Score Baseball Card Of The Day, November 2022
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11/30/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Score #5 Bo Jackson, Royals
For those of us who saw him dominate, it's very difficult to process the fact that Bo Jackson has not played major league baseball in 28 years, or that he hasn't played pro football in 31 years. There are countless full-grown adults with their own families, homes and careers who have NO first-hand memories of Bo demolishing defenders on the gridiron, or mashing baseballs into the stratosphere.
That makes me sad, kind of.
But it also makes me glad that I did get to watch Jackson redefine the word "athlete". There has never been one like him, and if there ever is another one even close to him...I doubt it'll be in my lifetime.
THIS CARD: This is not a randomly selected card. It was specially selected in recognition of Jackson's 60th birthday today. I don't know Bo well enough to show up at his house with a cake—which is to say I don't personally know Bo at all. So in lieu of that, I'll gift the legendary outfielder/running back with a heap of online praise.
Jackson looks a tad off-balance here, which means he probably only hit this ball 410 feet rather than 475.
We selected Jackson's 1991 Score card because I believe 1990 is when he was at his best. True, he made his only All-Star team in 1989, but in 1990 he slugged nearly 30 points higher and was on pace to hit at least 40 homers had a separated shoulder not sidelined him for six weeks.
Plus, it was in 1990 that Bo did this.
(flip) Jackson was so unique, there hasn't even been another baseball or football star that I'm aware of who even looks like him facially. (If you know of one, drop me a line.)
In their blurb, Score really underplayed how well Jackson played for the 1990 Royals when healthy. They don't mention his injury, nor do they mention his streak of four consecutive home runs that was interrupted by said injury. That's right—Jackson went deep three times 7/17, then upon returning from the DL 8/27, he connected with his very first swing...off Randy Johnson, no less!
Buck O'Neil was a Negro League legend and later on, a baseball ambadassor who posthumously entered the Hall of Fame in 2021. One of the greatest storytellers I've ever enjoyed, O'Neil also played professionally at age 94...sort of.
AFTER THIS CARD: As is well-known, Jackson's hip was badly injured in a Raiders/Bengals NFL playoff game 1/13/1991. Kansas City let him go, and he was snapped up by the White Sox in a deal that could have been worth up to 3Y/$8.15M based on performance. Though Jackson got in 23 games for Chicago in September 1991, he spent the entire 1992 season on the disabled list recovering from his surgery.
In 1993, Jackson returned to a crowded White Sox OF/DH situation and was only able to amass 308 PA (in which he hit .232, 16, 45) while playing just three of six postseason games (0-for-10, six K). The 31-year-old joined the Angels for 1994 and received regular run early that season before giving way to young Jim Edmonds. He retired after that season with a career .250 average and 141 homers. Happy Birthday!!!
Bo Jackson appeared annually in Score 1988-95, except 1993.
More November 2022 Score Cards Of The Day
11/5/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Score #783 Jeff Kunkel, Rangers
The late 1980's-early 1990's Rangers employed a bevy of dudes who hung around Arlington for a few seasons before essentially disappearing from MLB. Among them: 3B Scott Coolbaugh, RP's Gary Mielke and John Barfield, and UT Jeff Kunkel, who lasted longer than any of them despite limited offensive production in every season except 1989.
Following that "breakout" '89 campaign, hopes and expectations for Kunkel grew a tad in 1990. But unfortunately, all he was able to prove that year was that '89 was a fluke of the utmost variety.
THIS CARD: No known connection to the Jeff Kunkel who worked behind the scenes on Beverly Hills, 90210. Spotted the name in the closing credits one day. These are the things you notice when you're a teenager with few friends and next-to-no attention from the gals.
Funny, on the rare occasions I've thought of Kunkel since his MLB career ended 30 years ago, I remembered him as an outfielder. But in 1990, only eight of his 536 defensive innings were in that role—more on his versatility later.
The obscured uniform number is #20, the only number Kunkel wore in Texas. It's got a good history among Rangers; OF Jeff Burroughs won an AL MVP award wearing #20 in the 1970's. longtime bench coach Bucky "Effing" Dent wore it in the 1990's, and OF Ian Desmond was a 2016 All-Star with #20 on his back. Fill-in C Meibrys Viloria claimed #20 for the 2022 Rangers.
(flip) Jeez! 94 MPH in 1990 is like 102 MPH today. Kunkel was roughed up in his 1989 outing (four earnies), but his 1988 inning went 1-2-3—no clue why Score wouldn't mention that outing. Both were blowout losses to the Minnesota Twins, btw.
More on Kunkel's versatility: in 1990 he started 58 games (42 at SS, 12 at 3B and four at 2B) and played six total positions. The year before, Kunkel started 82 games across six positions, and played a total of eight (including P and DH). He was exclusively a SS when he entered MLB in 1984.
Picked ahead of Kunkel in 1983: SS Kurt Stillwell (#2, Reds) and SP Tim Belcher (#1, didn't sign with the Twins). Both had good careers.
AFTER THIS CARD: Not much. Kunkel blew out his knee in a Spring Training 1991 collision, missed the entire season, and was non-tendered by the Rangers that fall. He opened 1992 with AAA Oklahoma City (Brewers), but was traded to the Cubs around mid-season; Kunkel eventually made 20 appearances across four positions for Chicago, but went just 4-for-29 and was cut before season's end.
Over the next two seasons, Kunkel cycled through the Cincinnati, Cleveland and Detroit organizations without a return to the majors.
Jeff Kunkel appeared in 1988-91 Score.
11/10/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1988 Score #248 Jose Oquendo, Cardinals
Here, we catch up with Oquendo,—a frequent visitor to COTD (I believe this is his fourth appearance between both pages)—as he comes off Season #2 with the Cardinals. Prior to 1987, everyone knew how versatile Oquendo was on the infield, but in '87 he played every position except catcher and ranged from strong to adequate at each one defensively.
Whitey Herzog wound up penciling Oquendo in his starting lineup 62 times across seven positions in 1987. Herzog's new toy hit .404 in his first 20 games!
THIS CARD: As we previously told you, Oquendo wore #11 during his long stint as a Cardinals player and his even longer stint as Cardinals coach. Oquendo left the latter role in 2016 but returned in 2018 wearing #91, presumably because SS Paul DeJong broke out wearing #11 during Oquendo's temporary absence.
As a lefty batter in 1987, switch-hitting Oquendo slashed .294/.435/.331 opposed to .277/.375/.339 as a righty. Unusual stat: even though he batted only a bit more as a lefty than a righty in '87, all six of Oquendo's successful sacrifices were as a lefty...damn you, Mike Schmidt and Tim Wallach.
More from Oquendo's 1987 season: though the chance for .400 had passed, Oquendo was over .340 into mid-June and at .300 on 9/13! He couldn't close the deal, however, but it was still an impressive performance. Oquendo enjoyed two three-hit games in '87: 4/26 at the Mets and 5/10 at the Dodgers.
(flip) If you math at all, you can figure out from the blurb that Oquendo entered pro ball at age 16. This dude was ripping 90-MPH fastballs while the rest of us—translation: me—were immersed in Donkey Kong Country. (HEY! Beating some parts of that game were just as hard as hitting 90-MPH fastballs!)
As much as we use the terms "6th man" in hoops and "12th man" (usually the fans) on the gridiron, how I've never heard the term "10th man" in reference to baseball is a mystery. Especially since I'm often the one to coin terms like that; your boy Skillz is the one who first called the Matt Holliday Play to end the Padres/Rockies 2007 regular season "The Saliva Slide", since he was called safe at home despite no part of his being besides maybe his flying saliva touching the plate.
As you see in the stats, Oquendo homered just once during the '87 regular season (a two-run shot against San Francisco's Craig Lefferts 7/25). But you may have heard about the three-run shot he blasted—against San Francisco's Atlee Hammaker—to help ice Game 7 of that year's NLCS. I should dye Oquendo's underwear orange and black as punishment.
AFTER THIS CARD: By 1988, Oquendo was playing nearly full-time, moving between 2B and 3B for the Cardinals and holding his own offensively. In fact, he got in a league-best (tie) 163 games in 1989 as the St. Louis second baseman! But when Joe Torre became manager in August 1990, Oquendo began to sit in favor of youngster Geronimo Pena.
Still, Oquendo received extended run at 2B for the 1991 Cardinals. Ironically, as he received his first substantial raise as a major leaguer ($2.05M), Oquendo missed all but 14 games in 1992 with a right shoulder dislocation. Heel surgery shortened his 1993 campaign, but he recovered and played part-time in '94-'95.
Unfortunately, Oquendo couldn't win a job under Torre's full-time replacement Tony LaRussa in Spring '96, ending his playing career at 32.
Since 1997, Oquendo has worked for the Cardinals organization in some capacity—most notably the 20+ seasons he's coached on the big league staff (interrupted by that 2017 stint in the Cardinals' front office). He may not have been a great player, but the man is as much a Cardinal as anyone who's worn the uniform.
Jose Oquendo appeared annually in 1988-96 Score, except 1994.
11/15/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Score #512 Chuck Carr, Marlins
No relation to Derek or David or Antoine or M.L. (Speaking of Derek, C'MON, MAN! Your Raiders just lost to a Colts team led by a dude with as much experience coaching grown men as your average chipmunk. How does that happen? Guess Indy is going to the Super Bowl...
Now back to Chuck.
Chuck Carr is best known as one of the original Marlins, and perhaps the closest thing that team had to a breakout young star—more on that later. Carr had big league experience prior to being drafted by Florida; he got in 38 combined games for the 1990-91 Mets and the 1992 Cardinals, all the while leaving singe marks on minor league basepaths.
You see, Carr was very, very, VERY fast. Like, right up there with Ichiro and Trea Turner and Tim Locastro and Billy Hamilton in their primes among the speediest dudes I can recall. (Rickey Henderson had lost a half-step by the time I got into MLB, and since he was not exactly known for always busting it down the line, I have no recollection of Rickey at his TOP speed—especially now.)
But like a lot of speedsters, Carr just wasn't much at the plate, and it eventually hastened his exit from MLB. Speed doesn't matter much when you're headed back to the bench after making another out (career .316 OBP), although here, Carr was at his best as the second-ever regular CF for the Marlins. (Remember, Scott Pose was all the rage during Week 1 of the 1993 season.)
THIS CARD: This is not a random COTD selection. We're presenting this card in memory of Carr, who passed away 11/12/2022 from cancer, age 55. Why this card? Like I said, Carr was never better than in 1993—we're not going to break down one of his forgettable seasons two days after his passing if we have other options.
I remember one day, in my amateur baseball league, "flying" around the bases to score an important run late in the game. Upon reaching the dugout, I was told the expression on my face was "priceless". I imagine it had to look something like Carr's does here.
Carr is a "1993 Rookie" in 1994 Score after being a "Rookie Prospect" in 1992-93 Score; the company used the "Rookie Prospect" label from 1988-93 until this year. This change wasn't BAD, but the old way was better, at least to me. (Then they simply shortened the label to "Rookie", even using alternate graphics for a couple of years. THAT decision was bad.)
(flip) As you see in the stats, Carr got in 142 games in 1993; he spent time on the DL in early July after straining a rib cage muscle and being forced to leave consecutive games early.
Carr is listed as born in 1968 here, but every other publication I've scoured has him one year older. I don't know if Score erred or Carr was trying to pull a fast one, but I do know Carr appeared in Score sets through 1998 with that birth year never corrected to the proper 1967.
That previous rookie NL steals leader was none other than Vince Coleman, briefly Carr's teammate with the 1991 Mets and someone Carr drew comparisons to.
AFTER THIS CARD: In 1994, Carr went 32-of-40 in stolen bases while posting a slashline very close to his breakout 1993. But by mid-1995, the fan favorite was being benched in favor of Jesus Tavarez, of all people, as he fell to .227 on the field and dealt with turmoil off of it. The self-proclaimed "hot dog" found plenty of cheese and beer when traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in December 1995.
Carr opened 1996 as the Brewers' starting CF, but injuries (a left hamstring strain in late April and a gruesome, catastrophic knee injury suffered while robbing Cleveland's Julio Franco of an XBH in late May) limited him to 27 games. Carr won the Brewers CF job again to open 1997, but quickly lost it and didn't respond well. Released in August, Carr hooked up with Houston, hit .276 in 63 games, homered off John Smoltz in the NLDS...and never played in MLB again.
Carr continued to play professionally in foreign and independent leagues through 2003; he even returned to the Astros' organization as a low-minors coach 2005-07, which I had no clue about.
We'll close with some words spoken by Carr's manager in Florida, Rene Lachemann, back in 1993: "I know people don't like some of the things he does and says, they think he's a hot dog, but I've never been associated with a center fielder who can make the catches Chuck Carr can make."
Chuck Carr appeared in 1992-98 Score.
11/20/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Score #195 Fred McGriff, Braves
Let's get one thing out of the way: "The Crime Dog" McGriff should be in the Hall of Fame.
He was that consistently excellent. For a lot of years.
What set him back: he never had that ridiculous statistical season that grabs everybody's attention. Plus, his career numbers, while terrific, fell short of the milestone 500 homers and short of the semi-milestone 2,500 hits and 1,600 RBI. McGriff COULD HAVE gotten away with both of those...had he spent his entire career with one—or at most, two—teams.
But McGriff built his resume through productive stints with Toronto, San Diego, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. You just can't identify him with one club, though Atlanta comes pretty close. I think if he'd ended things as a Brave in 2004 instead of bouncing around his final few years, he's in the Hall today.
Instead, he's just one bad ass lefty slugger good for 30 and 100 annually from the late 80's into the early 00's.
Here, McGriff has just completed what would be the last of his 4.5 seasons with the Braves. McGriff saw a dip in his power switching from hitter-friendly Atlanta Fulton-County Stadium to the more balanced Turner Field in 1997. But the 11-year vet was still just two off the team lead in homers (Ryan Klesko) and placed second in RBI to Chipper Jones. On 9/16, McGriff drove in his 1,000th career run!
THIS CARD: That #27 still looks off on any and every Brave since McGriff. I strongly doubt the franchise will ever retire it for him, Cooperstown or not, but if they did, I would not stand outside Truist Park protesting—McGriff was a bad dude, people, and it sucks he never stayed anywhere long enough to be honored there.
If you never saw McGriff in action, you might think he had a typical, unremarkable swing based on this pic. You'd be wrong—prime McGriff would hunch over in the box until the pitch arrived, then BOOM! Capped off by a one-handed twirl of the bat over his head...gotta love the twirl. For you younger Twins fans, NO, Justin Morneau was hardly the inventor of the "helicopter swing".
More from McGriff's 1997 season: he batted .265, 8, 52 at brand new Turner Field after a .282, 17, 64 performance at AFCS in '96. People often discuss how the 1994-95 strike contributed to McGriff falling short of 500 jacks, but the Braves' switching stadiums and his ensuing dropoff is never talked about. On 8/30 at Boston, McGriff homered twice among his four hits and drove home five runs in a blowout win for Atlanta.
(flip) McGriff hit 493 bombs, but only led his league that one year with San Diego. And he never reached 40 in a season.
Let me see if I can guess the seven players with 340+ career homers entering the 1998 season:
Bonds, Ripken, McGwire, Murray (who was active in 1997 but not 1998), Strawberry...I'm not forgetting Griffey but I don't think he had 340 yet...and that's all the thinking I feel like doing.
The others were: Jose Canseco (in place of Strawberry, who only had 308) Joe Carter and Harold Baines, with whom McGriff finished 1997 tied at 339 bombs.
McGriff was not Gold Glove material, but he was a better fielder than those 13 errors in 1997 indicate; he was always good for at least 10 hiccups per year, including 1989 and 1993 when he made 17 apiece.
AFTER THIS CARD: 1997 represented the second year of his 4Y/$20M deal signed with Atlanta in December 1995, but the Braves decided to deal him to the expansion Devil Rays on the night of the draft (as far as I can tell, Atlanta received "cash considerations" in return).
McGriff, a Tampa native, enjoyed productive 1999-2000 seasons and was extended for 2Y/$12M in September 1999. Off to a .318, 19, 61 start to 2001, McGriff was traded to the Cubs near the Deadline as Tampa decided to cut payroll. He remained with the Cubs through 2002—his team option became a player option as a condition of the 2001 trade—and blasted 30 homers with 103 RBI that year, putting him at 478 four-baggers lifetime!
Next, 39-year-old McGriff joined the Dodgers in December 2002 (1Y/$3.75M). It seemed like a bargain deal at first, but "The Crime Dog" hit just .249 with 13 homers as he missed nearly two months with a groin injury. After settling for a MiLB deal with the D'Rays in March 2004, McGriff joined the team in May needing just nine homers to reach 500...but he struggled and was cut in July, still seven blasts short of the milestone. No one else came calling, and 41-year-old McGriff soon retired.
McGriff spent the full 10 years on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, but maxed out at 39.8% of the vote in 2019 (needing 75% for election). However, he will soon be up for election via the Contempory Ballot, due to vote 12/4/2022.
12/4/2022 UPDATE: McGriff was indeed elected to the Hall...unanimously!!
Fred McGriff appeared in 1988-98 Score.
11/25/22 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Score #603 Larry Luebbers, Reds
(7/17/23 edit...story too good to let collect dust while waiting to pull my only other Luebbers card)
From a 1997 Tom Verducci SI article on Reds OF Kevin Mitchell:
A nervous rookie Reds pitcher named Larry Luebbers once gave up
several hard-hit balls to leftfield, where Mitchell had to
expend considerably more energy than he wished running them
down. Before the game, Mitchell obviously spooked the youngster
by going up to him and saying, "Hey, kid, you ever seen a German
Luger? You will if you have me running around out there."
Luebbers, with all due respect, probably wouldn't have advanced past AAA under normal circumstances, but the 1993 Reds' pitching staff needed HELP. Jose Rijo was the ace, as usual, but the other projected Reds starters—Tom Browning, John Smiley, Tim Belcher—battled injuries and/or ineffectiveness and/or Deadline trades.
Enter Luebbers in July. He remained in Cincy's rotation through season's end, and for the most part, he held his own. The kid completed five or more innnings in 12 of 14 starts, and even put together six quality starts despite a literally even K/BB ratio.
THIS CARD: It's pronounced "LUBBERS", by the way. Rhymes with...the material used for tires.
Luebbers may appear to be "letting it go" in this pic, but for him that only meant low 90's heat. He also threw a good slider and okay changeup.
In Reds annals, #52 has also been worn by...a load of stopgaps and vagabonds until steady RP Tony Cingrani came along; he wore it 2012-17. Today, lefty reliever Reiver Sanmartin claims #52. (Luebbers wore #53 when he returned to the Reds in 2000.)
(flip) The 1993 Reds also trotted out 21-year-old John Roper in their rotation. He joined Tim Pugh, who shined in seven starts in 1992 but couldn't keep it up in 1993, though—with no better alternatives—Pugh remained in the Reds' rotation nearly all year.
If Luebbers looks a bit slim in this pic, it's because he was extremely slim. You wouldn't expect that from a guy whose last name rhymed with "blubber", but there you have it.
Check out that 1/1 K/BB ratio for the 1993 Reds; Luebbers simply didn't have a reliable strikeout pitch. He finished up his major league career with 47 K and 50 BB—a far cry from his 1.67 K/BB ratio in the minors.
AFTER THIS CARD: Though he had some decent showings in the minors, Luebbers was not seen again in MLB until the Cardinals came calling in July 1999. Overall, Luebbers was only 3-3, 5.12 in eight starts, but he usually kept the games close and even went the distance against Florida on 8/31/1999! He got one more look with the Reds in July 2000, opening with a quality start but then struggling in 13 relief outings.
Luebbers pitched two more years of pro ball, then was done at 33. He appeared in 1994 Score.