Tag Archives: San Diego Padres

I Was a Teenage Prospector: Andy Benes

Benes Topps

1989 Topps

Topps’ 1989 cards introduced me to the Draft Pick system. I was absolutely mesmerized when I pulled cards like this. I seem to remember Jim Abbott, Steve Avery, Monty Farriss, Bill Bene, Robin Ventura, and Mark Lewis joining Benes in the cards in this set (oh yes, and Ty Griffin and Willie Ansley – can’t forget those flops). They were in different uniforms – they looked a lot younger than your average star, and there was this sense of promise about them. This was a little before the Gregg Jefferies incident (which I will detail soon, very soon), so I can’t point the finger at that for my fascination with younger players. I really think it was the break in formula in the base set that did it. Seeing those cheap little uniforms fired my imagination.

Once I learned about the draft, I was completely hooked. It was like gambling on the future. How awesome was that?

As for Benes – I don’t know, he may have arguably been the best of the bunch. Avery would have overtaken him if not for overuse, and it’s debatable about his career versus Robin Ventura, but I’d take Benes over Ventura when building a team. And yet I had a lot more Ventura cards. Intriguing…

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The 1988 Project Phase 2 Day 8: San Diego Padres

It’s weird to think that this is Jack McKeon‘s first card as Padres manager since he was such a mainstay back then. Keith Moreland turned out to be a pretty mediocre pickup that year, and it’s not surprising they traded him to the Tigers in the offseason. Mark Parent seemed to hang around forever, so it’s weird to see him as a rookie. Like a lot of former catchers, he’s a manager these days. Dennis Rasmussen always seemed like one of those guys who was just there, a fourth or fifth pitcher, and the numbers bear that out. I love that his nickname was “Count Full Count.” Finally, Dickie Thon (a candidate for the great sports name hall of fame if I’ve ever heard it) seemed to be a guy that plagued my wax back then, annoying me with his mediocrity. After reading the story of his beaning, I have a heart for him. I had no idea, and that sucks.

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Box Break: 2002 UD Authentics

I haven’t disguised my love for this set, that’s for sure, and yet I’ve always found the boxes tantalizingly out of reach, either too expensive or difficult to find, so when I found a box going for an obscenely cheap amount on Ebay, I bid and sat on that auction. Yesterday the box finally arrived.

Stated odds, as you can see, are 1 in every 16 packs. The box is obviously meant to echo the 1989 box design, as everything in this set is a loving homage to that original set. Including the setup when you open the box:

As you can see, they’ve used that same paper material that UD used in their 1989 issue:

The whole thing gave me nostalgia goosebumps, down to the authentic (heh) feel of opening the first pack.

Now, as to the actual content of the box. Well, first, I should note that I was supposed to get two reverse-negatives card in this box, but I only got one, this Jason Johnson:

And that’s A-okay by me. The reverse negative gimmick is easily the crappiest, most annoying thing about this set, as I’d have preferred to get the base Johnson, which I still don’t have. Sigh. Oh, I’m also okay with it because I not only beat the odds for relics on this box, I pulverized them. 1 in 16 packs, right? 18 packs in the box, so maybe, tops, I could have gotten two if I was extremely lucky. Yeah, I got four, including a reverse-negative game-used card and a gold reverse-negative game-used card. I didn’t even know the latter existed. My first ever hot box!

Very, very cool stuff. I love it. Oh, I also got two inserts: their version of the Baseball Heroes, numbered to 1989

And a 1989 Flashback Mark Grace, numbered to 4225 (though that Cubs picture is more recent than 1989, he didn’t have that facial hair until the 90s).

I also got a mess of base cards that I needed; only two doubles in the whole box, and a small stack of cards that I already had. Look for those cards to wind up in some trades in the near future.

I’m still quite a bit short of the set, so I may pick up another box when I have some money. Overall, I give the box an A for the presentation, the hits, and the collation. Totally worth the money and exceeded my expectations. Oh, and all these cards save the base cards/reverse negative are available.

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Trade Bait

I don’t think I’ve ever done a proper trade bait post, so let’s take a look at what I have available. Listening to any and all offers…

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Speaking of Baseball Brawls…

Check out this brawl between the Braves and Padres from 1984. Great stuff!

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=5955859

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The 1988 Project Day 14 – Shawn Abner

Today I felt like covering a failed prospect, and Shawn Abner sure fits the bill. I’m sure the story of Abner being 1984’s #1 overall draft choice is old news at this point, so I thought I’d look more into what led to his callup with the Padres and his time in 1988. I think the most amusing thing that I’ve found so far is an article about Abner being a cartoon character:

“All I know is, I would never room with Shawn,” said catcher Mark Parent, Abner’s teammate this summer at Triple-A Las Vegas. “There’s guys who were the team jokester. He was the team joke.”

“He has one ferret that’s trained, great ferret,” said [Shane Mack], Abner’s Las Vegas teammate earlier this year. “But you have to watch out for the one who’s not trained. One time the thing circled me and then leaped, and next thing I know, it’s hanging from my arm with its teeth in me. Tiny little teeth, but they hurt. Good thing I had my tetanus shot.”

1988 Donruss Baseball's Best

So, Shawn Abner. One of the greatest baseball busts of all time. The overall #1 pick who ended up with a 65 OPS+. It sure sounds like he was in the doghouse with the Padres from the very beginning, as digging through news archives on the guy, there are all sorts of mentions of his encounters with Larry Bowa and what an odd guy he was. From the LA Times:

Remember rookie outfielder Shawn Abner? Remember how he came to the big leagues from Class AAA last September with three stripes cut into the side of his head, and a wisp of hair hanging down in back like a tail? Wednesday, he showed up with most of that hair gone.

It’s interesting to watch his trajectory in 1988. He made the team out of Spring Training based on his 1987 performance, beating out Shane Mack, got handed a full-time job on May 4, and then, on May 20:

There will be one new face in the Padres’ starting lineup today, a face accompanied by an amazing stat. Marvell Wynne will replace Shawn Abner in right field after Wynne’s ninth- inning pinch-hit homer Thursday gave him four for the season. That leads the team, incredible in itself, but even more so when you consider that Wynne has batted only 47 times. That’s fewer at-bats than any position player who has been with the team all season. [Keith Moreland], in 119 at-bats, has two homers. John Kruk, in 92 at-bats, has three homers. “Marvell has to get in some at-bats,” Manager [Larry Bowa] said. “He’s been hitting the ball with more power than anyone.” Abner, on the other hand, is in an 0-for-10 slump that has dropped his average to .205. Since he became an everyday player May 4, Abner has gone 10 for 47 (.213) with one homer and two RBIs.

1988 Donruss The Rookies

Abner pretty much disappeared from the news until August and October after that. He only played in four games after Wynne replaced him, and he was sent down. Abner was only 22 at the time, so I do wonder if his pace of getting to the majors ruined him. After hitting .301 with a .485 SLG in 1985, it seems he was rushed along. In 1987 it looked like he’d found his legs and made it to the majors, but it’s very possible that he just wasn’t ready and being in the doghouse in San Diego messed with him mentally – he already seemed a little unstable. Hard to say.

Wikipedia’s little coda to his career is probably the saddest:

He currently works for a beer distributor in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He is married and has two sons. His oldest son, Jordan, was a starting quarterback for Cumberland Valley High School while his youngest son, Seth in 9th grade, plays football and baseball.

For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!” – John Greenleaf Whittier

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