Project ShaqBox depends on the U.S. Postal Service to get baseball cards all around the country (and to Canada), so as we add to the map of where all the cards are going, it comes with an eye on the news, as Donald Trump is purposely sabotaging the USPS in order to subvert democracy.
That’s more important than how quickly old baseball cards get to people, but if you do want to get some cards from Project ShaqBox, go ahead and submit your address. Remember, if you attach a receipt for a charitable donation, you can get 10 cards from your favorite team. For more details on the project, check out last week’s initial Project ShaqBox post.
And now for the Project ShaqBox Week In Review…
MOOKIE, MOOKIE, MOOKIE!
2015 Topps Adrian Gonzalez, 1974 Topps Mike Corkins
Mookie Betts, who is 27 years old, tied a major league record on Thursday with the sixth three-homer game of his career. His first five, of course, were with the Red Sox, and Betts is the first player ever to have three-homer games for both Boston and the Dodgers.
There is a Red Sox connection, though, as one of the three previous players to have a three-homer game for the Dodgers against the Padres was Adrian Gonzalez, who did it in a 2015 Los Angeles-San Diego game. The other Dodgers to go deep three times in a game against the Padres are Yasmani Grandal in 2016 and Jim Wynn in 1974.
Wynn, who sadly died at the age of 78 earlier this year, is best known for his time with the Astros, but the Toy Cannon was an All-Star in both of his years with the Dodgers (he only went to one Midsummer Classic with the Astros), and finished fifth in the 1974 MVP vote, as he hit 32 homers with a career-high 108 RBIs.
Five of those runs batted in came in the three-homer game in San Diego on May 11, when Wynn hit a solo shot off Mike Corkins in the first inning, another off Rich Troedson in the fifth, and one more off Gary Ross in the seventh. Wynn added a two-run single off Corkins in the second for the eventual National League pennant winners.
OAKLAND IS STILL GRAND CENTRAL
1988 Donruss Darryl Strawberry, 1979 Topps Toby Harrah, 1982 Fleer Mitchell Page
Last week, we looked at the Oakland A’s history of walk-off grand slams. This week, the A’s continued their flair for the dramatic, this time across the bay in San Francisco.
On Friday night, Stephen Piscotty followed up his walk-off slam from a week earlier with one to tie the game in the ninth inning. It’s the first time Oakland has ever had a game-tying grand slam in the ninth, and it set the A’s up to extend their hot start to 14-6 with an 8-7 win in 10 innings.
The A’s have been on the other end of the experience before, with Darryl Strawberry hitting a pinch-hit grand slam off Billy Taylor as part of a nine-run ninth inning for the 1998 Yankees, and Toby Harrah tying a game for Cleveland off Rick Langford in 1980.
Langford, though, was undeterred. He stayed in to finish the ninth and wound up throwing a complete game, which he won when Dave McKay drove in Mitchell Page with a single in the bottom of the 14th.
ON WALDEN DONGS
2016 Topps Heritage Mark Melancon, 1991 Fleer Jeff Robinson, 1989 Topps Paul Gibson, 1989 Topps Dave Stieb
The Red Sox already were well on their way to losing to the Rays on Thursday at Fenway Park, trailing by five runs when Marcus Walden entered to start the top of the sixth. Walden just happened to put the game completely out of reach.
Hunter Renfroe greeted Walden with a homer over the Green Monster, and after Walden walked Brandon Lowe, Willy Adames tripled him home. After back-to-back singles by Manuel Margot and Yoshi Tsutsugo, Walden served up a three-run homer to Mike Zunino, and that was it for him.
Walden’s final tally was six runs allowed on five hits in zero innings, with 23 pitches thrown. That is, at least in the era for which Stathead has pitch counts, the most “efficient” implosion by a reliever ever by a Red Sox reliever at Fenway Park. Mark Melancon took 26 pitches to give up six runs without recording an out against the Rangers in 2012, a year after Matt Albers did it on 31 pitches against the Cubs.
But Walden couldn’t match Tigers starter Jeff Robinson, who on Aug. 3, 1990, gave up five hits, a walk, and hit a batter while throwing only 22 pitches before Sparky Anderson decided he’d seen enough and called the bullpen. Paul Gibson allowed both of his inherited runners to score, so Robinson wound up charged with a full seven runs, tied with Dick Welteroth of the 1949 Senators and Jonathan Holder of the 2018 Yankees for the most runs allowed at Fenway without recording an out.
Dave Stieb very nearly gave up seven runs without getting anyone out on June 25, 1990, but the last of his inherited runners, Tony Peña, got thrown out at third base on a Wade Boggs single, ending a wild first inning in which the Blue Jays had scored three runs to give Stieb a short-lived lead.
PROJECT SHAQBOX CARD OF THE WEEK
1991 Topps Carlos Martinez
“Carlos was Birmingham’s Player of the Year in 1988,” notes the back of a card that shows a much sweeter swing than anything representative of Martinez’s major league career.
That 62-82 Birmingham team, which also featured luminaries Craig Grebeck and Matt Merullo, was just one of an incredible variety of minor league stops for Martinez, who also played in Sarasota, Fort Lauderdale, Buffalo, Albany, Hawaii, Vancouver, South Bend, Canton-Akron, Colorado Springs, and Charlotte.
Martinez was a below-replacement player over the course of a 485-game major league career that also took him to Cleveland and California. He is not to be confused with the Carlos Martinez who was a Marlins reliever from 2006-09 or the current Cardinals righthander.
This Carlos Martinez got to the Yankees in an astoundingly 1980s trade, as on July 30, 1986, he was sent from New York to Chicago with Ron Hassey and Bill Lindsey for Ron Kittle, Joel Skinner, and Wayne Tolleson. Odds are decent that at some point you got all of those guys in the same crummy Topps cello pack.
Do you want to get 10 random baseball cards in the mail? All you need to do is share your address, and you can be part of Project ShaqBox.