Sunday, December 29, 2013


Graphology is the study of handwriting.  Supposedly, your scrawl actually says something about you.

It’s something that I’m rather interested in. I’ve actually got a small library of books on the subject.

And that’s really ironic, as my handwriting is, without a doubt, the absolute worst I’ve ever seen.  I’ve had people ask me whether it’s shorthand, or Arabic. When I was in college, I liked nothing better than having someone ask me for my notes.  Mwa-ha-ha.

I also have had my handwriting analyzed before. The graphologists usually tell me I have “something to hide.”

What does this have to do with baseball cards? Well, every couple of years or so, Topps puts out a card with signatures. So, let’s put on our graphologist hats and analyze the heck out of these guys.

My Big Book of Graphology says that Bill didn’t finish third grade.

Billy Sorrell was up for three years, none of them in consecutive years, and none of them with the same team. That last bit is probably why he’s not wearing a cap on this card. Heck, who knows where he’s going to be playing next year, right?

Overall, Bill had 165 at bats, and hit a decent .267, with five homers. Not totally sure why he wasn’t given more of a chance. By the way, 135 of those at bats were with the hapless, brand new Royals.

Also, that rather tentative, what-the-heck-am I dong-here look? It’s on all three of Billy’s card.

Ditto Joe.

Joe Moeller was up for eight years, all with LA. He was the youngest player ever to start a game for the Dodgers, at just over 19 years. Joe finished 26-36, with an ERA a little north of 4.00.

Though 70, Joe’s still in baseball. He works as an advance scout for the Marlins.

Some interesting tidbits about our Joe:
  • He was born in Blue Island, IL
  • He won the junior national title in archery
  • The Red Sox gave his parents $5,000 for “first rights” while he was still in Little League
That last one’s totally illegal, by the way.

And Tony.

Tony Oliva was an excellent baseball player. He led the AL in average three years, runs once, and hits five times. He was also Rookie of the Year and an eight-time All Star. 

I always thought he had a decent shot at the Hall. Unfortunately, he never got more than 47% of the vote. If his balky knees hadn’t given him so much trouble, he’d probably have made it easy. He was, though, part of the inaugural class for the Twins Hall of Fame.

Tony was also a huge fan favorite, and sounds like a genuinely nice guy.

My Big Book of Graphology says that Manny learned how to write cursive on the planet Zoltak.

Manny Mota was a real favorite of mine as a kid. Not totally sure why. I think I loved those pure hitters. Manny was one. Matty Alou was another. Maybe these guys just reminded me of myself. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a “pure hitter,” but it was true that about all I could do was hit singles.

Manny finished with a career average over .300 (.304, to be precise). And he did that over 20 years in the bigs. His last eight were strictly as a pinch hitter, having more at bats than games in only one of those eight. When he retired, he owned the record for career pinch hits.

Hard to believe he’s only 75. I swear he was already that old when I watched him play back in the ‘70s. Would you believe he was a coach for the Dodgers for 33 straight years?

Did you know that Reginald had an IQ of 150?  You can always tell those guys. They have those crazy genius-guy signatures – like that “M” on Reginald’s. 

Bet you didn’t know “M” stood for “Martinez” though. Reggie is actually three-quarters Latino. Here are some more great fun facts about Mr. October:
  • He attended Arizona State on a football scholarship
  • He was the second pick in the 1966 draft (the Mets made Steve Chilcott number one)
  • He hosted his own TV show on Nickleodeon
  • The eponymous Reggie bar was originally called the Wayne Bun


Ron was part of a little-known experiment in which the government tested LSD on major league baseball players during the 1970s.

Actually, I think that interesting signature might have resulted from his getting hit by all those pitches. Yup, Ron Hunt’s main claim to fame was from being a hit batsman. 

That includes leading his league seven times, and also retiring with a then record career mark of 243. His motto was, “Some people give their bodies to science; I give mine to baseball.”

My Big Book of Graphology says that guys who dot their i’s with stars are Dicks.  

Well, you’ve actually met Dick Bosman before. There, I made fun of his follow-through, but also shared that he was one of my boyhood heroes.  

And here are some fun facts for our Dick:
  • He started the last game for the Senators and the first one for the Rangers
  • His hobby is building hot rods
  • He’s cousins with Duane Kuiper


Or Steves.  Well, at least it wasn’t a little heart.

You remember this guy, right? I already made fun of Steve Hamilton once in this blog, for those ears. There, I focused on his basketball prowess (he was 6’6”, after all).

Baseball? Seems Steve’s main claim to fame was being left-handed. I figure that’s why he lasted so long (12 years) with so few wins (40) and so few saves (42). He was a Yankee for eight of those 12, but still managed to play for five other teams. Like I say, left-handed.

Wait a minute. I take that all back. Steve’s main claim to fame had to be the “folly floater,” an eephus-like pitch that he broke out occasionally to the delight of the fans. Take a gander at it right here.

Yeah, I think this pen works now.

It’s one thing to sign a card that already has an autograph on it, but when your autograph looks like this …

All you need to know about Fred Wenz is that his nickname was “Fireball.” 

That said, here’s a very funny post on how some poor guy and his brother, as kids, collected 83 Freds, instead of any of the Harmon Killebrews, Tony Olivas, and Rod Carews they were really looking for.

That’s not a b.  That’s not a t.  And that’s definitely not a Pena.  

Roberto Pena was up for six years, half of those as a starter. He amassed 1,900 at bats, for five teams, finishing with 13 home runs and a .245 average.

Things started off with a bang for Sr. Pena. In his first big league game (opening day, no less), he went 3-for-6, with a double, a home run (off Bob Gibson) and three RBI. Too bad he also committed three errors in seven chances.

Ropael Robbs?  Ropoel Rolles?  

Rafael Orlando Robles Natera (not sure where the “R.” in his signature came from) was – and I quote Wikipedia here – “an average fielding shortstop and a below-average hitter.” As evidence, they cite a .958 fielding and a .188 batting average. And that’s probably what’s behind his limited action in the bigs (47 games over three years).

He was, however, the Padres first batter, somehow getting to first (on an error by Joe Morgan). He also managed to steal a base, but was – alas – left stranded.

Work P. Ellijk?  (Though do see Ron Hunt, above.)

Dock Ellis. Wow, there’s a name from the past. Man, I must have seen this guy pitch a dozen times.

Dock was not a bad pitcher. He finished 138-119, with over 1,100 strikeouts. He’ll always be remembered, though, for his no-hitter, thrown while he was supposedly on LSD. Great little video on it right here. (Oh, by the way, he only took the stuff ‘cause he thought it was his off day. I always wondered about that.)

3vilbur Honbrd?

Wilbur Howard is a local boy, coming from nearby Lincoln, NC. He was up for six years, starting for the ‘Stros in one of those years. He came up with the Brewers, having been traded to the Astros for the “star-crossed” Larry Yount.

Never heard of Larry? He holds the distinction of being the only pitcher to make it into the record books without ever facing a batter. While warming up on the mound to face his first batter, he hurt his arm, never to appear in a major league game again.

Coohie Cofaf?

Oh hell, it’s not you again is it? Cookie Rojas probably deserves his own post in this blog. I’ve already got him down for glasses three times (1, 2, 3), as well as one other for getting his card painted instead of just having his photo taken like everyone else. So, I mean, what else could I possibly have to say about this dude that I haven’t already covered elsewhere?

John Erjoml?  Unboml?  3Rty%2&k#???

John Vuckovich’s main claim to fame is having the lowest batting average of any non-pitcher with at least 500 at bats. How bad was it? Would you believe .161? 

For some reason, he became a fan favorite with the fickle Philly fans (fffff). After his playing days were over, he coached for the Phils for 17 seasons. Overall, he was with the Phils for 31 years.  

Chixlang?  Siulauq?  Pepe? Pepe??

Pepe Frias has been here before. In that post, we caught Pepe with mouth open. I also shared some of his (rather weak) stats, as well as how closely his name is to papas fritas, Spanish for “french fries.”

So, here’s some fun facts about Pepe:
  • He was the youngest of 15 children
  • He was cut from three different minor league organizations
  • He was playing for a semi-pro team in Canada when Montreal signed him
  • There’s a street named after him in his native San Pedro de Macoris 

No comment.  Just no friggin’ comment.

Elias Sosa was up for 12 years and eight teams during the 70s and 80s. He played in over 600 games – with only three as a starter. He was the closer for the Giants in 73 and the Expos in ’79.

It’s quite odd to find Elias sans moustache. Enjoy! 

After retirement Elias was, like Felix Millan, a real ambassador for MLB.


  1. John Vuckovich has a more than passing resemblance to Chevy Chase.

  2. Wow, you're right! Could have put the two in my Separated at Birth post.