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

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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.

 

Preston Wilson 2006 Fleer – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for February 12, 2017

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There seem to be a lot of 1986 Mets in my Card of the Day series. Rick Aguilera, Mookie Wilson and Bob Ojeda have been covered. Maybe I missed one. Well here is another member of the 1986 Mets family… in this case literally.

Biologically, Preston Wilson is the nephew of beloved Met Mookie Wilson. But by all measures beyond biology, Mookie is his dad. His biological father was Mookie’s brother, thus being the uncle. But Mookie married Preston’s mom, thus making him the uncle AND the step father.

Are you following this? I have no idea what family gatherings were like at the Wilson household.

He was 12 years old when he saw his dad win a World Series with the Mets in 1986. He was 15 when his dad was traded to Toronto.

Preston grew up in South Carolina and was drafted by the Mets in 1992. This was not a sympathy pick nor a “let’s round out the farm system” selection. He was the 9th pick overall. Derek Jeter went 3 slots ahead of him. Johnny Damon, Shannon Stewart, Jason Kendall and Rick Helling went behind him.

He was a solid prospect in the rebuilding Mets system, launching 30 home runs between A and AA in 1997. By 1998, he was in AAA and about ready to make the club. For a fan base still obsessing over the 1986 World Series, Mookie’s son would be a welcome member of the contending squad of 1998.

Preston Wilson did not disappoint. He went 3 for 4 with an RBI in his first ever game. Not to be outdone, he reached base 4 times in his second game, scoring 3 as he helped the Mets top the Cardinals. It seemed too good to be true.

Then he reached base a grand total of once over the next 6 games. He was minor league bound. That was also the end of his time with the Mets.

On May 22, 1998, 15 days after his glorious debut with his dad’s team, Preston Wilson was traded to the Marlins in the deal that brought in a new Mets legend, Mike Piazza.

He played a handful of games for the nominal defending champion Marlins of 1998. In 1999, he played a full season, crushing 26 homers and posting an OPS of .852. He finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

By 2000, as his former team won the pennant, Wilson became a 30 homer 30 stolen baseman, driving in 121 but striking out a league leading 187 times. The Marlins were building something from the ashes of the 1997 purging and Wilson was a part of it.

But by the time the rebuilding came to fruition, Wilson was traded again, this time to the Rockies for Juan Pierre. Pierre was a post season hero for the World Champion Marlins. Wilson led the NL with 141 RBI for an also ran Rockies team.

He spent the next few years bouncing around to different organizations, always with terrible timing. Think about it. He perfectly book ended the two Marlins titles without playing for either one! He was a reverse Jeff Conine.

When Preston Wilson landed in Houston, as shown in this Fleer card wearing a Nationals uni, they were the defending NL Champs but not destined to repeat in 2006. It was not a good match and he was released from the team in August.

The Cardinals needed an outfielder to fill in for the injured Jim Edmonds and Wilson was a low risk option. On August 18, 2016, he played his first game with the Cardinals. He went 2 for 5 with a homer. Five days later he homered again against the Mets.

St. Louis stumbled into the post season where they were clearly going to be overmatched by the NL West Champion Padres. In Game 2 of the Division Series, Wilson got a lead off double in the 4th and came around to score the first of two Cardinals runs that inning. They would win 2-0 and take the series in 4.

While the Padres were vanquished, Wilson’s former team, the Mets, were heavily favored to beat the Cardinals. But in Game 3, he reached base twice and scored both time in the Cardinals 5-0 victory. And in Game 5, he broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI double off of Tom Glavine. The Cardinals would win that game and 2 games later, win the pennant.

Wilson reached base 3 times and scored in World Series Game 3 and was on the field when the Cardinals clinched against Detroit.

Finally Mookie Wilson’s son had his own ring. His timing was finally perfect. A knee injury prevented him from playing beyond the 2007 season. He tried a comeback with the independent Long Island Ducks, a team that was no doubt cashing in on some of the 1986 Mets love.

Now Preston Wilson works for the Marlins as an analyst and MLB Network. This card represents that last gasp of bad luck with his ill fated half season in Houston before finally clinching that title.

He can show off his ring to his dad, who must be glad he adopted him.

 

Carney Lansford 1982 Fleer – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for January 7, 2017

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I had a complicated relationship as a Red Sox fan with Carney Lansford.

You see, if you have been following these blog entries about my baseball cards, you might have found out that Butch Hobson was my first favorite Red Sox player. He was the third baseman and he wore number 4 (before it was retired for Joe Cronin.)

Then, after the 1980 season, the Red Sox made a pair of trades with the Angels. Butch Hobson (along with Fred Lynn, Steve Renko and Rick Burleson) were Angels. A bunch of players, including Carney Lansford, were off to Boston.

I understood that players got traded. And I wasn’t devastated when Butch Hobson left. I had seen friends move and I had moved. But that didn’t mean I had to love the replacement.

Lansford wore number 4, like Butch, and played his position. But it seemed wrong. Butch Hobson sounds like an athlete. Carney Lansford sounds like a soap opera character.

Butch was a former Alabama football player.

Lansford wore glasses and looked like a professor.

Now Lansford was demonstrably better than Butch. My boy Hobson played one injury plagued season in California before Steinbrenner brought him to the Yankees for a cameo. By 1982, his big league career was over.

Meanwhile Lansford won a batting title in 1981 and remained a solid player in 1982. The emergence of another third baseman, Mr. Boggs, made Lansford expendable and was sent packing to Oakland for Tony Armas, who won a home run title two years later.

Lansford, who is a direct descendant of Sir. Francis Drake, became a mainstay on the A’s, homering in the A’s 1988 ALCS sweep of the Red Sox and playing in the 1989 Earthquake World Series. I never liked those A’s teams. I guess I always had an issue with Carney Lansford.

This card is one of the bizarre 1982 Fleer editions, which I wrote about in this blog post from 2009.

Fleer was new to the card world and they all came out fuzzy, out of focus and usually with strange awkward pictures. Lansford taking infield practice at Spring Training is not exactly an action shot.

Certainly not enough to turn me into a Carney Lansford fan.