Todd Burns 1990 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day For August 15, 2017

IMG_1686I may have mentioned this in one of my previous Card of the Day posts. Forgive me, I have written hundreds of them so far, so a detail or two might have slipped through the cracks. But during the post season, I keep track of which players have played and which players haven’t.

I guess it stems from my own lack of playing time in high school that I want everyone to get it. I personally find it sad if someone plays for a team in the World Series and you see their entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia or and see no games played in the post season.

There is a little thrill I get when the last player on the bench or in the bullpen get into the game. There was a moment in the 1988 World Series where Tony LaRussa thought similar to me regarding getting the players in. And that moment turned out to be the last observation one of the great voices in baseball history made in a World Series telecast. And it involved Todd Burns.

The 1988 A’s had an embarrassment of riches. They had a deep outfield, more infielders than they can start, their bullpen was legendary and the rotation, led by Dave Stewart and Bob Welch, was solid.

On June 18, the A’s were 42-34, already 5 games ahead of the defending World Champion Twins and 11 ahead of the Rangers, who were coming into Oakland.

That day, the A’s had recalled Todd Burns from Triple A. The former 7th round pick from Oral Roberts University had made one relief appearance earlier in the year and was basically an unknown quantity for a spot start.

He went 8 innings against a solid hitting Rangers team, allowing 1 run. He didn’t get the decision as the game went into extra innings. (Gene Nelson, who I wrote about a few days ago threw 3 1/3 shutout innings for the walk off win.) But it was quite an impression for Burns.

His next appearance he threw 10 innings. Once again did not get the decision but set up another walk off win.

A week later, after getting no decisions on extra inning wins, karma helped him. HE came into a game in the 12th, threw 4 2/3 innings of shutout relief and got the win.

July also saw him threw a complete game victory against Cleveland followed up by a 7 inning scoreless start for another win over the Tigers.

By August 12, he was 5-0 with a solid 2.71 ERA. The deep A’s had stumbled across an innings eating stud who could do it all. He followed up a September 15 complete game win with a September 23rd save.

As the A’s swept my Red Sox in the ALCS, Burns didn’t get into a game. LaRussa opted to start Dave Stewart twice, Storm Davis once and Bob Welch once. Hard to argue with the results.

His fate was similar in the stunning World Series against the Dodgers. If any game looked like a possibility for him to get in, it would have been game 2. Storm Davis was hit hard and lifted in the 4th. But Gene Nelson, Curt Young, Eric Plunk and Rick Honeycutt got the call, not Burns.

As the A’s were losing Game 5, Hershiser was dominating and it was clear one of the biggest upsets in baseball history was about to be complete, Eric Plunk was pitching in the top of the 9th and Oakland was down 5-2.

With 2 outs and nobody on and light hitting Alfredo Griffin coming to the plate, LaRussa went to the pen. Todd Burns came in to face Griffin.

It was clear that it would be the only chance for Burns to pitch in the 1988 World Series and who knows? Maybe would be his lone chance in his career. He had been a valuable pitcher for the second half of the year and now he got to at least be in a box score.

I remember watching that game and putting a check mark next to Burns. I hated that A’s team. They beat my Red Sox. But I was thrilled for Burns.

Griffin grounded out and the A’s went quietly in the 9th and the Dodgers were champs.

As announcers Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola were signing off, they were making their final thoughts.

The combination of Scully and Garagiola was in retrospect a great one. But at the time I found Scully to be grating. Mainly because his voice reminded me of the 1986 World Series.

Garagiola was leaving NBC. (Was he being pushed out? Remember this was the same time they were trying to get rid of Johnny Carson. Out with the old in with the new.)

As he said good bye, he made time in his final sentence to make an observation. It wasn’t about Kirk Gibson’s homer in Game 1 still fresh in everyone’s mind. It wasn’t about the masterful performance by Hershiser.

He brought up LaRussa’s “touch of class” for bringing Todd Burns into the game in the 9th.

Joe got it. He always did.

Well LaRussa’s fears of Burns not getting into another World Series game were unfounded. He pitched in the 1989 and 1990 World Series with the A’s, earning a ring in the Earthquake Series.

With the addition of Mike Moore in 1989, Burns was no longer needed in the rotation so be became an effective long reliever and picked up 8 saves when Eckersley was hurt for a stretch in 1989.

In the end, Burns made 5 World Series appearance. Oddly never once appeared in the ALCS. But appearing in the World Series is cooler.

Norm Charlton 1992 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for July 10, 2017


In 1990, in the wake of the Pete Rose suspension and scandal, the Reds and Lou Piniella went wire to wire to win the NL West, beat the Pirates in the NLCS and stunned Oakland with a 4 game sweep to win it all.

And no small reason for that title was the emergence of The Nasty Boys. That is the bullpen that so many other World Series participants have been measured against.

Randy Myers got the saves. Rob Dibble got the quotes. Norm Charlton was the most anonymous of the three but he was no slouch.

And evidently he is no dummy either.

The Sherrif was born in Louisiana but went to high school in Texas. The Expos drafted Charlton as a first rounder in 1984 out of Rice.

As Charlton was moving up the Expos system, the parent team craved infielder Wayne Krenchicki for some reason. Charlton was sent packing to Cincinnati for Krenchicki who played one season in Quebec.

The Reds got a Nasty Boy. It was clear in the first year that Montreal made a mistake. He pitched well for AA Vermont, winning 10 games and keeping his ERA down to 2.83 over 22 starts. He moved up to AAA in 1987 and 1988 and earned his way onto the big league roster. He initially was a starter but in the tumultuous 1989 Reds season, he was converted to a set up man to John Franco and Rob Dibble.

With Rose suspended and Piniella in Cincinnati, a weight was lifted from the franchise in 1990. Franco was dealt to the Mets for Randy Myers and the Reds talented team could just focus on baseball.

From the start, he was a reliable strikeout artist for the Reds, fanning 4 in 2 2/3 innings in his first game of the year. Matched with Dibble and Myers, games were over in the 7th and the Reds never fell out of first place all year long.

Down the stretch, injuries forced Charlton into the rotation and he responded with soem fine outings in the last 2 1/2 months of the season. He threw a 3 hit shutout against the fading defending NL Champion Giants on August 10th and threw 8 shutout frames for his 10th win of the season on August 25th against the eventual East champion Pirates.

When the playoffs showed up, Charlton was back in the pen. It did not start well as he let up the go ahead run and took the loss in Game 1 of the NLCS against Pittsburgh. But he earned the decision in the Game 6 clincher as the Reds went on to the World Series.

He threw a shutout inning in the Reds Game 2 extra inning victory. That turned out to be his lone World Series appearance as the Reds shockingly made quick work of the defending World Champion A’s.

After the 1991 season, Randy Myers was dealt to San Diego and suddenly Charlton got his chance to close. He saved 26 games and earned his first trip to the All Star Game.

Injuries derailed his 1993 and 1994 season but after a failed comeback in Philadelphia, he joined Seattle and his former Reds manager Lou Piniella. He became the Mariners closer as they made their unlikely march to the post season. Charlton’s dynamic September earned him pitcher of the month.

He played in the post season for Seattle in 1995, 1997 and with the 116 win team in 2001. He finished his career in the ALCS for the Mariners with a lifetime post season ERA of 1.08.

Still loved in Cincinnati for helping deliver a title and in Seattle for being part of their most memorable teams, Charlton has his education to fall back on.

He earned 3 college degrees at Rice, one in Phys. Ed, one in Political Science and one in religion. So he can put pray you, out legislate you and climb ropes faster.

He also was an All Star World Champion to, for what that is worth.

Herm Winningham 1993 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for February 6, 2017


At one point during the 1980’s, it looked like the Mets could develop a supertalented outfielder at will… or at least have one that looked like a budding star and a big prospect.

Whenever the Mets needed to make a big deal, they would dangle the likes of a Shawn Abner, a Stanley Jefferson, a John Christensen and even a pre Brad Pitt Billy Beane and boom! They’d make the trade.

Why not? Darryl Strawberry worked out. So did Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra and Kevin Mitchell!

When the Mets were trying to pry away Gary Carter, part of the package was the promise of Herman Son Winningham. The South Carolina native was a speedster that made Montreal think they had another jack rabbit to go along with Tim Raines as the Expos were building around speed in a similar blue print as St. Louis.

Winningham hit for a high average in the minors and stole a ton of bases. He was a can’t miss player. So after 14 games with the 1984 Mets, he went to Montreal for the 1985 season.

Gary Carter cemented his Hall of Fame resume with a championship in New York. Meanwhile Winningham stole a lot of bases but did not hit much in the bigs.

He would show flashes of brilliance. In a game on June 13, 1987, he got on base 4 times, including a homer, scoring 3 and stealing a base. But those games were few and far between in Quebec.

In 1988, he was flipped for a pair of enigmatic under achieving prospects, Pat Pacillo and Tracy Jones, as he went to the Reds.

With the 1990 Cincinnati squad, he was part of an outfield that manager Lou Piniella mixed and matched and flipped and flopped all the way to the World Series. Winningham started 31 games in that crowded outfield but made the most of his October.

In Game 2 of the NLCS, with the Reds down 1-0 to Pittsburgh, he went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk and a run scored in Cincinnati’s 2-1 series tying win.

In World Series Game 4, with the Reds on the verge of a startling sweep of the A’s, Winningham had to come off the bench when hitting star Billy Hatcher was hurt after a hit by pitch.

Winningham responded with a single in the 6th inning. In the top of the 8th, with the Reds trailing 1-0 to Dave Stewart, Barry Larkin singled. Throughout the rest of the series, Hatcher would be up next and his .750 World Series batting average indicated the chances of a rally were high.

Instead Winningham came to the plate. That great speed that the Mets trumpeted and the Expos coveted? The Reds were the beneficiary of it. He lay down a bunt in front of home plate and beat the throw. The Reds had the tying and go ahead runs on the basepaths.

Glenn Braggs tied the game with a ground out. Hal Morris singled home Winningham to make the score 2-1 Cincinnati. It would be the final run scored in the 1990 season.

Willie McGee hit a deep flyball to Winningham to close out the 8th. Oakland would go 1-2-3 in the 9th and the Reds (and Winningham) were champs.

After another year with the Reds, he landed with the Red Sox, as this card indicates. I am a die hard Boston Red Sox fan.  I have not one single memory of Herm Winningham playing for the Red Sox.

In 1993 he was in the minors for the Red Sox before finishing his professional career back in the Mets organization, the place where his journey started all those years ago.