Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, July 2015

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Topps Mark Johnson
Topps Mark Johnson

7/1/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #605 Mark Johnson Draft Pick

More Mark Johnson (catcher) Topps Cards: 2001 2002

 

I attended high school with C.C. Sabathia, Joe Thurston and Dave Bernstine (nephew of ex-Denver Bronco Rod Bernstine). The first two made the majors; the latter was a Rockies draft pick.

 

Every so often, my mom will wonder out loud if I could have been a big leaguer had I not given up competitive baseball at 14. When this happens, I stifle my laughter and respond no, I could have never made it to the majors. I could have never been drafted. 

And that's assuming I even got on my high school roster, which would have only happened if an alligator ate our team right before the season started.

 

After Mom disputes that, I explain that the major leagues consist of 800 men who are the very best of the very best of the very best in the western world (with a little east Asia and Australia sprinkled in).  Hundreds of guys who used to dominate as preps get drafted every year and are out of pro ball forever by the next draft, never to be thought of again.

 

There were better odds of me growing gills than making the majors. I wasn't beating myself up—I was just being realistic. If Dave Bernstine—the best all-round athlete I've ever competed against—didn't even make it past rookie ball, I surely wasn't going to.

 

What does any of that have to do with Mark Johnson, you ask? 

 

Johnson was an incredible high school player both offensively and defensively, and it's a safe bet those who watched him dominate as an amateur felt he'd be among the best receivers in the bigs one day.

The thing is—everyone in the majors was a teenage star, otherwise they'd have never been signed. Only a small fraction of those teenage stars become professional stars. Johnson was not among them—although he outdid hundreds of peers by at least making the majors and lasting there for a half-decade.

 

Here, he's the 26th overall selection in the 1994 draft, a potential heir apparent for incumbent White Sox catcher Ron Karkovice.

 

 

THIS CARD: Like most of the 1995 Topps high school picks, Johnson looks at least 5-7 years older than he really is. Matt Smith, for example, more closely resembles a veteran homicide detective than a teenager. (The late Doug Million, in contrast, looks 12.)

 

Interesting choice of background. While most guys were "Photoshopped" over a ballpark image, a few got the roll-up garage door treatment—Johnson among them.

 

(flip) I don't care what level you're at—90% is damn impressive. As is accumulating more runs than hits. And nearly as many steals as hits his first two years. Not to mention those slugging percentages...makes you wonder how he fell all the way to 26th until you remember that whole "everybody's good in high school" rant I went on earlier.

 

(When you factor in the off-field turmoil surrounding his family during senior year, Johnson's feats border on extraordinary.)

 

Not sure how Johnson was named to USA Today's 1994 All-American team when they didn't begin naming teams until 1998. He was co-catcher on the American Baseball Coaches Association team, along with future White Sox teammate Paul Konerko.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Johnson debuted with the White Sox in 1998, and went on to start 272 games for them 1999-2002, mostly in a backup/fill-in role for Brook Fordyce and Sandy Alomar. Proving high school was indeed far behind him, Johnson erased basestealers (.367) better than he slugged (.328) and wasn't retained beyond 2002.

 

The Georgia product got in 447 games from 2003-10...but 417 of them came in AAA. Johnson's last sniff of the bigs came as a 32-year-old emergency call-up in 2008 with St. Louis—he'd change organizations six times after leaving Chicago. He's managed in the Cubs' low minors since 2011, winning MiLB Manager of the Year in 2014 with Myrtle Beach (A).

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Draft Picks

 
Topps Darrin Fletcher
Topps Darrin Fletcher

7/5/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #412 Darrin Fletcher, Expos

More Darrin Fletcher Topps Cards: 1991 1992 1993 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

Three points about this selection: Fletcher makes his second COTD appearance, his 1992 Topps card having been drawn back on February 15. This card is the closest we've come so far to selecting the same card twice, having drawn 1994 Topps #407 Bruce Ruffin back on March 18.

And after a long stretch of not drawing anything from 1994-1999, this pick is our 4th straight from that period.

 

Here, Fletcher has wrapped his second year with Montreal—and obliterated his career highs in every offensive category in helping the Expos to a 94-win, second-place finish in the NLE.

 

 

THIS CARD: Someone has likely called time-out, and Fletcher waits patiently for play to resume. Hard to tell where he's playing, but wherever it is must be a tad chilly. I personally can't recall too many sleeved catchers...not that I'm really on the lookout for them.

 

Another 1994 Topps Gold card. As we've mentioned previously, the company produced "Gold" sets 1992-94 and randomly inserted Gold cards in their wax packs. Most of my 1992-94 sets were built via wax pack.

 

(flip) Topps will not rest until the entire nation knows about Tom Fletcher's two scoreless innings from decades ago—he's mentioned on at least Darrin's 1992, 1994 and 1996 cards. (We highlighted him on Darrin's first COTD selection and won't do so again.)

 

I was about to chastise Topps for failing to mention Fletcher's actual school, until finding out he attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For that to fit on the card, they'd have had to remove Fletcher's career stats. (Notable alumni include Hall-of-Famer Lou Boudreau in 1937 and three-time All-Star Tom Haller in the 1950s. More contemporary Fighting Illini include Scott Spiezio and Tanner Roark. Thanks, Baseballreference.com!)

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Fletcher made his only All-Star team the following season, and remained an Expo thru 1997 before spending the last five seasons of his career one province to the west, with Toronto.

 

Darrin Fletcher appeared in Topps annually from 1991-2002.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, Montreal Expos

 
Topps Kevin Hart
Topps Kevin Hart

7/8/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps #129 Kevin Hart, Cubs

More Kevin Hart Topps Cards: 2009U 2010

Before he was a 5'4" black movie/TV star, Kevin Hart was a 6'4" white major league pitcher, albeit fleetingly. Hart was an 11th-rounder in 2004 by Baltimore (out of U. Maryland) and started 55 games in A ball over the 2005-06 seasons.

 

But the Orioles sought bench versatility, and moved Hart to the Cubs in exchange for UT Freddie Bynum during the winter of 2006-07. (The Cubs and O's made a lot of deals in the second half of the 00's, beginning with Sammy Sosa. Partial explanation: top exec Andy MacPhail worked for both clubs in that period.)

 

Post-trade, Hart went 12-6 at two levels before being promoted to the Cubs bullpen for the '07 stretch drive. Here—despite what Baseball America described as "average" stuff—Hart's MLB initiation is going well enough that the Cubs included him on their playoff roster! (His lone appearance against Arizona wasn't pretty, though.)

 

 

THIS CARD: That is one small mitt; is this pic from 2007 or 1907? Yes, Hart is a big dude, but this doesn't seem like proportional deception. I've seen winter gloves bigger than that.

 

The "Hart" is fairly clear, but the "Kevin" looks like a falling pteranodon next to Olive Oyl.

 

As evidenced by the emblem, this is Hart's introductory Topps card (and our second 2008 Topps COTD). It's still difficult to take this set seriously when its design evokes memories of those cards packaged with Mother's Cookies back in the day.

(flip) Was not aware Topps issued monthly MiLB awards. Oh, well. Makes good space filler on their Bowman blurbs, if nothing else. We weren't able to unearth any evidence this award existed before 2010...but we did lose interest in researching after about two minutes, so that doesn't really mean much.

 

To be technical, Hart wasn't acquired until January '07—he was the player to be named later in the Bynum deal.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: As alluded to, Hart's MLB career lacked staying power. He shuttled betwen Chicago and AAA Iowa for the 2008-09 seasons before being surrendered to the Pirates in a deadline deal to nab lefties John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny (future Bucs All-Star Josh Harrison also went east in that trade). Hart took the rotation spot of the also-traded Ian Snell and went (a legit) 1-8 in 10 starts to close 2009. 

 

Early in the 2010 season, the tall righty underwent labrum surgery in his pitching shoulder that essentially ended his career at 27. It is not known if Hart currently spends any of his leisure time in Hollywood. Or doing police ride-alongs in the name of love.

 

Kevin Hart appeared annually in Topps and/or Topps Update 2008-10.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps, Chicago Cubs

 
Topps Wade Davis
Topps Wade Davis

7/11/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #48 Wade Davis, Rays

More Wade Davis Topps Cards: 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

We are just a few days past Wade Davis' first All-Star selection. I've never been big on non-closers making the All-Star team unless they're downright filthy and own what I call squint numbers—when you see their stats in print, they're so ridiculous that you squint to make sure you're reading them correctly.

 

2001 Paul Quantrill did not have squint numbers. 2002 Mike Remlinger did not have squint numbers. 2011 Tyler Clippard did not have squint numbers. 2015 Wade Davis has squint numbers—thru July 10, he owned a 4.7 H/9 ratio and has allowed a single earned run in 38 games all season.

 

Davis, a 2004 #3 pick out of high school, never lacked for stuff. But he struggled to find consistency early on as a Rays starter—including the 2011 season represented on this card.

The year began with Davis signing a potential six-year extension—four years, two team options—and going 4-2, 3.07 in his first seven starts. But from early May on Davis fluctuated between darn good and grossly ineffective. 

 

 

A prime example: his 8/24 and 8/29 starts of that 2011 season:

 

  • In the former, Davis fired 9 innings, allowing 4 hits and 2 runs on 102 pitches against the first-place Tigers.

  • In the latter, Davis fired 4.2 innings, allowing 9 hits and 6 runs in 108 pitches against the fourth-place Blue Jays, who'd lost four straight coming in. Oh, and he also threw two wild pitches and hit a batter.

 

Clearly, the big righty has figured things out since then.

 

THIS CARD: This is one of two base cards (the other being #578) Davis receives in 2012 Topps for some reason. I really...really...really hate those occurences. One of those cards could have been Omar Vizquel. Or Wesley Wright or Sam Lecure or Tony Watson. Not saying I'd sacrifice a finger to guarantee the elimination of such oversights...but I'd consider it. AGGGH...

 

Strange how his wrist/glove is pointing back at him mid-motion—it seems to require conscious effort. I tried to re-enact this delivery position and at no time did it come naturally. But I'm not an All-Star reliever...or even a middling starter as Davis was in this pic.

 

(flip) There doesn't appear to be any differences between this card's reverse and that of #578—would Topps really issue a second base card to somebody if they got his birthday or AA walk total wrong? Whenever I get around to visiting Topps, I will tactfully ask if these duplicate base cards are intentional or a result of shoddy effort.

 

Vero Beach will always represent the Dodgers to me, not the (Devil) Rays.

 

Watching Davis today, those average K totals 2010-11 seem like an entirely different dude. 

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: When phenom Matt Moore entered the Rays' rotation plans in spring 2012, Davis became the odd man out and shifted to relief. Even when one starter, Jeff Niemann, went down with a broken leg, Davis remained in the bullpen—able to "air it out" as a reliever, he finished with K/9 ratio more than double that of his 2011 season. 

 

By this time, Davis' extension had kicked in, and always-frugal Tampa wasn't down with paying a now-middle reliever nearly $3M for 2013—good as he may be. So he, along with fellow expensive RHP James Shields, were packaged to the Royals over the winter. KC moved him back to the rotation for '13, but then removed him that August.

 

One year later, Davis was teaming up with Kelvim Herrera and Greg Holland to form the "Back End Boys", three hard-throwing, game-shortening relievers who propelled Kansas City within two runs of a World Series title! 

 

Wade Davis has appeared in Topps annually since 2010.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Tampa Bay Rays

 
Topps Jeff Hamilton
Topps Jeff Hamilton

7/15/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #266 Jeff Hamilton, Dodgers

More Jeff Hamilton Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1992

 

Hamilton spent parts of six seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, earning a World Series ring with the 1988 squad and starting at third for the 1989 edition. Born in Flint, Michigan, the Dodgers selected Hamilton #29 in 1982 out of high school. He was a .335 hitter during his brief Pioneer (Rookie) League stint at 19 and a .335 hitter in AA ball two years later.

By 1986, the 22-year-old was in the majors. Initially subbing for the injured Bill Madlock, Hamilton stuck around even after Madlock returned. After being used largely as a late-inning defensive sub, the Dodgers gave their rookie third baseman another audition over the final two weeks of '86.

 

THIS CARD: That is one happy rookie. Good to have it documented, because Hamilton had little reason to smile during his final two Dodger seasons.

 

Hamilton switched from #33 to #3 in 1988; it became available after Steve Sax left the team. Eddie Murray claimed #33 in 1989; today it belongs to Scott Van Slyke.

 

(flip) It is a little spooky how this card's "On This Date" involved Ray Boone. Hours before this card was selected, I got the urge out of nowhere to research the career of Ray's son Bob Boone.

 

Somewhat off-topic: always enjoyed the OTD's in 1987 Topps; just wish the dates were tied to the player on the card somehow—the guy's birthday, a date mentioned in the blurb, something.

 

Note the BB/K ratio for 1986 Los Angeles. Hamilton drew 43 career walks over nearly 1,300 MLB plate appearances—in 1989 he talled 20 in just under 600 PA's! (By the way, the BB/K for 1986 Albuquerque are accidentally flip-flopped.)

 

Tthe blurb doesn't offer much unless you're a fan dying to know all things Jeff Hamilton, and/or willing to scour every bowling alley in the Mesa area hoping for a glimpse of the guy.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Hamilton lasted one (ordinary) season as the Dodgers' full-time 3B—1989. A torn rotator cuff ended his 1990 before it really began; by 1991 he was way down on LA's depth chart and didn't try to hide his displeasure. In July Hamilton ripped up his knee, and left the team without permission while on the DL to be with his expectant wife—further straining his relationship with the organization.

 

Still, the Dodgers kept him around—he came back healthy in Spring training 1992 but was demoted to AAA anyway, and never played in the major leagues again.

 

Jeff Hamilton appeared annually in Topps 1987-92.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers

 
Topps Mike Moore
Topps Mike Moore

7/18/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #359 Mike Moore, Athletics

More Mike Moore Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1993 1994 1995

 

 

My memories of Mike Moore in particular are few, besides his hair. 1989 Score described him as "an enigmatic right-hander with a world of stuff" and Moore once described himself as "overpowering"—at least as a youth—so we'll go with that.

 

Drafted first overall in 1981 by Seattle following an excellent run at Oral Roberts, most of Moore's seven-year Mariners stint consisted of a whole lot of innings pitched and a whole lot of losses. In fact, if you exclude his 1985 17-10 "breakthrough", he went 49-86.

 

But from 1984-88, he averaged 232 IP and 10 CG annually! So clearly, his record wasn't a result of his brains getting beat in every five days—remember, expansion Seattle had zero collective winning seasons 1977-90, and they played in a park not known for friendliness to pitchers. (Although, it should be noted, Mark Langston managed three winning seasons during Moore's Mariners tenure. Just sayin'.)

 

After the 1988 season, Moore rejected a three-year deal from the Mariners to sign with defending AL champion Oakland—three years, about $4M. There, he was able to slide down to a #3 starter role rather than be the #1 or #2 guy as he was in Seattle, and he flourished to the tune of 19 wins, an All-Star berth, a third-place Cy Young Award finish, and two World Series wins!

 

Here, Moore—now 32—has just completed the final year of his original deal, a disappointing one for the A's but a fine one for Moore personally as he finished 6th in the league with a .680 win %.

 

THIS CARD: Moore was one of those guys who looked 10 years younger from distance, 10 years older up close. I came up with a "clever" name for such folks: Tenners. For many years, John Elway was a Tenner. 

 

Also, Moore's hairdo didn't really match his face. In no way was it a bad cut—it just wasn't what one would expect when Moore removed his cap. He gives the appearance of a guy with a standard taper cut...but appearances can be deceiving.

 

Mind you, none of the above is meant to insult or disparage Moore in any way. 

 

(flip) In that All-Star Game at what was then known as Anaheim Stadium (now Angels Stadium), Moore fired a clean 5th inning—somehow striking out Tony Gwynn!

 

As mentioned above, he won both his World Series starts in 1989—because of the earthquake postponement, Moore started both Games 2 and 4. In the second inning of the latter, Moore added a two-run double—in his second-ever MLB plate appearance!

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Moore was re-signed by Oakland for 1992, his salary rising to $3.5M. He wrapped things up with the lowly Detroit Tigers on a three-year, $10M deal—returning to the top of the rotation. Through relatively high WHIP and ERA totals in 1993-94, Moore made every start as usual, gave innings as usual, and went 24-19.

 

But in '95, the now-35-year-old was statistically the worst regular starter in the game—5-15, 7.53, 1.8 WHIP, eight starts under five innings—and was cut in early September. No other team sought his services, and that was it for Moore. 

He retired having never missed a scheduled start or gone on the disabled list. Other than some time as a volunteer high school coach in his native Oklahoma, we were unable to unearth much about the post-retirement Moore.

 

Mike Moore appeared annually in Topps 1983-95.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Oakland Athletics

 
Topps Orel Hershiser
Topps Orel Hershiser

7/23/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #394 Orel Hershiser All-Star

More Orel Hershiser All-Star Topps Cards: 1988 1990 

 

As current Dodger Zack Greinke rides a 43.2 scoreless streak, how fitting to select the former Dodger who owns the MLB record of 59—in the set representing the year that record was established, no less.

 

Hershiser was at the height of his powers in 1988, making his second All-Star team in response to a 13-4, 2.62 first half—although his famous streak did not begin until the season's final weeks.

LA needed him to step up—Bob Welch had been traded, and Fernando Valenzuela had his worst season to date, winning only five games and losing two months to injury

 

The 29-year-old threw a scoreless 8th, retiring all three hitters he faced—Kirby Puckett (Twins) Harold Reynolds (Mariners) and Jose Canseco (Athletics) all went down—he'd also gotten Puckett and Reynolds in the '87 Classic. Note: Hershiser wasn't done with Canseco, who'd go 0-for-8 against him in the 1988 World Series.

 

 

THIS CARD: No, the sun isn't in Hershiser's eyes—he always kind of looked like that.

 

The "RHP" designation is unlike Topps. Offhand, I don't think it appeared again...but I could be wrong.

 

For the record, the game was in Cincinnati—coincidentally, the site of this year's Classic, albeit at Great American Ballpark rather than old Riverfront Stadium—and was won 2-1 by the AL. Oakland's Terry Steinbach was the game MVP. The Mets' Doc Gooden started for the NL; he and Hershiser would face off in the NLCS opener three months later.

 

(flip) How could Hershiser go the equivalent of 6½ starts without allowing a run and only finish third in league ERA? (It should be noted Magrane's finish carried some flukishness; the St. Louis lefty pitched very well, but qualified for the title by only three innings).

 

"Dave" Cone?I tend to refer to players by whatever I hear them first referred to as—David Justice has always been "Dave" to me; Russells Branyan and Martin have always been "Russ"; Michael Morse has always been "Mike"—you get it. But I didn't know of Cone until 1990 Topps, when he was referred to as "David". So he was always David to me and "Dave Cone" just looks off. 

 

What a leaderboard. Magrane, Pascual Perez, Don Robinson, Bob Walk...no Valenzuela, no Gooden, no Ryan.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Hershiser won 23 total games in '88, claiming the Cy Young and eventually the World Series MVP (2-0, 1.00, two CG). He made one last All-Star team in 1989, but was not used (Hershiser went two innings two days before the game).

 

After recovering from major arm surgery in early 1990, the veteran remained an effective starter for eight more seasons, though nowhere near the superstar level he'd reached in 1988. He pitched in the 1995 and 1997 World Series for Cleveland.

 

Orel Hershiser received All-Star cards 1988-90.

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, All-Stars

 
Topps Carlos Baerga
Topps Carlos Baerga

7/26/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #147 Carlos Baerga, Indians

More Carlos Baerga Topps Cards: 1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 2002 2003 2004

 

If you weren't around in 1992-93, I'll make it simple for you—the game's best second basemen were future Hall-of-Famers Ryne Sandberg, Robby Alomar and perhaps Craig Biggio, depending on who you ask. Right behind them—young Carlos Baerga (pronounced Buy-air-ga) of the rising Cleveland Indians. 

 

Baerga, a switch-hitting infielder, was originally property of the San Diego Padres. Though he had tools, he wasn't exactly a can't-miss prospect; the Padres packaged him with Sandy Alomar Jr., and Chris James to the Indians for essentially a one-year rental of slugger Joe Carter before the 1990 season—forever altering the Cleveland franchise for the better.

 

(Carter and Robby Alomar, you may recall, were soon traded to Toronto—increasing that team's fortunes as well. But at least the Pads had the good sense to hold onto Shawn Abner and Phil Stephenson!)

 

Here, Baerga has just completed his rookie season, one in which he played very little second base—rather, he started 45 times at third (while incumbent Brook Jacoby subbed for injured 1B Keith Hernandez) and got in 48 games at SS, including 13 starts.

 

 

THIS CARD: Baerga looks to possibly be in a home run trot. That would be something, a guy's helmet flying off during a home run trot. I could see that happening to Chuck Carr, though. That guy's helmet could fly off waiting in the on-deck circle.

With arms lowered, he's obviously not sprinting, so if not in a home run trot Baerga must be A) advancing to the next base after an errant throw into the dugout, or B) jogging off the field after being retired.

 

1991 Topps nails the proper position again! As mentioned, most of Baerga's 1990 run came at 3B.

 

(flip) The Pacific Coast league plays a 144-game schedule, for informational purposes. Leading a MiLB team in games isn't really an accomplishment, considering you might have done so because your better teammates were promoted to the bigs. 

 

As with multi-team seasons, Topps lists majors/minors stints in the order they took place—if a guy opened in the bigs, then was demoted, the MiLB team stats are listed second for that year. Indeed, Baerga was demoted in late July after plodding in the low .200's all year..

 

Of those 20 August hits, 13 came in a final-week tear during which the 21-year-old hit .481 and slugged .778!

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Baerga became a full-timer in 1991, initially at 3B before moving to 2B. He'd make three All-Star appearances over the next four years and play in the 1995 World Series—he notched consecutive 200-hit, 20-HR, 100-RBI seasons 1992-93 and became the first man (of only three) to switch-homer in an inning in 1993! 

 

But by 1996, his production—and conditioning—had slipped, and the Indians sold relatively high, shipping him off to the Mets in midseason. They then swapped his return to the Giants over the winter for Matt Williams, who helped them to the 1997 World Series. 

 

Baerga remained a Met through 1998 but did not approach his previous stardom, and wound up spending 2000-01 out of the majors entirely—floating through five organizations and even buying a Puerto Rican league team before resurfacing as a DH/reserve 2002-2005 for three clubs. Baerga then repped PR in the debut World Baseball Classic in 2006, then sat down at 37.

 

Carlos Baerga appeared in Topps 1990-1998 and 2002-04, with 1990 and 2002 being Traded cards. Like many deserving others, he was excluded from 1999 Topps despite amassing 135 starts and 511 AB's for the Mets. 

 

 

CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Cleveland Indians

 
Topps Joe Crede
Topps Joe Crede

7/28/15 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps Update #203 Joe Crede All-Star

More Joe Crede All-Star Topps Cards: n/a

Wow...after going so long without a 2008 Topps selection, we now have two in the past eight—not enough to trigger a hiatus, but still. (The Randomizer first picked a seldom-seen 1988 card, which excited me—until learning it didn't exist.)

 

Anyway, back to Crede, who is recognized here for his 2008 All-Star appearance—ultimately the only one of his career (though he probably should have been one in 2006 as well). Selected as a reserve for the AL, the veteran White Sox third baseman was batting .252 with 16 jacks and 49 runs plated at the break. 

 

Sadly, Crede played just 11 more games that season, as back surgery took him off the field. He battled back problems throughout his career; they eventually ended his long White Sox tenure and later, his career. Unfortunate—from 2003-08 he was one of the game's better, if not best, two-way third basemen when healthy.

 

 

THIS CARD: The frieze in the logo...gee, wonder where this game was held.

 

If this pic is indeed taken during Crede's All-Star at-bat, those are Russ Martin's hands you see. C'mon, Joe—that pitch looked a little down.

(flip) Crede won that Silver Slugger on the strength of a 30-homer, 94-RBI 2006 season in which he hit .283, slugged .506, and—perhaps most impressively for a power hitter—struck out 58 times in 544 at-bats.

 

Topps credits Crede with 15 first-half bombs. Baseballreference.com says 16. I'm going with the latter.

 

That one AB came In the sixth inning; he pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez and popped out vs. Dan Haren.

 

 

AFTER THIS CARD: Not much. Chicago let their health-challenged slugger walk after '08 season; he played one subpar season with the Twins before sitting out 2010. A 2011 comeback with the Rockies—which nearly ended before it began—failed, officially ending Crede's career just shy of 33.

 

Proving the volatility and fragility of a pro sports career, a 31-year-old Crede played his final major league game only 14 months after making this All-Star team. 

 

 

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps Update, All-Stars