Thursday, January 28, 2010

Future Star: Mike Harkey

Set: 1989 Topps
Card number: 742

Mike Harkey was a 21-year-old pitcher when he broke in with the Cubs in 1988. His first start came against the Phils; he scattered 11 hits over 6, allowing 2 earned runs. He got a no-d, and the cubs lost 4-2. He went 0-3 that year, with a 2.60 era, giving up 10 runs over 34 innings.

In '89 he went 12-6 with a 3.26 era in what would be his best full season. He only got 11 starts over the next two seasons, and then came back in 1993 with a 10-10 record in 27 stars. He spent the next four seasons with four other teams, retiring in 1997. He took 1996 off, probably because of injuries.

According to Wikipedia: On September 6, 1992, during pregame warmups, he attempted a cartwheel in the Wrigley Field outfield, severely damaging his knee.

Wikipedia states that he became a coach for the Yankees, where he probably discouraged his staff from doing cartwheels for any reason.

The card is kind of boring, but then again, '89 Topps was kind of boring. The swooshy nameplate is kind of "retro" before retro came in 15 different sets of inserts. The shiny Future Stars across the top is less cheery than the rainbow offerings of previous years, but very futuristic, because everyone knows the future is full of stainless steel and shiny stuff. Like robots.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Star Rookie: Phil Plantier

Set: 1991 Upper Deck
Card number: 2

When I was a kid, I didn't notice that the back of Phil Plantier's '91 UD card compared him in looks to Mel Gibson. I thought he was more Travolta-esque. I do love the '91 UD though.

Phil Plantier burst onto the scene in a big way in 1991, hitting 11 home runs in 53 games.

He didn't repeat, and was traded to the Padres for Jose Melendez in 1993. He showed his power there, hitting 34 homers and knocking in 100 RBIs, but only hit .240. His numbers slipped the next season, and off he went to the Astros, in a huge 12 person trade. The next season he was back with the Padres, then Athletics, Padres again, finally ending his career with St. Louis in 1997. His final line: 610 games, 91 homers, 292 rbi, a .243 avg, and a .332 obp.

But for a season or so, he was another great rising Red Sox star, and his card a little rectangle of cardboard hope.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Future Stars: Tim Pyznarski

Set: 1987 Topps
Card Number: 429

The first baseball cards I ever bought were 1986 Topps, just before the 1987 cards came out, so the 1987 Topps were the first cards I had in any quantity. The Future Stars caught my 9-year-old eye quickly, and they had a place of honor on the front page of my first book. Bo Jackson was in the top row left, Rafael Palmeiro, top right, and Tim Pyznarski in the top row middle.

Turns out he was the odd man out. Tim was drafted in the first round of the 1981 draft by Oakland, traded to San Diego, made his debut in 1986 and was out of baseball after 15 games. He batted .238 in 42 at bats with no home runs and 11 total bases. He got his cup of coffee though, and his classic wood-grained card still occupies the top row middle in my first book of cards.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Rated Rookie: Dave Fleming

Set: 1992 Donruss
Card Number: 404

Dave Fleming was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 1990, and pitched in the majors in 1991. He pitched 6 seasons in the majors, 5 with the Ms and a final season, 1995, with the Royals. He went 17-10 in 1992, but arm troubles shortened his career, and according to Wikipedia, he now teaches elementary school in Connecticut.

How cool would that be, to pull a rookie card of your old fifth grade teacher?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Future Star: Joey Meyer

Set: 1988 Topps
Card Number: 312

Ah, the bright rainbow splash of a Future Stars, a Topps speciality in the late 1980s. Joey Meyer was a Brewer prospect, a prodigious slugger, who reportedly once hit a 582 foot homer while playing in the minors.

It didn't quite translate in the majors- he lasted two seasons with Milwaukee, hitting 18 home runs in 474 at bats over two seasons. He played a season in Japan and then his major league career was over, despite a good season in Japan and a return to the US minor leagues.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rated Rookie: Steve Avery

Set: Donruss 1990
Card Number: 39

I used to really like Steve Avery when I was a kid, enough that I sort of collected his cards, and enough that I was excited when the Red Sox signed him in '97. He got off to a rocky start, going 3-11 his rookie year, but his sophomore effort was better, going 18-8 with a 3.38 era for what admittedly was a good team, the 1991 Braves (the team that lost the World Series that year). 11-11 the next year, and then the best season of his career in 1993, 18-6 with a 2.94 era. An injury late in the season is blamed for his early demise.

He went to the Sox in 1997, was out of baseball from 2000-2002, and had one last season with Detroit, going 5-2, in 2003, before calling it quits.