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Sunday, February 26, 2012

1981 Fleer: Fastball Pitcher

Benny Ayala had batted against the Indians' Sid Monge twice the year before, Ayala told UPI in September 1981.

That gave Ayala the base to face Monge in that September game, and hit a three-run shot off him to win the game, Ayala still standing at home when the ball went out.

"He's a fastball pitcher and I was looking for fastballs and he threw me an off-speed pitch," Ayala told UPI. "I thought the ball would hook out and that's why I was standing at the plate when it hit the foul pole. With two strikes on me, I was swinging at anything close."

Monge threw that pitch the year his 1981 Fleer card came out. Monge's card came in a pack I purchased last year and opened recently.

Monge was in his seventh season in the majors in 1981. He would go on to pitch in 10 big league seasons.

Elsewhere in the pack was a card with a good action shot, or at least good for 1981 Fleer. A player with a nickname that fit and a CMC set member with gum stuck to his card.

The player with the nickname was Doc Medich. Medich played in 11 big league seasons. His season in 1981 with the Rangers was his second to last.

Medich's last name would see to have suggested his nickname. But, apparently, it wasn't. Medich was actually a doctor. In 1978, he even helped save fan in Baltimore from a heart attack, running into the stands before the game when a doctor was called for.

Medich then was a resident in general surgery in Pittsburgh, as well as a starting pitcher with Texas.

"This isn't the first time this has happened to me - it happened in 1976 in Philadelphia when I was with the Pirates," Medich told UPI after the incident in Baltimore. "It's tough to concentrate on baseball when something like that happend."

Here's the action shot. It's John Wathan blocking the plate from a kind-of sliding Angel. The Angel's number, 15, is clearly visible. According to Wikipedia, that's Dan Ford.

Ford played in 65 games for the Angels in 1980. Eleven of those were against Kansas City. Seven of those were in Anaheim. In only one of those was Ford tagged out at home by Royals catcher John Wathan. That was May 25, 1980.

Ford tried to score the second run on an fly ball dropped by Royals center fielder Amos Otis in the bottom of the first inning. Rod Carew scored the first run but Ford was out on the relay from Frank White.

If that wasn't cool enough. The player who set up that play at the plate, Otis, his card also came in this pack of 1981 Fleer. It's right there.

Here's Bob Bailor. He's the CMC set member that was in the pack. Bailor was coming off his sixth season with time in the majors going into 1981. He went on to play in 11 seasons, ending in 1985.

His playing career over, Bailor went on to a career as a manager and as a coach. He served as manager of Syracuse in the CMC set. After that, he served as first base coach for the Blue Jays from 1992 to 1995. Bailor has yet to be featured here.

About his Fleer card, if you notice, there's a big white spot over Bailor's hands. That's caused by 31-year-old Fleer gum adhering itself to the card front. I tried to gently pry it up, to no avail.

Here's the pre-pried card, with gum:

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