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.

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?



Jason Thompson 1983 Fleer – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for February 17, 20177


Nope not the former NBA player nor the soap opera actor. This is the Jason Thompson who played for the Pirates.

Actually he got his big league career started with the Tigers when he got drafted out of Cal State Northridge in 1974. Thompson was a slick fielding first baseman with power who shot up through the Tigers farm system.

In 1976, he was on the All Rookie Team. By 1977 and 1978, he was chosen to the All Star Game.

Thompson hit for power, slugging 31 homers in 1977, drove in a ton of runs (105 one year) and would post an OPS in the mid .800’s, not that anyone knew that back then.

By age 25, he was putting together his best season increasing his average, on base and slugging while still clubbing 21 homers in a season split between the Tigers and California Angels.

He arrived in 1981 as the Angels designated hitter. But the team was moving Rod Carew to that position and recently had acquired Fred Lynn. They were running out of spots for Thompson to play. So before the season began, he was dealt to Pittsburgh.

Right away, the Pirates flipped him to the Yankees. Where he was going to play on the Yankees is anyone’s guess because they had more hitters than spots in the lineup.

The point was moot. The money exchanged in the deal caused commissioner to nix it. So he stayed in Pittsburgh where he had to fill the shoes of beloved Hall of Famer Willie Stargell.

He had a subpar 1981 but 1982 was possibly his best season overall. He clubbed 31 homers, drove in 101, posted a .902 OPS and was part of a potent lineup that featured veterans Dave Parker, Lee Lacey, Mike Easler and Bill Madlock along with young stars like Johnny Ray and Tony Pena. Thompson made the All Star team again and finished 17th in the MVP vote. It would be his peak.

The Pirates would fade over the next few year as would Thompson. After three more seasons and a cameo in Montreal for 1986, his career was over.

This is of course a 1983 Fleer Card, a series so bananas that I wrote about them back in 2008. The pics all were strange, none were action shots, and often were clearly done before a ballgame.

Here Thompson wears his Stargell stars, a remnant of the 1979 title. Is it an action shot or even posed? Of course not. He is being interviewed on CNN, which in 1982 and 1983 was a very obscure cable station.

Makes you wonder what pics they rejected.

He now runs a baseball camp in Michigan. Click HERE for info.