Posts Tagged ‘1987’

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Thad Bosley

bosleybackbosleybackfrontContinuing my week of music, that somehow I neglected to get Katy Perry to sponsor, we have Thad Bosley. Like Ruben Sierra and Raul Mondesi, he recorded his own album – this was before it was super ShagFu cool to do so.

Of course, he wasn’t a salsa man, but a gospel singer. So what is it with athletes and music? I mean I guess it has moved more to basketball players lately — but between the salsa twins (Sierra, Mondesi) and Bosley, we have a heck of “a making of the band.” Not surprisingly, Bosley was also a member of a funk group called Ballplayers which featured Lenny Randle…yes THE Lenny Randle (h/t to Wikipedia).

At this point in his career, Bosley had earned at least $1 million, making it easy to finance “Pick Up The Pieces.” But did he deserve the riches and album cover bitches? Absolutely, he was worth about 2.7 WAR from 1977-1986. This translates to about $10 million in free agent value.

Before the funk and gospel, Bosley was a fourth round draft pick by the California Angels in 1974. He hit .326/.359/.433 in 69 AAA games in 1977 before getting the call. He appeared in 58 games for the Angels and looked promising (.297/.346/.363). Of course, the power was absent and his BABip was .346 (for his career that average rested at .315). In the off-season, the Angels traded Bosley along with Bobby Bonds and Richard Dotson to the Chicago White Sox for Brian Downing, Dave Frost and Chris Knapp.

Downing was the real get in the trade, he was worth 37.7 WAR in California and added an additional five WAR for the Texas Rangers. Bosley would be worth only 0.4 WAR for the White Sox as he posted a .262/.310/.323 line in 172 games. However, Bosley would stick around for 9 more seasons and finish with a career line of .272/.330/.357 with just 20 HRs in 784 career games. So why did he last so long? He was perceived as a pinch-hitting asset – think of him as the 1980s version of Lenny Harris.

In fact, Bosley is one of only 26 people in MLB history to pinch-hit a home-run and hit another homer in the same game. He did so on August 12, 1985. There are some other notable players who have accomplished this “feat”: Frank Howard, Jeff Bagwell (who somehow did it before the next guy), Kirk Gibson, Robin Ventura and Ryan Howard. Bosley also put together one of the best pinch-hit seasons in the history of the game: He had 20 pinch hits in one year, the 20th most ever.

Given he was basically a “career hitter,” it’s not overly surprising that Bosley was named hitting coach for the Texas Rangers on November 23, 2010. In all, Bosley did nothing overly spectacular, except, when infrequently called upon, he went up to the plate and made a good at bat. In reality, that’s pretty darn impossible to do.

Lastly, hold for my diatribe against poetry. I’ve taken an insane amount of poetry/literature courses, including: Milton, the English Elegy (more Milton), Victorian Poets and Essayists, Romantic Poets and Essayists, Creative Writing: Poetry, Poetry 101, etc. I like some poetry and find the puzzle older poets presented in their verse fascinating. However, I write to express myself. I think hiding one’s meaning in writing kind of defeats the purpose (unless you are Nietzsche, in which case it is the purpose). Poetry is beautiful but subjective, I prefer more objective writing stylings…like Katy Perry lyrics.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Jesse Orosco

orosco backorosco front realInstead of the standard title, this epic could have been called “Ode on an Oroscan Urn.”

At the baseline, this card gives us even more evidence of Orosco’s love of the art of pitching. At one point, Orosco had to play semi-pro ball in Canada to make his dream come true. Semi-pro ball in the states was so devoid of luxury that one can only imagine the standard of living for semi-pro players north of the boarder. It is likely they lived in huts on frozen lakes and bathed in holes cut in the ground (what, that’s not the intent of the holes?).

Orosco was originally drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 1978 draft. However, in December, he’d be sent to the Mets in exchange for Jerry Koosman. He’d have his longest tenure with the Mets, win a World Series and appear in 372 games with a 2.73 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 2.11 K:BB ratio. He was worth 12.2 wins above a replacement player in his eight seasons in New York.

Unfortunately, one year after winning the World Series, he would be part of a massive trade that included Bob Welch, Alfredo Griffin, Jay Howell, Kevin Tapani and several others. At the end of the dealings, Orosco would be a Dodger. The year was 1988 and Orosco would be part of another World Series champion.

His time in Los Angeles would be only one-year and start his sojourn through both leagues. Ultimately, he’d pitch 12 years in the AL and 13 in the NL for nine different teams. He retired in 2003 with the Minnesota Twins, the very team that drafted him 25 years before.

In between draft and retirement, Orosco amassed the most career games by a pitcher in MLB history – 1,252, a bit more than one-time teammate John Franco. Franco and Orosco are also one-two when it comes to games by a left-handed pitcher. While Franco has the most saves ever by a lefty, Orosco has the 12th most in MLB history — 144 – just behind Willie Hernandez. Orosco is also tied for 26th all time for the most seasons with a win. He has 20 seasons with a win – the same as David Wells, Mike Morgan, Goose Gossage, Tom Glavine, Tom Seaver, and Warren Spahn.

Orosco finished with a 3.16 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 76.6% strand rate, .276 BABip, and a 2.03 K:BB rate. More notably, he possess the 26th highest K/9 rate in MLB history — just below Mariano Rivera. He also has the 310th most Ks in MLB History.

That aside, I’ll remember his time with the Orioles the most (1995-1999). He was a stabilizing player on the best Orioles teams of my lifetime. He’d be worth 5.3 WAR over those five seasons, during which he’d turn 42. If you think that wasn’t overwhelmingly valuable, the Orioles let Armando Benitez pitch 203.2 innings during that span. I hold no fondness in my heart for the years Benitez took off my life. After leaving the O’s Orosco pitched four more seasons in the Bigs.

Orosco, like Jamie Moyer, is truly a rarity that only the game of baseball can produce.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tony Pena

pen aqback pean front realReally? Lets bypass the fact that someone remembered Pena had 14 broken bat base hits during a road trip in 1985 (two years before this card was printed) and instead focus on the poor schmuk who had to calculate the amount of hits Pirate players got while also breaking a bat.

I know it became en vogue to have basketball managers tracking every little “hustle” play in a game, but why oh why was it ever important to track “hustle-like” plays in baseball. Certainly there was something more important than broken bat base hits. May I submit: broken bat homeruns? Or broken bat bunts? Or perhaps the number of times a player grounded into a double play (Pena did ground into the 35th most double plays (234) in MLB history — one behind George Brett and five more than let’s play two Ernie Banks).

One thing can be certain, 1986 would be the last year that the Pirates would tabulate the amount of broken bat hits Tony Pena would have on a road trip. From 1980-1986, Pena appeared in 801 games for the Pirates, he also hit 63 HRs, and posted a pretty good slash line for a catcher (.286/.327/.411). He accumulated 19.3 WAR in Pittsburgh. He’d actually be worth -0.6 WAR for the other 12 seasons in his career.

While the Pirates may have futilely tracked broken bat base hits, they smartly moved Pena to the St. Louis Cardinals at the high point of his value for Mike LaValliere, Andy Van Slyke and Mike Dunne. Pena would play three seasons in St. Louis and earn 1.4 WAR. LaValliere (making his second flip side appearance), was worth 10 WAR over seven seasons in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Van Slyke earned 31 WAR in eight seasons for the Pirates (never mind that they signed him instead of Bonds and missed out on all that PED WAR).

While the trade was real bad for the Cardinals, it in no way diminishes Pena’s career accomplishments. He caught the fourth most games (1950) by a catcher — behind Gary Carter, Bob Boone (FLIP SIDE HERE) and Carlton Fisk. He also posted the 10th best fielding percentage by a catcher in a season (.9973) in 1989. That year he recorded only two errors tied for third fewest in a season by a MLB catcher. Somewhat surprisingly, just three years earlier he recorded 18 errors, which is tied for 11th most in a season by a catcher. If that doesn’t shed light on what “errors” mean, I don’t know what does.

In all, Pena put together a career that stands up against Boone, Brad Asmus and Jim Sundberg – not bad company. Oh, and he earned upwards of $17 million. If he could have collected a few more broken bat base hits, he might have been a hall of famer…

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Frank Williams/Eric King/Danny Gladden

frank williams backfrank williams ftront

Man, the ’80s were different times. We’re only talking 23 years, but the world sure has changed.

For instance, Frank Williams had to work construction in the off-season. Could you imagine a player with decent major league experience being employed as something other than a “baseball player?” I wonder what his taxes looked like.

By the time this card was printed, Williams had pitched parts of three seasons for the Giants, totaled 231.2 innings, and posted a 3.22 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Sure his K-rate declined every year (from 7.70 to 6.66 to 5.68) but he was worth 2.1 wins above a replacement player – not bad for a construction worker.

By 1989, Williams would have a pretty decent MLB line: 3.00 ERA, 471.2 innings, and a 1.38 WHIP. Unfortunately, a car crash would end his career and send his life spiraling out of control. He would die of a heart attack at 50 in 2009.

My hope is that Williams — wherever he is — gets to relive August 24, 1984. On that day, Williams recorded two relief wins against the Mets. Not a lot of people get to win a game in the majors, let alone two in one day. Congrats, Condolences.

I didn’t realize Williams’ tale was so tragic when I began this flip side. If you were thinking of someone who might have a dangerous motor vehicle accident (*ahem* Jeff Kent), you might have guessed it was Eric King. Like Williams, King was a construction worker in the off-season. Also similarly, King earned 1.5 WAR in his first season (going 11-4 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 138.1 innings in 1986).

eric king backeric king frontHis next three seasons would show promise, but, ultimately, be pedestrian (3.90 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, just 5.4 K/9). However, he’d pitch real well in 1990 and 1991 (earning 5.3 WAR) and securing a million dollar payday (let’s hope there was no motorcycle clause in his contract). It was an odd career for King as he’d be out of baseball after the 1992 season. In all, though, he was part of some fascinating trades that included the likes of Matt Nokes, Bob Melvin and Cory Snyder. He’d retire with a 3.97 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 4.8 K/9 in 863.1 innings.

While it’s clear being a construction worker was a common occupation for ’80s ballplayers, apparently so was a love of motorcycles. Like King, Danny Gladden (who would later become a memorable golden retriever-like Twin) was a fan of motorcycles. He took it one step further by “[enjoying] competition water skiing and motorcycle racing.” I presume he took part in them, but maybe not.

gladden backgladden frontNot surprisingly, Gladden played the game with, what I remember to be, reckless abandon. He averaged 27 SBs and 11 caught stealings from 1984-1990. During that time, he would post a .277/.332/.385 slash line. Still that didn’t quite live-up to Gladden’s promise. He got to the majors late (becoming a full time player in 1984 at 26). That’d be, quite possibly, his best year as well: .351/.410/.447 in 86 games. He’d earn 3.4 WAR that season.

I was way too young to remember Gladden as a Giant. What I remember: Gladden was the Twins version of Lenny Dykstra. Gladden’s play in game seven of the 1991 World Series will be forever cemented in my mind: he stretched a bloop into a double en route to scoring the winning run on Gene Larkin’s base hit in the bottom of the 10th inning of Jack Morris’ game. When he was rounding first, his hair flying, you could almost see him revving his engine.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Ed Wojna

wojna backwojna front (1)We have another entry for bizarre job a ballplayer did in the 1980s to make extra money.

We also have another entry for bizarre phrasing on the back of a baseball card. Why didn’t they just write: Ed has experience as a draftsman?

Anyway, if you were me reading the card, you’d think a draftsman was pretty cool. Of course, you wouldn’t really know what it was. In my mind, a draftsman is someone who pours a draft of beer, or potentially brews beer – either way, pretty cool jobs. Of course, now that I think about it, this would be another (redundant) name for brew master? Ok, I guess brew master is better. But draftsman isn’t half bad.

So what is a draftsman, if not a purveyor of fine hops and barley? It’s someone who turns a design idea into a physical picture. Typically draftsmen produce guides for builders – specifically pictures that are incredibly detailed and capable of being used as specifications for manufacturers. Apparently you have to know a lot of math to be a draftsman…the occupation gets lamer by the second eh?

As for Wojna’s career? Let’s just say it was good he acquired experience as a draftsman. He was a 5th round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980. He was part of a deal from Philly to San Diego for Sixto Lezcano.

He’d put up iffy minor leagues numbers for the Padres from 1984-1987. He’d pitch best in ’86, going 12-7 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.37 WHIP and earn a promotion during which he pitched 39 innings and posted a 3.23 ERA and 1.49 WHIP with a 1.19 K:BB rate. Unfortunately, he’d only pitch 18.1 innings the following year in the majors and post some horrible ratios: 5.89 ERA and 1.69 WHIP. He was then shipped from the Padres to the White Sox for a player to be named later (Joel McKeon). Then from the White Sox to the Indians.

He’d pitch just 33 innings for the Indians before being released and never toeing the rubber on an MLB diamond again.

Maybe it was a good thing he needed to acquire experience as a draftsman!

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tom Foley

tom foley backtom foley frontAt first glance, there isn’t anything odd about this card, right? Well Foley was a left-handed high school quarterback, yet he played infield – and we aren’t talking about first base. Most infielders throw right handed – almost all, like 99.9%. So, somehow, Foley could throw a football with his left hand and a baseball with his right. I find this incredibly odd.

He wasn’t all that bad either. According to Fangraphs, he was 15 fielding runs above a replacement player for his career. However, most of that comes from a +9 in 1994 when he appeared in just 59 games, so the numbers might not 100% explain his defensive capabilities. Still, it appears Foley was no slouch. Certainly he passed the eye test of major league managers (for what that’s worth), as he played for 13 seasons: 463 games at shortstop, 385 at second and 90 at third.

Foley had a pretty long utility infield career, think of a light hitting Mike Gallego. He’d peak when he got to Montreal when this card was printed. He was traded from the Phillies to the Expos in a deal that brought fellow Flip Sider Dan Schatzeder to Philadelphia. From 1987-1989 (his age 27-29 seasons), Foley would post a .260/.318/.381 line and average 118 games.

As peaks go, it was a pretty lonesome valley, but he did put together 3.5 wins above a replacement player during that time. He’d finish with just 3.7 in his career. Still, he logged 1,108 games largely due to his versatility – a versatility that goes beyond your typical utility infielder as Foley was a left-handed football thrower – a definite rarity.

Oh and he even pitched a game. It was in 1989, he got the last out for Montreal in a May 1 contest against Cincinnati. He pitched 0.1 inninngs, gave up one HR and collected one out as the Expos would lose 16-9. Chris Sabo collected four hits and two Ks in that game and a young Paul O’Neil went 3-5 with one HR and five RBIs.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Dave Henderson

dave henderson back dave henderson frontThis Flip Side is cheating a bit (as no one should be surprised that Henderson was an All-American athlete at any sport in high school) because there isn’t much strange on the back of the card. I’ll admit that upfront. I will also admit that I was tricked by the back of the card…which was why it was first selected.

If you look quickly, it looks like Henderson hit only one HR in the 1986 season. Of course he hit 14 for Seattle that season, and the year before and the year before that.

What would be so odd is that, somehow, Henderson only hit one round tripper in the regular season but would step to the plate in the American League Championship Series with the Red Sox one out away from elimination and stroke a 2-2 pitch from Donnie Moore over the fence to give the Red Sox the lead. The Sox went on to win that game and the next two to take the series 4-3 and then on to the World Series and the ball that went through Buckner’s leg.

If Henderson did not hit that HR, he could have been Buckner. People forget that earlier in game five, Henderson did his best prescient Jose Canseco impression by bouncing a Bobby Grich fly ball off his glove and over the fence. He also batted just .196 in the 36 games he played for the Sox in 1986. He wouldn’t fair much better the following year. The Sox traded him after he went .234/.313/.418 over 75 games. The player to be named they got was named Randy Kutcher. He, along with Curt Schilling, is one of two players born in Alaska to have played for the Sox (h/t to Sons of Sam Horn).

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Aurelio Lopez

aurelio lopez back lopez front

I love Community – the show, not the sense of itSeñor Chang is one of my favorite characters, but really so are Jeff, Troy, Abed and Chevy Chase. Incidentally, I am from Chevy Chase, MD — it’s a rocking little town.

But enough about a deliciously hilarious show – seriously watch the paintball episode! I cant think of a better nickname for a relief pitcher beside Señor Smoke — with all the Lincecum-pot jokes, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a movement to nickname him Señor Smoke instead of (Jevon Kearse, er) the Freak…

Did Lopez really live up to his nickname? Probably not so much– he averaged 6.28 K/9 for his career and only struck out over 100 batters in one season. Sure he was a reliever, but you’d hope for a higher K-rate, at least. What he did do: throw a ton of innings — topping 115 IPs in four separate seasons, almost entirely in relief (he started one game across those four seasons).

Unfortunately, we’ll never really know whether he deserved the nickname because he wouldn’t become a full time player until he was 29 — so there is definitely a possibility his career could have been much more than it was. But he did accomplish some neat feats: he finished seventh in Cy Young voting in 1979 and was an All-star in 1983 – the year before he helped the Detroit Tigers get to and win the World Series. In that same world championship season, Lopez pitched 137.2 innings in relief — good enough for 32nd most all time.

However, before all that, in 1980 he won 13 games in relief, good enough to tie for the 29th most in a season in baseball history. He shares the spot with some immortal relievers like Al Hrabosky, Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage.

Set aside the World Series and the records, Señor Smoke had a statue erected in his honor in his hometown of Tecamachalco, Puebla.

But – perhaps – the coolest thing about Lopez: the Detroit rock band Electric Six named their 2005 album, Señor Smoke in his honor, according to Wikipedia.

An eclectic nickname for an eclectic career!

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Moose Haas

mosse haas back

moose haasThe 1987 Oakland Athletics had the most eclectic team judging from the back of their baseball cards. If you don’t believe me, continue to read on. I have at least five or six more in addition to Mike Davis and Carney Lansford to write about.

None, however, are more interesting than Moose Haas. Man, I’ve wanted to write about this one for so long. Basically, he is Jean-Claude Van Damme combined with Gob. Bluth and a dash of MacGyver. Of course, there is also the tiny fact that he goes by Moose (even though his real name is Bryan Edmund). He was also born in Baltimore, which is a city I love.

Unfortunately for the nickname-, karate-, magic- and locksmith-loving public, 1987 would be the last year in the majors for Haas. He ended with a pretty impressive 12-year career going 100-83 with a 4.01 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.

In reality, he could have used a bit more Bluth/MacGyver in him as he posted a miniscule 4.6 K/9 rate and a 1.96 K:BB rate. With a little more illusionary capabilities, Moose Haas could have been a household name.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Jamie Moyer

jaime moyer back jaime moyerThis is Jamie Moyer’s rookie card. This card was printed in 1987. It is 2010 and Moyer is still pitching. My gosh, my golly.

Apparently, way back, 30 years ago, Moyer threw at least 27 consecutive hitless innings. It was just high school, but people luck into hits all the time. Surely this foretold of greatness for the young Moyer. He would be a sixth round draft pick in 1984 and would reach the majors in 1986. However, from 1986 – 1991, Moyer would post a 4.56 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. In 1998 the Cubs would trade him and Rafael Palmeiro to the Texas Rangers for, predominantly, Mitch Williams and Curt Wilkerson.

In 1993, he would resurface with the Baltimore Orioles and pitch pretty well over three seasons. He’d then make stops in Boston, Seattle and Philadelphia. In 2003, at age 40, Moyer would finish fifth in the Cy Young voting. In 2008, he would win the World Series while playing for his beloved Philadelphia Phillies – 28 years after he graduated high school.

Nearly 30 years ago, Moyer had a 27 inning hitless streak. If you told that 18-year-old high school student that he would have a 24 season professional baseball career, he would been dumbfounded. Heck, I know it is currently happening and I’m dumbstruck.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Howard Johnson.