Sunday, April 20, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Gene Richards

#48 Gene Richards

Here is the second card that Gene signed for me through the mail in 2012. The first card was his '81 Donruss card and that can be seen here.

Gene spent eight seasons in the Majors, playing seven with the Padres and one with the Giants. He never made an All Star team and he never played in the playoffs. The Padres made a World Series run in 1984 and, of course, that was the year Gene was with San Francisco. Gene was a career .290 hitter with 26 home runs and 255 RBI. His best season was probably the '78 season, his second in the Majors. That year, Gene hit .308 with 26 doubles, 12 triples, and 45 RBI. Those were all career highs. Gene also stole 247 bases in his career, swiping fifty or more twice.

In his one season in the SBPA, Gene hit .326 with 4 home runs and 25 RBI. He lead the Super Sox with 11 stolen bases.

Since the SPBA played during the winter, I think that the Super Sox should have been called the Winter Sox. Or maybe that could have just been a shortened version of Winter Haven Super Sox.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Doug Simunic

Here is a card of Doug Simunic that was signed for me at a Wichita Wingnut game in 2012. Doung is the manager for the Fargo Moorehead Redhawks and he signed this lone card for me before the game.

Doug was pretty unique when it came to the SBPA. He was one of the few guys in the league that never played in the Majors. He was drafted in the third round by the Expos in 1976. He then went on to play in the minors for nine seasons, spending parts of the last three at the AAA level. He spent time in the Expos, Royals, Indians, and Mariners organizations, but he never got the call. He ended up a career .249 hitter with 71 home runs and 361 RBI.

In the SPBA, he hit .230 with a home run and 12 RBI for the last place Super Sox.

Doug started managing with the Rochester Aces in 1993. He spent one season there and two in Winnipeg before moving on to the Redhawks, where he has been ever since. During his tenure in Fargo, he has won five league championships and has been to the playoffs every year except for two. His clubs have had a winning record every season except for one. Not too shabby.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Randy Lerch

#23 Randy Lerch

Here is the second card that Randy Lerch signed for me through the mail last year. The first one was his '81 Donruss card and it can be seen here.

At the end of September in 1978, Randy started a game against the Pirates. His Phillies just barely lead Pittsburgh in the standings with just a few days left in the season. Randy pitched six innings that day and picked up his eleventh win and the Phillies clinched the NL East. The final score was 10-8 and the two run difference was the result of the two solo home runs that Randy hit in the game.

By the time the SPBA came around, Randy hadn't pitched professionally in three years. That might have explained his 4-5 record and 6.88 ERA with the Pelicans. Nevertheless, the Pelicans managed to win the lone SBPA championship. I find it strange, though, that the league's season spanned 72 games and then the playoffs were just single games rather than a series. I guess the league founders forgot that Spring Training was starting up and they would be losing their parks. So, all three playoff game were played in the same park and were completed in just two days.

In 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays payed tribute to the Pelicans by wearing their uniforms for a throwback night. You can see a couple of pictures from the event here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Steve Kemp

#10 Steve Kemp

Here is the fourth and final card that I have to post from Steve Kemp. All four cards were signed through the mail in December of 2012. The main card out of the bunch was his '81 Donruss card for obvious reasons. I also sent along his '83 Donruss card, because of the nice beard he is sporting, and his '85 Fleer Update card, just because I have a not so complete set of it laying around. I don't usually send out four cards to be signed by a player. In fact, this is the only time I have done so. But, for some reason, I really wanted those four cards signed and others have had good success with Steve. So, I gave it a shot.

After some searching, I have found that Baseball Reference has some partial stats for the only full season of the SPBA. Steve batted .329 that year with 3 home runs and 32 RBI.

Steve had only been out of baseball for one full season when the SPBA started. He hit real well that season, but his .329 average was only the seventh best on the team. It seems that the batters had lost a little less than the pitchers had and the league was very hitter friendly.

Monday, April 14, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Jon Matlack

#9 Jon Matlack

For the next month, I will be showcasing cards from my second favorite set, the 1989-90 Pacific Senior League set. For those not familiar with the Senior Professional Baseball Association, it was a league that lasted all of a season and a half and all of the players in the league were at least 35 years old. The league was based in Florida and the teams played a 72 game season over the winter. Poor attendance eventually forced the league to close its doors. I'm not sure if a league like that would do any better today, but I'm sure it would be a great place to get some autographs.

Most of the cards I will be showing from this set were signed through the mail when I mailed off an '81 Donruss card. This one, though, is an exception. While Jon does have a card in the Donruss set, I have not gotten it signed. Instead, I sent this card to him with his '74 Topps card that I unlocked in the Topps Diamond Giveaway. I had a little trouble getting the cards signed as they got "Return(ed) to Sender" at one point. But, a second attempt made it through and the cards came back a month later.

I did not send the '81 Donruss card to Jon because I did not have it at the time. I have it now, but my SCN membership has expired. I haven't sent out any TTMs this year, but maybe I will keep an eye out for Jon's new address.

Jon won ten games for the Pelicans.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

1990 Fleer, Gary Ward

#618 Gary Ward

Here is the third and final Gary Ward card that I got signed during Spring Training in 2013. Gary is the hitting coach for the White Sox AA team, the Birmingham Barons, and I got the cards signed after the Sox minor leaguers worked out the day I was there. You can see the first card I posted here and the second one here.

I now have five cards signed by Gary after meeting him in Arizona last year and from a TTM success from four years ago. Those signed cards consist of two Twins cards, two Rangers cards, and this Tigers card. It seems that all I am missing is a signed Yankees card. I wish I would have realized that before Spring Training last year.

Gary's career spanned twelve seasons. He was a two-time All Star, but never played in the playoffs. His best season was with the Twins in 1982. That year, he hit .289 and had career highs in home runs (28) and RBI (91).

Saturday, April 12, 2014

1990 Fleer, Mike Gallego

#7 Mike Gallego

Mike is the third base coach for the A's this season and he was nice enough to sign three cards for me before a Cactus League game in Glendale, Arizona last month. The A's have a decent assortment of coaches that played in the '80s and '90s and that is who I got most of my autographs from that afternoon. I only got a couple of current players to sign, but getting 'graphs from four members of the coaching staff more than made up for it.

Mike played in the Major Leagues for thirteen seasons with the A's, Yankees, and Cardinals. He was a light-hitting middle infielder that played good defense. He hit .239 for his career and somehow managed to slug 42 home runs, including a career-high of 12 in 1991. That might not seem that impressive unless you realize that Mike is listed at 5'6" and 160 pounds.

Mike has a very interesting signature. If you check out his Baseball Almanac page, they have a sig by Mike that is much longer than this one and halfway readable. This one, on the other hand, looks more like a sign. There is nothing there that looks like "Mike" and you might be able to make out a "G" if you are wearing beer goggles. But all three signatures I got from him that day were identical, so at least he is consistent.

Mike has one certified autograph and that is from the '96 Leaf Signature set and that autograph looks more like the Baseball Almanac version than this one. So, I wonder if this is his hurried ballpark sig or if this is what all of his signatures look like now.