Monday, May 25, 2015

653rd Place - Joel Davis

Card #511

I was a shrimp as a kid.  Even though I was the oldest kid in my grade level (I was one of those late August birthdays that was on the cut line for what year you started kindergarten), I was always the shortest and lightest.  When I played little league I was a strong fielder, usually playing second base, though I couldn't hit a lick.  I remember the first glove I got that had a hole for your index finger, as Mr. Joel Davis is demonstrating to the right here.  I asked my dad what the hole was for.  He explained that when you're catching a hard hit or thrown ball, it can sting your finger being so close to the pocket, thus you put your finger outside of the glove.  This sounded pretty cool and mature to me.  The problem, though, was my hand was too stinking small.  My index finger wasn't long enough.  Furthermore, I was having trouble opening and closing my mitt.  I had zero hand strength.  My dad suggested I slide my index finger inside the same opening as my middle finger.  This worked great.  I had better control of my glove, but I was always sad I wasn't big/mature enough to use the index hole.  You, Mr. Joel Davis, are surely more manly than me.  That mustache isn't hurting either.

Despite being a first round pick by the White Sox, Davis didn't experience much success in the bigs.  He must have made hitters nervous, though, because he's 6'5 - I can't imagine what that looked like as he stepped toward home plate.  These days you can catch Joel coaching in Jacksonville, FL.

Friday, April 3, 2015

654th Place - Stan Clarke

Card #556

Holy Toledo!  Does this blog even still operate?  Yes, yes it does.  Just not at the frequency I would like it to.

Speaking of Toledo, the pride of Northwest Ohio, Stan Clarke, clocks in at 654th place.  Per the back of the card, Clarke was born and raised in Toledo, winning the city championship with his high school in 1976.  He even played at the University of Toledo!  And his favorite European city is Toledo, Spain!!  OK, I made that last one up.

Clarke never gained long term traction in the big leagues.  He debuted with the Blue Jays, the team that drafted him, in 1983.  He would appear again for the Blue Jays in both 1985 and 1986, but he was off to Seattle in 1987.  Despite being part of this 1988 set, Clarke didn't play back in the pros until 1989.  His final season was 1990, appearing in two games for the Cardinals.

Would you like to connect with Stan today?  You might find him guessed it, Toledo.

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.