Skip to main content

Stars and angels

This is my tree top decoration.
It's pretty typical. No Letterman meatball at the top of our tree. I've been part of a "star" family since I was a little kid.
Here is a picture of a tree from that time.
You can tell that's from the '70s, right? Those drapes are wonderful. This is a photo from 1976 and note that tinsel was still all the rage. But check out the star on top. That's all I knew for Christmas tree-toppers for all of my youth.
Then I met who would become my wife. And I remember that first Christmas when I came over to her house in 1987. The tree stood in her living room, right near the door and, as I looked up, the top didn't have a star. It looked so weird. As if the top of the tree wasn't complete. As if it wasn't even a Christmas tree.
Instead, the top of the tree was graced with an angel. It's a perfectly logical tree-topper, of course. We're still looking up in the sky for it. But it seemed so different.
But, then, for awhile there, I became part of the "angel" family.
This is a picture of our very first Christmas tree as a couple back in our strange-and-wonderful apartment, circa 1990. So many windows in the background. It was like living in an auto dealer showroom.
But you can see the angel on top. And in a way, that angel on top will always remind me of those first Christmases with my new wife, starting a life.

A few years ago, to recognize Christmas, I put together my all "Bell" team and I had an idea for an all "Angel" team in the future. I stalled on that for awhile -- it's not exactly easy to do. But I'm ready now, and with a few adjustments, I've figured out a way to create a full team.

So, filled with the Christmas spirit (and already too many Christmas cookies) here is the All-Angel team:

First base: Angel Echevarria

Echevarria mostly played the outfield, but he appeared at first base a few times and it's the most difficult position to find an Angel. (What's that say about first basemen?). I remember Echevarria pretty well but he doesn't have a lot of cards. In fact, the one year that he played the most, in 1999, I couldn't find any cards for him. Man, the late '90s were weird.

Second base: Angel Salazar
Most of Salazar's cards say he plays shortstop, so I went with the generic 1989 Score card that claims he covered the whole infield. Salazar actually was a great fielder, known for his arm. His hitting was abysmal, but in the '80s you could still survive for a while on just fielding and Salazar has cards consistently through the '80s.

Weirdly, though, Topps insisted in calling Salazar by his full first name (was Topps his mom??) throughout his career while every other card company called him "Angel."

Shortstop: Angel Berroa
The competition for the shortstop position was fierce. It seems like every Angel wants to play at short. I placed Berroa here because he arrived with such promise and also because I like this card.
Also, he was a Dodger for a brief time and I wanted to show this card because looking back 11 years now, these Walmart blacks were pretty damn cool.

Third base: Angel Sanchez

Have you figured out yet that this will be an all-Latin team as well? "Angel" isn't so common in English-speaking countries. It's super common in Spanish-speaking countries.

Sanchez is another transplanted shortstop on this team. But late in his career with the Astros, he played some third base.

Left field: Angel Pagan

The most recent "Angel" on the team. I chose an earlier Mets card for Pagan because all those sour-faced Giants cards of his turn me off. I've never seen anyone looking so grim on the field. Was playing baseball that miserable?

Center field: Angel Bravo

Bravo doesn't appear to be too happy about being listed as a Red but wearing a White Sox uniform. Talk about looking grim. Bravo got just two Topps cards and he seems mad on both.

Bravo is part of another "all" team and for that, and other great stories about Bravo, you'll have to go to my 1971 Topps blog.

Right field: Angel Mangual

The first "Angel" player that I ever knew. I wanted to use Mangual's 1975 Topps mini card as it's the first Mangual card I ever pulled. But that '75 card also lists him as a DH and we are shunning the DH once again on this team.

For whatever reason, Mangual appears tall on his cards but I just looked up his playing height and it was 5-10.

Catcher: Angel Pena

I have more cards of Pena than any other Angel in my collection. Yup, that's a product of playing in the late 1990s. But also the product of me hoarding Dodgers cards.

Pena played in a grand total of 71 major league games.

Pitcher: Angel Guzman

There aren't very many "Angel" pitchers, although Angel Perdomo made his major league debut for the Brewers this past year.

Guzman, however, pitched long enough for the Cubs to have a decent number of cards between 2005-08. Somehow I don't have a single one. He was actually signed by the Dodgers late in his career in 2011 ... and promptly suspended for using PEDs.
So there's the All-Angel team. I probably could've just found nine Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels and been done with it.

My family went back to placing a star on the top of our tree quite awhile ago. I miss those angel days a little bit, probably because it makes me recall a time, and people, who are no longer around.

The word "angel" is a Hebrew translation of the word "messenger," and this is my message to you: I hope you truly enjoy your Christmas this year whether your tree top contains a star, angel, bow, Star Wars figure or meatball. Yeah, there are all kinds of rules about who you can see this Christmas, but there's nothing saying you can't have a good time.

So please do. Merry Christmas.


Billy Kingsley said…
Love the star you led off with. We had a similar one but our current tree can't support it's weight so nothing is at the top, and yes it looks empty. I am going to try and create a light enough something to put up there myself.
bbcardz said…
Nice picture! Love the theme of your post too. Here's some possible inspiration for a possible post for next Christmas. How about an All-Christmas Team? Think of a word that goes with Christmas and figure out a player whose name is that word. A few words that come to mind that are also players are Day, Snow, Gift and even Sale.
Merry Christmas to y'all too. BTW, those Christmas rules are limited to just a half dozen or so States. Florida and Georgia are definitely not included.
Mark Hoyle said…
Merry Christmas Greg
Nick said…
And all games played by the All-Angel team will have to be umpired by Angel Hernandez -- and might take a while because they'll have to go to replay ten times after blown calls. [rim shot]

(Merry Christmas, Greg!)
simpson said…
merry christmas greg!
bryan was here said…
And for a relief pitcher, I say you bring in Angel Moreno from the 1981 Angels (see what I did there???) He appears in the '82 Fleer set (#469).

Merry Christmas!
Adam Kaningher said…
I used to watch Letterman all the time. What a great clip!
Angus said…
Greg, have a Merry Christmas my friend.

I hope we get to go to a card show together again in 2021!

carlsonjok said…
My wife would absolutely love those drapes. She has a mid-century modern barware collection and if we had a room to spare she would definitely have those drapes gracing the window next to her collection.

Merry Christmas!
Jon said…
I don't know much about baseball Angels, but I do know that a tree without a topper is a unforgivable sin (I'm only half joking). Merry Christmas, Mr. Owl!
Adam said…
Merry Christmas my friend! Hope you have the best holiday possible during these strange times.
Nick Vossbrink said…
Oh good someone else already mentioned Angel Moreno with the Angels.
Fuji said…
I feel like an angel was always atop my childhood Christmas trees, but I'll have to dig through photos (if an exist) to confirm that.

As for Angels... Pagan was the first to come to mind. My ex was obsessed with him. The good news is I got to attend a lot of Giants games when we were together.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Tim Hopseker said…
Angel Hermoso as a backup infielder. 1970 Topps
Old Cards said…
When I think of angels and baseball, I remember 1961 and the first year of the expansion LA Angels and those great caps with the halos. As a little kid, those caps looks so cool. Merry Christmas to you NO and all your readers.
cardboardhogs said…
Awesome lineup! Merry Christmas
Matt said…
Merry Christmas! Guess I didn't know so many players are named Angel but I knew all of those names just never put it together like this
acrackedbat said…
a perfectly divine post! This year is an exception due to my smaller tree but the Grinch has been my topper for 20 years. I'll have to dig out a pic of him. Merry Christmas!

Popular posts from this blog

Stuck in traffic with Series 2

In the whirlwind that has been my life this month, I found myself going absolutely nowhere for a portion of Thursday afternoon. I was in the middle of yet another road trip, the third one this week. This one was for work, and because it was job-related, it became quickly apparent that it would be a waste of time. The only thing that could save it was a side visit to the nearby Walmart to see if I could spot some Topps Series 2. I found it right away, which was shocking as I was pretty much in the middle of the country, where SUVs share the road with tractors and buggies. Who knew that the Amish wanted Series 2, too? The problem was getting back into civilization to open the contents of the 72-card hanger box I bought. The neighboring village is undergoing a summer construction project smack in the middle of downtown. It's not much of a downtown, but the main road happens to be the main artery in the entire county. Everyone -- and by everyone I mean every tractor trailer ha

Heading upstate

  Back in 1999, Sports Illustrated published an edition at the end of the year rating the top 50 athletes of the century for every state.   As a lifelong Upstate New Yorker, I braced for a list of New York State athletes that consisted almost entirely of downstate natives, that is, folks from the greater NYC area and Long Island.   We Upstaters are used to New York City trampling all over the rest of the state. They have the most people, the loudest voices. It happens all the time. It's a phenomenon unique to this state. Heck, there are still people out there who, when you tell them you're from New York, automatically think you're from NYC. They don't think of cows and chickens when they think of New York. But trust me, there are a lot of cows and chickens in New York State. Especially cows.   So, anyway, when I counted up the baseball players that SI listed as the greatest from New York State, six of the nine were from New York City or Long Island. I was surprised all

G.O.A.T, the '80s: 30-21

  I often call this current period of the television sports calendar the black hole of sports programming. The time between the end of the Super Bowl and the beginning of televised Spring Training baseball games is an empty void when I'm looking for something to watch on traditional television. I don't watch the NBA and the NHL on TV holds my interest for maybe a period. College basketball I can't watch until the tournament. This didn't used to be as much of a problem back when I could turn instead to my favorite sitcoms in February. Do you remember when February was "sweeps month"? (Maybe it still is, I don't know). Networks would make sure that every top show aired original episodes that month, no reruns. So you'd always have something to view during the week even when the sports scene was boring. (I know, people have multiple streaming viewing options now. But I find myself going weeks sometimes before I see something I want to view on Netflix or Am