Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, November 2019 B

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Topps Johnny Barbato, Ben Gamel
Topps Johnny Barbato, Ben Gamel

11/29/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2016 Topps Update #5 Rookie Combos - Barbato, Gamel

More 2016 Topps Rookie Combo Cards: n/a

Once again, for the third selection in a row, we've got an irregular card for ya. In 2016 Topps Update, Rookie Combo cards were introduced to the masses, a sensible move that reserved a few commons for veterans and allowed some rooks inclusion who may not have otherwise made it. Considering how much of a staple Prospect and Draft Pick combo cards once were in Topps sets, I'm a lot surprised it took so long to bring life to this idea.

You've heard of Gamel with his long flowing hair and penchant for great diving catches. Only Yankee and Pirate fans likely know anything about Barbato.

THIS CARD: Actually, neither of these players established themselves with the Yankees; in 2016 Gamel went to Seattle in a deal for two prospects, neither of whom have sniffed the majors to date. The M's were looking to get more athletic in the outfield, and they definitely accomplished that.

Barbato lasted 13 games in the Bronx before being D4A'd and subsequently traded to Pittsburgh early in the 2017 season.

You are watching Barbato release his 94-96-mph fastball, slider or curveball; he added a splitter in 2017. You are watching Gamel do what he does best: hustle.

The #8 on Barbato's sleeve is in tribute to the late Hall-of-Fame Yankee C Yogi Berra, who passed away in 2016.

(flip) How these dudes were acquired would be on their conventional common card, but since it's not here, I'll inform you that New York acquired Barbato from SD in a trade for RP Shawn Kelley in December 2014. Gamel, indeed the bro of injury-plagued ex-Brewer Mat, was drafted #10 by the Yankees in 2010.

Barbato did get off to that quick start, but allowed runs in five of his next eight outings, including a disastrous final Yankee outing in August in which he didn't retire any of four Indian hitters (three of whom scored).

Gamel's ground ball single off KC's Dillon Gee was his lone hit in eight AB as a Yankee; the team mostly used him as a defensive sub. He won IL ROTY by slashing .300/.358/.472 with 10 jacks, 14 triples and 13 swipes...that's not even taking his defense into account.

AFTER THIS CARD: Barbato got in 24 games with the 2017 Pirates and aside from a bit of wildness, wasn't all that bad. Still, the team waived him in January 2018, and Detroit swooped in—Barbato was hammered in his first and last games, but effective in between. Still, the resulting 12.15 ERA seemed to scare off future employers, and Barbato spent 2019 in Japan.

Gamel stuck with the 2017 Mariners, starting 127 times in the corner OF spots and smoking 11 homers along with some oft-spectacular D. However, Denard Span's 2018 acquisition cut deeply into his playing time, to the point he was even sent down for a while to ward off bench rot.
After the season, he was traded to Milwaukee for OF Domingo Santana; Gamel batted .248 in 134 games for the Brewers in '19.

Johnny Barbato has appeared in 2016 Topps Update. Ben Gamel has appeared in 2016 Topps Update, as well as 2018-19 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2016 Topps Update, Rookie Combos

 

More November 2019 Topps Cards Of The Day

November 1-16 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Aaron Rowand
Topps Aaron Rowand

11/17/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #134 Aaron Rowand, White Sox

More Aaron Rowand Topps Cards: 2000T 2002 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

11-year major league outfielder Aaron Rowand will be best remembered for: helping the 2005 White Sox end their 88-year championship drought, destroying his face on Philadelphia's CF wall in 2006, and—especially by us Giants fans—stealing $60M from the Giants as a 2007-08 free agent signee.

Ex-Giants SS Edgar Renteria was able to justify his otherwise-wasteful contract with one heroic postseason play, and I believe my subconscious tried for years to classify Rowand's throw home to erase Carlos Ruiz in the 2010 NLCS as similarly heroic and pivotal, when in fact it was not. 

Which isn't to say the guy didn't try to be the player he'd been with the White Sox and Phillies—no one questioned his work ethic. But throughout the majority of his Giants tenure, Rowand was unproductive.


We're not here to pile on Rowand, though. We are here to look back on Rowand the young White Sox outfielder—when this card was released Rowand was fresh off his first full major league season, one in which he started 72 times for the White Sox (mostly in CF after the trade of Kenny Lofton to San Francisco). At just .200 beforehand, Rowand smoked .291/.341/.434 after the deal.

THIS CARD: Rowand wears #44—more on that on the reverse—and unless you count Dan Pasqua and Jake Peavy as notable, no notable White Sox have claimed those digits for any length of time during my fandom.

Rowand is shown potentially advancing on the basepaths (don't trip over the logo!). Topps sometimes fails in the redundancy department, but they varied Rowand's front images very well over the years (his 2004 front image is among my all-time faves).

Strange seeing Rowand with short hair after so many years with it down his neck later in his career.

(flip) Rowand did switch to #33 for 2003, and wore it the rest of his career.

Rowand grew up in Glendora, not Portland. He was the #35 overall pick in '98 out of Cal State Fullerton.

Of those seven 2002 home runs, three were off KC's Darrell May, all in separate contests. Rowand would hit another one off May in 2003, meaning at one point May had served up four of Rowand's past 13 homers. Yeah, May gave up a lot of bombs, but dang.

AFTER THIS CARD: Rowand became Chicago's #1 CF during the 2004 season and held the job through '05, when he was traded to the Phillies for Jim Thome. We already told you about his smashed-up face, but we did not tell you about his 27 HR and 89 RBI in Year Two with the Phils which precluded his big deal with the now Barry Bonds-less Giants.

Rowand was never close to that player again, losing his full-time job to Andres Torres in 2010 (while also surviving a nasty beaning early that year) and  not contributing much offense during his extended opportunities in '11, either. Finally, with a month to go, SF cut bait with Rowand, who was last seen in MLB unsuccessfully auditioning for the 2012 Marlins.

Aaron Rowand debuted in 2000 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in the base set 2002-11.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Chicago White Sox

 
Topps Bret Saberhagen
Topps Bret Saberhagen

11/19/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #459 Bret Saberhagen, Mets

More Bret Saberhagen Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1992T 1993 1994 1996 1999 2000 2001

Saberhagen, of course, tore through the league in 1985 and once more in 1989, winning AL Cy Young Awards both years. Then he endured a few years as a mere mortal, plagued by injuries and one serious off-field issue after being traded to the Mets in December 1991.

But here, despite the offensive boon around baseball in 1994, Saberhagen returned to the ranks of the elite. With erstwhile #! starter Doc Gooden ineffective/suspended most of the year, the Mets never needed ace-caliber Saberhagen more. He delivered, becoming the first man in 75 years to win more games than he walked batters. 
When all was said and done, the 30-year-old earned a third-place finish for the 1994 NL Cy Young Award.

THIS CARD: COTD visits Saberhagen for the second time; we featured his 1990 Topps card back in December 2016.

Saberhagen wears #17 here, but he'd sported #18—Darryl Strawberry's then-recently abandoned number—his first two years in New York. I'm not sure why he switched, but I can tell you Jeff McKnight took over #18!

We see the veteran righty toiling against the Cubs at Shea Stadium. Rey Sanchez on the basepaths? In 1994, Saberhagen faced the Cubs at home once, on April 14, receiving a ND as the Mets fought off Chicago 10-9.

(flip) From baseball-almanac.com: Babe Adams of the 1920 Pirates was the man who walked 18 in a 250+ IP season. YES, the rules were the same back then.

Sabes relocated between his 1990 and 1995 Topps cards (from Leawood, Kansas)

Not shown in Saberhagen's awesome stats: the ZERO wild pitches he threw in 1994.

Why, why, WHY can't Topps bring back Diamond Vision?

AFTER THIS CARD: Too often, star players stumble after joining the Mets but for Saberhagen, it happened after departing the Mets (via trade to Colorado in 1995). He missed the entire 1996 season (shoulder surgery) but resurfaced with the 1997 Red Sox, winning 25 times in 1998-99 while being handled much more carefully than he'd ever been in the past.

Then BOOM! More shoulder surgery cost Saberhagen the 2000 season. He was able to make three starts—winning one—for the 2001 Red Sox before opting to retire when his arm acted up again.

Bret Saberhagen debuted in 1984 Topps Traded, then appeared annually in Topps 1985-1996. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to Topps 1999-2001. Sabes is also found in 1992 Traded.

CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, New York Mets

 
Topps Alfredo Simon
Topps Alfredo Simon

11/21/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps Update #61 Alfredo Simon, Orioles

More Alfredo Simon Topps Cards: 2012 2012U 2014 2014U 2015 2016U

I've told this story before on COTD, but my #1 memory of Alfredo Simon—pronounced Simone—originated at the Oakland Coliseum in 2011. As Orioles RP's Simon and Mike Gonzalez warmed up, a fan situated about 15 rows up from mine started on both men: "SIIII-MON (phonetically)! SIIII-MON! I KNOW YOU HEAR ME, SIMON! SIMON! "

This went on for the entirety of Simon's warmup, which was no short amount of time. Most of my section, including me, couldn't stifle laughter at the guy's sheer determination to get in Simon's head. Did it work? Well, Simon did wind up taking the loss in that game, allowing three runs over two innings.

Here, the big right-hander is getting his first extensive look with Baltimore. After much shuffling as a minor leaguer and only seven big league appearances over nine pro seasons. Simon joined the O's in late April 2010 and did not go back down. In fact, when Gonzalez was injured for much of the first half, Simon capably filled in as closer.

THIS CARD: Simon gears up at an unidentifiable ballpark. He averaged low-to-mid-90's, complementing the heat with a slow curve and splitter.

That's #55 you (sort of) see on Simon's jersey; as one might imagine, it hasn't exactly been a popular choice for past Orioles—Ramon Hernandez was the most notable previous wearer by far.

Simon is the rare veteran pitcher with more Update cards than base set cards (4-3). He achieved that by receiving a redundant 2014 Update card.

(flip) Simon's final Topps measurements increased from 6'4", 230 lbs. to 6'6", 265 lbs.

If that seems like an excess amount of minor league towns to pass through, that's because they are. Simon was originally signed by the Phillies, traded to the Giants, signed by the Rangers, acquired by the Orioles, re-acquired by the Phillies, returned to the Rangers, and signed by the Dodgers—all before reaching MLB with the Orioles.

Not shown in the 2008-09 Oriole stints: in those 19.1 IP, Simon allowed nine home runs...ouch.

AFTER THIS CARD: After relieving early in the 2011 season, Simon was moved to the rotation and held his own. Unfortunately, that winter he held a gun—one was left dead, one injured. Simon swore it was an accident, and ultimately escaped serious punishment. Still, he was waived and landed with the Reds, for whom he worked middle relief 2012-13.

For '14, Cincinnati returned 33-year-old Simon to starting; he responded with a 15-win All-Star campaign. But along with most of the Reds' rotation, he was due for an arbitration raise, and both he and SP Mat Latos were dealt on the same day.

Now a Tiger, Simon held a 2.58 ERA thru 6/14/15, and a 6.77 ERA afterward—he later admitted to pitching with an injured knee. But he still led the Tigers in starts, wins and innings (Justin Verlander was injured much of the year and Max Scherzer defected to Washington).
Back with the Reds for '16, Simon's shoulder sidelined him from mid-June on; though he had surgery that September, Simon never returned to MLB. He did pop up in the Independent and Mexican Leagues 2017-18, however.

Alfredo Simon appeared in 2012, 2014 and 2015 Topps base, as well as 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps Update, Baltimore Orioles

 
Topps Dennis Eckersley
Topps Dennis Eckersley

11/22/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #155 Dennis Eckersley, Athletics

More Dennis Eckersley Topps Cards: 1987 1987T 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998

In Eckersley's previous COTD write-up, I referred to him as a deity who had, during the 1993 season, been reduced to mere mortal. 

Deity?

It bears reminding: Eck had been on a five-year run of near invincibility as Oakland's closer. And as the years passed, he only seemed to get stronger—batters often looked outright hapless trying to figure Eckersley out, which the superstar clearly enjoyed.

The run of dominance culminated in 1992, the year represented on this card and also the year Eck added MVP and Cy Young awards to his trophy case. And though fellow Hall-of-Famer Roberto Alomar ended Eckersley's season on a sour note, there was nobody else you wanted on the mound in a big situation more than #43 in the year 1992.

THIS CARD: From 1990-98 Topps, all but one of Eckersley's front images captures him in mid-motion; thankfully the angles varied. Had he pitched in the current Topps era, there's little doubt he'd be staring down and/or pointing at a K victim on one of his cards.

You need a horizontal shot to capture all the arms and legs that went into Eckersley's windup. Good job there, Topps, despite the coming redundancy.

Eckersley works at the pre-renovation Oakland Coliseum. At home in 1992, he was 7-0, 2.76, which looks pretty darn cool until you see his road ERA—0.96.

(flip) Good Christ, even as a youngster Eckersley wasn't walking people. Check out the totals from 1977-79 relative to innings pitched.

In case you didn't know, one of those three 1977 shutouts was a no-hitter against the California Angels...Eckersley wasn't shabby as a SP, either.

Those league-high 51 saves came in 54 opportunities, and were 10 more than the next-highest American Leaguer, Rick Aguilera.

The reigning league MVP should have had a card number ending in "00" or "50", IMHO.

The heist Oakland pulled on the Cubs deserves re-mention: Brian Guinn, Mark Leonette and Dave Wilder were the men Chicago received in the trade for Eckersley. They played as many MLB games as James Van Buren did.

AFTER THIS CARD: It shouldn't have been a surprise, given Eckersley's advancing age, but he would never dominate again after '92, though he was still effective in periods. In part due to Eckersley's decline, the A's descended into mediocrity and eventually started selling off stars (and their manager). Eck joined the St. Louis Cardinals for '96 and closed out 66 of 77 for them 1996-97. His career ended at 44 after setting up for Boston in '98.

Dennis Eckersley appeared annually in Topps 1976-98, and in 1984 and 1987 Traded. (If you're after a card of Eck from his Boston 2.0 stint, look no further than 1999 Fleer and Upper Deck.)

CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Oakland Athletics

 
Topps Jim Walewander
Topps Jim Walewander

11/24/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #106 Jim Walewander, Tigers

More Jim Walewander Topps Cards: 1989

As described in a Sports Illustrated article about him—yes, he got his own SI article—Jim Walewander was Detroit's real frosted flake.

It's worth checking out, I might add.

So from a personality standpoint, Walewander was certainly memorable, but from a baseball standpoint he was just a guy who backed up Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell in Detroit for a couple of years. The speedy Chicago native found his way into 53 games as a 1987 rookie, most of them as a (manager) Sparky Anderson.late-inning defensive sub. But in the 15 games Walewander started, he batted a respectable .268.

THIS CARD: Walewander famously had to show his future wife a baseball card to prove who he was, but we can't confirm if it was this one.

For the record, its pronounced Whale-Wander.

Walewander appears to be silently wondering, "Gee...I wonder what I could do to get Kirk Gibson and Jack Morris to fight."

(flip) That home run would be Walewander's lone in the majors. The two-run shot was served up by Willie Fraser of the California Angels, and assisted a 6-2 Tiger win.

Bradley was scouting director for the Tigers 1983-85. He worked for four other teams, including the Angels, for whom he signed Jim Abbott. Bradley died in 2001.

Those 35 steals in '83 led the Appalachian (Rookie) League, and the 47 in '84 led the Florida State (A) League.

AFTER THIS CARD: Though outrighted after the 1987 season, Walewander made the 1988 Detroit roster and wound up in 88 contests, many in place of Lou Whitaker who missed the final month with a knee injury. Despite the long look, Walewander would get very little MLB exposure going forward, accruing just 21 big league games over the next five seasons (with the 1990 Yankees and the 1993 Angels).

Jim Walewander appeared in 1988-89 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, Detroit Tigers

 
Topps Kirk Gibson
Topps Kirk Gibson

11/25/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2001 Topps #382 Golden Moments: Kirk Gibson

More 2001 Topps Golden Moments Cards: 377 378 379 380 381 383 384 385 386 782 783 784 785 786 787 788 789 790 791

Why again do I employ the random selection process for Topps COTD that I do? I'm wondering this aloud because far too many times, the selections have proven to be anything but random. Case in point: our current selection of Kirk Gibson—or more specifically, his "Golden Moment" of infamously going yard vs.Dennis Eckersley in the 1988 World Series.

One selection ago, I name-dropped Gibson (the selectee was a teammate). Two selections ago, we randomly selected a card of Eckersley. If you want to try convincing me that the Randomizer lacks actual comprehension ability...do your best. You might sway me next March, but you won't sway me in November 2019.

THIS CARD: We all know the Golden Moment in question: October 1988, Game 1 of the World Series, Athletics at Dodgers. Eckersley enters to protect a one-run lead. Mike Davis reaches, Gibson pinch-hits, and despite injuries robbing him of his lower half, Gibson—who was later named league, not series, MVP—lofts a full-count backdoor slider over the RF wall to win the game.

The Series, in which Gibson didn't play again, was won by the Dodgers in five games—my late grandma blamed voodoo. You're seeing Gibson as he hobbles down the first base line.

(flip) The blurb expands upon what I just told you. It was indeed an upset, what with the mighty 104-win Athletics and all their stars falling to a 94-win Dodger team whose most famous name belonged to its manager.

AFTER THIS CARD: Gibson played three seasons in all with the Dodgers (1988-90), but neither he nor the team rediscovered those 1988 heights. His playing career ended during the 1995 season, but in the '10's he resurfaced as manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose infielder Ryan Roberts re-enacted Gibson's famous home run trot after smacking his own walk-off blast in 2011.

Because they royally suck, the Dodgers did not return to the World Series until 2017, losing to Houston in seven games. They fell again the next year in five games to Boston, I might add. Both losses resulted from the aforementioned suck factor.

CATEGORIES: 2001 Topps, Subsets

 
Topps Tony Gwynn
Topps Tony Gwynn

11/27/19 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1987 Topps #599 Tony Gwynn, All-Star

More Tony Gwynn All-Star Topps Cards: n/a

In 1986, Gwynn's 4th full MLB season, it was already clear the guy was something special. And since he possessed two Silver Slugger Awards, a Gold Glove and three NL All-Star berths by age 26 to support that, not to mention a third-place MVP finish in 1984, who could argue?


Gwynn enjoyed an excellent first half of 1986, slashing .341/.402/.499 to claim the starting LF job for the NL All-Stars (Darryl Strawberry held down RF). In the Classic, Gwynn was 0-for-3, with a rare called strikeout against Milwaukee's Ted Higuera.

THIS CARD: Now THIS is what an All-Star card design should look like—different from the main design, but not radically. Modern-day Topps drives me nuts when I'm trying to sort cards for album storage; All-Star cards are too similar to common cards.

In case you didn't hear, the Padres are bringing brown back to the uniforms full-time in 2020.

Gwynn looks as if he's on his 15th pose of the photo session, with the cameraman still insisting upon more.

(flip) Kevin Bass? Really?

Other National Leaguers at the time with five SB in one game: Dan McGann, 1904; Davey Lopes, 1974; Lonnie Smith, 1982; Alan Wiggins, 1984. Six more have since pulled off the feat, along with a host of American Leaguers.

Gwynn was leading the batting race over Raines, .332 to 330, on 9/22. Raines got just far enough ahead to be able to sit out most of the final week and still secure the crown on the last day.

AFTER THIS CARD: Gwynn wound up named to 15 All-Star games, playing in 13 of them and amassing seven hits in 29 AB (.241). After his 1998 selection, no Padre position player would start an All-Star game for 18 years (Wil Myers, 2016).

Tony Gwynn received All-Star cards in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990 and 1995 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1987 Topps, All-Stars