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Here's a little winter-time baseball memory exercise for Bauxites. Complete the following thought -- and explain your answer. (For me, this will be easy.)

Baseball Memory: I can't explain it -- he didn't play for my hometown team, he wasn't a Hall of Famer, there's no obvious defense, but when I was a kid, one of my favorite players in all of MLB was ...

... (again, for me, this is easy) ... Ralph Garr. Born 61 years ago yesterday, The Roadrunner was an All-Star OF with the Braves before being traded to the White Sox and falling off fairly quickly in his early 30's. I mentioned this briefly in the All-Jason Hall of Names article a while back, but my childhood best friend and I actually formed an Ohio-based Ralph Garr Fan Club waybackwhen he was winning batting titles for the Bravos ... and remember, this was before TBS brought the Braves into national U.S. broadcast focus, before USA Today, before (gasp!) the Internet.

And I can't explain it -- I just barely recall it had something to do with his great big smile on a 1974 or '75 Topps baseball card. And that was enough to make Ralph Garr one of my four or five favorite players ever. How about you and your "can't explain-it" player attachment?

QOTD: I Can't Explain It, But ... | 47 comments | Create New Account
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Mike Green - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 11:19 AM EST (#160779) #
Not a Hall of Famer and not on my favourite team?  That's tough.  I was a sucker for George Brett's sweet swing, and Rusty Staub had a certain je ne sais quoi.  I guess I'd say Tommie Agee- a couple of memorable World Series catches leaves a lasting impression on a 10 year old.
mathesond - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 11:27 AM EST (#160784) #
He may not have even been a real player, but Joe Shlabotnik will always have a special place in my heart
danjulien - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 11:29 AM EST (#160785) #
my NHL one is better...trevor kidd!
But for MLB, I don't think he'll be a hall of famer but it was Robin Ventura.  I have no clue why, it must have been because of those nice unis and the way he played 3b since I played mostly that side of the infield in my youth.  Or catcher...where I ended up fracturing my ankle on a collision...tear...

Mick Doherty - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 11:32 AM EST (#160787) #
Weird -- the first three (real) players listed all spent significant time with the White Sox. Coincidence, I guess.
braden - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 11:52 AM EST (#160790) #
William Joseph Robidoux.  Of course, he wouldn't have been anywhere near my favourite if he hadn't gone by Billy Jo Robidoux.  I just loved saying the name and his 1987 Topps card featured a cool picture of him playing first base.  Turns out he sucked.  But his career line of .209/.312/.286 didn't matter at the time.
huckamaniac - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 12:01 PM EST (#160793) #
Travis Fryman. I think a lot of it has to do with this baseball card I had. On the back Peter Gammons compared him to Cal Ripken Jr. I began to collect all his cards. I liked him but as a 10 year-old and I also remember hoping that his cards might  lead me to an early retirement at 22. In case you're wondering, I failed and only ended up with six cards anyway.
John Northey - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 12:04 PM EST (#160794) #
For some reason I always liked the big sluggers who could do nothing else.  Dave Kingman, Steve 'bye bye' Balboni, most of the early 1990's Detroit Tigers (now there was a TTO team).  Always loved the speedsters too.  Vince Coleman and most of the 80's Cardinals, probably because I'd use that team for most computer simulations I had and I'd steal at a crazy pace. 

I guess the players with extreme talents have always been my favorites over the all-around guys.
joemayo - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 12:47 PM EST (#160800) #

For me, it's Will Clark.  Most likely for no other reason than his baseball card featured him getting 'inked up' (under the eyes) before a game.  I thought it was cool.  That, and his name rolls of the toungue nicely.  It's no Billy Jo Robidoux, but it's a good baseball name nonetheless.

Now that I think about it, I also had an unusual infatuation with Ryan Sandberg.  Again, probably the cool name thing.

Grasshopper - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 12:50 PM EST (#160801) #

There are a lot of baseball players that I liked when I was a kid. thats what comes from growing up in the baseball card era. But being a catcher and playing on a team called the A's I liked Terry Steinbach.   I liked Benny Santiago better but he was a part of the Blue Jays later so i guess he is disqualified.

AWeb - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 01:04 PM EST (#160808) #
Mike Schmidt. I think I was fascinated by his career totals in the O-Pee-Chee sticker books (anyone else collect baseball stickers?), his MVP when he was old, and the fear he inspired in opponents. I seem to recall he owned the Expos, or at least that was the opinion in my house.
AWeb - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 01:07 PM EST (#160809) #
Of course, Schmidt was a HoFer (note to self: read the whole post first, stupid), so I'll also mention Mike Greenwell. We used to get some Sox games on TV, and I liked him for some reason.
Mylegacy - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 01:19 PM EST (#160811) #
Hendu. Always with the big gapped-tooth grin. The man loved the game. He played with joy, he shone, it showed, I loved him. Hendu candu.
Nigel - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 01:25 PM EST (#160813) #
J R Richards - he was the most intimidating pitcher I've ever seen - even more so than Nolan Ryan.  I missed Bob Gibson in him prime, but I suspect that Gibson was the same sort of pitcher from the way that people talk about him now. 
jjdynomite - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 02:09 PM EST (#160823) #
Well, technically he didn't "play" for the hometown team, but I had (have somewhere?) Cito's 1974 Topps card, which happened to be his starting-to-rapidly-decline-age-30-year.  And I thought the Pods had funky outfits, even though I was 1-years-old when the card was manufactured.

Of course, if Gaston didn't end up managing Your Back-To-Back World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays, I probably wouldn't have treasured the card (nor the player) that much.
Mike Forbes - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 02:17 PM EST (#160827) #
David Justice was one of my all-time favorites. I don't remember much of his early career because of my age, but I remember one year in the playoffs ('97?) when he hit a clutch homer to knock the wind outta the Red Sox and lead the Tribe to the World Series. Plus is there a better last name to strike fear into a pitcher than Justice?
Ryan C - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 02:34 PM EST (#160830) #

I didn't have many of those as a child as far as baseball goes, hockey yes, baseball not as much.  I always cheered for the hometown baseball teams.  Blue Jays and Expos.  I wasn't a huge baseball fan as a child, and the only other players I can remember liking other than Jays and 'Spos were Ryne Sandberg and Nolan Ryan because of the obvious name connection.  And Wade Boggs but that's because he was on Cheers.

Mike D - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 02:42 PM EST (#160831) #

Most of my favourite non-Jays were National Leaguers, since the American League opponents would come into town often enough that I'd learn to dislike them.  (I hated all of the Red Sox and Tigers of the '80s and early '90s.)

I liked the way Andy Van Slyke played, and I liked John Tudor's smooth delivery (once he went to the NL).  Also, it's worth mentioning Padres-era John Kruk.  People now all think of his Phillies days and/or his TV persona, but watching a young Kruk flailing around the bases in brown pinstripes was just plain fun.

dan gordon - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 03:14 PM EST (#160832) #

Favourites when I was a kid:

Frank Howard because he was a giant of a man playing baseball - the bat always looked like a twig in his hands.  Walt  'No Neck'  Williams for his bizarre mannerisms and bang-on nickname.  Luis Tiant for his funky delivery which we sometimes tried to imitate in the schoolyard.   Eric Davis for his world class talent that his fragile body wouldn't let him use with any consistency.  Gaylord Perry was always my favourite pitcher.  I still wear #44 in the slowpitch leagues I play in because I really liked Willie McCovey.  The last 2 don't really count for this exercise because I was a Giants fan as a kid. 

TimberLee - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 03:19 PM EST (#160834) #

Not a Hall of Famer - that disqualifies Al Kaline. Not on my favourite team - that takes Tim Raines out. Maybe Gus Triandos - I'm apparently somewhat older than most of you. I thought his name was sort of outrageous at the time (like a cartoon character; I had not yet met anyone of Greek extraction), and he looked great on the Topps cards - big, hulking dude. He always seemed like he was going to be one of the great sluggers, and he hit 30 HR once, but,  really - don't ask me why.

  Mention of Andy Van Slyke brings good memories. He did everything well, didn't he? Just not for long enough.

Mike Green - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 03:29 PM EST (#160838) #
McCovey is alas disqualified.  Eric Davis was a favourite of mine too.  I guess that I like the leaping catch to pull back a homer (an Eric Davis special) from the diving catch in right-centerfield to take away extra bases (an Agee special).
Jeremy - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 03:36 PM EST (#160839) #
When I was a kid, the very first Little League team I played for was the Dodgers, so naturally I began to follow them along with the Blue Jays and Expos.  My favourite Dodger of all was Orel Hershisher.  I'm not sure why, because I don't really have any first-hand memories of his scoreless inning streak.  To me, he just looked pretty cool when he was on the mound.  And I also understand him to be a very classy gentleman.
doyle - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 04:25 PM EST (#160848) #

I'd vote for Tony Phillips and Mickey Tettleton - both were guys who could switch-hit, play a lot of positions and always seemed to get on base. Even though I didn't realize it at the time I was an OBP freak...

I especially liked Tettleton once I imitated his bat-held-horozontally stance I actually started to hit for (moderate) power.

Jim - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 04:34 PM EST (#160851) #
You mean everyone growing up in Connecticut didn't like Tom Hume?

Chuck - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 04:39 PM EST (#160852) #

Acknowledging the hometown team violation up front: Ron Brand. I remember cheering for him when I was very young because he appeared at a baseball banquet when I was a kid. Looking at his career through a harsher prism, he was not much of a player. The Expos certainly did not send their finest!

Still, I challenge anyone to find me another catcher who's second highest number of games played was at shortstop. In 1970, the nascent Expos brass decided that the 30-year old washed up catcher could best serve the team as a shortstop, and so Brand played 41 games at the position (for the first time ever in his career) at ages 30 and 31. He must have been quite a sight in 1971 when his range factor was 3.05 compared to the league's 4.46.

Smithers - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 04:40 PM EST (#160854) #

For me, it will always be Matt Williams.

He played the game the way it was meant to be played, always had dirt on his uniform, and is a member of the Hall of the Very Good.  Having Matt Williams and Will Clark on the corners was a solid recipe for success for those Giants teams, but they never could put it all together and overcome earthquakes and the A's.  I was really pleased for him that he was able to top off his career with the World Series win in Arizona.  It was a shame that the 1994 strike cut short one of his best seasons - he and Jeff Bagwell were putting up a pre-steroid version of the McGwire-Sosa show that year.

The topper for me was when I caught a foul ball that he hit at Candlestick Park against the Astros.  Gotta love Baseball Reference, it was August 12, 1992 in the 7th inning vs. Joe Boever.  Still have the ball too.

vw_fan17 - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 06:56 PM EST (#160870) #
For some reason, Don Baylor in the mid-late 80s..


CeeBee - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 07:21 PM EST (#160872) #
It took a bit of thinking because I liked almost every player in both leagues and spent countless hours going over stats in Street and Smiths baseball yearbook as well as playing a baseball board game for hours on end. Since I would count the Minnesota Twins as my team even though I lived in Northern Ontario that ruled out Tony Oliva, Earl Battey, Zolio Versilles, mudcat Grant etc. , so I'm going with Dean Chance. He had great stuff(at least I thought so) and put up some pretty impressive numbers for the California Angels in the very early days so that's my choice and I'm sticking to it :)
VBF - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 07:41 PM EST (#160876) #

AJ Piercynski. Loud, obnoxious, gets the fans going, and people hate him.

Before that, Mo Vaughn, just because of how scary he was at the plate.

brent - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 09:49 PM EST (#160887) #
I always like Pedro's older brother Ramon Martinez. He pitched for the Dodgers and started so well until injuries ended his career all to quickly. sniff... and Pedro was the one that was supposed to be fragile.
John Northey - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 10:46 PM EST (#160894) #

Speaking of brother combos who were fun, the Perez pitching brothers, Pascual and Carlos (traded by the Expos for Ted Lilly among others).  They were amazing for entertainment value and also pitched darn good.  Of course, the Expos were my #2 team so I guess that makes them ineligible or something, just like my love for knuckleballers is knocked out as Phil Neikro was both a Jay and a HOF'er.
Greg - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 11:00 PM EST (#160899) #

Growing up I actively tried to select a not-so good player to be my favourite, since I was a lover of all things underdog.  However I was entirely unsuccessful in that my first pick was Greg Maddux during his first go around with the Cubs (possibly because of our shared name).  When I finally clued in that he was too good for me I went for some weenie rookie catcher in Houston.

Unfortunately Craig Biggio turned out to be far too good as well

So I think I have to go back to my #2 during my Maddux days and select Jeff Pico.  I look back fondly at the silliness of 7 year olds when I actually though Maddux and Pico had the same level of talent.

TA - Wednesday, December 13 2006 @ 11:27 PM EST (#160903) #
Lenny Dykstra - Biggest knob of tobacco ever.
Nolan - Thursday, December 14 2006 @ 02:28 AM EST (#160906) #

Well, my three favorite players have always been Joe Carter, Nolan Ryan and Griffey Jr., but those are all disqualified....

For some reason, back in the day I really liked Dick Schoefield (sp?).  I have no idea why, I just liked him for some reason.  Also had a thing for Alan Trammel - I got a card of his in my very first pack of baseball cards ever [I thought that on his card the symbol "h" meant homeruns and so figured that was the greatest player ever.....I was 6, what did I know?].

Malcolm Little - Thursday, December 14 2006 @ 11:00 AM EST (#160918) #

My favourite non-Jays in the 80s (my childhood) did include several HoFers, of course (Raines, Gwynn, Schmidt, Puckett....)

I did love Eric Davis, Whittiker, Mike Scott, Dale Murphy, Viola, Blylevyn, Kevin McReynolds, and Benito Santiago, too. There are a couple of should-be HoFers on the list, but none is in yet.

Steve Balboni (happy to see him mentioned already) was a big favourite of mine, too. I loved the all or nothing approach, and in Baseball Stars for the Nintendo game, I generally spent all of my money recreating him. 

Mike D - Thursday, December 14 2006 @ 11:37 AM EST (#160923) #
Speaking of "can't explain" faves, check out the DJ listing for the College Street Diner from about a month ago.  Great name, don't you think?
Jordan - Thursday, December 14 2006 @ 12:33 PM EST (#160927) #
Two early '80s ChiSox: Greg Luzinski -- bat looked like a toothpick in his hands -- and his teammate, Ron Kittle -- wisecracking glasses-wearing power hitter was an instant favourite for me.
Sheldon - Thursday, December 14 2006 @ 02:52 PM EST (#160935) #
Rob Deer. His crazy home run or nothing approach made a fan out of me when I was younger...probably the only guy to hit below the Mendoza Line and still hit more than 20 homers in a season.
actionjackson - Thursday, December 14 2006 @ 04:57 PM EST (#160936) #
This guy never had a chance of being a HOFer and never played for my favourite team. His career line is .161/.201/.191, with a scintillating career OPS+ of 11. He played with the Yankees from 1978-1980 and followed Billy Martin to Oakland in 1981. The OPS+ for his four years are: 10, 7, 29, and -19. Wow, that only adds up to 27 over the four years. Bleccchhh!!! Yet, when the great Willie Randolph went down with an injury on September 29, 1978 (thanks Retrosheet), this guy stepped in to play 2B for him and wound up being a key component of the '78 World Series winners, the last WS the Yankees would win until '96. He hit .286/.375/.286 in the ALCS against KC and then a staggering .438/.438/.500 against the Dodgers in the World Series, proving that absolutely anyone can get hot in the playoffs. I used to buy a bunch of "Gobstoppers" and emulate the huge chaw in his cheek. I was only 9 at the time. I didn't know the stuff could kill you. His name was Brian Doyle and I always wondered what happened to this obviously great player. Hey, I didn't know a thing about sample size at the time.  :)
Mike Green - Thursday, December 14 2006 @ 09:32 PM EST (#160949) #
That is a great name for a DJ, Mike D.  Hustlin' Powell will have to go check it out. 
Rob - Thursday, December 14 2006 @ 09:48 PM EST (#160950) #
probably the only guy to hit below the Mendoza Line and still hit more than 20 homers in a season.

Ruben Rivera demands satisfaction.
jgadfly - Friday, December 15 2006 @ 01:16 AM EST (#160954) # of my favourite players was Rip Repulski because I had this "really neat" baseball card that folded in half  with two players on the same card and because he played for the St Louis Cardinals which had such great uniforms. I also really liked Ken Boyer because of his Topps BB card which had this great photo of him at 3rd base. I also liked Elston Howard because he had played for the Leafs and Bobby Shantz because ...and Enos Slaughter... and Ted Kluzewski... and Jackie Jensen ... it's surprising how the names come back. I had alot of favourites obviously. Rocky Nelson, too!

Calig23 - Friday, December 15 2006 @ 10:16 AM EST (#160985) #

This is an interesting topic, because it explains how I became a Blue Jays' fan in the first place. I am first and foremost a Pirates' fan, but in my days of collecting baseball cards in the late 80's and early 90's, I inexplicably became a fan of Kelly Gruber. I'm not really sure why; it may have been because I seemed to get a lot of his cards. But my fandom have him led me towards liking other Blue Jays' players of the same time period- McGriff, Devon White, Fernandez, Key, et al- and eventually the Blue Jays themselves. I remember hoping that both the Pirates and Blue Jays would meet in the World Series in the early 90's (I would, of course, have rooted for Pittsburgh!). Alas, the Pirates never made it.

Of course, I also remember hating Jeff Kent because it seemed like he was taking Gruber's job around that time.
GreenMonster - Friday, December 15 2006 @ 11:36 AM EST (#161000) #

Frank Howard. He was playing for the Rangers in the first game I ever saw in person, and he was so big that even from the top of the grandstand, I asked my grandfather who the big guy was.

John Pacella. Not because he was any good (although he was good enough to get six years of entries at But because one of his baseball cards noted that his cap fell off every time he pitched. Now that at least is an A for effort.

Any knuckleball pitcher ever. The knuckleball is an exemplary way to subvert the dominant paradigm.

Craig B - Sunday, December 17 2006 @ 10:08 PM EST (#161149) #
I can't explain it -- he didn't play for my hometown team, he wasn't a Hall of Famer, there's no obvious defense, but when I was a kid, one of my favorite players in all of MLB was ...

I was going to say Fernando, but I think Fernando was a pretty huge star (I mean, I don't even need to use his last name) so it's not quite in the spirit of the contest.

I think I'll have to say Kent Tekulve.  Now Tekulve was a legitimately great player, but no one really recognized it at the time.  (He only made one All-Star team in his career).  I loved his delivery and he mesmerized me from the very first major league game I ever went to.  No question, I wanted to be like Kent Tekulve (to the point where I spent a wasted year learning to pitch sidearm before giving it up and going back to overhand).
Craig B - Sunday, December 17 2006 @ 10:15 PM EST (#161150) #
Another choice for me, by the way, would also have come from the same-era Pirates clubs... Tony Pena.
Craig B - Sunday, December 17 2006 @ 10:20 PM EST (#161151) #
Finally, I think no discussion of this topic would be complete for me without mentioning Jim Walewander.
QOTD: I Can't Explain It, But ... | 47 comments | Create New Account
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