Saturday, February 12, 2011

Birthdays this past week - Hits

Well, sorry I missed this feature last week but it's back. I am probably going to just focus on a handful of stats and rotate them each week. Probably home runs, wins, strike outs, and hits. And, with rare exceptions, I'm going to focus only on players from the modern era, defined rather immodestly by me, as players who played during my lifetime. In other words, players I might have actually seen play. It will also be more likely I own a card of these players as well. I own all the cards pictured here today except Bob Oliver.

February 6
2010 Topps 206 #185 Babe RuthOK, I'm going to break from my plans on the first card for this week, because February 6 was The Babe's birthday. Maybe I should have planned ahead a bit better. There's not much I can add about Babe Ruth that hasn't already been said. Suffice it to say that he had 2,873 hits with a career BA of .342, easily eclipsing anyone else with a birthday this week.

February 7
1988 Topps #292 - Carney LansfordCarney Ray Lansford was born in 1957 in San Jose CA. He was primarily a 3rd baseman who spent the last 10 years of his 15 year career with the A's. He had 2,074 hits with a .290 career BA. He was with those great A's teams of the late 1980s who went to the World Series in '88, '89 and '90. He was also an All-Star in 1988.

February 8
1972 Topps #57 Bob OliverI had to go all the way to fourth place on the February 8 list to come up with a player who played during my lifetime, and I never heard of him. Robert Lee Oliver was born in 1943 in Shreveport LA. In his 8 seasons he played for the Pirates, Royals, Angels, Orioles and ended his career in 1975 as a Yankee. He was signed by the White Sox in 1976 and then sold to the Phillies but didn't play for either team. His career total in hits was a modest 745 with a .256 batting average. His son, Darren, is in his 17th season as a pitcher, currently with the Rangers.

February 9
2004 Topps Cracker Jack # 81 - Vladimir GuerreroVlad the Impaler (what kind of a nickname is that?) was born in 1975 and is second to Babe Ruth for players born this week with 2,427 hits. In 15 years he has a .320 career batting average and has hit 436 home runs. He spent 7 seasons with the Expos, 6 with the Angels and is currently with the Rangers. He has appeared in 10 postseason series, including last year's World Series, his first, when the Rangers lost to the Giants. Vlad went 1 for 14 in the Series. He is an 8-time All-Star and the 2004 league MVP. I would think he's pretty much a lock for the Hall of Fame.

Guerrero is only 446 hits behind Babe Ruth. Since he has averaged almost 200 hits per season for his career (he had 178 in 2010) it is at least conceivable that he will pass Ruth in hits.

February 10
2006 Bowman Heritage Pieces of Greatness Lance BerkmanBig Puma was born in 1976 in Waco Texas. He has 1,675 hits in his career beating out Lenny Dykstra for players born this date. Lenny had 1,298 hits. Lance played for the Astros for 12 years before being traded to the Yankees last season. Although his production has fallen off in recent years he still has a career .296 average, and 327 home runs. He was a 5-time All-Star for the Astros with one World Series appearance, when the White Sox knocked the Astros out in 4 straight in 2005. He is currently signed with the Cardinals.

February 11
1987 Fleer Record Setters #26 Ben OglivieBen was born in 1949 in Panama. He was drafted in 1968 by the Red Sox in the 11th round. In his 16-year career he played for the Red Sox (3 years), the Tigers (4) years and 9 years for the Brewers. He had 1,615 hits in his career with a career batting average of .273. He made 3 All-Star Game appearances. In 1982, his Brewers lost the World Series to the Cardinals. His best year was 1980 when he hit for a .304 average and belted 41 home runs, well above his annual average. He is currently a hitting coach in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.

February 12
1989 Donruss #209 Chet LemonChet "The Jet" was born in 1955. He was a 1st round draft pick by the A's in 1972. He played for 16 years and amassed 1,875 hits. He is a 3-time All-Star with a World Series ring as a member of the 1984 Tigers. He retired in 1990 and has suffered from a serious spleen disease, eventually having his spleen removed. He now coaches two successful AAU teams, Chet Lemon's Juice,(18 and under) and Chet Lemon's Juice II,(12 and under) in Eustis FL. Lemon's son Marcus was selected in the 4th round of the 2006 ML Draft by the Rangers.

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