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 walks...it'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!!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

636th Place - Robbie Wine

Card #119

So, my first name is Rob.  As such, players with that same first name stick out in my mind - Ducey, Deer, Wilfong, etc.  Robbie Wine is particularly interesting to me, though, because that was my commonly used moniker from birth through the second grade.  In between the second and third grade we moved from Sheppard AFB near Wichita Falls, TX, to Puyallup, WA.  On the first day of class the teacher was going through roll call and asked, "Robert?"  I replied that I was here, and she asked if I went by Robert or a nickname of that.  I don't know why, but I said, "Rob."  I guess now that I was in a new city and a big-time third grader, I figured it was time to go with a more mature iteration.

The funny thing, though, is that my Grandma Bonnie never made the transition.  She called me "Robbie" until the day she died, which was in my late twenties.  I remember once being home on college vacation and we were doing an obligatory family call to her, and when I got on the phone she asked, "Do you have a girlfriend right now, Robbie?"  I kind of chuckled and said, "No Grandma, I'm kind of between girlfriends right now."  And then she replied, "That's OK, Robbie.  You know what I say - love 'em and leave 'em!"  Grandma Bonnie was kind of crazy.

Robbie Wine is the son of former big leaguer Bobby Wine.  Robbie was a first round pick by the Astros, but after the 1987 season he would never make it back to the big leagues, making this card superfluous.  In his post-player career he did return to his home state of Pennsylvania (which is bizarrely shortened to "Penna." on the back of his card) to manage at Penn State for nine years before resigning in 2013.

I'll throw a "gratuitous product placement" tag on this card for the Franklin gloves.  Did Franklin have exclusive rights to batting gloves in 1988?  They seem to be the only brand I've seen in this set...

Friday, July 31, 2015

637th Place - Jim Traber

Card #544

Let's see here, Jim Traber...seems like an innocent enough card.  Let's just turn it over and look on the back...

...what the!?!?!

Traber didn't even play in the majors in 1987!  How did he get a card in the 1988 set?  He did smack 21 homers with a .481 slugging percentage in Rochester, but I'm kind of stunned they included him.

He had played for the Orioles for parts of 1984 and 1986, and did spend significant time with them again in 1988 and '89, but that would be it for his MLB experience.

These days you can find Traber talking sports on an Oklahoma radio station.  Traber was a two sport star at Oklahoma State, which is impressive.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

638th Place - Jose Uribe

Card #302

Ugh.  Wasn't really looking forward to writing this one up.  That's because Jose Uribe passed away in a tragic car accident in his native Dominican Republic in 2006.

Some infields really stick out in my mind, and the late 1980's Giants are one of them.  Uribe played shortstop of course, along with Will Clark at first, Robby Thompson at second, and Matt Williams at third.  That's a pretty solid group, and it's no wonder the Giants were so dominant during this time period.  This card was printed after Uribe's best offensive season.  Known mostly for his defense, his .767 OPS in 1987 was 150 points higher than his career average.  I'm assuming the juiced ball from that year probably helped.

It seems Uribe's former teammates were quite devastated to hear of his passing, especially his double play partner Thompson.  Uribe left behind 14 children, some of those from his first wife who passed away delivering their last child together.  Rest in peace.