Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, June 2021

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Topps Carlos Beltran
Topps Carlos Beltran

6/30/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps Update #47 Carlos Beltran, All-Star

More Carlos Beltran All-Star Topps Cards: 2005 2006 2007 2011 2012 2013 2016

Interesting that we pick a card celebrating Beltran on the same day YouTube randomly suggests a 2017 video of him striking out in spite of audible trash-can signaling of the incoming pitch.

I used to have a lot of respect for this guy—check out his previous COTD appearances in which I defend Beltran's oft-maligned 2011 Giants stint. But finding out he not only participated in flagrant cheating with the 2017 Astros, but was actually a ringleader pretty much ruined him for me. (Not that he cares, but still.) Beltran had a realistic shot at reaching the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2023; now, he'll be lucky just to get a job in baseball.

Here, Beltran has made his fifth All-Star team. During Beltran's middle Mets years, I had limited access to non-local baseball coverage and was on a brief card collecting hiatus. Thus, I wasn't aware of the impressive numbers Beltran was putting up in New York. Fortunately for him, other fans were and voted him to start in CF for the National League.

THIS CARD: I forgot Citi Field had brick. 

Not sure when this pic was taken; Beltran did not actually play in the 2009 All-Star Game. Should I go to Getty...

...okay, I took a shot in the dark and went to Getty Images. Turned up nothing. At least we can confirm the image is from 2009, since Citi Field opened that year.

As the logo implies, the '09 ASG was held at Busch Stadium III, St. Louis.

(flip) The NL did miss Beltran's bat; it mustered but five hits in a 4-3 loss to the AL.

Among those four previous ASG hits was a triple off future teammate Justin Verlander in the 2007 Classic.

Beltran—who was replaced on the NL roster by Philadelphia's Jayson Werth—trailed only Raul Ibanez (Phillies) and Ryan Braun (Brewers) in voting among NL outfielders.

AFTER THIS CARD: Beltran would go on to make the 2011, 2012 and 2013 NL All-Star teams as well as the 2016 AL All-Star team. He played in each of those Classics and recorded two hits in six at-bats; lifetime, Beltran finished up 7-for-18 in the eight All-Star Games he played in.

Carlos Beltran received All-Star Topps cards in 2005-07, 2009, 2011-13 and 2016 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps Update, All-Stars

 

More June 2021 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps All-Stars
AS408_93ToppsBack.jpg

6/1/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #408 All-Stars (Catchers)

More 1993 Topps All-Star Cards: n/a

As recently as Spring 1989, mentioning the term "All-Star" with catchers Brian Harper and Darren Daulton in the same sentence would have evoked hearty, continuous laughter. Harper was a journeyman with a .252 average in parts of nine seasons, while Daulton was an oft-injured career backup on a perennially mediocre team.

But in 1989, both 29-year-old Harper and 27-year-old Daulton became regulars. While Harper quickly blossomed into a hitting machine, it took Daulton some time to emerge as one of the league's top run producers. By 1992, each was among the best offensive receivers in his league.

THIS CARD: We see Daulton...laughing with a fan? Well, as long as he's happy.

There's Harper, seemingly warming up before a game. Helmet? Check. Catcher's mitt? Check. Chest protector? Uh...

I'm not sure if that white, round sphere in a starry sky is supposed to double as the moon, but it does. And I kind of like it. The title font is terrible, though.

(flip) This is what I will not understand if I live to be 100 (which I won't, not with this diet). Right there on the card it's shown that Harper has zero All-Star appearances. So what is he doing on this All-Star card?

Topps, in my early collecting days, annually featured "All-Stars" who did not make the corresponding year's All-Star team. Your guess why is as good as mine. It's not like 1993 Topps didn't have the rights to Ivan Rodriguez.

Good GOD, Harper. Twelve K in 276 at-bats? Current Twins C Mitch Garver might have struck out 12 times this week if his nuts hadn't been smashed in by a foul ball recently.

AFTER THIS CARD: Harper, in fact, would never go to the ASG; his career ended in 1995. In addition to his 1992 selection, Daulton went on to make the 1993 and 1995 All-Star teams before his career ended in 1997. 

CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, All-Stars

 
Topps Bob Walk
Topps Bob Walk

6/3/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #486 Bob Walk, Pirates

More Bob Walk Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1993 1994

Okay, let's get the obvious out of the way...​

COACH: "WHY are you up there hackin' like there's no tomorrow?!"

BATTER: "Coach, it was a 3-0 count. I was lookin' for a strike."

COACH: "A strike? On 3-0?? HIS NAME IS BOB WALK!"

Har har har.

Despite the ill-fitting name, Bob Walk was a quality pitcher who didn't issue a ton of walks. Walk was a big guy who didn't pitch like one, generally throwing to contact and never reaching triple-digit strikeouts in any of his 14 major league seasons. Granted, the 80's/90's were a different time, but that was still tough to do.

Here, Walk has just wrapped up the eighth of what would be 10 seasons with Pittsburgh. The veteran starter lost time in April/May with a strained groin suffered in a start vs. the Cubs, then sat all of August with a pulled hamstring. He'd been hot (5-2, 3.27 in previous nine starts) before the latter setback.

THIS CARD: One publication of the times described Walk, within the same few lines, as a "father figure" and by his nickname "Whirlybird", earned by acts such as going up to bat with no helmet and going to the bullpen with no mitt. You can see both "sides" of Walk in this image here, no?

Walk was the rare Junk Wax Era player with more action shots than headshots from Topps. This is his lone headshot from the 1989-94 sets.

More from Walk's 1991 season: his strained groin was not a surprise; he'd done so three times the previous two seasons—all at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium, no less! Walk finished 1991 in the bullpen and remained there in the postseason, throwing 4.1 innings of effective relief after SP John Smiley couldn't escape the 1st inning in NLCS Game 7 (vs. Atlanta).

(flip) No word on if the Walk children spend their spare time with Uncle Donald and/or Uncle Scrooge.

I never knew Walk was a member of the 1980 World Champion Phillies; he in fact started Game 1 against the Royals! COTD continues to teach.

As the stats suggest, Walk's stock took a major dive between 1980 and 1983—he went from a regular starter on a WS winner in 1980 to a regular starter on a division winner in 1982 to a regular starter for AAA Richmond in 1983. Pittsburgh signed Walk after Atlanta cut him in early 1984, remained patient, and benefitted from Walk's eventual resurgence.

AFTER THIS CARD: Walk split 1992 between the rotation and bullpen, going 10-6, 3.20 for the division-winning Pirates. That winter, SPs Doug Drabek and Danny Jackson departed as free agents, and Walk returned to full-time starting in 1993. It did not go well (13-14, 5.68 in 32 starts) and just like that, Walk's career ended just shy of 37. He finished up with 105 wins against 83 losses, a 4.03 ERA, and a World Series ring...an undeniably good career.

Bob Walk appeared in Topps 1981-83, and 1987-94. He's also got 1981 and 1986 Traded cards.

CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates

 
Topps Scott Hairston
Topps Scott Hairston

6/4/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #26 Scott Hairston, Diamondbacks

More Scott Hairston Topps Cards: 2002T 2003T 2004T 2005 2007U 2008 2009 2009U 2010 2010U 2011 2011U 2012 2013 2013U 2014U

Hairston had been one of the NL's better rookies in 2004, hitting the second-most homers ever by an Arizona rookie at the time (Travis Lee hit 22 in 1998) and enjoying a 26-game on-base streak. However, much of his damage was done against my Giants, so when he was ejected at San Francisco for arguing the strike zone in July 2004, I stood and ROARED from my lower box seat at then-SBC Park.

2005, the year represented on this card, was another story for young Hairston. He fell completely off the Diamondbacks' radar, spending most of the year with AAA Tucson as the re-acquired Craig Counsell took the second base job Hairston once held. A torn labrum ended his year in July.

THIS CARD: A classic STUN (Spring Training New Uniform) image, even though Hairston's uniform is not new. He was with Arizona so briefly in 2005, no other photos may have been available.

As you see, Hairston is listed here as an outfielder; after starting 83 games at 2B in 2004, he was used largely as a PH with the '05 D'Backs, accumulating just 14 defensive innings (all in the outfield).

More from Hairston's 2005 season: he spent late April and most of June with the big club. Only once did Hairston start and finish a game (4/19 at Colorado; he doubled in four AB). The 25-year-old finished the year in an 0-for-14 spell.

(flip) The Diamondbacks weren't the only organization to view Hairston as an outfielder. In fact, Hairston played exactly 2.1 innings over two games at 2B for the rest of his career. I don't remember how well he did/didn't play 2B in 2004; I just remember him killing my Giants with his bat.

Kind of surprising Hairston found his way into 2006 Topps given his limited run in both the majors and minors in 2005. I picture Topps, after Hairston's fine 2004 season, assuming he'd continue ballin' in '05 and reserving a spot for him in the 2006 set well in advance...only to later learn he was a ghost that year.​

Murakami pitched 54 games, saving nine, for the 1964-65 Giants before returning to the Japan League for a long time (he lasted through 1982). The Giants brought Murakami back to San Francisco in 2008 and 2014 for Japanese Heritage Nights.

AFTER THIS CARD: Hairston, despite his MLB career skidding to a halt 2005-06, re-established himself in 2007 and became one of baseball's top role players through the 2013 season. He homered 17 times in both 2008 (for the Padres) and 2009 (for the Padres and Athletics) but Hairston's best statistical year would be the .263, 20, 57 line he produced for the 2012 Mets. He also hit for the cycle in April of that year!

In 2014, Hairston was essentially a full-time PH for the Washington Nationals (87 PA in 61 games), but barely cracked .200 and did not receive any further major league run.

Scott Hairston appeared in either Topps base, Traded or Update annually 2002-14.

CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, Arizona Diamondbacks

 
Topps Calvin Schiraldi
Topps Calvin Schiraldi

6/6/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #337 Calvin Schiraldi, Cubs

More Calvin Schiraldi Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1990 1991

You know the story by now.

The 1986 Red Sox were about to end their 68-year championship drought. Only one more Mets out was needed.

But hotshot closer Calvin Schiraldi coughed up three straight singles, bringing New York closer. Schiraldi was then relieved by Bob Stanley, but a wild pitch and error gave the Mets the wildly improbable Game 6 comeback win. Schiraldi took the loss in Game 7 as well, extending the suffering of Boston fans for at least another year.

Not an easy thing to be known for if you're Schiraldi.

Here, the former University of Texas standout has completed his first and only full season with the Chicago Cubs, who acquired him from Boston in December 1987 and installed him in their starting rotation. While Schiraldi was no challenger for the 1988 NL Cy Young Award, he did go 4-0, 2.00 between 7/18 and 8/25.

THIS CARD: Say what you will about Schiraldi's demeanor—more than once during his career, his desire and intensity was questioned—but he sure looked like he meant business on the mound. At least to me.

Schiraldi, obviously at Wrigley Field here, prepares to fire his low-90's fastball, his slow curve or his slider. A reliable publication also credits him with a splitter, but I'm not sure I ever saw him throw one.

More from Schiraldi's 1988 season: he made two trips to the DL in 1988 (in May after being hit in the knee by a liner, and in August with a hamstring pull). Schiraldi's final appearance of the year was a 3.1-inning save against the Pirates 10/1. 

(flip) The Cubs sent Hall-of-Fame CL Lee Smith to Boston in the trade for Schiraldi and SP Al Nipper.

Making a note of Schiraldi's first World Series save is like making a note of Lee Harvey Oswald's first three weeks working at the Book Depository.

That 1988 shutout went down 7/28 at Philadelphia; Schiraldi scattered three hits and four walks.

AFTER THIS CARD: Schiraldi spent 1989-90 yo-yoing between the Cubs' bullpen, Padres rotation, Padres bullpen and Padres rotation again. He couldn't sustain prolonged effectiveness in either role, and after a rough three-game stint with the 1991 Rangers followed by a demotion back to AAA, 29-year-old Schiraldi's phone stopped ringing. 

Calvin Schiraldi appeared annually in Topps 1986-1991. He can also be found in 1988 Topps Traded.

CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, Chicago Cubs

 
Topps Lyle Overbay
Topps Lyle Overbay

6/7/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps #57 Lyle Overbay, Brewers

More Lyle Overbay Topps Cards: 2000T 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2011U 2012 2013U 2014U 

We best remember Overbay as the reliable 1B for the Brewers and Blue Jays of the 2000's; he was never a true star but did manage a couple of 20-homer seasons while playing a smooth first base. Toronto, who traded for him in December 2005, thought enough of Overbay to fork over $24M over four years after his first season there.

After returning to the NL in 2011, however, Overbay's play slipped and he was cut by two different clubs within a year. But just when it seemed his time was up, opportunity knocked in early 2013—Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira was injured, and Overbay received extensive run in his stead.

Here, the Brewers have brought Overbay back for the 2014 season. Just as he did in the closing weeks of 2013, Overbay split time at 1B with righty-hitting Mark Reynolds, making 64 starts. However, his real value was off the bench (.324, eight RBI as a PH in 2014).

THIS CARD: Overbay wears #24 here after wearing #11 during his first Brewers stint. He would end his career having worn NINE different numbers in his 14-year MLB career.

According to Getty Images, this image is from Milwaukee's 7/27/14 clash with the Mets. Overbay ended Milwaukee's 2-0 loss with a pinch-hit groundout—EXACTLY the image you'd want commemorated on a baseball card.

More from Overbay's 2014 season: his 11th-inning RBI single sank the Cardinals 4/29, and on 7/8 he smoked a grand slam off Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick for his final major league homer. 

(flip) No blurb, so we'll supply one: on 5/19/14, Overbay was asked to take the mound against Atlanta in a blowout loss; he got the lone batter he faced to pop out (Ryan Doumit). 

Check out Overbay's very solid numbers from his first Milwaukee stint; he was so popular among Brewers fans that they'd literally chant the letter "O" when he stepped up to the plate.

Whatever the hell that code was for, it doesn't work in the year 2021. Don't waste your time.

AFTER THIS CARD: As the 2014 season wound down, Overbay heavily implied he'd retire from MLB...and he did, meaning this is his sunset card! Those are increasingly rare in today's Topps sets, although the 2021 set features SSC's for at least five or six notable veterans.

Lyle Overbay debuted in 2000 Topps Traded & Rookies, then appeared annually in Topps and/or Topps Update 2003-15.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers

 
Topps Chris Stynes
Topps Chris Stynes

6/9/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #139 Chris Stynes, Reds

More Chris Stynes Topps Cards: 1998 1999 2002

WHY was Chris Stynes ringing a bell?

When we randomly selected Stynes for today's COTD, my mind flashed back to researching him for something fairly recently. But WHAT? We'd done no COTD or Videos or anything else on him previously. I'm not even 100% sure Stynes had ever been mentioned on TSR.

It was starting to bug me, until I checked my expansive Book Of Baseball Notes, where I stash every random tidbit I pick up from magazines, highlight shows, non-Topps cards, whatever.

Turns out there was a relatively recent entry for Stynes—apparently, when current White Sox phenom Yermin Mercedes opened 2021 with seven straight hits, he was only the second to ever do so in the expansion era. The first, according to MLB Network, was Mr. Chris Stynes in 1997!

Moral of the story: notebooks and pens are still a good investment in modern society.

THIS CARD: Stynes returns to Topps after a one-set absence. To be fair to 2000 Topps, Stynes didn't play particularly often or well for the 1999 Reds (one of my favorite teams ever.)

Stynes had four numbers in four years as a Red (#20, #23, #12). Of course, #4 in Cincinnati will always be linked to the great Brandon Phillips. Today, it belongs to Shogo Akiyama (until the Reds run out of patience with him any day now).

More from Stynes' 2000 season: he slashed an insane .353/.428/.565 at Cinergy Field, and on 9/24 against Houston he smoked a two-run, walk-off home run off the nasty Octavio Dotel.

(flip) Stynes got the Reds 3B job after incumbent Aaron Boone injured his knee in early July. Stynes barely sat from then on.

After that five-hit game, Stynes was batting .452; it was almost the All-Star break by that point!! He got his average as high as .472 on 7/18 (59-for-125).

Had he enough PA to qualify, Stynes .334 average in 2000 would have ranked T5th in the NL.

AFTER THIS CARD: Stynes was traded to the Red Sox for 2001 and had a decent year in a limited role. From there, he spent '02 as a Cubs part-timer, served as Colorado's primary 3B in 2003 (111 starts, which I'd long forgotten about), then finished up with the 2004 Pirates (.216 in 74 games, cut in August).

Chris Stynes appeared in 1998-99 and 2001-02 Topps; he was inexplicably excluded from the 2004 Topps set despite accruing over 500 PA for the 2003 Rockies. (Want a Stynes card with Colorado? Check 2004 Upper Deck.)

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Cincinnati Reds

 
Topps Rex Hudler
Topps Rex Hudler

6/10/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #47 Rex Hudler, Cardinals

More Rex Hudler Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1991 1997

Look up "versatile" in any dictionary and there should be a pic of Hudler (with his uniform dirty). It took some years for the former Yankee first-rounder to find stable footing in MLB; not until 1988-89 did Hudler—then 28-29—receive extended MLB run (as an Expos utilityman).

Hudler enjoyed a fine first season in St. Louis but here, he's endured a somewhat disappointing 1991 encore. The veteran homered just once in 207 AB and was only successful on 12 of 20 steal attempts.

THIS CARD: I can't say for sure if, in 1991, teams like the Cardinals were wearing these types of jerseys during the regular season. If forced to guess I'd say it was a Spring Training pic.

Checking out Hudler's (many) other baseball cards, he typically wore at least one batting glove. This time, however, they're just a pocket accessory. I wonder if he meant to use them and forgot where they were.

Hudler was the last Cardinal player to wear #10 before it was immortalized in St. Louis by the great Tony LaRussa. 

(flip) 2B-OF is generally accurate; the vast majority of Hudler's 1991 run was as an OF; he made five appearances at 2B and 12 at 1B.

Hudler did not spend all of 1987 On Disabled List. He wrecked his thumb in Spring Training, underwent surgery, then was sent to AAA Rochester upon healing.

 

This is not the same Busch Stadium the Cardinals currently use; this edition, informally known as Busch Stadium II, was the MLB Cardinals' home 1966-2005 and the NFL Cardinals' home 1966-1987.

AFTER THIS CARD: Hudler missed some time in 1992 with a knee injury suffered when Matt Williams of my Giants fell on him near third base, and was limited to 98 AB. He spent 1993 playing in Japan but returned to MLB with the 1994 Angels (run by his old Expos skipper Buck Rodgers).

In 1996, Hudler busted out with 16 homers in 92 games for the Angels—including blasts in four straight contests! That winter, the Phillies inked him for 2Y/$2.6M but sadly, injuries prevented Hudler from contributing much of anything on-field to his new team, and he wound up retiring in mid-1998 (having batted a composite .196 in 75 games with Philadelphia).

Hudler has since made a name for himself at the microphone, calling games for the Angels and  Royals since 1999. He also appeared in the first few editions of MLB: The Show; don't ask why, but it took me astoundingly long to discern his voice from Dave Campbell's.

Rex Hudler appeared annually in 1989-92 Topps, disappeared for a time, then returned for the 1997 set. All other major companies produced 1997 cards of Hudler the new Phillie, if you're interested.

CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals

 
Topps Joe Slusarski
Topps Joe Slusarski

6/12/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps Traded #109 Joe Slusarski, Team USA

More Joe Slusarski Topps Cards: 1992

Throughout the 1990-91 seasons, just about everything I read regarding the Oakland Athletics predicted big things for their minor league pitching quartet of Todd Van Poppel, Kirk Dressendorfer, Joe Slusarski and Don Peters. All were drafted in 1990 except Slusarski, a 1988 pick. All allegedly carried major league ace potential.

In the end, not one of them lived up to the hype, which is not entirely their faults—they weren't the ones doing the hyping. Slusarski did have his moments in the major leagues but here, he's a 21-year-old member of the United States' 1988 Olympic team.

THIS CARD: I see a little Kevin Brown resemblance here. Do you?

I couldn't find complete stats for 1988 Team USA; the USA Baseball website accidentally linked to 1998. I've ordered a Sporting News book covering that year in baseball and hope to have an update for you in a few days.

Slusarski, primarily a starter in college, was used mostly as a long reliever in the Olympics....at times very long. On 6/26/88 he threw the final six innings of an 11-inning win over Japan.

(flip) That's a lot of capitalization in the blurb. After a while, most people are like "We GET it. The guy was good."

Slusarski was an Oakland #2 pick, the 46th overall selection. It was an unimpressive draft round; the most successful major leaguer by far was Arthur Rhodes.

Bill Gayton played two MiLB seasons as a 1B/OF before taking up scouting in 1984. Since then, "Chief" has worked for many franchises and just last year, was honored for his service.

AFTER THIS CARD: Slusarski sparkled for Oakland in his 1991 MLB debut, but was eventually returned to the minors due to ineffectiveness. He finished 5-7, 5.27 over 20 games (19 starts) in his rookie season. In '92, Slusarski won a starting spot out of Spring Training, but an off-field hand injury affected his performance (5-5, 5.45 in 14 GS and one RA). Slusarski would pitch just twice more for Oakland before being released in May 1994.

As the infamous strike dragged into 1995, Slusarski served as a Spring Training replacement player. Once the season started, Slusarski made 12 relief appearances for Milwaukee—his final major league action until three appearances for the 1999 Astros.

In 2000, Slusarski "broke through" with a 54-game run out of Houston's bullpen, but one year later his MLB career ended with a thud (9.00 ERA across 12 games for the Braves and Astros). He went on to coach in the minors for a time.

Joe Slusarski appeared in 1988 Topps Traded and 1992 Topps. No company produced a Slusarski card with the Astros, the non-Topps companies being hamstrung by his replacement player status.

CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps Traded, Team USA

 
Topps Scott Sanderson
Topps Scott Sanderson

6/13/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #525 Scott Sanderson, Yankees

More Scott Sanderson Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

 

Sanderson, the former 16-game winner for the Expos who'd disappointed throughout his tenure with the 1980's Cubs, had been one of baseball's surprise performers in 1990. Remaining healthy and productive for the first time since 1982, he won 17 times for the pennant-winning Athletics and parlayed that into a deal ultimately worth 2Y/$4.5M from the Yankees.

The 13-year veteran enjoyed another fine year with the 1991 Yankees, even making the AL All-Star team. But here, Sanderson has battled through a challenging 1992 campaign. Though he made every turn, he was far more hittable than in 1990-91, and gave up five or more earned runs in eight of his 33 starts.

THIS CARD: By the time he reached New York, Sanderson didn't have a load of zip left on his fastball, but he had a forkball and what one publication described as a "rainbow curve", which is what I believe he's delivering here.

Though Sanderson was a regular starter through 1994, he made no further appearances in Topps  or Topps Traded after this one (other companies continued to include him, however).

More from Sanderson's 1992 season: it could only be described as maddeningly inconsistent and unpredictable. For example, he was 3-1, 1.61 over his final four June starts, but followed it up with a  1-2, 7.66 mark over his first four July starts.

(flip) TECHNICALLY, Sanderson was purchased from Oakland by the Yankees, but there's more to it. You see, although free agent Sanderson had accepted the A's offer of salary arbitration, the team really didn't want to keep him for budgetary reasons. Enter the Yanks with their deep pockets, and Sanderson headed east.

In that shutout of KC, Sanderson struck out four, walked none, and threw a ridiculous 86 pitches!!! New York won 6-0 behind four hits from Don Mattingly, who missed the cycle by a triple.

No, Topps didn't err—those 116 runs allowed in 1992 didn't lead the AL. (They tied for third.)

AFTER THIS CARD: 37-year-old Sanderson split '93 with the Angels and Giants, who needed starting pitching down the stretch. Despite going 4-2, 3.59 as a Giant, he was bypassed for the crucial, infamous game #162 lost by Salomon Torres—though Sanderson did contribute an inning of shutout relief.

The White Sox signed Sanderson for '94, but after a strong first half, he was battered out of his rotation spot. Still winning a job with the '95 Angels, Sanderson began well once more, only to succumb to back surgery in June. When he returned to the '96 Angels, he quickly proved to be finished. Sanderson passed away in April 2019 at 62.

Scott Sanderson appeared annually in Topps 1979-1993; he also shows up in 1984 and 1990-91 Topps Traded.

CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, New York Yankees

 
Topps Carlos Garcia
Topps Carlos Garcia

6/15/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #34 Carlos Garcia, Pirates

More Carlos Garcia Topps Cards: 1993 1994 1995 1996 1998 

 

Sooner or later, somebody was going to have to replace the flashy but expensive Jose Lind as Pittsburgh's second baseman of the early 1990's. The Pirates decided Carlos Garcia, a minor league SS who'd sipped some coffee with the 1990-92 division winning squads, was the man for the job (which became open in the winter of 1992 after Lind was traded).

Garcia was not quite Lind defensively, but he held his own and swung a solid bat. In fact, the 25-year-old even earned a few NL Rookie Of The Year votes! In 1994, Garcia repped Pittsburgh in the All-Star Game held in Pittsburgh.

Here, however, Garcia is fresh off a 1996 season that saw him disabled twice (and shelved for 10 games another time) with a bad hamstring. He played well when healthy; in fact, the Bucs went 52-49 when Garcia played, and 21-40 when he didn't. 

THIS CARD: Garcia had a unique array of front images on his six Topps cards. On two of them, he was shown seated and posed, which I doubt anybody else can claim.

At first I didn't think narrowing down the date of this pic would be possible, since Garcia's Pirates and #45 Mark Carreon's Giants played six games at Candlestick Park in 1996. But then I remembered Carreon was traded during the year; turns out he only played in two of those Giants/Pirates games at Candlestick Park. 

So we see Garcia diving back into 1B on either 6/10 or 6/11/1996.

More from Garcia's 1996 season: despite being shuffled all over the infield, he hit safely in 21 of 26 September games, including what proved to be the decisive two-run single against my Giants 9/15 (Game 2, 10 innings). From 7/7 to 7/21, Garcia batted .381 in 10 games...but without a single RBI!

(flip) Garcia is still listed as a 2B, even though he also started 16 games at SS and 12 games at 3B in 1996.

Other notable Pirates to wear #13? Garcia's predecessor, Lind, for starters. Presently, Ke'Bryan Hayes has a shot to blow past Lind as the best #13 in team history...if he starts touching all the damn bases.

Garcia's milestone homer helped Pittsburgh to a 9-3 win; he finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored.

AFTER THIS CARD: The 1996 season would be Garcia's last in Pittsburgh; in November 1996 he, along with 1B/OF Orlando Merced and RP Dan Plesac, was traded to Toronto in exchange for six unknowns (one of them, Craig Wilson, ended up being halfway decent for the Bucs). Garcia was Toronto's primary second baseman through July before being benched with a sub-.220 average.

Cleveland cut Garcia during Spring Training 1998; he joined the Angels but was outrighted to AAA Vancouver in May with a .143 average across 19 games. The 1999 Padres gave Garcia 11 early at-bats before issuing a one-way ticket to AAA as well; his pro career ended after two seasons with AAA Columbus (Yankees). 

Garcia went on to coach for Seattle 2005-07; he eventually returned to the Pirates as a coach in 2010 before being promoted (or demoted, depending on your view) to manager in their minors system through 2014.

Carlos Garcia appeared in 1993-98 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Pittsburgh Pirates

 
Topps Mike Schooler
Topps Mike Schooler

6/16/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #365 Mike Schooler, Mariners

More Mike Schooler Topps Cards: 1988T 1989 1990 1992 1993

Here, young-ish Schooler has completed his second full season (1990) as the Mariners closer. The big righty's season ended in August due to a shoulder injury, but he was still able to become Seattle's all-time saves leader in April after less than two years as closer. He held that distinction until 2005.

THIS CARD: Schooler makes his second COTD appearance; we picked his 1993 Topps card in February 2016.

We see the ace stopper bringing either his 90+-MPH fastball or his good, hard slider. If he ever threw anything else, I never saw it.

More from Schooler's 1990 season: his record-breaking 53rd save as a Mariner was converted 4/28 at Baltimore. Bill Caudill previously held the mark, with 52 in 1982-83.

(flip) I imagine blurbs like this only interested the child in question. And only then because they could bring the baseball card to school and brag about their "fame".

Do ANY of those minor league stops exist anymore? Even Calgary?

As mentioned, Schooler didn't pitch in September 1990 due to an uncooperative right shoulder; some sources described it as shoulder "weakness", while others state Schooler pitched his arm right out of the socket—known as a subluxation. In any event, he endured a setback in Spring Training 1991 and didn't return to the mound until July 8 of that year.

AFTER THIS CARD: No one knew it at the time, but Schooler's shoulder injury ended his days as an effective, full-time closer. He was used cautiously in 1991, sharing closing duties with Bill Swift after coming off the DL. Then in '92, after a good enough start, Schooler was demoted from closing, hurt his bicep, and never notched another major league save.

Following an extended minor league tune-up, Schooler allowed runs in 11 of 17 appearances with the 1993 Rangers and was released in September. Though he got minor-league run in 1994-95, Schooler never returned to the majors.

Mike Schooler appeared in 1988 Topps Traded, then received base cards 1989-93.

CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Seattle Mariners

 
Topps Jimmy Rollins
Topps Jimmy Rollins

6/18/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #617 Jimmy Rollins, Phillies

More Jimmy Rollins Topps Cards: 2001T 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2013 2014 2015

For a brief while not long ago, it was my personal mission to make sure the world knew how great a player Jimmy Rollins was. The Phillies starting shortstop from 2001-14. Rollins was a repeat All-Star, a Gold Glover, the 2007 NL MVP, and a 2008 World Series champ. Plus, the dude was plain fun to watch! Rollins was a guy who genuinely seemed to enjoy the game and frequently carried a smile.

Still, the man didn't get the credit I felt he deserved. Not many ex-MVP's can be classified as underrated, but in spite of his accolades and playing in a big market, Rollins often was. And I, through whatever means available to me, was going to fix that...

...until 2015, when he joined the Dodgers. And just like that, I quit caring about Rollins' legacy. It IS that easy for me, people. I'm a Giants fan to my BONES.

Here, we catch up with Rollins after he's helped Philadelphia to its fifth straight postseason berth. The 32-year-old left his rough 2010 season in the past and led the 2011 Phillies in at-bats, hits and steals while posting a ridiculous 1.126 OPS in the 2011 NLDS against St. Louis!

THIS CARD: My guess is we're seeing Rollins score after hitting a crucial home run. Let me step aside to check Getty...

...after a search which took far longer than it should have, I've been proven half-right. This is a shot of Rollins scoring after a homer, vs. Arizona on 8/17/2011, but it was hit in the first inning—not exactly crucial, as Philly went on to a 9-2 win. It was Rollins' only homer of the month.

The "B" is for late Phillies owners (and brothers) Whip and Jim Buck. The Phillies lost Whip 10/27/2010 at 80, while 86-year-old Jim passed on 3/16/2011.

Rollins wore three numbers with Philly: #29 in 2000, #6 briefly in 2003, and the #11 he made his own. Though the number isn't retired in Philadelphia, no one's worn it since Rollins left the team. 

(flip) No blurb, so I'll use this space to tell you that Rollins scored the 1,000th run of his career 4/12/2011 at Washington. In the 2011 NLDS against St. Louis, he doubled four times, scored six runs and struck nine hits in his first 16 at-bats! 

Check out Rollins' numbers through 2008; if he could have maintained that pace, he'd be entering Cooperstown next summer. Personally, I'd still vote for him despite his post-30 decline...not many shortstops could do what Rollins did. (BTW, I'd totally forgotten about his 20-triple season.)

Rollins is card #617, no real surprise since even during his All-Star years, Topps only gave him a "00" "25" "50" or "75" card number once, in 2009 (#525). Rollins is the only fella I've found (so far) with matching card numbers in successive sets (#76 in 2004 and 2005 Topps).

AFTER THIS CARD: Rollins re-signed with the Phils for (what amounted to) 4Y/$44M in December 2011. Though he did become the all-time Phillies hits leader in 2014, he was no longer an All-Star player, and the Phillies soon descended into mediocrity. In December 2014, Rollins was dealt to the Dodgers (part of the return was current Phillies SP Zach Eflin).

The 36-year-old started 128 games for the 2015 Dodgers but hit just .224, lost time down the stretch, and was not re-signed. The following Spring, a red-hot Rollins won the White Sox' SS job, but he soon went cold and was cut in favor of rookie Tim Anderson. After a failed attempt to win a job with the 2017 Giants, Rollins' career ended.

Today, Rollins serves as a Phillies special advisor. He briefly called games for the team as well, and was recently part of the Peacock Network's broadcast of a Phillies/Giants series in San Francisco.

After debuting in 2001 Topps Traded, Jimmy Rollins appeared in Topps 2002-15. As far as I can tell, there are no Rollins cards from his Chicago venture.

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Philadelphia Phillies

 
Topps Steve Lombardozzi, Jr.
Topps Steve Lombardozzi Jr.

6/19/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2013 Topps #568 Steve Lombardozzi Jr., Nationals

More Steve Lombardozzi Jr. Topps Cards: 2012 2014U

Lombardozzi, whose papa was the starting second baseman for the 1987 World Champion Twins, reached MLB in September 2011 after an impressive two-way showing at two minor league levels that year. The 24-year-old won a job with the 2012 Nationals in Spring Training, and before long he was getting regular run—initially at 3B, then in LF, and finally at 2B.

At season's end, Lombardozzi had tallied six three-hit games, and three four-hit games. He completed a 13-game hit streak in July and even batted .308 (8-for-26) as a pinch-hitter!

THIS CARD: One of my favorite cards. In 2012-14 Topps, collectors could find a handful of cards depicting players getting postgame baths—and not just variations. But like all fun Topps themes of my lifetime, it didn't have staying power.

The Nationals were celebrating their 6-3 win over Houston, in which Lombardozzi went 4-for-5 with the go-ahead RBI. (BTW, the reporter is Kristina Fitzpatrick [nee Ayra]).

The best element of this image is the totally emotionless demeanor of "attacker" Jayson Werth, who is treating this ambush the way a hitman would. I think I might be afraid of Jayson Werth.

Lombardozzi gets the Rookie Cup for being the second baseman on Topps' 2012 All-Rookie Team. It wasn't the strongest year for rookie second basemen.

(flip) Multi-positional fill-in is accurate! Lombardozzi got early-season 3B run while Ryan Zimmerman's shoulder healed. He was then one of about 22 National LF's until Mike Morse emerged in July. In August, injuries to SS Ian Desmond allowed Lombardozzi time at 2B as incumbent Danny Espinoza shifted to SS. But with everybody healthy, Lombardozzi only started five games in the last month-plus.

As for the Career Chase, Lombardozzi had a better shot of reproducing with Pete Rose than ever catching his hits record.

Those 105 hits in 2012 placed a respectable 8th among major league rookies.

AFTER THIS CARD: Filling in where Washington needed as he had in 2012, Lombardozzi started 60 games for the 2013 Nationals while tying for 2nd in MLB with 13 pinch-hits! For his efforts, Lombardozzi was rewarded with...a trade to Detroit (for SP Doug Fister) in December 2013.

The newest Tiger barely unpacked his bags before being cut by Detroit in Spring Training 2014; he hooked up with Baltimore for 20 games before finishing the season back in AAA. Other than a two-game dip with the 2017 Marlins while J.T. Riddle's finger healed, Lombardozzi's big league door shut firmly behind him. He's still active in 2021 with the Independent League.

Steve/Stephen Lombardozzi Jr. appeared in 2012-13 Topps, as well as 2014 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2013 Topps, Washington Nationals

 
Topps J.T. Snow
Topps J.T. Snow

6/21/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #523 J.T. Snow Jr., Giants

More J.T. Snow (Jr.) Topps Cards: 1993 1993T 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006

There's a lot to cover here.

First, I'll tell you of my personal experience "meeting" J.T. Snow. It was San Francisco Giants FanFest 2009, and my longtime dawg Aldo and I were along the Willie Mays Wall standing in line waiting for a photo op with (ultimately) Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti and outfielder Dave Roberts.

To our left, Snow—who had been on the field doing whatever—hopped up the seats towards the concession areas. Both Aldo and I politely called out "Hey, J.T." He heard us. He had to have heard us. No way he didn't hear us.

He ignored us and kept going. No wave, not even a head bob. We may as well have spoken Czech.

Make any excuse you want, but unless Snow had just received a call that his entire family had been taken hostage, that kind of sucked—especially given the whole purpose of the event—and I never forgot it.

Other than that, Snow was a great Giant for a long time!

THIS CARD: When I tour the Topps company and speak to those who run it someday, one of my first questions will be why, out of the blue, Topps started adding "Jr." to Snow's cards. Though he was named after his father, ex-NFL receiver Jack Thomas Snow Sr., Snow never went by Jr. during his career.

But then 1997 Topps was released with "J.T. Snow Jr." occupying card #263. The suffix disappeared in the 1998 set, but was then restored for 1999-2005 Topps. Jack Snow died in early 2006...and curiously, the "Jr" was absent from J.T. Snow's 2006 Topps card. The suffix usage was especially odd considering Topps didn't always use "Jr" for those who did go by it. I've never heard ANY explanation for it in 24 years.

Snow is obviously swinging away at then-SBC Park (now Oracle Park). At home in 2003, Snow batted .267 with a robust .371 OBP, but in 180 AB he managed only a pair of home runs—that new ballpark ruined Snow's once-respectable power numbers. (In 1115 lifetime at-bats at now-Oracle Park, Snow managed all of 22 home runs.)

(flip) Jack Snow played with the Rams 1965-75, so I'm guessing waterboy duty was an honorary sort

of thing. No word on Isaac Bruce ever serving as Giants batboy.

That Trade With Angels (who the Giants are coincidentally playing as we speak) sent SP Allen Watson south. In other words, it was a great early fleecing by new Giants GM Brian Sabean.

In 2003, Snow's 103 games played included 94 starts; he battled multiple groin injuries in the second half. San Francisco was 61-33 when Snow started!

AFTER THIS CARD: At 36—and for the price of $1.75M—Snow experienced an offensive resurgence that 2021 Brandon Crawford could appreciate (.327/.429/.529 with 60 RBI in just 346 AB in 2004). His $2M option for '05 was exercised, but after an ordinary performance that year, Snow was allowed to walk after nine straight years as San Francisco's Opening Day 1B. 

In January 2006, Snow joined the Red Sox (1Y/$2M), but playing time was scarce and he was released in June, effectively ending his career. BaseballReference.com credits him with one game played for the 2008 Giants, but that was an honorary thing—Snow, idle for over two years, was announced in the lineup but removed before first pitch.

J.T. Snow (Jr.) appeared annually in Topps 1993-2006, with a 1993 Traded card as well. Upper Deck produced a 2006 card of Snow with Boston, if you're interested.

CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, San Francisco Giants

 
Topps Brian Sackinsky
Topps Greg Hansell

6/22/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #429 Prospects

More 1995 Topps Prospect Cards: #122T

1995 Topps may be my favorite Topps set ever, but for whatever reason, the Randomizer keeps choosing the worst subjects from that set for Card Of The Day. By that I mean fringe prospects and draft picks who never amounted to much of anything in MLB and thus leave me with little to discuss.

The four men featured on this card combined for 109 major league games (106 by Hansell, three by Sackinsky). 

THIS CARD: Hansell was known to me well before this card's release; through my old MLB Handbook, I had learned of minor leaguer Hansell's inclusion in two notable 1990 trades—the Mike Marshall Red Sox/Mets deal of mid-1990, and the Hubie Brooks Mets/Dodgers deal of late 1990. He'd been excellent as a starter and closer in 1994.

Starting pitcher Sackinsky was a #2 draft pick of the 1992 Orioles; he'd posted a 3.20 ERA across two levels of Class A in 1993 before an attention-grabbing 1994 season at AA Bowie.

I've owned his card for 26 years and never heard of Carey Paige, a fine 20-year-old SP in the Braves system. And 18-year-old Welch, also known as "Robb", held his own in the Gulf Coast (Rookie) League in 1994.

(flip) Not sure why a catcher is being used as a backdrop for a pitching prospects card, but here we are.

It is a wild coincidence we're presenting this card on Sackinsky's 50th birthday. Nothing more.

Sackinsky is the only player missing the "Rookie Card" designation. That's because he appeared in 1993 Topps as a Draft Pick.

Paige's numbers are a bit skewed. He posted a 1.70 ERA across 19 starts for Class A Macon, but that jumped to 4.71 in six starts after his promotion to AA Durham. 

AFTER THIS CARD: Hansell made his MLB debut with the 1995 Dodgers, only to be sent to the Twins that July in the Kevin Tapani trade. He posted a 5.69 ERA in 50 appearances for the 1996 Twins, made three MLB appearances 1997-98 (for Milwaukee), then worked 33 times out of the 1999 Pirates' bullpen with a 3.89 ERA. 

From there, Hansell pitched 2000-02 in Japan, with mixed results, before returning to the States for his final two pro seasons (in the '03 Yankees and '04 D'Backs systems).

Sackinsky got in three games for the 1996 Orioles but by the end of 1998 he was out of pro baseball, apparently never truly recovered from a 1995 elbow injury.

Paige never escaped AA ball. Welch never escaped A ball. I'm not sure what happened to either of them and I'm not particularly interested in launching an investigation at this time.

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Prospects

 
Topps Omar Daal
Topps Omar Daal

6/24/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #384 Omar Daal, Diamondbacks

More Omar Daal Topps Cards: 1994 1995 2000 2000T 2001 2002 2002T 2003 2003T 2004

I'm not sure exactly why Daal was summoned to the Dodgers during his second pro season at age 21—especially since he didn't exactly tear up the minors during his first pro season. 

But in any event, he became a lefty specialist for the 1993 Dodgers, and despite limited effectiveness, Tom Lasorda continued to run Daal out there through the 1995 season.

Traded to the Expos for '96, Daal enjoyed a productive year out of the Montreal pen and was even given six September starts. But after a nightmare 1997 for both Canadian teams, Daal was left unprotected in the 1997 Expansion Draft...enter Arizona.

Here, the five-year veteran has completed a very promising 1998 campaign that saw him record the NL's 5th-best ERA. He was inserted into the rotation in May and never left (except for one turn which we'll detail below.) 

THIS CARD: Daal attacks with either his sinking fastball, slurvy-type breaking ball, or effective changeup here. I can't identify the park, but I can tell you Daal was 5-6, 2.91 in 18 games (13 starts) away from the B.O.B. in 1998.

Is Daal the best #37 in the Diamondbacks' 24-season history? Let's check...not quite; Junior Spivey made the NL All-Star team wearing #37 in 2002. Today, RP Kevin Ginkel has the number, though not for much longer if his numbers are any indication.

More from Daal's 1998 season: he missed one June start after managing to strain BOTH hamstrings running the bases against St. Louis 6/21. From July 20 on, Daal threw at least six innings in 11 of 12 starts.

(flip) Curiously, Daal wears a black mitt on his front photo and an orange one on the reverse. Why would a pitcher need more than one mitt? (CALM DOWN; I'm only half-serious.)

Daal's shutout saved the Arizona bullpen, which had thrown seven innings the day before. He fired 125 pitches (though the game only took 2:14) and even walked and scored in the 5th!

Daal had been DRAFTED 31st overall in the 1997 Expansion Draft; he was the 5th lefty pitcher taken.

AFTER THIS CARD: In 1999, Daal broke through with 16 wins for a Diamondbacks team much improved around him. But without warning, the wheels completely came off in 2000 (4-19, 6.14), though he improved substantially after joining the Phillies in the Curt Schilling trade.

Daal recovered with a 13-win season for the 2001 Phillies, then returned to the Dodgers in a November 2001 trade. He pitched decently enough in '02, initially as a reliever before being moved to the rotation in June. 

Looking to start full-time, Daal signed with Baltimore for 2Y/$7.5M in January 2003. Despite periods of effectiveness, Year One wound up catastrophic (4-11, 6.34, time lost to rotator cuff tendinitis) and Year Two never got off the ground (arthroscopic shoulder surgery). Just like that, Daal's big league career was finished at 32.

Omar Daal appeared in 1994-95 and 1999-2004 Topps, as well as 2000, 2002 and 2003 Topps Traded. He appears as an Expo in 1996 Fleer Update, if you're interested.

CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Arizona Diamondbacks

 
Topps Todd Greene
Topps Todd Greene

6/25/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #382 Todd Greene, Angels

More Todd Greene Topps Cards: 1991T 1995 1996 1997 2000 2006 2007

My best Todd Greene memory is a foul ball he hit near the end of his career. 

???

You see, the three Giants preceding Greene at-bat had all homered, and Giants broadcasters Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow couldn't help but buzz at the prospects of a 4th straight longball. So when Greene sent a fly ball down the line, Kuiper decided to yank everyone's chain: "SWING AND A DRIVE!!!...foul."

The ball was about 200 feet from the plate and well into the seats.

Good Christ, Kuip is awesome. He better get well soon...

Here, Greene has continued to tantalize the Angels, for whom he'd been a megaprospect for years. He was productive in his limited Anaheim 1997 run, but frustrated at times defensively and missed the final weeks with a broken wrist.

THIS CARD: 1998 Topps represents the first year of the "Anaheim" Angels, and their, uh, unique new Disney-inspired uniforms. I didn't hate the look personally, but I can see how others could.

Greene was pretty much an all-or-nothing swinger most of the time. This pic does a fine job capturing the "all", it seems.

Other notable #8's in Angels history include Bob Boone in the 80's, and Kendrys Morales later in his Angels tenure. Today, reserve IF Kean Wong claims #8.

(flip) Greene was demoted to AAA after going 1-for-9 with two passed balls—NOT from Dennis Springer's knuckler—in four games. There had to be more to the story.

I did not know this: Vancouver became the Sacramento River Cats in 2000, and a Class A team (that you've never heard of) relocated to Vancouver shortly after. So Greene's record for the original franchise was never broken.

Greene's right wrist was originally broken in August by a foul tip from Rey Sanchez of the Yankees. Though his season was already over, you should know that while recovering on the DL, Greene's daughter accidentally re-injured him. (Oh, and in 1996, Greene broke his left wrist on a checked swing.)

AFTER THIS CARD: Greene finally got extended run with the 1999 Angels, homering 14 times in 321 AB but batting just .243. From there he voyaged through the major leagues, never able to fulfill the enormous promise he showed as a minor leaguer but performing well enough to continue receiving Spring Training invites.

Toronto, the Yankees, Texas, Colorado and San Francisco would employ Greene—usually as no more than a platoon catcher—from 2000-06; Giants fans may remember him getting leveled at home plate by young Prince Fielder in May 2006 and somehow living to tell about it. Greene finished up with 71 homers (maxing out at 10 in a season) in 536 games (maxing out at 75 in a season).

After debuting as an Olympian in 1991 Topps Traded, Todd Greene appeared annually in Topps 1995-1998. He resurfaced in 2000 Topps, disappeared for five sets, then received two last looks in 2006-07 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Anaheim Angels

 
Topps Joel Zumaya
Topps Joel Zumaya

6/27/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #459 Joel Zumaya, Tigers

More Joel Zumaya Topps Cards: 2006 2007 2008 2011

These days, it seems like every staff has a dude or two who can crack 103 MPH on the gun. But in 2006, Joel Zumaya of the Tigers was a novelty—nobody in the game was throwing as hard as frequently as Zumaya was, and as a result he was damn near invincible when he was throwing strikes.

Zumaya initially competed for a rotation spot in Spring Training 2006, but ultimately made the Tigers roster as a reliever and blew through the American League, helping Detroit to the World Series! It was in that 2006 ALCS that the health issues that would railroad Zumaya's career first surfaced; he only pitched once due to a sore wrist (caused by this?) 

 

Zumaya then lost chunks of 2007-08 to a ruptured hand tendon and a separated shoulder (the latter suffered while helping his papa move).

Here, the big fella is coming off a 2009 season that, like the two prior seasons, was heavily impacted by injury. He was DL'd twice (in March and July) with a sore shoulder and finally, in August, Zumaya underwent season-ending surgery to "clean out" his labrum and rotator cuff.

THIS CARD: Only four dudes since Zumaya have worn #54 for the Tigers, most notably RP Drew VerHagen, who had it from 2015-19. And I tell you, every time I saw VerHagen pitch, it evoked Zumaya's memory. (FYI: only two dudes prior to Zumaya ever wore #54 during a regular season game for Detroit.)

Chances are, Zumaya's coming with the 104-MPH gas here. What else did he have? A power curve and a changeup that was faster than many dudes' heaters. (I read Zumaya was trying to develop a slider at one point, but that cannot be verified.)

More from Zumaya's 2009 season: his longest outing, in terms of innings, was a wild one at Minnesota on 5/13 (2.2 IP). In terms of pitches, Zumaya's longest outing was another wild one at Minnesota on 7/3 (53 pitches over 2.1 IP). He did not allow a run in his first five appearances of '09.

(flip) Baseball Info Solutions is now known as Sports Info Solutions. I WAS going to tell you who threw the second-highest 100-MPH pitches in 2009, but it doesn't appear that data is accessible on their website to regular schmucks like me.

One could also deduce that the frequency of Zumaya's HIGH-velocity offerings is at least partially why he only threw 31 innings. Zoom-Zoom himself figured as much later on.

Only six dudes from Zumaya's draft round reached MLB, and despite his many physical setbacks, Zumaya had the best career (edging out 2010 All-Star Evan Meek).

AFTER THIS CARD: Zumaya was enjoying a quality 2010 season (2.58 in 31 games) when he broke his elbow firing a pitch to Minnesota's Delmon Young 6/28; subsequent surgeries kept him out all of 2011. With Detroit only willing to offer a MiLB deal for 2012, Zumaya signed with Minnesota for 1Y/$800K plus incentives.

Tragically, Zumaya tore his UCL throwing batting practice in February 2012 and would never take the mound again (though he didn't officially retire until 2014).

Joel Zumaya appeared annually in Topps 2006-11, except 2009.

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Topps Michael Blazek
Topps Michael Blazek

6/28/21 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps Update #18 Michael Blazek, Brewers

More Michael Blazek Topps Cards: 2016

Michael Blazek didn't reach MLB until his 7th professional season, when the 2013 Cardinals gave him an eleven-game audition. He did not impress, and by September he was headed to Milwaukee as the Player To Be Named Later in an August trade that sent CL John Axford to St. Louis.

Blazek wound up spending all of 2014 at AAA Nashville but here, he's made the 2015 Brewers' roster after an impressive Spring Training. After getting knocked around a little on Opening Day, Blazek rebounded with nine consecutive scoreless outings!

THIS CARD: With a name like Blazek, you'd expect this pitcher to bring the heat, right? Well, he didn't disappoint in that regard. We see Blazek attacking with his mid-to-high-90's heater, or his reliable curve or slider. Blazek also offered a changeup but I'm almost positive we're not seeing that in this pic.

Hmm. Our previous COTD subject also wore #54, a number that's gotten very little mileage in Milwaukee even with the two separate Brewers who've worn it this season. In fact, Blazek—with his 4.15 ERA and zero saves in 98 games—is the most accomplished #54 in Brewers history.

More from Blazek's 2015 early season: the rookie reliever entered the All-Star break with a 1.60 ERA over 35 games. He picked up the win 5/22 by going three innings in relief of injured Wily Peralta in an 11-0 victory over Atlanta.

(flip) No blurb, so we'll tell you that Blazek was named Brewers Pitcher Of The Month for both April and May 2015...dude was very tough on NL hitters.

As you see in the stats, Blazek did some starting earlier in his career, most frequently for 2011 Springfield (AA Cardinals). No, he wasn't particularly effective. But he did lead the staff in wins, K, innings and starts, for whatever that's worth.

Blazek was indeed a #35 pick out of high school who made good. Only two others from his draft round reached MLB: Joey Terdoslavich (145 AB) and Thad Weber (19 IP).

AFTER THIS CARD: While warming up before a game in mid-August 2015, Blazek noticed swelling and discomfort in his pitching hand. A fracture was discovered, and to this day no one knows (or admits) how it happened. Blazek was done for the season.

In 2016, the 27-year-old got off to another strong start, but after posting a 17.18 ERA from 5/28 to 7/9, Milwaukee sent Blazek down. He also endured two DL stints and finished the year with a 5.66 ERA across 41 games. In 2017, Blazek made four July RA (0 ER) and one July start (8 ER in 2.1 IP) for the Brewers, who cut him loose that winter.

Since then, Blazek's only major league action has been four July appearances for the 2019 Nationals...hopefully they gave him a World Series ring.

Michael Blazek has appeared in 2015 Topps Update and 2016 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps Update, Milwaukee Brewers