Score Baseball Card Of The Day
"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.)
A = Alternate Card
Click on images for larger views.
12/1/20 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1994 Score #393 Cecil Fielder, Tigers
Cecil Fielder was the game's top slugger of the early 1990's; he opened the decade with 95 bombs in two seasons and led the AL in RBI annually 1990-92. One of the best draft picks ever by the Tigers, right?
Uh, not quite. The Tigers didn't draft Fielder; Toronto did. And they never gave him more than part-time run. In fact, the only team that would give Fielder full-time run in 1989 was...the Hanshin Tigers of the Japan League! Even 30 years later, it is still incredible that a player like 1990-92 Fielder was essentially unwanted by MLB in 1989.
Here, Fielder—who signed a 5Y/$36M deal in early 1993—is fresh off a '93 season that ranked below the lofty standard he'd set from 1990-92, partially because he didn't see as many strikes. Still, Fielder made his third All-Star team while leading Detroit in RBI.
THIS CARD: For those of you not around in Fielder's day, it is pronounced "SESSIL", not "SEESIL".
Any nickname for Fielder other than "Big Daddy" just would not have worked. At all. One of my all-time favorite MLB announcer moments involved Fielder's size; it was a VERY windy day somewhere and the runner on first base (where Fielder played) wasn't leading off very far. The announcers—good-naturedly—suggested the runner just grab on to Fielder if the wind worsened, reasoning "Cecil's not goin' anywhere."
Fielder bats at an unidentified road ballpark; the catcher has red equipment and that's all I've got to go on. Away from Tiger Stadium in 1993, Fielder only slugged .393 with 10 homers, compared to .537 with 20 homers at home. But don't misinterpret that stat; Fielder could hit the ball out of Yellowstone Park if served up just right.
(flip) Fielder did lead the league in RBI for a short time in June, but was eventually passed by
Juan Gonzalez, Joe Carter, Frank Thomas and leader Albert Belle.
Just know that Fielder did not weigh 245 in the year 1993. I'm not bashing or shaming him, just pointing out an inaccuracy.
Fielder did hit big home runs; he was the only Tiger (and one of four players total) to clear the LF grandstand at Tiger Stadium, in fact. Also, Fielder hit a ball completely out of County Stadium in Milwaukee once, estimated at 520 feet. (Both videos are available on YouTube at this writing.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Fielder continued to mash for Detroit into mid-1996, when the Tigers satisfied his request for a trade by sending him to the Yankees at the 11th hour of Deadline Day. Though the Yankees went on to win the World Series that year, Fielder still wasn't entirely happy in New York, requested another trade (which didn't happen) and moved on to the Angels for 1998.
Despite being the team's RBI co-leader, Fielder was pushed out of playing time by rookie Troy Glaus, then let go in August. Cleveland then signed and quickly cut the almost-35-year-old, and a 1999 MiLB deal with Toronto ended in Spring Training with the acquisition of Dave Hollins. Just like that, Fielder was finished in MLB.
Later on, Fielder briefly managed in something called the South Coast League, an independent league that existed for one season. You may have heard of his son Prince, who matched his dad's career total of 319 major league home runs (for the Brewers, Tigers and Rangers).
Cecil Fielder appeared in Score 1988-98, except 1990.
More November 2020 Score Cards Of The Day
11/22/20 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1989 Score #405 Tom Foley, Expos
In 1988, Tom Foley wrapped up his second full season (and third overall) with the Montreal Expos, once again splitting time between SS and 2B.
Foley, a #7 pick by the Reds in '77, wound up starting 97 times for the Expos in '88 and finished second on the team with 10 IBB (Tim Raines drew 14).
THIS CARD: A fine action shot of Foley firing from what I'd guess to be the shortstop position. If you liked Montreal's powder blues, 1989 Score was for you.
Remember to flip those glasses down on balls in the air, Tom. Nothing pisses off fans more than a dude missing a fly ball/popup because his shades are on, but not down.
More from Foley's 1988 season: his season highlight was possibly his three-hit, two-homer day on 7/2. Then again, maybe not, since Montreal still lost in 15 innings.
(flip) Those hits may have been technically "game-winners", but only one was all that dramatic—Foley's 10th-inning walk-off single to sink his old Philadelphia teammates 4/16.
That Braves clash took place 7/10. After entering in the 8th, 2B Foley relayed home to erase Atlanta runner Gerald Perry—attempting to score on a Dale Murphy hit—and preserve a 2-2 tie. Two innings later, Foley's RBI single off Bruce Sutter in the T13th put Montreal up 3-2; they'd win 4-2.
Foley, in fact, was a three-sport star at Miami Palmetto High School.
AFTER THIS CARD: Foley started 91 times for the 1989 Expos, but settled into a reserve role in the years to come. His versatility kept him in Montreal through multiple managerial changes, even as his average plummeted below .200.
In 1993, Foley joined the Pirates, starting 41 times across four positions. By 1995 he was 35 and back in Montreal, but their July release brought on the end of Foley's playing career. He then embarked on a long stint with the Rays, first in player development, then as a 3B coach (2001-14), then as a bench coach (2015-17) and finally in the front office as a special advisor.
Foley retired from baseball in 2019. He appeared in Score 1988-92.
11/25/20 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Score #180 Jim Leyritz, Rangers
Two things we know, or at least should know, about the longtime Yankee catcher/UT Jim Leyritz: he had a knack for hitting home runs in the postseason, and he had a knack for getting under his teammates' skin. Leyritz was a guy who clearly enjoyed the perks of being a New York Yankee, and for a time he had celebrity status usually reserved for stars.
Leyritz debuted in 1990 and started 67 games at 3B for the Yankees, but when he repeatedly criticized the club for not playing him more, then struggled when it did, he was demoted to AAA for what ended up being a long time. Leyritz talked some more and eventually got himself suspended.
By 1993, however, he seemed to have finally figured it out (somewhat), and hit .309 with 14 home runs that year. Still playing part-time, Leyritz smacked 17 more out of the park in '94. In '95 he walked off the Mariners in the 15th inning of ALDS Game #2, then in '96 he famously stunned the Braves with a three-run blast off the tough Mark Wohlers in World Series Game #4.
Here, the veteran utilityman has landed with the Texas Rangers, his second team of 1997. He joined Texas via mid-season trade from the Angels, who had acquired him in the off-season from the Yankees.
THIS CARD: We see Leyritz the Ranger either pre-AB or between pitches. He was known for literally twirling the bat between pitches, as well as a strange, almost painful-looking batting stance (that was somehow never captured on a Score or Topps card).
Leyritz became a Ranger in a straight-up swap for P Ken Hill, a 16-game winner in 1996 who'd backpedaled in '97.
More from Leyritz's 1997 season: he got the bulk of run at C for the Angels early on, and was hitting .336 through 5/19. But from 6/1 until his 7/31 trade, Leyritz hit just .232 in 43 games, albeit with plenty of walks. He started 79 games in all for Anaheim.
(flip) Once upon a time, games and at-bats appeared on Score cards; in 1998 they were sacrificed to help make room for the splits. If you do math, you can still calculate total at-bats, at least.
That extra-inning blast was served up by Mariners P Tim Belcher, in his fourth inning of work. That game went 14-plus innings and still, the Mariners used just five pitchers—today, a playoff team could be on its fifth pitcher by the 4th inning regardless of the score.
That's a lot of passed balls, especially for a guy who didn't catch full-time. I never knew Leyritz played so much at other positions before today.
More on the contract status: Leyritz signed a 2Y/$3.3M deal with the Yankees in January 1996 with an option for 1998 that was picked up by the Angels.
AFTER THIS CARD: Leyritz was not through coming up big in the postseason. The Rangers dealt Leyritz to the Red Sox in November 1997; Boston sent him to the Padres in June '98 and in that year's NLDS vs. Houston, Leyritz hit a game-tying homer in the 9th off Billy Wagner (Game 2), and an eventual game-winning homer off the seemingly invincible Randy Johnson in the 7th (Game 3).
The Yankees moved to re-acquire Leyritz in mid-1999; he helped them to their third championship in four years. A brief stint with the 2000 Dodgers would end Leyritz's career just short of 37; he was not able to come back from 2001 rotator cuff surgery.
Leyritz dealt with serious off-field problems in 2007-10. He briefly worked as an Independent League pitching coach in 2011; at last check Leyritz was under a personal services contract with the Yankees and doing sports talk radio.
Jim Leyritz debuted in 1991 Score, and returned for the 1994-98 sets.
11/28/20 Score Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Score #609 John Shelby, Tigers
One of my favorite baseball frivolities is when so-so players carry four-star nicknames. Shelby was but a decent player in his day, but when he's referred to by his nickname, he becomes somebody entirely different. Somebody you wouldn't want to pitch to.
Try it. "Yeah, I remember those '83 Orioles. They had Ripken and Murray, Al Bumbry, T-Bone Shelby..."
See what I mean?
(Of course, the nickname has to fit the player at least somewhat. Andres "T-Bone" Torres, for example, would evoke more laughter than anything else.)
Here, Shelby has wrapped a 1990 season that landed him back in the American League after a three-year absence. He opened 1990 with the Dodgers; they cut him in June, but the Tigers soon picked him up and put him in their starting lineup for the next few weeks.
THIS CARD: Not the most balanced swing Shelby has ever taken, but he was a fast guy who didn't have to necessarily hit the ball hard to get a hit.
Shelby returned to baseball card sets in 1991 after being omitted by everybody the year before in the wake of a tough 1989 season. (Well, he did appear in 1990 Topps Traded as a new Tiger but that's about it.)
More from Shelby's 1990 season: when the Dodgers did use him, which wasn't often, it was as a PH/DR—quite a drop-off from being the starting CF on their 1988 World Series team. As mentioned, Detroit put him in their starting lineup for a time before deciding to pick their LF and CF out of a hat each day.
(flip) A free swinger indeed: Shelby's career OBP was .281, and he did not walk often (32 in over 500 PA in 1987, for example).
Shelby went 6-for-19 in five games at Toledo.
That early home run was against Todd Burns of the A's, but according to Baseballreference.com, the only grannie Shelby ever hit was in 1983. (He did smoke a three-run shot against Boston on 8/5/90.)
AFTER THIS CARD: Shelby remained with the Tigers into the 1991 season, but was given his walking papers in August after hitting .154 in 53 games. He spent 1992 with AAA Pawtucket (Red Sox), but never resurfaced in the majors.
From there, he embarked on a long coaching/managing career in the majors and minors, most notably with the Dodgers 1998-2005. You may remember Shelby as one of several Dodgers personnel who entered the Wrigley Field crowd during a 2000 hat-stealing fracas with idiot fans.
John Shelby appeared in the 1988, 1989 and 1991 Score sets.