Time for another investigative baseball card post. This card arrived in a recent trade, and the presence of an action shot with a throwback uniform made me think that we could probably nail down the actual play in the photo:
2002 Fleer Ultra #197 Corey Koskie
What do we see initially? Well,
1) Corey Koskie has made a headfirst slide into second base
2) It’s a day game, and it’s not in the Metrodome
3) That’s a White Sox player in a throwback uniform
What did the Citizens of WGOM determine this time?
- the uniform is the 1917 Throwback, which the White Sox wore at home on Sundays that season
- the Twins only played one Sunday game (3PM) at New Comisky, on April 22nd
- Koskie only reached second twice; the first was when he walked, and then Ortiz walked right after him, but in the 8th inning he hit a line drive double to deep right field. He then scored on the next at bat when David Ortiz hit his 5th HR of the year. The White Sox player looks to be shortstop Royce Clayton, who would correctly be covering the bag on that play.
The Twins went on to win the game 4-2, and the two runs scoring on the HR turned out to be the difference in the game. As was pointed out in the discussion at WGOM, Koskie had only one game in the 19 that year against the White Sox in which he didn’t reach base: July 4th. He was a likable and under appreciated ballplayer — in his 2001 season, he was a 20/20 man that was 25th in the MVP voting.
Time to do the NCIS treatment to a 2012 Topps card; here’s the Series 1 Trevor Plouffe card (and it’s really him, not Drew Butera this time):
2012 Topps #249 Trevor Plouffe
This shouldn’t be too bad. What do we know?
1) Plouffe! is playing shortstop, or maybe second base
2) it’s a day game at the Oakland Coliseum
3) Ryan Sweeney is coming in hard with a take-out slide
Once more this was a no-brainer for the WGOM Citizens.:
- Plouffe! only played four games in Oakland at SS/2B; two in May and two in July
- Sweeney never played on 7/29 and was in no plays at second on 7/30, and Plouffe! played 2B those two July games
- the play never happened on 5/18, but 5/19 looks good. In that game in the bottom of the 4th, Sweeney drew a walk and then was doubled up on a Matsui grounder to second, 4-6-3.
- Minnesota won 11-1, and Plouffe! hit one of the three HRs that the Twins hit that day. They also made three errors.
There you have it — another case solved.
Here’s a great card from 2011 Topps Update. It has a cool photo: bright colors, action shot, foreground image, and I like the horizontal format.
2011 Topps Update #177 Rene Tosoni
Now the question is, can we identify exactly what play is captured on this card? What can we tell right off the bat, so to speak?
1) no, it’s not Busch Stadium, this is in fact Target Field in Minneapolis
2) it’s a day game
3) #12 is shortstop Alexi Casilla
4) in order to make any deadlines for the Update set, it had to be a game from earlier in the season, and the long sleeves bear that up
Also, this isn’t a typical toss to the cutoff; probably an XBH or a deep flyball with a runner on first.
Once more I’m amazed with the gang at WGOM for their dogged investigations. What did they determine?
- Tosoni and Casilla only played in six home games together in which they were in the field and the opponent got a base hit
- of those six games, the first game of the April 28th doubleheader looks promising
- there were two doubles hit to left in that game, both by Ben Zobrist; since both were scoring plays, there was a chance it would be in the MLB archives, and it was!
- the play is a two-out, two-run double in the 7th inning
- the Rays won a 15-3 laugher; Ben Zobrist set a team record with 8 RBIs in this game
- the photo was of Tosoni playing in his first game in the majors; he collected his first two hits and was 2-for-4
So there you have it — another case successfully solved.
Time for another case of detective work, this time from 2011 Topps series 2:
2011 Topps #501 Tsuyoshi Nishioka RC
Series 2 Topps finally has Nishi’s rookie card, and it features a play at the keystone. Can we tell exactly when this play occurred?
Well, here are some clues:
1) Twins are playing the Blue Jays; Jose Bautista is bearing down on second
2) Away uni, so they are playing in Toronto, and this is Nishi’s first year, so the photo is from early this season
3) Most certainly an attempt at a double play. From Alexi Casilla’s position in the background, it looks like he may have originally fielded the ball.
Once more I posted this at WGOM and the investigation was a no-brainer. In summary:
- while the Twins opened the season against the Blue Jays, the third game Bautista did not reach second base during the time Casilla played as a late defensive replacement, leaving April 1st and April 2nd as possibilities
- On April 2nd, Bautista was not involved with any plays at second base, leaving…
- …April 1st (no, it’s not an April Fool’s Joke) — in the bottom of the 6th inning, Adam Lind grounds weakly to short, and Bautista is the lead out in a 6-4-3 DP to end the inning.
The Twins lost the opening day game in a Pavano-fuelled HR-fest, 13-3. Thank goodness things have improved since then :/
Before we get started: I was listening to the Twins game last night, and I made sure I had Baseball-Reference queued up for when the 4th inning rolled around. I fired off an email with the answer to the Twins radio trivia question, and later heard my name announced as the winning answer — fourth time this season. Question? “On this date in 2005 against the Padres, which Twins player got his first major league RBI?” Answer: Glenn Williams
Stumbled over this card while going through a binder today, and considered it a prime prospect for another NCIS challenge:
1995 Score Pinnacle Artist Proof #91 Chuck Knoblauch
What can we uncover regarding the play on the front of this card?
My initial examination revealed:
1) Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, and Detroit baserunner Lou Whitaker
2) it’s a day game and outside; must be at Detroit
3) initially looked like a stolen base attempt, but Lou is not someone who would be stealing, particularly in the second-to-last season of his career. We’re probably looking at an erroneous throw from the left side of the infield.
I challenged the regulars at WGOM with this one, and again they didn’t let me down. Here are their findings:
- the patch on Whitaker’s sleeve confirms that this play was from 1994
- Whitaker had no stolen base attempts against the Twins in 1994
- the only candidate for this play occurred in the bottom of the 7th inning of this game on June 5th, 1994.
Whitaker singled to lead off the inning. On a 1-1 count, Travis Fryman hit a ball between short and third; the throw to second was off the mark and Knobby had to leap for it — either a tough play or a generous offical scorekeeper, as it was ruled a single. Must have fired Knoblauch up though, as he hit his second homer of the game in the Twins’ half of the 8th, the go-ahead and last of the Twins’ three runs. Interestingly, the first six runs scored in this game were all on solo home runs, but in the bottom half of the 8th the Tigers took back the game for good. Carl Willis didn’t do Scott Erickson any favors in this one.
Just picked up my first of this year’s Topps Heritage, and when I saw this card, I immediately considered it a great candidate for the next NCIS: Duryea, PA post:
2011 Topps Heritage #311 Derek Jeter
This was from a Target blaster. So, what can we uncover here?
Here’s what I noticed initially:
1) that’s backup catcher Drew Butera bearing down on Jeter
2) it’s a day game; makes sense for “Butters” to be catching
3) he’s not necessarily all that fast, yet he’s there with his take-out slide
4) take look at the ball in each frame
Once again the gang at WGOM has nailed this one. Here are the findings:
- Butera only played in New York on two occasions: May 15th and May 16th
- on the 16th he was only used as a pinch runner for Jim Thome, and scored on Jason Kubel’s grand slam
- the only time he was on base in the other game was after a leadoff single in the top of the 8th. He was out at second, but on a Denard Span 1-6 fielder’s choice.
So, it’s as was initially expected; Jeter does NOT make the double play. Looks like we can call BS on Topps for this one.
McLean, Virginia that is, headquarters of USA Today, the publishers of the former Baseball Weekly, where this week’s Detective Work photo was found. I loved this one when I saw it the first time, and clipped it for posterity.
photo credit: Baseball Weekly
What can we find out about this particular photo? These are some things I can tell you up front:
1) it’s Chuck Knoblauch making the acrobatic play (duh)
2) Twins are wearing their road pinstripes
3) from the stats on the back of the photo’s page: Knoblauch had played in 93 games (with an OPS of .846) by that point in the season
Well, the gang from WGOM again took to the challenge (once more led by a bored Andrew) and ran with this one, and here’s what they decided:
- based on the outfield scoreboard, pitcher #37 of Montreal was taking on pitcher #29 of Atlanta; the Expos have 0 runs in the 3rd inning
- John Smoltz wore #29 for the Braves; #37 is Pedro Martinez. This game is in 1994.
- on July 25th, the two faced each other in Atlanta (this game) while the Twins played in Texas
- of the two ground balls to Knoblauch that game, the best candidate is an Ivan Rodriguez offering to Knobby’s right in the 3rd inning. Both games started at the same time, so the matching innings are a good fit.
- 2nd base ump is Terry Craft, while Pedro Munoz watches on from left field.
There you go — Knoblauch is making great throw to Jeff Reboulet (?!) to nip Pudge at first in a Twins’ loss at Texas on 7/25/1994. And a ‘roided up Canseco hit his 27th homer in the game.
This has got to be one of the best card photos from 2011 Topps series 1:
2011 Topps #181 Magglio Ordonez
I pulled this from the four rack packs I picked up last weekend. What can we find out about this particular photo?
Well, a three things immediately jumped out at me:
1) it’s at Target Field in Minneapolis
2) it’s a day game
3) it is not Joe Mauer behind the plate
The lack of “knee blocks” behind the catcher’s knees was the giveaway to me that this was a backup catcher. Gardy likes to use a backup on day games following night games, so this is consistent, too.
Well, the gang at WGOM has taken the investigation further. To summarize:
- the Twins played the Tigers in only two day games at Target Field, May 5th and June 30th
- it’s not Jose Morales catching; he uses a hockey-type mask
- it’s not Wilson Ramos catching; he uses an UnderArmor chest protector; here he is on May 5th
- the mystery catcher is Drew Butera! “Butters” caught the June 30th game; here he is that day
- umpire is #52, Bill Welke
- the Twins won by a 5-1 score; Slowey gets his 8th win, and Morneau his 16th HR
Andrew and everyone, you’re dogs with a bone on this one — way to go. And judging from the photo, it looks like Magglio got under it and pulled it to left, which (assuming it’s not a foul ball) means it was his single in the 4th inning. Here’s another photo of that AB (from ESPN):
PS: if you really want to see Mauer on a 2011 Topps card (he’s scheduled for series 2) I suggest this one.