Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, June 2017
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6/3/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps Update #264 Adam LaRoche, Braves
More Adam LaRoche Topps Cards: 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
When I was 15, I was instructed by my mother to iron a pair of jeans. I did as I was told...except my mother didn't believe I'd done a very good job and insisted on a better effort.
Being your typical angry, moody teen, I was having none of it. After some heated words, things got physical (a shove). To teach me a lesson, Mom called the police.
Later that night, after things had died down, I sat and wondered, "How did we go from THIS (ironing) to THAT (cops)?"
That is exactly what the baseball world wondered on 3/18/16. On that date, Adam LaRoche went from content starting first baseman for the White Sox to retired first baseman for nobody in the blink of an eye, after HIS teen son—who, unlike teen me, was actually tolerable—was banned from on-field participation with his dad.
If you were a baseball fan and had a pulse in early 2016, you know the specifics—we won't detail them here. Talking heads fed on the story for the rest of Spring Training. Not even the sudden, bizarre retirement of Manny Ramirez five years prior generated as much buzz, and Ramirez was twice the player LaRoche was.
Lost in all the controversy was the loss of a damn good second-generation major leaguer (Dave pitched 1970-83), one who smoked 20+ homers nine times and won one Gold Glove and Silver Slugger each.
Here, the veteran is back with his original Braves team via trade from Boston—who themselves had acquired LaRoche from the Pirates just nine days prior. But upon landing an even bigger fish in Victor Martinez soon after, Sox GM Theo Epstein generously moved LaRoche south, where his power bat would be in the lineup daily.
THIS CARD: Technically, 2009 Topps is still supposed to be on hiatus for one more card, but what the hell.
Is LaRoche about to pound fists with a teammate/coach? Is he executing a very awkward fist pump? Is he firing an invisible tomahawk? (Yeah, a lot of folks loathed The Chop but I liked it.)
(flip) Upon retirement, Sept/Oct. would stand as LaRoche's highest OPS month (.866).
The "Trade with Red Sox" sent veteran 1B Casey Kotchman north.
The first blurbed homer: a late blast off Mark Hendrickson in a 7-2 win vs. Baltimore. The second blurbed homer came in a 4-2 loss to San Diego, off Mat Latos. Perhaps given more space, Topps mentions LaRoche's four-hit game in a 9-2 win the next night.
Fort Scott is about a 95-mile drive south of either of the Kansas Cities. Use Route 69.
AFTER THIS CARD: LaRoche tore it up for the 2009 Braves (.557 SLG), but they decided they'd rather sign an older, damaged, inexperienced first baseman rather than bring back LaRoche, so he moved on to Arizona on a 1Y/$4.5M deal. (To be fair, the 2010 Braves made the playoffs with Troy Glaus at 1B.)
From there, the veteran joined Washington on a 2Y/$15M deal. He followed his worst year (.172, labrum surgery) with his best (33 HR, 100 RBI), earning a 2Y/$24M extension.
Now 35, LaRoche joined the White Sox on a 2Y/$25M deal for 2015—Dave LaRoche had coached there during Adam's youth, and some of those players made up Chicago's current staff. However, Year One was a struggle from start to finish and Year Two never happened.
Adam LaRoche appeared annually in Topps 2003-16, with his first two Topps appearances predating his first MLB appearance.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Atlanta Braves
6/5/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #614 B.J. Upton, Braves
More B.J./Melvin Upton Topps Cards: 2003 2004 2005 2006U 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2014 2015 2016
Back so soon, B.J.?
Upton, whose 2007 card was featured in COTD just 15 days ago, returns as a brand new Atlanta Brave—the veteran signed a 5Y/$75M deal with the franchise in November 2012 after eight seasons with Tampa Bay.
(About six weeks later, the Braves traded a quintet of dudes to bring B.J.'s brother Justin from Arizona. While Kate Upton did pose for a magazine cover with the fellas, she was not signed by Atlanta.)
Here, B.J. is entering what would be the worst year of his career, and perhaps the worst 2013 of any regular major leaguer. Despite his salary, Upton wasn't being asked to carry the Braves—or even make the All-Star team as his predecessor Michael Bourn had—just to approach the 28-homer, 78-RBI totals from 2012.
Turns out even asking for the Mendoza line was too much for 2013 Upton...baseball is cruel.
THIS CARD: We use a random selection process, or in noun form, a "Randomizer".
We use this to avoid repetition such as: picking an Atlanta Brave right after an Atlanta Brave, or drawing a specific player four selections apart, or choosing a specific set three selections apart. You know, like we did here somehow.
In terms of randomness, this card is the worst selection we've ever made. Ten-card hiatus for 2013 Topps, of course, but I'm making the executive decision to not put Upton himself on official hiatus—even though I've got a dozen other Upton Topps cards, there's just no way we can randomly pick him again. Unless there is.
(In a way, though, I'm glad this happened—there is zero else to comment on about this card except the mysterious corner crease.)
(flip) Now THAT'S a contract push! Upton was slugging just .376 entering play August 10, but slugged .597 going forward to finish at .454. According to BaseballReference.com, Upton only hit 18 homers in that stretch, not 21.
Upton is not going to pass Rickey Henderson. Upton is not going to pass Steve Finley, for that matter.
AFTER THIS CARD: Upton's struggles continued through 2014, and Atlanta shipped him off to San Diego (where Justin went in a separate deal.)
The older Upton began to show signs of life in SD—he dropped the name B.J. in favor of Melvin Jr., posted a four-year high in OBP, and though he missed 75 games with injury, his four triples were one off the team lead.
After a 20-homer 2016 season split between San Diego and Toronto, Upton signed a minors deal with the Giants, but underwent thumb surgery in Spring Training and isn't due back until around the All-Star break. You probably know all of this already, since we just profiled Upton on COTD two weeks ago.
B.J./Melvin Upton has appeared in Topps, Topps Traded or Topps Update annually since 2003 (draft pick).
CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps, Atlanta Braves
6/10/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2000 Topps #433 David Segui, Blue Jays
More David Segui Topps Cards: 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
With this selection, two of the past three COTD picks have been second-generation big-leaguers; David's papa Diego pitched a decade with the K.C./Oakland A's as well as the pennant-winning '75 Red Sox, among other clubs.
We best remember the younger Segui as a Baltimore Oriole and Montreal Expo—and unfortunately, as a confirmed PED user—but he, too, made the rounds later in his career, to the point I'd forgotten he ever was a Toronto Blue Jay.
Segui (pronounced SuhGEE, like McGee) came up with Baltimore in 1990, the rare switch-hitting lefty thrower. Though fielding was his strength, he was a .336 hitter in AAA prior to his MLB call-up.
However, Segui had to wait until 1992 to spend a full season in the majors—and even then it wasn't planned; remember, Baltimore had Glenn Davis in those days, but Davis couldn't stay healthy. By 1993, Segui was the main man at 1B. By 1994, he was a Met—the Orioles signed star Rafael Palmiero over the winter, and dealt Segui.
The Kansas native would go on to play regularly for Montreal (1995-97) and Seattle (1998-99), usually batting right around .300 with a little pop and fielding like nobody's business.
Here, Segui has just completed his 10th major league season—Toronto acquired him from Seattle at the deadline, only for him to break his right hand fielding a ball one week later, missing a month. The veteran could only serve as a lefty-batting DH upon returning...but still batted .301 and slugged .534 in that stretch!
THIS CARD: While excluding the boring details, we've adjusted our random selection process to increase the odds of a 1996-2000 Topps selection—there's been a dearth of picks from those years. It's paid dividends so far; this is the second such card that would have otherwise gotten the shaft.
These silver borders work, and shouldn't be confined to insert sets forever—they need to make a return to Topps' base. (Oblivious me almost wrote "Topps struck gold with the silver borders." True story.)
Since Segui spent the end of 1999 as a DH, Topps could have given him the two-position designation. But considering defensive-wiz Segui had not started at DH in nine years before September 1999, we understand why they didn't.
Segui wore #19 as a Blue Jay (not #9 as it appears in this photo.) That was the number of past Toronto standouts Fred McGriff and Paul Molitor, as well as current standout Jose Bautista. Summary: since 1986, #19 has sparked a great many cheers in Toronto.
(flip) Fumbling Darin Erstad's June 16 grounder is all that kept Segui from fielding an even 1.000 in 1998. (Doubly painful: Erstad came around to score what proved to be a key run in Seattle's 3-2 loss to Anaheim.)
Even after a nine-error 2001, Segui owned a lifetime fielding percentage of .995—17th-best ever! (Interestingly, Erstad is one of the 16 men ahead of him.)
Segui was definitely not 202 pounds when he debuted.
That trade with Mariners was for unproven RP's Tom Davey and Steve Sinclair, neither of whom lasted long with Seattle (or in MLB.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Segui split 2000 with the Rangers and Indians before returning to Baltimore on a 4Y/$28M deal.
But the veteran only played 175 games over the first three years—unable to depend on him, the Orioles signed Palmeiro again for 2004. A wise move, since knee inflammation resulting from defective cartilage sidelined Segui for all but 18 games in '04. Unsurprisingly, once his contract expired that winter, nobody offered him another.
David Segui appeared annually in topps 1991-2005.
CATEGORIES: 2000 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays
6/13/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Topps #227 Ivan Rodriguez, Star Power
More 1996 Topps Star Power Cards: n/a
In our previous COTD, we told you of our tweaked COTD selection process aimed at drawing more 1996-2000 Topps cards. It's been a mild success so far, but it can't claim credit for our current selection—Pudge came to us "naturally".
The "Star Power" subset kind of replaced All-Star cards in 1996 Topps—19 of the 22 players featured were 1995 All-Stars and most of those 19 were starters (including Rodriguez; there was no better two-way catcher in baseball during the 1990's and beyond.)
Topps would not produce any All-Star-type subset again until the 2003 set (not counting the 11-card All-Topps team of 1999.)
THIS CARD: In these days, Topps subsets were normally numbered in some sort of sequence—alphabetical by team city, player last name, position, etc. These 22 cards were not:
NL Stars represented 11 of the first 12 Series 1 cards (sandwiching Mickey Mantle's #7). AL Stars represented the first 11 cards of Series 2. Within those clusters, the Stars were numbered in no particular order—3B Wade Boggs of the New York Yankees and 2B Carlos Baerga of Cleveland preceded C Rodriguez of Texas, for example.
Worse yet, they have no special checklist designation to distinguish them from that player's common card. Still better than today's subset numbering—they're scattered throughout the sets like standard commons.
Here, Pudge is a proud member of the Angers.
That hot June might have earned him A.L. Player Of The Month, but Edgar Martinez just had to bat .410 and slug .794...crud. (FYI, Rodriguez didn't even win any POTM awards during his 1999 MVP year.)
This may be the earliest instance of copyrighted/trademarked team names on card reverses. I'm probably wrong; future COTD's will provide a definitive answer.
No way is Pudge taking that BP in Arlington, not with a warmup jacket on.
CATEGORIES: 1996 Topps, Subsets
6/16/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #149 Rheal Cormier, Cardinals
More Rheal Cormier Topps Cards: 1992 1994 1995 1997 2001 2004 2006
It's always great to see someone make an MLB comeback when it seems to all the world his career is dead. or on life support at best. We're seeing it this season with Eric Thames and Bronson Arroyo (although Arroyo's days may be numbered, he still deserves credit for at least making it back.)
Dustin McGowan in Miami is another offhand example.
After 1997 Tommy John surgery and four professional appearances in two years, the dirt was being piled on Rheal Cormier's major league casket before, at the very last minute, he kicked himself free and (mostly) enjoyed eight-plus more MLB seasons as a reinvented relief pitcher.
The Canada native came up with St. Louis, holding his own in a 10-start 1991 audition despite unspectacular stuff. Here, Cormier has wrapped his first full major league season—it didn't start so well, but the kid went 10-5, 2.67 with just 17 BB in 138 IP in the final four months of 1992.
THIS CARD: Every one of Cormier's Topps base cards depict him on the mound, either throwing a pitch or about to. Same with his lone Update card—you could call him "Redundant Rheal". At least he's posing on one of his Traded cards.
What field is this? Let's see...in 1992 Cormier pitched at every NL park except Chicago (one of few fields I could have recognized on sight...damnit.) It appears to be turf, which rules out five venues (JUST FIVE? Thank GOD it ain't 1992 anymore.)
After research, I've determined it to be Three Rivers Stadium—Cormier pitched there on 8/2 (ND) and 9/22 (W).
Thirteen Cardinals have worn #52 since Cormier. Current wearer Michael Wacha, 25 years old with 36 career wins, is already more notable than all the others combined—although Bud Smith did throw a no-hitter wearing #52 in '01. (For some reason, Cormier switched to #37 in 1994.)
(flip) Though Cormier's lumberjacking career ended upon being drafted, his familiarity with wood served him well—he hit .186 over six seasons with the Cardinals and Expos, striking out just 43 times in 184 AB—pretty low for a pitcher.
Even after converting to the bullpen—meaning he rarely batted—Cormier went 2-for-5! (To be fair, he was awful in the minors.)
N.B. does not stand for Nebraska. It stands for New Brunswick, a Canadian province.
Three other members of the 1988 Team Canada reached MLB: slugger Matt Stairs, plus fringies Dave Wainhouse and Greg O'Halloran. Canada was eliminated in the prelims; no stats available. Cormier also played for Team Canada in 2008, aged 41 and a year removed from MLB!
About that 1992 Louisville start: Cormier was demoted after starting the year 0-5, 6.56. However, St. Louis rotation mate Omar Olivares got hurt, forcing the Cards to shorten Cormier's demotion.
AFTER THIS CARD: We've alluded to much of Cormier's post-1992 activity already. After an injury-riddled 1994 season, he was traded to Boston, then joined the Montreal Expos a season later in the Wil Cordero deal (they'd tried to pry him from St. Louis years before, knowing he'd likely draw fans.)
Then the surgery knocked him out for practically two entire seasons; he wound up back in Boston for 1999 as a full-time reliever and stayed through 2000 before signing with Philadelphia.
Cormier remained a Phillie through mid-2006, with 2003 representing his best statistical year (8-0, 1.70 ERA, 54 hits in 84 IP) even though that season Philly added Jim Thome, who'd charged Cormier in 1999 after being drilled...AWK-warrrd.
The semi-contending Reds traded for Cormier in July 2006 and quickly gave him a one-year contract extension—only to cut the now-40-year-old in early 2007 after an ugly start. Cormier signed with AAA Richmond (Braves) and got in five games before opting for retirement.
Rheal Cormier—by the way, it's pronounced RE-AL COR-ME-AY—appeared annually in Topps 1992-95, dropped by in 1997, and made a comeback in 2001 Traded before two final appearances in 2004 and 2006 Topps.
He also has a 1995 Traded card with Boston and a 2006 Topps Update card with Cincinnati. It's not a given that guys like Cormier are represented by Topps with all their teams...but there you go!
6/20/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #307 Lee Guetterman, Mariners
More Lee Guetterman Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
Well before Randy Johnson, there was another tall Mariners lefty who couldn't throw strikes early in his career—unlike Johnson, Lee Guetterman never became a star, but he was able to develop command and last in MLB for over a decade.Here, Guetterman—pronounced Gut-er-man—is just beginning his first extended major league voyage (he had a cup-of-coffee with the '84 M's).
Guetterman opened '86 with Seattle before being demoted with a 6.33 ERA, but he was re-summoned when Ed Nunez struggled as well—remaining up for most of 1986's duration.
THIS CARD: This has to be at a turf field somewhere—if you chopped one over this guy's head, you earned it. A nice, uncommon photo that unfortunately would not be a sign of things to come; Topps' redundancy preventors let Guetterman's next four base cards slip by unchecked.
1980's Mariners uniform pants strongly resembled those of the late 80's Brewers.
(flip) Note those BB/K ratios; young Lee had no idea where the ball was going early on.
When you're 6'8", you're always going to end up a pitcher or 1B. That high school was Oceanside, in Oceanside, CA.
Lee Stange (pronounced Stang) was a swingman for four teams 1961-70, never starting or relieving for an entire season until his final one. In '63 he was 12-5, 2.62 for the Twins and later hurled for the "Impossible Dream" 1967 Red Sox—even getting in one World Series game that year! At this writing, he's still alive, aged 80.
AFTER THIS CARD: Guetterman was one of 1987's hot stories early on; he opened 8-1, 3.36 as a regular Mariners starter—further impressive when you consider the M's outrighted him after the '86 season and didn't even invite him to Spring Training 1987!!
However, Guetterman's sinker, which he greatly relied on, admittedly abandoned him—he lost not only his rotation spot, but that winter, his Mariners roster spot as well.
The Yankees traded for Guetterman in December '87, but 1988 manager Billy Martin wasn't so high on him—delaying his emergence as a Yankee relief force until 1989. Guetterman even temporarily subbed for ailing Dave Righetti as Yankee closer!
Guetterman pitched serviceably until 1992, when the two New York teams swapped struggling relievers (Tim Burke) in hopes of turnarounds. While Burke was done, Guetterman did turn in one more good year as a 1993 Cardinal; he replaced the demoted lefty Tom Urbani. Guetterman's MLB career ended with two partial seasons back in Seattle's bullpen—he was there for much of the "Refuse To Lose" '95 season, which I'd long forgotten.
Lee Guetterman appeared in Topps annually 1987-93; 1989 was a Traded card. He has 1994 Stadium Club and Fleer cards as a Cardinal.
CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, Seattle Mariners
6/24/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #315 Darryl Kile, Astros
More Darryl Kile Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1994 1995 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Take any big, filthy hook in the game today. Veteran curveballers Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander. Younger specialists Lance McCullers Jr., Gerrit Cole and Garrett Richards. None of them throw one better than Darryl Kile did, and none of them were so closely identified by it.
Which isn't to say it was all Kile had; the big fella brought mid-90's gas and also used a splitter as a changeup. Despite being a #30 pick (by Houston) in 1987 and posting a 6.64 ERA and 1.74 WHIP for AAA Tucson in 1990, Kile found himself on the Astros' 1991 Opening Day roster—initially as a reliever.
However, Kile spent the overwhelming majority of the ensuing seven seasons in Houston's rotation. There were plenty of ups, including 15 wins for the Astros in 1993—one of which was a no-hitter against the Mets—and an All-Star berth. There were also downs, such as struggling so badly in 1995 he was demoted back to AAA that August.
But the Astros kept him around, and in the 1996 season represented on this card, he more closely resembled his 1993-94 self. Kile set career-highs in starts (33) innings (219) and K (219) while slicing his walk rate by almost 25% from the season before.
THIS CARD: Love these uniforms. They didn't get a fair shake at all.
Kile hurls what appears to be his signature hook at Wrigley Field. He pitched there twice in 1996, going eight innings for the win 5/14, then absorbing a beatdown on 8/17.
After a dearth of 1996-2000 Topps selections, we've now chosen three from that period in June alone. And each pick takes me right back to high school...joyous, terrible high school.
(flip) As stated, Kile's 1995 season sucked. But Topps didn't stop at excluding him from the 1996 set—they also excluded any statistical trace of that season from this card. Good lord, Kile wasn't that disastrous.
(For the record, he made 25 appearances, 21 starts, and went 4-12, 4.94 that year. As far as I could research, I'm not special—this printing error appears on all Kile's 1997 Topps cards. If you know otherwise, let me know.)
1996's top three K/IP men: John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez and Hideo Nomo.
Garden Grove, CA is immediately south of Disneyland, and just a few blocks southwest of Angels Stadium. Steve Martin and Jennette McCurdy are also natives.
AFTER THIS CARD: With free agency pending, Kile emerged as a premier pitcher in 1997, winning 19 times in helping Houston snap an 11-year playoff drought. Colorado imported the 29-year-old on a 3Y/$24M deal, but not even his renowned curveball could retain its snap in the Denver air, and the Rockies dealt him to St. Louis after the 1999 season (for four players, the best of which was Jose Jimenez.)
Back at a more conventional altitude, Kile resumed his status as an ace pitcher, going 36-20 from 2000-01 for the up-and-coming Cardinals. At 32 and having never spent a day on the DL, Kile seemed poised to lead the St. Louis staff for several more years.
But as you may know, he was only given several more months. Kile died suddenly in June 2002, victim of a heart attack. That day's Cardinals/Cubs game was cancelled, and many of his former Astros teammates sat out their game.
Despite the huge loss, St. Louis still managed to reach the playoffs—as this proves, Kile was not forgotten during their NLDS victory celebration. To date, none of his teams have reissued his uniform #57. (Click here for a cool-yet-eerie fact about that #57.)
Darryl Kile appeared annually in Topps 1992-2002, except 1996.
6/27/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #492 Mike Devereaux, Orioles
More Mike Devereaux Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1993 1994 1995
St. Croix. Sioux Falls. Faux pas. Mario Lemeiux. They can all be found on the list of crap I mispronounced—or would have mispronounced given the chance—as a dumb, uncultured 10-year-old who'd yet to be educated on the magic that is the silent 'X'.
Of course, Mike Devereaux (pronounced Dev-er-oh) belongs on that list as well—for my infant stages as a baseball fan, he was known to me as Mike "De-veer-ox".
Thankfully I got schooled by the Oakland Athletics broadcast team when Baltimore rolled through. (Go easy on me; there was a lot I didn't know as a 10-year-old little snot.)
Devereaux was originally a #5 pick of the Dodgers, soon becoming a top prospect. From 1987-88 "Devo" got in 49 games over three LA stints, but opportunity was scarce and getting scarcer when Spring 1989 rolled around. It was then that the kid was swapped to Baltimore for P Mike Morgan.
True, Devereaux was going from a World Champion to a 107-loss club, but opportunity lay with that poor club—Devereaux got the majority of CF starts 1989-90 and flashed plenty of power/speed potential.
Here, Devereaux is coming off his first year as Baltimore's full-time CF. He led the 1991 O's in triples and steals, while finishing second to league MVP Cal Ripken Jr. in at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and total bases.
THIS CARD: Among the additional Oriole personnel in this pic, I'm only able to definitively identify "Bat Boy" kneeling to Devo's left—although that may be #32 Mark Williamson seated behind the jacket guy.
Topps gave Devo some of the least homogeneous base card images of his time beginning with this set. They would do well to incorporate some of that innovation today—action shots are great, but when everybody has one, their impact lessens.
This may be the company's first instance of team name trademarking on card fronts. I know for a fact they didn't do it in 1990, but unsure about 1991.
(flip) Memorial Stadium had closed for good by the time of this card's release—at least for MLB (it continued to host MiLB and the first two years of Ravens football before finally being demolished in 2001.)
Draft Dodgers never looks good in print. Even with the missing A.
Devereaux's home run victims were, in order, Clay Parker, Jeff Robinson and Mike Henneman. He had 10 RBI for that week—including six in the Clay Parker game—and batted .423.
AFTER THIS CARD: Coinciding with Baltimore's move to Camden Yards, Devereaux blossomed into a star in 1992, homering 24 times and driving in 107. But though his salary nearly tripled to $3.025M for 1993, his production dipped, and in the wake of a vicious Chad Ogea beaning, his numbers plummeted further in 1994. The Orioles cut ties after that season.
Devereaux lasted four additional seasons as a journeyman, enjoying a strong rebound 1995 with the White Sox before closing the year as the NLCS MVP for the eventual World Champion Braves.
Baltimore brought him back as a fourth outfielder for '96, and the Wyoming native closed his career with brief, forgettable stints as a '97 Ranger and '98 Dodger (38 total games).
Mike Devereaux debuted in 1989 Topps Traded, then appeared in Topps annually 1990-95—he's also got a 1995 Traded card with the White Sox.
However, Topps was the only major company not to feature Devereaux in 1996; if you're interested, 1996 Score and Fleer depict him as a Brave while 1997 Score and Ultra have him as a Ranger.
CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Baltimore Orioles
6/30/17 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps Traded #5 Erik Pappas, Cardinals
More Erik Pappas Topps Cards: 1994
No disrespect, but if Erik Pappas ever decides to write a book about his big league career, he'd do well to sell 100 copies—overall, it was of modest note. But the guy played 104 more big league games than you or I did, most of them for Joe Torre, and he did have his on-field moments. So here we go.
Pappas—no known relation to Milt—was hot stuff once upon a time. How hot? The Angels drafted him #6 overall in 1984. (Of course, that was a weak first round—outside of Mark McGwire, the biggest star ended up being Jay Bell.)
However, three full years passed before Pappas even reached AA. One year later, he became eligible for the minor league (Rule V) draft—more on that below—and the Cubs pounced. He did finally sniff the majors in April 1991, only to be released that fall.
Here, after spending all of 1992 in AAA (White Sox and Royals), Pappas is a shiny new Cardinal. Signed by St. Louis over the winter, the still-young receiver opened 1993 in AAA, but opportunity presented itself when starting catcher Tom Pagnozzi tore knee cartilage in May.
THIS CARD: Our first 1993 Topps Traded selection after 11 base selections. Unfortunately, it's our second 1993 selection in the past five...hiatus time.
Once upon a time, this would have been considered "wild" hair in MLB. I spent five full minutes trying to figure out what player/celeb Pappas reminded me of. And the three dudes I ran through missed so badly I'm not naming them.
(flip) Expanding on that first major league hit: Pappas caught all 11 innings of a wild 13-12 loss at Pittsburgh, singling in the 8th off Mark Huismann. His Cubs scored five in the 11th...and watched the Pirates plate six in their half.
Note those numbers for 1989 AA Charlotte; Pappas was named Cubs Minor League Player of the Year for his efforts.
Pappas was supposedly taken in the Rule V Draft by the Cubs in '88, but didn't debut in MLB until '91. If you're familiar with Rule V draft rules, you know the Cubs must have offered Pappas back to California and been rejected.
AFTER THIS CARD: Pappas began his Cardinals stint by hitting in 17 of his first 18 games, including 16 straight. In fact, when Pagnozzi healed, it was original backup Hector Villanueva who received the AAA demotion—not Pappas!
The kid also made news by ending The Streak—Dodgers OF Eric Davis had swiped 34 straight bases before Pappas erased him to win a ballgame on June 2. Oh, and 12 days later, Pirates CF Andy Van Slyke broke his collarbone while trying to snag what ended up being Pappas' only MLB home run (off Denny Neagle before he was Denny Neagle.)
However, 1994 was not kind to the Chicago native. After an 0-for-33 skid left him at .091, he was demoted to AAA—never to return to MLB. Pappas spent two more years in the minors, retired, then briefly attempted to come back with the 1999 Cardinals before stepping away for good.
Erik Pappas appeared in 1993 Topps Traded and 1994 Topps. He also appears in the 1992 Topps Major League Debut set.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals