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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dollar Tree Packs: Prove He Could Pitch

In his first full season in the majors in 1982, Charlie Puleo was looking to impress.

By late June, Puleo was 6-4 and he and his Mets had just beaten the Expos. Puleo went 8.1 innings, giving up seven hits and striking out eight, The Associated Press wrote.

"It is nothing special," Puleo told The AP about the win. "All I'm trying to do is prove I can pitch in this league."

Puleo could pitch. He went on to pitch in a total of eight seasons in the majors. But 1982 was his last for the Mets. That off-season, the Mets sent Puleo and two others to the Reds in exchange Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.

Puleo's 1988 Topps card came in my latest Dollar Tree pack. This pack, unlike others, was a true repack. It was all 1988 Topps, but was 14 cards put in a plastic pack.

Coming in the pack was Puleo, who was in a trade involving a Hall of Famer. The pack itself had only one direct Hall of Famer, Ozzie Smith All Star card.

The back of the card has the 1987 National League stolen base leaders. Smith was seventh on the list, with 43 steals. On July 9, 1987, the card back reads, Smith swiped his 200th career base.
There was also one CMC set member, Jay Aldrich. I covered Aldrich back in June. Aldrich was coming off his first major league season in 1987. He didn't see any major league time the year his first Topps card came out. My June post covered what happened in his next year, when he returned to the majors.

In 1988, Mike Felder was in his fourth major league season when his 1988 Topps card came out. But that summer, he was also unhappy. That was because he was demoted in August, The Milwaukee Journal wrote. It was the third year in a row he'd been sent down.

"I'm tired of this bull," Felder told The Journal. "I know I haven't played a whole lot. I know I haven't done much. I'm just tired of this situation. Three years in a row, same thing."

Felder wasn't traded. He stayed with the Brewers through 1990. His 50 games played in 1988 turned into 117 in 1989 and 121 in 1990.

Don Carman picked up his third-straight double-digit win season in 1988. He won 10 in 1986 and 13 in 1987 and 10 more in 1988. But his losses were growing, from 5 in 1986 to 14 in 1988. The next year he led the league in losses, with 15.

But, that year he had five losses and 10 wins, in 1986, Carman was almost perfect. On Aug. 20, 1986, Carman took a scoreless game into the ninth. He also took a perfect game into the ninth.

The leadoff batter, Bob Brenly, lifted a double. But it first looked like something different, Carman told reporter later.

"When it was first hit, I was sure it was going to be a home run. I was thinking about going from a perfect game to a loss in one pitch," Carman told reporters afterward. Carman finished the ninth, his Phillies and Carman getting the win in the 10th.

Dollar Tree Packs
1988 Topps
152 Jody Reed
179 Charlie Puleo
204 Paul O'Neill
259 Ron Kittle
272 Steve Ontiveros
400 Ozzie Smith All Star
415 Don Carman
423 John Smiley
616 Jay Aldrich
651 Mike Jackson
702 Mike Gallego
718 Mike Felder
734 Craig Lefferts
741 Mike Easler

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