Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, January 2019
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COTD Archive 2022: January February Current Month
A = Alternate Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
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1/1/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #77 Angel Guzman, Cubs
More Angel Guzman Topps Cards: 2002
Sometimes, in pro sports, you just can't catch a real break.
Guzman's one period of extended MLB success, 2009, came at a time when my life was a bit topsy-turvy—MLB Network had just been born and I wasn't yet fully privy to its awesomeness. I lived in a place where internet wasn't always available, nor was regular access to WGN (the Cubs superstation). Plus, I had a child on the way, and once she came, National League middle relievers no longer took priority in my life (sadly).
I tell you this because for years, I forgot that Angel Guzman ever existed—pulling this card in 2008 is what put him on my map at all. The guy had been a hot enough prospect to have made it to the Futures Game in the mid-00's...but an arm injury kept him out.
Eventually in '06 Guzman reached the Cubs rotation, but didn't impress in early-and-late-season trials winning ZERO of 10 starts. Here, he's coming off an abbreviated 2007 season—Guzman had put together a solid, much-improved month-plus on the mound before June shoulder surgery.
THIS CARD: It's more than a little surprising that Guzman was included in this set, given his non-rookie status, limited action and limited role—although Lou Piniella was reportedly grooming him to close prior to the injury. Guys like this, if they make it at all, usually wind up in the update set. But hey, I'm glad he's here.
Guzman used a basic, easy motion and threw a 95-MPH fastball, curve and "crippling" changeup—pitches which, according to one publication, "danced".
(flip) Did the TM have to be that damn large?
Since there's no blurb, I'll use this space to tell you on 5/5/07, Guzman threw five innings of one-run ball at the visiting Nationals and left with a 2-1 lead...but was denied his first MLB win by a late Washington rally. He surrendered two hits and walks apiece.
For a dude with a 6.05 career ERA, 86 K in 86 IP ain't bad.
AFTER THIS CARD: Guzman broke through as a reliever in 2009, posting a 2.95 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 55 games for the defending division champion Cubs. Sadly, that would be it for him—Tommy John surgery ultimately ended his major league career, though he did kick around the minors for a bit until a 2012 PED suspension.
This was NOT the way the story of such a top prospect was supposed to end. Such is sports...
Angel Guzman debuted in 2002 Topps Traded as a prospect, then appeared one final time in 2008 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Chicago Cubs
1/3/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2017 Topps #480 Jason Kipnis, Indians
More Jason Kipnis Topps Cards: 2011U 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2018
Wow. I probably own Topps cards of at least 3,000 individuals, yet we've pulled four repeat selectees in the past month. It's all good, we gotta get to 'em anyway. It's just a bit surprising and odds-defying.
One of the reasons I do COTD is to "learn" or re-learn about major leaguers past and present, and I don't feel that's happening enough right now. But we'll press on.
Here, despite a late swoon, Kipnis is coming off a very fine all-round 2016 season. He made a career-high 151 starts and set career highs in homers (23) and slugging (.469) while falling just short of matching his hits, doubles and RBI highs. And though his errors fueled a World Series Game 2 loss, his three-run homer sealed a Game 6 win for the Tribe.
THIS CARD: As hinted at above, this is not Kipnis' first appearance in COTD; we profiled his 2014 Topps card back in August 2016.
Hey, if you were a two-time All-Star in Year 3 of a $52.5M contract, you'd be smiling, too. Or maybe Carlos Santana just fell down. Glad Kip's happy either way.
The more time passes, the more I like 2017 Topps. Just sifting through the album in search of this card brought back a lot of 2016 excitement. A lot of dudes we hadn't seen in deep (or ever) showed up in '17 Topps.
(flip) How did Kipnis come up with one interesting, colorful social media handle, and then one rather unimaginative one? My guess: he opened the IG account as an unknown rook, then got Twitter once his fanbase grew.
We already referenced one of those jacks; Campanella turned the trick in Games 3 and 4, while Pops Stargell did so in Games 4 and 7. Unlike Kipnis, both Campanella's Dodgers and Stargell's Pirates took home the championship.
Look at all that white space between "CLUB" and "G". Put strikeouts back on the reverses!
AFTER THIS CARD: Troubled the entire second half by a bad hamstring, Kipnis did not have a strong 2017 (though he was game enough to move to CF late in the year so as to not disrupt the successful tandem of 3B Yandy Diaz and fill-in 2B Jose Ramirez; Kipnis had not played outfield since the very low minors). Despite improved health, 2018 was a struggle as well, and his future as a regular is in doubt.
Jason Kipnis has appeared annually in Topps since 2012; he debuted with a 2011 Update card.
CATEGORIES: 2017 Topps, Cleveland Indians
1/5/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #522 Anthony Reyes, Cardinals
More Anthony Reyes Topps Cards: 2005U 2006 2008 2009
Not to be confused with current Cardinals prospect Alex Reyes, Anthony Reyes was a former 15th-rounder who won a few games for the eventual '06 champion Cardinals. In just his second year as a pro, Reyes impressed in a 2005 spot start for St. Louis, but opened 2006 at AAA for more seasoning.
Aside from a couple of additional spot starts in May, Reyes spent the first half of 2006 in AAA, ultimately compiling a 6-1, 2.33 statline for Memphis before the Cardinals summoned. Here, the 25-year-old now has a half-season of MLB experience under his belt—not to mention a postseason start among the most surprising of the new millennium.
THIS CARD: As you can see, Reyes was a high-socker, one who used a moderately high leg kick with a very relaxed motion to fire off mid-90's gas. He also featured a slider and tough changeup.
No idea the ballpark, but it promotes Chevrolet, whatever it is. If FORCED to guess, I'd go with Minute Maid Park, where Reyes pitched 7/8/06.
According to BaseballReference.com, Reyes' full name is Anthony Loza Reyes, while that of his 2005 Cardinals teammate Al Reyes is Rafael Alberto Reyes. Verdict: Topps made a boo-boo. (It was not corrected in the 2008 set, which also displayed signatures.)
(flip) Justin Verlander, also a rookie, was Reyes' opponent in that WS opener; it would not be the last time Verlander came up short kicking off a Fall Classic.
How did Reyes end up starting Game 1 of the World Series after such an uneven regular season? Rest—if he or Jason Marquis did not start Game 1, someone would have had to start Games Two and/or Three on short rest. And Marquis was not exactly a Cy Young candidate in 2006.
Downey lies halfway between Los Angeles and Anaheim.
AFTER THIS CARD: Reyes resisted the efforts of revered Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan to alter his pitching style, even as his pitching style produced a 6.02 ERA in 20 starts (plus two RA) in 2007.
Finally, St. Louis dealt Reyes to Cleveland in mid-2008—he threw well for Cleveland before his elbow flared up; the following summer Reyes underwent Tommy John surgery and never made it back to MLB. His pro career petered out following a brief run in the 2012 Padres chain.
Click here for some of Reyes noble post-baseball exploits.
Anthony Reyes debuted in 2005 Topps Updates & Highlights, then appeared annually in the base set 2006-09.
CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals
1/9/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #578 Wes Helms, Marlins
More Wes Helms Topps Cards: 1997 2001T 2002 2003 2003T 2004 2005 2007 2008 2009U 2011
If there's anybody who could relate to what Prince Charles is going through waiting to take his place on Britain's throne, it's Wes Helms. For parts of four seasons, the highly-touted prospect was blocked at 3B by Hall-of-Fame 3B Chipper Jones in Atlanta.
FINALLY, Jones moved to LF to accommodate...Vinny Castilla. Helms, by this point, had to learn the outfield and cold corner (first base) to get any run with the Braves. Said run consisted of 470 combined PA 2001-02 before the 24-year-old was mercifully dealt to Milwaukee.
Year One with the Brewers? He was given their 3B job and whacked 23 homers in 134 games, earning a 2Y/$4.5M extension. But he slipped in '04—literally, jacking up his knee, missing over a month and struggling mightily in the field upon returning. Helms was relegated to reserve duty in '05, and was not brought back after the season.
Here, Helms has hooked up with Florida on a 1Y/$800K deal. Mike Jacobs had taken over for the departed 1B Derrek Lee, and Helms played when Jacobs did not.
THIS CARD: Helms is on the move. According to Rotoworld.com, he pinch-hit three triples in 2006—not done in MLB since 1990. I choose to believe this is one of those triples unfolding.
Good balance on Helms' earlier Topps front images; he's shown batting twice, fielding twice, and now in mid-chug.
The 2006 Marlins didn't have many dark-skinned fellas on the roster, so odds are the dude posted behind Helms is Reggie Abercrombie, with a slight chance of Dontrelle Willis.
(flip) I will give you a useful new stat instead of the redundant one Topps stuck in the box: Helms hit .307 vs. lefties 2003-05. (He'd go on to hit .336 against them in '06.)
Helms did have a shot at Florida's 3B job for '06; remember, Mike Lowell had just been traded to Boston and Miguel Cabrera played mostly LF in 2005 (ultimately, Miggy took over third).
The cartoon: 23 wound up as Helms' career homer high by loads; he never topped 10 in any other season.
Gastonia is located just a short drive west of Charlotte.
AFTER THIS CARD: Helms spent most of 2006-11 in a similar role for the Marlins, save for a one-year excursion to Philadelphia in 2007.
So pleased with his work was Florida that they signed him to new deals after the 2008 and 2010 seasons before finally releasing him in August 2011 with a .191 average. Atlanta brought him back on an AAA deal, but cut him two weeks later after bone spurs in his foot shelved him. That would be it for Helms in MLB.
Wes Helms debuted as a prospect in 1997 Topps, returned in the 2001 Traded set, then appeared annually in the base or Update set annually 2002-11, except 2010.
CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, Florida Marlins
1/11/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps #646 Brad Miller, Rays
More Brad Miller Topps Cards: 2013U 2014 2015U 2017 2018
It's hard enough physically being a pro athlete. So much more goes into being a professional, however, stuff the common fan takes for granted (if not outright dismisses).
Take for example, Brad Miller, who was lighting it up pretty well as Tampa's starting SS in 2016. He'd opened his career as a SS before being turned into an outfielding, Ben Zobrist-type by the Mariners, but had at last secured solid footing at one spot...or so it seemed.
When my Giants sent 3B Matt Duffy to the Rays in mid-2016, Duffy was forced to move to SS because of Evan Longoria. This put Miller on the move as well—to first base, ironically one of the three positions he'd never played extensively.
Obviously, Miller wasn't happy about moving. Yet, he still had to face the media—who'd love to watch him angrily mouth off—and be somewhat professional. Miller, while making it clear he wasn't thrilled about the switch, kept his public comments below incendiary levels.
That's the emotional difficulty of being a pro athlete. I respect Miller for being honest without being a total assbutt (at least publicly). Are you reading this, Antonio Brown? Leonard Fournette? Jimmy Butler?
Here, Miller has just become a Ray following a six-player winter deal with Seattle. 2015 Rays SS Adsrubal Cabrera had moved on, and Miller posed a far younger (26), far cheaper ($527K) alternative.
THIS CARD: Miller returns to the base set after his 2015 exclusion; for whatever reason Topps held him over to the Update series even though he garnered over 400 PA in 2014.
This guy don't need no stinkin' battin' gloves! Despite all his defensive shuffling, in 2015 Miller raised all his "slashes" by at least .037 from 2014.
We've covered the All-Star Game stamp in previous 2016 Topps COTD; I purchased a specially stamped factory box.
(flip) Miller staffed 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF and RF in 2015; as mentioned, he added 1B to his resume in '16.
Those multi-homer games? 7/19, 8/13 and 9/28/2013, as well as 4/01/14 (Miller went deep twice 5/16/2015 as well, but as a DH). He added three more double-bombers in late 2016, all as a DH or 1B.
The Trade With Mariners? RP Danny Farquhar and 1B/OF Logan Morrison joined Miller in Tampa, while P's Nate Karns and C.J. Riefenhauser along with OF Boog Powell went west. None of those dudes stayed in their new spots past 2017.
AFTER THIS CARD: Homers aside, Miller's bat didn't respond to the 1B move. In 2017, Miller—now making $3.6M—was moved to his more familiar 2B, but his 2016 slump carried over as he dealt with disabling abdomen and groin strains.
Come 2018, Tampa cut him to accommodate prospect Jake Bauers; Milwaukee signed Miller—fittingly—but an icy showing at the plate hastened his release after a month. He remains unsigned as of this writing.
Brad Miller appeared in Topps or Topps Update 2013-18.
CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps, Tampa Bay Rays
1/15/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps #529 Jesus Montero, Mariners
More Jesus Montero Topps Cards: 2012 2012U 2013 2016
As Spring Training 2019 approaches, big-time stars such as Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel headline the list of unemployed major leaguers sure to command big-time bucks.
If the hype centered around young Jesus Montero six years ago had proven true, right around now he'd be among the most coveted 2018-19 free agents. Instead, while Montero is a free agent...he's not one anybody wants anymore.
The burly catcher was once the Yankees' top prospect, as rated by Baseball America—they also ranked him the #3, #4 and #6 OVERALL prospect in the game in successive seasons! Montero the minor leaguer was an offensive beast, and for a time seemed set to succeed Jorge Posada as Yankees catcher.
Instead, he received his first extended opportunity with Seattle, who traded P Michael Pineda for him after the '11 season. While Montero showed promise as Seattle's main C in 2012, here he's coming off an all-round miserable 2013 season—Montero hit his way off the Mariners' roster, got hurt, and eventually got nailed in the Biogenesis scandal.
THIS CARD: Mark Trumbo vs. Jesus Montero pre-Posey rules? It's a wonder Safeco Field didn't collapse.
Given Montero's reduced time on the Seattle roster in '13, we MAY be able to identify the date of this image...
Montero played two home games vs. the Angels: 4/27 and 4/28. But Trumbo only reached base on 4/27, via single and walk. He was erased on a double play after the 2nd-inning single, but attempted to score on a Brendan Harris comebacker after the 4th-inning walk—only to be erased at home by P Felix Hernandez. There's your front image!
It's a testament to Montero's prize status that he even got a 2014 card, given that he didn't play in MLB after May 20 and took a 50-game PED suspension during the summer. Being back on the radar by the time of Series 2's release likely helped.
(flip) We covered the BA stuff. The catcher conversion came on the heels of a 35-for-35 run by enemy basestealers in 2012; Seattle began the switch during Montero's AAA Tacoma stint in '13 and continued it into 2014. Montero would start 25 times at 1B for the 2015 Mariners without total shame.)
Two of those homers came in one game, both off O's RP Jim Johnson (who pitched three middle innings that day) in a wild 11-10 Yankee win 9/5/11. Montero almost exclusively DH'd that season.
Guacara is located about a two-hour drive west of Caracas.
AFTER THIS CARD: Montero showed up to 2014 camp overweight, and spent practically the whole year in AAA (making the wrong type of headlines). Back in shape, the now-25-year-old got some second-half run for the '15 M's and showed flashes, but was ultimately let go the following spring.
Stints with the Toronto and Baltimore organizations led nowhere, and at last sighting Montero was showcasing his skillz in the Mexican League. Never fully believe the hype, kids...hype means s---.
Jesus Montero debuted in 2012 Topps as a Yankee, and returned in 2013, 2014 and 2016 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps, Seattle Mariners
1/17/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #84 Brian Fuentes, Rockies
More Brian Fuentes Topps Cards: 1998 2006 2007 2009 2009U 2010 2011 2012U 2013
His years of fine pitching vs. my Giants aside, Brian Fuentes always stood out in my mind because his smile was only about as wide as his nose. Literally. I'm not making fun of the man behind his back; it's just an observation, the same way Fuentes could remember me for my train-tunnel tooth gap.
Once upon a time, Fuentes was just a middling minor-league starter in the M's system, maxing out at seven wins (and zero MLB run) in four seasons. Then, in 2000-01, a switch to a sidearm delivery as well as a trade to Colorado put Fuentes on the fast track to MLB...albeit as a relief pitcher.
Fuentes worked as a middle man/LOOGY 2002-04, with mixed results, but was elevated to closer for 2005 once young Chin-Hui Tsao's shoulder gave out. He took the opportunity and ran with it, making four of the next five All-Star teams!
Here, Fuentes has temporarily lost his job as closer to Manny Corpas after a rough week of blown saves in mid-2007. For the year, he still boasted a 1.125 WHIP, and threw to a 1.72 regular-season ERA at tough Coors Field.
THIS CARD: You're getting a fine view of Fuentes' "windup". He pretty much just stepped and slung a tough slider, 90ish sinker, and slow changeup.
I'm pretty sure this is AT&T Park, where Fuentes went 3-for-3 in save ops allowing all of two baserunners in 2007...blast.
The signature reads Blic C. Vuertz...close enough, I suppose.
(flip) If you don't get the "Tito" reference, just know I get the Tito reference, then feel ashamed of yourself. (Funny thing is, multiple sources credit Fuentes with the "T-Rex" nickname due to his short-arm delivery, with no mention of any Cuban second basemen.)
I'm not sure how the injury "nearly wiped out" his second half, since he pitched—and pitched well—24 times after the break. During research, I learned Fuentes was disabled no fewer than three times 2004-10 with that strained back muscle, and was hampered by a "back injury" in Spring 2009 as well. From carrying the team for so long, I suppose. LOL.
The full Trade With Mariners: Fuentes, and fellow RP's Jose Paniagua and Denny Stark became Rockies while star 3B Jeff Cirillo joined Seattle. (Actually, Cirillo ceased being a star upon reaching Seattle; Colorado won this trade by miles.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Corpas struggled himself for the defending NL Champion Rockies in '08, allowing Fuentes to reclaim his closer's job. The 33-year-old moved on to Anaheim for 2009-10 as K-Rod's replacement, then finished up with a short stint with the '10 Twins, 1.5 unfun years with Oakland, and an abbreviated career-ending run with the 2012 Cardinals.
Brian Fuentes debuted in 1998 Topps on a shared Prospects card, returned in 2006 and appeared annually through 2011, with one last dip in 2013 Topps. (He's also got 2009 and 2012 Update cards).
CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Colorado Rockies
1/20/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps Update #140 Eduardo Nunez, Giants
More Eduardo Nunez Topps Cards: 2011U 2012 2013 2014 2014U 2015 2016 2017 2017U 2018
Meet Eduardo Nunez, the fastest man in the major leagues.
At least it would seem that way, given the rate at which Nunez the baserunner loses his helmet. Literally, every time Nunez gets close to a full head of steam, POOF! Goodbye, lid. At one point, the Giants were supposedly even considering special headwear for him (though I can no longer find the link to the article, damn it.)
This is in spite of taking a (bouncing) throw to his exposed dome at least once.
Nunez came up as a Yankee; he got extensive run at SS for the 2011 and 2013 squads filling in for injured Derek Jeter, but also found time at 3B, 2B and the outfield. With Jeter healthy for 2014, New York mercifully dealt Nunez to a land of more opportunity, Minnesota, early in the '14 campaign. Sent to AAA upon acquisition, by 2016 Nunez was repping Minnesota in the '16 All-Star Game!
Here, a few weeks after said Classic, Nunez has been acquired by the Giants primarily to fill a 3B void created by Matt Duffy's injury and eventual trade. I knew little about him prior to the deal, but came to realize Eduardo Nunez is a good player of baseball.
THIS CARD: Of Nunez's 10 Topps base/Update cards, six depict him fielding as he is here. His 2017 base card captures Nunez definitively—flying into a base sans protective headwear.
Nunez is dirty—fitting; the guy plays pretty damn hard. He's likely manning the hot corner; all but two of Nunez's 46 defensive starts for the '16 Giants came at third. He'd shuffled between SS and 3B for the Twins prior to the trade, but was used at 2B in the All-Star Game.
Those glasses and facial hairs give Nunez 5x more mean than he actually has, by the way.
(flip) Nunez also had two RBI in that debut; according to MLB.com, he's the third Giant with a steal and two ribbies in a debut (Johnny Vergez, 1931 and Fran Healy, 1971. Neither were known for their basestealing prowess.) Despite the trade, Nunez still finished fifth in 2016 AL swipes.
The Trade With Twins sent current Minny SP Adalberto Mejia, then a prospect, east. It helped both clubs, I'd say.
Nunez walks a lot for a Dominican player; he did lay off many tough pitches during his Giants time, pitches capable of fooling Dominicans, Canadians, Americans, Japanese, whoever. Good for Eduardo for busting the stereotype.
AFTER THIS CARD: With the 2017 Giants ship sinking fast and the re-signed Pablo Sandoval looming, the Giants sent Nunez to Boston for a pair of pitching prospects almost one year to the day after acquiring him. He's received extensive run filling in for injured 2B Dustin Pedroia while also providing relief for young 3B Rafael Devers. Nunez became a World Champion in 2018...but not without a cost.
Eduardo Nunez debuted in 2011 Topps Update and has appeared annually in the base set since 2012. He's also in 2014, 2016 and 2017 Update.
CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps Update, San Francisco Giants
1/22/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #92 Ross Detwiler, Nationals
More Ross Detwiler Topps Cards: 2009U 2010 2011 2012U 2013 2014 2015 2015U
Here is the Webster's definition of the word "random":
lacking order; haphazard.
So why is it that the TSR RANDOM selection process spit out a card just barely off from one chosen last week (2008 Topps #84 Brian Fuentes).
And why is it that card depicts a marginal player we've already profiled twice before?
Lack of randomness aside, I'm still pleased to present to you Ross Detwiler, the rookie—even though we've already profiled Ross Detwiler the project and Ross Detwiler the veteran.
THIS CARD: Where on earth did Topps take this photo, outside a shower? I know Detwiler was drafted in 2007 and began in the minors, so opportunities to capture his image were few, but at least let the man take his damn shower in peace.
(More realistically, Detwiler's draft-day image is Photoshopped over some random cheese-like background.)
As mentioned, Detwiler appears in COTD for the third time; we've profiled his 2013 Topps and 2015 Topps Update cards previously—the latter just last summer. With two selections out of three, 2008 Topps will now go on hiatus.
(flip) That one scoreless outing vs. Atlanta was Detwiler's only major-league appearance of 2007, as it turned out. The 2000's Nationals weren't shy about giving draft picks tastes of the big league life, as Chad Cordero (2003) and Ryan Zimmerman (2005) can attest.
Of those nine games, Detwiler started eight and finished one; obviously he was handled with care. Or Potomac was experimenting with openers way back when.
Among those who went ahead of Detwiler in that draft: David Price (#1) Mike Moustakas (#2) and Matt Wieters (#5). Madison Bumgarner went 10th.
AFTER THIS CARD: Detwiler did not return to Washington until 2009, bouncing between the major and minor league rotations 2009-11 before finally sticking in 2012 (though he was briefly demoted to relief in May). Out much of '13 with injury, the St. Louis native was used strictly in relief for 2014—he didn't much care for that and sought a trade.
But Detwiler has been unable to stick anywhere for very long since said trade, passing through six organizations since the end of 2014. In August '18, after a year out of MLB, 32-year-old Detwiler gave Seattle a six-inning, three-run effort...in relief; RP Nick Vincent opened the game with two innings and Det damn near closed it.
Ross Detwiler appeared in Topps or Topps Update annually 2008-15.
CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Washington Nationals
1/25/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps Update #94 Damon Hollins, Devil Rays
More Damon Hollins Topps Cards: 1995
You've heard the term "cup of coffee" in regards to prospects who receive a taste of big league action. Well, after 12 professional seasons, Damon Hollins only got maybe a sippy cup of apple juice.
Hollins reached MLB in early 1998, got 24 innings of run with the Braves, and was sent back down. Later that summer he'd be dealt to the Dodgers, who gave him nine AB. For years, it seemed Hollins was through in the big leagues, as he drifted through several organizations without getting another call-up.
Though a strong Spring Training 2004 wasn't enough to earn an Opening Day roster spot with Atlanta (who'd re-signed him), Hollins got another shot when Eli Marrero hit the disabled list that April...but was cut in May.
Here, Hollins has completed his first extended major league trial. Called up to Tampa when Travis Lee got hurt in May 2005, Hollins held on to a roster spot this time with OF Rocco Baldelli sidelined all year. He amassed 90 starts—even hitting third early on—and was named AL Rookie Of The Month for May!
THIS CARD: Well, this could be one of about 15 ballparks...Hollins played too much in 2005-06 for me to do any detective work.
Hollins' only two Topps base/Update cards came 11 years apart; that's gotta be some kind of (meaningless) record. It's definitely a testament to Hollins' perseverance and mediocrity.
You can't tell here, but Hollins had one of those naturally scowly faces; he looks mad on a lot of his other cards (including 1995 Topps).
(flip) Hollins and I both attended Vallejo Senior High School, albeit six years apart.
Hard to be terribly impressed with Mr. Burns' feat. Were they even using gloves in 1883?
To make up for the redundant .255 average stat Topps printed, I'll tell you that Hollins was a more-than-respectable .452 slugger away from the Trop in 2005, and was a career .442 road slugger.
63 K in 342 AB for a 31-year-old rookie power hitter isn't shabby at all.
AFTER THIS CARD: Hollins lasted one more season with the Rays, again playing part-time. Though he continued to show power, he struggled overall offensively and was non-tendered after the season. Hollins spent 2007 with the Youmuri Giants (Japan), then inked MiLB deals with Philadelphia and Kansas City in 2008 that went nowhere, ending his pro career.
Damon Hollins appeared in 1995 Topps on a shared Prospects card, then didn't appear again until 2006 Topps Updates & Highlights. He did not receive a 2007 Topps card.
CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps Update, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
1/27/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #782 Phil Plantier, Red Sox
More Phil Plantier Topps Cards: 1991 1993 1993T 1994 1995 1995T
Is it better to have been a fleeting star, or to never have been a star at all?
In 1993, two lefty youngsters reached 30 bombs, essentially doubling their career totals to that point. Between them, they'd reach double-digit HR exactly twice after that, with neither man coming close to 100 lifetime. They'd change teams too many times to list here. Without time-freezing collectibles such as this one, they'd be long faded from every casual fan's memory.
But for that one glorious summer, Rick Wilkins of the Cubs and Phil Plantier of the Padres were among the National League's most acclaimed sluggers. They finished 8th and 10th in the NL in four-baggers, intertwined with names such as Bonds, McGriff, Sosa, Bonilla, Justice and Williams. They were 26 and 24 years old, overflowing with promise.
Here, Plantier the rookie has just foreshadowed some of his coming exploits. Following brief Boston stints in 1990 and June 1991, Plantier was called up once more in early August 1991 and immediately went on an offensive tear (including six hits in his first nine AB)., made more remarkable by the fact he did so while using an invisible chair.
THIS CARD: "Okay, Phil, we need to snap your photo for your Topps card. Can you look as if a really boring old person is conversing with you?"
Topps never included a pic of Plantier's infamous stance in their base sets, but you'll find one in 1993 Traded.
This card is not a random selection. We specially selected this card for Plantier's 50th birthday on January 27. Why 1992 Topps? People remember Plantier's standout 1993 season, but few outside of Boston remember his excellent 1991 showing.
(flip) Poway is located just north of San Diego.
The Green Monster once looked way off WITH seats. Now, it doesn't look right without them. (It'd cost at least three bills to get me to sit way up there...no thanks.)
In that two-homer game, Plantier contributed to a 12-1 home blowout of the Yankees. He victimized Alan Mills in the 6th and Dave Eiland in the 8th—both solo shots. Joe Hesketh went eight for the win.
AFTER THIS CARD: Plantier underwent major elbow surgery following the 1991 season, and never really got untracked in '92, going from starting OF to AAA. Reportedly due in part to friction with his skipper, Plantier was dealt to his hometown Padres for 1993, which we've discussed, and signed a 2Y/$2.5M contract after that season.
Plantier's hamstring bothered him in '94, limiting his production. After the season, he was included in the famed 12-player deal with Houston...but was back in SD by mid-1995 after more hamstring issues. Several more brief stops followed, none prosperous, and Plantier's career finally ended in 1997.
He briefly managed in the Independent League and coached hitting in the minors for a time, as well as a couple of years with the Padres in the same role.
Phil Plantier appeared annually in Topps 1991-95, with Traded cards in 1993 and 1995.
CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Boston Red Sox