Monday, July 24, 2017

Expanding the Strike Zone

As I followed along on Twitter and watched other folks get their TTM autographs back, I noticed two things:

1) Almost everyone was getting multiple (sometimes three, four or five) cards signed.
2) Often folks have an extra autographed card from one set that they are willing to trade for a card from another set that they are collecting. 

While I am intent on working on the 1987 Topps set specifically, I figured it might be a good idea to start sending out an additional card with my requests, be it either to keep for my collection or to possibly trade for a 1987. Because I have a couple friends collecting the 1985 Topps set (and because I'm crazily nostalgic about 1985 in general), I figured I'd send out one of them with my 1987s on most requests.

Against that backdrop, I had a day last week when I got TTM requests back from three different former players:

I can't exactly remember why I sent out a 1986 to Mark Gubicza instead of a 1985, but for some reason I did. I guess maybe I hadn't settled on the 85s yet. Regardless, Gubicza was a mainstay of the Royals pitching staff for 13 years, ultimately becoming the last remaining player from their 1985 World Series championship team. His best year was 1988 when he went 20-8 with a 2.70 ERA. The two-time all star could never quite regain that form, as he battled injuries throughout much of the remainder of his career. He finished up his playing career hurling 4 2/3 innings for the Angels in 1997 and ultimately ended up in their broadcast booth as a color announcer on their television broadcasts. I got back his cards in 23 days.

Ted Power was another pitcher who has remained involved with the game. Power had a 13-year playing career in which he played for eight teams (including the Cardinals in 1989). Although he did start 85 games in his career, he mostly was a reliever, leading the NL with 78 appearances in 1984, and then registering 27 saves in 1985. Power was a pitching coach in the Reds' minor league system for 17 years before finally getting promoted back to the bigs in 2016. Now the Reds' bullpen coach, Power signed and returned my cards quickly, getting them back to me in just 10 days.

Also getting cards back to me in just 10 days was Bill Almon. A former #1 overall draft pick (note the 1985 special card!), Almon never became a star, but he did manage to put together a 15-year MLB career, playing for seven teams. In addition to his two cards in the 1985 set and his regular 1987 card, Almon also had a 1987 Topps Traded card. He only had 62 plate appearances for the '87 Mets (who Cardinal fans of that era not so affectionately referred to as "Pond Scum"). I guess this accounts for why I have no recollection of him playing for such a heated (and hated) rival. Almon's best year was the strike-shortened 1981 season when he batted .301 and finished 19th in the AL MVP voting.

All in all, the eight cards from three players represented the best day of TTM success that I've had so far. Hopefully we'll have more days like this in the future!

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