Topps Baseball Card Of The Day

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I own every Topps baseball set since 1985. For years I thought long and hard how I could put these cards "to use" aside from sitting in their binders until the end of time. The Card Of The Day was born.

I'd hoped to introduce a new card every single day but that quickly proved impossible under the weight of a regular job and fatherhood—now I'm aiming for 4-5 per week.

 

For years we only profiled Topps cards, but in November 2020 I decided to finally profile Score cards as well; click here to revisit that late, great baseball brand. Otherwise, please enjoy randomly-selected Topps cards from 1987-present (No 1985 and 1986 Topps in this feature—not only didn't I see a lot of those players, but I DID see blogs on both sets that would affect my writing.)

A = Alternate Card  B= Bonus Factory Set Card  F = Factory Team Set  G = Giveaway Set  T = Traded Set  U = Update Set

 

Click on images for larger views.

Topps Greg Reynolds
Topps Greg Reynolds

11/19/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2008 Topps Update #183 Greg Reynolds, Rockies

More Greg Reynolds Topps Cards: 2009

 

If you've never heard of Greg Reynolds, you're not alone. I knew of his existence but had long since pushed him into my hippocampus.

Much was expected of Reynolds, the second overall pick in the 2006 Draft out of Stanford. The very tall starting pitcher looked good in Class A, and looked damn good in Class AA. He was promoted to MLB in May 2008 when veteran lefty Mark Redman pitched his way back to AAA Colorado Springs (7.84 ERA), and initially, Reynolds held the lowly Padres at bay before the wheels came off a bit. 

THIS CARD: Good God, did Reynolds sign with a paint brush? At least it's legible, but an original signature that thick would take an hour to dry.

I'm not sure what ballpark that is, but despite Reynold's home uniform, I'd wager up to $20 it isn't Coors Field.

More from Reynolds' early 2008 season: following his debut, he remained in Colorado's rotation until being bombed for seven runs in 1.1 innings on Independence Day, after which he was demoted back to AAA. There were bumps along the road, but one smooth portion featured Reynolds throwing six shutout innings in his second MLB start—at home versus the Twins, no less!

(flip) Since Reynolds, the highest Colorado has drafted is third overall (2013, SP Jon Gray).

In that win against the Brewers, Reynolds pitched into the 7th inning, allowing two runs on four hits with two walks. He whiffed no one, helping his pitch count stay down (73).

Pacifica, California is just a 15-20 minute drive down Highway 1 south of San Francisco. It's a very foggy beach town.

AFTER THIS CARD: Because of an uncooperative arm, Reyholds, did not pitch for the Rockies in 2009 or 2010. He returned in 2011 with a pair of strong starts before slipping (6.19 in 15 total games); Colorado, no longer high on Reynolds, swapped him to the Rangers for a minor leaguer in January 2012.

Reynolds spent all of '12 with AAA Round Rock, posting a 5.30 ERA in 27 starts before joining the Cincinnati organization. He went 12-3, 2.42 for AAA Louisville and mixed in five up-and-down starts for the Reds, which would prove to be his final MLB action. The 28-year-old took his mitt to Japan for the 2014 season.

Reynolds did not pitch in 2015; in January 2016, this misfortune cost him the ability to put movement on his fastball, which was evidenced by his performance for AAA El Paso (Padres; 7.30 ERA, 1.742 WHIP in 24.2 innings) a few months later. Reynolds would be compensated for his torpedoed pro career, which ended with his May release by San Diego.

Greg Reynolds appeared in 2008 Topps Update and 2009 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2008 Topps Update, Colorado Rockies

More November 2022 Topps Cards Of The Day

Topps Mike Sweeney
Topps Mike Sweeney

11/1/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2004 Topps #410 Mike Sweeney, Royals

More Mike Sweeney Topps Cards: 1997 1998 2000 2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009U 2010

In the early 2000's, Mike Sweeney was The Man in Kansas City. He wasn't about to challenge George Brett atop the all-time Royals hierarchy, but if they were to build a Mount Royalsmore, Sweeney made as strong a case as anybody to fill a spot alongside Brett and Frank White. 

Nationwide, Sweeney never quite got the recognition his production warranted—not much attention  was paid to the Royals even when they were good, let alone when they weren't, as was the case during most of Sweeney's tenure. From 1999-2002, the man averaged .324, 26, 108 with three trips to the All-Star Game, but I'd wager in ANY city besides Kansas City, Julia Sweeney would have been the most recognized of the two.

Here, despite more physical setbacks, Sweeney has enjoyed a fourth straight All-Star season for the upstart 2003 Royals. Alternating between the three and four holes in the lineup, Sweeney was batting .321, 12, 50 in 62 games when nerve irritation in his neck and back forced him to the DL in June. He wound up missing nearly two months and was not the same hitter when he returned.

THIS CARD: Sweeney—whose MLB career began behind the plate—is listed as a 1B here, and he did play the position extensively before his DL stint. Upon returning, however, Sweeney was used exclusively as a DH, and by 2006 that was his primary "position" until joining the National League in 2010.

While Sweeney's familiar #29 is not retired in Kansas City, no Royal has worn it since he departed after the 2007 season—my guess is it'll be retired by the team in the next 15 years or so. Sweeney wore #29 digits his entire Royals career before switching to #5 with the A's, Mariners and Phillies later on.

I miss this Royals look; they sported it from 2002-05 which, of course, includes that semi-magical 2003 campaign. But it also includes the Royals' nightmarish 2004 campaign in which they were one of THE most disappointing MLB clubs I've ever tracked...oh, well.

(flip) As you see, Sweeney finished at .293, 16, 83 across 108 games in 2003. As we mentioned, he was on a far gaudier pace before being hurt in June. In his 46 games post-injury, Sweeney hit .260, 4, 33 with a meager .379 SLG.

Sweeney was obviously unable to play in the 2003 Midsummer Classic; he finished 0-for-4 in the four All-Star Games he did participate in (2000-02, 2005).

Those 144 RBI in Y2K did not lead the AL—DH Edgar Martinez of Seattle drove in 145 that year. Sweeney still holds the Royals season record, however, and no other Royal has come all that close since he set it.

AFTER THIS CARD: Sweeney continued to swing a productive bat for the Royals in 2004-05, which would have meant a lot more to all involved had he not missed 96 games in that period. Sweeney missed even more time in 2006-07 as he dealt with a bulging disc in his back as well as right knee inflammation, and unlike previous seasons, he was ordinary when he did play.

Though the longtime Royal volunteered to take a huge pay cut and reduced role to stay in KC, Sweeney was not re-signed once his 5Y/$55M deal expired after the 2007 season.

Sweeney spent the final three seasons of his MLB career on MiLB deals, first with the 2008 Athletics followed by the 2009-10 Mariners. He missed a huge chunk of '08 after dual knee surgeries and was cut in September, but in '09 Sweeney swatted his 200th career homer in a part-time role with Seattle. The 37-year-old, who was traded to Philadelphia late in the 2010 season, made more news in '10 for this than for his play.

In 2011, Sweeney retired on a one-day contract with the Royals. He joined their front office in 2014 and was elected to their Hall of Fame in 2015.

Mike Sweeney appeared annually in Topps 1997-2010, except 1999 and 2009. He's also got a 2009 Update card.

CATEGORIES: 2004 Topps, Kansas City Royals

Topps Craig Grebeck
Topps Craig Grebeck

11/2/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1991 Topps #446 Craig Grebeck, White Sox

More Craig Grebeck Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1994 1995 2001

Craig Grebeck may not have been the BEST utility infielder of his time, but there might not have been anyone more synonymous with the job title. Grebeck lasted parts of 12 seasons without ever A) having his own full-time job on anything more than a temporary basis, or B) doing anything to deserve a full-time job on anything more than a temporary basis.

I don't mean that in a pejorative way; Grebeck simply was who he was and never tried to be something he wasn't. Undrafted out of something called Cal State, Dominguez Hills—which was later attended by current MLB OF Kevin Pillar—Grebeck beat the odds just to reach MLB, which he did on 4/13/1990 after winning a spot on the White Sox roster out of Spring Training.

THIS CARD: Fitting that Grebeck's first Topps card depicts him gettin' his defense on—Grebeck lasted in MLB because of his glove and versatility. For such an unremarkable player, Grebeck received some distinctive, original front images from the company through the years.

Grebeck's #14, of course, is now retired at U.S. Cellular Field for Paul Konerko. Grebeck finished his Sox career wearing #12 for reasons that I suspect have to do with 1994 teammate Julio Franco.

More from Grebeck's 1990 season: on 8/10 vs. the Rangers, he smashed his first (and only) homer of the year, which was immediately followed by SS Ozzie Guillen's first (and only) homer of the year. If that wasn't unusual enough—both blasts were served up by the great Nolan Ryan! Shout-out to NBCSports.com for directing me to that info. (BTW, Ryan drilled Grebeck in their next meeting, true to character.)

(flip) You'll never convince me that at least 50% of why Wallenbrock signed Grebeck was because they shared a first name.

It seems crazy now, but yes, Grebeck did hit 15 homers in a 378-AB 1987 season for Class A Peninsula. The same man who went on to homer 19 times in 1,988 MLB at-bats. Perhaps that 1987 home park had small dimensions, being on a peninsula and all.

Grebeck had no July 1990 hits for the Sox in part because he spent half the month at AAA Vancouver, a level he skipped en route to Chicago.

AFTER THIS CARD: Grebeck stuck with the White Sox through 1995, mostly in a utility role but also as their regular SS for the early months of 1992 after Guillen suffered a season-ending knee injury (Grebeck saw his own season end that August with a broken foot). Next, the 31-year-old signed with the Marlins for 1996 and the Angels for 1997, neither stint all that remarkable. 

Grebeck then completed a three-year stint with the Toronto Blue Jays, highlighted by 77 starts at 2B in 1998, a 2Y/$1.35M extension that October, a .363 average in 1999—a season shortened to 113 at-bats by recurring foot problems, but still—and a .295 average across 66 games in 2000. After a short run filling in for injured Boston superstar SS Nomar Garciparra in 2001, Grebeck retired at 36. He resurfaced as a MiLB coach 2005-07.

Craig Grebeck appeared in 1990-95 Topps, disappeared during the company's Dark Era (like so many others), then made one last visit in 2001 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 1991 Topps, Chicago White Sox

Topps Quinton McCracken
Topps Quinton McCracken

11/3/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #206 Quinton McCracken, Rockies

More Quinton McCracken Topps Cards: 1993 1997 1998A 1999 2001T 2003 2004

If memory serves, Quinton McCracken was the first dude to play full-time for both of MLB's 1998 Expansion teams, the Devil Rays and Diamondbacks. I really wish that bit of trivia was relevant in any way, but nope, it gets filed away under the already-overflowing "Useless" label.

McCracken was a speedster who regularly received MLB opportunity, performed well, then for whatever reason, completely fell off the major league radar. Be it due to injury or unshakeable slump, McCracken was never able to string together more than two quality big league seasons.

Here, the 27-year-old has just wrapped his second straight year as a semi-regular Rockies outfielder. McCracken got in 147 games for Colorado, just under half as a starter in CF and 16 apiece as a PH/PR. His 28 steals (in 39 tries) ranked third on the ballclub.

THIS CARD: We see McCracken with the acrobatic play in center. A huge chunk of McCracken's 1997 run came as a late-inning defensive replacement; while he was not GREAT with the glove himself, he was a better option than the gimpy Ellis Burks.

Topps—or whoever they contracted photography to—was gradually taking advantage of the increasingly-powerful zoom lens in the mid-1990's, allowing for game-action photos that simply did not exist in sets from 10 or even five years prior...such as this one. BTW if my legs ever split that far apart, I'd need surgery. Or possibly amputation.

More from McCracken's 1997 season: he tied Steve Finley (Padres) and Rondell White (Expos) for the league lead among CF's with three double plays turned. On 4/20, McCracken's four hits and three runs helped sink the Braves 9-2, and on 9/28 his three hits and three RBI aided Colorado's 13-9 victory over the Dodgers in Game #162.

(flip) That's the look of a man who just got caught stealing to end an inning. Hang in there, Q.

McCracken attended Duke 1989-92, FYI. And in addition to his baseball and football skillz, the man started at point guard for his high school hoops squad!

The newly-christened Central Valley Rockies, for whom McCracken stole those 60 bases in 1993, existed for one more year before returning to their previous name of the Visalia Oaks and becoming an A's affiliate.

AFTER THIS CARD: McCracken went to Tampa in the 1997 Expansion Draft, immediately became their CF, and established career highs in everything except steals. But in May 1999, he tore his ACL, and was replaced by young Randy Winn and later, veteran Gerald Williams in CF. After stashing him at AAA Durham for most of 2000, Tampa Bay released McCracken.

Following a short run with the Twins in mid-2001, McCracken finally re-established himself in MLB with the 2002 D'Backs, batting .309 in 123 games (78 starts) and .364 in the NLDS, though he was no longer a serious stolen base threat. "Q" fell to .227 in 115 games in 2003, and was traded to the Mariners that December.

Cut by Seattle in June 2004, McCracken returned to Arizona and remained there in a part-time role through 2005; he ended his MLB career with the 2006 Cincinnati Reds (11-for-60 in 45 games).

Quinton McCracken debuted as a Prospect in 1993 Topps, then appeared in the 1997-99 and 2003-04 Topps sets. He's also got a 2001 Traded card with Minnesota.

CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Colorado Rockies

Topps Kelly Shoppach
Topps Kelly Shoppach

11/4/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2009 Topps #311 Kelly Shoppach, Indians

More Kelly Shoppach Topps Cards: 2006U 2007U 2010 2010U 2011 2012 2012U

In 2008, young Kelly Shoppach seemed set as the Indians catcher of the present and possibly—depending on Victor Martinez's contract situation—future after slugging .517 on the strength of 21 homers in just 352 at-bats—not to mention his history of high CS percentages at the minor and major league levels. Before long, however, Shoppach's inability to make regular contact at the plate reduced him to journeyman backup.

Among Shoppach's many achievements as a Red Sox prospect:

  • named Best Defensive Catcher of the Eastern League (2003),

  • named AA Portland Player of the Year (2003),

  • claimed Pawtucket's season homer record for catchers (21, 2004)

  • four All-Star selections (2002-05) and

  • stood as Boston's #8 overall prospect entering the 2005 season per Baseball America.

In other words, Shoppach was hot stuff on the farms...but not hot enough to make the Red Sox think about moving longtime C Jason Varitek. So off to Cleveland went Shoppach in a January 2006 trade. Here, the 28-year-old has just closed the book on that special '08 campaign, one that saw him prove to be a more-than-adequate replacement for the injured Martinez.

THIS CARD: All four of Shoppach's Topps base set front images depict him defensively, although on two of them, he's at least removed his mask. So we know he is not Batman moonlighting as an American League catcher.

Shoppach reaches back to gun what I have to believe is an attempted base thief. He erased 36.3% of them in 2006-07 but fell to 21% in 2008, which included an 0-for-14 streak in and around June. Shoppach bounced back to lead the AL with 41% CS in 2011 and finished his career at 30%.

More from Shoppach's 2008 season: he started 54 of the 66 games Martinez missed June-August following elbow surgery, and slashed .279/.357/.572 with 14 homers and 39 RBI in 201 AB during that span. He ran off a 10-game hit streak as June turned to July, and soon after it ended, Shoppach went 3-for-3 with a homer in a blowout loss to Minnesota 7/4. His biggest day, however...

(flip)...is highlighted here in the blurb; I NEVER KNEW Shoppach had joined Boudreau—a very prominent Indians player and manager in the 1940s—in that select club. Unfortunately, the Tigers wound up winning that 13-inning game 14-12.

The six NLers with five XBH in one game, through 2008: George Gore (1885) Larry Twitchell (1889) Joe Adcock (1946) Willie Stargell (1970) Steve Garvey (1977) and Shawn Green (2002).

Since those original eight, seven more big leaguers have cracked five XBH in one game: Josh Hamilton (2012) Jackie Bradley (2015) Kris Bryant (2016) Jose Ramirez (2017) Matt Carpenter (2018) Alex Dickerson (2020) and Luis Urias (2021). Thanks for the shortcut, baseball-almanac.com.

Shoppach's 1.278 OPS against my 2008 Giants stands as his highest vs. any opponent in his career (he never faced SF again). The bastard doubled thrice and singled once across nine at-bats vs. the Giants in '08.

"Forth Worth" was a perpetual error on Shoppach's Topps cards; it was there on his first Topps card (2006 Topps Update) and his last Topps card (2012 Topps).

AFTER THIS CARD: Martinez was traded in mid-2009, but by then the league had adjusted to Shoppach, who fell to .214 with a 36% K rate. Dealt to the Rays that December, Shoppach—who underwent knee surgery and missed seven weeks of 2010—was unable to crack .200 in either 2010 or 2011 and was not re-signed for 2012 despite a two-homer game in the '11 ALDS against Texas.

Shoppach moved between six organizations over the 2012-13 campaigns, receiving MLB run with the '12 Red Sox and Mets as well as the '13 Mariners and Indians. But during that span, he hit just .220 with 11 homers and 135 K in 328 AB. That winter, Shoppach didn't receive any offers—at least none he found suitable to continue his pro career.

Kelly Shoppach appeared in 2009-12 Topps, as well as 2006-07, 2010 and 2012 Topps Update.

CATEGORIES: 2009 Topps, Cleveland Indians

Topps Kyle Farnsworth
Topps Kyle Farnsworth

11/6/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #573 Kyle Farnsworth, Rays

More Kyle Farnsworth Topps Cards: 2002 2003 2004 2005 2005U 2006 2007U 2008U 2009U 2010U 2011U 2013

Here, we catch up with the veteran fireballer Farnsworth as he reflects on a very successful 2011 season with the Wild-Card winning Rays. For the second time in his career (and first since 2005), Farnsworth served as a regular closer, a job that belonged to no lone individual when the season opened.

Despite his inexperience in the ninth inning, Farnsworth kept getting the ball and kept doing good things with it. He finished the year 25-for-31 in save ops and would have been an All-Star in many other seasons.

THIS CARD: Per Getty Images, we're seeing Farnsworth deliver to the Red Sox 7/17/2011. That day, he pitched a scoreless T9th around a hit and two walks, but Tampa lost to Boston in MLB's longest 16-inning 1-0 game since 2004.

Farnsworth reaches back to deliver either his mid-to-high-90's heat (which once reached 100), or his splitter, hard slider, or possibly the sinker or changeup he added in 2007.

More from Farnsworth's 2011 season: he was 17-for-19 in save ops with a 2.02 ERA in the first half, certainly All-Star caliber numbers. But with Tampa seemingly out of contention at the Break, Farnsworth was placed on waivers but went unclaimed. Only separate bouts of elbow soreness in August and September diverted the 35-year-old from a 30-save campaign.

(flip) Those 776 appearances through 2011 moved Farnsworth into 50th place all-time; today he ranks 29th all-time with 893 (27th when he retired).

No blurb, so we'll tell you that Farnsworth joined the Rays on a 1Y/$3.25M deal in January 2011, with a club option for 2012 that was exercised on Halloween '11.

As you see in the stats, Farnsworth's career high in saves prior to 2011 was 16 for the Tigers and Braves in 2005. As we indicated earlier in this profile, he eclipsed that total in the first half of 2011 alone!

AFTER THIS CARD: Farnsworth missed the first half of 2012 with an elbow strain, allowing newcomer Fernando Rodney to emerge as a superstar (48 saves, compared to zero for Farnsworth). Still, Tampa Bay brought him back on a 1Y/$1.25M deal for 2013...only to cut him in August with a 5.76 ERA. Farnsworth ended on a strong note for the '13 Pirates, however.

An injury to RP Bobby Parnell allowed Farnsworth to win a job with the 2014 Mets; he would split his 35 appearances that year almost evenly between the Mets and Astros. Farnsworth reportedly aimed to continue pitching in 2015, but no contract materialized and his pro career ended at 38.

By 2022, Farnsworth had drastically changed his appearance from his playing days.

Kyle Farnsworth appeared in Kyle Farnsworth appeared annually in Topps or Topps Update 2002-13, split almost evenly.

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Tampa Bay Rays

Topps Todd Ritchie
Topps Todd Ritchie

11/7/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2003 Topps #442 Todd Ritchie, Brewers

More Todd Ritchie Topps Cards: 2000 2001 2002 2002T

During the Pittsburgh Pirates 20 consecutive seasons (1993-2012) on the outside of the postseason looking in, one man...and only one man...managed to win as many as 15 games in any of those seasons. And that man was the unheralded righty Todd Ritchie, who had been working full-time middle relief for the Twins just two seasons prior to his breakout 1999 campaign.

While he was not able to reach those heights again, Ritchie was a mainstay in the 2000-01 Pittsburgh rotations, eclipsing 200 innings in 2001 and prompting the White Sox to trade for him that December. We catch up with Ritchie on the heels of his lone Chicago season, one that started well enough but gradually disintegrated into disaster, likely due to shoulder inflammation that sidelined him for practically all of August 2002.

THIS CARD: A STUN (Spring Training New Uniform) front image! Ritchie signed with Milwaukee  for 1Y/$750K after the Sox non-tendered him. He was appointed the team's #3 starter in camp.

Let's pretend this image isn't airbrushed, and that Ritchie is actually at this location:

TOPPS: "Hey, Todd, we want to shoot some pics of you in your new Brewers uniform. Are you gonna be free day after tomorrow?"

RITCHIE: "I think that'll work. Where would you like to meet? We just had Media Day at Miller Park; I could just head o—"

TOPPS: "There's a field in this rich guy's backyard up near Green Bay. Meet there at 2:00 pm and COME ALONE."

RITCHIE: "...yes, sir."

More from Ritchie's 2002 season: early on, he lived up to his high price (young pitchers Kip Wells, Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe went to Pittsburgh in the trade), going 3-4, 3.32 through his first nine starts for the White Sox. In his next 14 starts, Ritchie went 2-11, 8.39, then hit the DL for over a month before returning in September with three short, scoreless relief appearances. Ritchie's best outing of the year was an eight-inning, one-run effort at Cleveland 4/23.

(flip) I can't emphasize this enough: we did NOT special select this card on Ritchie's 51st birthday. It is a total coincidence and it's happened a couple of other times here on TSR.

Having more wins and strikeouts than any other Pirate 1999-2001 is not exactly bragworthy. There's a reason no one is debating the nation's best-tasting prune juice.

I personally do not like the spellings of those names. But hey, I'm sure plenty of you dislike the moniker "Skillz". Touche. 

AFTER THIS CARD: Ritchie, sadly, gave the Brewers even less than he gave the White Sox. going 1-2, 5.08 in five starts before being sidelined with shoulder fatigue—which was eventually downgraded to a partially torn rotator cuff. Ritchie underwent June surgery and did not pitch in MLB again until September 2004, when he started and relieved two times each for the Devil Rays.

The following Spring, Ritchie auditioned for the Pirates, but retired before the end of Spring Training at 34.

Todd Ritchie appeared in 2000-03 Topps, as well as 2002 Topps Traded & Rookies.

CATEGORIES: 2003 Topps, Milwaukee Brewers

Topps David Phelps
Topps David Phelps

11/8/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2015 Topps Update #30 David Phelps, Marlins

More David Phelps Topps Cards: 2013U 2014U 2015 2016 2021U

No known relation to Ken or Josh.

In 2013 the Yankees employed a trio of pitchers who, try as I might, I could not distinguish from one another for several years—Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and David Phelps. All were primarily righty relievers, though Warren and Phelps took rotation turns as well. Kelley and Phelps ended up as journeymen, which didn't help matters.

Eventually I was able to sort out who was who: Kelley was the guy who started with the Mariners and got fired from the Nationals for throwing his glove later on. Warren was the guy who kept leaving and coming back to the Yankees. Phelps, the only one still active in MLB as of 2022, is the guy who received annual rotation auditions with the 2012-14 Yankees before transitioning to full-time relief after leaving New York.

Here, the young veteran Phelps has just joined the Miami Marlins via five-player trade in December 2014...more on that below.

THIS CARD: According to Getty Images, we're seeing Phelps in action 4/17/2015 at Citi Field (Mets). That night—his season debut—Phelps got the final two outs of a 12-2 Marlins loss, pitching around two hits.

Phelps is about to deliver either his low-90's sinker, his tight curve, or a changeup which gave me fits in MLB 16: The Show. He also cuts the fastball and could reach mid-90's with the four-seamer once upon a time.

More from Phelps' early 2015 season: he appeared twice in relief—once with disastrous results—before shifting into the Marlins rotation for two months. He went 4-4, 3.84 in 13 starts, averaging just a tick under six innings per outing.  

(flip) That Trade With Yankees sent Phelps and IF Martin Prado to Miami, while SP Nathan Eovaldi, 1B/OF Garrett Jones and pitching prospect Domingo German went north. All except Jones made positive on-field contributions to their new clubs; this deal might be a wash.

Of those 87 appearances Phelps made as a Yankee, 40 were starts. And he even completed one of those starts! (A five-inning CG, but still.)

I guess the Yankees are still allowed to field a MiLB team in Tampa because the Rays' home ballpark is in nearby St. Petersburg. Or because one of the Steinbrenners demanded it.

AFTER THIS CARD: Save for two relief outings around July's turn, Phelps remained in the 2015 Marlins' rotation until mid-August, when he suffered a season-ending stress fracture in his right forearm. Phelps recovered, eventually grew his salary to $4.6M and worked out of Miami's bullpen until being traded to the Mariners in July 2017 (landing then-prospect Pablo Lopez, now a key Marlins SP).

Phelps sat out all of 2018 after UCL surgery; he resurfaced in June 2019 as a Toronto Blue Jay, throwing well enough that the Cubs traded for him at the Deadline! Milwaukee signed Phelps for 2020; he performed well enough that the Phillies—desperate to shore up a historically bad bullpen—traded for him (and others) at the Deadline. But those Philly relief woes were contagious; Phelps registered a 12.91 ERA in 10 games post-trade.

After signing successive minor league deals, Phelps has posted a 2.76 ERA in 76 games for the 2021-22 Blue Jays (he missed the final four-plus months of '21 after lat surgery).

David Phelps has appeared in 2015-16 Topps, as well as 2013-15 and 2021 Topps Update, 

CATEGORIES: 2015 Topps Update, Miami Marlins

Topps Dave Righetti
Topps Ron Wotus

11/9/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2007 Topps #SF30  Dave Righetti & Ron Wotus, Giants

More Dave Righetti Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1991T 1992 1993 2008G 2009G 2010G 2011G 2012G 2013G 2014G

More Ron Wotus Topps Cards: 2008G 2009G 2010G 2011G 2012G 2013G 2014G

Longtime—and I mean LONGTIME—Giants coaches Dave Righetti (pitching) and Ron Wotus (bench/third base) wore Giants uniforms for so long that by the time they left their on-field capacities in 2019 and 2021, respectively, people half-wondered if their numbers would be retired. (There IS a precedent for MLB coaches having their number retired, although the circumstances were VERY different.)


So far, that has not happened and there's been no indication that it will. But if ANY coaches in baseball during my fandom deserve such an honor, it's Rags and Wotus (and perhaps longtime A's/Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan as well as legendary Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone.)

THIS CARD: Once a year from 2006 through 2014, the Giants would give away a set of specially-produced Topps cards at a select home game. These sets featured several Giants who did not appear in the regular Topps or Topps Update sets, so naturally I HAD to have them. I nabbed one at then-AT&T Park—2011 or 2012, if memory serves—and purchased the rest from various sellers.

The combination of Righetti, some strong drafts and Oracle Park helped turn the Giants' pitching fortunes completely around—after years of mediocrity during my youth, by 2000 San Francisco's staff was actually a strength and remained that way year in, year out for most of Righetti's tenure. In 2006, the year represented on this card, Righetti's Giants finished 12th in the NL with a 4.63 ERA—not as bad a rank once you consider just what he had to work with.

Wotus managed three levels of Giants farm teams in the 1990's before being elevated to the Giants big league coaching staff. Initally a third base coach, he quickly was shifted to bench coach by manager Dusty Baker, a role he held on through the 2006 season represented on this card. Wotus became acting manager after each of Felipe Alou's two 2006 ejections (4/23 and 9/19) and his one-game suspension 9/25.

(flip) Most of Righetti's 252 saves came as a Yankee; he also added a few during his Giants tenure after beginning his career as a (successful) starter. He even threw a no-hitter 7/4/1983!

Wotus was a Pirate for those 32 major league games; he played several more years in the minors before shifting into coaching/managing.

I was about to bemoan the lack of bio info, but then I reminded myself that Topps didn't have to give this duo a card at all.

AFTER THIS CARD: Righetti remained as pitching coach in San Francisco through 2017—a nightmarish year for the Giants that led to the coaching staff's overhaul. Righetti's head didn't officially roll, but he was 'kicked upstairs" to a special assistant position. He walked away with three World Series rings (2010, 2012 and 2014) and counting his three seasons (1991-93) as a Giants pitcher, 22 seasons wearing a Giants uniform—PLUS, he got to shake my hand in 2009!

Wotus served as bench coach for Baker through 2002, for Alou 2003-06, and for Bruce Bochy 2007-17. After the 2017 overhaul, Wotus—whose name was often suggested for managerial openings in and outside San Francisco—went from the bench back to third base, where he remained until retiring at age 60 after the 2021 season. (And like Rodney Dangerfield, Wotus couldn't get no respect, at least not from MLB Network.) 

He later took an advisory position with the Giants and it wouldn't shocked me if he coached again someday.

As coaches, Dave Righetti and Ron Wotus appeared in 2006-14 Topps Giants giveaway sets, though I don't really acknowledge the 2006 set due to its cosmetic differences.

CATEGORIES: 2007 Topps, San Francisco Giants

Topps Khris Davis
Topps Khris Davis

11/11/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2018 Topps #325 Khris Davis, Athletics

More Khristopher/Khris Davis Topps Cards: 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2019 2020 2021

He stood tall, and yet he stood small at the same time. 

He smiled brightly while simultaneously half-scowling.

He enjoyed being there while loathing it all at once.

The day my kid and I met Khris "Khrush" Davis at the Oakland Coliseum was confounding.

But the man was nice enough to autograph my daughter's baseball, and I'll always be grateful for that, since it had been her life's mission to obtain a signed baseball. And by life's mission, I mean life's mission since earlier that day.

Here, we find Khrush on the heels of his second consecutive 40-homer campaign with the A's. Convincingly proving his breakout 2016 was no fluke, Davis homered twice on Opening Day 2017 en route to 10 for the month of April!

THIS CARD: Per Getty Images, we're seeing Davis sock an RBI double versus the visiting Blue Jays on 6/7/2017. That day, Davis finished 1-for-4 with two RBI, but the A's fell 7-5 in 10 innings.

Davis is listed as an outfielder; he started 93 times in LF and 53 times at DH in 2016, but by 2019 all but four of his 127 starts were as a DH.

More from Davis's 2017 season: his 43 home runs ranked second in the AL to Aaron Judge's 52, and he became the first Oakland Athletic and second Athletic overall (along with Jimmie Foxx from the franchise's Philly days) to wallop 40+ bombs in successive seasons! (No, Mark McGwire didn't do it, though he flirted with it a few times.) On 7/15, Davis boomed a walk-off home run against Cleveland's Bryan Shaw in the B9th—off the bat, it looked like a lineout to RCF but it somehow cleared the wall. It was the second of four game-enders Davis hit with Oakland.

(flip) When 6'2" me and my child met Davis in 2018, he seemed more than four inches shorter. Just saying—the man packed a LOT of power into a relatively compact build.

I guess they mean exactly 5'10", 195 lbs, because I'm almost certain Jose Altuve would belong in the "and under" category with his 31-homer 2021 campaign.

See that Trade With Brewers? Oakland received Davis, while Milwaukee received C Jason Nottingham (130 MLB PA to date) and a minor leaguer. To this day, I cannot figure out specifically why the Brewers traded Davis, especially for so little, when he had so much upside and wasn't yet expensive. (And I was too reluctant to ask him when we met.)

It might be best that Davis doesn't have Twitter or Instagram (that he was willing to publicize, anyway). He's been classified as a "different cat", and while I won't dare compare him to the NBA's Kyrie Irving, something tells me his posts would garner similar reactions.

AFTER THIS CARD: Davis went on to lead the AL with 48 homers in 2018 and signed a 2Y/$33.5M extension in April 2019, but he fell to .220, 23, 73 that year as he battled a May hip injury. In 2020, Davis continued to mysteriously fall; he didn't reach .200 until the season's final day, lost playing time, and was dropped in the order when he did play. Oakland traded him to Texas in February 2021 (primarily for SS Elvis Andrus).

Davis only hit .157 with two homers in 22 games with Texas, however, earning his June release. The A's gave their former star another look, but he still didn't resemble his old self. Unbelievably, 34-year-old Davis went unsigned for 2022 and could be done.

Khris (or Khristopher, as he was initially known) Davis has appeared annually in 2013-2021 Topps.

CATEGORIES: 2018 Topps, Oakland Athletics

Topps Kevin Bass
Topps Kevin Bass

11/12/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #281 Kevin Bass, Astros

More Kevin Bass Topps Cards: 1987 1988 1989 1990T 1991 1992 1993 1994

I'm embarrassed to admit what I'm about to admit. But cut me a little slack...I was 10 and not very sharp.

Longtime Astros outfielder Kevin Bass joined my Giants in 1990. Whenever he came up in crucial spots, I would...sigh..."encourage" him by uttering lines such as "Come on, Bass Fishie...let's go Bass Fishie Fishie Fishie..." et cetera. Why I would think that was appropriate in any situation, who frikkin' knows.

For that reason, I am glad I never met Bass, ESPECIALLY as a kid.

Here, the 1986 All-Star has just completed a 1989 campaign nearly halved by a right shin fracture suffered when he fouled a Bill Landrum (Pirates) pitch into his leg 5/27. Bass was still an asset when healthy—while Houston batted a composite .239 in '89, Bass ended the year as their only .300 hitter, reaching the mark for the second time in his eight MLB seasons.

THIS CARD: Geez, Kevin. Try not to burst at the seams with excitement.

If there's any current big leaguer with this specific mustache, with no accompanying beard, I can't think of him offhand. In recent years, White Sox IF Tyler Saladino and A's SP Daniel Mengden have fooled around with handlebar 'staches, which seemed like attention grabs more than anything. Bass's mustache, however, lets you know he's a man's man, someone to be respected, a "lunch pail" kind of guy. At least that's my admittedly-wonky perception.

More from Bass's 1989 season: he was hitting .290, 1, 21 in 47 games (43 starts) before his injury. He returned 8/11 and hit .311, 4, 23 in 40 games (38 starts). Strangely, the 86-76 Astros only went 42-45 when Bass—again, their only .300 hitter in '89 and a fine defender and runner—played, compared to 44-31 when he didn't.

(flip) Richard Bass, an outfielder who also played some infield, hit .360 at low-A Boise (Athletics) in 1976. One year later, he hit .220 at high-A Pompano Beach (Cubs) and was through, just like that.

 

James Lofton was a damn good NFL wide receiver who was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2003—10 years after his career ended. Lofton caught 764 passes during his career (1978-93) in an era where not a lot of guys did that. He remains second all-time on Green Bay's receiving yards list (9,656), behind only Donald Driver, who wore #80 for the Pack as Lofton did.

As you see in the stats, Bass, once upon a time, hit more than a few home runs. Among the 19 he hit in 1987, two were switch-homers in the same game—he was just the 16th National Leaguer at the time to accomplish the feat, believe it or not (I didn't, initially, until researching myself. A billion guys have done it since).

AFTER THIS CARD: In November 1989, the Giants inked Bass to a 3Y/$5.25M deal, very good dollars for the time. Unfortunately, he missed a chunk of Spring Training with a hamstring injury, then lost more than half of the regular season following surgery for "fractured cartilage" in his left knee—I'd never heard it called anything other than "torn cartilage" before.

In 1991-92, Bass was used part-time by the Giants, though he still went well over 100 games played each year. SF dealt Bass to the Mets in August 1992 (for a minor leaguer), and from there, he returned to the Astros on 1Y/$500K and 1Y/$400K deals (plus incentives both years) for 1993-94. Again in a part-time role, Bass hit .284 and .310 in those respective seasons.

Bass's final MLB season was with the 1995 Orioles (minors deal); that year he hit .301 in the first half but closed at .244 in 111 games. Fact is, Bass could have hit .350 that year and he'd still be best remembered for the 5/26 fly ball that Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. broke his wrist attempting—successfully—to make a play on.

Kevin Bass debuted in 1979 Topps as a prospect, then appeared in the 1984-94 Topps sets. He's also got a 1990 Topps Traded card and should have been in both the 1995 and 1996 Topps sets. (To my amazement, no one—not even Collector's Choice, whose 1996 set was massive—produced a card of Bass the Oriole.)

CATEGORIES: 1990 Topps, Houston Astros

Topps Adam Dunn
Topps Adam Dunn

11/13/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2014 Topps #618 Adam Dunn, White Sox

More Adam Dunn Cards: 1999T 2001T 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2008U 2009 2010 2011 2011U 2012 2013

 

You could say the "Big Donkey" Adam Dunn was a trailblazer of sorts.

Sure, before he came along, there were players who'd hit a lot of homers, walk a lot and strike out a lot. Jim Thome was a classic example of a "Three True Outcome" guy.

But nobody did all three at Dunn's level for as long as Dunn did. Or as consistently—the man was an automatic 40 homers, 100+ walks and nearly 200 K practically every year he played. Even further, he made flirting with (or exceeding) 200 K every year okay—even for dudes with half the power he had!

Does that not define "trailblazer"? Because without Dunn, lesser TTO guys such as Carlos Pena and Mark Reynolds might not have ever been born.

Here, Dunn has watched the third year of his 4Y/$56M deal with Chicago come to a close. While his 2013 batting average still left much to be desired, Dunn hit 20 more homers with 24 more RBI than any other White Sox teammate that year—plus, he passed legends like Mike Piazza (427) Cal Ripken Jr. (431) and Andre Dawson (438) on the all-time homer list.

THIS CARD: According to Getty Images, we're seeing Dunn clobber a walk-off jack against Baltimore's Tommy Hunter 7/4/2013. It was the ninth of 10 career game-ending homers off Dunn's mighty bat.

In White Sox history, #32 has also been worn by notables such as two-time All-Star SP Juan Pizarro in the 1960's, workhorse SP Alex Fernandez in the 1990's, and...numerous space-fillers and drop-ins. Today, #32 belongs to promising young OF Gavin Sheets. (With SP Jake Peavy having moved on, Dunn switched to his more-familiar #44 for the 2014 season.)

(flip) Not shown in the stats: the 2,220 strikeouts Dunn had racked up through 2013. There would be a lot more bold red italics in the stats if the SO column still existed.

Speaking of bold red italics (BRI), this could be our first COTD with a split league leader stat—Dunn's 2008 BB, which totaled 122. I always wondered if there were collectors who were too dense to understand what the split BRI meant.

Hopefully one day—just for my amusement—somebody will bat .215 with one team and .352 with the other JUST so the .215 will appear in BRI. It will confuse the hell out of those who simply aren't very sharp.

Dunn is listed exclusively as a DH, even though he played the field in the exact same number of games in 2013 (74 as DH, 71 as 1B, three as an OF).

AFTER THIS CARD: Dunn opened 2014 back with the Sox, almost solely because no other club would pay him to bat .200 with 200 K unless he hit 80 homers. In that '14 season, the 34-year-old hit .220, 20, 54 for Chicago before being dumped on Oakland in exchange for a minor leaguer (who may or may not be made up) at the end of August. The deal reunited him with Athletics manager Bob Melvin, who had Dunn with the 2008 Diamondbacks.

With the A's. Dunn finally had a shot at playing in his first postseason, but he was inexplicably kept firmly on the bench for all 12 innings of the Royals' comeback win over the A's in the '14 Wild Card Game. Immediately following that defeat, Dunn—who'd been hinting at retirement for at least a year as losses piled up in Chicago—officially hung 'em up.

Dunn walked away with 462 lifetime homers and 2,379 K; the latter stat placed him behind only Thome and Reggie Jackson in MLB history. I—and others—will forever wonder which way the BBWAA's Hall of Fame ballots would have leaned had "The Big Donkey" reached the coveted 500-homer milestone.

Adam Dunn received Prospect cards in 1999 and 2001 Topps Traded, then appeared in the base set 2002-14. He's also got 2008 and 2011 Update cards as a new Diamondback and White Sock, respectively. (2015 Stadium Club features Dunn as an Athletic, if you're interested.)

CATEGORIES: 2014 Topps, Chicago White Sox

Topps David Hernandez
Topps David Hernandez

11/14/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 2012 Topps #101 David Hernandez, Diamondbacks

More David Hernandez Topps Cards: 2009U 2010 2013

 

For most of the 2010's, David Hernandez was one of the steadiest middle/late relievers in the game. Even when he was at his best, however, nobody really talked much about him. Even I didn't realize he was as effective and as durable for as long as he was—from 2011-18, Hernandez posted a 3.39 ERA and averaged 63 appearances per year.

Initially a starter with the Orioles, Hernandez shifted to full-time bullpen work upon joining the Diamondbacks in 2011. By July, he was the team's regular closer while J.J. Putz's cranky elbow healed; Hernandez picked up seven saves in seven chances without allowing a single hit over the next two-plus weeks!!

THIS CARD: Per our friend Getty Images, we're seeing Hernandez in action against the Mets 8/12/2011. He gave up a run in one inning of work that day, but Arizona still triumphed 4-3.

Hernandez reaches back to deliver either his low-to-mid-90's fastball, his diving changeup, or his snappy curve. Hernandez could also sink or cut the fastball, and all of it came from a very easy motion that could sometimes appear as if he was soft-tossing.

More from Hernandez's 2011 season: including the streak above, he converted his first 11 save ops before moving back into a setup role—where the "blown save" can be deceiving. If you throw out a pair of horrific outings in June at Pittsburgh (0 IP, five ER) and in September at Colorado (0.2 IP, five ER) Hernandez's season ERA was 2.09! 

(flip) During that July scoreless streak, which covered 10.1 innings, Hernandez faced 35 batters and allowed three runners TOTAL—one hit and two walks! At some point, if you're the opposition, you just have to "accidentally" bang the catcher's mitt with your swing.

That Trade With Orioles—which brought Hernandez and two fringe Oriole teammates west—sent  slugging 3B/1B Mark Reynolds east; Reynolds hit .221 with 60 homers for Baltimore in 2011-12, helping them snap a 15-year postseason drought in '12. So both teams won this deal short-term.

The bullpen switch, as you can verify in the stats, allowed Hernandez to "let it all hang out" since he seldom would be asked to throw more than one inning. Hernandez struck out 77 batters in 69.1 innings as a 2011 reliever; two seasons prior as an Orioles rookie starter, he struck out just 68 in 101.1 innings.

AFTER THIS CARD: Hernandez dealt with personal issues in 2012 and on into 2013; he registered a 2.50 ERA across 72 games in '12 but that ERA jumped two runs in '13 and he wound up sitting out all of 2014 following UCL surgery. Hernandez returned to the Snakes in June 2015 and picked things up after a tough re-introduction. That December, he signed with Philadelphia for 1Y/$3.9M.

Hernandez put up good numbers for the 2016 Phillies, but not good enough to win jobs with the 2017 Giants or Braves; the latter sold him to the Angels that April and watched him excel before being traded back to Arizona at the Deadline. Next, Hernandez—now approaching 33—inked a 2Y/$5M deal with Cincinnati, where he shined in 2018 despite opening the year injured. But in August 2019, Hernandez—the owner of an 8.02 ERA across 47 apperances that year—was cut.

The veteran righty signed MiLB deals with the Yankees, Nationals and Indians over the next year but none led to a major league promotion. Barring the unlikely, Hernandez has finished his MLB career with a 4.12 ERA in 547 games across 10 active seasons.

David Hernandez debuted in 2009 Topps Update, then appeared in the 2010, 2012 and 2013 base sets—in spite of several quality seasons out of numerous bullpens, Topps forgot about Hernandez in the second half of his career. He never even showed up in Heritage after 2010!

CATEGORIES: 2012 Topps, Arizona Diamondbacks

Topps 1997 World Series
Topps 1997 World Series

11/16/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1998 Topps #282 World Series

More 1998 Topps World Series Cards: #278 #283

 

Sooooo many memorable moments from the 1997 World Series. Outside of any of the four World Series the Giants have played in during my fandom (2002, 2010, 2012, 2014; I was not quite yet a true fan in 1989), I might have better recollection of the 1997 Indians/Marlins title clash than any other Fall Classic.

The Cleveland snow game that (I believe) had the coldest WS temps on record. The 14-12—or whatever it was—game that (I believe) was the longest in WS history, in terms of time.

The Livan Hernandez 15-K game that (I believe) home plate umpire Eric Gregg worked while his taxi's meter was running outside the stadium. Indians rookie SP Jaret Wright, one of the youngest (I believe) WS starters ever at 21, getting the Game 7 nod over decorated veteran Charles Nagy.

 

All the shenanigans of late Game 7 and Jim Leyland's unbridled joy that (I believe) kept him from sobbing daily as the miserable 1998 season unfolded.

And, of course, Chad Ogea stepping up in Games 2 and 6.

THIS CARD: That's young Cleveland SP Ogea pictured about to deliver one of his 71 gutsy pitches to a stacked Marlins lineup in Game 6. Ogea (pronounded O.J.) held host Florida at bay, then Mike Jackson, Paul Assenmacher and Jose Mesa all fired zeroes in relief to even the series at three games apeice.

Ogea was also a story in Game 2, when he allowed just one run in 6.2 innings as his Indians evened the series at one game apeice. 

Hopefully, before I pass on, I can spot the Indians/Marlins logos together and not immediately have flashbacks of Triple Play '98 by EA Sports. Or senior year of high school.

(flip) Technically, Ogea went five-plus innings; he was pulled in the B6th after a leadoff walk to Gary Sheffield. Here is Ogea's odds-defying base hit—versus the great Kevin Brown—referenced in the blurb.

Making Ogea's two WS wins even more amazing: his regular-season line (21 starts) was only 8-9, 4.99 iand he had to absolutely dazzle in his final three outings to even bring it there. Ogea was also pretty damn sharp in the ALDS and ALCS, finishing the 1997 postseason at 2-2, 2.32 in five starts.

Papa Ogea had the right idea about going the other way, but I do hope he clarified his message at some point. Because if Brown's fateful sinker had been on the inner half, it wasn't going to right field unless it hit Ogea in the kneecap.

AFTER THIS CARD: As hinted at above, Florida immediately tore down its championship roster after the '97 WS and eventually rebuilt a younger, cheaper version that claimed World Series glory in 2003! Then came more futility.

By the mid-2010's, however, the now-Miami Marlins seemed to be on the cusp of something special with the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Jose Fernandez and more on the roster. But Fernandez died in 2016, the franchise was sold, all their other stars were purged, and except for a flukish postseason run in the 

 

Since 1997, Cleveland has put together several strong teams—including the 2007 squad that blew a 3-1 ALCS lead to Boston—but the franchise has only been able to make one appearance in the Fall Classic. That was in 2016, when the Indians fell in seven games to the only team enduring a longer title drought: the Cubs.

Still, Cleveland continued to be relevant in the AL Central, making four postseason appearances in the six seasons following that WS loss—even as the entire '16 roster except for star 3B Jose Ramirez gradually moved on. The team was rebranded as the Guardians for 2022 and beyond.

CATEGORIES: 1998 Topps, Subsets

Topps Andy Ashby
Topps Andy Ashby

11/17/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1996 Topps #82 Andy Ashby, Padres

More Andy Ashby Topps Cards: 1992 1993 1994 1995 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

 

Longtime big league starter Andy Ashby taught young Skillz that sometimes, all a young talent needs to succeed is a change of scenery. After collecting early Ashby cards and concluding he just wasn't very good based on his Phillies and Rockies numbers, I was shocked when Ashby blossomed into a potential—and then actual—ace in San Diego.

Here, Ashby has completed his second full season with the Padres (and third overall) after those early struggles in Philadelphia and Colorado. He backed up that breakthrough 1994 campaign with an even stronger 1995 performance, making each of his 31 turns while finishing eighth in the NL in strikeouts for a Padres team gradually recovering from the Great Fire Sale of 1993.

THIS CARD: Ashby's grimace might have you believe he really brought the heat, but just keep in mind I'm known to make similar faces when my jelly jars won't open. Ashby did throw hard, typically in the 92-94 MPH range during his Padres days; that's far harder than the average human but just a tick or two below major league "flamethrower" status.

Ashby could also be firing off his plus slider or curve; he also had a changeup that wasn't much at all early on in his career. Ashby, who used a three-quarters delivery, also sank and cut the fastball.

More from Ashby's 1995 season: his first two career shutouts—but not his last or his most famous—helped him lower his ERA by nearly a half-run from 1994, and on 9/21 he narrowly missed a third whitewash in Los Angeles. That day Ashby allowed one unearned run in 8.2 innings and was pulled when Dodgers OF Roberto Kelly grounded his 130th pitch into left field.

(flip) Ashby's 31 starts in 1995 tied Doug Drabek (Astros) Mark Portugal (Giants/Reds) and Esteban Loaiza and Denny Neagle (Pirates) for the NL lead. The '95 campaign was shortened from 162 to 144 games by the strike, remember.

Even prior to the Deadline trade of incumbent Padres ace Andy Benes, Ashby was the better pitcher and the one most likely to deliver a win in the year 1995. He and young Joey Hamilton formed quite the 1-2 punch down in San Diego for a time.

In that 1990 season for AA Reading, Ashby went 10-7, 3.42 with 94 K in 139.2 innings. Him winning that award with those numbers tells me less about Ashby and more about the mediocrity of his fellow Phillies prospects.

AFTER THIS CARD: Though he hit the DL thrice in 1996 and underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery that off-season, San Diego extended Ashby—still effective when healthy—for 3Y/$15M in May 1997. He'd make successive All-Star teams in 1998-99 while going a combined 31-19 in those years, but his Padres went from 1998 NL Champions to 4th place in 1999. Ashby became their latest pricey star to be moved when SD executed a trade to Philadelphia in November '99.

 

Ashby, surprisingly, wasn't much better for the 2000 Phillies (5.68 ERA in 16 starts) than he'd been for the 1991-92 Phillies; he was traded to the Braves in early July. Ashby's effectiveness magically returned in Atlanta, and he was able to snag a 3Y/$22M deal from the Dodgers that December. The 33-year-old promptly won his first two LA starts before being sidelined with what ended up being a season-ending torn flexor muscle.

 

Ashby bounced back with a 9-13, 3.91 line for the 2002 Dodgers—albeit with reduced velo—and even hit his first MLB homer that year! But he opened and closed 2003 as a mediocre $8M middle/long reliever, serving as a starter in between while Darren Dreifort was hurt. Not long after, Ashby underwent UCL surgery, but recovered in time to make a pair of September appearances for the 2004 Padres!

Sadly, that would wrap things up for Ashby in MLB. The 37-year-old underwent additonal elbow surgery in November 2004 and was never the same; the Padres released him after watching the opposition pound him during 2006 Spring Training. In 2021, Aaron Ashby—the son of Andy's brother Curtis—debuted for the Brewers; at times the young SP has looked like the truth, people.

Andy Ashby appeared in 1992-2003 Topps; 2001 Heritage (the debut set) depicts Ashby as a Brave—IF that's what you crave.

CATEGORIES: 1996 Topps, San Diego Padres

Topps Dave Clark
Topps Dave Clark

11/18/22 Topps Baseball Card Of The Day: 1990 Topps #Dave Clark, Indians

More Dave Clark Topps Cards: 1988 1989 1991 1994T 1995

 

Here, Clark has just completed a 1989 season during which he received LOADS more MLB run than he ever had before. Used mostly as a platoon DH by manager Doc Edwards, then mostly as a PH by Edwards' successor John Hart, Clark started 63 times in total for the '89 Indians. His season average could have been better, but Clark did bat .300 thru his first 21 games and enjoyed a hot July—more on that below.

THIS CARD: This is Clark's second COTD appearance; we profiled his 1988 Topps card back in 2020. I got a major sense of Deja Vu since both front images depict Clark holding light and dark bats on his shoulder; can't say for CERTAIN this front image is from a two-year-old photoset, but I can't say it ain't, either.

This card always stood out to me because it was the very last Cleveland Indian I obtained for 1990 Topps. I'd rummage through my Indians cards, forget Clark was now at the end instead of whoever, and be surprised. That's why this card is in so much better condition than most of the others—far less handling. Same with Orel Hershiser, the last Dodger I obtained for 1990 Topps. (I'll save my 1990 Topps Jim Leyland story for a later time.)

More from Clark's 1989 season: for the first time, he spent the entire season in the majors, and received extensive run at DH and the corner outfield spots. In early May, Clark homered in three consecutive games—including both ends of a doubleheader against the Twins. One of the jacks was of the pinch-hit variety, making it even more impressive and rare.

(flip) Fifteen years ago, I would have made a joke about the oldest child's unconventional name. But I guess maturity is unavoidable in life. Or perhaps it's contagious.

Those nine July 1989 hits came in 25 official at-bats—a .360 average for the month! Four of those hits were doubles, plus Clark drew five walks in 30 PA, leading to a .360/.467/.520 July slashline.

Louis Clark—not to be confused with Lewis and Clark or Lois and Clark—was a wide receiver who got in 55 games for the 1987-92 Seattle Seahawks. He caught 67 total passes with five touchdowns, but his career ended when the 1993 Packers waived him in camp. Clark has since held several NFL jobs and currently works in the Los Angeles Chargers front office.

AFTER THIS CARD: The Indians dealt Clark to the Cubs in November 1989. He was statistically better as a part-time Cub, but was still let go after the 1990 season. Clark got in all of 34 MLB games 1991-92 before emerging with the 1993 Pirates.

Over the '93-'94 seasons, Clark batted .282, 21, 92 in 500 total at-bats for the Pirates, and was having a similar season in '95 before the horrific outfield collision with teammate Jacob Brumfield that he's best known for.

The Pirates traded Clark to the Dodgers in August 1996; he finished his MLB career as a fine pinch-hitter for the 1997 Cubs, and a not-so-fine pinch-hitter for the 1998 Astros. A .3