4 am wake up just to get out of the driveway. A 2:30 pm end time at work guaranteed that I would not potentially have a new pack until 3 pm at the earliest. Since payday isn't until Friday, if Target didn't have the new release out on time (like last year), I wouldn't see any until next year. To fully understand that logic, it might help you to know that I had a Target gift card leftover from Christmas.

Luckily, Target had the hanging boxes in stock, but sadly nothing else. I grabbed two of the five boxes and headed to checkout. I get home and opened the packages.

The first White Sox card of 2015 is...
 177 - Paul Konerko

A tribute card to start of the year. There will be little looking back in 2015 for the White Sox. Not when the team has a shot to hit the postseason, but a look back to Konerko is always nice.

The second card is..
 65 - Alexei Ramirez

I had to wait until the second 72 card pack to find this card, but it was well worth it.

I had to wait until the last card in the second of two packs to find this gem.

A card commemorating the first home run of Jose Abreu's MLB career.

At Target today, the cashier was a Braves fan and didn't think much of his team's chances this year. I told him that I was a White Sox fan, and he could not name any of the offseason moves, except "those couple of guys from Oakland, right?" He then proceeded to tell me that Chicago is not a sports town and they have terrible teams. He cited that the White Sox would not be good this season and the Bears were bad. I reminded him of the Blackhawks, which he conceded, and the Bulls.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I think the White Sox will turn some heads this year, if only to prove the cashier wrong.

This Reminds Me Of Some Things...

...but I'm not sure what. I'm baffled.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Trading With Baseball Card Man

Out of the blue, I received two messages from fellow card bloggers inquiring about my address because they had something to send me. The first message was from Bart, better known through Baseball Card Man. He asked me if I had a certain card, which I didn't, then he sent me an entire set that I wasn't aware existed.

The 1988 Little Sun Black Sox was unknown to me, until a week ago. It contains sixteen cards all about the 1919 World Series and the major players involved, from the members of the Black Sox to the gamblers to Judge Landis.

It's an interesting set of cards, sepia toned cutouts on a solid green background create quite a pop.

Thanks, Bart!! This is a great addition to my collection. I will send something your way shortly.
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