Sunday, October 31, 2010
The New York Mets were the winners of a special draft for the services of Tom Seaver on April 3, 1966. He had originally been drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in June of 1965. Tom chose not to sign, but continue attending the University of Southern California. The Atlanta Braves signed the talented right-hander in January of 1966, but the contract was voided by the Commissioner's Office. It seems that the USC baseball team had played two exhibition games, and as such the NCAA deemed him ineligible to return to college ball. So after Seaver's father threatened a lawsuit Major League Baseball conducted a lottery of all the teams willing to match the Braves contract. The Mets won and began the greatest moment of their history.
"Tom Terrific" made his New York Mets debut on April 13, 1967 at Shea Stadium. He was the starting pitcher facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, but did not record the win in the Mets 3-2 victory. Seaver did strike out eight batters in his 5.1 innings however. It was just the beginning of a tremendous first season including 16 wins, 170 strikeouts, and a 2.76 ERA. All of which earned him the 1967 National League Rookie of the Year honors. Making him the first Mets player to win that award.
In the following nine seasons, Seaver would strikeout over 200 batters each year. Winning 20 games or more in four of those. The most special being the magical 1969 season in New York. Tom led the previously hapless Mets into the postseason with a 25-7 record and 2.21 ERA. He was given the 1969 Cy Young Award for his efforts. Once in the post-season he provided the leadership on the mound and in the clubhouse to bring the Miracle Mets a World Championship. "When I came to the Mets," Seaver said, "there was an aura of defeatism on the team; a feeling of let's get it over with. I could not accept that. Being brought up in California, I was unaware of the legend of Marvelous Marv Throneberry. That loveable loser stuff was not funny to me. I noticed that the team seemed to play better when I pitched but, dammit, that wasn't right and I said so. I probably got a few people mad, but I went around and told the guys that if they did that for me and not for somebody else it was wrong. People pay money to see professional baseball played well and they put their emotions into it, too."
His 1971 season of 20 wins, 289 strikeouts, and amazing 1.76 ERA was surprisingly not a Cy Young winner. Tom would win the award, given to the league's best pitcher, again in 1973 (when he had 18 complete games) and 1975. Seaver was selected to six Major League All-Star teams and pitched in a second World Series for the Mets in 1973.
On June 15, 1977, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Doug Flynn, Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman in the darkest moment of Mets history. The Reds would return him to New York in a trade on December 16, 1982, but the next season was his final one in a Mets uniform.
Seaver was elected to the Mets Hall of Fame in 1988, and enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992. Becoming the first player to enter as a New York Met.
When asked in 2008 about his memories of Shea Stadium, Seaver said, "There are too many for us to count. I had 10-plus spectacular years there that were filled with joy and then a sorrow at the end when ownership and I had some contract issues."
"Number one is the 1969 World Championship. The highlight of any young player's career is winning the Championship. Just like you saw the Phillies running on the field, celebrating, I experienced that. For the first time it is disbelief. That's the thing that happens. It's the same thing that happens as going in the Hall of Fame. But I don't miss the stadium at all. The stadium was not a wonderful piece of architecture. People ask me about that, They thought I was rather coldhearted about that. I said no, the memories are on the field. The people you played with etc. were really the memories, and the fans so appreciative of what you did for a living."
The man who became known as "The Franchise" was given the distinction of throwing the final pitch in the history of Shea Stadium on September 28, 2008. Tom threw it to Mike Piazza during the "Shea Goodbye" ceremony that day.
His latest endeavor has become the introduction of his own wine label, GTS. The former pitcher has created his own vineyard in the Napa Valley city of Calistoga, California. "I'm like a rookie in the clubhouse," said Tom. "You gotta earn your stripes."
Tom Seaver signed his card in the set from my good friend, Jessie at the "Teammates in the Kitchen" event at Citi Field on September 22, 2010.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Bruce Bochy was traded to the New York Mets from the Houston Astros in exchange for Stan Hough and Randy Rogers on February 11, 1981. Bochy was assigned to Triple-A Tidewater to begin the season but made his Mets debut on August 21, 1982. He was the starting catcher in New York's 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium. When promoted he had brought more than his glove with him from the minor leagues. "Whenever I got traded or played winter ball, the first priority was always to pack up my helmets," remembered Bochy. "And before I arrived, I'd usually have to paint them." The player nicknamed "Buckethead" wears a 8-3/4 hat size. Too large for standard clubhouses. Throughout his 14 years of organized ball he wore the same batting and catching helmets. "I had to," Bruce said. "None of the teams I played for carried my size." Both helmets had been specially made in 1975, his first year in Single-A ball with the Covington Astros. "I added a coat of orange before the '79 season with Houston, and a coat of red before the next winter ball season, then two more coats—orange and red—in '80, and a coat of blue when I went to the Mets organization in '81."
Bruce played in 17 games for New York to close the 1982 season. In his 49 at-bats he hit two homeruns and a .306 batting average. Surprisingly he was released by the Mets on October 3, 1982.
Bochy has become a well-respected major-league manager following his playing career. First with the San Diego Padres in 1995—where he won National League Manager of the Year honors in 1996. Then leading the San Francisco Giants organization since 2007. Bringing them a World Series Championship in 2010.
I created Bruce Bochy's card in the set from an autographed index card I purchased from Jack Smalling in January 2009. Jack's website is www.baseballaddresses.com.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Lenny Randle was traded from the Texas Rangers to the New York Mets in exchange for Rick Auerbach on April 26, 1977. He came to the club under a dark cloud of uncertainty. Prior to a spring training game the usually mild-mannered Randle had punched his Texas manager, Frank Lucchesi breaking his cheekbone. Lenny was given a 30-day suspension during which he was shipped to New York.
The switch-hitter was anxious to put the incident behind him and continued to stay in shape while finishing his suspension. Randle made his Mets debut as a defensive replacement on April 30, 1997. The next day he got his first start for the team and responded with three hits, one a triple. Lenny drove in a run in the ninth inning and stole home to cap an 8-2 victory over the San Diego Padres. "I think they like my bat, my glove, my legs and the fact that I get my uniform dirty," said Randle. "I'd be perfect for a Tide commercial."
It was Lenny who was at the plate for the Mets when the lights went out at Shea Stadium during the famous New York City Blackout on July 13th.
The versatile infielder/outfielder went on to be the Mets most valuable player for the 1977 season. He set a club record with 33 stolen bases, and led the club with a .304 batting average. Randle bonded with the Mets fans and could be seen talking to them at Shea Stadium even during the game. He also valued his opportunity to have Willie Mays as a coach. "What I experienced in my friendship with Willie did form my serious attitude about life beyond the Big Leagues," Lenny recalled in his book "Compton to Beyond the Big Leagues."
Randle took the dismissal of Willie Mays at the close of the season quite hard. "Willie's treatment soured me toward the organization and I was interested in playing for the San Francisco Giants the following year," said Lenny. "My dissatisfaction with the Met organization was shared by most of the players and I referred to the front office as the "Plantation". Everyone was on sale on the New York docks, especially those so bold as to ask for a raise."
His play reflected the change in Randle's attitude. The 1978 season saw all his offensive numbers fall while his batting average dipped to a lowly .233. The Mets chose to release Lenny on March 29, 1979.
Following his time in the major-leagues, Randle played baseball professionally in Italy. Becoming the first American former major-leaguer to do so. Today he operates the Pro Baseball Academy in California. Providing quality instruction to young players, and organizing sport tours.
I created Lenny Randle's card in the set from an autographed index card (that he signed in pencil) which was given to me by my good friend, Jessie on October 16, 2010.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Brady Clark first joined the New York Mets when he was traded along with Pedro Feliciano, Raul Gonzalez, and Elvin Andujar from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Shawn Estes on August 15, 2002. After being initially assigned to Triple-A Norfolk, he made his Mets' debut on September 11, 2002. Brady came on as a pinch-runner for Jason Phillips during the 8-5 loss to the Braves in Atlanta. He would not make his Shea Stadium debut until September 21st.
Clark played in a total of 10 games to close the season. Serving as a reserve in most of those he would only get 12 at-bats, but his five hits came to a .417 batting average. Brady ended his first tour with New York when he was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers (who would make him their centerfielder) on January 21, 2003.
The now 34 year-old veteran was offered a minor-league contract by the Mets and invited to major-league spring training camp in 2008. Clark was used to the adversity, "my whole career's been about proving myself. It fuels the fire and it's always an accomplishment when you prove the naysayers wrong." Moises Alou's hernia surgery created a need for an outfielder on the opening day roster. Brady had earned that spot with a good spring. So for the first month of the season Clark was used as the Mets' right-handed pinch-hitter, and reserve corner outfielder. He appeared in seven games with eight at-bats and a .250 batting average.
Brian Schneider, the Mets catcher, developed a severe infection in his left thumb. A puzzling injury that forced the team to debate placing Schneider on the disabled list. To clear roster space for a replacement catcher the Mets designated Clark for assignment on April 24th. Brady considered retirement, but elected to accept the assignment to Triple-A New Orleans. After playing just six games for the Zephyrs he suffered a deep right knee bruise that forced him to the disabled list. Clark underwent season-ending microfracture surgery on May 16th, and was granted free agency on September 29th.
I created Brady Clark's card in the set from an autographed index card given to me by my good friend, Jessie on October 16, 2010.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Donne Wall joined the New York Mets when he was traded from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Bubba Trammell on December 11, 2000. The right-handed reliever suffered shoulder problems that previous season, but had posted a 2.92 ERA since 1998 for the Padres.
Wall made his Mets' debut in the seventh inning of the game in Atlanta on April 4, 2001. Donne was given the loss after surrendering the game-winning run in a Braves 3-2 victory. His unexplainable struggles continued until it was revealed that Donne was not fully recovered from off-season shoulder surgery. "It just seems like I am taking baby steps," Wall said. "I don't know what to expect each day."
Mets pitching coach, Charlie Hough explained, "We're trying to find a routine for him to recondition his arm without killing him for today's game, and that's a tough program." Hough continued, "He's coming off surgery, and he has lost his feel—not just strength, but the feel. When a guy has surgery, it takes a year, year and a half. That's what we're looking at."
The team placed Wall on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder on May 28th. He returned on July 4th, but never was able to show the consistency of his past performance. Donne finished the year with an 0-4 record, and 4.85 ERA in 32 games. The Mets declined his option and Wall became a free agent on October 15, 2001.
I created Donne Wall's card in the set from an autographed index card given to me by my good friend, Jessie on October 16, 2010.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Dave Roberts signed as a free agent with the New York Mets on January 5, 1981. It was the eighth team for the veteran left-hander who was quoted, "The way I look at it, either I'm a bum or everybody wants me."
Roberts was a member of the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, but not as successful in New York. He made his first appearance for the Mets on April 18, 1981. Coming on in relief and finishing the seventh inning of the 5-3 loss to the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. Dave made a total of seven appearances, four as a starter, to gather his 15 and 1/3 innings with New York. Roberts was released by the Mets on May 27th with an 0-3 record and 9.39 ERA. The San Francisco Giants signed him to a free agent contract on June 15th, but he would not make their major-league roster.
Dave passed away in his Short Gap, West Virginia home on January 9, 2009. The 64-year old was the victim of lung cancer he developed from asbestos exposure as a young man. During offseasons, he worked as a boilermaker and was regularly exposed to the cancer-causing material. "Dave was the consummate pro," said Tal Smith, Astros president of baseball operations. "He averaged 35 starts and 12 wins a year the club during his four years as an Astro, but he'll really be remembered and missed for the leadership he provided and for being such a good guy."
I created the card for Dave Roberts from an autographed index card given to me by my good friend, Jessie on October 16, 2010.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Jerry Morales was originally signed by the New York Mets on June 23, 1966 as an international free agent at the age of 17. The young man from Puerto Rico was selected from the Mets by the San Diego Padres during their inaugural draft on October 14, 1968. He would make his major-league debut with the Padres during their first season.
Jerry returned to the Mets on October 31, 1979. The Detroit Tigers traded Morales along with Phil Mankowski in exchange for Richie Hebner on Halloween day. He brought his signature basket catch to Shea Stadium for his Mets debut on April 10, 1980. Jerry started in centerfield and collected two RBI during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Morales appeared in 94 games for New York that season. Pinch-hitting in 39 of those and finishing the year with a collective .254 batting average. He was granted free agency on October 31, 1980. Exactly one year from when he joined the team.
After retiring from playing in 1983, he became a roving minor-league hitting and outfield instructor for the Chicago Cubs. Morales followed that with jobs as a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as major-league coaching positions with the Montreal Expos, and Washington Nationals.
I created the set card for Jerry Morales from an autographed index card given to me by my good friend, Jessie on October 16, 2010.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Jerry Cram was traded by the Kansas City Royals to the New York Mets in exchange for Barry Raziano on February 1, 1973. The right-hander would make his debut with the major-league team on August 11, 1974 at Shea Stadium. Coming on for 1-1/3 innings of scoreless relief in a 10-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Jerry threw a total of 22-1/3 innings his first year with New York and eight of those came in the 25-inning marathon on September 11th. Cram entered the game at Shea in the 17th inning keeping the St. Louis Cardinals scoreless until leaving in the 24th inning. The reliever would register a terrific 1.61 ERA for the 1974 season.
His strong performance earned Jerry a new contract to remain a part of the Mets bullpen in 1975. Cram was with New York in April before being optioned to Triple-A Tidewater in mid-May with a 5.40 ERA in just four appearances. Pitching much better for the Tides he compiled an 8-1 record, three saves, and a 2.88 ERA in 31 games. Jerry was traded back to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Randy Hammon on January 9, 1976.
After his active pitching career he became a minor-league pitching coach with the San Francisco Giants. His work with the San Jose club in 2010 marked his tenth year in the organization.
I created Jerry Cram's card in the set from an autographed index card given to me by my good friend, Jessie on October 16, 2010.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Cliff Floyd became a New York Met when he signed as a free agent on December 20, 2002. The club in an effort to rebound from a last-place finish had also signed pitchers Tom Glavine and Mike Stanton only days earlier. "There's no reason that we shouldn't be at the top of the N.L. East at the end of the season," Floyd said. He also expressed gratitude to be in a true baseball city, "To me it's all about the fan support. When the fans come out and show you some love it feels good. You play for the fans and you want to have support."
Cliff's positive attitude and strong personality made him a quick favorite of the fans and players. Injuries slowed his production, but he tied for the team lead in home runs with 18 despite ending his 2003 season on August 19th due to an achilles injury.
On July 21, 2004, the Mets brought up a promising young rookie who developed an almost instant friendship with the veteran Floyd. From the beginning David Wright had the assignment of carrying Cliff's Louis Vuitton luggage along with a constant barrage of good natured ribbing. In exchange the outfielder would buy David new suits. "He's got to deal with it," Floyd said. "All of it. It's good for him. And the better he does, the more I am going to give him to do. He will carry my bags as long as I'm here. I read his fan mail sometimes- girls are asking to marry him - and it makes me sick. One of these days, I swear I'm going to smack him."
The 2005 season was an injury free one for Cliff. He responded with tremendous offensive numbers and led the Mets in home runs with 34, and drove in 98 runs. The left-handed slugger recorded a 20-game hititng streak between April 8th to May 4th, and ended the year with a .273 batting average. "It's not an excuse, but when you're not healthy and sitting on the sidelines, it's not fun," Floyd said. "But now I'm just having fun and enjoying myself. It's been a long time since I've been able to do that."
His ability to stay on the field was not as successful in 2006. Cliff played in the lowest total of games in a season of his Mets career with only 97 appearances. He missed most of June with a sprained left ankle and then most of August with a left achilles tendinitis. His self assumed role of mentor now included a young Lastings Milledge. "In spring training, Cliff showed me the ropes. And when we talk sometimes, I feel like we're the same person. We relate." Lastings offered.
"Marquis Grissom, Delino DeShields, Randy Milligan, Ken Hill—these guys helped make me who I am," Floyd said. "It's like parenting. They allowed me to grow into who I am, but they didn't tell me to do things. They just told me about the consequences of my actions. And it made a big difference. When talking with younger guys, I've always said that the less spoken, the better. You have to pick your times to give them that boost."
As the New York Mets found themselves clinching the 2006 National League Eastern Division title it was Cliff Floyd who caught the final out of the game at Shea Stadium. Coaches had suggested that the left fielder be removed for defensive purposes, but were overruled by manager Willie Randolph. "Cliff deserved to be out there," Randolph explained. "I loved catching it, so I'm glad he left me in," Floyd responded.
Cliff's last at-bat in a Mets uniform came in the deciding Game 7 of the National League Championship series. Coming on as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning he would strike out looking against St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, Adam Wainwright. Rather than bunting with runners on and no outs the slugger was essentially asked to hit a three-run home run. "Man, that was a long walk back to the dugout, it was like walking through Yellowstone Park," he recalled. "And I thought about bunting anyway, it crossed my mind."
New York signed free agent outfielder, Moises Alou for the 2007 season. Essentially ending Floyd's time with the Mets. "I'm so close to Cliff, it won't feel right without him," David Wright said after learning of Alou's addition. "He and I have text-messaged a few times. Not about baseball. I guess he had an idea this could happen. That doesn't make it easy. We have a special bond. I hate to see him go."
The former high school standout at Thornwood High School returned to his hometown of Chicago when he signed a free agent contract with the Cubs on January 24, 2007.
Cliff joined the staff of radio station 790 The Ticket in Florida and has become a weekend host. "I don't know where it's going to go, but to get comfortable with it doesn't hurt," Floyd said.
Cliff Floyd signed his card in the set for John DeMeo at the BrandsMart Store in Sunrise, Florida on September 25, 2010.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Don Aase signed with the New York Mets as a free agent on February 20, 1989. The veteran right-hander had missed all of the 1988 season following shoulder surgery. "I'm a whale," Don said when asked about his return to the major-leagues. "Every once in a while I surface."
Aase made his Mets debut throwing two scoreless innings at Shea Stadium on April 3, 1989. He was credited with the save during Dwight Gooden's Opening Day victory. Don would make 49 appearances in his only season in New York and register a 1-5 record, 3.94 ERA, and two saves.
He left the Mets when he signed as a free agent with the Dodgers on February 20, 1990. Don would retire from baseball following one season in Los Angeles.
Aase first began doing volunteer work for the local chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation when he moved to Baltimore in 1985. Ironically, when Don and his wife Judy were expecting their third child in 1986, doctors told them once born the baby would suffer from that very disease. "I did a lot of praying," Don said. "I suffered through the worst three months of my life. Nothing else I've experienced has come close." Miraculously his son Kelby was born with perfect health. "We were astounded, happy you name it," said Aase. "It's one of those things that you don't talk about because words just don't describe how you feel." Kelby became a standout left-handed pitcher for Esperanza High School and later threw for both Fullerton Junior College and UNLV. "I think it's harder to sit and watch your son play," Don explained, "than it is to be out there doing it yourself."
I purchased this signed index card from the legendary autograph guy, Jack Smalling and converted it into Don Aase's card in the set in January 2009. Jack's website is www.baseballaddresses.com.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Al Moran was traded to the New York Mets from the Boston Red Sox along with Pumpsie Green and Tracy Stallard in exchange for Felix Mantilla on December 11, 1962. Moran became the Mets shortstop in 1963, but made his Shea Stadium debut during the first game played there on April 17, 1964. Casey Stengel inserted him at shortstop after Ed Kranepool had pinch-hit for starter Amado Samuel. It was one of only 16 games that the light-hitting, but slick-fielding infielder played during the inaugural season of the ballpark.
An injury contributed to the end of Al's playing career. He played through it even to his last major-league game at Shea on May 10, 1964. "It was a pulled groin muscle that went up into my stomach," recalled Moran. "In the old days, they didn't just put you on the shelf until you were ready. If you were out of the lineup, you'd never get back in there."
After leaving baseball, Al played softball at a high level and has been a member of many championship teams. "Part of my game was running," Moran said. "They time me with a sun dial now going down to first."
Al served alongside varsity baseball coach, John Saiter for 25 years. Taking the role of an assistant coach at Detroit Catholic Central High School where he had earned all-state honors in hockey, football and baseball as a student. He returned to that position in 2010 following a five-year hiatus.
"Al Moran has helped hundreds if not thousands of kids over the past 40 years—quietly, selflessly," said Livonia attorney Jim Acho. "He's done a ton of good in the community." Al worked with Acho in helping to retrieve lost pensions for many former professional baseball players that is covered in the book, A Bitter Cup of Coffee.
Al Moran signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on November 1, 2008.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Dave Williams was traded by the Cincinnati Reds to the New York Mets in exchange for Robert Manuel on May 25, 2006. He was promoted from Triple-A Norfolk and made his Mets debut at Shea Stadium on August 19th. The left-hander was given the starting assignment in place of an injured Pedro Martinez. "I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity," said Williams after the victory. He became the 12th different pitcher to start for the team during the 2006 season, but had to leave in the sixth-inning due to leg cramps. The Mets would accomplish a come-from-behind 7-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on an evening that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the 1986 World Championship team.
Williams was asked to make five starts during the closing six weeks of the 2006 season. Finishing with a fine 3-1 record despite a high 5.59 ERA. "That's what they brought me here to do, is to compete and keep the game close," Dave said. "Obviously, the offense is going to score runs, and my job is to put up zeroes." Surprisingly the Mets chose to leave Williams off the postseason roster. A rainout of NLCS Game 1 in St. Louis caused the loss of a travel day in the series with the Cardinals. The Mets concerned over a possible shortage of pitching then unsuccessfully petitioned Major League Baseball to add him.
During that winter New York resigned him to a one-year contract to compete for a spot in the rotation. In February it was revealed that Dave had undergone surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. A long rehabilitation period followed, but the southpaw returned to the Mets roster on July 8, 2007. That day in his start against the Houston Astros he surrendered eight runs in 3-1/3 innings of work. Williams was designated for assignment when Oliver Perez came off the disabled list on July 15th.
After clearing waivers, Dave joined Triple-A New Orleans until being added back to the New York roster in September. Williams made his final appearance as a Met when he threw the ninth inning of a 13-4 blow-out loss to the Washington Nationals at Shea Stadium. He allowed three earned runs in the frame and closed the season with a 22.85 ERA.
Dave was granted free agency by the Mets and signed with the Yokohama Bay Stars of Japan's Central League for the 2008 season.
Dave Williams signed his card in the set for my friend Tom during the Washington Nationals 2009 spring training camp in Viera, Florida.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Brent Mayne was traded to the New York Mets from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Al Shirley on December 19, 1995. The deal was made to bring in a quality back-up catcher for Todd Hundley. "I know that Todd had a good year last season," Mayne said. "but if I get the chance, I know I will open some eyes in a lot of different ways mainly offensively."
The veteran appeared in 70 games, with a homerun and .263 batting average coming from the bench. A very accomplished receiver who embraced the opportunity to live in New York City. Mayne and his wife, Hillary moved into a two-bedroom East Side apartment. They often rode the No.7 train to Shea Stadium on game days. "It's just the energy of it," Brent said. "Every day we get up and walk outside and it's like walking into an adult Disney Land. It's just bigger than life. It's something I've never experienced before." A world different than his Newport Beach, California home.
Mayne left the Mets when he signed with the Seattle Mariners as a free agent on January 19, 1997.
Later as a member of the Colorado Rockies he was called upon to take the mound on August 22, 2000 as an unlikely reliever in the 12th inning. "You know the funny thing about baseball," Brent explains. "the way baseball is, it's so upside down, I spent my whole life trying to be a great catcher but the thing I'll probably be recognized most for when I die is that I won a game as a pitcher, that's so like baseball."
Brent has written a book titled, "The Art of Catching: The Secrets and Techniques of Baseball's Most Demanding Position" and operates a website dedicated to the highly specialized study of the position at www.BrentMayne.com.
Brent Mayne signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to the contact address at his website on December 23, 2008.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Tom Paciorek was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the New York Mets in exchange for Dave Cochrane on July 16, 1985. "I wasn't playing well and was actually designated for assignment before the Sox worked out a deal with the Mets," remembers Paciorek. "And that was fine, I got a chance to play on a team that won 98 games and saw Doc Gooden in his prime."
Mets manager Davey Johnson wanted Tom's veteran presence for the stretch run. A season that unfortunately saw the St. Louis Cardinals win 101 games and claim the National League East Division title. Paciorek appeared in 46 games and had a fine .282 batting average. Few men have enjoyed playing the game more than he did.
He was first nicknamed "Wimpy" by his Dodgers teammates. "I signed with L.A. in 1968 and you look at the guys that the Dodgers drafted just that year...Steve Garvey, Bill Buckner, Davey Lopes, Bill Russell, Ron Cey...that may have been the single greatest draft in baseball history. All of us came up together and in the minor leagues we'd eat together, When we'd go out guys would always be getting steak, but I'd always order a hamburger so I got the nickname. That's from the Popeye cartoons, he had a friend "Wimpy", who always wanted hamburgers."
Tom was released by the Mets on November 13, 1985. He signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers the following year, and played for his good friend, Bobby Valentine.
While still a member of the Chicago White Sox, "Wimpy" tried his hand at broadcasting. It became his profession at the conclusion of his active playing career. Paciorek was one of the voices of the White Sox for 12 years. He then worked for the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, and Washington Nationals as a broadcaster until 2006.
He was inducted into the National Polish-American Hall of Fame on June 11, 1992.
Tom Paciorek signed his card in the set through a private signing by All-Star Cards and Collectibles on September 13, 2010.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Dan Norman came to the New York Mets when he was traded along with Doug Flynn, Pat Zachry and Steve Henderson by the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for the great Tom Seaver on June 15, 1977. The outfielder started his time with the team at Triple-A Tidewater, and was promoted when rosters expanded near the end of the season. Dan made his major-league debut with the Mets facing the Pirates in Pittsburgh on September 27, 1977. One of seven appearances he would manage to close the year.
Norman returned to the Tidewater Tides for another season of minor-league baseball in 1978. Again given a September call-up, but his .264 batting average in 19 games was not enough to solidify him a roster spot to begin the 1979 campaign. "When the season started, they had me on the bench," Dan remembers. "Why, I have no idea. I was playing for a few days, I think I did pretty good, and then they'd say, no I'm on the bench again for like three more weeks."
He made the roster to stay in July of 1979 and impressed with his hustle and earned the nickname, "Stormin' Dan Norman". He was always noticable on the field for wearing his pant legs up high enough to show the blue top of his baseball socks. "I went into Joe Torre one time and told him, I said, 'Hey, I can outplay all your outfielders you have here. And it'd be nice if I could go somewhere to get some playing time. Because I don't think anybody can run faster than me, throw harder than me, or have more power," Dan said. "But, I enjoyed my stay in New York. It was great."
Norman was traded along with Jeff Reardon to the Montreal Expos in exchange for Ellis Valentine on May 29, 1981. "And all those outfielders were All-Stars," Norman said laughing loudly, "And, I'm back on the bench again."
After his playing career, Dan managed and coached in minor-league baseball. Following that he worked for the Parks and Recreation Department in Barstow, California and helped coach the baseball team at Barstow Community College.
"Oh, the fans were great," Norman recalls. "Anybody who plays, put on the Mets uniform, they liked him. And I still get cards and stuff to be signed."
Dan Norman signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on January 29, 2009.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Ed Lynch joined the New York Mets when he was named one of the players to complete an earlier trade for Willie Montanez to the Texas Rangers on August 12, 1979. Ed started his career with the Mets in Triple-A Tidewater for the 1980 season. A starting pitcher with the Tides, he earned 13 wins and gained a September promotion to New York. Lynch made his major league debut on August 31, 1980 in San Francisco from the bullpen. He earned his first victory as the starting pitcher at Shea Stadium facing the Chicago Cubs on September 13th.
The Brooklyn born pitcher split time between New York and Tidewater during 1981. He was a permanent part of the New York Mets roster from 1982 through 1985. Winning 10 games in both 1983 and 1985. This accomplished while consistently finishing among the National League leaders in least walks per innings pitched. A very talented youthful rotation had emerged by the 1986 season. Even more difficult for Ed since he found himself injured at the start of the season. The combination of events made the veteran a part of the Mets bullpen. Lynch pitched in one game on April 12, 1986 and was forced to undergo surgery on his left knee on April 20th.
Upon his return to health the Mets traded Ed to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Dave Liddell and Dave Lenderman on June 30, 1986. "It was like living with a family all year, then getting kicked out on Christmas Eve," later said a heartbroken Lynch. The New York Mets chose to award him a World Championship ring after the club won the World Series over the Boston Red Sox.
Ed earned his law degree from the University of Miami after finishing his pitching career. He was hired out of law school by Joe McIlvaine in 1992 to serve as director of player development for the San Diego Padres. He then moved with McIlvaine to the Mets organization until accepting the position of general manager for the Chicago Cubs in October 1994. Lynch held that position with Chicago until July of 2000. Remaining with the Cubs organization as a scout until moving to the Toronto Blue Jays scouting department in December 2009.
In an attempt to use as many baseball cliches as possible, Ed was famously quoted following a pitching performance, "The bases were drunk, and I painted the black with my best yakker. But blue squeezed me, and I went full. I came back with my heater, but the stick flares one the other way and the chalk flies for two bases. Three earnies! Next thing I know, skipper hooks me and I'm sipping suds with the clubby."
Ed Lynch signed his card in the set for my friend, Nick Duinte of Baseball Happenings at Wilmington Blue Rocks Stadium while scouting a game on August 14, 2010.