Tuesday, September 13, 2016

One Singular Sensation: A Card from Swing & A Pop-Up

While I have a post to write up about a filled bubble mailer, I don't have a filled bubble-mailer post in me right now. I've had serious issues with my attention span today for some reason. Usually that results from either too much sugar, not enough coffee/caffeine, or a general lack of interest and enthusiasm for whatever it is I'm working on that day. 

Today, I'll blame it on all three. I've been very good about avoiding sugary snacks overall as part of my diet, but I cheated a little bit today. I have a serious weakness for peanut brittle -- I know, random -- and -- even more randomly -- a vendor trying to get our copying business or something sent one of our paralegals a big bag of it. It was so incredibly tasty, but horrible for my diet. Add in getting only two cups of coffee -- in an effort to avoid the peanut brittle, of course -- and having to try to write a mediation statement, and my ability to move the ball forward at my office was next to nil. 

That lack of an attention span carried over to coming home too. So, I'm choosing to write up a single-card package that I received from Bert over at Swing And a Pop-Up

Yeah, it's a weird day. No attention span and the only inspiration I have for a post is a song from a musical I saw a friend's high school put on in the late 1980s.

Anyway, Bert was kind enough to send me a card that, as he put it, "belongs in your collection way more than it does mine." Being a generally appreciative sort, I will not disagree with a man or a woman who wishes to send me baseball cards of Brewers players.

Especially when it's a great card:

This manu-relic is from 2009 Topps, and it commemorates the fact that Robin appeared in the 1983 All-Star game that took place at the old Comiskey Park. If you're in your mid-40s, this was a very memorable game. 

It featured the first -- and still only -- grand slam in All-Star Game history. 

Yount at first, Carew at Second, Trillo at third -- and Fred Lynn steps up and hits Atlee Hammaker's pitch into the right field seats, as called by the two voices that all important 1980s games should have had calling the game, Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola. 

Just as importantly, when the teams took the field on July 6, 1983, the American League had not won an All-Star Game since before I was born. I was born in December of 1971, and the AL had last won an All-Star Game on July 13, 1971. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, you didn't need some silly "winner gets home field" crap to get the teams to play hard. Of course, the players also hadn't seen the guys from the other league already in regular games, so that made it much more special than it is now.

But, I digress. Harvey Kuenn was the winning manager for the American League in that All-Star game. It remains to this day the only All-Star Game that a Brewers manager has managed, so the team's managers are 1-0. #ToppsNow

Getting back to the grand slam, the fact was that Hammaker was absolutely annihilated in that game -- 2/3 of an inning, 7 earned runs, 2 HRs allowed (the other to Jim Rice). Of course, Hammaker faced 5 Future Hall of Famers (Rice, Brett, Winfield, Carew, and Yount) and a sixth player (Ted Simmons) that should be. 

Hammaker had an excellent 1983, as he led the NL in ERA+, ERA, FIP, WHIP, and BB9 (just 1.7 walks per 9 innings in 1983, just 1.4 in 1982). Hammaker was never again quite as good as he was in 1982 and 1983, though, as injuries -- specifically shoulder tendinitis -- in 1983 limited him to just 23 starts. Then, in 1984, he had rotator cuff surgery and bone spurs in his elbow. In 1986, he missed the whole year thanks to shoulder issues, surgery on both knees, and a viral infection. Later, he missed 1992 and 1993 with Tommy John surgery before coming back and pitching for the White Sox.

Two of his 5 daughters, Anna and Alesa, followed in their dad's footsteps in being athletes. In addition to his baseball career, Atlee played college basketball at East Tennessee State for two years. His middle daughter Alesa played basketball at Berry College here in Georgia, and youngest daughter Anna is now playing guard for the Kansas State Wildcats.

These days, though, Hammaker is now known almost as much for the fact his son-in-law is the reason that Jonathan Lucroy is playing for the Texas Rangers rather than the Cleveland Indians. That's right -- Hammaker's second oldest daughter Jenna married her fellow Tennessee Volunteer, Catcher Yan Gomes, in 2012 despite Atlee's plea to his daughter not to date a baseball player. 

Gomes had a terrible 2016 -- "hitting" .165/.198/.313 before hitting the disabled list on July 17. But, Gomes is 28 years old and is signed to a fairly team friendly contract through at least 2019 (with two team options in 2020 for $9 million and 2021 for $11 million, both with $1 million buyouts). And Gomes is nearly ready to return to the lineup -- which will force the Indians to decide if he will move to first base or stay as a catcher.

All of this from the 1983 All-Star Game. Who would have thought it?


  1. Very cool card!

    I am to need to cut down on the sugar too.

  2. 50th All Star game, at Comiskey because we hosted the first.

    And I miss that field. Nothing like sitting right underneath the scoreboard during Sting soccer games. Only time you should sit in the batter's view section.

  3. Atlee Hammaker was one of my first autograph cards as a child. A family friend was connected to him somehow and gave me an IP auto. I think I still have it!

    Great post!