Saturday, October 20, 2012


Tim Corcoran was signed as a free agent by the New York Mets on March 4, 1986. The club was looking for a left-handed bat from the bench and saw the veteran as a possible solution. The Mets first assigned the first baseman/outfielder to the Triple-A Tidewater Tides, but Manager Davey Johnson shared that he might be regarded "insurance" if Keith Hernandez were suspended by Major League Baseball for any length of time for past involvement with drugs.

Tim enjoyed a strong spring training and seemed poised to make the opening day major league roster. The last cuts to achieve the 24-man roster from training camp were Ron Gardenhire and Doug Sisk. Both players had to clear waivers, so Corcoran was not officially added to the Mets roster until days after the season began. He seemed to make his New York Mets debut on April 24, 1986. Announced as the pinch-hitter in the sixth inning of a game facing the Cardinals in St. Louis, he was pulled back when a call to the bullpen brought in a left-handed reliever. So his first actual chance to hit came on April 29th at Fulton County Stadium when he grounded out to second base as a pinch-hitter in the 10-5 Mets victory over the Atlanta Braves.

The Mets sent Corcoran back to Triple-A Tidewater on May 8th. They needed the roster spot for outfielder Mookie Wilson who was activated following his recovery from an eye injury sustained during spring training. The move to the Tides would last a month before Tim was promoted back to the big leagues.

Corcoran made two pinch-hit appearances at Shea Stadium. They were the only two home games he would enter as a Met, and both came facing the San Diego Padres. He lined out to the shortstop on June 3rd, and drew a walk the next day during New York's 4-2 win on June 4th.

The last day of his New York Mets career came on June 6th at Three Rivers Stadium. In the first game of that day's double header with the Pirates he pinch-hit for Ron Darling and grounded out to the pitcher. Corcoran gave Keith Hernandez a rest in the second game and was given the start at first base. Tim grounded out in three of his at-bats, but did draw a walk and was on base for Rick Aguilera's home run during the 10-4 New York rout of Pittsburgh.

The Mets officially released Corcoran on June 9th, but after clearing waivers he completed the year with Tidewater. In 86 games for the Tides he hit one home run, with 24 RBIs, and a .260 batting average. He was hitless in seven at-bats for the eventual 1986 World Champion New York Mets that year.

Tim played two more seasons of minor league baseball in the Philadelphia Phillies system before ending his playing career. Following that he returned home to California, and became a professional scout for the Anaheim Angels. He won "The Nick Kamzic Award" as the Angels' Scout of the Year in 2000.

Corcoran led California State University, LA to back-to-back Pacific Coast Athletic Association championships in 1973 and 1974. He was inducted into the Golden Eagles Hall of Fame in 1985.

Tim Corcoran signed his card in the set for my good friend Jessie during the JP's Sports & Rock Solid Promotions "Fall Classic Show" in White Plains, New York on October 5, 2012.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Mike Marshall joined the New York Mets when he was signed as a free agent on August 19, 1981. The right-handed reliever had been out of baseball since pitching for the Minnesota Twins in June of 1980, and had failed to start with a team following the resolution of the labor strike in 1981. "I wanted to see if Mike could still do it physically," said the Mets' manager, Joe Torre of the four-day tryout he gave Marshall two weeks earlier. "It's obvious he had it. Mike throws a good screwball and a good slider. Anybody with pitches that go two ways is tough. Plus he, knows how to win—he's proved that."

Mike was actually "Dr." Marshall  with a Ph.D. in kinesiology, and taught the subject at both Michigan State University and St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He believes that his studies have allowed him to develop a better pitching motion. "I know the injurious flaws in the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion that injure baseball pitchers and how to eliminate all pitching injuries." Marshall states on his website. "I also know the mechanical flaws in the 'traditional' baseball pitching motion that decrease velocity, release consistency and the variety and quality of pitches pitchers can throw and how to correct these mechanical flaws."

The veteran was an innovator throughout his pitching career. Mike was one of the first relievers to run in from the bullpen, and insisted that despite the established mindset he could pitch nearly every day. He proved it correct in 1974 while setting the major league record of most appearances during a single season with 106.

With New York he would appear in 20 games and post a 3-2 record, with eight strikeouts, and a 2.61 ERA during 31 innings of work. Marshall felt that his work as a union representative with the Major League Baseball Players Union led to his exit from many teams. The conclusion of his career with the Mets was no different. "The Twins released me the year before. And then in that year there was no season 'til near the end." explained Mike in 2012. "I don't touch a ball in that entire time, then I go in there and have a 2.6 ERA. And that's something, because I'm not fit, I don't have quality on my pitches, and I'm still able to do that. I fully expected that I would be pitching the next year, and planned to, but the Mets released me, because the manager didn't like this guy that got free agency into professional baseball."

Dr. Marshall formed his Pitchers Research/Training Center in Zephyrhills, Florida after leaving the game. He also hosts a website and is a featured lecturer about his pitching philosophy and technique. Only one of his students has been able to introduce their unusual new throwing motion into the professional leagues. Jeff Sparks threw briefly with the Tampa Bay Rays team, but was determined as difficult to work with and returned to the minor leagues. "The coaches aren't interested in learning," Mike says. "They just demand that the kids change back." Marshall's school was closed when a special-exception request for home-schooling was denied by Pasco County. Mike contended that it was not a business because he does not charge a fee only room and board for his students.

During his playing days Mike was notable as a rare ballplayer that refused to sign autographs for even the young fans. "As an athlete, I am no one to be idolized," He once said at the ballpark while denying a fellow teammates son his signature on a baseball. "I will not perpetuate that hoax. They say I don't like kids. I think that refusing to sign autographs, I am giving the strongest demonstration that I really do like them." Instead Dr. Marshall has only relaxed his unwillingness to sign for fans through two limited signings where he charged $250.00 and $185.00 or more per autograph.

Mike Marshall signed his card in the set during Chris Potter's private signing with him on April 10, 2012.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Jim Tatum signed with the New York Mets as a free agent on December 26, 1997. The versatile player had first made the major leagues in 1992 with the Milwaukee Brewers. When he signed a minor league contract with New York it occurred during the same time the Mets were in discussions in bringing in Japanese pitching ace, Masato Yoshii. Tatum had played the previous season in Japan alongside Yoshii on the Japan Series Champion Yakult Swallows club.

"The practices were tougher than the games. That's what they want. They want it so the games just come naturally," Jim explained. "It really clicked for me in Japan. I saw a different culture and a different work ethic. I thought I was really working here. But over there I realized I wasn't really working at all." Bobby Valentine became a fan of his hustle and the many ways that Tatum might help the team. The Mets manager added Jim to the opening day roster for the 1998 campaign as a bench player that might even serve as the third catcher as needed.

Jim made his Mets debut on March 31, 1998 at Shea Stadium. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in New York's 1-0 opening day victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. Tatum's first home run for the Mets came as a walk-off pinch-hit three run shot off Houston Astros closer, Doug Henry on April 22nd. The two-out blast completed a 10-7 comeback victory. "Is it surprising?" Tatum asked afterward. "No, because I know I can do stuff like that...You put 500 at-bats in me, who knows what I'll hit?"

Injuries to the starting lineup allowed many opportunities for Jim to fill in at various positions. His first start at third base on May 17th in San Francisco was memorable to him and his teammates. "I give him a nine for the somersault," Bernard Gilkey said after the game. "Give him two points for the takedown of Rey. And he did one of the best juggling acts I've ever seen on the third one. It was amusing. It loosened us up, I'll tell you that." Giants hitter, Darryl Hamilton fouled off two consecutive pitches in the first inning that eluded the third-baseman Tatum. Both falling untouched to the ground aided by a bright sun and a near collision with shortstop, Rey Ordonez. "On the third one, I just got lucky and guessed where it was going," said Tatum. "When it was hit, I thought, 'I better catch this one.'" The catch brought a sarcastic applause from the crowd, the Mets team to cheer from the dugout steps, and a sheepish grin to Jim's face.

Tatum appeared in his final game as a Met on June 11th, and was released a few days later. Jim complained that he was injured when he was designated for assignment and filed a grievance that was eventually settled with the Mets. He finished with 2 home runs, 13 RBIs and a .180 batting average in 35 games.

Following his 16 year playing career (that took him through the majors, minors, Japan, Korea and Mexico) he became the host of The Jim Tatum Show. A sports radio talk show in Colorado that he was a part of for seven years.

He ended up back on the field as an umpire in 2008. Tatum graduated the Jim Evans Umpire School and began calling games in professional Independent League baseball. "I'm still learning," Jim offered that season. "If I was 22 years old, I'd say I want to be a major league umpire. All I can do right now is be the best umpire I can be in the Atlantic League."

Since then Tatum has began a new baseball career, becoming the hitting coach for the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League in 2012. "I wasn't going to just go out there and collect a check and hang out. I have too much reverence for the game of baseball. Everything that I have emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially is because of baseball. Why would I want to take advantage of that?"

Jim Tatum signed his card in the set for me before the Washington Wild Things and Florence Freedom game at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Kentucky on August 25, 2012.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Andy Tomberlin was traded from the Oakland Athletics organization to the New York Mets on May 1, 1996. The left-handed outfielder was acquired to replace injured Mets prospect, Jay Payton at Triple-A Norfolk. Tomberlin was undrafted out of high school, but won a contract with the Atlanta Braves in a 1995 open tryout camp. "I wanted to be an outfielder," Andy said. "But they ran out of pitchers. They knew I could pitch so they asked me to come out of the outfield. I struck out the side, so they asked me to pitch another inning. I struck out the side again. So they signed me as a pitcher. But I still wanted to be an outfielder."

Tomberlin got his wish while in the minor-leagues and proved to be a valuable hitter there. He was promoted to New York in mid-June and made his debut with the club on June 17, 1996 facing the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

His first start resulted in his first hit with the team. Andy was the right-fielder and added his first home run in the sixth-inning of the Mets 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Shea Stadium on June 20th. Tomberlin would enter 63 games for New York that season, but only 17 of those in the outfield. The majority of this appearances came as a pinch-hitter. He ended the year with three home runs, 10 RBIs and a .258 batting average.

A strong showing during spring training earned Andy a spot on the 1997 Mets opening day roster. Unfortunately a herniated disk in his back forced him to the disabled list on April 10th. He would not be able to play the remainder of the season. The free agent, Tomberlin played the next year with the Detroit Tigers before returning to the Norfolk Tides for the 1999 season.

"I'd like to start coaching and eventually manage," Andy told the New York Daily News in 1997. "I've invested too much time in the game not to put it to use after I am done playing." Tomberlin started that path first as a scout for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001, and then moving to his first minor-league coaching position in 2003. He had progressed to the position of Triple-A hitting coach for the Charlotte Knights in 2012.

Andy Tomberlin signed his card in the set for me following the Charlotte Knights and Indianapolis Indians game at Victory Field on August 6, 2012.