Saturday, April 26, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Johnny Grubb

#191 Johnny Grubb

Here is a card that I got signed through the mail this past summer. I sent this card to Johnny, along with his '81 Donruss card, at the end of August and I had them back a week later. Unlike the rest of the cards from this set that were sent out with an '81 D, Johnny's Donruss card has not been posted on here yet. It is a more recent acquisition and will be appearing here at a later date. At the rate that I am posting, it might pop up in 2018.

Johnny played in the Majors for sixteen seasons with the Padres, Indians, Rangers, and Tigers. He mostly played in the outfield, usually center or left, and was a .278 hitter for his career. He had 99 home runs and 475 RBI. He made the All Star team in 1974 as a Padre.

Johnny played for the Orlando Juice in the SBPA. The Juice missed the playoffs by one game. Johnny hit .305 for them with 4 home runs and 35 RBI.

After the steroid era, I am fairly certain that there will never be a professional baseball team called the juice ever again. Just a hunch.

Friday, April 25, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Tim Stoddard

#182 Tim Stoddard

Here is the third and final card that Tim Stoddard signed for me at a Wichita State game last season. Tim is the pitching coach for the the Northwestern Wildcats and he also signed an '81 Donruss and '85 Topps for me.

Tim pitched in the Majors for thirteen seasons with the White Sox, Orioles, Cubs, Yankees, Padres, and Indians. He never started a game in his career, but he finished over half of the ones he appeared in. He finished with a 41-35 record with 76 saves and a 3.95 ERA. You would think that someone who finished 262 Major League games would have more than 76 saves, but it was a different game when Tim pitched in the '70s and '80s.

Tim's best season came with the O's in 1980. He finished that year 5-3 with a 2.51 ERA and a career-high 26 saves.

In the SPBA, it appears that Tim might have been a starter. He finished the season 10-2 with a 4.10 ERA. Tim's Tropics won the Southern Division crown and ended up in the championship game, losing 12-4 to the Pelicans.

Tim played basketball at North Carolina State and he is the only person to win a NCAA basketball championship and a World Series.

Tim also appeared in the movie "Rookie of the Year" as a pitcher for the Dodgers. I wish I would have realized that when I met him in Wichita. I definitely would have brought that up.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Stan Cliburn

#150 Stan Cliburn

Here is a card of Stan Cliburn that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnut game in 2012. Stan was the manager of the Sioux City Explorers at the time.

Stan played professionally for fourteen seasons in the Angels, Pirates, and Braves organizations. He spent a majority of those years in AAA and he hit .233 with 34 home runs and 170 RBI at that level. He did get a cup of coffee with the Angels, though, in 1980. That summer, he got into 54 games and he had 56 at-bats. He hit .179 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, and 6 RBI. Unfortunately, neither Topps, Donruss, nor Fleer thought that Stan warranted a card in their 1981 sets.

After his playing days were over, Stan got into coaching. He got his first managerial job with the Watertown Pirates in 1988. He then went on to manage in the Rangers and Twins organizations, spending four seasons in AAA. He managed Sioux City the last three seasons, posting one winning season. The Explorers finished last season 38-62 and Stan was replaced during the offseason.

In the SPBA, Stan hit .281 with 4 home runs and 31 RBI. His Bradenton Explorers finished in second place in the Northern Division and lost to the Pelicans in their one playoff game.

Stan's brother Stew pitched for the Angels.

This has got to be one of the nicest signatures I have posted in a while.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Steve Luebber

#94 Steve Luebber

Here is a card that I got signed at Spring Training last year. Steve is the pitching coach for the Royals Carolina League team, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, and I was able to get him to sign this card after the minor leaguers worked out.

I was completely caught off guard by how easy it was to get this card signed. I had crossed paths with Steve three and a half years earlier and it was like pulling teeth to get him to sign for me then. I likened him to Will Ferrell's Mustafa character in the Austin Powers movie. You had to ask him three times to get anything out of him. This time around was the complete opposite. I asked him once and he stopped and signed with a big smile. To his credit, the first time I asked him was prior to a Carolina League playoff game and the second time was after a spring practice. I can totally understand how he was working when I asked the first go-around.

Steve pitched in the Majors for parts of five seasons with the Twins, Blue Jays, and Orioles. He both started and relieved and he posted a 6-10 record with 3 saves and a 4.62 ERA over 206.1 innings. Interestingly, he racked up two of his three saves in the same season that he pitched two complete games. The game is not played like it used to be. Case in point- Danny Duffy could have picked up an old-school three inning save yesterday. But, they put a different pitcher in for the ninth when the lead had been extended to 8-2. You want Danny to be a starter? Leave him in for the ninth and stretch him out a bit. You do not get that opportunity too often with todays specialized bullpens.

Anyway, for some reason, I cannot find any stats for Steve from the full season of the SBPA. But, I did learn that he was 1-1 with the Sun Sox, with a 3.07 ERA, when the league folded during its second season.

Steve has been the pitching coach for the Blue Rocks since 2007 and the first card I posted of him can be see here (hopefully the Austin Powers clip still works).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Steve McCatty

#89 Steve McCatty

Here is the third and final card of Steve McCatty that I got signed at a Royals game last season. Steve is the pitching coach for the Washington Nationals and he signed the cards for me before the game. Since I am mainly only able to see the Royals on Sundays, my autographs mainly consists of the pitching and bullpen coaches anymore. I used to be able to get pitchers on Sunday, but they do not workout on the field like they used to.

The first card of Steve can be seen here and the second one here. I may have missed out on his '81 Donruss card, but at least I was able to get this one signed.

Steve spent his entire Major League career with the A's, so he looks at home in the green and gold of the Ft. Myers Sun Sox. Steve went 5-6 in the SPBA with a 4.60 ERA. His five wins were good enough to tie him for the team lead.

Monday, April 21, 2014

1989-90 Pacific Senior League, Rick Manning

#86 Rick Manning

Here is the third and final card that Rick Manning signed for me through the mail in 2012. The first card was Rick's '77 Topps that I unlocked in the Topps Diamond Giveaway. The second card was his '81 Donruss card.

Rick played in the Majors for thirteen seasons with the Indians and Brewers. He was a .257 hitter with 56 home runs and 458 RBI. He never played in the playoffs, but he did bring home a Gold Glove award in 1976.

Rick currently works with the Indians as the color commentator for their TV broadcasts. This season marks Rick's twenty-fifth year in that role. It just so happens that he started that gig after his season in the SBPA.

With the Sun Sox, Rick hit .288 with 6 home runs and 33 RBI.

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.

Friday, April 11, 2014

1990 Donruss, Ken Oberkfell

#494 Ken Oberkfell

Here is the second of three cards that Ken Oberkfell signed for me last summer. Ken is the manager of the Lincoln Saltdogs of the American Association and I got the cards signed when the 'Dogs came to Wichita. The first card can be seen here.

The first two cards I posted of Ken had him with the Cardinals and the last one had him as a Brave. After the Braves, he was traded to Pittsburgh towards the end of the 1988 season. He basically played for the Pirates for two months before being dealt to the Giants early in the '89 season. With the Giants, he got into 83 games, but mostly as a pinch hitter. While he played in the field 52 times that season, he only started 14 times.

That was the first time that Ken had not been an everyday player. While most people might struggle with the new role, Ken thrived in it. He hit a career-best .319 that season while scoring 17 runs and driving in 15 more. He played in all four World Series game that fall and started two. During the Series, he was 2-6 with 3 walks and a run. That was the second and final Series that Ken had appeared in and he finished his career a .300 hitter during the Fall Classic.

After the Series, Ken was granted free agency and he moved on to Houston.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

1990 CMC, Bruce Fields

#591 Bruce Fields

Here is the second card that Bruce signed for me at a Royals game in 2012. Bruce was the Indians hitting coach at the time and he signed the two cards while his club was taking batting practice. The first card can be seen here.

By the time this card came out, Bruce's Major League career was over. He was originally drafted by the Tigers in 1978 and made his minor league debut that season. He spent his first six seasons playing A-ball or lower before finally getting the bump up to AA in 1984. He spent two seasons at the AA level before moving on to AAA in 1986. That season coincided with his first Major League call up with the Tigers where he got into 16 games and hit .279.

It was then back to AAA where he spent most of the remainder of his career. He did catch a couple of breaks with the Mariners in 1988 and '89, but that accounted for 42 games over those two seasons. He wrapped up his career after the 1991 season after failing to get called up by the Braves or the Blue Jays. He was thirty years old when he retired.

Bruce played in just 58 Major League games, but he got into 1381 games in the minors. He saw time with five organizations and he hit .295 with 41 home runs and 235 stolen bases.

Bruce is pictured with the Tacoma Tigers on this card. The Tacoma Tigers had no affiliation with the Detroit Tigers. They were the AAA team for the A's, hence the green and gold uniforms. There is still a team in Tacoma and they are called the Rainiers. They are affiliated with the nearby Mariners.

Bruce has an interesting signature. There is a lot going on with it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

1990 CMC, Ed Sprague

#345 Ed Sprague

Here is the second Ed Sprague card that I got signed at a Kansas State baseball game two seasons ago. Ed is the head coach of the Pacific Tigers and he was nice enough to sign three cards for me after the game. The first card, which I posted two years ago, can be seen here.

Ed played in the Majors for eleven seasons, playing with the Blue Jays, A's, Padres, Pirates, Red Sox, and Mariners. He spent his first seven and a half seasons with Toronto before bouncing around ever year for the final four seasons. He was primarily used as a third baseman and, for his career, he hit .247 with 152 home runs and 558 RBI.

In the 1992 World Series, Ed, who had played in only 22 games during the regular season, hit a pinch hit two-run home run in game two against the Braves. The dinger came in the top of the ninth and put Toronto in the lead. They won the game to tie the Series before winning it in six games.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

1990 CMC, Bill Pecota

#191 Bill Pecota

Here is another Bill Pecota card from this years Fanfest. There are still a couple more cards of Bill to come, but this is the last one that has him as a Royal.

I have eighteen cards signed from this CMC set and this is the first one of an Omaha Royal. Omaha has been the Royals AAA team since the teams inception in 1969. They remained true to the Royals moniker until they changed their names to the Golden Spikes in 1999. The Spikes name lasted all of three years before they returned to the O-Royals in 2002. They stayed as the Royals through the 2010 season. In 2011, they moved out of Rosenblatt Stadium to a brand new Werner Park in Sarpy County. With the new park came a new name as they are now the Omaha Storm Chasers. This time, the new name has stuck. They are still affiliated with the Royals and they have won the last two Pacific Coast League Championships and last seasons AAA Championship.

I was a little surprised when the club changed their name, but I guess I should not have been. Very few AAA teams carry their parent clubs nickname anymore. This year, their are only three teams still doing it- the Cubs, Red Sox, and Braves. It makes sense to have a different name. It is nice to have the chance to brand your own product and even name the team after something that pertains to the city or region. But, the better reason is that teams change affiliation so often now, it is beneficial to not have to change your nickname every four or five years.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

1990 CMC, Leo Garcia

#140 Leo Garcia

Here is a card that I got signed at Spring Training this year. This one features the former Red, Leo Garcia.

On the day I got this signed, I was 'graphing the Dodger minor league side of Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers were already off for Australia at the time, so I figured that would be a good time to hit up their minor league complex. I was going to a White Sox game afterwards and, since I 'graphed the White Sox minor leaguers last year, I figured I would give the Dodgers a shot this year. Plus, with the big league club half a world away, I figured that there would be less people there.

When I got to the Dodger camp, I was disappointed to find out that their minor leaguers do not have names on the back of their jerseys. With so many literal "no-names" out there, it makes it really tough for someone like me who knows none of the guys. Luckily, I found another 'grapher from Nashville who found a website with many of the guys numbers. That helped out, though I didn't get too many cards signed from the minor league players. It didn't help that two of the main ones I was wanting made the trip to Australia- Zach Lee and Joc Pederson.

But, I did do okay with the minor league coaches. That is how I got this card signed by Leo Garcia. He is the hitting coach for the Dodgers Rookie team in Ogden, Utah. He was nice enough to sign two cards for me after practice that day.

The highlight of the day, though, was meeting Tommy Lasorda. I did not expect him to be there since I figured he would have made the trip down under. Because of that, I did not take any cards of him. Fortunately, though, I had a ball on me that I have been carrying around to games for three years. So, I busted that out of the wrapper and finally put it to use. I would have preferred an '81 Donruss signed by him. But, since I don't even own that card, the ball will do just fine. That is just another example of why I need to complete the '81 Donruss set. One of these days....