Saturday, January 31, 2015

655th Place - Mike Hart

Card #69

Mike Hart got into 34 games for the Orioles in 1987, which was enough for Topps to issue him a card.  Alas, they would be his last professional games in Major League Baseball.  The former Wisconsin Badger slugged well in the minors and knew how to take a walk, but he leveled out in Triple A.

He's not to be confused with this Mike Hart, who also got a cup of coffee in the bigs.  According to his Wikipedia page, he teaches at a middle school in Wisconsin, but that doesn't seem to be current information.

Where have you gone, Mike Hart?  

Friday, January 23, 2015

656th Place - Dan Schatzeder

Card #218

If you looked up "journeyman lefty" in the MLB dictionary, there's a good chance you would see Dan Schatzeder's face.  Though he had two stints with the Expos, which is the team I tend to think of when his name pops up, he played for a host of other teams...including the Twins. Minnesota picked him up in their world championship season of 1987.  I'm impressed Topps snapped a picture of him so late in the season.

The Twins gave up a couple of no-names to get him, but he might not have even been worth that.  Over 30 games he had an atrocious 6.39 E.R.A.  Despite that, he pitched in both the ALCS and World Series for Minnesota.  He was quite effective against the Tigers in the ALCS but got roughed up in the World Series.  He was still credited for one of the four wins that secured their championship, though.  Congrats Dan!  That's a feat only a relative few can claim in baseball history.

Schatzeder attended the same college my father did, the University of Denver.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

657th Place - Rick Rodriguez

Card #166

This is a good looking card for Rick.  The A's uniform pops nicely with that blue background, and he's clearly excited and happy to sit for the photographer. 

It drives me absolutely crazy, though, that the picture is off-center to accommodate the palm tree in the background!

Rodriguez bounced around in the minors for Oakland from 1981 until his first cup of coffee in the big leagues in 1986.  1987 looked like a good promise of things to come, as Rodriguez registered a 2.96 ERA in 24.1 innings.  A closer look, though, reveals he walked more batters than he struck out, which isn't usually a good sign. He made a couple of other appearances in 1988 and 1990 before disappearing back into the minor league abyss for good.

Rodriguez was actually born in Oakland, so it must have been thrilling to play for the hometown team.  He's been part of the A's organization for three decades now, and will spend 2015 as the high-A pitching coach of the Stockton Ports.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

659th and 658th Place - Dave Schmidt and Eric Bell

Card #214 and #383

Does this look familiar to you?

It should.

It wasn't uncommon for Topps to use the same background for multiple cards (click on the Indians link, for example), but at least there are typically pine trees or a baseball field in the background.  My poor Orioles got this crappy wall. 

Not cool.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

660th Place - Glenn Hoffman

Card #202

This card presents a few interesting nuggets, the first of which is the fact it wasn't an airbrushed card.  Hoffman came to the Dodgers in the middle of the 1987 season, but it wasn't like he was a superstar player.  He had fallen out of favor in Boston many years ago, despite a brief resurgence in 1985.

On the knob of the bat you see a scratched out number replaced with "37."  That was his jersey number with Los Angeles - it makes me wonder if he brought his bats with him from the Red Sox.

You also see the "Mac" patch.  It was in honor of former coach Don McMahon.  McMahon was a former All-Star and two-time world champion who suffered a heart-attack while pitching batting practice for the Dodgers on July 22.  He would die hours later.

Hoffman spent the 1988 season, the year this card was printed, back in Triple-A for the Red Sox.  He had another cup of coffee with the Angels the following year but never again appeared in the a player.  He took over as interim manager for the Dodgers in 1998 when Los Angeles fired Bill Russell during the season.  Hoffman would serve as a coach the next year and is still a coach in the bigs, though he now serves for Bud Black over in San Diego.

And it's San Diego that brings us to Glenn's most interesting baseball factoid.  Hoffman is the big brother of Trevor Hoffman, the future Hall of Fame reliever who spent most of his career with the Padres. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

661st Place - Allan Anderson

Card #101

I did a double-take when I was looking at Anderson's Baseball Reference page, but sure enough, my eyes didn't deceive me.  In 1988, the year this card was printed, he led the league in ERA (2.45), ERA+ (166), and walks per nine innings pitched (1.6). 

Anderson has to be one of the most obscure ERA leaders in MLB history.  The season came out of left field, too.  In 1986 he pitched 21 games for Minnesota and recorded a 5.55 ERA.  His cup of coffee in 1987, just four games, produced a ghoulish 10.95 mark.  His season at AAA that year was terrible too.

Per this article, it appears his 1988 success came from an improved change-up.  The story further notes, though, that Anderson's minuscule strikeout rates were an indicator he couldn't sustain his performance.  Anderson never did replicate his 1988 season, though he did lead the league in walks per nine innings again in 1990.  1991 was his final season, but he didn't appear in the post season for the Twins.

These days you can find Allan in his hometown of Lancaster, Ohio, where he would be happy to give you pitching instruction at the Field of Dreams Practice Facility.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

662nd Place - Wes Gardner

Card #189

Gardner came over to the Red Sox with Calvin Schiraldi in the Bob Ojeda trade.  Gardner only pitched one inning for Boston in 1986, but Ojeda and Schiraldi were key players for the opposing World Series teams.

When you check the back of Gardner's baseball card, he has Benton, Arkansas, listed as his place of birth and home.  It looks like he retired there to, according to this local story which reflects on his playing career.  The article mentions he even got a chance to coach Cliff Lee in American Legion ball.

One thing not mentioned?  The night he was arrested for hitting his wife.  He was Ray Rice before Ray Rice.  I heard someone say recently (I think it was Buck Showalter) that you don't want to be judged forever by your worst mistake. 

Sometimes it's hard not to judge.