Saturday, October 3, 2015

629th Place - Mark Ryal

Card #243

Ryal was born in the mighty metropolis of Henryetta, OK. He's spent a large portion of his post-playing days as a women's softball coach.  After a stint as an assistant coach at Auburn and South Alabama, he returned to his native Oklahoma and the OSU team.

Ryal the player was your classic AAA minor leaguer who struggled to stick in the majors.  He eventually ended up in Japan for a couple of years in the early 90's.  What's crazy is that his son, Rusty, has had almost the same kind of trajectory.  Rusty has the distinction of being the last major league hitter to take Randy Johnson deep.

Still, though, this is a sharp looking card.  The 3D effect of the bat in front of the team name is cool, and the Angels have one of the better color designs in the set.  If you'd like to connect with Mark on social media, try his LinkedIn account.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

630th Place - John Cangelosi

Card #506

John Cangelosi is getting loose in the on-deck circle in this shot, which is a nice change of pace from the typical baseball card poses.  It might just be my card, but the image is blurry.

Cangelosi had a long and interesting career, debuting with the White Sox and setting the rookie record for stolen bases in 1986 with 50.  Cangelosi's calling card for the rest of his career was his speed, though he would never approach 50 again.  He couldn't hit for power worth a lick but he had an excellent eye, ending his career with more walks than strikeouts and an impressive .370 OBP.

If you believe his Wikipedia page, he was the first batter Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson every faced in a big league game.  He's also the first position player to pitch in a game for the Florida Marlins.  Cangelosi has a World Series ring from the 1997 Marlins team.

What's he up to these days?  Glad you asked!  He runs a baseball clinic out of Bo Jackson's sports complex in Lockport, IL.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

631st Place - Ken Gerhart

Card #271

I'm awarding Gerhart a "product placement" label for his bat, which was produced by Worth.  They couldn't have been more pleased with how perfectly their name was shown on this card.  The image on the bat reminds me of the lightning strike found on Wonder Boy.  Do you think Gerhart used the Savoy Special after his Worth broke?

Gerhart looked like a promising hitter in 1988.  He was coming off a season where he knocked 14 home runs in just 284 at-bats.  He even added nine steals.  But '88 would be his last season in the pros.  He played 1989 in Triple A but he was hit by a pitch in his wrist the following year, and that was the end of his career.  When he walked down the street he just wanted people to look at him and say, "There goes Ken Gerhart, the best there ever was in this game."

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

632nd Place - Alex Trevino

Card #512

Alex Trevino is the quintessential veteran, backup catcher. Unfortunately for Trevino, he was off the Dodgers and on to Houston when this card was printed, missing the L.A. World Series run.  The "29" on his bat nob is indeed his jersey number, though I'm sure those of you who struggle with obsessive-compulsive tendencies are dying on the inside that it's upside down in the picture.

Trevino has an awesome SABR Bio that reveals, among other things, he has the most career at-bats for the Mets without a home run.  It also mentions that, during his time with the Dodgers, he and Fernando Valenzuela became the first all-Mexican battery in Major League history.

Trevino has spent the past 18 years as the Spanish language broadcaster for the Houston Astros.

I'm going to go ahead and throw on a "brother" label too, because Alex's older brother by 12 years, Bobby Trevino, spent 17 games in the big leagues with the Angels back in 1968.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

633rd Place - Mike Diaz

Card #567

Mike Diaz is one of those guys who, when you look on the back of their card, you can't quite figure out why they couldn't stick in the majors.  Diaz always showed good power in the minors, and in limited at bats in both 1986 and '87 he reached double digits in homers.  But 1988 would be his last season.  In 1989 he would depart for Japan, where he had a couple of monster campaigns before fizzling out.

Diaz was known to be a bit of a character by his teammates.  In the minors he lied to his coaches that he had catching experience, and he also went by the nickname of "Rambo" due to his passing resemblance to the Stallone character.

Diaz could have killed 'em all, he could've killed you.  In the blogosphere you're the law, but on the diamond it's Diaz.  Don't push it!  Don't push it or Diaz will give you a war you won't believe.  Let it go.  Let it go!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

634th Place - Dwayne Henry

Card #178

I think I've mentioned this before, but I lived in Texas from sixth grade through eighth, back in the late eighties.  We were a couple of hours north of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  The Rangers teams during those years have a special place in my heart, not because of their talent level, but because that was the era my baseball card interest really blossomed and I was fortunate enough to have parents who loved taking their two sons to ball games.  We weren't really Rangers fans, though.  In fact, my dad would usually pick games based on the visiting team.  "Hey, the Red Sox are in town, let's go see Bogss, Evans, and Rice..."

All that being said, there was something lovable about how bad the Rangers were.  Dwayne Henry's card symbolizes some of that.  When you look on the back of it, you see the stats: 4.94 career ERA, 46 strikeouts compared to 45's all so Rangers.  I love it.

Henry debuted in 1984 and last played in the majors in 1995.  He bounced around quite a bit, osculating between the bigs and the minors most of that time.  He put two nice seasons together in 1991 and 92, with the Astros and Reds respectively.

Henry came to be a professional baseball player out of Delaware, which isn't exactly the most renown state for baseball.  Here's kind of a sad story about Henry turning down an offer to play football for UNC when he signed his pro contract.  Sounds like Henry had some regrets about that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

635th Place - James Steels

Card #117

"James Steels" sounds like the perfect secret identity for a comic book hero.  A last name of "Steals" would have been even better since he twice swiped 35 bases in a season in the minor leagues.

I think this is a sharp looking card, but Steels didn't make a significant impact in the major leagues.  He played in parts of the 1987-89 seasons but would never again make it to the bigs.  His career .461OPS is a good indicator of why.

I couldn't find much on Steels on the interwebs...hmm, maybe he is a super hero!  Way to keep a low profile, Steels.  He was the Texas League player of the year in 1984.  I found a couple of mentions in some previous baseball books, but besides that, not much else.  But don't worry - when you need him most, when the world is in trouble, when the situation is dire...JAMES STEELS WILL BE THERE!!!