Topps Baseball Card Of The Day, October 2022
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10/31/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2006 Topps #179 Deivi Cruz, Cardinals
More Deivi Cruz Topps Cards: 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2002T 2003 2003T 2004 2005G
Every good team seems to have one or two dudes who contribute to its success after materializing from thin air. Granted, the 1997 Tigers were not a conventionally good team, but they were 23 games better than the 1996 edition—and the defense of rookie SS Deivi Cruz was a factor in that improvement.
Cruz came up in the Giants system, went to the Dodgers in the 1996 Rule V Draft, then was swapped to Detroit that same day. By rule, the Tigers had to keep him on their '97 roster, but they went a step further and installed him as their starting SS! Cruz held that job through 2001, proving to be a quality hitter as well as fielder.
The veteran IF then moved through San Diego (2002) and Baltimore (2003) before landing back with the Giants for 2004 after a Spring release by the Devil Rays. Here, after splitting 2005 with the Giants and Nationals, 33-year-old Cruz has joined the Cardinals on a 1Y/$800K deal. As the salary suggests, St. Louis targeted Cruz as infield depth behind SS David Eckstein and 2B Aaron Miles.
THIS CARD: As you can see, Cruz didn't have the typical shortstop's body. But just like fellow Dominican Juan Uribe later on, his beef didn't stop him from doing the job and doing it well.
Given the fact that Cruz never played a regular-season game for the Cardinals, and given the fact that this image was shot at San Francisco's AT&T Park, I'm willing to bet pretty much anything this is an airbrushed image of Cruz the 2005 Giant. (Cruz WAS issued #35 by the Cardinals, who were apparently eager to wash away all traces of their recently departed former ace Matt Morris.)
More from Cruz's 2005 season: with legendary SS Omar Vizquel now in the picture, Cruz had to settle for a bench role with the '05 Giants. He wound up starting 38 times for San Francisco, most of that as a fill-in for injured 2B Ray Durham, before being dealt to Washington at the August Trade Deadline. I'm not sure what Cruz had for breakfast 8/16, but the man exploded out of a 2-for-28 slump with a 5-for-5, five-RBI night at Cincinnati in which he added a three-run homer!
(flip) I WAS going to list the others in Giants history with three doubles in one game. But as it turns out, it happened 64 times prior to Cruz and 15 more times since Cruz. That being said—good job taking it to the Dodgers, Deivi. Wish you had saved it for Game #162, though.
Instead of posting such a redundant stat in the Stat Box, Topps COULD have shared with you Cruz's 2005 fielding percentage of .989. But I digress.
See those comically low walk totals? Those aren't misprints. Cruz, in his entire nine-year MLB career—the majority of which was spent as a regular—drew fewer walks than Juan Soto drew in 2022 alone (135). Billy Beane would have probably consumed urine before ever signing Cruz.
AFTER THIS CARD: Cruz hit .146 in 2006 Spring Training, earning him his preseason release. He wound up spending '06 in the Independent League, his final professional baseball action.
Deivi Cruz appeared annually in Topps 1998-2006, except 2005 (although he does appear on a 2005 Topps San Francisco Giants Emerald Nuts card, which I didn't know existed until 40 seconds ago and will now try to purchase.)
CATEGORIES: 2006 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals, Quirks
More October 2022 Topps Cards Of The Day
10/1/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #300 Mike Trout, Angels
More Mike Trout Topps Cards: 2011U 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2019 2020 2021 2022
Mike Trout had been on the MLB radar for over a year by the time I really got to observe him in action. Up to that point, I'd always assumed he was just Steve Trout's kid following in papa's big league footsteps.
You see, when Mike Trout emerged as a big leaguer, I was busy raising a two-year-old. Whereas I'd normally be up to my neck in all things MLB, in 2011-12 I was up to my neck in potty training, Sesame Street, See-N-Say's and the like. Something had to give, so instead of making sure I had Trout's interleague OPS versus lefty pitchers committed to memory, I opted to make sure my child could tell red from yellow.
It's come in handy multiple times over the years! No regrets.
Here, Trout continues his reign as baseball's top superstar—even as his Angels missed out on postseason play for a third straight season. One wonders how the 2017 Halos would have fared had Trout—who was blistering-hot in the early weeks of '17—not missed 48 games with a thumb injury that required surgery. He was out from late May to mid-July, and Los Angeles went 23-25 without him.
THIS CARD: Some of Trout's greatest moments have been preserved on his Topps card fronts, but per Getty Images, this is just him slicing a foul ball against the visiting Mariners 4/9/2017. That day, Trout was 0-for-3 with two walks and two K; his Angels edged Seattle 10-9.
Trout has occupied Card #1 in a trio of Topps sets, but here he slides down to #300. Since 2013 Topps, Trout has thrice occupied both Card #1 (2014, 2016, 2020) and Card #27 (2013, 2021, 2022 referencing his uniform number), with the remaining card numbers ending in 0. That's how Topps labels somebody as "pretty darn good".
More from Trout's 2017 season: he ranked second in AL average, third in runs, second in HR, fourth in RBI, first in BB, first in SLG, first in OBP and first in XBH when he was injured sliding into second base at Miami 5/28. In spite of his extended absence, Trout still placed 4th in AL MVP voting...albeit a distant 4th. On 8/30 vs. Oakland, Trout went 4-for-4 with a walk, missing the cycle by a double and scoring four times in a 10-8 Angels victory.
(flip) See those 1,040 career hits? Trout raked #1,000 on 8/7/2017 versus Baltimore, a B4th double off Dylan Bundy.
See those 201 career homers? Trout blasted #200 (and #201) on 9/29/2017 versus Seattle's Marco Gonzales and Nick Vincent, respectively.
Trout was AL MVP in 2014 and 2016, and would later win a third MVP in 2019. I'm pointing that out as much for myself as I am for TSR visitors, as I tend to forget in my old age.
AFTER THIS CARD: Oh, not much, just a 12Y/$430M extension in March 2019, a third AL MVP award later that year, four All-Star berths, three Silver Sluggers, and 149 more homers (giving him a club-record 350 even thru 2022). Plus, for good measure, Trout's beloved Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl 52 after the 2017 season.
After making his Topps debut in 2011 Update—a card that will cost you a few bucks but not quite this many—Mike Trout has been one of the headliners of Topps base sets since 2012.
CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Los Angeles Angels
10/2/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #555 David Ross, Dodgers
More David Ross Topps Cards: 2006U 2007 2008 2009U 2011U 2014U 2015U 2016
As a longtime baseball fan, I can tell you that some dudes are able to sneak in a decade-plus in MLB without anyone ever really noticing. Former Brewers ace Cal Eldred was one—we remember his first (great) year with Milwaukee, his last couple years as a Cardinals reliever...and pretty much nothing in between.
Joe Blanton was another. One minute (2005), he's an emerging young starter for the Athletics. The next minute (2016), he's a lights-out reliever for the Dodgers. Trying to figure out those middle 10 years will get you nothing but a headache.
David Ross may be the ultimate such case. Personally, I recall him coming up as a young Dodger in the early '00s, and I recall his final season as a 2016 World Champion Cub. All I immediately recall in between is him winning a ring with the 2013 Red Sox—and that's only because his 2014 Topps Update card features him proudly showing off said ring!
It took a minute for Ross's MLB career to gain traction. But once it did, his strong defense, leadership and capable bat—in limited doses—kept him on track. Ross wound up playing MLB for 15 years, seven of which ended with postseason play and two of which ended with World Series glory.
Not bad for a guy who, at age 28, was buried in AAA behind Humberto Cota. And later swapped for the great J.J. Furmaniak.
THIS CARD: I've gotten so used to the grayed, grizzled version of David Ross that exists today; I'm not sure I could have identified this 25-year-old version. He looks more like ex-Giants SP Matt Cain than Matt Cain does, to be honest.
Not sure who Ross is giving the dap to, but it signifies something good happened for the Dodgers, so I don't like it. I THINK they are celebrating at PNC Park in Pittsburgh...(leaves to research)
(returns)...except Ross did not play there in 2003. In the end, I could not definitively identify the location of this pic, despite the fact Ross didn't appear at all that many road ballparks in '03.
Other notable Dodgers to wear #40: Rick Honeycutt, both as a player in the 80's and the team's pitching coach 2006-19.
(flip) I never knew Ross displayed such a dangerous bat on the farms. Granted, the Vegas elevation might have aided a few of those home runs, but Ross did show more than adequate pop after being promoted to the bigs, too. YES, I'm giving credit to a Dodger.
The Dodgers always had their eye on young Ross. Not only did they draft him #7 in 1998 out of Florida, but they tried to nab him #19 in 1995 out of high school.
How well did Ross throw with the 2003 Dodgers? Well, he caught 16 of 45 attempted basestealers, a healthy 36%, so I'd say the blurb is on point. Need more evidence? Okay—for Class A San Bernadino in 2000, Ross gunned 34 of 66 would-be thieves (52%)!
AFTER THIS CARD: For the 2004 Dodgers, Ross shared time behind the plate with first Paul Lo Duca, then Brent Mayne. Los Angeles then sold Ross to the Pirates near the end of Spring Training 2005 but—as referenced above—Pittsburgh didn't have much use for Ross and dealt him to the Padres near the '05 Trade Deadline.
It wasn't until joining the 2006 Reds (on a 2Y/$4.5M deal that January) that Ross re-emerged as a viable major leaguer—the 29-year-old banged 21 homers in just 247 at-bats for Cincinnati!
Ross then followed that up by batting .203 in 112 games in 2007 (albeit with 17 more bombs); he wasn't much better in 2008 and finished the year with Boston after being cut by the Reds in August.
Next, Atlanta signed Ross for 2Y/$3M in December 2008; he backed up Brian McCann so well that the Braves extended him for 2Y/$3.25M in July 2010! Next came two seasons back with Boston, where Ross shook off two lengthy concussion absences to directly help the Red Sox win the 2013 World Series!
Ross landed with the Cubs in December 2014 (2Y/$5M), backing up Miguel Montero and Willson Contreras. Once more, he directly aided his club's championship march by homering off Cleveland's Andrew Miller in 2016 WS Game 7—the oldest player to ever homer in a Fall Classic (39).
Ross then transitioned into the Cubs' front office while also doing some ESPN work; in October 2019 he succeeded Joe Maddon as Cubs manager. Ross's 2020 Cubs won the NL Central, but by mid-2021 a full-on rebuild was underway in Chicago. Still, in March 2022, his contract was extended through at least 2024.
David Ross appeared in 2004, 2007-08, and 2016 Topps. He can also be found in 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015 Topps Update—Topps repped Ross with all the notable clubs he played for.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Los Angeles Dodgers
10/3/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Topps #444 Cliff Floyd, Expos
More Cliff Floyd Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007U 2008 2009U
Here, the future All-Star Floyd has completed a bounce-back 1996 season. When I say "bounce-back", I don't necessarily mean Floyd's '96 campaign was productive. I do mean to say that Floyd even taking the field in 1996 was an accomplishment—his May 1995 wrist injury was a bad one, folks.
The 23-year-old took on a part-time role for the '96 Expos, and though his overall numbers weren't particularly impressive, Floyd did bat .348 (24-for-69) from 6/24 thru 7/24, and his four triples tied for second on the team behind F.P. Santangelo's five.
THIS CARD: Floyd appears in COTD for the second time this year; we profiled his 1996 Topps card in May 2022—and did so poorly, as I now realize after checking out said profile. We published that COTD with incomplete and erroneous information, and I'll correct it immediately after completing this one. (No, the error was not accidentally calling him Gavin Floyd. Or Sleepy Floyd.)
Floyd appears to either be A) debating whether or not to advance on a ball hit to the left side, or B) caught up in a pickle. Floyd wasn't a blazer, but he moved well for a man his size and later enjoyed a pair of 20-20 seasons with Florida.
More from Floyd's 1996 season: he spent the first month of '96 rehabbing at AAA Ottawa. When the Expos recalled Floyd, they mercifully spared him from returning to 1B save for an 8/10 start and an 8/12 finish there in August (not sure about 8/10, but Rodriguez was ejected 8/12 for charging Houston's Danny Darwin). On 6/30, Floyd's PH, three-run homer off Phillies CL Ricky Bottalico in the T9th gave Montreal the comeback win!
(flip) Yes, that's Tim Raines' old #30 Floyd is wearing, though it might look like #33 at first glance. The number was not retired by the Expos until Raines himself retired after the 2002 season.
GEEZ...12/5/72...Cliff Floyd is about to turn 50?!!! Holy Christ, I'm getting old, too!
Three of Floyd's six homers in 1996 were of the pinch-hit variety.
Here is the video of Floyd's 5/15/1995 collision with Mets C Todd Hundley. It is NOT for the faint of heart, and I personally cannot look directly at it...you've been warned.
Doctors told Floyd his career might be over, and they meant it—under those circumstances, you'll never see a more impressive .242, 6, 26 line from a non-pitcher unless it's produced by a duck or a lizard.
AFTER THIS CARD: With extensive playing time no longer available to him in Montreal, Floyd was traded to Florida in Spring 1997. Interestingly, he initially played even less there, but came away with his lone World Series ring as a 1997 Marlin! After the club's Great Fire Sale that winter, Floyd emerged as their starting LF in 1998 and finally broke through, batting .282, 22, 90 in 153 games.
Floyd was gifted with a 4Y/$19M extension in January 1999, but knee and Achilles injuries cost him more than half of that season. He bounced back with a .300, 22, 91 season for the 2000 Marlins and in 2001, Floyd finished up at .317, 31, 103 for the Fish—earning his lone career All-Star nod!
Off to a strong start in 2002, the pending free agent was traded back to Montreal, then to Boston during the '02 season; he finished at .288 with 28 jacks in all and signed a 4Y/$26M deal with the Mets that December.
In his four seasons in New York, Floyd missed at least 49 games to injury three times, the exception being 2005 (.273, 34, 98). After spending 2007 in a part-time role with the Cubs and 2008 in a similar role with the AL Champion Rays, Floyd began 2009 on the Padres DL, went 2-for-16 upon activation, underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, and never returned to MLB. He's good on MLB Network; check him out.
Cliff Floyd appeared annually in Topps or Topps Update 1992-2009, except 1998.
CATEGORIES: 1997 Topps, Montreal Expos
10/4/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Topps #503 Albert Belle, Indians
More Joey/Albert Belle Topps Cards: 1990 1992 1993 1994 1996 1997 1998 1999 1999T 2000 2001
Belle was one the most prolific hitters of the 1990's, and he was arguably never better than in the strike-shortened 1994 season. That year, the 28-year-old left fielder hit .357—including a 67-game stretch 4/22 to 7/6 where he hit .392—set a Cleveland record for SLG which still stands today, and probably would have eclipsed Hal Trosky's club record of 405 total bases (1936) given those final seven weeks of action.
Of course, detractors must take that performance with a barrel of salt, considering Belle was caught using a corked bat on 7/15, and later revealed to have an entire supply of them.
THIS CARD: Belle was just "regular big" during his playing days, as you see here. But like many of us, he expanded substantially as he aged. LET ME STRESS that there's not a damn thing wrong with that...I've got enough problems without getting on Belle's bad side.
Since Belle left the Indians after the 1996 season, uniform #8 has made the rounds, most notably to IF John McDonald in the 00's and 3B/OF Lonnie Chisenhall in the 10's. Which is too bad, because transgressions and all, that number would probably be retired by Cleveland today had Belle played his whole career there.
(Also, back when Belle was in diapers, the late, great Ray Fosse wore #8 in Cleveland.)
More from Belle's 1994 season: you've probably learned by now that after White Sox manager Gene Lamont busted Belle out to the umpires that 7/15 evening, Indians RP Jason Grimsley climbed through the vents of brand-new Jacobs Field to extricate the confiscated bat from the umpires' room.
It didn't take long for authorities to figure out something was up, however, and Belle ended up with a 10-game suspension that was reduced to seven upon appeal and served August 1-7.
(flip) Believe it or not, that insane .714 SLG in '94 did NOT lead the AL. That honor belonged to future Hall-of-Famer Frank Thomas, who slugged .729 for the White Sox en route to his second straight AL MVP award.
If Thomas was first in AL MVP voting, and Belle was third, WHO was second? That would be another future Hall-of-Famer, Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr., who placed a distant second in spite of some pretty amazing performances in 1994. Junior finished just eight points ahead of Belle, who would place second in 1995 AL MVP voting and third in 1996.
That's how Belle looked all the time, I feel obligated to inform you. I never really saw him smiling until his reunion with Indians teammates during 2012 Spring Training.
AFTER THIS CARD: Let's see, in addition to multiple on-and-off-field mishaps, Belle drilled 103 XBH in 1995 to nearly power Cleveland to the championship, drove in 148 runs in his walk year of 1996, then signed a historic 5Y/$55M deal with the White Sox in November 1996. Though 1997 was a bit of a down year for Belle, he rebounded with a .328, 49, 152 line in 1998 and promptly exercised an opt-out in his contract.
In November 1998, Belle jumped to Baltimore for 5Y/$65M and homered 37 times in 1999. But following an ordinary—for him—2000 campaign, Belle could not shake hip pain during 2001 Spring Training. He was found to have degenerative osteoarthritis in the hip, and though his career ended immediately at 34, he officially remained an Oriole with a roster spot until his contract expired after the 2003 season so that insurance would cover his final two years of salary ($27M).
For the most part, Belle—who finished up with a .295 average and 381 homers—laid low for a decade until a surprisingly upbeat reunion with several members of his old Indians squad in Spring Training 2012.
Albert Belle debuted in 1990 Topps as Joey—short for his middle name Jojuan—then was omitted in 1991 (just nine MLB games in '90). He returned in 1992 Topps as Albert and appeared continuously thru 2001, while also receiving a 1999 Topps Traded card as a new Oriole.
CATEGORIES: 1995 Topps, Cleveland Indians
10/6/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Topps #83 Tom Urbani, Cardinals
More Tom Urbani Topps Cards: 1995
For the final weeks of the 1993 season, people were talking about Cardinals rookie lefty Tom Urbani, who put together a solid stretch for the St. Louis Cardinals after moving into their rotation.
As what tends to happen for many young players, Urbani's fine finish to 1993 did not portend great things to come. Still, he lasted parts of four seasons with St. Louis, usually as a fill-in guy but also with a spot to call his own for a time.
Here, Urbani has closed the book on that rookie season, one that came to an encouraging end after he posted a 3.73 ERA from 8/21 on (nine starts). While Urbani was only credited with one win during that stretch, St. Louis went 6-3!
THIS CARD: Unfortunately, this is not a random selection. We had a different 1994 Topps random selection all ready to go when news of Urbani's passing broke at the end of September. The 54-year-old's cause of death remains private; I quickly made the executive decision to replace our original 10/6 selection with Urbani.
We see the young lefty pitching at an unidentifiable road ballpark. Smashing all rookie stereotypes to hell in 1993, Urbani posted a 3.58 ERA and 1.374 WHIP on the road compared to 5.50 and 1.777 at Busch Stadium II.
More from Urbani's 1993 season: he was recalled from AAA Louisville three times by the Cardinals, those occasions being
when SP Rene Arocha's finger was broken by a Dante Bichette (Rockies) liner in late April,
when P Omar Olivares hit the DL with a strained groin in early June, and
when SP Rheal Cormier came down with a sore shoulder in mid-August.
(flip) According to the blurb, the 1993 American Association qualified ERA leader would have needed just 115 IP—MLB requires one inning pitched per team game and I always assumed MiLB did so as well (they don't, which I suppose makes sense). Under that rule, Rod Bolton of Nashville (White Sox) was the league leader with his 2.88 ERA across 115.2 IP.
Not shown: the three previous times Urbani was drafted prior to 1990 (the 1986 Royals #33, the 1988 Rangers #34, and the 1989 Twins #29). Texas had attempted to draft Urbani out of something called Cabrillo College in CA, but he wisely chose to attend Cal State Long Beach.
This is Urbani's TOPPS rookie card, allegedly. But he appeared—as a big leaguer—in 1993 Stadium Club, which is of course produced by Topps and was released well before 1994 Topps. Do you SEE why collectors, including myself, were confused as crap back in the day?
AFTER THIS CARD: Urbani got in 20 games (10 starts) for St. Louis over the course of the 1994 season, throwing some good games but finishing with a 5.15 ERA. In 1995, despite peripherals very similar to his 1994 season, Urbani dropped his ERA to 3.70 in 24 games (13 starts) for the Cardinals. But after a pair of shaky outings in early 1996, Urbani was shipped off to Detroit.
As a Tiger, Urbani posted a 1.901 WHIP in 16 games and was demoted to AAA Toledo, never to return to MLB. He did pitch in the Texas, Montreal and St. Louis (again) systems as well as the Independent League through 1998.
Tom Urbani appeared in 1994-95 Topps
CATEGORIES: 1994 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals, Now Deceased
10/7/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Topps #218 Dan Schatzeder, Twins
More Dan Schatzeder Topps Cards: 1987
Schatzeder, the epitome of the journeyman left-hander, joined his sixth team (counting the Expos twice) in 1987 following a June trade with Philly. It wasn't a smooth go in Minnesota for the 32-year-old, who was battered in his first Twins outing and scored upon in 17 of his 30 regular-season games with the club. Schatzeder was able to clean things up in the postseason, however.
THIS CARD: I'm not sure I've ever seen a dude wearing a T-Shirt on his baseball card, but there you go.
Schatzeder was one of those guys who, because of that mustache and journeyman status, always seemed to be 38 years old. He was only 32 in 1987, however.
More from Schatzeder's 1987 season: he held his own as a Phillies long man, working as many as 3.2 innings in one outing and throwing three shutout innings in another. On 8/3, Schatzeder turned in his finest outing as a Twin, going the final 5.2 innings after SP Joe Niekro was famously ejected for this. Schatzeder allowed four hits and just one run in Minnesota's 11-3 triumph over California.
(flip) Since there's no blurb, I'll create one: through 1987, Schatzeder was a lifetime .249 hitter with five homers in 229 MLB at-bats. He was often used as a pinch-hitter during his NL days and went 6-for-15 in that role!
See those six unearned runs Schatzeder allowed with the 1987 Twins? They all came in one outing, on 7/7 at the Yankees; he allowed the six runs and four hits in just 0.1 innings. They were not earned because 2B Steve Lombardozzi Sr. booted Rick Cerone grounder, extending the B7th.
That Trade sent minor leaguers Danny Clay (RP) and Tom Schwarz (IF) to Philadelphia. Only Clay reached MLB, posting a 6.00 ERA in 17 games for the 1988 Phillies.
AFTER THIS CARD: After splitting 1988 with the Indians and Twins, Schatzeder worked—and worked well—out of the Astros bullpen 1989-90 until being moved to the Mets in September 1990. He then got in eight games with the 1991 Royals before being released, ending his MLB career at 36. (Schatzeder did appear nine times for AAA Tidewater [Mets] after his release by KC.)
Dan Schatzeder appeared in 1978-88 Topps, as well as 1982 Topps Traded.
CATEGORIES: 1988 Topps, Minnesota Twins
10/8/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #31 Brent Morel, White Sox
More Brent Morel Topps Cards: 2011
Entering the 2009 season, after the White Sox decided to part ways with onetime star 3B Joe Crede over concerns about his chronic back issues, somebody had to take over the position. Ideally, Chicago could have traded for Alex Rodriguez or Michael Young or Chipper Jones to handle third, but that didn't happen.
The team cycled through a number of third base hopefuls/stopgaps over the next few years. For a time, even Omar Vizquel—the 42-year-old perennial Gold Glove shortstop—was asked to hold down the hot corner.
In 2011, young Brent Morel—a Cal Poly alum who could hit and run—received his opportunity to man third base at U.S. Cellular Field. He started there on Opening Day and added 63 more starts (out of 105 Sox games) there through the end of July, when chief 3B competitor Mark Teahen was traded to Toronto.
Morel played virtually every day from then on, homering nine times in 180 at-bats—including eight in September alone!
THIS CARD: Per Getty Images, we're seeing Morel in action on 6/7/2011 versus Seattle, firing over the top of SP Philip Humber. Evidently, Morel is making a play on a bunt, and I WOULD HAVE looked up the bunter had it not taken 10 minutes just to find the image. (BTW, the Sox won that day 5-1.)
That Mariners third-base coach in the background has to be Jeff Datz—who I've never once heard of despite his month as a Tigers catcher in 1989, or his eight years coaching with the 2000's Indians. Per Wikipedia sources, Datz was scouting for the Yankees at last check.
On Morel's chest, we see the partially-obscured #22. In White Sox history, notables such as OF Ivan Calderon, 3B/SS Jose Valentin and OF Scott Podsednik also wore #22—no one remotely close to Cooperstown status, obviously, but still guys who enjoyed extended success on the South Side.
(flip) So THAT'S why Topps chose a photo of Morel firing to first base for the out—the honor from Baseball America, If a buddy told you a large-chested gal was interested in you, you wouldn't have much use for a photo of her ankles, would you?
AFTER THIS CARD: Morel's strong 2011 finish would not be a precursor to further MLB success, unfortunately. As May 2012 wound down, Morel—batting just .177 in 35 games for the Sox—went down with a back strain that was only supposed to sideline him for a couple of weeks. But issues persisted, and by the time Morel was finally activated 8/1, Chicago had replaced him at 3B with former All-Star Kevin Youkilis. Morel finished the year at AAA Charlotte.
Morel got just 30 at-bats with the 2013 White Sox, who stashed him at Charlotte and then waived him that December. Toronto soon claimed him, then waived him as well two months later. This time, the Pirates took a flier, but they used Morel as depth at AAA Indianapolis—he only received 46 at-bats over 23 games for the 2014-15 Pirates.
Morel signed an MiLB deal with Oakland in July 2015 and hit .331 in 34 games at AAA Nashville to close the year; his pro career ended with two seasons in Japan during which Morel showed even less power than he had in MLB.
Brent Morel appeared in 2011-12 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Chicago White Sox
10/9/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #194 Zach Day, Expos
More Zach Day Topps Cards: 2005 2005U 2006 2006U
Zach Day was a decent starting pitcher for Montreal in spurts over the 2003-04 seasons; I personally thought he would last a lot longer in MLB than he did.
Unfortunately, in 2005, Day became known (perhaps BEST known) for something other than his arm—after being pulled from a May start in which he'd been laboring, Day appeared to turn his back on manager Frank Robinson as he was removed from the game. He lost his rotation spot, and two months later, Day was moved to Colorado. His career never recovered.
But here, Day is fresh off a 2003 season full of promise...and a little weirdness, as you'll see below. As Montreal's #2 starter, he threw seven shutout innings in his season debut 4/2 and was effective for most of his 23 starts for the '03 Expos.
THIS CARD: Day appears to be toiling at San Francisco's SBC Park. He pitched there once in 2003, giving up one run in six innings to earn his fourth victory on 5/12.
ARE there any other notable #54's in Expos history? Well, future star OF Ellis Valentine and future star CL Tim Burke wore #54 as rookies, and middle reliever Tim Scott enjoyed some success wearing #54 in the mid-1990's. That's pretty much it.
More from Day's 2003 season: he was ejected in the third inning of his 5/17 start after superglue was found on his person. Around the same time, Day battled a cyst on his knee and was eventually sent to the DL with an inflamed right shoulder that ended up being a partially torn rotator cuff.
(flip) In that 5/1 shutout at Milwaukee, Day walked one, struck out five, and threw 114 pitches. It was the first of two career shutouts he'd throw; we'll detail the other when we pull his 2005 Topps card.
In this pic, Day—at least to me—strongly resembles one of his future ExpoNats rotation mates, John Patterson. Which, while not on the level of a John Stamos or John Travolta resemblance, was not a bad thing in the year 2004.
Day was indeed a Yankees draft pick who went to Cleveland in the deal for OF David Justice. A year later, the Expos acquired Day straight up for then-prospect Milton Bradley—which, years later, doesn't look fair at all to Montreal until you remember Bradley was not completely sane.
AFTER THIS CARD: The 2004 Expos opened their final season with Day as their #4 starter/ he went 5-10, 3.93 in 19 starts before a season-ending finger injury suffered while bunting in a "game" that was eventually rained out. As mentioned, Day endured a tough 2005 with the newborn Nationals, prompting that July trade to Colorado (in exchange for OF Preston Wilson).
As a Rockie, Day was no better, and by May 2006 he was back in Washington via waivers and instantly returned to their rotation. Day delivered two dazzling starts, two clunkers, and one that fell somewhere in between before undergoing another rotator cuff surgery. The Nats released him that fall, and when MiLB deals with the 2007 Royals and 2008 Twins led nowhere, Day simply evaporated into the pro baseball abyss.
Zach Day appeared in 2004-06 Topps, as well as 2005-06 Topps Updates & Highlights.
CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Montreal Expos
10/11/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2002 Topps #392 Matt Morris, Cardinals
More Matt Morris Topps Cards: 1996 1998 1999 2001 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2007U 2008
In the first half of the 2000's, there weren't many dudes winning more games than Matt Morris of the St. Louis Cardinals. In fact, from 2001-05 he was victorious 79 times in the regular season (and once more in the postseason). Only seven other MLB pitchers earned more wins in that period.
Morris wasn't too bad in the 1990's either—after being drafted by St. Louis in 1995, he spent exactly one full season on the farms before winning a spot in the 1997 Cardinals' rotation. (He didn't get the attention he might have otherwise because the Cardinals imported another Double-M that summer.)
A Spring shoulder strain kept Morris out for the first half of 1998, but upon healing, he was even better than in '97! But the 25-year-old lost all of 1999 due to MCL surgery on his pitching elbow.
Here, Morris is coming off a spectacular 2001 season that earned him an All-Star nod and would have culminated in the NL Cy Young Award had the Diamondback Duo of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling not performed at superhuman levels. Still, Morris could brag that his '01 win total (22) had gone unmatched by any Cardinal in the past 31 seasons.
THIS CARD: We see Morris unleashing either his mid-90's four-seamer, his sinking two-seamer, his power curve, or his straight changeup. After arthroscopic shoulder surgery in 2003, Morris lost a couple MPH off his fastball but could still reach back to 94-95 when necessary...at least for a time; by 2008, his final season, 33-year-old Morris was down to 85 MPH.
Topps' redundancy checkers failed Morris, whose 2003 Topps front image was nearly identical to this one. His 2004 Topps front image used the same angle/zoom, but at least it caught Morris at the top of his motion.
More from Morris's 2001 season: On his 27th birthday 8/9, the Cardinals gave him the gift of a victory despite his five runs and 10 hits allowed in 6.2 innings. In his 20th win of the year 9/19, Morris accrued a season—and ultimately, career—high of 13 K to complete a three-game sweep of Milwaukee. And from 8/3 thru 9/4, Morris won seven straight starts with a 3.21 ERA!
(flip) Tying with Morris for the NL lead in wins was Schilling.
Uh...if anything, 2000 should have been Morris's "comeback" season; he didn't "come back" from anything in 2001 other than pitching full-time relief—which, last I checked, didn't earn any awards for Scott Garrelts in 1989 or Todd Stottlemyre in 1995. Perhaps Morris could have been the inaugural "Return To Prior Form" award winner?
There weren't many dudes who could look as mean as Morris when scowling and as gentle as Morris when smiling. I don't KNOW the man, but from what I heard in interviews, etc. he fell somewhere in the middle in terms of temperament—he might snarl at you, but then he'd buy you ice cream.
As you see in the bio, Morris was a #1 pick in 1995 (12th overall, out of Seton Hall). That was three short years after being a #26 pick by Milwaukee out of HS in 1992.
AFTER THIS CARD: We summed up Morris's successful 2002-05 period; included in that was a 3Y/$27M extension signed in January 2002, a second straight All-Star appearance that year, and this iconic (at least to me) moment in the '02 postseason in tribute to fallen rotation mate Darryl Kile.
Morris threw five CG and three SHO in 2003, but missed a month with a liner-induced broken hand and this foolishness. He responded in 2004 by...allowing nine homers in April on the way to 35 for the year and going winless in four postseason starts. That winter, Morris underwent shoulder surgery and more closely resembled his old self in the first half of 2005, parlaying that into a 3Y/$27M deal with my Giants in December 2005.
Morris—who later admitted to be bothered by a rib injury in late 2006—struggled to find consistency in his first year with SF, despite being reunited with his old Cardinals batterymate Mike Matheny (for a few weeks, anyway). He finished 10-15, 4.98 that year and with 2007 not looking much better, the Giants were able to dump Morris's contract on the lowly Pirates via Deadline deal for OF Rajai Davis He finished '07 at 10-11, 4.89.
When Morris sported a 9.67 ERA and severely diminished velocity a month into the 2008 season, Pittsburgh cut him, and he quickly retired at 33.
Matt Morris debuted as a Draft Pick in 1996 Topps, then appeared annually as a big leaguer in 1998-2008 Topps, except 2000. Morris also turned up in 2007 Topps Update as a new Pirate.
CATEGORIES: 2002 Topps, St. Louis Cardinals
10/12/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1999 Topps #318 Dave Hollins, Angels
More Dave Hollins Topps Cards: 1990T 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1998
Here, we catch up with the veteran third baseman Hollins as he basks in the afterglow of his final season as a big league regular. Hollins, in Year 2 of a 2Y/$3.8M Anaheim deal he signed in November 1996, started 98 of 101 games in 1998—91 at 3B, six at 1B and one at DH. He missed the final seven weeks of '98 after undergoing rotator cuff surgery.
THIS CARD: "Dave Hollins, Angels?" Yes, it happened and believe me—I understand if it sounds strange to you. It sounds strange to me and I specifically remember when and why the Angels signed him! I'm aware most of the nation only remembers Hollins the early-1990's Phillie, but he played several more years after leaving the City of Brother Love.
Hollins laying down a bunt? Not as uncommon as you may think. In his 12 MLB seasons, Hollins bunted for 42 hits—including 18 as an Angel 1997-98!
In Angels history, #10 has been worn by a number of guys who—not entirely unlike Hollins—were just passing through Anaheim, although slugging OF Justin Upton wore it during his final two seasons with the team (2020-21) after switching from #8. Hollins, of course, wore #15 with the Phils.
(flip) If there is ONE active big leaguer sporting that 'do in 2022, I'll shave my own head. In NO way am I making fun of Hollins; just observing how different today's players look from just 25 years ago.
In that 1993 All-Star Game played at Camden Yards, Hollins doubled against future Twins teammate Rick Aguilera in the T8th. This was the same Classic where Hollins' Phillies teammate John Kruk was "brushed back" by the frightening Mariners legend Randy Johnson.
If I ever knew Dave Hollins was drafted by the Padres, I'd LONG AGO forgotten it.
I'm still irked when I see Hollins' 1996 stat line: 16 homers, 78 RBI in 149 games and the man did not receive a 1997 Topps card...
This is Hollins' second appearance in COTD. We profiled his 1994 Topps card in November 2017.
AFTER THIS CARD: Nearing age 33 upon conclusion of 1999 Spring Training, Hollins was traded to Toronto to clear space at 3B for prospect Troy Glaus. Hollins would play just 43 more major league games—a total which would've been higher if not for this.
Between the 1999 Blue Jays, 2001 Indians and 2002 Phillies, Hollins went 25-for-121 (.207) with two home runs in those 43 games. He retired the next year, coached for AA Binghamton (Mets) in 2005, and at last check was scouting for the Phillies.
Dave Hollins debuted in 1990 Topps Traded, received cards in 1991-95 Topps, then popped up two more times in 1998-99 Topps.
CATEGORIES: 1999 Topps, Anaheim Angels