Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, April 2018

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4/2/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #314 Turn Back The Clock

More Turn Back The Clock Topps Cards: 1989 #663

 

COTD jumps in the ol' wayback machine for the second time, as we turn the clock back to 1967—Boston's "Impossible Dream" season, as you may or may not know.

Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski of Boston and Orlando Cepeda of St. Louis were the respective AL and NL MVP's, Jim Lonborg of Boston (22-9) and Mike McCormick of SF (22-10) won Cy Young awards. Rookie Of The Year honors went to Minnesota's Rod Carew and the Mets' Tom Seaver.

 

Major League Baseball left Kansas City (temporarily), though no one noticed.  Tony Conigliaro was viciously (but accidentally) beaned. Whitey Ford, Jimmy Piersall and Lew Burdette retired. Jimmie Foxx passed away. That's all I really know; I hadn't been born yet.

 

 

THIS CARD: In case you have no historical acumen, Carl's last name is pronounced "Yuh-strem-skee"; the Z is silent. (Just call him Yaz like everybody else did.)

This, as you might have guessed, is his 1967 Topps card—the reverse of which actually has a detailed blurb! I never knew any pre-1994 Topps cards blurbed anything of actual interest/usefulness. Awesome!

 

As league MVP and Triple Crown winner, nobody else belonged on this card more than Yaz. Sitting on eight straight losing seasons, barely out of last place in '66 and a .500 5th-place team when the '67 All-Star break rolled around, Yastrzemski powered the Sox to an incredible second-half comeback culminating in a final-weekend showdown with Minnesota for first place!

 

Despite missing Conigliaro, Boston fended off the Twins—and Tigers, who'd have met the Sox in a one-game playoff had they beaten the Angels in Game 162—to win the pennant...

 

(flip)...but, as stated here, lost in the World Series to St. Louis. How can Topps not even mention who the Cardinals beat in the World Series given the epic push it took for Boston to get there? I don't even like the Red Sox and yet my feathers are mildly ruffled.

 

Perez was named Game MVP for his effort; the 1967 Midsummer Classic now shares the length (by innings) record with the 2008 ASG, won by the American League. 

 

There are now 27 men in the 500-homer club, with Adrian Beltre and Miguel Cabrera both 37 bombs away from joining.

 

The shortened and combined no-no's are no longer officially recognized; today one man must go all nine (or more) innings for no-hitter credit.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Yastrzemski was a Red Sock through 1983 and went to the Hall of Fame; Perez joined him there in 2000. Mantle and Mathews now rank 18th and tied for 23rd, respectively, on the career homer leaderboard.

After Yaz, nobody won the Triple Crown in either league for 45 years, when Cabrera of the Tigers wrecked the American League.

McCovey ripped 15 other slams in his career for a NL-record 18; Alex Rodriguez holds the MLB record with 25. Wilson—who was a rookie in 1967—died in January 1975 a month shy of 30; he passed out drunk with his engine running. Houston retired his uniform #40 that April.

24 years later, Baltimore doubled their pleasure, using four pitchers to no-hit Oakland. And they even won this time!

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Subsets

 
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4/6/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps Update #200 Randy Johnson, Giants

More Randy Johnson Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

 

COTD features The Big Unit for the second time; we pulled his 1990 card just a couple of months back.

 

That card depicted Johnson after his second MLB season; this one jumps ahead two decades as the veteran makes his 7th and final major league stop. Johnson hooked up with the San Francisco Giants on a 1Y/$8M deal for 2009, allowing him to pitch just about 40 minutes or so away from his home city of Livermore.

Johnson started slowly, but went 5-2, 3.18 in his final nine starts (one of which I witnessed in person, as he squared off against Oakland on the night SF honored their 1989 NL Champion team) before being injured in early July.

 

 

THIS CARD: This is likely a Spring Training photo, what with all the excess sunshine and the alternate jersey. 

 

When Johnson announced his retirement in early 2010, I figured this would be his final Topps card. But they did indeed feature him in the 2010 set—with an awesome photo, no less.

 

No one expected the 45-year-old to dominate as he had during his prime, but we also didn't expect him to open the year 3-4, 6.86 with 10 HR allowed in eight starts—especially after his solid Spring. As mentioned, he did turn things around.

 

(flip) At his retirement, Rickey still topped the list of Johnson's most frequent K victims (30 in 61 AB). I'm having trouble figuring out how Jim Leyritz's total rose to 27 (according to baseballreference.com) a decade after he retired; the other rankings did not change. Semi-related note: Mark Bellhorn whiffed 14 times in 19 AB vs. Johnson, while Ben Davis struck out in 11 of 15, Mike Huff 9 of 12, and Jason LaRue 8 of 10—all righties, mind you.

A handful of teams reached out to free-agent Johnson after '08, including the Rangers and Cubs, but he wanted to stay on/near the West Coast, giving the Giants the inside track.

AFTER THIS CARD: Johnson originally bruised his rotator cuff diving for a ball in Washington during his 300th career win. He made his next start but tweaked the injury swinging the bat a month later—cue two-month DL stint, as the cuff was now partially torn.

With SF still contending and their starting five on fire, Johnson returned with five September relief appearances (allowing runs in four of them, but shoot, the guy was 46 and hurt). The following January, he announced his retirement and was inducted into Cooperstown five years later, as you might have heard.

Randy Johnson appeared annually in Topps 1989-2010.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps Update, San Francisco Giants

 
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4/10/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps Traded #116 Armando Reynoso, Rockies

More Armando Reynoso Topps Cards: 1992 1994 1995 1997 1999 2001 2002

Today, if you're hankering for an import righty with more-or-less ordinary stuff who survives by throwing 10 different pitches...from about as many arm angles...at about as many speeds, you do what about 24 people have done this year and watch a Marlins game—Odrisamer Despaigne will satisfy your craving. (That bastard handled my Giants as a rookie Padre in '14, though they eventually solved him.)

20 years ago, you'd have turned to Armando Reynoso—to the best of my imperfect recall, his reliance on trickery didn't quite equal Despaigne's, but it played no small role in what limited success Reynoso enjoyed (and certainly exceeded most if not all of his peers; nobody like him is immediately coming to mind.)

Here, after three years with Saltillo of the Mexican League and two more trying to crack a deep Braves starting rotation, Reynoso has gotten his major league break—the Colorado Rockies grabbed him in the 1992 Expansion Draft and slotted him in their less-stately rotation. He didn't disappoint.

THIS CARD: This could be Dodger Stadium based on the blue.

Reynoso gears up to throw his cutter, changeup, mid-80's "heat", or even his screwball. That accounts for about half his repertoire; I'm slightly disappointed none of his Topps cards captured one of his irregular deliveries. (Two of his Score cards show him firing the screwball, so there's that.)

Reynoso did appear thrice with the 1992 Braves but did not receive a 1993 base card—not even with the Series 2 inaugural Rockies or Rockies prospects. But Travis Buckley, he of zero MLB experience before or after this set, was deemed card-worthy...

(flip) That is a gaudy 1990 record, made even more remarkable that the Saltillo Saraperos went 64-68 that year. (Besides Reynoso, the only other dude from that squad you've even potentially heard of is Trench Davis, briefly a Pirate and Brave 1985-87.)

Between both Colorado and Florida, 72 players were taken in the X-Draft. Reynoso was #57 overall.

For the '92 Braves, Reynoso beat my Giants in Game 2 of an August doubleheader, then as a September call-up mopped up once and saved a 1-0 rain-shortened (six innings) win vs. SD.

San Luis Potosi rests 222 miles northwest of Mexico City, according to Google. 

AFTER THIS CARD: Reynoso was the Rox' ace in 1993, leading the team in wins, starts and innings by far and even hitting two homers! The 28-year-old started on Opening Day '94 but underwent reconstructive elbow surgery two months later and could not recover his prior effectiveness in '95 or '96. 

Reynoso hooked up with the Mets for '97 and started 5-0, 2.62 after 11 starts (homering off Mike Hampton in one of the ND's). Then his elbow flared up—more surgery, out until July 1998, but again very effective upon healing. That winter, Reynoso cashed in during the Arizona Diamondbacks' spending spree—2Y/$5.5M.

During those two years—though it wasn't always pretty—the veteran righty turned in 21 wins and was re-signed for two more years ($6.1M). Sadly, neck surgery did him in during Arizona's championship 2001 season (contrary to rumors, Reynoso did not hurt the neck reacting to Albert Pujols' impressive first career homer) and he faced only nine more MLB hitters after that.

Armando Reynoso debuted in 1992 Topps as a Brave, returned here in 1993 Traded, then appeared in the 1994, 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2002 base sets with a 1999 Traded card mixed in.

CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps Traded, Colorado Rockies

 
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4/13/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2011 Topps #538 Jason Motte, Cardinals

More Jason Motte Topps Cards: 2009 2010 2012 2013 2014 2017 

Julio Franco played professionally for 30 years, and had several of them not been in foreign leagues, he would have amassed 3,000 MLB hits and gone to Cooperstown. Yet, any discussion about him begins with his strange batting stance.

Chris Andersen of the NBA was a beast of a rebounder and solid role player for 15 years, but most remember him best for his vast array of tattoos.

Outside the sports world, there's Ray-J. He's had hit songs, starred on a successful sitcom for several years—decent body of work. But few can hear his name without flashing back to that lovely film he made with Kim K...it's his legacy.

It begs the question: is being known for something other than your actual achievements better than not being known at all?

In the case of Jason Motte, quite possibly! A decade from now, who thinks Motte's name rings even the faintest of bells—outside of St. Louis—if he'd picked up a razor the past five years?

Which isn't to say Motte's play is undeserving of commendation; he's been quality (or better) for most of his career. But to the average Joe, wild facial hair is more interesting than strikeouts and saves—Motte's growth has become his legacy.

Here, Motte—a converted minor-league catcher—has just wrapped up his second full major league season. Though no longer a candidate to close as he'd been entering 2009, the burly righty brought a new sinker and a slimmer waistline into 2010 and sliced his ERA by over 50%, setting down 32 straight hitters at one point!

THIS CARD: As you can see, in 2010 Motte's beard was only in its first trimester. Back then, he was still playing for Tony LaRussa, who I can't imagine diggin' the look Motte eventually adopted—LaRussa was gone by the time Motte decided to unleash his inner Santa in 2012. 

Motte gears up to possibly fire his then-97-MPH fastball, or the cutter, or maybe that new sinker he added in Spring 2010. Arm surgery and age have cost him 3-4 MPH off his gas...but 93-94 ain't shabby, either. At times he tried adding conventional secondary pitches, but other than the rare changeup, nothing really took—Motte's pretty much lived off variations of the fastball.

I'm guessing the ballpark is KC's Kauffman Stadium; its' multi-shaded green CF wall matches the one shown here. Motte threw a single pitch there in 2010, inducing an inning-ending GIDP from baseball's 2010 GIDP leader Billy Butler on June 26.

Motte wore #60 in his first two seasons; he switched to #30 for 2010 and has worn it at every stop ever since. With Motte's Spring 2018 release, no Cardinal currently wears it.

(flip) Motte's streak covered nine full games and parts of two others. Additionally, he went unscored upon in September after missing most of August with a shoulder sprain.

Since this card doesn't cover Motte the catcher's minor league stats, we will: .188 with four HR and 21 BB in 579 AB from 2003-05. He's K'd in all four of his MLB at-bats, though I'd bet he was forbidden to swing in at least two of them.

Port Huron is located at the southern end of Lake Huron, about an hour northeast of Detroit.

George Brunet was a journeyman pitcher for parts of 15 seasons 1956-71. An original Houston Colt .45 who also played for the Seattle Pilots, Brunet pitched forever in the Mexican League after his MLB career wrapped—even making their Hall of Fame! He died in 1991 at 56.

AFTER THIS CARD: Mike Matheny took over the Cardinals for 2012 and named Motte his closer during Spring Training; Motte went on to top the NL in saves (42 of 49)—all for the tidy sum of $1.9M! Rewarded with a 2Y/$12M extension, Motte's torn UCL and subsequent surgery prevented him from a 2013 repeat, and the Cardinals let him go after a so-so 2014 comeback.

Motte then spent a season each with the Cubs and Rockies; after Colorado cut him in Spring 2017, Motte joined Atlanta and tuned up in AAA Gwinnett—spelling the end of his now-legendary beard, as per Braves rules. Though limited to 46 games by separate back and oblique strains, the now-35-year-old threw well for the most part.

As mentioned, he didn't make the '18 Cardinals roster; as of late April he remains on the market.

Jason Motte debuted in Topps as a catching prospect in 2005 Updates & Highlights. He then appeared annually in the base set 2009-14 and again in 2017.

ATEGORIES: 2011 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals

 
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4/16/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps Update #98 Andrew Moore, Mariners

More Andrew Moore Topps Cards: n/a

 

We're still finding out about Andrew Moore, whose major league file dates back only to 2017. The M's drafted him #2 out of nearby Oregon State, and the ineffectiveness of veteran P Yovani Gallardo led to his June 2017 callup—to the bullpen went Gallardo, to the minors went fellow P Christian Bergman.

At the time, Moore was 4-4 at two MiLB levels in 2017.

 

 

THIS CARD: Moore is not especially large, nor does he have extraordinary stuff. But as this card illustrates, his delivery is on the funky side—plus he's got great command. Moore's average heater is 91-92; he's also got a change, curve and slider.

 

Seattle unveiled these new Sunday home alternate unis for 2015—but something must have changed since then, since both Sundays Moore pitched in 2017 were road games. I'm just going to assume somebody went Chris Sale on the regular threads one day, and leave it at that.

 

(flip) In that strong debut, Moore allowed three runs, six hits and no walks, throwing 100 pitches for the 9-6 win over the visiting Tigers—and that was before they started selling off dudes. 

The "G" in Moore's Twitter handle is for his middle name George. No idea what the 23 is for; he only wore 48 with the M's. 

Moore is approaching 24, but much like former Mariner legend Randy Johnson, his features and imperfect complexion don't support that. But all that matters, obviously, is if the man can pitch.
Not sure where the urge to look up the Mariners' result on Moore's birthday came from, but I satisfied it—turns out they were off 6/2/94. Time well spent, Skillz.

At Oregon State, Moore was a two-time All-American who tied the school's record of 14 wins in 2013.

AFTER THIS CARD: Moore followed up his sterling debut with two more quality starts...then slumped and was sent down in late July having allowed 11 homers in 36 IP.  From then on there were two additional callups, an ugly 12-batter RA, a brilliant six-inning RA, and a trio of so-so starts. Moore didn't make the 2018 Mariners roster and is in AAA as of this writing.

2017 Topps Update marks Andrew Moore's first and only Topps appearance to date.

CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps Update, Seattle Mariners

 
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4/20/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #413 Len Dykstra, Phillies

More Len Dykstra Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996

 

Lenny Dykstra's career achievements include: playing in two World Series and winning one, smoking a walk-off HR in the WS, starting two All-Star Games (and being named to a third), a Silver Slugger award, and Philadelphia's highest season run total in the past 88 years.

Still, Dykstra's most recent achievement may well be the awesomest of them all—especially since he didn't have to do anything. Today, "Nails" claims the honor of being TSR's first three-time Topps Card Of The Day selection!

 

A few words, Lenny?

"What the hell is TSR?"

My sentiments exactly.

 

Though we're obviously happy to revisit Dykstra's unique career for the third time—we randomly picked his 1988 and 1994 cards consecutively back in January 2015—it's somewhat bittersweet, as this card represents Dykstra's final MLB action and his last appearance in Topps...more on that below.

 

 

THIS CARD: It's almost as if Topps knew Dykstra's end was drawing near; all that is "Nails" the ballplayer is on display here—playing hard, getting dirty, mouth full of chew. Sheer perfection; I can't imagine a more fitting final image.

The traces of red on the two defenders plus the wall give away old Busch Stadium; the Phillies played there April 11-14, 1996—winning only on the 13th. Dykstra was 2-for-9 with three walks (he entered the third game late).

Judging by the Cardinals third baseman (Gary Gaetti?), the throw was offline. Dykstra's either hustling out a triple or going from 1B to 3B on a hit, since the pitcher is in position as a backup.

(Upon further research, Dykstra did not triple against St. Louis in '96, so it's most likely he's advancing on a teammate's hit. Maybe one day I'll try to pinpoint this play, but not now...I'm already a few days behind on updates.)


(flip) My eight-year-old daughter/helper Josie scanned and cropped the reverse of Dykstra's card. So even though we lost a border, I'm not re-cropping anything—she tried so hard.

Dykstra hit the DL in May and underwent July surgery for spinal stenosis—basically, his narrow spine was crushing his nerves. As you can imagine, that hurts, and baseball—especially Nails-brand baseball—made it worse. I can recall a jacketed Dykstra sitting in the dugout after being disabled, and the broadcasters commenting on the struggling Phillies missing him. Boy, did they.

Baseball-Reference.com, who I should also credit for the above research, tallied 20 leadoff HR for Dykstra; maybe Topps overlooked the one he ripped in '96. (He notched another in the 1986 World Series, Game 3—the same game he infamously ended with a bomb as well.)

The reverse image could be from the same game as the front. If so, it was taken earlier; no dirt on the uniform.

AFTER THIS CARD: Dykstra sat out 1997, then returned for Spring Training 1998. It didn't go well; he aborted his comeback attempt that summer and retired once his contract expired at year's end. (Insurance covered most of it.)
We've documented most of his post-career troubles on his previous posts, but I've since learned he openly admitted to more-or-less blackmailing umps during his career...you judge the validity of that statement.

"Len" Dykstra appeared annually in Topps 1986-97.

CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies

 
Topps John Hope
Topps John Hope

4/24/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #491 John Hope, Pirates

More John Hope Topps Cards: n/a

During the 1988 season, Pittsburgh acquired veteran P Dave LaPoint from the White Sox, and he threw pretty well for them down the stretch.

After the 1988 season, Dave LaPoint jumped from Pittsburgh to the Yankees as a free agent, all of eight Pirates outings to his credit.

 

Usually, unless homeboy was a royal pain in the ass, that sort of loss would sting. But Pittsburgh received a second-round compensation pick and used it on high school ace John Hope in the summer of '89. 

Like LaPoint, however, Hope's Pirates career would be brief.

 

Hope lost the entire 1990 season to shoulder surgery, but returned to post successive 11-win seasons in the minors 1992-93. And though wins was pretty much his only impressive 1993 statistic, Hope was promoted to Pittsburgh for an 8/29 doubleheader. He went five innings and allowed three runs, but the Pirates eventually fell 11-0 to what was left of the San Diego Padres.

 

 

THIS CARD: This is a special selection in memory of Hope, who died of unspecified causes on 4/18/18 at age 47. Choosing this card wasn't difficult—it's Hope's only Topps card. Of the other major companies, only Fleer produced any type of John Hope card. 

Hope fires one at old Three Rivers Stadium—is that the Pirates logo visible behind him? Even after the surgery, Hope could bring 92-MPH heat; he also threw a good slider and had a curveball, too.

(flip) Jesus, somebody give this guy a Red Bull. He's nodding off mid-photo!

You shouldn't have "hope for a no-hitter" after four frikkin' innings. My rule: no one—fan, broadcaster, coach, no one—can start any no-hitter talk until SIX hitless innings are complete. This drove me crazy in the 2010 NLCS when, in an attempt to further hype the hot Cody Ross, Joe Buck and friends referred to all the "no-hitters" he broke up—even those in the third inning.

For somebody who threw 92, Hope's 1993 K totals were comically low. Eight in 38 innings?! Shoot, Josh Hader of the Brewers recently recorded all eight outs of a save via strikeout! In three of Hope's seven 1993 Pirates starts, he didn't whiff anyone.

The "Brad" abbreviates Bradenton.

Hope wore #56 through 1995, when he was removed from the 40-man roster. (He returned with #29.)

AFTER THIS CARD: In 1994, Hope made nine May/June RA for the Bucs, but opened 1995 back in AAA, where he made the All-Star team (7-1, 2.79 in 13 GS for Calgary). Pittsburgh recalled him in late June for the injured Jim Gott; it did not go well (30.86 ERA in three games before his own injury/demotion).

Hope made four starts for the Pirates in early 1996—two so-so, two poor—and was outrighted to AAA once again, never to return. He spent 1997 with AAA Colorado Springs (Rockies) before two final pro seasons in the Independent League.

Click here for more on John Hope's troubled post-baseball life.

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates, Now Deceased

 
Topps Todd Worrell
Topps Todd Worrell

4/27/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #465 Todd Worrell, Cardinals

More Todd Worrell Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 

 

You know the runner (Jorge Orta) and you know the ump (Don Denkinger). But you might not remember the pitcher involved in the infamous 1985 World Series Game 6 groundout-that-wasn't, or that he was a rookie with all of 23 major league games—including postseason—to his credit at the time of Game 6.

 

Let's get (re) acquainted with Todd Worrell.

 

A big (6'5"), strong fastball pitcher from Southern California, Worrell had been the 21st overall pick in the 1982 draft out of something called Biola University, a school that has produced exactly one other major leaguer (Todd's brother Tim). On the farms, Worrell started games full-time, but wasn't particularly good at it—cue 1985 bullpen switch.

 

He debuted in MLB in August '85, just shy of his 26th birthday, and posted three wins along with five saves in 17 games—earning a spot on the postseason roster and setting the stage for infamy.

 

Here, Worrell has wrapped his first full MLB season, leading the NL with 36 saves (in 46 ops) and claiming the NL Rookie of the Year award.

 

 

THIS CARD: More important than those other accolades, Worrell was named to the Topps All-Rookie Team! I can't say offhand if Worrell is our first COTD All-Star Rookie selection;  we've done over 200 of these now.

 

Most St. Louis players in 1987 Topps are shown in this jersey, which as far as I can research was exclusively a Spring Training top. Worrell does look to be working on some drill; there's no natural way to pose like that mid-game.

 

Worrell varied his look throughout his career, at times going with the Fu Manchu look shown here, at times sporting more of a traditional 'stache, but going mostly clean-shaven in his later years.


(flip) Another 1987 Topps gum stain, even though I did not obtain this card from a wax pack.

 

Some starters don't even get 19 decisions a year anymore, as Worrell the closer did in 1986.

 

The PONY (Protect Our Nation's Youth) organization has been around since '51; it runs loads of baseball and softball leagues worldwide. Players age 4 to 23 are eligible.

 

Ben Oglivie also went three-deep in July 1979 and May 1983. In this particular game, he victimized Detroit's Jerry Ujdur, who I'd never once heard of before typing this sentence but was apparently (otherwise) fairly decent in '82. Oglivie's Brewers went on to a 7-5 win.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Worrell continued as the Cardinals' stopper until late 1989, when he underwent Tommy John surgery...and then, rotator cuff surgery. He was out of the majors for 1990-91, limited to a trio of MiLB outings.

 

In 1992, Worrell—now armed with a curve rather than his power slider—made a strong return to the Cardinals setting up Lee Smith; he signed with the Dodgers for 1993. By 1995, he was back closing games full-time and actually co-led the league with 44 saves in '96 (making the All-Star team both years/ the 44 saves set a then-Dodgers record).

But in '97, 38-year-old Worrell couldn't keep the ball in the park, blew nine saves, and got only three save ops in September...after which he retired.

 

Todd Worrell debuted in 1986 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1987-90. He was excluded during his two-year injury exile, but returned to Topps 1993-97. (Score, Fleer and even Stadium Club produced at least one Worrell card during said injury exile, FYI.)

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals

 
Topps Melido Perez
Topps Melido Perez

4/30/18 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #621 Melido Perez, White Sox

More Melido Perez Topps Cards: 1989 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995

 

Me-Lee-Doh. Me-Lye-Doh.

Po-Tay-Toe, Po-Tah-Toe.

I didn't know how to say Melido's name while he was playing, and I don't definitively know now. Nobody ever seemed to use the same pronunciation in consecutive broadcasts, and unfortunately his career ended when I was but 15 and unaware the confusion would last 23 more years and counting.

 

But when you got Perez's live arm, as The Rock would say, it doesn't matter what your name is!!!

 

Perez responded to the challenge of jumping from AA to MLB by leading 1988 rookies in K and IP (he paced the White Sox in both categories as well) and though he struggled a bit in 1989, the dude was only 23 years old with a lousy defense behind him...panic not.

 

 

THIS CARD: As you may know, two of Perez's brothers reached the major leagues—Pascual and Carlos—and he looks more like them than just about any other MLB siblings of my time. (On that note, why didn't some big league exec track down Papa Perez and breed him like a bull? This guy churned out good pitching arms. True, they all fizzled out quickly, but still.)

 

Yeah, about that corner...as I've said, I did not take good care of my 1990-91 Topps sets.

 

(flip) That 12/15/87 trade sent Perez, Greg Hibbard and a couple others from Kansas City to Chicago for SP Floyd Bannister, a 16-game winner in 1987. Bannister slipped as a Royal, but Hibbard turned out pretty good for the Sox and Perez had his moments.

 

You can see in the numbers part of why Perez fell off in 1989 from his promising 1988—18 more walks in 14 fewer innings. Expanding on the scoreboard, Perez was 8-4, 3.70 in 16 starts from June 23 to September 20—allowing a .223 BAA and walking "just" 47 in 109 IP.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Perez remained in the Sox rotation through 1990, gaining attention when he sort of no-hit the Yankees that year (rain cut the game to six innings). Still, he lacked consistency and was moved to the pen during the 1991 season—and traded to those same Yankees afterward. New York returned him to the rotation, and he turned in a superb 1992 (2.87 ERA, 218 K despite a 13-16 record) before a very rough 1993. 

Now 28, the veteran rebounded to lead the '94 Yankees starters in K and WHIP, but was limited to 12 GS in '95 by what was termed a "stiff right shoulder". In April 1996 Perez underwent elbow surgery, idling until a comeback attempt with the 1998 Indians. When they decided against keeping him on the MLB roster at the end of Spring Training, Perez walked away at age 32.

Melido Perez debuted in 1988 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 1989-95.

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Chicago White Sox