Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, October 2014
A = Alternate Card F = Factory Team Set G = Giveaway Set T = Traded Set U = Update Set
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10/3/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps Update #252 Justin Verlander All-Star
More Justin Verlander All-Star Topps Cards: 2007 2010 2011 2012 2013
That's three 2009 Topps cards in the past six "random" selections. They're going on a 10-card hiatus. Am I ever gonna pick another 80's card again?
Though he'd been highly successful and was the undisputed #1 starter in Motown, Verlander wasn't quite Verlander at the time of his '09 All-Star selection...but he was very close to claiming the honor of best pitcher in the AL.
A coaches' selection to the roster (Roy Halladay of Toronto started), Verlander was the AL Pitcher of the Month in May, when he earned five wins in six starts and allowed seven ER the entire month! Overall, the Tigers ace was 10-4, 3.38 in the first half of 2009.
THIS CARD: In the Update era (2006-present), Topps usually depicts All-Stars who see no game action in their Monday festivities "National" or "American" garb. Verlander is no different here—he'd pitched for the Tigers two days before the ASG, which would cost you a roster spot today.
I looked into the festivities and can't find any that would have required Verlander to throw the day after a start...I'll have to ask Justin about that. I'm open to any hilarity you want to offer in regards to the half-figure to Verlander's left.
By the way, you are viewing the turf of new Busch Stadium in St. Louis, as the arch in the logo might suggest. The AL won 4-3.
(flip) Verlander did not win seven consecutive 2009 starts, but he did take seven straight decisions between April 27 and June 10—with two ND's mixed in. The big Virginian wound up leading the league in K for both halves.
AFTER THIS CARD: An eventual 19-game winner in '09, Verlander made four straight All-Star games from 2010-13—and started the 2012 edition. However, his regular season excellence has not transferred to the Classic (18.00 ERA, 3.333 WHIP). In three of his six selections, he's ridden the pine.
CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, All-Stars
10/5/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #74 Steve Buechele, Cubs
More Steve Buechele Topps Cards: 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1994 1995
Finally, the Randomizer goes pre-1999. It's been a while. Still several sets that have yet to appear in COTD but at least 1993—Topps' biggest set ever—can get checked off the list now.
Buechele (pronounced Boo-Shell) was a third baseman with the 1980's Rangers; he entered the bigs under tough circumstances—replacing the popular Buddy Bell after Bell's trade wish was granted. With other options injured or filling in elsewhere, Rangers manager Bobby Valentine turned to Buechele, who was hitting just under .300 at AAA Oklahoma City.
He'd be the Rangers' primary third baseman into the 1990's. also finding time at second base for periods. (Buechele was a second baseman—and John Elway's roomie—at Stanford.)
By 1991. slugging Dean Palmer waited in the wings, so free-agent-to-be Buechele was dealt to the Pirates for a couple of washouts. He finished '91 with the best offensive numbers of his career and was rewarded by the Bucs with a 4Y/$11M deal—only to be traded the following July to the Cubs (for Danny Jackson).
THIS CARD: Fitting for Buechele's primary image to be a defensive one; though he lacked great range he caught most of what he got to (1991 AL leader in 3B fielding pct; NL leader in 1993.) Pay attention, kids—he's using two hands. Pay attention, big leaguers—his glasses are down! Buechele had not had a game action photo since the 1989 set.
(flip) Victimizing the Pirates 17 days after being traded had to feel nice. Buechele doubled off Randy Tomlin in the 2nd, tripled off Blas Minor in the 5th and homered off Steve Cooke—making his MLB debut—in the 7th. Buechele had one last shot at completing the cycle, but grounded out to deep short on a ball a quicker man may have beaten out.
AFTER THIS CARD: The veteran remained a Cub into the 1995 season, when he lost his job to newly-acquired Todd Zeile and was released—a move that reportedly left teammate Mark Grace in tears. A few weeks later Buechele's career ended where it started—a handful of games with the Texas Rangers.
He's remained tied to MLB since retiring, working as a broadcaster and AAA manager. His son, Garrett, is currently in the Giants organization and more recently Steve's been rumored as a candidate to replace Ron Washington as Rangers' manager.
Steve Buechele appeared annually in Topps 1986-1995.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Chicago Cubs
10/8/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #251 Mark Lemke, Braves
More Mark Lemke Topps Cards: 1989 1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998
Lemke was the Braves second baseman during their rise to prominence in the 1990's. Though he posted impressive offensive stats in the minors, he became known for his mitt in the majors and was never much of an offensive threat as a big leaguer. The diminutive New Yorker was a former 27th-round pick.
THIS CARD: Though listed as a second baseman, Lemke played nearly as much third base in 1990. Jeff Treadway and Jim Presley received most of the respective starts; Lemke filled in when needed or to present a better matchup.
That is not Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium. It almost has to be Olympic Stadium, but why would Lemke be wearing his home whites there?
Poor redundancy checking...Lemke's 1990 Topps front image is a mirror of this one.
(flip) I just about hit the floor upon learning Lemke once hit 20 homers in a season—1987 at Durham (that was the year of the homer in MLB...guess it spread.) He hit just 32 in a 10-year MLB career.
That four-RBI game came vs. Houston; Lemke doubled home two runs vs. Rick Rhoden and later tripled home two more off Dan Schatzeder.
AFTER THIS CARD: Treadway eventually sat in favor of Lemke, who hit .417 in the Braves' 1991 World Series loss to Minnesota. Following a long run in Atlanta, Lemke spent an abbreviated 1998 with the Red Sox; a collision with the White Sox' Chad Kreuter concussed him and essentially ended his MLB career. Lemke later embarked on an Independent League career as a knuckleball pitcher that lasted 36 innings.
He appeared in Topps annually from 1989 thru the 1998 set. To my knowledge, no one produced a card of Red Sox Lemke (Topps Traded was in the final year of a three-year hiatus.)
He's since worked as a studio host/broadcaster with the Braves.
CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Atlanta Braves
10/10/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps Update #124 Brad Peacock, Athletics
More Brad Peacock Topps Cards: 2012 2014
Peacock came up in the Washington system, and joined Oakland in the post-2011 Gio Gonzalez deal. The hard-throwing RHP, a 41st-rounder who made good, had all of three MLB appearances under his belt when this card was issued—a rough relief outing in his MLB debut followed by back-to-back scoreless starts covering 11.2 innings.
THIS CARD: Peacock—who also has a 2012 Topps base card as a National—never pitched a regular-season game for the A's. He spent all of 2012 in AAA Sacramento, where he went 12-9 despite an ugly 6.01 ERA. There, he teamed with Manny Ramirez, who similarly received an Athletics card but never played a regular-season game for them (although the latter was a base card.)
(flip) I pretty much already covered all of it. Note Peacock's gaudy 2011 partial-season for AA Huntsville.
AFTER THIS CARD: After one season in the A's organization, the young fireballer (clocked as high as 97 with Washington) was dealt to Houston along with big Chris Carter in exchange for Jed Lowrie. Having spent all of 2012 in the minors, he did not receive a 2013 Topps card.
Peacock won a starting job with the '13 Astros, but was demoted to the bullpen and later to AAA. He did spend most of '14 in the Astros rotation.
In addition to 2012 Topps Update, Brad Peacock has appeared in 2012 and 2014 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps Update, Oakland Athletics
10/14/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps Traded #1T Darrel Akerfelds, Phillies
More Darrel Akerfelds Topps Cards: 1988 1991
Akerfelds, who passed away in 2012 after a long stint as a Padres coach, didn't have much of a playing career—1990 was his only full season in the majors. He was the 7th overall pick in 1983 out of Arkansas (by the Mariners), but traded to the A's months later (don't think that'd be allowed today...have to re-familiarize with the latest rules.)
The righty toiled four seasons in Oakland's organization before being dealt to Cleveland for Tony Bernazard. The Rangers snapped him up in the '88 Rule V Draft—but kept him in AAA for most of the year (Cleveland must have declined the return offer, as is mandatory before the demotion of a Rule V selectee).
In Spring Training 1990, Texas sold Akerfelds to Philadelphia.
THIS CARD: 28 at the time of this card's issue, Akerfelds barely looks 18, at least to me. Forgive me for beating a dead horse but once again, I so loathe the text obscured by the player photo as was commonplace in 1990 Topps...
(flip) Said debut was a long relief outing in an A's blowout loss at Minnesota. Said win was a start at Baltimore; he won despite a 2-run homer by Cal Ripken and a 3-run shot by Eddie Murray. Said complete game was a 4-1 Indians loss at Milwaukee; Akerfelds threw all zeroes except the 4th.
AFTER THIS CARD: Primarily a starter in the minors, Akerfelds spent all of '90 in the Phillies' bullpen. But the Phils demoted him on Independence Day 1991, and despite pitching four more years in pro baseball Akerfelds never pitched in the majors again. His career ended with a BB/K ratio of 1/1—Akerfelds didn't rack up many K's after reaching AA. He made one final appearance in '91 Topps.
In '01, San Diego hired him as bullpen coach; he held that position until dying of pancreatic cancer at 50 in 2012.
In addition to 1990 Topps Traded, Darrel Akerfelds appeared in 1988 and 1991 Topps.
10/16/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #722 Todd Stottlemyre, Blue Jays
More Todd Stottlemyre Topps Cards: 1988T 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
This "Randomizer" I employ for Card Of The Day selection—it mocks me. It really does. A few selections ago I wondered aloud why the Randomizer was ignoring my entire library of 1980's Topps cards. Since then it's tried to submit two 1991 cards out of three, so in the interest of variety I re-selected—out popped a 1990 Darrel Akerfelds.
Next, it spat out a 1988 Topps Card that doesn't exist, forcing another re-selection: 1989 Topps Todd Stottlemyre. The moral: be careful what you wish for, because you may sort of get it but not really.
Anyway...the fiery Stottlemyre was just pulling the curtain on his career when this card was issued. He threw hard, and was known for his competitiveness. He was somewhat similar to A.J. Burnett, except meaner with fewer tattoos. He once provoked Charlie Hayes into charging the mound—from second base.
THIS CARD: This is a very good action shot for the times. Stottlemyre was/is a tall guy, but he brought himself low when delivering a pitch. I'm fairly certain Toronto only wore the powder blues on the road, and kind of embarrassed to not be 100% certain. No clue what stadium is featured.
(flip) TSR couldn't dig up Stottlemyre's 1986 monthly breakdown. But as you see on the card, he won a combined 17 games in '86. And he made 35 starts with over 200 innings pitched! You just don't see 21-year-old prospects with that workload. 1988 was Stottlemyre's first taste of MLB action; he was in and out of the rotation and struggled badly at times—but turned in a 2-0, 2.27 June covering seven games.
AFTER THIS CARD: Stottlemyre—whose father and brother also pitched in the majors—helped Toronto to consecutive World Series titles in 1992-93. But the long strike of '94 coupled with David Cone's acquisition spelled the end of Stottlemyre as a Blue Jay.
So he spent a season as Oakland's ace before stints in St. Louis and finally, Arizona. Stottlemyre's Diamondback stint was injury-plagued—he only made 39 starts in four years and retired at 37 with 138 lifetime wins (and three World Series rings).
Starting with his '88 Traded card, Stottlemyre appeared continuously in Topps thru the 2001 set. Done in by rotator cuff/elbow injuries over his final two seasons, he was omitted from '02-'03 Topps (although he did get an '02 Topps Total card.)
CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, Toronto Blue Jays
10/16/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps Update #263 Dan Uggla, All-Star
More Dan Uggla All-Star Topps Cards: 2008 2012
Uggla was the steal of the '00s, swiped by the Marlins in the Rule V Draft prior to 2006. There would be no offering him back to the Diamondbacks.
Succeeding Luis Castillo—a 2005 All-Star—at second base, the 26-year-old rookie batted .307 with 13 homers and 51 RBI and was named a deserving All-Star reserve by his peers. Uggla was fresh off winning June's Rookie Of The Month award—he hit seven home runs in just 18 games!
THIS CARD: That is one hideous All-Star Monday jersey color, exacerbated by the mismatched hat. The game was played at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (even though the city had just hosted one 12 years prior at Three Rivers Stadium), hence the mustard tops. Not an excuse, just an explanation.
Uggla was a DNP in the 2006 Classic. In the modern era, Topps All-Star cards lacking a game-action image typically showcase All-Star DNPs. This was no exception.
(flip) Did the ™ at the top have to be that damn big? Did it have to be there at all?
The old Marlins logo seems ancient now. And NL cards are supposed to have blue graphics, not red. Hello?!
AFTER THIS CARD: Uggla was an ASG reserve again in 2008; this time he went 0-for-4 in a 15-inning game at Yankee Stadium won by the AL.
Somehow, even though he was hitting .220 at the break and slumping so bad that he'd be benched later in the year, Uggla—now an Atlanta Brave—was chosen to start the 2012 Classic. Chase Utley was hurt most of that year, but what about Brandon Phillips?
Uggla never came out of his 2012 slump and was ultimately cut by Atlanta in mid-2014—only his hefty salary kept him around that long. He was given a short audition with the Giants—to call it disastrous would be euphemizing. Now 35, Uggla won a bench spot with the Washington Nationals for 2015.
CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, All-Stars
10/18/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2010 Topps #638 Paul Konerko, White Sox
More Paul Konerko Topps Cards: 1995 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2011 2012 2013 2014
Wow...from 1989 to 2010. I was hoping for a mid-90's selection.
The now-retired Konerko was a White Sock for so long, it's easy to forget he actually played for two teams prior to landing in Chicago. He was drafted as a catcher by the Dodgers and put up some incredible minor league numbers—including 37 homers and 127 RBI for AAA Albuquerque in 1997! (By then, a hip condition had forced Konerko to give up catching.)
By mid-1998, Los Angeles was in major transition—both on the field and in the front office. They needed relief pitching, so the budding star was traded to the Reds for All-Star RP Jeff Shaw. Cincy, set at first base with Sean Casey, sent Konerko west to acquire CF Mike Cameron after the season.
Konerko became the Sox' primary 1B not long after, with incumbent Frank Thomas gradually becoming a full-time DH. 425 homers, six All-Star selections, an ALCS MVP and a World Series title later, Konerko became one of the most accomplished White Sox ever.
THIS CARD: Konerko's bat says "Paul Konerko". That is not a coincidence. The brick is a dead giveaway for Wrigley Field—the figure behind Konerko seems to be donning Cubs blue. I can't explain the red dot in the corner. It just appeared post-scan.
(flip) I believe this is the first COTD common with no blurb. Looking at Konerko's 2008 and 2009 numbers, however, you can see he bounced back strong in '09 from a down '08. He was even stronger in 2010, putting up some of the best numbers of his career and returning to the All-Star team.
At first, Konerko going from Rhode Island to Arizona didn't make sense. Then I realized I knew someone who moved from Rhode Island to California for a very good reason. Sense was made.
AFTER THIS CARD: Konerko remained Chicago's 1B thru 2013 before spending his final year as a backup to Cuban sensation Jose Abreu. He finished his career second all-time in White Sox games (to Luke Appling) home runs and RBI (both to Thomas), and first in total bases.
Paul Konerko debuted as a draft pick in 1995 Topps, then appeared annually as a big leaguer from 1998-2014.
CATEGORIES: 2010 Topps, Chicago White Sox
10/20/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #354 Postseason Highlights, Game 3 ALCS
Who could forget this game? Yankees/Red Sox tensions were at an all-time high in the early 2000's—with Game 3 of the '03 ALCS as punctuation. (Almost punch-tuation at times.) This was the game Pedro Martinez nearly decapitated Karim Garcia with a fastball and set off Jorge Posada. This was the game Manny Ramirez took offense to a high fastball—not a high and tight fastball—from Roger Clemens, setting off a brawl that landed Yankee coach (and onetime Sox manager) Don Zimmer on the ground courtesy of Martinez.
If that weren't enough, Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson and Garcia mixed it up with a Fenway grounds crew member late in the game! (Each party named the other as instigator; no arrests were made.)
THIS CARD: Topps didn't feature any postseason highlight cards during my first 10 years of collecting, even while competitors trotted a few out. Finally, in 1998 when full factory set releases were pushed back to the following spring rather than around Christmas, we began to see World Series cards sprout up.
It wasn't long before every postseason series featured at least one highlight card. 2004 Topps carried 11 total PSHL's—including two specifically from the 2003 ALCS.
The top pic: Martinez/Garcia. At 7:00 is an angry Posada (Martinez famously pointed at his own head while jawing with Posada; most took it to mean he would bean Posada but Martinez denied it—he was informing the incensed Yankee catcher that a particular insult wouldn't be forgotten.) At 4:00 is Ramirez overreacting to a pitch that hardly had "knockdown" written on it.
(flip) Topps hit it right on the head with its description...especially the "bizarre" label.
AFTER THIS CARD: New York won in seven games on the infamous Aaron Boone homer off Tim Wakefield; Boston manager Grady Little—who left Martinez in at least two batters too long in that final game—was fired practically before the ball landed. Martinez played one final year in Boston; they met the Yankees again in another tense, confrontational 2004 ALCS. This time, however, Boston came out on top after being down three games to zero! (They then swept St. Louis in the World Series.)
Years later, though no overt hostility ever emerged to my knowledge, it is evident Martinez and Posada clearly do not respect one another—don't look for any Marichal/Roseboro-style autograph shows down the road.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Postseason Highlights
10/22/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Topps #408 Greg Walker, White Sox
More Greg Walker Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1990
This marks two slugging White Sox first basemen in three selections.
Walker is known to the current generation for his long tenure as White Sox hitting coach. Before that, he held down first base for the Sox for much of the 1980's—at least when healthy. After sharing time at first in 1983, his improved fielding eventually pushed incumbent Mike Squires out the door. He played all 163 games in '85 and recorded his second of two straight 24-homer seasons.
Then, a number of physical problems began to derail his career. He injured a wrist slipping on wet turf in early '86, then broke a bone in his hand on a checked swing later that year (he famously and miraculously homered one at-bat later, before the break was diagnosed!) Walker recovered in '87—after a ghastly start—and set career highs with 27 homers and 94 RBI.
THIS CARD: Walker looks pensive as he sits...somewhere. Green screen? Did they have that in 1988? And he's wearing a Sox T-shirt rather than jersey, so this is obviously not an in-game photo. Topps didn't really need to add the team script, did they?
Walker's 1988 season lasted just 99 games because of a serious seizure he suffered during a July 30 batting practice that left him hospitalized (and hospitalized him again in August). He did not play again in '88.
(flip) We could acknowledge Walker's game-winning RBI, but that was too much of an asinine statistic to waste more than this sentence on. The Topps of today would have acknowledged the seizure, but Topps blurbs of the late 80's practically never contained anything health-related—it was up to the collector to determine why a player went from 150+ games a year to 22.
AFTER THIS CARD: Walker returned in 1989, but was a shadow of himself as he battled elbow and shoulder problems—the latter of which required surgery. Chicago cut Walker in early 1990; the O's picked him up but cut him as well in August. He unsuccessfully competed for a spot on the 1991 Angels—managed by his ex-Sox coach Doug Rader—and that was it.
The former 20th-round pick—like many White Sox players of his generation—eventually became a Sox coach, serving as hitting instructor from 2003-11 until resigning under siege from Chicago fans who watched several high-priced stars turn in weak numbers.
Highly publicized were Walker's spats with Sox GM Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen (both former teammates). Less-publicized was his role in restoring slugger Paul Konerko to prominence.
Greg Walker appeared in Topps from 1983-1990 ('83 was a Traded card).
CATEGORIES: 1989 Topps, Chicago White Sox
10/24/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Topps #145 Eric Young Sr., Dodgers
More Eric Young Sr. Topps Cards: 1993A 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
Eric Young, Sr. becomes TSR's first two-time Card Of The Day selectee; his 1999 Topps card was chosen back on August 15.
This is Young's first Topps card and one of two he received in 1993 Topps—he was also represented with the expansion Rockies, who drafted him following the '92 season. Young received his first MLB action that year, thrust into LA's lineup in late July after fading 2B Juan Samuel was cut.
THIS CARD: This one's a little tough, since I can't tell with certainty whether or not Young has the ball. If not, is he waiting on a throw from the catcher that never came? Did he just turn a DP and if so, why is he looking towards third? The ball has to be in Young's glove as he's checking a runner on third—no other scenario matches this image. (Bip Roberts is the sliding Reds runner; with that information I'm sure I could figure out this mystery play...but speculating is more fun.)
(flip) Check out the back-to-back 70-steal seasons Young put up in the minors.
I was surprised to learn of even more successful major leaguers drafted in 1989 round #43. Who, you ask? Try Jason Giambi and Jorge Posada! Meanwhile, studs like Jeff Jackson, Paul Coleman and Earl Cunningham were picked top ten—three men who collectively played as many MLB games as I did.
Steve Lembo—who played seven MLB games in the early 1950s—died only months after inking Young, sadly.
AFTER THIS CARD: As alluded to, Young was drafted by expansion Colorado after the season, where he eventually became an All-Star second baseman. He was traded back to the Dodgers (for P Pedro Astacio) in 1997 and remained there thru 1999. He also played for the Cubs, Brewers, Giants, Rangers and Padres until ending his career after the '06 season at age 39. He received either a base or Update Topps card annually from 1993-2005.
In every non-strike year from 1993-2000, Young stole at least 42 bases. He had nine hits in 22 career postseason at-bats, including the first road postseason home run in Rockies history (off John Smoltz in the 1995 Division Series).
Eric Young appeared in Topps annually from 1993-2005; his final two seasons were not represented by Topps.
CATEGORIES: 1993 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers
10/28/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Topps #541 Jose Tolentino, Astros
More Jose Tolentino Topps Cards: n/a
Mexican-born Tolentino makes his first and only Topps appearance here, coming off his first and only major league trial. He was a 1983 Oakland draft pick who once hit .315/16/105 in AA. But by 1987 the A's already had a pretty good young first baseman blocking Tolentino's path.
Traded to Texas for two minor-league washouts—one of whom was coincidentally picked two spots ahead of him in the 1983 draft—Tolentino hooked up with Houston in mid-1988; he stayed in their organization thru 1991. In '90 he ripped .308/21/78 in AAA, but once again, his route to the majors was blocked by two other pretty good first basemen.
He finally reached the majors in July 1991, after eight-plus minor league seasons.
THIS CARD: Tolentino looks older than his own manager (Art Howe) in this photo. He certainly doesn't look 30. I can't recall the 'Stros using this cap back in the day; it's practically identical to the one they adopted after switching to the AL two years back.
(flip) As you see, the former Texas Longhorn got around. He's listed as a first baseman/outfielder, but he only played one game in the outfield and 10 at first base—33 of his 44 games were pinch-hit appearances. He never had a walk-off hit, but in August Tolentino belted a game-tying, two-run homer in the 8th inning against Alejandro Pena of the Mets (Houston eventually lost, however.)
AFTER THIS CARD: As stated, this would be Tolentino's only MLB experience. The Astros let him go after the '91 season; he spent a year in the Bucs system and three more in Mexico before one last hurrah in the States. At age 36, Tolentino smacked 17 homers for the Pirates/Orioles AAA teams, but never got another promotion.
Post-career, he coached for Mexico in the 2006 and 2009 WBCs and broadcasted for several outlets including ESPN. Tolentino says receiving a major league baseball card ties for the best moment of his career.
Jose Tolentino appeared in 1992 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 1992 Topps, Houston Astros
10/30/14 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #719 Tom Pagnozzi, Cardinals
More Tom Pagnozzi Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1995 1996 1997 1998
Pagnozzi, a 1983 8th-rounder out of Arkansas, lasted 12 major league seasons on the strength of his defensive abilities. Though he wasn't too shabby with the bat as a prospect, he was only adequate in The Show (career .658 OPS, 44 home runs). The 25-year-old played in the World Series within six weeks of his MLB debut, and stayed on the Cardinals' roster for the next 11 years.
In his early years, Pagnozzi was a backup/pinch-hitter—and seemed destined to remain one when slugging prospect Todd Zeile took over behind the plate in '90. But manager Joe Torre wanted Pagnozzi's defense in the lineup, so Zeile was shifted to third in late 1990. A Gold-Glove catcher was born.
THIS CARD: This is the second 1994 Topps card selected (#574 Willie McGee, 5/14/14), both of which are of the Topps "Gold" variety. Topps interspersed gold-foil cards in 1993 and 1994 packs—in those days I lacked the patience to wait for entire factory sets to be released, instead stocking up on rack-packs. About 25% of my (completed) 1994 set is Gold.
Note the yellow box featuring the team name. It bothered me so many teams featured boxes lacking the primary or even secondary color of said team...including the Cardinals. Oh, and Pagnozzi's glove looks Velcro-ed onto his chest protector.
(flip) Pags had more than a "good" arm. He threw out 37% of opposing base-stealers in his career, wiped out 45% or more thrice, and erased a full 50% in 1994! The three-time Gold Glover was limited to 92 games by torn knee cartilage in May—which would be re-torn in early 1994.
AFTER THIS CARD: When healthy, Pagnozzi remained the Cardinals' #1 catcher into 1997. But a bad rotator cuff combined with Eli Marrero's emergence—and a roster crunch—led to his August 1998 release. Pagnozzi remained unemployed thru 1999 following cuff surgery, but was given a shot by Torre to win a backup spot with the Yankees. He failed to do so, and retired at 38.
Tom's nephew, Matt Pagnozzi , has several MLB cameos to his credit in recent years—including 21 games with his uncle's old club.
Tom Pagnozzi appeared in Topps annually from 1988-1998.
CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals