My family first moved to Houston in the summer of 1967, early July to be exact. I was heading into my sophomore year of high school and I was the one family member that hated the idea of pulling up our New Jersey roots and heading down here. I pretty much figured that being summer I wouldn't know anyone or even get a chance to know anyone my age until school opened. And a new school itself was not something I relished.
But Houston had baseball, and with the Orioles struggling following the great 1966 season, I decided to throw myself into following the Astros, just because. We were in a hotel for a few days before our moving van arrived and I remember cutting out Astros game stories, box scores and pictures from the Houston papers, the now-defunct Post (where I later was employed for many years) and then afternoon published Chronicle.
Those clipping turned into a scrapbook of the second half of the Astros' dreary 1967 season. I wasn't new to this. I had kept New York Ranger scrapbooks for years. Which brings me to the card at the top of the post. It was part of the Nachos Grande group break and it is why I was happy I dealt the Twins for the 'Stros as my 'second' team. I would never seen it otherwise. It's a 2004 Upper Deck Play Ball Home Run Heroics Eddie Mathews.
It's a gimmick card, sure, but it commemorates Eddie Mathews 500th homer which he hit in a Friday night game on July 14 of that season in Candlestick Park. I don't specifically remember listening to that one but I listened to just about every Astros game that year after we arrived. What I do remember (and probably still have stored somewhere) is the newspaper account of Mathews' milestone. Those were the highly competitive days when newspapers held deadlines until the West Coast games were finished before going to press.
So when this card came out of the stack from Chris I really got a kick out of it when I realized what it was. There are a couple of others in the break that are worth mentioning, for differing reasons.
This is Dave Crouthers, a 2001 3rd Round pick of the Orioles. After the 2004 season, with a 30-25 minor league record, the O's tossed him along with Mike Fontenot (who?) and Jerry Hairston, Jr. into the trade for Sammy Sosa. This may be the most obscure autograph card I own but in looking at that trade I did discover that both Crouthers and Hairston played for Southern Illinois. I also now know that Hairston played for the Orioles for seven seasons and then for two teams for two seasons and five teams for one season. So there.
And finally a 'laundry' card of Rafael Palmeiro. In August 2005 I was driving my family from NYC to Baltimore on our monumental East Coast vacation when the news broke that he'd been suspended for steroid use. When we attended the games at Camden Yards the sign congratulating him on 3000 hits was still up. But he wasn't playing.
Of the cards that I received as part of Chris' 'trade stack', this is my favorite:
It's a 2005 Upper Deck Classics Lyman Bostock. He was a talented young outfielder for the Twins and Angels who was shot an killed in 1978 in a case that was the result of Bostock being in that too familiar 'wrong place, wrong time'. He'd only played four seasons in the bigs when he died. If you are a fan of the powder blue double knit era, this is a card for you.
Here are a few others with quick observations:
I liked Frank Viola with the Twins. But wearing that terrible Met road uni with the shoulder stripes? Ugh. Still kind of a neat card. Looks like he's charging a bunt.
There is no way this guy hit 50 homers in one season. He's the bat boy. I don't believe he was juiced but I'm totally convinced the ball was. It was part of baseball's attempt to pull fans back into the game.
EDIT: The more I look at this card the more I'm convinced it actually IS the bat boy.
Chris Sabo, without his goggles. He just looks weird like that.