Score Baseball Card Of The Day, March 2021
"I have opinions of my own -- strong opinions -- but I don't always agree with them." -- President George W. Bush
SCORE Archive 2020: November/December
I own every Score card ever made (1988-98) and still lament their parent company, Pinnacle, going bankrupt during my senior year of high school.
Time has not diminished the detailed blurbs and awesome photography that was Score baseball, however. I've long done a Topps Card Of The Day feature on this site and have now decided to add Score to the mix on days a Topps card is not profiled. This company, defunct or not, deserves appreciation from collectors past and present—shoot, maybe a new generation of card enthusiasts will become enamored with Score as I did.
(We will not be presenting any Score Rookies & Traded cards; I never collected them because they were too different from the base sets.)
Click on images for larger views.
3/31/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Score #83 Mike Greenwell, Red Sox
Greenwell, the 1988 AL MVP runner-up and a two-time All-Star for Boston, endured a nightmare of a 1992 season—he went on the DL twice and eventually underwent elbow surgery after batting just .233 in 49 games.
But in 1993 Greenwell rebounded with his fifth season batting .300 or better, and posted a .480 SLG which was his highest since 1988. The 30-year-old led the Red Sox in hits and triples, and was second in RBI (to Mo Vaughn).
THIS CARD: Greenwell takes a big rip at an unspecified road ballpark. Most of his 1993 home/road splits were similar, with batting average a notable exception (.332/.300).
To this day, anybody wearing Greenie's old #39 looks off. I'm talking to you, Jarrod Saltalamacchia. (This Spring, semi-prospect Christian Arroyo had the number.)
More from Greenwell's 1993 season: he enjoyed a 16-game hit streak from 6/19 to 7/6, and during a 12-game stretch right around the same time, he struck out once in 47 at-bats!
(flip) Hopefully, Greenwell called off his center fielder before making this play. That center fielder got to be either Billy Hatcher or Ivan Calderon, the only two dark-skinned CF's used by the '93 Sox.
Greenwell had dealt with a sore ankle since 1989 and a troublesome knee since 1991; both evidently healed during his 1992 layoff and allowed him to play 1993 healthy (except for a brief May DL stint for a strained ribcage).
Included among Greenwell's early season heroics were his three Opening Day RBI, accounting for all of Boston's offense in a 3-1 win over the Royals.
Those 38 doubles in 1993 ranked sixth in the AL.
AFTER THIS CARD: Greenwell played three more seasons with the Red Sox, enjoying a nine-RBI game in 1996. But the veteran dealt with disabling injuries in all three of those seasons—especially 1996—and after Boston (specifically, GM Dan Duquette) only offered a one-year deal with a reduced role for 1997, Greenwell walked away. Far away. To Japan, in fact.
After seven games in the Japan League, however, Greenwell broke his own foot with a foul ball and decided that was enough pro baseball. He was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2008.
Mike Greenwell appeared in 1988-97 Score.
More March 2021 Score Cards Of The Day
3/1/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Score #427 Jason Bates, Rockies
Rookie infielder Jason Bates opened 1995 as Colorado's primary second baseman before giving way to Eric Young Sr. in June; Bates still finished with 77 starts that year.
Here, with Young holding down 2B, Walt Weiss at SS and Vinny Castilla at 3B, Bates has spent 1996 in a utility role. Though his final numbers did not impress, the 25-year-old did put together a six-game hit streak in April.
THIS CARD: Bates lays all-out for a grounder, possibly at Olympic Stadium? He played hard, and on at least one occasion his opponent didn't like it.
Bates would have been a no-brainer Score inclusion in years past, but by the mid-1990's their sets were shrinking in size. Utility guys on so-so teams didn't often make the cut—especially with poor numbers—but Bates did.
More from Bates' 1996 season: after that April streak, hits were very scarce for the youngster, but on 9/10, his 7th-inning PH 1B broke a 6-6 tie against the eventual NL Champion Braves! Colorado went on to win 9-8.
(flip) Bates finished that NLDS 1-for-5, singling off the bench in Game 2.
Going by the sidebar, the best time to bat the struggling Bates in 1996 was at night vs. lefties at Coors Field before the All-Star break.
Five others from Bates' draft round reached MLB. They combined to play 24 major league games (13 by one guy). Not that Bates became a star, but four years in MLB is better than four minutes.
AFTER THIS CARD: Bates remained in a similar role for the Rockies for two more seasons, improving at the plate in '97 before falling off again in very limited 1998 duty (though he did hit .324 in 49 minor league games).
However, in September 1998 a troublesome bone spur in his foot required surgery, after which a serious infection developed. Colorado released Bates, and MiLB deals with the Angels and Orioles led nowhere.
Jason Bates appeared in 1996-97 Score.
3/4/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Score #254 Ivan Calderon, White Sox
For one glorious summer, Ivan Calderon's body—and possibly a juiced ball—allowed him to be one of the best players in the American League. Originally a product of the Mariners system, Calderon showed flashes during parts of three seasons in Seattle (1984-86), and was one of the game's top rookies in 1985 before getting hurt. But he couldn't see eye-to-eye with the very old-school manager Dick Williams.
Off to the White Sox went Calderon via mid-1986 trade. In 1987, as Chicago's regular RF (though he made this INCREDIBLE catch while playing LF), the 25-year-old slammed 28 home runs with a .293 average, and seemed to be on his way. But Calderon's bum shoulder totally wrecked his '88 follow-up.
Here, Calderon is coming off a good 1990 season. He stole more bases that year than in his whole career to that point, and led the White Sox in several statistical categories, including RBI.
THIS CARD: Big swing by the big fella. I choose to believe this is one of the 44 doubles (third in the AL) Calderon walloped in 1990.
If Calderon looks smaller here than on his 1989 Score card, it's because he is; over the winter of 1989-90 Calderon dropped 15 pounds. That certainly helped his much-improved defense.
More from Calderon's 1990 season: he batted third all year before being shifted to the leadoff spot in September. Calderon really took it to the Brewers in '90 (.313/.364/.625, 14 RBI in 12 games).
(flip) On 7/11/90 vs. Milwaukee, the White Sox became the first major league team to Turn Back The Clock. We see Calderon in 1917 getup here; for more on the event read this.
We only see a small part of Calderon's notorious gold collection here; it's best visible on his 1991 Upper Deck card.
Calderon twice gunned Davis on 6/25/90, huge plays in a 2-0 White Sox win.
AFTER THIS CARD: With free agency looming for Calderon and the White Sox still needing that leadoff man, a trade was made in December 1990: Calderon to the Expos, and the great Tim Raines back to Chicago. Montreal quickly signed their new addition to a 3Y/$7.8M deal and watched him bat .300 with 19 home runs during an All-Star 1991 season!
Sadly, that would be it for Calderon as an impact player. His left shoulder kept him off and on and off and on and finally, off the field in 1992; the Expos cut bait and traded him to Boston that winter. The 31-year-old struggled mightily there and was let go in August 1993; he finished the season—and his career, as it turned out—back with the White Sox, but now as a reserve.
Calderon was murdered 10 years later in his native Puerto Rico...long story.
Ivan Calderon appeared in 1988-93 Score.
3/7/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Score #328 Jody Davis, Braves
The popular Davis was stolen by the Cubs in the 1980 Rule V Draft, and by 1982 he was their starting catcher! Early on, Davis did it mostly with his bat, but in time his defense caught up with his offense. His All-Star performance helped Chicago break a 39-year playoff drought in '84, and he returned to the Midsummer Classic in '86.
Here, Davis has wrapped up his first (and only) full season with the Atlanta Braves, who traded for the 32-year-old with days remaining in the 1988 season.
THIS CARD: Davis's swing looks good here, but in 1989 it produced few positive results.
Davis was sought by Atlanta with the pending free agency of 1988 Braves catchers Bruce Benedict and Ozzie Virgil (Benedict wound up re-signing). On both Davis's 1989 Score and Topps cards, he's still depicted as a Cub. ('89 Topps put a disclaimer on the front, while '89 Score makes no mention of the Braves whatsoever.)
More from Davis's 1989 season: he started 61 games at catcher, while also playing his second and third career games at 1B. Davis went 2-for-3 with a home run in his final game of the year 9/13.
(flip) Davis does not look 33 years old here. From an aging standpoint, the 80's were not kind to a number of dudes we've profiled.
"Jody came to the Braves" in a 9/29/88 trade that sent pitching prospects Kevin Blankenship and Kevin Coffman to the Cubs; both were out of the majors after 1990. Davis did not have good things to say on his way out of Chicago.
Davis always had a strong arm, but in his early years it was not accurate (he averaged 13 errors annually 1982-84). Extensive work with bullpen coach Johnny Oates helped turn Davis into a Gold Glover, as the blurb states.
AFTER THIS CARD: Davis had been in offensive decline before arriving in Atlanta—it's part of why he was available—but despite the comfort of playing close to home, his bat never came around and the Braves released him in May 1990 (opening up playing time for rookie Greg Olson). Davis signed a MiLB deal with the Tigers, but never played in the majors again.
Beginning in 2006, Davis has served as an off-and-on manager in the minors, as well as a 2003 stint in the now-defunct Canadian Baseball League.
Jody Davis appeared in 1988-90 Score.
3/10/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Score #525 Robin Yount, Brewers
Robin Yount was a special player, the third player to win MVP awards at two positions (1982 at SS, 1989 at CF).
Yount reached the majors in 1974 as an 18-year-old Milwaukee Brewer, less than a year after being drafted #3 overall. His early years ranged from ordinary to solid, as did Milwaukee's, but once Paul Molitor arrived on-scene in 1978, the Brewers quickly jumped in the standings.
In 1980, 25-year-old Yount broke through with 23 homers and an All-Star berth; two years later he was league MVP, helping power Milwaukee to its only World Series to date! (They fell to the Cardinals, however.)
Yount put together several more fine seasons, but in 1985 his surgically-repaired shoulder pushed him to the outfield, where he'd finish his career. In '87 Yount topped 100 RBI for the second time, and in 1989 essentially the same numbers he put up in '87 won him his second MVP award.
Here, Yount is fresh off a 1991 season that, while not spectacular in and of itself, inched him closer to the milestone 3000-hit mark. Yount stole his 250th career base and his 77 RBI trailed only Greg Vaughn's 98 among Brewers.
THIS CARD: Yount's #19 is now on permanent display inside Miller Park. Yes, I'm still calling it Miller Park until at least 2023...Skillz doesn't handle change well, especially when it's silly.
Hopefully, that bat died a good soldier (i.e. producing a base hit). By 1991, it was clear Yount would end up in the Hall one day, so perhaps that wood is someone's memorabilia today.
More from Yount's 1991 season: he was red-hot in April, kicking off the year with a six-game hit streak and batting .342 with five home runs overall (including one on Opening Day). And during one May stretch, Yount hit in 16 of 18 games.
(flip) Score didn't usually produce "duh" blurbs as we see here. Typically, when space existed for just one line of text, the company would write something like "Robin, a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer, is currently #13 in hits all-time." Which he was. Which is astounding.
See? Yount's 1987 numbers and 1989 numbers were almost identical, yet he was barely on the '87 MVP radar. Timing, competition and the standings matter; you can't just rely on stats.
Yount is 36 in this pic. To me anyway, he actually looked younger at his 1999 Hall-of-Fame induction ceremony than he does here.
AFTER THIS CARD: In 1992, Yount did reach the coveted 3,000-hit mark with a September single off Cleveland's Jose Mesa; the ensuing celebration still gives me chillz for some reason. Yount was the third-youngest to join the club, behind Ty Cobb and former teammate Hank Aaron.
The 38-year-old continued as Milwaukee's CF in 1993, but when it became clear a full-time role was not available for him in 1994, Yount retired. As mentioned, his number was retired by the Brewers (in May 1994) and he was elected to the HOF in 1999, first-ballot.
Yount has coached for the early-2000's Diamondbacks and the mid-2000's Brewers. More recently, he threw out the first pitch of Game 7 of the 2018 NLCS (between the Brewers and Dodgers) and game a moving tribute to the late Aaron in early 2021.
3/13/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Score #347 Kevin Tapani, Twins
There's always an element of risk when trading a star player for prospects.
Sometimes you're the 1987 Cubs and you trade Dennis Eckersley for three guys who never make it out of AAA.
But other times you're the 1989 Twins and you trade Frank Viola for a whole basket full of dudes, two of whom turn out to be star CL Rick Aguilera and ace SP Kevin Tapani (though Tapani was more of a default ace).
In 1990 Tapani went 12-8 for the last-place Twins, but his 16-9 performance the following year helped vault Minnesota all the way to a World Series championship! From there, Tapani averaged 13 wins per year 1992-94 even with some less-than-pretty peripheral statistics.
Here, Tapani has wrapped the strike-shortened 1994 season. He again led the Twins in victories, allowed just 13 home runs in a hitter-happy year, and shut out the mighty White Sox on 6/11.
THIS CARD: Tapani reaches back to deliver either his high-80's/low-90's fastball, his slider, his changeup or his forkball. Tapani also cut the fastball.
I don't remember alternates being a thing in 1994. But I drank a lot in the early 2000's so who knows what else I don't remember.
More from Tapani's 1994 season: the aforementioned shutout wrapped up a streak of seven consecutive victorious Tapani starts after a 1-2, 8.33 beginning to the year. And he threw 133 pitches in a CG win over Baltimore 8/3.
(flip) I always say I'll read the blurb BEFORE I begin writing, but I very seldom do. As a result, everything in the blurb has already been covered above.
Tapani is about to raise something to his mouth and it doesn't seem to be seeds. Gatorade? Cigarette?
Reminder: I did not scan the card crooked; that is 1995 Score's design.
AFTER THIS CARD: By 1995, Minnesota was mediocre once more, and Tapani was traded to the contending Dodgers that summer. Following a quality year with the 1996 White Sox, Tapani signed a 3Y/$11M deal with the crosstown Cubs; a huge chunk of Year One was wiped out by a finger injury, but Tapani rebounded with 19 wins for the playoff-bound 1998 Cubs and was rewarded with a 2Y/$12.5M extension in April 1999.
While Tapani was still generally effective 1999-2001, he battled some aches (wrist, back, knee) and never posted another winning record (an aggregate 23-38 over that span despite an 8-1 start in 2001) as Chicago tumbled back down in the standings. Despite interest from other clubs, Tapani retired in February 2002, just shy of 38.
Kevin Tapani appeared in 1991-97 Score.
3/16/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Score #597 Willie McGee, Athletics
"Ladies and gentlemen, I present your 1990 National League batting champion: Willie McGee of the Oakland Athletics!"
(Cue series of double-takes)
McGee's unprecedented batting title was a major talking point as the 1990 season drew to a close. The 10-year veteran of the St. Louis Cardinals was headed toward free agency after the '90 season, but despite his bounce-back performance from a rough '89, the Cards didn't seem all too set on re-signing him—especially with young Ray Lankford on the horizon.
So off to Oakland went McGee in late August 1990. Lenny Dykstra of the Phillies tried, but during the final month no other NL'er could surpass the .335 average McGee left behind. Since he already had the 502+ required PA to qualify for the title, and there was no rule stating him ineligible, the new American Leaguer walked away as the National League batting champ.
Note: barring radical rule changes, this can never happen again, since trades after July 31 are now outlawed and it'd be next to impossible to have the required PA by then.
THIS CARD: Interesting choice of pic, since McGee had some issues on the bases upon reaching Oakland. According to The Scouting Report: 1991, he was doubled off base in successive games and was once thrown out at home without a slide attempt.
McGee never wore anything other than #51 in his career. And no Cardinal has worn it since his 1999 retirement (though it's officially still in circulation).
I know what you're thinking: McGee is a CF, but the A's had Dave Henderson playing CF in 1990. What gives? Well, Henderson was battling a knee sprain that threatened to keep him out for quite some time. McGee was essentially an insurance policy.
(flip) McGee appears to be taking a break from BP to watch a butterfly or something. I've always wondered if the cameras zoom in from far for pics like this, or if they're literally two feet away from the oblivious or unconcerned subject.
In addition to his effort in the 1987 World Series, McGee also had a two-homer game in the 1982 World Series (Game 3).
Those 1989 injuries: rib cage muscle irritation, sprained left wrist and pulled left hamstring. McGee obviously forgot to jump over a chalkline or something that year.
AFTER THIS CARD: McGee stayed close to home when he signed with my Giants as a free agent in December 1990 (4Y/$13M). Though not close to his MVP-level, he played well for the most part, but nagging injuries continued to pile up until a catastrophic Achilles injury in mid-1994.
After healing, McGee joined the 1995 Red Sox in a reserve role before returning to St. Louis as a fourth outfielder 1996-99. He reached the .300 mark twice and even got 42 innings of run at 1B during that span! McGee returned to the Cardinals as a coach in the late 2010's, but opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID concerns.
Willie McGee appeared in 1988-95 Score.
3/19/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Score #454 Phil Plantier, Tigers
Plantier, best known for his .240, 34, 100 explosion for the 1993 Padres, had fallen significantly by the winter of 1994, when he was sent to the Astros in a 12-player megatrade.
The Astros only saw a small sampling of Plantier, who suffered hamstring and hand/wrist injuries in early/mid-1995 and was traded back to the Padres in July (possibly to save cash; he was set to earn $2M in the second year of a 2Y/$2.5M deal signed with SD after the '93 season).
THIS CARD: Beginning with 1995 Score, the company began to feature players with their upcoming teams rather than whoever they played for the previous season. 1996 Score took it one step further, showing the player with their 1995 team, but with graphics for their 1996 team. At the time, San Diego and Detroit used similar colors and I'm surprised I didn't accidentally group Plantier with the Padres in my '96 Score album.
This MAY be the only Score card I own depicting a player with a club he never played a regular-season game for. Cut by the Padres in late 1995, Plantier was scooped up by the Tigers but then traded to the A's toward the end of Spring Training 1996.
Is it me or does it appear that Plantier ran down the line with his bat in this position?
(flip) For the record, since Score didn't split Plantier's 1995 stats, I'll tell you he batted .250, 4, 15 in 22 games with the Astros and .257, 5, 19 in 54 games with the Padres. Plantier started a grand total of 57 games in 1995.
I was fooled by the Tigers logo over Plantier's chest. "Why is he in a Padres hat and Tigers uniform?!" Observation skillz are something I equally possess and lack.
Score, I wouldn't call that second year with the Padres "productive". He bopped a few home runs but didn't do much else.
AFTER THIS CARD: As mentioned, Plantier joined the A's in 1996, batting .212, 7, 31 in 73 games. 1997 saw him suit up a THIRD time for the Padres, but this tenure was extremely short and after a brief run with the '97 Cardinals, Plantier's career ended at 28. He briefly managed in the Independent League and coached hitting in the minors for a time, as well as a couple of years with the Padres in the same role.
Phil Plantier appeared in 1991-96 Score.
3/22/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Score #368 Jody Reed, Dodgers
Reed, best known for his days as Boston's regular SS in 1988-89 and regular 2B in 1989-1992, was quite the doubles machine during his Red Sox days (40+ in three straight season). He could also hang well on the double play and overall was a key contributor to Boston's 1988 and 1990 postseason runs.
In fact, the man finished third in 1988 AL Rookie Of The Year voting despite hitting ONE home run!
Here, Reed has just finished his first and only season with the Dodgers. His five errors were a record-low for a Dodgers full-time 2B, and he smacked his 200th career double 9/24 vs. Houston.
THIS CARD: Reed prepares to belatedly apply the tag to Royce Clayton of my Giants, at Candlestick Park. It's possible I could narrow this game down to about five or six possible options, but we'll use our time more efficiently.
Not visible: Reed's uniform #3, which was Willie Davis's number back in the day and shouldn't have been worn by any other Dodgers 2B for at least 20 years after Steve Sax (who departed after the '88 season).
Other notable Dodgers with #3 include Alex Cora, Cesar Izturis, and more recently, Carl Crawford (if you can still call him notable during his LA tenure).
More from Reed's 1993 season: the man only hit two home runs all year and one of them had to come against the Giants, on 5/9. And of course, it helped the Dodgers to victory. Damn you, Reed.
(flip) That immediate trade sent RP Rudy Seanez from the Dodgers to the Rockies; LA's main 1992 second baseman Eric Young Sr. was lost to the Rox in the Expansion Draft.
As you see, Reed only played 132 games in 1993, and there was controversy behind that. Massive Rockies 1B Andres Galarraga kicked Reed during a slide and hyperextended his elbow, knocking him out for a few weeks. Some suspected it was payback for Galarraga's being hit in the neck by an earlier pickoff throw; the incidents indirectly led to an eventual brawl between the two clubs.
Just once, I'd like to read about a scrappy little guy who hates getting his uniform dirty (because he's some kind of neat freak or something.) And does the word "adroit" appear on any other baseball card anywhere?
AFTER THIS CARD: Reed memorably rejected a 3Y/$7.8M extension from the Dodgers, only to accept a 1Y/$350K deal from the Brewers in February 1994 (incentives could've raised that to $1M, but the strike mucked that up). “I’m happy with the way things turned out. I don’t understand why everyone else is unhappy about it,” Reed said after signing the deal. Maybe he felt that way at the time, but now that he's long retired...
But before Reed retired, he held down 2B for the 1995-96 Padres. Then Quilvio Veras showed up from the Marlins and took over the job; Reed was dealt to the Tigers in March 1997, and got in 52 games (28 starts) before the sun set on his career.
Jody Reed appeared in 1988-95 Score; the company uncharacteristically ignored his Padres run even though he was still playing full-time.
3/25/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1992 Score #443 Otis Nixon, Braves
Otis Nixon had as much home run power as your average high schooler, but BOY was the man fleet. If he had played more early in his career, Nixon might have finished among the Top 10 all-time basestealers. As it was, Nixon went down as one of the great thieves of his time and the executor of a July 1992 catch that STILL has people talking nearly three decades later.
Originally a Yankees prospect, Nixon moved on to the Indians 1984-86. But he struggled to get on base and by 1987 was back in the minors, where he was first busted for substance abuse.
Nixon joined Montreal for 1988 and finally earned semi-extended run, averaging 60 hits and 44 steals 1988-90 (not a misprint). But young Marquis Grissom was on the Expos' horizon, so 32-year-old Nixon was dealt to Atlanta in April 1991.
From a baseball standpoint, it was a great year for Nixon, who eventually took over the Braves CF job and helped them all the way to the World Series! But, sadly, Nixon's substance abuse issues proved to be far from over.
THIS CARD: Nixon appears safe as he avoids former teammate Spike Owen, the Expos SS. Score was known to occasionally use special moments as common front images, so this front image could be from Nixon's record-tying six-steal game against the Expos 6/16/91.
Any card with dirt kicked up is a card I enjoy. Probably because one of my first cards was a 1987 Topps Kevin Mitchell featuring mucho flying dirt.
More from Nixon's 1991 season: he was suspended in September for a failed drug test (which was mandated since his 1987 bust) and forced to sit out the postseason. That put a sour end to Nixon's finest year to date, which included a 20-game hit streak in July (of which Atlanta won 14).
(flip) Those six steals in one game included three swipes each of second and third base. SP Chris Nabholz and C Mike Fitzgerald allowed the first four; RP Barry Jones and Fitzgerald permitted the last two. As a team, the Braves went 8-for-9 on steals that day...but still lost to the Expos.
Those 72 steals in 1991 remain the Braves' record.
Score got the "singles hitter" part right; someone with Nixon's wheels has no other excuse for owning just eight career triples at that point in his career. Of course, he wound up stealing his way to third base half the time, so it balanced out.
AFTER THIS CARD: Nixon returned in 1992, made his insane catch that July to rob Andy Van Slyke of Pittsburgh, then continued patrolling CF for the Braves through 1993. Following one season with Boston (1994), he was traded to the Rangers for Jose Canseco. Stints with Toronto, the Dodgers and the Twins followed; Nixon hit .283 and averaged 47 SB per year 1992-98. He finished his career as a 40-year-old part-timer for the 1999 Braves.
If you can find it, check out Nixon's book Keeping It Real.
Otis Nixon appeared in Score 1989-97, except 1995.
3/28/21 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Score #98 Dennis Eckersley, Cardinals
The great Dennis Eckersley, late of Oakland, completed his first year with the Cardinals in 1996, taking over for the retired Tom Henke (a 1995 All-Star who left behind shoes that only someone of Eckersley's caliber could fill).
By and large, '96 was a successful bounce-back year for "Eck", who converted 30-of-34 save ops for St. Louis after nailing down just 29-of-38 for the also-ran 1995 Athletics. Eckersley then threw seven shutout innings in the 1996 postseason!
THIS CARD: Funny story. Until selecting this card for COTD, I didn't realize that somehow, I actually didn't own it. Only after checking my 1997 Score album three times over did I figure out that there was no #98 Dennis Eckersley in my collection.
Cue login to EBay to obtain the card, cue re-organization of half the album to make room for it.
Though he was only a Cardinal for two seasons, Eckersley is the most accomplished #43 in Cardinals history. OF Juan Encarnacion wore the number before the devastating end to his career in 2007; SP Dakota Hudson wears it today.
(flip) No blurb, so we'll tell you that after Eckersley blew two of his first four save ops in 1996, he then went 32-for-his-final-34, including the postseason. On 9/10 at San Francisco, Eckersley became just the third pitcher with 350 career saves, joining Lee Smith and Jeff Reardon.
Of those six losses in 1996, three came in games Eckersley was asked to pitch more than one inning. Come ON, Tony LaRussa, Eck was 41 years old!
Give me one good reason why MLB couldn't go back and officially calculate holds and batting average against pre-1987 so card companies, etc. could share them. Same with RBI pre-1920, for that matter.
AFTER THIS CARD: Eckersley went 36-for-43 in save ops for the 1997 Cardinals, but despite trading with Oakland for his old buddy Mark McGwire, St. Louis couldn't repeat as division champions. Eckersley spent 1998 setting up for Tom Gordon in Boston, then retired at 44. To no one's surprise, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame five years later.
Since 2003, Eckersley has worked as a commentator for the Red Sox; in recent years you may have caught wind of his feud with then-Red Sox SP David Price. (Not that Price would give a damn at all, but I now root against him very strongly...Eck was The Man.)
Dennis Eckersley appeared in 1988-98 Score.