Score Baseball Card Of The Day, March 2022
3/28/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Score #234 Craig Worthington, Orioles
Craig Worthington, the former Orioles 3B, taught young Skillz a valuable lesson—just because a dude plays a lot in any given year, doesn't mean said dude deserved that playing time. Worthington was Baltimore's #1 3B in 1989-90, and even got some AL Rookie of the Year consideration in 1989. But by 1990 he'd dropped off and was just filling space for prospect Leo Gomez.
So thanks, Mr. Worthington, for helping me realize that sometimes in professional sports, dudes get run largely because there's nobody better on the roster. I don't mean that disrespectfully, since Worthington in his day had more baseball talent in his nose hair than I did in my entire person (he WAS the 10th overall pick in the June 1985 Draft, after all). But it is the truth.
THIS CARD: Worthington was about the 112th Orioles third baseman since Doug DeCinces (Brooks Robinson's successor) was traded to the Angels before the '82 season. If Score sets existed back then, each one would be repped by a new Orioles third sacker—Todd Cruz, Floyd Rayford, Ray Knight, and on and on. Don't forget Cal Ripken Jr. even got a bit of run there early on.
We see Worthington about to field his position, it seems. Defensively, he committed 20 errors for a .951 fielding percentage in 1989, but that was actually an improvement over his minor league percentages. As a whole, Worthington was a plus with the glove despite his error totals.
More from Worthington's 1989 season: he started on Opening Day and cashed in two hits. He hit in 21 of 23 games from 6/16 to 7/9, and on 8/14 Worthington's three-run HR off Jack Morris in the T10th led the Orioles over the Tigers. (Yes, Morris started and completed that game.)
(flip) Other notable #25's in Orioles history: Rich Dauer, Rafael Palmeiro, Jay Gibbons and currently, Anthony Santander. Worthington previously wore #3 and #11 in Baltimore.
Told ya Worthington had a few defensive skillz. As a former third baseman myself, I appreciate what those guys do more than the average person. Whatever shortcomings Worthington had with the bat, his mitt is probably what kept him in the lineup (especially in 1990).
Holy Pat Tabler! Worthington was 5-for-his-first-5 with loaded bases?! I could try to explain this anomaly away, attributing it to shifted defenders or something. But the truth is, baseball is a mysterious, strange game.
AFTER THIS CARD: In 1990, Worthington started at third in 124 of Baltimore's 161 games, but found himself sharing time with Tim Hulett after the break—at least until both were benched in favor of Gomez in mid-September. Worthington hit just .226, 8, 44 overall, and not even a 1.000 fielding percentage could make up for that lack of production from a corner infield spot.
Still, Worthington found himself starting for the Orioles on Opening Day 1991. By May, however, he was injured (hamstring), and the Orioles decided to keep him at AAA Rochester once he healed, giving the third base job to Gomez. Worthington never played for Baltimore again and in fact, he only got in 58 more MLB games (for the 1992 Indians, 1995 Rangers, 1995 Reds, and 1996 Rangers) going forward.
Following a brief 1996 stint in the Japan League, and three seasons in the Independent League 1998-2000, Worthington's pro career ended.
Craig Worthington appeared in 1989-92 Score.
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3/4/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1995 Score #81 Ryan Thompson, Mets
Not to be confused with the Ryan Thompson currently pitching for—uh, I mean employed by— the Tampa Bay Rays.
Ryan Thompson the 1990's outfielder is best known for either A) being part of the Mets' return when they traded SP David Cone to Toronto in 1992, or B) exploding Red Sox RP Bryce Florie's face with a liner in 2000.
As long as you're not remembered for being a giant jackass, I suppose.
Here, Thompson has just completed his second season (1994) as the Mets' primary CF. On the one hand, he was second on the team in homers behind Bobby Bonilla (20). On the other hand, his average fell to .225 and he still struck out far too frequently.
THIS CARD: Thompson appears to be returning to the bag after a pickoff throw. If that's the case, I'm not sure why a pickoff throw was necessary since Thompson only attempted 21 steals in his nine-year MLB career (succeeding nine times).
That's Cincinnati's Tony Fernandez behind Thompson. Since Fernandez was a 3B in 1994, I'd like to revise the previous paragraph and declare Thompson as returning to his feet after sliding into third base. Which would explain why he's smiling straight ahead like that—he's facing his dugout.
More from Thompson's 1994 season: despite his final numbers, Thompson did have hot periods with the bat. He hit .306 with five homers and 16 RBI in his first 18 games, opened June with a seven-game hit streak during which he batted .448 with 10 RBI, and on 6/18 Thompson went 4-for-5 at Florida—the second and final four-hit game of his MLB career.
(flip) In addition to Thompson, #20 has been worn by notable Mets such as 1969 World Series standout Tommie Agee, 1991 NL MVP Howard Johnson, and—currently—two-time Home Run Derby champ Pete Alonso. That's damn good company.
AFTER THIS CARD: Set to play regularly for New York again in '95, Thompson wound up sitting half the season with elbow/hamstring injuries; his SLG fell 56 points. That winter, the Mets signed former White Sox veteran Lance Johnson to man CF, and Thompson was dealt to Cleveland. He played 146 games in 1996...but 138 of them were for AAA Buffalo.
Over the next nine seasons, Thompson was employed by nine different organizations plus the Japan League, and at one point went three years between MLB games. Thompson did stick with the Brewers for most of 2002—a welcome development after playing just 71 MLB games from 1996-2001—but he tore his hamstring late in the year and never returned to MLB. His pro career ended in 2004 at age 37.
Thompson got in a bit of legal trouble in 2013; we were unable to track the fallout.
Ryan Thompson appeared in 1993-96 Score.
3/8/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1997 Score #437 Russ Davis, Mariners
After the 1994 season, the Seattle Mariners (wisely) decided rising star Edgar Martinez, who received 75% of his run that year at 3B, was going to play next-to-no games in the field going forward—his health was too fragile. Mike Blowers held down 3B for the Refuse-To-Lose 1995 Mariners, but priced himself out of Seattle with a strong season.
Enter Russ Davis, the former Yankees prospect who displayed a very powerful bat in the Yankees' farm system, but was firmly blocked in New York by the great Wade Boggs. In 1996 the Seattle newcomer started 49 of the team's first 58 games before going down with a broken leg and severe ankle sprain suffered while sliding for Keith Lockhart's foul popup in Kansas City 6/7.
THIS CARD: I didn't think the Mariners used alternate jerseys way back in 1996, but this pic gives the appearance of a regular-season game. Wherever the pic was shot, it certainly wasn't the Kingdome—no one would complain about the sun's glare at the Kingdome.
Davis wore #18 as a Mariner, Bill Swift's old digits. After Davis, the number was passed from Mariner to Mariner for a while until Hisashi Iwakuma came along in 2012. Seattle SP Yusei Kikuchi has worn #18 since 2019.
More from Davis's 1996 season: his first month as a MLB regular was encouraging (.286, 3, 11, .368 OBP) but he fell off badly in May (.205, one homer in 24 games) and had started June 1-for-12 before the injury. On 4/26 at Milwaukee, Davis singled, stole second, and scored the tying run in the T8th; Seattle went ahead in the T9th and held on for the win!
(flip) That Trade From Yankees was a huge one; Seattle received Davis and SP Sterling Hitchcock in exchange for 1B Tino Martinez and RP Jeff Nelson. Yeah, the Yankees easily won that deal, but Seattle was trying to save cash, not necessarily improve the team.
That Opening Day (March 31) 1996 double came against White Sox RP Bill Simas in the B12th; it pushed teammate Doug Strange from first to third base, and he soon scored the winner on a single by Alex Rodriguez.
I never knew Davis was drafted THAT low (out of Shelton State CC in Alabama). Kerry Woodson, who pitched eight times for the 1992 Mariners, was the only other player from Davis's draft round to ever reach MLB.
AFTER THIS CARD: Davis returned healthy for 1997, and as the Mariners' primary 3B 1997-99, he averaged 20.3 homers per year and a whole heap of K. Davis also clobbered the first four-bagger at Safeco Field in 1999!
Still, Seattle let him go after that '99 season, and he wound up making the 2000 Giants roster out of Spring Training. Davis served as a part-timer that year before becoming San Francisco's primary 3B for 2001...until being cut in June amid off-field distractions. He never played in MLB again.
Russ Davis appeared in 1995-98 Score.
3/12/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Score #164 Tim Crews, Dodgers
Crews, the workhorse middle reliever for the Dodgers during the Kirk Gibson era, enjoyed a strong 1989 season if you throw out August. Crews sported a 1.32 ERA in April, including three shutout innings on Opening Day after SP Tim Belcher was pounded by Cincinnati.
THIS CARD: This appears to be a slider Crews is attacking with; he also threw a low-90's fastball. At different times he was credited with a curve and/or a splitter that served as a changeup.
Other notable Dodgers to wear #52 for an extended period: RP Pedro Baez 2014-20. Today, RP Phil Bickford claims the number.
More from Crews' 1989 season: even with his 6.75 August ERA (in six games), his final numbers were strong. When SP John Tudor joined the Dodger rotation in late June, Belcher was moved to the bullpen and Crews was moved to AAA Albuquerque...but only for two games, rendering Crews' trade request moot.
On 7/24/1989, Redus's face intercepted a Crews heater after runner R.J. Reynolds swiped two bags off him. The Pirates, namely a furious Andy Van Slyke and Bob Walk, believed Crews' act to be intentional and cleared the benches (though no one got physical). Barry Bonds, playing on his 25th birthday, soon homered off Crews and all but walked around the bases. Redus was hospitalized but recovered.
(flip) Looking at Crews, I see a mix of Gibson and Burt Reynolds. Dude sure looked like a man's man, if nothing else.
That is an interesting abbreviation for Albuquerque. "Here at Score/Pinnacle, we don't reduce the font sizes EVER."
For his career, per BaseballReference.com, Crews walked exactly five of 400 batters to lead off an inning against him. Dude came out of the 'pen throwing STRIKES.
AFTER THIS CARD: Crews' role in the L.A. bullpen expanded over the 1990-91 campaigns; he appeared 126 times with a 3.04 ERA and 11 saves over that span, even firing 107 innings in 1990! In 1992, however, the 31-year-old's effectiveness slipped, especially at the beginning of the season, and he was not re-signed for 1993.
Crews, as is well-known by now, signed a MiLB deal with Cleveland in January 1993, but was tragically killed during Spring Training—specifically, on my 13th birthday—in a horrific boat crash in Florida. Fellow Indians reliever Steve Olin also perished, and veteran starter Bobby Ojeda suffered serious injuries, narrowly escaping death himself.
For his career, Crews was 11-13, 3.44 with 15 saves and a 1988 World Series ring in 281 games.
Tim Crews appeared in 1988-92 Score.
3/16/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Score #202 Gary Gaetti, Cardinals
On paper, the Angels' signing of free agent 3B Gary Gaetti after the 1990 season was not a bad decision. But something about that early 1990's Angels franchise sucked the life out of a number of once-productive players, including Gaetti, and after he was released in mid-1993, he quickly reverted to form (and then some) with the Royals and later, the Cardinals.
Here, Gaetti has just completed his second straight one-year contract with St. Louis. In 1997, the 39-year-old got off to a very slow start with the bat, but eventually warmed up, slashing a fierce .312/.373/.546 in 61 games between 5/7 and 7/21. Gaetti hit his 400th career double off the Reds' Dave Burba on 9/24.
THIS CARD: Gaetti has to be walking up to the plate; it's either that or he's looking to his first base coach for signs. Even during his cold periods, Gaetti was one of those guys you never wanted to face in a key spot because he never looked anything but confident at the plate.
We see Gaetti at old Busch Stadium II, where he hit .250, 7, 37 in 1997. His road splits weren't that different except for the 18 doubles he ripped at home, compared to seven on the road in nearly the same number of at-bats.
Score did a great job varying Gaetti's front images through the years. He's shown batting, fielding, warming up, choosing the right bat, even emoting after a likely home run.
(flip) Those 1997 fielding statistics cover Gaetti's run at 3B, but he also played 20 games (including four starts) at 1B for the Cardinals in 1997. Gaetti had played some extensive 1B for the 1992 Angels and gone on to make a handful of appearances at the position every year since for them, the Royals and the Cardinals.
As you can see in the leftmost stats, Gaetti was most effective against left-handers in 1997. Oddly, for his career, Gaetti batted exactly .255 against both lefties and righties.
As you can see in the regular stats, Gaetti swiped six bags between 1993-96, then somehow pilfered seven steals (in 10 attempts) in 1997 at age 39. The 1997 Cardinals were third in the NL with 164 steals; even Mark McGwire stole a couple.
AFTER THIS CARD: Gaetti re-upped with St. Louis for 1998 (1Y/$1.1M), but was released in August. He jumped to the rival Cubs and batted .320 in 37 games to finish the year, helping then snap a nine-year postseason drought. But Gaetti hit just .204 in 113 games for the 1999 Cubs, followed by 10 hitless at-bats for the 2000 Red Sox. That ended Gaetti's playing career at 41; he was elected to the Twins Hall of Fame in 2007.
After stints coaching in the Houston and Tampa Bay organizations, Gaetti managed the then-independent Sugar Land Skeeters from 2012-17, winning a championship in 2016.
Gary Gaetti appeared in 1988-98 Score.
3/20/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1993 Score #430 Darryl Kile, Astros
Here, Kile is still a youngster, fresh off his second major league season. He opened the year as Houston's #2 starter, but command issues had him back at AAA Tucson by early June. Kile returned in August and was much sharper, walking just 22 in 60 innings after issuing 41 free passes in his first 65 innings. He ended the year with a flourish; see below.
THIS CARD: I don't think that grip is for Kile's vaunted curveball, one of the top three in MLB if not THE best of the 1990's. Kile also attacked with a 90+ moving fastball, a slider and a splitter which accounted for a chunk of his strikeouts.
By the time Kile joined the Cardinals in 2000, he was not this slender at all. Which is not to say he was obese or anything, but like many aging athletes, the man was visibly bulkier. (Kile was listed about 20 pounds heavier on his 2002 cards than he was here.)
More from Kile's 1992 season: he started very strong, with a 2-2, 1.89 line in April. He then lost eight straight decisions, sandwiching his AAA banishment, but closed the year with a CG masterpiece over the Dodgers—whiffing 11 in a 6-1 victory!
(flip) The 1992 Astros had a couple of prerequisites for making the team: you had to have the ability to play professional baseball for 6-8 months, and you had to have actor-level good looks. Peruse the full roster one day—you'll see what I mean.
Garden Grove is located directly south of Anaheim/Disneyland.
Williams and Henry didn't work out so well, but at least the Astros got a few quality years out of Kile and Harnisch. Unfortunately, the Astros didn't secure that pennant until 2005, well after those two had thrown their final MLB pitches.
AFTER THIS CARD: Kile remained with the Astros through 1997, going 15-8 with a no-hitter and an All-Star berth in 1993, then bouncing back from a dreadful 1995 to go 12-11 with 219 K in 1996. Following a 19-win, All-Star season in '97, Kile signed with the Rockies for 3Y/$24M.
From the get-go, Kile's curve was simply not as effective in Denver as elsewhere, and he struggled to a combined 21-30, 5.84 line in two Colorado seasons before being traded to St. Louis in November 1999. Kile immediately bounced back with 20 wins and his third All-Star nod in 2000.
Equally strong in 2001, he seemed poised to lead the St. Louis staff for several more years.
But as you may know, he was only given several more months. Kile died suddenly in June 2002, victim of a heart attack. That day's Cardinals/Cubs game was cancelled, and many of his former Astros teammates sat out their game.
Despite the huge loss, St. Louis still managed to reach the playoffs—as this proves, Kile was not forgotten during their NLDS victory celebration. To date, none of his teams have reissued his uniform #57. (Click here for a cool-yet-eerie fact about that #57.)
Darryl Kile appeared in 1992-98 Score, except 1996.
3/24/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Score #334 Ron Hassey, Athletics
Hassey was originally a Cleveland Indian for seven seasons before a short stint with the Cubs. Then the Yankees and White Sox took two turns renting him during the 1985-87 seasons (seriously, they kept trading Hassey back and forth between each other; it's an all-time transactional oddity) until Oakland mercifully inked the veteran catcher to a 1Y/$400K deal in December 1987.
THIS CARD: We see Hassey, mask off, watching the flight of what I'm guessing is a popup on the infield. Catchers are trained to turn their backs to the infield on popups in the plate area, so I'm thinking this ball is somewhere between the mound and SS/3B.
Underneath Hassey's chest protector is the uniform #24, which he kindly surrendered to newly-acquired Rickey Henderson in July 1989. It's now retired in Henderson's honor, thanks in part to Hassey's generosity (though for consistency's sake, I kind of wish Henderson had been able to reclaim #35, his original Athletics number, from Bob Welch).
More from Hassey's 1988 season: he caught 23 of Bob Welch's final 30 starts, including 13 of the last 15. On 5/7, Hassey went 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI in a blowout win over visiting Cleveland, and two days later he went 3-for-4 against the Tigers! Overall, the veteran receiver hit .333 (25-for-75) in May.
(flip) In many seasons, that 1980 stat line would have put Hassey in the All-Star Game, but he saved his best for the second half. (I still think he should have made it as Carlton Fisk's backup over Darrell Porter, but the Royals were good and the Indians were not.)
A testament to Hassey's eye: for his career, he walked more than he whiffed (385 to 378), which is not shown here but is indeed documented fact.
Hassey made eight starts at DH in 1988, and he also pinch-hit 24 times (with six hits). Oakland didn't carry a third catcher or even a true emergency catcher for the overwhelming majority of 1988, but their gambles paid off.
AFTER THIS CARD: Hassey remained in his part-time role with Oakland through 1990, though he did not play or produce as much as in 1988. In 1991 he moved on to Montreal, where he caught the second perfect game of his career, thrown by Dennis Martinez (Hassey also caught Len Barker's 1981 perfecto for Cleveland). He retired at 38 after that season.
Next, Hassey coached throughout the majors (most notably for the expansion Colorado Rockies), scouted for a time, then managed several years in the Marlins' organization before retiring from baseball entirely after the '13 season—wrapping 38 seasons in professional baseball.
Ron Hassey appeared in 1989-92 Score.