Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grading first trade - Straight A's

Back in March, I started writing a blog about baseball cards.  One of my earliest blogs was an offer to trade some Topps 1971 baseball cards.  Recently, Jeremy, a reader of my blog, contact me and wanted to make a trade.  He was interested in six of the cards.  This was going to be my first trade.  In exchange for the 1971 cards, I told him to send me cards that I may be interested in.
He did great as received a pack of A's cards.  I've been a A's fan since I was eight years old.  My first year of collecting baseball cards was in 1968, the year that the A's moved from Kansas City to Oakland.   During their first season in Oakland, my family went to visit friends who lived in Berkeley.  During that trip, I attended my first major league game.   
I remember the game.  My mom took me and my siblings, with the family friends, as we were part of a crowd of 5,811 who attended a June night game at Oakland Coliseum.   We sat in the right field bleacher as "Catfish" Hunter pitched a completed game 5 - 3 victory over the Orioles.  I can remember it as if it was yesterday, that in the bottom of the seventh inning, Floyd Robinson's pinch hit double plated two runs to break a 3 - 3 tie.  Hunter shut down the Orioles in the 8th and 9th innings in the A's victory.

Topps 1968 Floyd Robinson Card #404
While I attended the game, I am sure that I had some of my baseball cards with me, as I wouldn't left home without them.  Those Topps 1968 beauties.
The A's, later became known as the "Mustache Gang", went on to win three consecutive World Series in 1972, 1973, and 1974.  Following those three championship seasons, keeping with a tradition established during the decade of 1910 by then owner/manager Connie Mack, A's owner Charlie Finley let his star players go.  Players from those 1970 championship teams were either traded or become free agents.  The first player to go was Hunter.  In 1974, after a contract violation by Finley, for his failure to pay Hunter $50,000, Hunter won an arbitration hearing in December that voided his contract, and he was allowed to leave as a free agent.  Hunter went on to sign with the Yankees for five years for a then record $3.35 million. 

Topps 1968 Jim Hunter Card #385
Soon thereafter, free agency came to baseball.  Finley felt that due to low attendance, he would be unable to pay the players that had won the three World Series.  So during spring training of 1976, in anticipation of losing Reggie Jackson and Ken Holtzman as free agents, Finley traded them to the Orioles in a deal that included young outfielder named Don Baylor.  After the 1976 season, Sal Bando, Rollie Fingers, Bert Campaneris, Gene Tenace, and Joe Rudi all played out their contracts and signed with other teams.  In December 1976, manager Chuck Tanner was traded to the Pirates for catcher Manny Sanguillen.  During spring training 1977, the A's received six players from the Pirates in a traded that included All Star second baseman Phil Garner.  Then in March of 1978, after leading the American League in losses with 19 during the 1977 season, Vida Blue was traded to the Giants for seven players. 
During 1977, the A's the finished in 7th place in the American League Western Division.  Then in 1978, they finished in 6th place, and in 1979 they again finished in 7th place.
Finley sold the A's in August of 1980, only after hiring Billy Martin to manage the team.  Martin, who had attended Berkeley High School, and after graduating in 1946, had played with Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.  Martin returned to the East Bay and lead the A's to a second place finish during the 1980 season.  Then during the strike marred 1981 season, behind skipper Martin, the A's had the best record of all teams in the American League Western Division.  Due to the strike, there was a Division Series played where the A's defeated the Royals three games to none.  The A's missed out on returning to the World Series as they loss in the American League Championship series to the Yankees.      
In 1982, Martin left as manager of the A's and they failed to make the playoff again until the late 80s.  They returned to post season play after making trades, acquiring Carney LansfordDennis Eckersley, Bob Welch, Rickey Henderson, and Dave Parker, and bringing in free agents, signing  Dave Henderson, Dave Stewart, Don Baylor, and Mike Moore.  In addition, the A's developed players who won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in three consecutive years.  Beginning in 1986, Mark McGwire was Rookie of the Year, followed in 1987 by Jose Canseco, and then in 1988, Walt Weiss won the award.  The A's returned to prominence and made it back to the World Series in three consecutive seasons.  The A's loss to the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series, defeated the Giants in 1989, and loss to the Reds in the 1990 World Series.

That's enough A's history.  Getting back to the trade of baseball cards which was why I was writing this blog.  What I got in the trade were cards of A's players from the mid and late 1980s. 
Some of the cards I received in the trade:

Topps 1986 Dusty Baker Card #645, Mike Davis Card #165, Dave Kingman, Card #410, Jackie Moore Card #591, and Dwayne Murphy Card #8
None of the A's shown above from the Topps 1986 set were a part of the A's teams that played in the 1988, 1989, or 1990 World Series.  Mike Davis was with the Dodgers during the 1988 series.  During Game One of that series, Davis came up as a pinch hitter with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning as the Dodgers trailed the A's 4 - 3.  He faced A's relief ace Dennis Eckersley and walked.   One batter later, Dodger pinch hitter Kirk Gibson homered to win the game 5 - 4.  This homer essentially ended the 1988 World Series, as the Dodgers defeated the A's four games to one. 
Topps 1987 Carney Lansford Card #678, Dave Stewart Card #14, Mickey Tettleton Card #649, Bruce Bochte Card #496, and Alfredo Griffin Card #111 
In December 1982, Carney Lansford was traded to the A's, from the Red Sox, for outfielder Tony Armas.  Lansford played third base for each of the A's World Series teams.  He played ten seasons with the A's.  His best season was in 1989 when hit batted .336.  He retired as an Athletic in 1992.  In May 1986, the A's pulled Dave Stewart off the scrap heap as they signed him after he was released by the Phillies.   Stewart came home as he was a graduate of Oakland's St. Elizabeth High School.  During the 1985 season, while pitching with the Rangers and Phillies, Stewart had a record of 0 - 6 with an ERA of 5.46 and had started the 1986 season with the Phillies and had appeared in four games with no decisions and an ERA of 6.57.  Stewart completed the 1986 season with the A's and then starting in 1987, while pitching in Oakland, he won over 20 games in each of the next four season.
Topps 1989 Don Baylor Card #673, Dave Parker Card #475, Dennis Eckersley Card #370, Terry Steinbach Card #725, and Dave Henderson Card #527

These players were all on the A's 1989 World Series Championship team.  In April 1987, the A's traded three minor league players to the Cubs for Eckersley.  It was thought that Eckersley's career was near its end, but with the A's, he became a MVP relief pitcher and finished with a plaque in the Hall of Fame. 

Topps 1988 Tony Phillips Card # 673, Score 1990 Bashers Blast Giants Card #702, and Rickey Henderson Card #10

The Score card of prodigal son, Rickey Henderson, shows him possibly attempting to steal another base.  Henderson graduated from Technical High School in Oakland in 1976 and was draft by the A's in June of that year and signed with the team in July 1976.  During his career, Henderson played with nine teams, including four stints with the A's, as he batted leadoff for the 1989 World Series Championship team.  Henderson retired as the all-time Major League leader in run scored and stolen bases.    

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