On Monday, Rob Neyer at espn.com posted a couple of interesting tidbits…
1) Ryan Wagner (age 26) retired from baseball Sunday night. He was the Reds’ 2003 #1 draft choice who spent all of five weeks in the minors before making it to the majors and pitching superbly over his first 21 big league innings at age 20. Unfortunately, the glory stopped there. He was included in the Austin Kearns–Felipe Lopez deal for what remained of Royce Clayton, the hittable Gary Majewski, the perpetually injured Bill Bray and Daryl Thompson, and infielder Brendan Harris (now with the Twins). Harris has surprisingly become the most valuable asset that arrived from the Nationals in the deal. Not that Kearns-Lopez-Wagner accomplished anything in Washington to give us pause. Lopez has had a resurgence in Arizona.
2) For fun things…Neyer links us to a website called “Home Run Derby” which has a May 12 article that illustrates mistaken identities on baseball cards, some intentional and some seemingly accidental. Rather hilarious, and they don’t just include nobodies…which I found fascinating. Bat boys, younger brothers, and photoshopping all included.
My favorite baseball cards of old have to be the Seattle Pilots cards from the 1970 series set. Talk about bad luck…the only franchise of any recent times sold at a loss (purchased by Mr. Bud Selig) and moved to Milwaukee just before the season started…and the baseball cards were already printed by Topps.
It’s amazing how few people remember the Pilots team…and that Jim Bouton’s book “Ball Four” is really about surviving a baseball career when the guy’s at the end of his career. If you haven’t read “Ball Four,” it is a classic and so easy to read.
Following the 1970 Reds season, I was on a hunt to get every Reds card from the 1971 Topps set. It was amazing…I could never get Tommy Helms coming off his substandard .237 season, no matter how many packs that I bought. However, I believe I bought more Ken Szotkiewicz cards than he had major league at bats (season and career totals were 9-84, .107 batting average as utility infielder for Tigers).
I never clipped my cards to bicycle wheels…I defaced mine by keeping track of player trades and multiposition players by writing new information on the cards. What’s your baseball card stories?