Bryan Harvey was, without a doubt, the Angels’ 1988 standout rookie, even as a reliever. He had a 2.13 ERA with a 1.039 WHIP and a 182 ERA+, as much as those numbers mean for a reliever. It was the beginning of a short, but good, career. He came to the Angels having worked primarily as a reliever in the farm system, making his major league debut in 1987 at home against Baltimore, giving up no hits and no runs, striking out Cal Ripken Jr., his first major league batter. He also got Eddie Murray to ground out and Ray Knight to fly out, but walked one batter and threw two wild pitches.
Even more impressive was that Bryan was an amateur, undrafted free agent, signed in 1984 at age 22 by the Angels. He had, however, pitched for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in his college career as a reliever and was apparently lousy. He ended up playing in men’s slow-pitch softball leagues, where his arm was legendary. He attended a tryout in 84 and got picked up. I love that kind of story.
Bryan struggled with personal demons, though. In 1990, he was arrested in Anaheim for DUI, fined, and sentenced to probation. Rumors also swirled that he was left unprotected in the 1993 expansion draft because of his struggles with alcohol and drugs and attitude problems. It really leads me to wonder if the premature end of his career was related to these problems, but finding any information on what happened there is pretty difficult. Still, in 1988, he was on top of the world, and had a bright future.
Harvey still ranks high on the saves leaderboard; he’s currently #57 on the list, though he was much higher when he retired, so he’s remembered fondly by some.
Out of all these, as usual, the Score Rookies & Traded is my favorite, but I’ve long admired the Topps card as well, incredibly weird for a 1988 Topps card. They got the colors right for the uniform on this one, and though it’s a standard Spring Training shot, I think it works here. It’s unfortunate about the Donruss and Fleer cards, though. Is it me or does he look like a walrus in those shots?
Player list (so far):
- Day 1- Mark Grace (Cubs)
- Day 2- Al Leiter (Yankees)
- Day 3- Chris Sabo (Reds)
- Day 4- Walt Weiss (Athletics)
- Day 5- Baseballs’ Best Catch-Up
- Day 6- Craig Biggio (Astros)
- Day 7-Roberto Alomar (Padres)
- Day 8-Kirk Gibson (Dodgers)
- Day 9-Jay Buhner (Yankees/Mariners)
- Day 10-Jose Rijo (Reds)
- Day 11-Brady Anderson & Mike Boddicker (Red Sox/Orioles)
- Day 12-Pete Smith & Kevin Coffman (Braves)
- Day 13-David Wells (Blue Jays)
- Day 14-Shawn Abner (Padres)
- Day 15 – Tom Brunansky (Cardinals)
- Day 16 – Bryan Harvey (Angels)