Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Trade and question about ‘80’s players

 Sometime last week, I was able to find a collector on one of my Facebook groups who wanted to finish his 1993 Fleer set. The group is called ‘Junk Era - All Sports - Keep It Real - 1980-1998’, and a good amount of the time, it’s just flipper d-bags trying to sell ungraded player lots with a ton of doubles,  graded 1988 Donruss commons, or just really high priced crap. Every once in a while, a true collector comes on and needs some set help or has something with a realistic price. I have made a few transactions on the page, and for the most part, the guys were stand up people. I purchased a few Traded sets at a good price from 1 or 2 guys, and they were reasonably priced and delivered quickly. There was the idiot who wanted to trade me some common ‘80’s Topps cards I needed, and a Randy Arozarena 2020 Topps Gold Cardinals rookie and a Brandon Lowe Topps Chrome Autographed rookie refractor for my 2018 Topps Update Acuna rookie. That was one of the bad ones. I felt like Acuna is better than Arozarena and Lowe and would’ve had more long term value than the Randy rookie (even though it was a gold version) and the autograph of a streaky and injury prone local fan favorite (no matter how low the serial number). It would’ve taken a number of commons to make the trade even for me (like 1,000+), and we just decided to not do the trade, and I’m happy with the decision. 

This latest trade worked out well for both parties, and I hope we can do another one. I gave up 230 or so 1993 Fleer cards and was able to get him 10 cards away from finishing Series 2. I got 260 or so Topps needs, most from 1984 and 1985. He also threw in a few 1986  and 2002 Topps cards for good measure. 
The stack took a while to go through, but I was able to log it into TCDB, take them off of my Google Docs wantlist, and physically mark them off of my physical paper wantlist. 
Most of the cards were commons or semi stars, but there were some cool cards in as well. Some stars, a few All-Stars, a Joe Morgan ‘85 record breaker, some checklists, 3 guys I collect, a few League Leader cards, and 6 from the ‘85 Father Son sunset. 
I think at one point, I had the Schofield, Stenhouse, and Law versions of those cards signed by both. I’ll have fun adding the whole stack to my boxes and eventually into binders. 

Looking at some of the cards, I wondered how baseball in the ‘80’s was. From hearing stories from people and stuff I’ve seen on MLB network, I get the understanding that speed was king and with infielders, defense was the main focus, and they weren’t expected to hit. Pitchers were expected to go 7-8 innings and relied more on junk than 100 MPH fastballs. 

Some of the stats on the back made me wonder how some of these guys stuck around so long. Had position players put up the offensive numbers or pitchers put up the stats on some of the cards I’ve seen, I think even in the ‘90’s without the SABRMetric stats that they wouldn’t have had the long leash like these cards make it appear. 

Mike Ramsey hit around .250, had zero power (and from the looks of it, not much speed), yet he gets into over 100 games for the ‘82 Cardinals World Championship team. Maybe he was a slick fielding defensive replacement?  Maybe he was the best they had in AAA?

Doug Gwosdz played 4 years for the Padres despite hitting in the .100’s in the Majors and around .260 in the minors. He had a little pop, but with those batting averages, he had better have a little defense to back that up. The Padres had Terry Kennedy and Bruce Bochy. How did Gwosdz keep getting called up?  I am glad that he got to the Majors, as we would’ve probably never have heard his nickname. Teammates called him ‘Eye Chart’ because of the combination of letters in his last name. 

Randy Lerch had a few decent W-L records in his first few seasons, but most of his ERAs started with 4s and 5s. I guess lefties have always been at a premium. 

For most of his career, Steve Nicosia hit in the low .200’s. I’m guessing he was a good defensive catcher. 

I’ve always wondered not only how Flynn got playing time, but how he got into so many card sets. He consistently hit below .250, had no power, and no speed. He must’ve been Robbie Alomar when it came to the glove work. Still, I don’t recall him winning any gold gloves. 

One last one. Derrel Thomas kept hitting around .250 with little power, and it looks like he may have had speed as his saving grace. It just makes me wonder how these players kept getting playing time with the stats they put up. Any guys who watched ball in the ‘80’s have any answers?

Aside from yesterday, I really haven’t had much time in the last week to upload cards into TCDB. Just a product of trying to keep up with housework, having to go grocery shopping, and having other things come up that are more important. 

I was able to get finished with the 1996 sets in my Indians/Guardians binders. If I don’t get dragged into mowing the lawn on Friday (my next off day), I’ll try to finish off that team. 

Things are going to be steady the next few weeks, and some of that is bad, some is good. St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, which means some extra volume at work. On the 21st of March, we will be flying to Grand Rapids, MI and be spending a few days there while seeing one of my younger cousins get married. I have like 30 cousins, but aren’t that close with many of them, because 90% lived in Michigan growing up, and I moved to Florida when I was 8. There are 7 or 8 who we hung out with before we moved, but a number of them weren’t born yet, and there have to be 1 or 2 that I have never met. The one who is getting married falls into the wasn’t born before I moved category, but I have met him a few times. I hope to find some Tigers gear, and more than that, there might be a chance to go to a card shop and meet up with reader Stu, also known as Poison75. All I want is just a few hours at the shop, and hopefully between whatever we plan I will be able to make it out there. It’s going to be a nice little mini vacation and a nice break from work. I just hope this Florida boy doesn’t freeze. 

Hopefully I can make some more trades like this one and get closer to finishing off some Topps sets. Maybe I can also answer the question of why ‘80’s guys with average stats stuck around so long. 

Thanks for taking the time to read my latest post. 


  1. - Mike Ramsey: Seems like a classic "super utility" type as a guy who was capable of playing every IF position, but wasn't good enough (with bat or glove) to be a starter. There is value in being able to open up roster spots for specialists (bats or pitchers) as long as players like Ramsey don't get too exposed.

    - Doug Gwosdz: Looks like he was an ORG player, mostly a capable glove used to fill roster spots in AAA and be an emergency ML call-up if there isn't a more talented guy ready for the role.

    - Steve Nicosia: Your evaluation is likely accurate. A lot of teams in the 70s-90s in particular liked to have a LHB/RHB catching platoon and Nicosia not having a great stick on the weak side of that platoon (next to decent bats like Ed Ott and Milt May) was acceptable if he played solid defense.

    - Randy Lerch: Yeah, mostly just a decent, but unspectacular lefty. He did not seem to miss bats and when he played in front of worse defenses than those of the strong late 70s Phillies teams, it caught up to him. Likely didn't have the stuff to be a LOOGY.

    - Doug Flynn: As a Mets fan growing up who was too young to have seen the teams from the 80s play, I still remember Flynn being talked up by older fans for his supposedly amazing glove. He did win one GG, but his bat was so bad that he should have been a reserve well before that happened.

    - Derrel Thomas: True super-utility type in that he could also play the OF (including CF, where he was seemingly passable) and was a switch-hitter. Seems to have been fast, but not a great baserunner/stealer on the whole, although speed alone can be blinding. Of the players on this list, he feels like the one that was probably a bit more valuable than his WAR indicates.

  2. The 1960s and 1970s is known as the "second deadball era" for a reason. Pitchers were king and stadiums were huge. There was a carryover effect into the '80s. Once they began replacing the cookie-cutter massive stadiums with today's pseudo band boxes in the early '90s, the offense benefitted. Also, Players like Ripken ushered in the era of good-hitting shortstops. Prior to that, most of them were required just to field well and hitting was a bonus. Same with most catchers.

  3. Yeah, in the 80's, the top hr hitters barely got 20 dingers, rbi's were lower then too. batting 300 was not a common thing until Gwynn changed it up. Think about it 1980 Topps 1 key card (Henderson, 81' two at best, 82" again 1 (Ripken), 83' had 3 key cards, 84' had 1 (Mattingly), 85' 3 again, etc... The game was absolutely different then. I think it was better for the most part. To go to a Braves game $10 got the best seat in the house with parking, nose bleeds were a buck and half. Times are different for sure.

  4. I kinda started rooting for the Padres back in 1984 when they went to the World Series... so a guy like Gwosdz was never on my radar. But I bet Rod (Padrographs) would remember him (and why he was called up).

  5. The 80s were definitely different. Starters would go 6-7-8-9 innings and were still being criticized for overuse in the bullpens. Closers were starting to be a thing for all teams. Lots of good fielding bench guys, and guys weren't being sent up and down all the time. Card sets were bigger, so most players with any significant time got cards. There were a few modern style players then, like Rob Deer who were HR/SO only with a low avg.

  6. Sorry that last comment was from me. I didn't realize I wasn't logged in. The Mike Perez on the other post was me too.