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 KearnsFelipe 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?

2 Responses

  1. Cary Loughman

    Baseball Card Stories:

    Collected from 1972 to ’77 or ’78. I had a Johnny Bench electric baseball game, with a spring loaded bat and a metal arm that chucked the ball toward the plate. The ball had a little magnet in it that would cause the ball to stop somewhere on the field, which had areas marked off for single, double and triple. I used my baseball cards to play games. I would make homerun fences out of small pieces of posterboard. Sometimes I would hit the little ball foul or out of the park and not be able to find it in my bedroom.

    Then, I discovered Strat-o-Matic and APBA, and that was the end of that foolishness. No longer did I have to wait to collect a team to field them, and the players would perform as in real life, instead of randomly, like my JB players. But, many hours were spent playing these games with my baseball cards.

    I also remember my mom and aunt almost got in an argument because my cousin and I had made a trade that she thought was unfair. He got Hank Aaron, I got a bunch of cards. I went for quantity in the deal, can’t remember who they were, but I remember who I traded away. Sounds like some of the prospects for stars trades today.

  2. Mark in CC

    Wagner, can thank Leatherpants for force feeding him too quickly and wrecking his career.

    I saw Rudy Meoli in Indianapolis one night run a race versus a member of the other team and he had it won by twenty feet when he fell down twenty feet from the finish. It was hilarious and I will never forget Rudy Meoli.