Monday, December 28, 2015

616th Place - Keith Miller

Card #382

If you looked up "scrappy utility infielder" in a baseball dictionary, this might be the picture you see.

Miller, a Michigan native, was a second round pick by the New York Yankees in 1984.  He eventually had that contract voided and signed with the Mets organization for the 1985 season.  That sentence serves as foreshadowing for two paragraphs from now...

Miller progressed through the New York minor league system until he reached Tidewater in 1987.  Despite not having particularly strong stats there, he was called up to the big club in June and hit, in part time action, like he was shot out of a cannon.  His batting average was .373 and his slugging percentage an eye-popping .491.  He also added eight stolen bases in just 25 games.

He regressed to the backup mean in his next couple of years riding the pine for New York.  His best seasons came in 1991 for the Mets and 1992 for the Royals, when he was getting more regular playing time and hitting in the .280's with a .350 OBP.  A series of injuries, though, would have him out of baseball a couple of seasons later.

What direction did Miller go in his post-playing days?  He became a sports agent.  As he explained in a Daily News article from a few years back, he realized not having an agent when he was drafted led to the Yankees taking advantage of him in the signing process.  He enjoys representing players in the sport he loves.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

617th Place - Bob Sebra

Card #93

This is a nice shot of Sebra delivering the ball to home plate.  The right hand extending in front of the "Expos" name is a nice touch too.  The home uniform and bright sun make it a dead giveaway that we're looking at a spring training game.  I'm dying to know who that is standing behind second base.  Vance Law?  Casey Candaele?

Sebra, who the Expos got from the Rangers in exchange for Pete Incaviglia, started 27 games for Montreal in 1987 and struck out 156 batters, but he wasn't particularly effective.  He was out of the big leagues by 1990, but in a humorous twist of fate, he is still an "outlaw."  Sebra's last pitch hit Tracy Jones and caused a benches-clearing brawl. Sebra was tagged with a five game suspension but never made it back to the big leagues to serve it.  If you're going down, you might as well go down swinging!

Sebra's son heard the siren call of baseball as well.  After a college career at Jacksonville State, he played this past season in the Angels' minor league system.  If you would like to follow him on Twitter, you can request it here...

Monday, December 21, 2015

618th Place - Darrel Akerfelds

Card #82

This is a sharp looking card, I like how the rainbow effect of the stadium seats plays over Akerfeld's shoulders.

Akerfelds was a Colorado kid, born in Denver and playing his high school ball with Columbine.  He even played some football at Arkansas.  He was originally drafted in the ninth round of the 1980 draft, but declined and eventually went seventh overall in the 1983 draft, picked by the Mariners.  He went to Oakland with Bill Caudill in a trade for Bob Kearney and David Beard and then came to Cleveland for Tony Bernazard.

If you look on the back of his card you can see he replicated the same ERA in two consecutive seasons.  Unfortunately, it was a 6.75.  Akerfelds bounced around the big leagues for five seasons, having his best success out of the bullpen for Philadelphia in 1990.  In fact, he didn't play in the majors the year this card was printed.

He was more successful after his playing days, serving as the long time bullpen coach for the San Diego Padres until his tragic death from pancreatic cancer in 2012.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

619th Place - Moose Haas

Card #606

When you're a card company that includes 792 cards in your complete set, sometimes your standards for inclusion are a bit low.  I mean no disrespect to Moose Haas, who was a fine pitcher for a number of years.  But in 1987 he only pitched in nine games, and those were the last nine games of his career.  I'm just a little surprised they bothered to document that farewell performance.

Moose was only 31 when he pitched his last game, but had already logged time over twelve different seasons.  He was part of the 1982 Milwaukee World Series team and led the league in win percentage in 1983, going 13-3 over 25 starts.

If you check out Haas' left sleeve, you'll notice a patch for the 1987 All Star game, which took place in Oakland that year.  Moose's last game of his career was in June of that year, so he didn't manage to stick around long enough to see or play in it.  It's neat to know Topps wasn't using an older photograph of him, though.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

620th Place - Nelson Liriano

Card #205

My best friend in junior high, which was the level of school I was attending when this baseball card set came out, was born in Canada.  We were living in Texas on an Air Force base.  His parents were from India.  He had a myriad of national allegiances, but he was especially proud of his Canadian roots and his ball cap of choice was the same Blue Jays hat Liriano here is wearing.  I remember he would always sing the Canadian national anthem when we would catch a game at old Arlington Stadium, or whenever the Jays were on TV.  It was fairly obnoxious, but I admired his dedication.

He and I were addicted to the old NES game, Baseball Stars.  I would always create a team of Orioles, and he would load up on Blue Jays.  Liriano was surely one of the random Toronto players he digitized for our battles.  We also played a lot of Earl Weaver Baseball on his home computer.  That game was AWESOME.  We once designed a stadium where the outfield walls looked like the Batman symbol.

According to Wikipedia, Liriano broke up two no-hitters in the span of six days back in 1989, one of which was being pitched by Nolan Ryan.  That's crazy.  Ryan must have been spitting mad to lose it to a scrawny slap hitter like Nelson Liriano...