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…
Finally pulled this from a pack of Topps Update a week or so ago. Glad to get it off the damn needs list.
Man, are those some birth control glasses or what?
Bill began his career with the White Sox, was traded to the Seattle Pilots, then traded back to the White Sox. He made his major league debut in 1956, spending his first three years there as a reliever before being traded to Detroit with Tito Francona for Ray Boone and Bob Shaw. He had a 7.63 ERA with the Tigers in 23 games, so they left him exposed on waivers. Washington claimed him, and slotted him into the starting rotation.
He shone as a starter; in 1958 he only pitched three games with the Senators, but he pitched well, and stuck in the rotation in 59. He went 9-11 in 59, but it was a pretty lousy team, and his ERA was 4.28. Not amazing by the day’s standards, but it was a 92 ERA+, a huge improvement over a guy who was posting 50-level ERA+s previously and sitting at the back of the Nats’ rotation. He had some flashes of brilliance, too, dueling against Jim Perry on May 24th.
He returned in 1960, but dropped off, falling to a 4.91 ERA and an 81 ERA+ with the Nationals before they shipped him back to Detroit for Tom Morgan.
He bounced around until 1964, producing a career 45-58 mark with a 4.34 ERA, good for a 92 ERA+. Could be better, could be worse; he made for a decent, though not outstanding, end of the rotation guy. You could get a whole lot worse.
Given that tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought I’d feature a guy who’s cooked a few arms in his time.
This was a fun little set, and I liked the Pepitone card a lot. I need to pick up some more of these.
Buster was another one of the Million Card Giveaway acquisitions, and I was completely unfamiliar with him before picking him up in one of my many trades back in August. Buster had a pretty short major league career; he debuted in 1963 with the Orioles, and was out of the majors by 1967, but he had a few good games on the way between those years, despite ending up 14-27 with a 4.45 ERA and an 81 ERA+. For example, on August 26th, 1964, he shut the Yankees down with a 5-hit shutout, the highlight of a year where he’d go 9-15 with a 4.30 ERA in an era of strong pitching.
1966 was his next-to-last year in the majors, and he only pitched three games, ending with a 21.60 ERA. So he was more common than common, but I still love this card, as it gets me one card closer to completing the 66 team set.