1986 Topps Bobby Wine 57 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

Bobby Wine is one of those old baseball dudes that so many slobber over because he’s been in the game forever. He was the Braves interim manager after Eddie Haas was fired during the 1985 season. He basically got the job because he was on the bench and someone had to get the job. He wasn’t under serious consideration for the permanent position, not that it would have mattered who was the manager during those years.

Wine would go on to join the Braves scouting department in 1996 after a few years coaching for the Mets. He is well known as a confident of Bobby Cox. If his wikipedia page is to be believed, he played a large role in the Braves continuing success.

As a fan who is something of an obsessive completist, I’m glad that the 1986 Topps set included manager cards so that he has a card.

1979 Topps Brian Asselstine 529 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

Asselstine didn’t play his position well. He had no power. He didn’t hit for average. In fact, he didn’t even hit very well in the minors either. Over six seasons with the Braves, Asselstine started 122 games and had 629 plate appearances. Such were the fortunes of the Atlanta Braves in the late 1970s.

1981 Fleer Bruce Benedict 248 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

I was such a big fan of catchers that I owned a catcher’s mitt years before I ever actually played catcher. I would tell anyone who would listen that the catcher was the most important player on the field because he was the only one looking in the other direction. (I’m sure I heard that line somewhere, but I couldn’t tell you where.) Back then, I tended to store my baseball cards in stacks of teams with rubber bands around each team. Typically, I had one stack with nothing but catchers and it was always near the top of the shoebox.

When my family moved to Georgia in the midst of the 1981 season, I immediately became an Atlanta Braves fan and my first favorite Braves player was, of course, Dale Murphy. My next favorite was Bruce Benedict. In 1981, Benedict was an All-Star, largely on the value of his defense, although he was also solid with the bat. He’d repeat as an All-Star in 1983 in the midst of his best all-around season, which saw him just miss hitting .300. His offense would fall sharply after 1984, and he spent the remainder of his big league career backing up Ozzie Virgil, Rick Cerone and Jody Davis. The Braves uniform was the only uniform that Benedict would ever wear.

I’m sure that most of us who became Braves fans because of the WTBS broadcasts have the same memory of Benedict. Whenever he would step to the plate at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, you would think that Mr. Springsteen was in the house. The chants of “BRUUUUUUUUUCE” would cascade down from every row of the stadium. At least once for every Braves home game, one of the Braves announcers would point out that the fans were not booing but were chanting his name. The Braves became a sensation on the back of the thirteen game winning streak that opened the 1982 season. Thanks to the Braves popularity, there are people all over America who remember Bruce Benedict.

1984 Topps Biff Pocoroba 438 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

I wish, I wish, I wish, I could say that Biff Pocoroba was my favorite Biff, but I cannot. It simply isn’t true. The greatest Biff of all-time is, without a doubt, Biff Tannen from the Back to the Future movies, as portrayed by Thomas F. Wilson. He was funnier than Pocoroba. He was better looking. He may have been every bit as good as a major league catcher.

As a last name though, Pocoroba is vastly superior to Tannen, so he does have that.

2015 Topps Tommy LaStella 201 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

I don’t buy it. It isn’t really happening. Some sort of weird voodoo magic spell has been cast over us all and so it appears that LaStella is hitting the ever loving crap out of the baseball, to the point where he’s been one of the best hitters in the American League so far this season. Eleven home runs? No way.

I say again, it isn’t real. It’s voodoo of some sort. Tommy LaStella is a perfectly fine bat. He is not THIS. It is not real, and if it is, if an amazing run of luck has been gifted him by the gods of baseball, it will not last. This is Tommy LaStella for goodness sake!

1956 Topps Hank Aaron 31 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

Topps has always screwed up. Sometimes the errors are from pure sloppiness, as would be the case on the 1957 Hank Aaron card which used a reverse negative showing him as a left handed hitter. Other times, Topps just doesn’t care. In this case, for the action photo on Aaron’s 56 card, Topps chose to airbrush a Braves cap and plain white uniform onto a photo of Willie Mays. If you know anything about Mays and Aaron and their personal history, you have a pretty good idea why the Hammer was offended by the card.

Seriously, how do you screw up a Hank Aaron baseball card? Well, you can’t. Not really. Every Aaron card is great. Every Aaron card from his playing career is especially special. That said, Topps should have done better by Aaron in 1956.

1988 Topps Jeff Dedmon 46 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

The Braves teams of the mid to late 1980s were full of really bad baseball players, but looking back, there were a few guys who weren’t bad at all. Dedmon took a few years to find his footing as a big league reliever, but he ended up as a solid member of the Braves bullpen turning in an excellent season in 1986 and a solid one in 1987. The Braves would deal him away after the 87 season and he wasn’t in organized ball but another year or two.

Of course, the Braves of this time period had problems that were far too large to be solved by a single solid reliever. Still, Dedmon performed relatively well.

1990 Topps Mark Lemke 451 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

Did Mark Lemke ever look young?

1989 Topps Traded Tommy Gregg 39T - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

Word on the street in the early 90s was that Tommy Gregg was a “professional hitter”, but lacked the other skills needed to be a regular at the major league level. In actuality, he wasn’t a very good hitter either, especially in the big leagues.

His greatest contribution to the Braves? He was the return from the Pirates for getting the pointless Ken Oberkfell the hell out of Atlanta. So, there’s that.

Tommy Gregg is now working as a hitting coach in the Marlins organization. Hopefully, he’s better at coaching hitting than he was at actually hitting.

1987 Topps Gerald Perry 639 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

A lot of long time Braves fans, like myself, thought Perry was a pretty good baseball player. We based that on his .300 batting average in 1988 and the two near .270 seasons that led up to it. At the time, we thought it was a breakout season. We thought he was destined for greater things. We were wrong.

Perry’s reputation was that of a “professional hitter”, but he really wasn’t. He was a guy that the Braves kept running out at first base because the Braves really didn’t have any other options.

Of course, now I look at Fangraphs and Baseball Reference and see that not only was Perry not as good as I thought at the time, but he really wasn’t very good at all. That said, he played first base for the Braves and he was one of our guys. I’m astounded at the number of bad baseball players of which I have fond memories.