Friday, August 28, 2009

Orlando Miller

Orlando Miller played for the Astros from 1994-1996; he last year in the majors was in '97 with the Tigers.

His entire career spanned twenty years (1988-2008), playing anywhere from Rookie A to the Independent leagues, where he finished up with the Edmonton Cracker-Cats.

I bought this card (along with several others) on eBay a few years ago.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jim Clancy

I sent these cards off on 6/17/09 and received them back on 8/19/09. I have an extra of each that I will trade for another signed Astro card (or maybe any other player that interests me).

Jim began his major league career with the Blue Jays. He ended up in Houston as a free agent in 1989 and played here until '91. Clancy also spent a little time with Houston's AAA team, the Toros. He was traded during that last season to Atlanta for Matt Turner and appeared in the World Series that year.

He became a free agent again and signed with the Cubs; however, during spring training of '92 he decided to retire.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dave Bergman

I sent this card to Dave Bergman TTM perhaps ten years ago. It was his first card issued as an Astro.

Bergman was originally signed by the Yankees, but after playing only 12 games for them over the course of two seasons (1975 and '77) he was traded to the Astros, where he would play from 1978 to 1981.

Following his career with the Astros he played with the Giants and later with the Tigers. It was with the Tigers that he broke up a no-hitter by Nolan Ryan (which he discusses in part three of the video below).

Dave could have started playing ball right out of high school with the Cubs but decided to go to college instead. He obtained his business degree from Illinois State University, which paved the way for a career after pro sports. You can see what he's up to these days here:

Sent off TTM on 12/11/99; received 12/27/99

Three part video series conducted for "From Glory Days":

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Charlie Kerfeld, "Pterodactyl"

Kerfeld began his career in Houston in 1985 where he would play until 1990. He also played for the Cardinals in '90 and later retired that year. He was known for wearing a Coneheads mask along with Larry Andersen and Dave Smith during games while hanging out in the dugout.

I sent these cards off on 8/11/09 and received them back on 8/22/09. I included an extra of each card, which were also signed and returned. Evidently Charlie didn't give the cards time to dry before putting them into the return envelope (the signatures are a little smudged, plus some traces of red ink was transferred to the backs of the other cards). Still, if anyone is interested in trading for my doubles let me know. If you're looking for perfection don't bother asking!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Harry Spilman, aka "Country"

Harry Spilman began his career with the Reds in 1978. He played for the Astros twice (1981-85 and 1988-89). All together he had twelve seasons in the majors. During that time he racked up 117 RBI's.

He recently worked in the front office for the Texas Rangers. Prior to that he coached in the minors for the Nashville Sounds.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Milt May, aka "Fudd"

Milt May spent 15 years in the major leagues, beginning in 1970 with the Pirates. He played for Houston for two seasons (1974-75), having been obtained in a trade with Jerry Reuss. During his days as an Astro he had the distinction of driving in the 1,000,000th run (Bob Watson).

Following his career as a catcher May coached for the Pirates, Marlins, Devil Rays, and Rockies.

Sent off TTM on 11/19/99; received 12/8/99

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Alan Ashby

Ashby's first game was in 1973 with the Cleveland Indians. In 1977 he played the first of two seasons with the Blue Jays; in fact, he was the first player acquired from a trade for the Blue Jays. His longest stint was with Houston, where he played from 1979-89.

Following his career as a player, Ashby worked in broadcasting in Houston; later on he managed in the minor league system. He started with the WhiteWings, followed by the Cobras (a class A Astros farm team). In 1997 he joined the Astros coaching staff. Currently he is on the broadcasting crew for the Blue Jays.

In 2000 he was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Sent TTM on 11/1/99; received 11/18/99

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Harry Walker

Harry Walker (1916-1999)

Here's a card I bought on eBay recently.

Harry Walker began his career playing in the majors on 9/25/40 with St. Louis. He missed playing pro ball 1944-45 while serving in 65th Infantry Division during WWII.

Here's an interesting article about Walker I found on Baseball in Wartime

"Walker was wounded in combat and earned a Bronze Star for "meritorious service in connection with military operations" and a Purple Heart for wounds received on March 22, 1945. At one time Walker's unit was ordered to hold a bridge and stop German troops trying to get across. Manning a machine gun on a Jeep, Walker was faced with an enemy that refused to stop. "So that's when I had to start shooting," he told author Frederick Turner, "and I just cut through the whole mess, and they were scattered everywhere, firing back and forth at you, and you're just out there on point like a sitting duck."

On another occasion he was on patrol when he ran into three German guards. "They came within ten feet of us," he recalled. "The only thing that saved us was they thought we were Germans retreating from fighting.

"Those three guards walked up to us, and one of them asked me, in German, where the Americans were. I asked them, in English, to surrender. Instead, he threw his rifle up in my face.

"I had a .45 caliber revolver, one that I'd bought myself ... I shot all three Germans. Five shots, and all five hit them.

"But it was close. That rifle was only about four feet from me when I started shooting. What saved me was that he was trying to get his safety bolt off. He couldn't get it off before I was able to get him."

Days later the war in Europe was over and Walker's next assignment was to organize baseball games for the troops. He located earthmoving equipment in Czechoslovakia and built a ballfield in Linz, Austria."

Before and just after the war he played in the World Series with the Cardinals (1942 and 1946).

As Player:
St. Louis Cardinals (1940-1943, 1946-1947, 1950-1951, 1955)
Philadelphia Phillies (1947-1948)
Chicago Cubs (1949)
Cincinnati Reds (1949)

As Manager:
St. Louis Cardinals (1955)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1965-1967)
Houston Astros (1968-1972)

Career Highlights:
World Series champion: 1942, 1946
National League pennant: 1943
2-time National League All-Star
National League batting champion: 1947

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Scott Servais

I met Scott Servais back in the spring of '91, not long after he was called up to the majors. The only card I had at the time was this card from when he played in Tucson.

Servais played from 1991 until 2001:

-Houston Astros (1991-1995, 2001)
-Chicago Cubs (1995-1998)
-San Francisco Giants (1999)
-Colorado Rockies (2000)

Prior to his days as a major league catcher he was a member of the Amateur World Series team, played in the Pan American games, and was also on the '88 Olympic team.

He is currently the director of player development for the Texas Rangers.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bill Spiers

After playing ball for the Brewers and the Mets, Bill Spiers came to Houston in 1996 where he would finish out his career early in the 2001 season.

During a game against the Brewers, he was attacked by a Milwaukee fan. I guess the guy didn't approve of Bill leaving his favorite team. Mike Hampton came to the rescue, though.

Spiers currently holds the Astros team record for reaching base in the most consecutive plate appearances with 13 in 1997.

I sent these two cards off on 6/26/09 and they came back today. I really like the 2000 Stadium Club and was worried that the slick surface might not hold the ink well, but it came back looking great.

The Upper Deck card looks pretty nice, too. The back mentions the fact that while at Clemson University he was named twice to the All-America team and also lettered in football.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brian Williams

Today I received this 1992 Donruss Rated Rookie card of Brian Williams from Zach of Autographed Cards.

Williams played in Houston from 1991-94 and again in '99. He was traded to the Padres in '94 along with Ken Caminiti, Andujar Cedeno, Steve Finley and Roberto Petagine.

He was the 31st pick during the first round of the draft in 1990. However, he had been drafted previously in 1987 by the Pirates but did not sign.

Zach also threw in a Scipio Spinks autographed post card.

Thanks Zach! I hope you enjoy the Jose Cruz card.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pete Incaviglia

Inky played his first season in Houston in 1992, just a couple years after playing for that other Texas ball club to the north. In '98 he came back to the Astros to finish out his major league career. He also played with the Tigers, Orioles, Phillies and Yankees. Pete also played a year in Japan, between a stint with the Phillies.

After retiring from the majors as a player Pete was on the coaching staff for Detroit's AA team. After doing that for a few years he became the head coach for the Grand Prairie AirHogs. I sent these two cards to Inky care of this independant team from the American Association on 5/1/09 and received them back on 5/30/09.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ron Cook

Ron Cook played two years in the majors; both years were with the Astros. During his rookie year he had an ERA of 3.72 and pitched in 82.1 innings. He played in 41 games that year. The '71 season was his last season in the majors. He played in only 5 games that year, finishing up on 9/16/71.
Cook saw some action in the minors prior to and after his stint in Houston. His last game was in '73 with the AA Denver Bears.

Sent off TTM on 10/5/99; received 10/10/99

Friday, August 7, 2009

Jose Cruz, Sr., "Cheo"

Every time I think of Cruz I hear J. Fred Duckett yelling "Jose Cruuuuuuuuuuuz!"

Jose, aka 'Cheo' began his major league career with the Cardinals on 9/19/70 (the day after Jimi Hendrix left this world and five days before I entered it). In 1975 he began playing for Houston, and would do so until '87. He spent his last year playing with the Yankees.

I saw Cruz play one time back in '83; the next time I saw him on the field in Houston he was coaching first base.

*2x All-Star selection (1980, 1985)
*2x Silver Slugger Award winner (1983, 1984)
*ranked 2nd in most games played by an Astro (Biggio now holds this honor)

In 1992 Cruz's #25 was retired. In 2003 he was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

I sent these cards off 4/27/09 and received them back today. (I have an extra of the '81 Donruss that I would be willing to trade for an Astro that I do not have).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Doug Konieczny

Doug Konieczny made his major league debut towards the end of the 1973 season with the Astros. He played in Houston until the first part of the '77 season. He was originally drafted by the Tigers in 1969 but did not sign. In '71 he signed a contract with Houston (the 4th pick in the first round of the Secondary Phase). He went back and forth from the minors to the majors, but did play one full season at the 'Dome (1975).

I sent this card off on 6/29/09 and received it back in the mail on 7/16/09.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Joe Niekro

I'm back from a 25 mile canoe trip in the Ozarks and I'm ready to post some more cards (and forget about my sun burned feet and legs).

Here's a card of Joe Niekro I bought on eBay. I never had a chance to obtain a signed Niekro card either through the mail or in person, so I bought this one.

Joe made his debut in '67 with the Cubs. He played the majority of his career with the Astros (1975-85). Over all, he played 22 seasons and with a total of 7 clubs. During his time with Houston he was an All-Star selection in 1977 and the 1979 NL The Sporting News Pitcher of the Year. Additionally, he pitched in the World Series with the Twins in 1987.

Joe was known for his knuckleball, hence the nickname "Knucksie".

His only major league home run was pitched to him by his brother Phil on 5/29/76. I wonder how many times that has happened in pro baseball.

Joe died 10/26/06 of a brain aneurysm.