Bo Jackson 1992 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for September 30, 2017


It is amazing that Bo Jackson was able to be the sort of media star that he was before the age of the internet and YouTube. He almost seemed like a YouTube star decades before anyone knew what the internet was.

Bo Jackson was a human highlight reel. And his borderline surreal and seemingly superhuman feats were the sort of thing that allowed shows like SportsCenter to become part of the the sport viewers daily routine.

Of course Vincent Edward Jackson was the best football prospects the country had ever seen. He was a Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn and expected to be the top pick in the NFL draft.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted him with that top pick and paid a visit to Bo while he was still in Auburn. This visit made him ineligible for his senior year of baseball, which was probably their plan anyway.

Bo was angry at the Buccaneers who told him that their visit was within NCAA regulations when in fact it wasn’t. The Buccaneers drafted him in the 1986 draft with the first pick overall. The Royals, coming off the 1985 World Series title, picked him in the fourth round.

Jackson stunned everyone by snubbing Tampa Bay and signing with Kansas City. Some saw it like a John Elway signing with the Yankees stunt to get him traded to a better situation.

Nope. He was serious about baseball. By the end of the 1986 season, Jackson was added to the big league roster. On September 2, 1986, he made his big league debut, getting a single in a 3-0 loss to the White Sox. On September 14th, he hit his first big league homer off of Seattle’s Mike Moore.

In 1987, he made the team out of spring training and wound up hitting 22 homers along the way. After the 1987 season, with his rights to Tampa Bay expired, the Los Angeles Raiders drafted him. Once again, he surprised everyone by signing with them.

He would join the Raiders at Week 8 of the season. Some of the players in the NFL bristled that he wasn’t taking football seriously, even calling it his “hobby” at one point.

Brian Bosworth, another highly touted football prospect, talked smack about stopping Jackson when the Raiders would face off against the Seahawks. Jackson made a mockery of the situation, running past Bosworth in a 91 yard run on Monday Night Football. Bosworth never saved face. Jackson, in front of the whole country showed he could do both.

He returned to the Royals and had a better 1988 than his 1987. He added stolen bases to his arsenal. And when the Royals were eliminated, he went back to the Raiders where again, he shone.

In 1989, he made the All Star team and led off the All Star Game in Anaheim with a towering home run to centerfield. Again, with the national spotlight on him, he excelled. He was named the All Star Game MVP. He clubbed 32 homers, drove in 105 runs and stole 26 bases.

But it was more than the stats for Bo. His homers seemed to be towering upper deck shots. He made amazing catches and gunned runners out at the plate with his dazzling throwing arm. Even his strikeouts were memorable, as he did on June 21, 1989. After a swing and a miss, he broke his bat over his head in frustration.

As ESPN’s influence on the sports landscape grew in the late 1980’s, the super highlights became one of their biggest draws on SportsCenter. And Bo Jackson seemed to give viewers a never ending supply of “Did you see that?” moments.

None was more spectacular than a running catch against the Orioles on July 11, 1990. Running to the wall in Memorial Stadium, he caught a line drive but his momentum would not let him stop. Instead of crashing into the wall, he jumped up and ran along the wall like he was Spider-Man and landed on his feet as if he had planned it.

The Baltimore fans gave him an ovation even though he was helping beat their team.

Fans would see the highlights and they seemed like the exaggerations of an old man, telling stories of a guy who could play baseball and football at an elite level. But these weren’t tall tales. They were on tape. We all saw them.

And we saw the hilarious “Bo Knows” commercials which played off of one simple notion: You can do anything you want if you put in the work.

He made the NFL All Pro team in 1990, being the first player to make the All Star status in baseball and football.

But a tackle caused a hip injury that ended his football career and looked like it would derail any hopes for him in baseball.

The Royals didn’t bring him back as he nursed his injuries. The White Sox took a flier on him and he played 23 games in September for them. His highlight came on September when he hit a 2 out 2 run pinch hit homer in the bottom of the 9th against Mark Langston to tie the game. The White Sox would win it in 11.

1992 was a lost year. After having Bo for baseball and football season, suddenly there was nothing. He had hip surgery based on his football injuries. He was getting an artificial hip. Everyone knew that WALKING with an artificial hip would be hard enough. Forget playing a sport.

But in 1993, Bo attempted a comeback with the White Sox. In his first at bat of the season with an artificial hip, what do you think he did?

He homered of course. That’s what Bo did.

Bo hit 16 homers altogether and helped the White Sox win the AL West. But he was hitless in 13 plate appearances, walking 3 times and scoring once in the ALCS against Toronto. The Blue Jays won in 6 and Bo never got another chance to go to the post season.

He played 1994 with the California Angels and actually had a decent OPS of .851 in 75 games. But the strike ended his season and he did not comeback.

Few athletes I have ever seen captured the public’s imagination like Bo Jackson. For about 2 or 3 years, everything seemed possible. He played baseball and football at the highest level and with a flair for the dramatic. Me made us all run to the TV screens to see what amazing feat he did the night before and we all talked about it afterwards.

Bo has said he wished he didn’t play football because it would have prolonged his baseball career. Sure, it would have been great to have more years of Bo the baseball player. But his injuries only added to his legend.

What could have been if he didn’t hurt his hip?

It is an agonizing what if but I choose not to be greedy. Sure we could have had more Bo… but think of how lucky we all are that we had him at all.

Now enjoy this clip, my favorite one, the wall catch.

Ken Griffey Jr. 1993 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for September 29, 2017


Ken Griffey is the greatest baseball player I ever saw play. And for that reason, he is my favorite non Red Sox player of all time.

I already wrote how I believe Barry Bonds was the greatest offensive force I ever saw in my life. I stand by that.

But Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime was the greatest player I ever saw.

So naturally, the one chance I ever got to talk to him, I asked him the single stupidest question anyone has ever asked Ken Griffey Jr. Don’t bother challenging me. I get the blue ribbon.

The year was 1989. I was reading Baseball America for the first time in my life, trying to see if I could follow prospects. I read that the Mariners had used the number one pick a in 1987. I was living in Palo Alto and I saw he was doing well with the San Bernadino Spirit of the California League.

The Spirit were playing the San Jose Giants just about 30 minutes from our house. I convinced my dad to go to a SJ Giants game and see if Ken Griffey’s kid was any good.

He was as good as advertised. If my memory serves, and it sometimes comes up short, he hit a pair of triples and threw out a baserunner from centerfield who rounded second base too widely.

My dad and I had our eyes wide open during the game. He was only 18 years old but it was so clear that he was playing on a different level than any of his teammates.

A few of his teammates, like Dave Burba and Jeff Nelson, would make it to the majors. But most of them, including Cowboy Helton and E. B. Bryant never got the call.

After the game, I had my copy of Baseball America handy and wanted to catch up with Griffey. To understand what I mean by that, at San Jose Municipal Stadium, the players walked out of the same exit as the fans do.

So you got to see the crowd filing through a series of doors next to players in uniform. The visiting team would file onto a bus heading to the team hotel.

I saw Griffey, said hello and asked if he could sign my copy of Baseball America, which featured his picture.

I was 16 at the time. He was 18. It was hardly a little kid talking to Mean Joe Greene moment in that Coke commercial moment. But he seemed so much older than me.

As he was signing it, I asked him the stupidest question and I felt so stupid, I wanted to turn back time at that moment. It was my Jennifer Gray holding the watermelon moment.

“Are you Ken Griffey’s son?”

Think about that. Even if you knew NOTHING about Ken Griffey Jr. except his name, you should be able to deduct what his dad’s name is.

And I asked as if his paternal lineage was in question.

Now in my pitiful defense, I was trying to broach the topic about his dad, a player I saw play a bunch and admired. I couldn’t figure out how to broach that topic.

So I asked Ken Griffey Jr. if his father was Ken Griffey Sr.

It is nearly 30 years later and I remained mortified.

Now, here is how cool Ken Griffey Jr. is. He didn’t look at me and tell me to F— off. He said “You ever see clips of the 1975 World Series?”

I said “Yeah.”

“You can see me and my little brother in Reds jackets sitting in the dugout.”

He told me about seeing his dad win the 1976 World Series, made a comment about San Jose being cold. “I thought this was California” and I asked about the current Mariners team with Harold Reynolds and Alvin Davis and he said some good things about them.

He smiled, nodded. I thanked him. Then I said “Good luck in Seattle. They need you.”

He smiled the biggest grin and said “I know” and got on the bus.

Ken Griffey Jr. turned my personal mortification into one of my all time coolest baseball memories.

I followed him that year as he made the jump from Single A San Bernadino to Double A Vermont. By Spring Training, 1989, he was expected to go to Triple A Tacoma. Instead he went right to the major leagues.

He doubled in his first at bat and I was thrilled. Griffey was MY guy. Instantly, I started following the Mariners almost as closely as I followed the Red Sox and the Giants in 1989. (Keep in mind the Giants won the pennant in 1989.)

That year, I got ballot after ballot for the All Star Game and wrote Griffey’s name on every one of them. I wanted to help get him into the Mid Season Classic.

He didn’t get in that year but after that, he didn’t need my help. He would be named to 13 All Star Teams, win 10 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Sluggers, an All Star Game MVP, the American League MVP and slid home in the single greatest moment in Seattle baseball history, ending the 1995 Division Series for the Mariners.

His 630 lifetime homers is made even more remarkable when you consider he was on the disabled list for a gigantic chunk of his final 10 years in the majors.

And I can not tell for sure if he took PEDs or not, but his health and productivity did not suddenly skyrocket in his 30’s nor did his body alter. And if people take PEDs to come back from injuries, if Griffey was taking them, he was taking lousy ones.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in a damn near unanimous vote. Even his injury plagued seasons in Cincinnati and his less than stellar cameo with the White Sox could slow down his Cooperstown run.

Griffey was fun. He looked like he was playing a game. He played along side his dad, as I wrote before, which honored both of their legacies. He had a flair for the dramatic and his prime was a sight to behold.

I never saw Mays, Aaron, Musial, Williams or Ruth. I saw Griffey and I don’t feel cheated.

I was a fan before it was cool, but not before HE was cool.

He gave a 16 year old Sully more respect than I earned by asking him the dumbest question anyone ever asked him.


Keith Foulke 2006 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for September 28, 2017


No matter what happens this October, Red Sox fans should constantly raise a glass and salute Keith Foulke. As much as any other member of the 2004 World Championship squad, Foulke was instrumental in pulling the Red Sox over the top.

Because of 2004, we Red Sox fans can see our team win it all in October, like in 2007 and 2013, lose a heart breaker like 2008 or get swept out of the playoffs like in 2005, 2009 and 2016, and not lose our minds.

We can watch Octobers passionately but never with a sense of “Is it possible to see my team win?”

Yes, there were the bats of Ortiz and Ramirez, the Dave Roberts stolen base, the bloody sock of Schilling, key hits by Bill Mueller, Mark Bellhorn, Trot Nixon and Johnny Damon as well as wins from Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez.

Now let me ask you this, Red Sox fans. How often do you think of Rich Gedman’s home run in the 1988 ALCS? Have you thought about Tim Naehring and his homer in the 1995 playoffs? Mo Vaughn’s 2 homers in the 1998 Division Series? Is Troy O’Leary an immortal because of his 2 homers in the 1999 Division Series clincher? Remember Todd Walker’s post season’s heroics in the 2003 postseason?

If you are a die hard fan you remember those events but the casual Sox fans remember the plays of 2004. They are recounted to children like the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere as a critical part of Boston culture.

Guess what? The Roberts steal and all the 2004 heroics would be in the same bin as Troy O’Leary et al if Keith Foulke was merely good that October.

Dave Roberts would be remembered as often as 1990 playoff pinch runner Randy Kutcher if not for Keith Foulke.

Foulke was drafted by the Giants out of Lewis-Clark State in Lewiston, Idaho in 1994. Let me add parenthetically, Lewiston is a BEAUTIFUL town. I did a podcast from there once. I attended a Christian music festival there. Yeah, I’m an Atheist, but the music was good and the people were nice. Nothing but positive feelings about Lewiston. Back to the blog.

Foulke excelled in the Giants farm system, winning 13 games in 1995 for San Jose and putting up solid numbers at Shreveport, their Double A team in 1996.

By 1997, the 24 year old Foulke got the call to the majors. He did not fare that well as a starter but remained a promising arm for a rising San Francisco team. That summer, the Giants were engaged in a rough pennant race with heavily favored and star studded Los Angeles.

At the waiver wire deadline, the Giants sent 6 young players to the White Sox for veteran pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Roberto Hernandez and Danny Darwin. The Giants were praised for strengthening their bullpen and rotation without sacrificing much on the big league level. The White Sox were taken to task for giving up on the season when they were still in striking distance.

The Giants won the Division but were swept by the Marlins. A pair of walk of losses in Games 1 and 2 ended with Roberto Hernandez giving up the winning hit. Wilson Alvarez lost the other game. Danny Darwin did not appear in the playoffs. By the end of 1998, none of the three pitchers were on the Giants roster.

Meanwhile, Foulke flourished as a reliever for the White Sox. By 2000, he was getting Cy Young consideration while pitching the White Sox to the post season. He also had a top 10 Cy Young season in 2003 with the A’s and was named to the All Star Team.

That winter, he was a free agent being coveted by several teams, including the Red Sox. Boston had a solid team with a good bullpen in 2003 but they did not have a lockdown closer. A dominant 9th inning guy like Foulke could have made the difference.

The odd thing was his post season record prior to 2004 was hardly dominant. In the 2000 playoffs, he let up a pair of extra inning homers and then surrendered the walk off bunt single that eliminated Chicago.

In 2003, he had the A’s within 4 outs of advancing before surrendering a 2 run double to David Ortiz that forced a Game 5 that Boston won.

But the Red Sox were not deterred by a few bad games. He didn’t disappoint. Foulke saved 32 games, threw to a 2.17 ERA and struck out 88 batters in 86 2/3 innings, walking only 20. More important than any stat was how he gave the bullpen stability.

Foulke in the 9th meant Alan Embree and Mike Timlin could slide into their set up roles. Scott Williamson, Curtis Leskanix, Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Myers could all contribute. The Red Sox went into the post season with the deepest bullpen in team history.

Foulke made a pair of appearances in the 3 game sweep of the Angels, saving one and setting up the Ortiz walk off homer in the clincher. In both games he pitched more than one inning. That would be a pattern in the 2004 post season.

When the inevitable rematch with the Yankees took place in the ALCS, the refortified Red Sox looked overmatched. Down 3-0 in the series and trailing the fourth game 4-3, Boston manager Terry Francona threw the proverbial book into the garbage and brought his closer Keith Foulke into the game behind and in the 7th. They needed to get out the red hot Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams and keep the game close.

Foulke pitched brilliantly in Game 4, allowing 2 walks and no hits over 2 2/3 innings, striking out 3. The Red Sox rallied in the 9th to tie the game and won in the 12th on an Ortiz homer. Foulke threw 50 pitches and under normal circumstances would sit the next day. These were not normal circumstances.

On no days rest, Foulke was ready to go in Game 5. The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead into the 6th, but Pedro Martinez tired. A three run double by Derek Jeter gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead and only a sliding inning ending catch by Trot Nixon kept the Yankees from breaking it wide open.

In the top of the 8th, the Yankees went for the dagger. Miguel Cairo doubled and Jeter bunted him to third to set up the red hot trio of Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui.

In retrospect, the 2004 Red Sox were the gallant warriors who stared down the odds. But at the moment, they were a team that was 2 days removed from a 19-8 humiliation in Game 3. The Roberts steal and Game 4 comeback felt like the delaying of the inevitable. It was a face saving victory as they avoided a humiliating sweep. But the Yankee bats were poised to erupt again and the pennant celebration was only a few innings away. With 2 on and 2 outs, Francona again threw “the book” into the toilet and brought his closer in the 8th inning and down by two runs.

Foulke got Matsui, who was a lock to win the Series MVP, to fly out and end the inning. In the bottom of the 8th, the Red Sox staged another remarkable rally, highlighted by an Ortiz homer, more outstanding base running by Dave Roberts, a Trot Nixon hit and run and a Jason Varitek sacrifice fly.

Foulke pitched the ninth and quickly got two outs. But Ruben Sierra walked on 5 pitches. Then with 2 strikes, Tony Clark, subbing for Jason Giambi at first, hit a long drive to right field. It was either going to be a go ahead homer or an RBI double. Instead the ball bounced barely over the wall for a ground rule double, preventing Sierra from scoring.

Given a reprieve by the baseball Gods, Foulke got Cairo to pop up and end the threat. He would be lifted after the ninth and the rest of Boston’s bullpen, especially Tim Wakefield, picked up where Foulke left off, winning in the 14th.

With no travel day between Games 5 and 6 because of weather, Foulke appeared in Game 6, once again with the season on the line. He was a little shakier in Game 6 but struck out Tony Clark to end the game.

He would throw in three straight days for a total of 5 innings allowing no runs, 1 hit, 5 walks and 6 strikeouts, with the season on the line for practically each of his 100 pitches.

Mercifully for Keith Foulke, the Red Sox blew out the Yankees in the finale and he could rest. He would eventually clinch the World Series and be awarded the Babe Ruth Award for post season MVP.

Foulke’s career was basically over after that post season. He showed up to spring training in 2005 injured and was clearly not the same pitcher and he struggled through an injury plagued year. He didn’t fare any better in 2006 and left Boston on a sour note. After a comeback attempt with Oakland in 2008, he was done.

Thankfully, Red Sox fans and Foulke have embraced each other and it is nothing but a love fest now. Foulke posts support of the Red Sox (and the Patriots for that matter) and is quick to respond to fans on Twitter (including your pal Sully.)

You can argue who the biggest hero of 2004 was. But if Foulke did not shut down the Yankees in Games 4, 5 and 6, 2004 would have been just another year that came up short.

Instead he delivered the highlight we were waiting for our whole lives… the Red Sox World Series title. For THAT, all Red Sox fans owe him our thanks.