1982 Topps Bob Walk 296 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

I’m not sure why I think of Bob Walk as a player for the Atlanta Braves first and foremost. He really wasn’t with the team for that long. The three seasons he did play in Atlanta were pretty bad. All of his good years were in Pittsburgh. On top of that, the Braves traded one of my favorite players, Gary Matthews, for him.

Yet, Walk was a guy on TBS when I first became a Braves fan so that’s how I’ll always see him.

1978 Topps Eddie Solomon 598 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

The Braves traded for journeyman reliever Eddie Solomon before the start of the 1977 season and he was a solid member of the bullpen all three seasons. The Braves would send him away after 1979 for a guy who would never pitch an inning in the big leagues. I suppose the lesson is that good relievers serve no function on bad baseball teams.

1984 Topps Pascual Perez 675 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

When the Braves dealt Larry McWilliams to the Pirates in 1982, they knew they were getting a live arm in return. I’m not sure they knew they were getting one of the game’s great characters. Pascual Perez was endlessly entertaining. His body would twitch in random spastic movements at every ball or strike call. He would, on occasion, lean over and peak at a runner on first through his legs. At the end of an inning, rather than walk calmly back to the bench, he would sprint as if trying to beat his teammates to the dugout. Many would “tsk tsk” at his antics, but I saw a guy who had fun playing the game. He was one of my favorites.

Following his trade from the Pirates, the Braves assigned Perez to their AAA team in Richmond. He was scheduled to make his first big league start for the Braves on August 19, 1982. I have no idea where Pascual was staying, but he had a bit of trouble. He ended up driving on I–285, Atlanta’s circular expressway, and missed his exit. He kept driving and driving. He missed his exit again. So he drove some more. He missed his exit one more time. Perez would eventually run out of gas and borrowed money from an employee at a gas station so he could get more. He finally made it to the stadium by the second inning of the game. The story was a source of endless amusement for Braves fans. Perez himself enjoyed the attention and the joke. Bill Acree even had I–285 put onto the back of his jacket.

Now, this is how I remember the story and how it has been told to the press. While looking through the game logs, it appears that this was NOT Pascual Perez’s first appearance with the Braves. It’s still a great story and Perez is still one of the most memorable and entertaining players from the period.

2009 Topps Nate McLouth UH326 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

My wife and I went to a lot of Braves games in 2009. She’s not a huge fan, but she’s also not NOT a fan, if that makes sense. Her favorite player was Frenchy, and after he was dealt to the Mets, she needed a new favorite player and she chose … Nate McLouth. Yes, Nate McLouth. Not to mock my wife, but come on.

Well, according to their bWAR, Nate McLouth and Jeff Francouer ended up with similar careers. They even both won golden gloves that they most assuredly did not deserve. I think my wife got out of the having a favorite player game after McLouth. That was a good move on her part.

1995 Topps 1995 Prospects Eddie Perez 480 - Braves Card of the Day ⚾

Eddie Perez never looked like a kid when he finally arrived with the Braves late in the 1995 season. The reason he didn’t look young is that he wasn’t. Eddie toiled for almost nine full seasons in the minor leagues before he got his shot.

Here’s the thing about Eddie Perez, he was basically a replacement level player, but, when Greg Maddux chose him to be his personal catcher, he was a big league catcher, and had a decade long career. Now, calling a player replacement level is hardly a compliment, but you wonder if it really applies to a guy like Eddie. If we had the ability to apply value to framing, game calling, and such from his career, would he be seen as more valuable?

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!