Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1978 Topps - George Medich.

The Rangers signed George Medich as a free agent on November 11, 1977 in an attempt to bolster their starting rotation. That's probably the reason for the airbrush job on card 583 of the 1978 Topps set. There can be no reason for how poorly done it is.

"Doc" earned his nickname when he started medical school the day after his Major League debut with the Yankees. He made it successfully through and became a full-fledged MD while playing Major League baseball. In 1978 he was a first year resident in general surgery at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh. The hours were considerably worse than those of a MLB player.

Sometimes those hospital hours intertwined with baseball. On July 17, 1977 in Baltimore, Medich was running wind sprints in the outfield prior to a game with the Orioles. Suddenly the loudspeaker requested medical assistance in section 7 of the stands and asked for any medical personnel in the park to respond to that location. Medich did so and was apparently the only doctor in the house. He found 61-year-old Germain Languth in apparent cardiac arrest and began CPR. Doc kept it up until paramedics arrived and took over. Three weeks later Languth walked out of the hospital. Several other doctors credited Medich with the save.

When he wasn't saving lives, Medich made 22 starts in 28 appearances for  Texas in 1978. He pitched 171 innings and put together a 3.74 ERA and an 1.275 WHIP. He ended the season with a 9-8 record and two saves. None of those numbers were career bests but Doc served reasonably well as the Rangers fourth starter and occasional emergency reliever. Texas would like to see some improvement in 1979 though. After all, a fourth starter can be challenged for his spot in the rotation.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Minor League Monday - Mitch Thomas, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Mitchell Drew Thomas, shown here on card 1157 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers set, was the Rangers pick in the 8th round of the 1985 draft. He got started on his pro career the same year with the Gulf Coast Rangers in the Rookie League.

Thomas also played for the Single A Salem Redbirds in 1985 and again in 1986. In 1987 he appeared with the Single A Charlotte Rangers.

After three seasons of Single A, Mitch got a ticket up to Double A Tulsa. He was with Tulsa in 1988 and 1989. Apparently he got injured late in the 1988 season or first thing in 1989. He only played in one game in 1989 and only pitched four innings. Thomas remained at Double A for the 1990 season.

In 1990 Thomas appeared in eight games for the Drillers, all as a starter. Over 37.2 innings he compiled a 3.35 ERA and an 1.354 WHIP. He struck out 28 opposing batters while walking 26. He ended the season 2-3.

If I had to guess, I would say Mitch Thomas was injured in his first start of 1989 and didn't return to play until midway through the 1990 season. By that time he was significantly behind the developmental curve. Apparently either the Rangers or Thomas felt he would be unable to complete a come-back. 1990 was his final season as a professional ball player.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Greatest Gift.

Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Amid all the wrappings and trappings of our modern-day Christmas each of us should remember to do as Mary. Keep in mind and ponder the greatest gift that mankind has ever received, reconciliation with God. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wow! Just, Wow!

So I was gone most of last Monday. Returned home just before midnight. As I was helping get sleeping kiddos out of the car Mrs. Spiff told me there was a box on the front porch. Hmm, I hadn't ordered anything. All the Christmas gifts arrived already. Mrs. Spiff told me the box didn't look like it had been shipped. I squinted in the dark. "Spiff" it said in black sharpie.

Kids in, I hauled the box in and examined it. It was heavy and was closed by the flaps being folded together. No indication on the outside who it was from.

Opened it up to find a note from Tom over at The Angels, In order. The note said Tom needed more room for his Angels stuff and thought I might like the contents of the box rather than him throwing them out. Boy did I ever!

Under the note was a stack of Rangers awesomeness. A pin, a wall banner from the Junior Rangers Club (Just like Spiff Jr's!), a media guide, assorted stadium handouts, two decks of Rangers playing cards, and 26 assorted magazines, programs, and Rangers yearbooks! I about fell over. What a great surprise!

I know I didn't have most of the contents of the box. This program from September 1-3, 2003 was one of many items I didn't have. There were even doubles of a couple of programs. You might think that is a bummer. Spiff Jr didn't. He thought Christmas came early when I handed the extras to him and told him they were his. The boy had to be pried away from reading them to take a shower and get to bed.

Tom's note said I shouldn't feel under any obligation to keep the contents of the box. I don't but I will. I haven't made it all the way through the box but I haven't found anything that will be getting tossed. Thanks a ton, Tom. There's no way to thank you enough so that will have to do for now.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

1978 Topps - Dave May.

Dave May, shown here on card 362 of the 1978 Topps set, came to Texas via the Jeff Burroughs trade. He was expected to be a back-up outfielder in 1977.

With Ken Henderson and Tom Grieve fighting injuries, May got a lot more playing time in 1977 than the Rangers planned. He appeared in 120 games, mostly in right field but with time at the other two outfield positions and at designated hitter as well. May actually played right field enough to be considered the primary right fielder for the club.

In 340 at-bats he put together a .241 batting average and a .311 on-base percentage. He hit 14 doubles, one triple, and seven home runs.

Dave served well as an emergency fill-in in 1977. He wasn't what the Rangers were looking for long-term though. That made him an extra wheel in an already crowded outfield that was undergoing an major overhaul. On May 17, 1978 Texas sold May's contract to the Milwaukee Brewers. After just one season, Dave May's time as a Texas Rangers was over.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Minor League Monday - Mike Taylor, 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers.

Well, Christmas is rapidly approaching and things are getting pretty busy here. Hope everyone is enjoying the season and not getting too overwhelmed by all the preparation. Taking a few minutes out to post since it's been awhile since I did so.

Today we have Michael David Taylor appearing on card 1156 of the 1990 ProCards Tulsa Drillers team set. Mike was drafted by the Orioles in the 1986 regular phase, and the Brewers in the 1986 secondary draft. He finally signed with Texas after being drafted a third time in 1987. Mike started his pro career the same year with the Gastonia Rangers.

Taylor spent three seasons at Single A. Two with Gastonia and one with the Charlotte Rangers. He gradually lowered his ERA and WHIP over the tree seasons. 1989 was his best at Single A as he turned in a 2.55 ERA and an 1.582 WHIP over 99 innings. It was up to Double A for the 1990 season.

Serving as a swing man, Mike made 9 starts for Tulsa in 33 appearances in 1990. He pitched 98 innings and ended the season with a 1-6 record and two saves. Taylor's lack of wins was probably attributable to his 5.79 ERA and 1.582 WHIP. His control seemed to have entirely deserted him as he hit ten opposing batters (career high) and walked 47 in between ten wild pitches (career high).

Double A had not been kind to Mike Taylor. He hadn't had a year quite as bad as 1990 since he signed with Texas. The loss of control in a right-hander was very concerning indeed. I can't determine if it was caused by an injury or some other issue and there's no way to find out if it would have gotten better. 1990 was Mike Taylor's last pro season.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Random Rangers and free cards.

Not much going on in Ranger land recently. Been pretty hectic in my world though and I apologize for the lack of recent posts. The lead-up to Christmas has begun and my time seems to be disappearing before my very eyes. Doesn't look like things will be slowing down anytime soon either.

With the lack of activity on the Rangers front, I opted for a random Rangers game-used card today. Hank Blalock got the call on this 2004 Upper Deck Matinee Idols card featuring a swatch of Hank's jersey.

I could use some help from my readers (if my lack of posting hasn't driven them all off). The Christmas giveaway was a success, even if I would have preferred to send out more packages. Space was cleared enough to allow me to sample the upcoming 2015 releases. Then a very nice problem. I was given a defunct collection. Mostly Indians. Enough to fill up the empty space and then some in the American League box. Enough other cards to take up most of the empty space in the National League box.

I need an Indians collector willing to take free cards. A Giants collector would also be appreciated since I am reaching critical mass on the black and orange. Of course, any space cleared would be good. If you missed the Christmas giveaway please let me know. Include a couple of teams you would be interested in (in order of preference). Email me at rmatlack3 at juno dot com with your name, address, and team list. If I have cards left from any of the teams you list I'll get some out to you in the next couple of weeks. Free cards. Can't beat that can ya?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Senators Saturday - Joe Coleman, 1968.

Joe Coleman looks less than impressed with the pitch he just threw on card 573 of the 1968 Topps set. Seeing as this is probably a pose, it's an interesting facial expression.

1968 was Joe's first full season in the Majors. He made 33 starts for Washington and completed 12 of them. Two of those complete games were shutouts. Coleman led the club in starts and never appeared in relief. He ended the season with a 12-16 record.

Over the 223 innings he pitched (team high), Joe put together a 3.27 ERA and an 1.179 WHIP. He whiffed 139 opposing batsmen (team best) while issuing 51 free passes. His 2.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio was the best on the team. Joe also tossed nine wild pitches and hit 12 batters.

Joe Coleman had been a workhorse for the Senators in 1968 and appeared to do well in his first full season with the club. He had some work to do though. His control obviously needed to be polished up. If Coleman could lower his WHIP a bit he might see his ERA drop some. That could put him from being a serviceable pitcher to a good one. Washington might have something in Joe Coleman and they wanted to see him develop quickly.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tom's Terrific!

Got a nice surprise in the mail this morning from Tom over at The Angels, In Order. Of course, it's always nice to hear from Tom but he outdid himself this time.

Just because he's a nice guy, Tom sent me a nice assortment of Rangers cards and team issue cards. Since I have only been to one FanFest in my life I really appreciate those kind of issues. It's surprising how hard they are to find on the secondary market.

What really made my day was that quite a few of the team issue cards were signed. Nine to be exact. Not often I open a package and fine nine Rangers autographs. A day to remember for sure.

One of the signed ones was this ballpark view card signed by former Ranger Ellis Valentine. Ellis was a Ranger for only a few weeks so it's hard to find any cards showing him in a Texas uniform. A card like this answers the purposes of obtaining an autograph nicely.

Thanks for the package Tom. I really appreciate it and it adds a lot to my collection.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Back and catching up.

Wow! It's been a long time since my last post and for that I apologize. Things got really hectic aver the past two weeks and I wasn't able to get enough posts pre-scheduled to make up the difference. I'm back in town now though and have no plans for any further vacations in the immediate future. Hopefully that means the regular posts are back. Lots going on with the Rangers since I last posted.

Mitch Moreland and Jurickson Profar both got good news. They had MRI's and things are looking good. Moreland should be full strength by Spring Training and Profar should be back by the start of the 2015 season.

Adam Rosales, Michael Kirkman, and Alexi Ogando, shown here on card 56 of the 2014 Topps Heritage set, all received bad news. The Rangers non-tendered the trio, making them free agents. Not a real surprise with any of the group. Rosales was a stop gap utility player and Kirkman just never came around. Ogando's elbow is a major concern and his failure to pitch in winter ball sealed the decision for Texas.

The Rangers have re-signed pitcher Colby Lewis to a one year deal. That's a real kick in the teeth for the anti Jon Daniels crowd. It's a good thing for the team I think. Colby struggled early in the 2014 season but by the end of the season he seemed to be mostly recovered from his hip surgery and back to his old self. If that continues in 2015 this signing could be the one that really helps the club.

Also, amidst all the confusion of the past couple of weeks, I got the Christmas giveaway packages sent out. Some were smaller than others due to a lack of cards for those particular teams. Hopefully all arrived safely and were enjoyed by the recipients. If you missed the giveaway just let me know your address and team preference and I'll see what I can do. I have no Rangers, A's, Angels, or Royals. I have a lot of Giants, Indians, Cubs, Cardinals, and Orioles. The rest of the teams have a few cards left as well.