Friday, June 8, 2018

Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis - MLB Pitcher who was nicknamed after hockey great

The card: 2005 Topps

What it says about hockey: "Francis grew up in a 'baseball family' in the hockey hotbed of British Columbia."

The card: 2007 Topps Triple Threads

 What is says about hockey: "Canadian who was nicknamed "Boomer" by parents after hockey great "Boom Boom" Geoffrion.

The story:

   As noted by these two baseball cards, Jeff Francis grew up in a hockey hotbed and was surrounded by the sport that gave him his nickname. Jeff's grandfather called him Boom Boom after Montreal Canadiens Hockey Hall of Famer Boom Boom Geoffrion. Even with so much hockey around him, Francis never took to the game. The Canadian was always a baseball player though and through.
   Francis spent a decade in the Majors, pitching for the Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. He also helped Canada win a Gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Devin Williams

Devin Williams - Has baseball card that notes he follows hockey

The card: 2017 Bowman Prospects

What it says about hockey: "Follows professional basketball and hockey"

The story:

   Devin Williams was drafted out of high school by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2nd round of the 2013 MLB draft. The 54th overall pick decided to sign with the team instead of going to college. He immediately turned pro. Williams has spent a couple seasons playing professionally in the Bewers system. He was sidelined in 2017 when he underwent Tommy John surgery.
  As noted by this baseball card, Williams "follows professional hockey." Williams would have grown up not far from the NHL's St. Louis Blues.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Pierre Mondou

Pierre Mondou - NHL player who regularly played ball

The card: 1979/90 Topps

What it says about baseball: "Pierre relaxes by playing softball."

The story:

  Pierre Mondou got involved in baseball/softball at an early age. His grandfather, former NHL player Armand Mondou, became deeply involved in baseball after he hung up his hockey skates. Pierre's grandfather spent time as president of the Montreal junior baseball league so the young Pierre was naturally involved in both sports his whole life. Like Armand, Pierre's best sport was hockey but he remained passionate about ball and as this hockey card notes, with a fun little picture, Mondou commonly relaxed by playing softball.
   From 1977 to 1985 Pierre Mondou played over 500 games in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens. He won two Stanley Cups with Montreal, in 1978 and 1979.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Craig Ludwig

Craig Ludwig - Avid softball player, was star on charity teams.

The card: 1991/92 Pinnacle

What it says about baseball: "When Craig comes to bat in summer softball games in his native Wisconsin, infielders move back to the outfield grass and the outfielders go back to the fences. At 6-foot-3 and 217 pounds, he has a similar build to baseball sluggers like Cecil Fielder and Jose Canseco. At charity exhibitions during the summer months, Craig is a big crowd favorite largely because of his ability to hit the long ball."

The story:

   Craig Ludwig spent 17 seasons in the NHL, playing well over 1,200 regular season games. He won the Stanley Cup in 1986 with the Montreal Canadiens and in 1999 with the Dallas Stars.
   As you can see from this hockey/baseball card hybrid, Ludwig enjoyed playing softball during his time away from the hockey rink. The card sums up his ball career well, noting that he was always one of the best players on his charity ball teams. Evidence that ball remained a big part of Ludwig's life comes from a 2016 article in the Orlando Sentinel about Ludwig's son, Trevor Ludwig, who also became a pro hockey player. "My sons were really good baseball players," said Craig Ludwig. "I know when they were younger, I was always trying to push them that way, away from hockey. I had been playing for a long time, and I knew what happens to the body and that kind of stuff." Ludwig's sons did play ball during the off-season, but they stuck with hockey like their father. All three ended up playing professional hockey. (1)

(1) Stephen Ruiz. Son of 2-time Stanley Cup champion brings experience to Solar Bears. Orlando Sentinel, Oct. 21, 2016.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Jon Moscot

Jon Moscot - MLB Pitcher who 'enjoys pro hockey.'

The card: 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects

What it says about hockey: "Enjoys pro hockey"

The story:

   Jon Moscot grew up in California during the 1990s, a time when the NHL and hockey in general was really starting to make some waves in the state. With teams like the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Mighty Ducks building grassroots hockey in the area, a generation of Californian kids like Jon Moscot grew up watching and enjoying hockey.
   Jon Moscot was drafted and signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 2012. He's pitched in 8 MLB games over two seasons with the Reds. He remains in their organization but sat out the 2017 season as he recovered from surgery.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Gavin Hockey

Gavin Hockey - Pro baseball player

The card: 1995 Melbourne Monarchs

The story:

  Introducing Mr. Hockey, not Gordie Howe, but baseball player Gavin Hockey. Other than his last name, this baseball player has no known ties to the game of hockey.
  There hasn't been much written about Gavin Hockey. He is an Australian who did play some baseball in North America. He pitched for Cumberland University in Tennessee in the early 1990s. Gavin returned to Australia and played a little professional baseball in the Australian Baseball League. In 1995, he was pitching for the ABL's Melbourne Monarchs and had his only trading card released.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Rich Harden

Rich Harden - Retired MLB pitcher who grew up playing hockey.

The card: 2003 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects

What it says about hockey: "Followed hockey intently growing up in Victoria, British Columbia"

The card: 2010 Topps Heritage

What it says about hockey: "Rich played hockey as a kid and still loves it."

The story:

   From 2003 to 2011 Rich Harden pitched in 170 Major League Baseball games. He pitched for the Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. The Canadian grew up playing hockey alongside baseball.
   In 2008, wrote about Chicago Cubs players who were attending the Winter Classic hockey game at Wrigley Field. Harden was one of the Cubs excited to attend the outdoor event. Harden was a stay-at-home defeseman who said his "childhood dream was to play in the NHL until the 11th grade when major-league scouts started showing interest in him." The articles also notes that while growing up, Harden would fall asleep listening to Calgary Flames hockey games on the radio. Originally, Harden only played baseball to pass time between hockey seasons. That changed when it became clear that he had a brighter future on the baseball diamond than in the hockey rink. (1) 
   Harden, who is a second cousin of 2008 NHL first round draft pick Kyle Beach, remained a hockey fan his entire life. While playing for the Oakland Athletics, Harden was known to keep a couple hockey sticks in his locker.

(1) Dan Rosen. Cubs excited about seeing hockey in Wrigley Field. December 3, 2008.