Buddy Bell, Houston Astros. 1989 Fleer. Sully Baseball Right Player Wrong Uniform Card of the Day for February 28, 2020


Buddy Bell comes from a great baseball family and had a solid career spanning 18 years. And because his best years were with the Texas Rangers of the early 1980’s, I don’t really have a memory of his 5 All Star seasons that earned him Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger Awards.

Remember a team like the Rangers, who never really contended in the early 1980’s save for the strike season, did not get national exposure and I would only see them once or twice a year when they played the Red Sox. So while he was a fan favorite in Arlington, he was just another face who kept popping up in my baseball card packs for me.

He was born in Pittsburgh when his dad, Gus Bell, was a player for the Pirates. Buddy was drafted out of Miami of Ohio in 1969 by the Indians and made it to the majors in 1972.  He was a regular for Cleveland between 1972 and 1978, earning a spot on the 1973 All Star team.

In 1979, he was shipped off to Texas for Toby Harrah, who went on to appear in every single pack of baseball cards I bought in the 1980’s. He flourished in obscurity in Texas. Using the metrics that were valued at the time, he hit for a solid average, hit double digit homers each year and played Gold Glove defense.

Using more advanced metrics, Bell led the Rangers in WAR every year from 1979 to 1984.

In 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1984, he represented the Rangers in the All Star Game. In all but one of those seasons, the Rangers finished the year sub .500.

In the middle of the 1985 season, he was dealt to the Cincinnati Reds. In terms of his family legacy, it was a home coming. His dad played for the Reds over 9 seasons, 4 times being named an All Star.

It also was the first chance for Buddy to potentially play in a pennant race. The Pete Rose led squad teetered on the cusp of contention in 1985 but could not catch up with the Dodgers. In 1986 and 1987, the Reds looked like the most talented team in an uneven NL West. While no longer an All Star, Bell launched 20 homers in 1986 and 17 in 1987 while playing along side Eric Davis, Dave Parker,Kal Daniels and future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.

Each year, the Reds faded down the stretch. Later we found out about Pete Rose gambling while managing the team. No doubt that played a part in the Reds fall.

By 1988, the 36 year old Buddy Bell was fading and in June, the Reds dealt him to Houston for a player to be named later who never made it to the majors.

Bell was keeping the third base seat warm for young Ken Caminiti. He played 74 games with the Astros and looked out of place in orange. He played for the OTHER Texas team, didn’t he?

The Astros cut him at the end of the season and played 34 unmemorable games back with the Rangers in 1989 before calling it a career.

He went on to manage the Tigers, Rockies and Royals without much success. His son David played 12 years in the majors, scoring the winning run for the Giants in the 2002 NLCS clincher. Another son, Mike, played a handful of games with the Reds, making the Bells a 3 generation big league clan.

In my mind, Buddy Bell is a Ranger. He was a player whose excellence I understood in theory but really didn’t have any memories of in practice.

Whatever memories I DID have of him sure as hell did not involve the Houston Astros.

Mike Marshall, Boston Red Sox. 1991 Topps. Sully Baseball Right Player Wrong Uniform Card of the Day for February 27, 2020


Mike Marshall is a name I associate with the Dodgers. And when I say that, I don’t just mean the right handed slugging outfielder on this card.

Remember there was ANOTHER Mike Marshall who won a Cy Young Award in 1974 as a reliever for the Dodgers. So whether it was on the mound in the 70’s or at the plate in the 80’s, BOTH Mike Marshalls bled Dodger blue.

And yet here is the slugger in a Red Sox uniform. He wore that in the summer between my senior year of High School and my freshman year of college. It is safe to say I was watching a LOT of baseball that year. And the Red Sox won the AL East title that year, so I was following the Red Sox kind of intensely.

I suppose intellectually I remembered he was a Red Sox player that year. But like thinking of Dan Aykroyd in We Are The World, it just seemed weird and didn’t affect anything.

Mike Marshall made his big league debut with the 1981 Dodgers. It seems like every Dodger player in history played at least one game for the 1981 World Champs. I had to double check to see if Pee Wee Reese and Clayton Kershaw were on the roster.

The Dodgers were transitioning from the star studded squads of the 1970’s to a new younger team that would be regular October players in the 1980’s.

Fernando Valenzuela was the new face of the team. Young Mike Scioscia and Steve Sax led to the phasing out of Davey Lopes and Steve Yeager. And Pedro Guerrero became a World Series hero and MVP candidate just as Ron Cey and Steve Garvey became victims to age.

Mike Marhsall was going to fit in with the new Dodgers perfectly. By 1983, the 23 year old Marshall was the regular right fielder and homered in the NLCS against the Phillies. In 1984, he was a National League All Star. He was a key source of power for the 1985 NL West champs and homered in the 1988 World Series where the Dodgers upset Oakland.

As well as being a player for the Dodgers, he also was a player in Los Angeles. Marshall was a young, good looking slugger on the Dodgers and was linked romantically to the Go Go’s lead singer Belinda Carlisle. He got the beat indeed.

After a disappointing and injury plagued 1989 season, Marshall was tangentally involved in the Mets trying to correct one of the worst mistakes in franchise history.

During the 1989 season, the Mets inexplicably tried to redefine their franchise. Contributors to the 1986 title were chucked over the side at an alarming rate. Some, like Lee Mazilli, were over the hill. But Rick Aguilera was still contributing. And Mookie Wilson, Roger McDowell and Lenny Dykstra were all still good players and fan favorites.

Dykstra and McDowell were shipped off to Philadelphia for Juan Samuel. The trde was nothing short of a disaster for the Mets, once that was magnified as Dykstra eventually led the Phillies to the World Series.

Hoping to reverse the effects of the deal and seeing the need to get the unpopular Samuel off the team, the Mets made another trade. Essentially they had traded a starting outfielder and an effective reliever for Samuel. Now they were going to trade Samuel for a starting outfielder and an effective reliever. Marshall was sent packing to the Mets along with Alejandro Pena.

It is safe to say that Marshall didn’t make anyone forget Dykstra. He was ineffective in 53 games before being shipped to Boston. He only started a hanful of games for the Red Sox down the stretch collecting a few 3 hit games along the way.

I followed every one of those games yet I have no memory of his contributions. Marshall also got an a pinch hit single in the ALCS against Oakland. Nope. Don’t remember that either.

In 1991, he played a few games in Boston and got cut. He wound up with the Angels as all players must at one point in their career.

Since then, Marshall has remained in the game in one way shape or another. He played in Japan, managed in the minors and was an executive in an independent league.

For a while, he was one of the bright young faces on a star studded and popular Dodgers team. He had the right name for Dodger greatness. It sounded strange on any other team, even on one that I was following.