Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, April 2017
Click on images for larger views.
4/1/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #242 Todd Frohwirth, Orioles
More Todd Frohwirth Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1992 1993
TSR eschews the standard Card Of The Day selection process in memory of Frohwirth, the submarining middle reliever for the Phillies and Orioles during the first Bush administration. Frohwirth, as I recall, wasn't a "knuckle scraper", but he still got pretty damn low.
That wasn't always the case—Frohwirth was a sidearmer entering college, submarined as a junior, sidearmed again as a senior, and by his own account "was all over the place" after being a #13 pick by Philadelphia in 1984.
Despite that, Frohwirth did well enough as a minor league closer—he recorded 20+ saves three times between 1986-90.
Frohwirth bounced between the majors and minors annually from 1987-90, only receiving extended run in 1989 (45 games). The team let him go after the 1990 season, but their trash would be Baltimore's treasure—they instructed him to stay submarine, and Frohwirth took off.
Over the 1991-92 seasons, the guy tallied over 200 innings strictly in relief, recorded a 1.14 WHIP, and allowed all of six home runs in that period! (One of them sparked a memorable ejection.) Here, Frohwirth has wrapped a useful 1993 season. A miserable July inflated his season totals, but the veteran ate up 96 innings and made three RA of four or more IP!
THIS CARD: We chose this card because A) 1994 Topps hadn't been seen in a while, and B) this is Frohwirth's final Topps card.
I've owned this card for 23 years and never before realized just how frightening the front image is. And I don't frighten easy. Thankfully, Frohwirth's regular face was not fear-inducing. He actually looked a little like Jim Thome, IMHO.
Could that be a Wienerschnitzel ad in the background?
THE REVERSE: I dig this O's road uniform. As you can see, Frohwirth's knuckles are indeed not scraping.
I was going to update the stats in the blurb, but since Frohwirth pitched so little (26 games) and so ineffectively after 1993...let's just leave it be.
During and after his MLB career, Frohwirth coached high school basketball in the Milwaukee area.
Frohwirth never started a single game in the pros.
AFTER THIS CARD: A Spring Training 1994 cut by Baltimore, Frohwirth eventually hooked up with Boston—they were surely impressed by the 13 scoreless IP he fired at them in '93.
But it did not go well—even if you exclude his three-inning, nine-run beating May 20, his Sox ERA was 7.76—and he was eventually outrighted to AAA Pawtucket.
Frohwirth spent all of '95 in AAA, then pitched his final four MLB games with the '96 Angels—a June MiLB deal with Baltimore ultimately led nowhere.
Though done as a pitcher, Frohwirth would serve the organization as a scout beginning in 2003—Baltimore even sought him to coach fellow submariner Darren O'Day a few years back. Frohwirth died of stomach cancer, aged 54, on 3/26/17.
Todd Frohwirth appeared in Topps 1988-90, and again 1992-94.
4/3/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #157 Keith Miller, Mets
More Keith Miller Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1991 1993 1994
It's never a good sign when your professional career begins with your drafting team voiding your contract. But that's exactly what happened with Keith Miller and the New York Yankees, who selected him #2 in 1984 but weren't sold on the health of his knee. It did, unfortunately, portend future health problems for the young infielder.
Miller did end up signing with New York in the fall of 1984...the New York Mets. By 1987 he'd reached the majors, and shuttled between New York and AAA Tidewater over the next three years. In 1990, the versatile, hustling Miller—a 2B by trade—even played CF for a time until new manager Bud Harrelson ended the experiment. Let's just say that Miller was not suited for everyday outfield duty.
Here, Miller (and his semi-famous goggles) have wrapped the 1991 season, his final as a Met. Playing six positions overall, the 28-year-old took over as New York's 2B in the second half, and his .280 average was highest on the team for anyone with even 100 PA!
THIS CARD: Miller walks into his lead off what I presume to be 2nd base (given the direction he's facing.) Topps should depict more dudes this way, for the uniqueness and the anticipatory drama.
Topps never saddled Miller with one of those posed headshots so prevalent in the era he played—in fact, Miller received multiple deviating images over the years, including this one.
As you know, Bobby Bonilla took over #25 for the Mets in 1992, after Miller's departure. (The latter switched to #16 upon leaving New York.)
The Keith Miller who appears as a Phillie in 1989 Topps is unrelated to this one.
(flip) Topps didn't always list the positions of Miller-types accurately, especially when they changed year-by-year. But this time they nailed it; Miller played 60 games at 2B and 28 in the OF (with two each at 3B and SS) in 1991.
Good ol' Shea Stadium. Citi Field parking now occupies that site.
Miller ending his Reds homer drought is not really noteworthy, considering he hit 12 home runs lifetime and went homerless against 13 clubs in his career (victimizing Montreal twice). This particular blast came against flamethrower Rob Dibble, and I'm guessing Dibble supplied practically all of the power.
Midland is about 60 miles northwest of Flint.
AFTER THIS CARD: After the 1991 season, Miller, along with IF Gregg Jefferies and OF Kevin McReynolds, headed to the Royals in a trade for IF Bill Pecota and ace SP Bret Saberhagen (not a great long or short-term deal for either club; after 1995, all parties had moved on with neither club rising much in the standings.)
Miller—who was only included in the deal because KC wouldn't part with Pecota otherwise—was slated to start at 2B for the Royals, which he did when not totaling 50 days in two separate DL stints. As we said, Miller's career was almost fated for bad health—he was disabled every year of his career, and only played 42 games 1993-94 (groin/thumb injuries in '93, groin/back injuries in '94). Kansas City cut him in early 1995, and that was it for the Oral Roberts alum.
Keith Miller appeared annually in Topps 1988-1995.
CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, New York Mets
4/7/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps #283 Andrelton Simmons, Braves
More Andrelton Simmons Topps Cards: 2012 2013 2015 2016
At this writing, two-time Gold Glover Simmons ranks among the game's best defensive shortstops—and may well rank #1 in "WOW" factor. The 27-year-old Curacao native came to the US as an adolescent, and was drafted by Atlanta out of Western Oklahoma State. I don't imagine that campus was exactly overflowing with Caribbean natives. All the more to help Simmons stand out, though.
Young Simmons lost a spring competition for the 2012 Braves' starting SS job, but Tyler Pastornicky couldn't cut it, and Simmons took over in June. Though he missed over two months with hand/ankle injuries, he played well on both ends when healthy.
Here, Simmons has just completed his first full MLB season—only missing six games, a welcome development given his 2012 medical issues. The 24-year-old often batted leadoff for the Braves, and though his unimpressive slashline eventually cost him that job, he still led the Braves in triples and was out-homered by only three other—veteran All-Star—NL shortstops.
THIS CARD: It was good to see the "Future Stars" designation return this year, although the abundancy of dudes labeled as such kind of watered the honor down.
Simmons leaps out of the way of a mystery visiting elbow. (Now THERE's a great Reddit username.) Atlanta is playing on a Saturday; the uniforms give it away.
Braves newcomer R.A. Dickey now sports Simmons' old #19.
(flip) When you break it down, 3.18 assists per game (about one every three innings) doesn't seem like much...yet apparently nobody else had more.
Intelligentsia. Who has ever said that "word" out loud?
No, we weren't wrong above. The Netherlands Antilles is in the Caribbean. Netherlands the nation is in Europe.
That June, Simmons added three HR and 14 RBI in 25 games (all starts). He had as many XBH as K (10)!
AFTER THIS CARD: As the Braves entered rebuilding mode, they were sure to lock up Simmons for 7Y/$58M in Spring Training 2014—he rewarded them with a second straight Gold Glove Award, although he struggled offensively after the break.
By the winter of 2015, the team needed offense—573 runs scored were the lowest in MLB by far—and a talent infusion. So when the chance to acquire Erick Aybar and prospects from Anaheim presented itself, Atlanta jumped. Simmons lost a month of '16 to thumb surgery, but hit .281 while seeming to make amazing over-the-shoulder outfield catches every other night.
Andrelton Simmons debuted in 2012 Topps Update and has appeared annually in the base set since 2013.
CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps, Atlanta Braves
4/11/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #211 Edgar Renteria, Marlins
More Edgar Renteria Topps Cards: 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
I'll never forget the date—November 1, 2010. I was at home with my kid and her mom. Two Giants stood on base in the 7th inning of a scoreless World Series Game Five. Rangers ace Cliff Lee was pitching well after a rough Game One.
Up stepped Edgar Renteria, a 2009 free-agent signee who, in the eyes of Giants fans, had stolen money ever since and was a forgotten man after three '10 DL stints. The only reason he was playing was manager Bruce Bochy's loss of confidence in 3B Pablo Sandoval.
In hindsight, the "why" isn't important—all that matters is Renteria shocked the nation by sending a Lee cutter high and far, over the left field wall. The blow held up as the game winner and series clincher for my long-suffering Giants; the radio call still gives me chills to this day.
It was the last of several key postseason hits for one of the game's better shortstops of the late '90's/early '00's. The longtime Cardinal is still just a baby Marlin here, fresh off his first MLB season. Playing every day before even turning 21, Renteria played well defensively, put together a quartet of four-hit games and was runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year.
THIS CARD: Renteria and Jose Fernandez—that's two pretty good young Marlins to wear #16 (which is now retired in honor of the latter.)
Renteria's image is a sign of things to come; of his 16 Topps base cards, 11 depict him afield.
Nothing else to comment on, unfortunately. We get those sometimes.
(flip) Was I the only one who had difficulty reading this blurb?
For clarity's sake, the "COL" is Colombia, not Colorado.
I love "Gary Sheffield...normally not an impressionable sort." That is one safe way to describe him, though I'm not sure he'd approve of being called "Shef" by an outsider. (And wouldn't it be "Sheff", anyway?)
AFTER THIS CARD: A lot. Renteria, of course, won Game 7 of the 1997 World Series with a single off Charles Nagy, which bought him another year on the Marlins roster. He was dealt to St. Louis in December 1998 (for Braden Looper and others) and spent seven years there, making three All-Star teams, four postseason appearances, plus a trip to the World Series (2004; loss to Boston.)
From then on, Renteria made several MLB stops: two very fine years (2006-07) in Atlanta were sandwiched by one year in each Boston—few there were sad to see him leave—and Detroit. Then came the Giants stint, after which he hooked up with Cincinnati as a part-timer for 2011. He officially stepped away from baseball in March 2013, a few months shy of 38.
Edgar Renteria appeared annually in Topps 1997-2011. He appears as a Red in 2011 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Florida Marlins
4/15/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #6 Raul Ibanez, Mariners
More Raul Ibanez Topps Cards: 1996 1997 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
In two separate ways, Raul Ibanez is a personal reminder to never lose sight of where you've been and to appreciate where you are.
Example A comes from his name, simply enough. You see, today I can watch MLB Network, ESPN, Fox Sports, etc. whenever I have a sports itch. And I do not take it for granted because as a youth, my family was too poor for cable—I had to rely on local news station KTVU for pretty much all my sports highlights. KTVU's sports anchor was—and still is, nearly 30 years later—Mark Ibanez. (No relation to Raul.)
Example B: Raul Ibanez' career was a result of perseverance—he was a #36 pick who was 30 before reaching 400 plate appearances in a season! Despite that, Ibanez still topped 2,000 career hits and 300 homers—with earlier opportunity, he could well have ended up sharing the 2020 Cooperstown stage with Derek Jeter.
Instead, Ibanez goes down as one of his era's most consistently productive and consistently underrated players. (Except 2011, his best years were with mostly mediocre Mariners and Royals teams.)
Here, he's completed his second of what would be three Seattle stints. While the veteran outfielder played well in 2008, the Mariners collapsed all around him (101 losses, fired manager, fired general manager, fired superstar), and he understandably jumped ship upon year's end.
THIS CARD: As Yankees rookie manager Joe Girardi watches from the dugout, Ibanez prepares to unload at old Yankee Stadium. Ibanez and crew played there six times in 2008—he went 4-for-23 with one RBI as Seattle lost all six.
Ibanez was indeed an outfielder...in the majors; most of his MiLB run came as a defensively-challenged catcher. He'd only catch four major league innings (closing out a 1999 blowout loss to Texas; unclear why Dan Wilson left.)
This year, Ibanez has the sixth card in the set. Two years later, he'd have the fifth-to-last card in the set (656).
(flip) Ibanez was a #36 pick by Seattle out of college, but before that he was a #54 pick by Texas out of high school.
Yes, he played all 162 of Seattle's 2008 games...but Ibanez did not lead the AL because Justin Morneau got in all 163 of Minnesota's games. And check out his batting averages from 2001 on...that's certified consistency.
At career's end, Ibanez's highest OPS against: Jose Contreras, 1.559—Ibanez went 10-for-16 with three BB and a homer against Contreras, and I'd bet that at least partially factored in Contreras' decision to sign with Ibanez's Phillies for 2010.
AFTER THIS CARD: One of incoming Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr's first moves: landing Ibanez for 3Y/$30M after the '08 season. In 2009, the 37-year-old made his first All-Star team and whacked a career-high 34 homers for the Phils, whose attempt to repeat as World Champions was thwarted by Girardi's Yankees.
Ibanez's numbers subsequently dipped, and he wasn't re-signed upon completing his contract. Yearlong stints with the Yankees and Mariners followed, and after splitting '14 with the Angels and AL Champion Royals, 42-year-old Ibanez sat down.
He was in high demand pre-and-post-retirement, sought for everything from TV work to Tampa Bay Rays manager! Ultimately, he became a special assistant for the Dodgers, later joining ESPN as well.
Raul Ibanez appeared as a prospect in 1996-97 Topps, went on hiatus, then returned to Topps 2001-2013. He dropped in one last time in 2014 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Seattle Mariners
4/19/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #724 Kevin Morton, Red Sox
More Kevin Morton Topps Cards:n/a
Contemporary Red Sox fans: remember Eduardo Rodriguez's sterling MLB debut two years ago (7.2 IP, 0 runs against powerful Texas in Texas)? You do? Great.
Did you know 24 years before that, a Red Sox lefty made a debut at least as, if not more, impressive?
That lefty was, of course, Kevin Morton. On 7/5/91, pitching for Joe Morgan's Red Sox, Morton made his MLB debut at home against the powerful Tigers—he went the distance, allowing one run on five hits with nine K against a lineup with names like Deer, Tettleton, Fryman, Phillips, Incaviglia and Fielder (whose homer accounted for Detroit's run.)
Morton spent the rest of the season with Boston, and if you toss out one ugly relief appearance, Morton was at least decent more often than not.
THIS CARD: Morton was a little on the gangly side, as you can see. You can also see an uneasing facial expression.
Can't tell what he's throwing with certainty. Morton didn't have much velocity at all, but did possess a praiseworthy changeup (his money pitch) and sharp curve. I'm going to go with the curve here.
(flip) I've said it before—Fenway looked so weird when they added Monster seats. 14 years later, it now looks weird without them.
Look at those 1989 innings, especially at low-level Elmira—aren't you supposed to go easy on young pitcher's workloads?
Matt Sczesny is not to be confused with Cubs OF Matt Szczur. The former, who died in 2009, was a Red Sox scout for nearly 20 years and also signed Morton's Seton Hall teammate Mo Vaughn.
AFTER THIS CARD: That sterling debut would, unfortunately, stand as Morton's career peak—with Frank Viola newly signed and John Dopson healthy, Morton found himself in AAA Pawtucket for 1992. He struggled, was released after that season, and never returned to MLB—a 1997 Mexican League cameo ended his pro career.
This is Kevin Morton's lone Topps card, aside from a 1991 Major League Debut set appearance.
CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Boston Red Sox
4/22/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #444 Jody Gerut, Padres
More Jody Gerut Topps Cards: 2004 2005 2006 2010
There are so many teams in MLB, leading to quite the glut of players—800 at any given time if you include disabled lists. That's a lot of guys to keep track of, even if you follow the game as closely as I do.
Because of that volume, sometimes you look up and find a guy is suddenly not where he's supposed to be. Two of my favorite examples: when the Twins re-signed onetime closer Rick Aguilera to be a starter again in 1996. I was like...was I in jail when that happened? "Starting for the Twins is the veteran right-hander Rick Aguilera..." Cue double-take/eye roll/beverage spit all in one.
The other example? Jody Gerut (pronounced Garrett). I remember jumping in a 2005 Cubs/Giants affair mid-game, and Gerut entered to pinch-hit. Which shocked the crap out of me since he'd recently kicked my Giants' butts in an interleague clash with Cleveland.
Based on that performance, I immediately deemed Gerut to be a jerk—why else would Cleveland trade a young, cheap player with so much ability? (The official answer: an outfield glut and a need for Jason DuBois' righty power.)
Here, Gerut has jump-started his MLB career after three years of instability. He made the 2008 Padres as a non-roster invitee, and ended up out-slugging everyone on the team not named Adrian Gonzalez.
THIS CARD: Two 2009 Topps selections out of three = hiatus time.
What is the purpose of the armbands? Not being critical—just as a far-from-professional athlete, I can't see their benefit.
I dug these Padre uniforms and wasn't happy to see them demoted. At least they're still used sometimes, last I knew.
Can YOU tell what field Gerut is swinging at? I can't, though the fan behind him might be in a Braves shirt...
(flip) Topps' "Did Not Play" rows aren't fully accurate. First of all, in 2006 Gerut was a Pittsurgh Pirate—historically, Topps generally includes a player's team even when he misses the whole year. Second of all, Gerut did not miss 2007 with an injury—he was released by Pittsburgh in the Spring and unsigned all year, meaning there should be no 2007 row at all.
(The injury? A 2004 torn right ACL that sidelined Gerut into 2005; the knee flared up late in '05 and Gerut went back under the knife in early '06. The Pirates felt that surgery unnecessary, however, and a brief battle with the MLBPA ensued.)
We're not researching who else beat up on the Mets at Shea.
I either never knew (most likely) or long forgot Gerut was a Rockies draft pick. He joined Cleveland along with C Josh Bard in a deal for OF Jacob Cruz in mid-2001. Granted, Gerut was recovering from tendon surgery at the time...but still, bad trade for Colorado; Cruz hit .211 in 44 games.
At retirement, that .988 OPS in 18 games at cleanup represented Gerut's high. Batting second, it had fallen down to .801 in 27 games. Lifetime, he started anywhere from 14 to 128 games at all nine batting order spots.
Check out those 2003 numbers—Gerut was 4th in AL ROY voting that year, even finishing ahead of Mark Teixeira!
AFTER THIS CARD: Gerut wasn't able to sustain his newfound career momentum for long after 2008. Though he began 2009 by christening Citi Field (Mets) with a leadoff home run—Gerut would be an All-Star if he played in Flushing full-time; he slugged .765 in nine career games there—overall he struggled mightily and was eventually dispatched to Milwaukee in a trade that brought Tony Gwynn, Jr. home.
Gerut got in 117 games for the 2009-10 Brewers, and while he did enjoy a grand slam in addition to hitting for the cycle, overall his numbers weren't strong and he'd land back in AAA before being released in August 2010.
Set to compete for a job with Seattle the following Spring, Gerut—unwilling to play half-heartedly just for a paycheck—instead retired during camp at age 33.
Jody Gerut appeared in 2004-06 Topps—his 2005 Traded and 2006 base cards use the exact same front photo—returned for 2009 Topps, then popped up one final time in 2010 Topps Update.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, San Diego Padres
4/26/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #674 Spike Owen, Expos
More Spike Owen Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
I watch soaps. There, I freely and pridefully admit it.
Back in the day, All My Children was among my indulgences, and I recall a friend (and fellow viewer) losing her mind when the new grandson of Susan Lucci's Erica Kane was named "Spike". I informed her that real people named Spike exist, and in at least one case done very well for himself as a longtime major leaguer.
She still wasn't sold. But the fact remains: Spike Dee Owen (whose name was derived from his mom's maiden name Spikes) was indeed a fine major league SS for many years. He began his career with the still-young Seattle Mariners, hitting little but supplying a strong glove. Eventually, with the club going nowhere, the team underwent an upheaval—along with Dave Henderson, Owen joined the Red Sox just in time for their famous 1986 pennant run.
By 1988, young Jody Reed was in the mix, and Owen was relegated to part-time duty. His subsequent trade request was granted after that season—enter the Montreal Expos. Here, Owen has completed his first of four years in Quebec; aided by being a #8 National League hitter, Owen obliterated his previous career high with 76 walks, and also tied a career high with six homers!
THIS CARD: Maybe Randy Johnson said something funny before they traded him. (Going by his Topps cards, Owen is quite the happy fellow—he's shown laughing heartily on his 1992 Topps card.)
(flip) Owen turned 56 just a week ago.
Gotta love that BB/K ratio. In 1994, over 82 games, Owen walked nearly three times as much as he whiffed!
The 1988 trade sent SS Luis Rivera and P John Dopson to Boston.
Cleburne, Texas is about a 26-mile drive south of Fort Worth.
AFTER THIS CARD: Financially sound (enough) at the time, Montreal gave Owen a three-year extension after the '89 season, but by 1992 young Wil Cordero was knocking on the door—he couldn't field like Owen, but the guy could hit. With the Expos choosing not to bring Owen back for 1993, the Yankees inked him to a 3/$7M deal.
By mid-season, however, Owen was again a reserve—New York swapped him to California after the 1993 season. After two years there in a part-time role—including a shock-inducing .310 performance in 1994—Owen retired at 34.
Spike Owen appeared annually in Topps 1984-95. While Donruss and Collector's Choice produced 1996 Spike Owen cards—the latter, depicting him in a wrestling match with Padres C Kevin Higgins, is an all-time fave—scaled-back Topps did not.
CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Montreal Expos
4/30/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #281 Reds Leaders
More 1987 Topps Leaders Cards: n/a
Here we are, a 1986 Reds Leaders card that depicts one of the 1986 Reds leaders.
This year marked Cincinnati's second consecutive runner-up finish in the NLW (after an 8-21 start, no less) and the end of Pete Rose's run as an active player. Dave Parker's name is featured prominently on the team leaderboard, as it was in 1985, and newcomer Bill Gullickson aptly picked up injured ace Mario Soto's slack.
THIS CARD: Manager/1B Pete Rose strategizes with Gullickson and either Bo Diaz or Sal Butera (Dave Van Gorder only caught four Gullickson innings, according to baseballreference.com.) Hard to imagine today, a first baseman calling everyone to the mound for a conference. Or a manager wearing a mitt.
(flip) You won't often see 80 steals not lead the entire league again; Davis finished behind Vince Coleman of St. Louis.
Bell's average was only one point ahead of Davis.
Though productive for a few more seasons, 35-year-old Parker never reached 30 homers or 100 RBI again.
Milner also led the 1985 Reds in triples, and co-led the team in '82.
Gullickson's 244.2 IP finished only 7th in the NL; Houston's Mike Scott threw 275.1 frames.
CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Team Leaders