Struggles Behind the Dish: Mackey Sasser

With the new addition to the family, as well as other unforeseen expenditures, I have not been able to buy many cards lately, which is okay.  My lack of funds has allowed me to go through my cards that have been sitting on the shelves for years now (much to the chagrin of my wife).  My search has led to me two simultaneous epiphanies: I want to narrow my collection of non-catchers and expand on my collection of catchers.  By no means am I now going to collect every card of every catcher.  But it does mean that when I come across catchers that played an important role in the history of the game, or left an indelible mark, or I remember from my childhood, I will set those aside and find room for them in my collection.

One such card that I came across brought back a rush of memories as soon as I saw the named player.


Mackey Sasser (giving what looks like the Sign of the Horns) had a unique set of circumstances that ended his career in the majors.  After bouncing around the league for a few years, Sasser was traded to the Mets, where he backed up Gary Carter until 1990, when he took over full-time.

Sasser was having a great year offensively, in fact he ended the season hitting .307.  However, on July 8, Sasser’s career was forever altered when Jim Presley smashed into Sasser at home plate.  As a result of the collision, Sasser had an ankle injury which kept him sidelined until July 16.  The effects of the injury were much more traumatic than a nagging ankle injury.

Mackey Sasser developed a terrible case of the Yips.  For those not aware, is a spasm or loss of motor skills when athletes are performing a common action.  This condition is most common is golf, but several baseball players have struggled with it. Most notable of the yippers is Chuck Knoblauch, who suddenly found that he couldn’t throw to first base.  (Some have suggested that Jon Lester’s reluctance to throw over to first is a symptom of the yips).

Sasser’s was never the same after the collision.  He simply couldn’t throw the ball back to the pitcher without double or triple clutching the ball.  His is such a unique story that ESPN did a 30 for 30 short over his case of the yips called Field of Fear.

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RIP Jose Fernandez

This morning, sitting here with my kids crawling all over me, I learned that one of the game’s best young pitchers had died in boating accident. 

Jose Fernandez’s talent was only surpassed by the incredible circumstances of his journey to America and Major League Baseball. 

As one of the best young pitchers in the game, he was a joy to watch. I can only imagine  how much brighter he would have shined had he played for a decent organization.

This is a terrible tragedy, and a sad morning for all of baseball.

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Fisk Friday: Lasting Imprint

Okay, I lied.  Life is now more hectic than ever.  Just last week, my wife gave birth to our third child.  With all of the joy and appreciation of having another wonderful baby boy, we also get very little sleep.  And I find myself actually having to do something around the house.

Having another child to take care of puts something like collecting baseball cards into proper perspective: I need them now more than ever.  However, money is tight so I will have to window shop for a while.


2016 Topps Legacies

Today’s episode focuses on this, my newest Fisk acquisition.  Numbered 25/99, this card is just another in a long line of parallels that will never be completed.  For those unfamiliar with them, Topps Legacies base cards are high-end, thick stock cards that are just another version of Triple Threads, Museum Collection, and Tribute.  Altogether, the card is pointless, but as Fisk isn’t getting into a lot of releases, (I am looking at you Panini) I will have to settle for whatever I can get.

I know I have at least 4 trade packages to send out, but my attention and time are both in short supply, so please be patient.

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Struggles Behind the Dish: Jamie Burke

I was going through a box of cards, trying to decide what needed to stay and what needed to go.  In the stack of catchers, I came across a card that at first glance was of little consequence.  Upon turning it over, however, I become intrigued by not only the card, but also the player.

Jamie Burke ended up playing on four teams over the course of eight seasons, officially taking part in 191 games.  These would not be interesting numbers when viewed alone.  Certainly, we could say that his career was a disappointment.  What did earn my pique my interest was his age when he made the opening day roster.


At 35, Jamie finally was part of an Opening Day Ceremony.  Could you imagine struggling through a decade and a half of minor league seasons in hopes of making the major league roster?  There is something to be said for a player that sticks with his dream for that long, especially a catcher.

He first made it to the Show in 2001 at the age of 29.  He played a part in 9 games for the Angels.  Two years later, he was back in the big league for 6 games, this time with the White Sox.

In total, Burke played in 191 games over the course of 8 seasons, spending time with 4 teams: Angels, White Sox, Mariners, and Nationals.  His numbers weren’t great:  .277/.328/.351  with 3 HR’s and 39RBI’s.

But if his numbers don’t impress you, his tenacity should.


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Fisk Friday: Jackets Required

I don’t know what got into me this week, but so far, I have blogged now three times.  Hopefully, now that school is in session, I will have more time to blog, crazy as that sounds.

As today is Friday, it means that we will look at another Carlton Fisk card.


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New to my collection is this 2004 Donruss Throwback Threads Century Collection Material, numbered 147/250.  Overall, it is not an impressive card.  The picture is boring and the colors are drab.  However, I was taken with this card because the relic is from a “Jacket personally worn by Carlton Fisk during a Major League baseball game.”

The materially is slick, probably nylon or polyester, but definitely from the 80’s.

Though it is a weird thing to put in a card, it is better than the run of the mill relics that are put out today by Topps and Panini.

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Life Behind Bars: Ruth’s Called Shot

For this series, my intent is to take a memorable moment in MLB history, and review it from the perspective of the man in the iron mask, the catcher.  After all, a life spent behind bars must give a unique outlook.

The Called Shot

Babe Ruth's famous called shot.

What: Game 3 of the World Series

When: October 1, 1932

Where: Wrigley Field-Chicago

Who: New York Yankees vs. Chicago Cubs

The Catcher: Charles Leo “Gabby” Hartnett

Background: Up two games to none, the Yankees, and Babe Ruth especially, were being jeered and ridiculed by the Cubs fans  the moment they stepped onto the field for batting practice.  Some sources recounted that the Cubs fans were throwing lemons at Ruth during his batting practice, but that didn’t stop him from hitting 9 balls over the fence during his practice session. This display of power carried over to his first at bat, when with 2 on and no outs, Babe hit a three-run homer.  Later, in the top of the 3rd, Lou Gehrig hit a solo shot.  Then in the top if the 5th, Ruth came up to bat for the third time in the game.  Pitcher Charlie Root had thus far given up two home-runs.


 Pitch one was a called strike.  The next two pitches were both for balls.  The fourth pitch of the at-bat was for another strike.  As Root readied himself on the mound, Babe, tired of hearing all the talk coming from the Cubs dugout, steped out of the batter’s box, and made a “gesture,” calling his shot.


However, Gabby, who had the best view of the event, said “I don’t want to take anything from the Babe, because he’s the reason we made good money, but he didn’t call the shot. He held up the index finger of his left hand … and said, ‘It only takes one to hit.”

Though Hartnett had a great series, .313/.353/.625, the Cubs were swept.

In 1955, “Old Tomato Face” was elected to the Hall of Fame (11th ballot).


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Wu-Tang, David Ortiz, and the Insane Pupil

Hip/Hop and Rap music are not for everyone, and I would guess that many in this community probably aren’t of the age to have grown up listening to the Wu-Tang Clan. But even if you did, you may not be aware of the  Wu-Tang Clan Name Generator, a website that allows you to type in your name and receive a Wu Warrior name.  While this may be silly, there does seem to be something to this Wu-Tang name; just ask Childish Gambino.

Did you know that if you type in “Big Papi” the nickname given is “Gentleman Wanderer”?  I can think of no better epithet for David Ortiz.  Ortiz frequently hugs members of the opposing team and is one of the nicest players in baseball, and when you consider how far he has traveled to get where he is, the name does seem appropriate.

Know what P-Town Tom’s is?  Scratchin’ Swami.  And couldn’t we all agree that Tom is a bit of a leader when it comes to the blogging community.  I recently interacted with the Swami, and was the beneficiary of his wisdom.

A few weeks ago, P-town Tom blogged about National Baseball Card Day , showing off what he picked up from the Topps promotion.  As per the usual, his generosity was on display as he offered up certain cards for trade.  He had duplicates of David Ortiz, so I laid claim to it.

My expectation was that he would send the card in a PWE, but that didn’t happen.  Instead, Tom sent a padded envelope full of Red Sox cards.

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Included with the stack of cards were these two: Dwight Evans and Mo Vaughn, both of whom are in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.


Eck and Nomar are both part of my Red Sox PC, so these cards were both needed.

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Now that Pedro is a Hall of Famer, his cards seem to go for more; picking up these two from Tom makes my job as a collector easier.

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The card on the right is the National Baseball card day promotional card; not much will be said of its design, as we have all had the opportunity to read such things on other blogs.  Mostly I wanted this card because this is Big Papi’s final year.  The pink refractor was an incredible gesture.

Tom sent another dozen cards, and while they were duplicates, they were much appreciated.

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Tom sent a note along with the cards and went so far as to include an appropriate daily calendar page.

Tom, thanks again for this wonderful selection of cards.  Keep an eye out for a return package soon.

What is your Wu-Tang Clan name? (Mine is “Insane Pupil”)

Posted in David Ortiz, Red Sox, Trades | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments