Reid Nichols 1988 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for August 28, 2017


In Spring Training of 1980, my family went to Winter Haven, Florida to see my beloved Boston Red Sox train.

It was really the second year I followed the ins and outs of a baseball season and I pretty much knew everyone on the Sox team. Spring training is an amazing experience because you can get up close to the players and I collected my share of autographs.

I was not quite 8 years old and a cute kid if I can say so myself. So I guess I was tough to turn down that day.

I got a bunch of autographs players I knew well, including my hero, Butch Hobson. At one point a Red Sox player signed my book and my brothers’ book.

I looked at it. I had no clue who this guy was. The signature read “Reid Nichols.”


Keep in mind, I got the autograph for obscure Red Sox players like Allen Ripley and Stan Papi. It wasn’t like I only knew Yaz, Rice, Fisk and Lynn. I KNEW this Sox team.

And yet there was a name that totally eluded me.

So that day, we returned back to our hotel room, looked over the names, and I scratched my head about Reid Nichols. I figured out he played for Winston-Salem the year before and was one of those “Red Sox stars of the Future.”

He actually had a solid year at Single A in 1979, batting .293 and an OPS of .798 with 12 homers and 66 stolen bases. A Red Sox player with 66 stolen bases?

He played 1980 in Pawtucket before making his big league debut in mid September.

The speedy right handed hitting centerfielder got into 12 games at the end of 1980, hitting a triple but also getting thrown out in his lone stolen base attempt. But where would he fit into the team with Rice, Lynn and Evans starting.

Well, the Red Sox COULD have traded Fred Lynn for pitching in an ill fated deal with the California Angels. In fact that is what they did.

Nichols made the team out of Spring Training as the new look Red Sox had an opening in center. He started several games in April, May and June but saw his slugging at .270. His OPS of .520 did not cut it. Reacquired Rick Miller took over duties in center field.

In 1982, however, Nichols fared better. He batted .304 with an OPS of .838 in 11 games that May. By June he was splitting time as the regular centerfielder. That August, he caught fire.

He had an OPS of .991 in his 21 games and 17 starts, He hit 3 homers while batting .368. On August 8, he went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI in a win against the White Sox. He had another 3 hits game on August 28th where he knocked in the go ahead run in the 9th.

That prospect whose autograph I got in 1980 was going places!

By 1983, as Yaz was doing his farewell season, Reid Nichols was part of the outfield rotation. He played in 100 games, batted a respectable .285 while posting a solid .790 OPS, not that anyone knew that then.

The Red Sox had as good a power outfield as there was in baseball, with Jim Rice in left, Tony Armas in center and Dwight Evans in right. But Armas’ low average and basically playing out of position in center gave Nichols some playing time, starting 64 games along the way.

But an improved Armas in 1984 cut Nichols time to only 30 starts total. Mike Easler came over to the team as the full time DH and Nichols rode the pine. The Red Sox were evolving with Boggs and Rice as the offensive catalysts and players like Bill Buckner, Rich Gedman, Bruce Hurst, Roger Clemens, Al Nipper, Oil Can Boyd and Marty Barrett all assuming their roles that they would eventually play in the 1986 World Series.

By 1985, Nichols was essentially out of a job in Boston and was dealt to the Chicago White Sox for Tim Lollar, another player who would be on the 1986 squad.

The 26 year old Nichols played well over his 51 games with the 1985 White Sox, batting .297. But in 1986, his numbers dipped again. After being cut by Chicago, he landed in Montreal. He played fine enough, but there was so much talent on the Expos then that Nichols didn’t have a chance.

After bouncing around a few minor league stops, he retired.

His post playing career saw him join the Texas Rangers front office, where he was their farm director and later director of player development for the Brewers.

Reid Nichols deals with prospects and learning who they are and what their strengths would be. That was kind of how I was introduced to him back in 1980. He was a young player then. I needed to see what he could do.

Jerry Reuss 1989 Fleer – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for August 27, 2017


I love when Fleer shows its true colors as Topps’ goofier brother in the trading card world. They don’t have the years of history nor the gravitas of Topps. So the company would sometimes have bizarre non action shots in their collection.

And then there is this one of Jerry Reuss, which I believe is a parody of classic Topps cards. And Reuss is the perfect person to pull off this humor.

Lots of classic Topps cards had players posing for action shots which were clearly not in a game. A mid swing by the baseline, a pitcher in mid motion near the on deck circle. And often the player would either have a “I can’t believe I am doing this expression on their face” or an overly earnest look.

Check out this Tom House card I wrote about a few years ago to understand where I am coming from.

Which brings us to Reuss. He is doing the earnest batting pose, looking like is about to square up with one. He has the super aggressive look like this ball is going down town.

Of course HE IS A PITCHER! He is a pitcher in the American League before interleague play was created. So he is simulating something would only occur in Spring Training for him or if the 1988 or 1989 White Sox would make the World Series, which they certainly did not.

So one of the games most famously goofy and funny characters from the 1980’s picked up a bat for the red headed stepchild of the baseball card world and posed with a goofy pic.

That’s one reason I love this card.

Reuss pitched for 20 plus seasons in the majors and there wasn’t a lot he didn’t check off his list. He played with many Hall of Famers (including Carlton Fisk during his quick tour with the White Sox.) He was named to a pair of All Star games. He once started a league high 40 games in 1973.

In 1980, he finished second to Steve Carlton (another former teammate) for the NL Cy Young Award. That year he threw a no hitter against the Giants.

He threw a key shutout in the NL West Divisional Series of the 1981 split season and later out dueled Ron Guidry in Game 5 of the World Series, putting the Dodgers up 3-2. They would win the World Series in 6.

Reuss continued being one of the more reliable and consistent pitchers for the Dodgers, helping them into the 1983 and 1985 postseason. He also, along with Jay Johnstone, was a true character, helping with practical jokes and being a favorite with the press.

He stumbled in 1986 and was released in 1987. He made a nice comeback with the 1988 White Sox, in time to grab a bat for this picture.

But by 1989 he was done, playing his final games with the 1990 Pirates before being released.

Since retiring, he has been an author, a coach and a broadcaster. Currently he is one of the voices of the Los Angeles Dodgers where he brings his humor and memories in the vacuum left by Vin Scully’s retirement.

I will always love this card. It is fun, silly and memorable. I guess you can say the same for Reuss.

Let’s enjoy the end of his no hitter, shall we?



Don Gullett 1980 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for August 26, 2017


Don Gullett started three straight World Series openers. Chances are he isn’t the name you would think had accomplished that feat. But for a stretch in the 1970’s, Don Gullett was as close to a good luck charm as a team could have.

Born in Lynn Kentucky, Gullett excelled in many high school sports and was a big football prospect. He also was worth of being a first round pick for the Cincinnati Reds in 1969.

He spent less than a year in the major leagues before he joined Sparky Anderson and the Reds in 1970. That was a pretty good time to show up in Cincinnati with Sparky Anderson.

The 19 year old Gullet was used primarily out of the bullpen and pitched to a 2.43 ERA in 77 2/3 innings pitched. He wound up pitching in the post season, earning a save in Game 2 of the NLCS against the Pirates.

In the potential clinching Game 3, he came into a 3-2 game in the 9th. There were 2 outs but the tying run was on. Willie Stargell singled but he got Al Oliver to ground out. Less than a year and a half out of high school, Don Gullett clinched the pennant for the Reds.

He would throw 3 games in the Reds 5 game defeat at the hand of the Orioles. But the kid who could not legally buy a drink yet was now established in the brand new Big Red Machine.

He joined the rotation in 1971, going 16-6 and leading the league with a .727 winning percentage.

Gullett was in the rotation when they won the 1972 pennant and 1973 NL West.

By 1975, he was money in the bank to throw 200 some odd innings and win in double figures with a low ERA. The Reds were better known for their bullpen, but Gullett was a good go to man in the rotation. Injuries kept him from pitching 200 innings in 1975 but he made up for in in October.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, he threw a complete game victory against the Pirates and drove in a run with a single and cracked a 2 run homer. He was a one man wrecking crew. The Reds would sweep the Pirates and the 24 year old was off to his third trip to the World Series.

Gullett pitched the opener of the World Series against the Red Sox. He matched Luis Tiant with shutout inning after shutout inning until a 7th inning rally put the Red Sox up for good.

He made up for the Game 1 loss by pitching into the 9th inning in Game 5. He went 8 2/3 innings, allowing 2 runs and earned the 6-2 decision that put the Reds on the verge of the World Series title.

A series of rain delays and the epic Game 6 gave Gullett a chance to pitch Game 7. He let up 3 early runs and was lifted but the Reds bats and bullpen came to his rescue to win it in the 9th. Gullett was a World Series champ.

1976 saw another season interrupted by injuries for Gullett has he managed only 126 regular season innings over 23 games. But by the time the post season began, the Reds were back in it and Gullett took the ball.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, he held the Phillies to 2 hits and 1 run and the Reds took the opener, 6-3. Cincinnati would sweep the 3 game set and lined up the World Series for Gullett to throw the opener.

He would pitch into the 8th, allowing 1 run over 7 1/3 innings and earned the 5-1 win. The Reds would have a perfect post season, sweeping the NLCS and World Series. Those would be Gullett’s only 2 post season starts as he picked up his second ring.

Free Agency was brand new after the 1976 season and Gullett threw his hat into the proverbial ring. After a few weeks, he joined the team he beat and became a New York Yankee through 1982 with a contract that would make him a millionaire.

Not bad for a 26 year old. Yankee manager Billy Martin and pitching coach Art Fowler got a lot wins out of Gullett, going 14-4 with the best winning percentage in the AL. But his shoulder issues kept him from reaching 200 innings again.

He was ready, however to start the playoffs. This time however, he got clobbered hard in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Royals. He did not appear in the rest of the series. The Yankees would come back and win it in 5.

With starters Ron Guidry and Mike Torrez used in the ALCS finale, Martin once again turned to Gullett in a Game 1. For the third straight year, and with two different teams, Don Gullett opened the World Series as a starter. He pitched into the 9th inning but did not get the decision. Paul Blair got the walk off hit in extra innings, putting the Yankees up 1-0.

In Game 5, Gullett took the ball with the Yankees up 3-1 in the Series and a chance to win their first title since 1962. But the Dodgers jumped all over Gullett, as he allowed 7 runs in 4 1/3 innings. The Yankees would win it in 6, giving him World Series ring number 3.

The World Series Game 5 start in 1977 exposed a series of shoulder injuries to Gullett that reduced his 1978 season to just 8 starts. He would earn World Series ring number 4 that year, but he was in trouble at age 27.

This card was issued including his 1979 stats. The picture must have been taken in 1977 or 1978 because he didn’t pitch a game in 1979. Nor did he in 1980. In fact he never pitched in the majors again after 1978.

Like a meteor going through the atmosphere, he burned up before his career reached its 10th season.

Still a beloved Red, he served as the team’s pitching coach for a while and is in the team’s Hall of Fame. In a career that started before he was 20 and ended before he was 30, he packed more Championships and post season appearances than most players see in their lifetime.