Today the staff at Sully Baseball are honoring the 3D Super Star cards that used to be shoved into boxes of Frosted Flakes during my youth.
1978 was the beginning of me trying to understand and follow baseball. Fortunately for my sanity as a budding Red Sox fan, I didn't understand what was happening with the pennant race and what climaxed with Bucky Dent.
I was just trying to learn the team names, who the players are and to see figure out who was good.
And the Frosted Flake cards were my first standard of baseball excellence.
If you were on one of these 3D cards, then you were obviously awesome.
They had Reggie Jackson and Jim Rice... and I KNEW they were good.
And I assumed that every player in my cereal box were not only that level of star, but that revered by the fan base.
Keep in mind I was also collecting the Topps cards in 1978... but with no guidance of who was who on each team, I had no clue which players were any good.
I never saw the Houston Astros play! How could I tell the difference between J. R. Richard and Mark Lemongello?
But if you were a 3-D Super Star from Kellogg's? That's a stamp of quality.
I remember talking with my cousin Dave in 1978 and getting excited when I realized he was a Mets fan.
"Oh, you must LOVE Lenny Randle!"
Why not? He was the only Met in the collection.
I just assumed that if I met a Mariners fan that they would be wearing Dan Meyer's uniform number.
In fact I remember getting excited opening a pack of Topps cards when I got Dan Meyer. "Oh he is GOOD! He's Tony the Tiger good!"
I'd see Steve Ontiveros and think "That's an elite player!"
Little did I know that when all is said and done, he won't even be the best player NAMED Steve Ontiveros. (The A's would send a pitcher by that name to the All Star Game.)
Who knew there would be so many Steve Ontiveroses in baseball?
Of course sometimes the cards would be confusing. I felt like I finally learned someone on the Rangers, Bert Blyleven, only to turn the card over and see he was actually on the Pirates. I guess Kellogg's decided against air brushing a new hat on the card.
This Blyleven card also confused me because I couldn't understand why he was pitching while clearly standing near home plate.
Also the 3D effect never quite worked. They never looked three dimensional. They just looked like they were in front of a blurry background.
Then again, the 3D didn't work for me in Avatar either.
But that's just nit picking details. For a 6 year old Sully, devouring Frosted Flakes and baseball, these cards were the first measuring stick of which players I should follow.
I never got to see National League Games and there was no Baseball Tonight nor Sports Center.
THIS was how I learned about National League stars and teams that rarely made it through Boston.
And I must say, to hell with VORP and OPS+ and all those other stats.
The best way to judge how good a player is? Find out if they were in my cereal!
So you might think I am going to kill the Marlins for spending some of their revenue sharing by forking over $7 million to a guy who pitched himself out of a Yankees rotation that desperately needed an innings eater and off a playoff roster that screamed for bullpen depth.
It’s tough to get excited about someone who posted a 5.32 ERA for the season. A guy who posted a 5.96 ERA in August and a 8.84 ERA in September.
Yes, that first number was an 8… and yes he pitched in more than one game.
But truthfully, it is an ideal move for both the Marlins and Vazquez.
Florida should always be an ideal spot for pitchers to revive their reputations. Remember how Todd Jones became an All Star caliber closer in Miami?
Even the perennially awful Armando Benitez found his grove in the stadium formerly known as Joe Robbie.
Every once in a while, Vazquez puts together a terrific season that makes everyone think he is an ace. He’s not. He’s a .500 pitcher who throws a lot of innings and lets up a run about every other inning he throws.
He’ll probably go 16-5 next year… his ERA will be in the mid 3’s… he’ll be among the league leaders in innings pitched.
And his one year contract will be up and a team like the Mets or the Angels will overpay him and they’ll be stunned when he doesn’t post those numbers again.
And the back of his baseball card will get more and more cluttered… and he’ll have made over $100 million over his career.
$7 million will be well spent by the Marlins. Good luck (and thanks again for both of Johnny Damon’s ALCS homers in 2004.)
Today the staff at Sully Baseball salute Tom House and specifically his wonderful 1979 Topps Card.
The card is a work of beauty as only Topps could do.
First of all, Tom’s look is working big time. The glasses show he is a smart guy (who later really did earn a PhD in psychology) but the porn stache shows it is the 1970s all the way. (The Larry Wilcox blond hair helps too.)
Clearly shot at spring training, he is styling in the Mariners double knit pull over pajama like uniforms.
And you’ve GOT to love the trident hat. I’ve always been a fan of the classic trident logo without the star. I like the current “S” logo, so I am not saying they should go back to the trident. I’m just saying it is a shame that we never saw a post season game with the trident hat.
And the best part of all… he’s not releasing the ball. I know this was a posed, staged shot… but did they have to use the one where he is clearly not going to let go of it? It’s not like he is showing us the logo. It’s a pitching pose… and as forced and awkward as you will ever see.
This bothered me at age seven. “Why isn’t he releasing the ball?” I kept thinking.
Tom House himself had a career that was more fascinating than the numbers on the back of his card would suggest.
He had a few good years as a left handed reliever for the Braves in the mid 1970s, but his big league playing career was over after the 1978 season with the Mariners. In fact the stats on this Topps card are the final tally of his 8 seasons.
As a member of the 1974 Braves, he caught Hank Aaron’s 715th homer on the fly. He saved 11 games and pitched to a 1.93 ERA over 102 2/3 innings, all in relief that year, his best in the bigs.
He also admitted to experimenting with steroids back in the 1970s, but stopped because his fastball didn’t improve. He’s been one of the most honest people NOT named Jose Canseco on the topic.
House has been an influential coach for many pitchers and was singled out by Nolan Ryan in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech as a great influence.
In June, I was telling Orioles fans to save their ticket stub for a 2010 game as proof of their loyalty to the birds. They were on pace for 117 losses and being one of the worst teams in the history of the 162 game schedule era.
Now a casual glance at the Orioles would see little to get excited about. They finished the season with the fourth worst record in baseball and 30 games out of first place (and 29 games out of a playoff spot.)
But keep in mind they were a .500 team in the second half. They played winning ball under Buck Showalter. And yes Peter Angelos is still the owner of the team and winning with that doofus calling the shots is all but impossible.
But remember it was impossible to win under Steinbrenner from 1982 until the strike of 1994. It was impossible to win with Ted Turner making so many dumb decisions with the Braves in the 1980s.
Then Steinbrenner got suspended and allowed Stick Michael and Buck to put a winner together. And Ted Turner allowed John Schuerholz to actually put a team together with Bobby Cox.
Then you couldn't LOSE in New York and Atlanta!
Could this be happening in Baltimore? Andy McPhail, like Schuerholz, has already put a winner together.
And by the looks of things, they are slapping together a young talented team.
Along with Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergsen, Zach Britton, Chris Tillman, Rick Vanden Hurk and Troy Patton, the Orioles are stockpiling arms and look like they are embracing the post steroid era of baseball: Gobble up as much pitching as possible and hope to push 3 or 4 runs across the plate.
It worked for one team wearing orange and black this October. And trust me, as recently as 2007, the Giants looked like rudderless organization.
So why not aim for the big fish? Greinke wants out of Kansas City but doesn't want to play for a big market.
Why not the Orioles? Put together a package of young players but don't touch the nucleus... have Greinke anchor the rotation and Konerko give the lineup a boost.
And have Showalter in charge all year.
Something good could happen... kind of like 1989. The year before, the 1988 Orioles began the season 0-21 and were the worst team in baseball. The next year they contended until the last weekend of the season.
Think that is silly?
Sillier than the Rays winning the 2008 pennant?
The Rays are dismantling, the Yankees could be shooting themselves in the foot with this odd off season, the Blue Jays have a nice team but hardly a juggernaut and the Red Sox, while they have good pitching, have a lineup in disarray.
A good Orioles team could sneak in. Maybe not to win a playoff spot, but trips to Baltimore are no longer an easy 2 out of 3 wins.
Then guess what? The potential of the biggest sleeping giant in baseball could be awakened. The Orioles were once a dominating team with a crazed fanbase.
They were a more consistent contender and destination for star players than Boston ever was.
Chances are you've never heard of Turkey Stearnes. You might think I am trying to make a joke, pulling an obscure player out of the moth balls and poking fun of his name.
I am taking this moment to honor someone who should have been a legend in baseball history... someone who if he were born a few decades later, would have played in the major leagues and probably have been a star... maybe even lead a team to the pennant.
Instead he has become a shadowy footnote, unnoted by many baseball experts.
Norman Stearnes was born in Nashville in 1901. In the various articles I've read about his life, there isn't a consensus of how he earned his nickname. Most seem to think he had an awkward running style that resembled a turkey. Another theory was he had a protruding gut as a child and looked like a turkey walking about.
Either way, it is safe to say Turkey was a cooler name than Norman.
Like most stars of the Negro Leagues, he bounced around from team to team, beginning his career in Montgomery, making stops for Memphis, the New York Lincoln Giants, Philadelphia Stars, Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarachs (where he helped win two pennants) and for various other teams and leagues in America and Cuba.
But his legacy was as a member of the Detroit Stars, whom he played for over 12 seasons in three different tours between 1923 and 1937.
In the mid 1920s, he was one of the top sluggers in the Negro Leagues. A lean tall left handed power hitter, he crushed 35 homers in 1923 and 50 in 1924. He was a lock to hit double digit homers in each league he played for... even the ones that only played 30 some odd games.
And he did this with one of the strangest batting stances ever recorded. According to people who saw him play, his big toe would be pointed straight up and his right heel twisted around.
I would love to have seen film of this stance, if for no other reason than to see my friend Gar Ryness, The Batting Stance Guy, mimic it on his site.
Satchel Paige used to make fun of his stance... but he knew it worked.
"He was as good as Josh," Paige was quoted as saying. Of course that would be in reference to Josh Gibson... considered to be the greatest Negro League hitter of them all.
He constantly batted .300 or higher and was also one of the fastest players in the game. A gifted base stealer, he turned many doubles into triples over his career.
And when he played against white teams in exhibitions, he hit .351.
And as I wrote in the Dream Team for Dr King post, the greatest baseball tragedy about segregation was that history and posterity was denied great baseball and legendary match ups.
Turkey Stearnes will never be included in a great World Series confrontation like Grover Cleveland Alexander striking out Tony Lazzeri.
Baseball has tried to make it up to Stearnes and his legacy.
He is a member of the Hall of Fame. There is a plaque in his honor at Comerica Park in Detroit. This year the Tigers honored Stearnes by having his family on hand and his grandson threw out the first pitch.
But all of that was posthumous. And I bet most fans walk right past his plaque at Cooperstown. Most have no idea that plaque in Detroit even exist (as they see and take pictures of the statue of Ty Cobb.)
And I am sure the Stearnes family got a nice hand... but not the standing ovation that the survivors of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle or even Bobby Murcer would receive.
He deserved better.
And the best I can do is write this blog post.
So on this day, baseball fans, give thanks that we live in a time where players come from all over the world to play our great game... and no matter that their color, or race, or nationality or language is... they can excel on the field.
And give a thought to Turkey Stearnes and what could have been with his career.
There's a great scene in Superman 2 that I will spoil here. If you haven't seen the movie... it came out nearly 30 years ago. Take your time.
In the scene, the evil Kryptonians led by General Zod have been obsessing over one thing: Capturing and defeating Superman.
And when they cornered him in the Fortress of Solitude, Superman was forced to go into that chamber that takes all of his powers away. When he was in there, Lois Lane was crying, Zod and his two lackies were smiling knowing that they were about to win.
And Lex Luthor, brilliantly played by Gene Hackman, was looking around puzzled. There was something odd happening and he was the only person who noticed (being the smartest character in the movie.)
When Superman came out of the chamber, Zod thought he had won. But actually Superman had reversed the process and all the evil Kryptonians were powerless and Superman crushed General Zod's hand in a moment that made a 10 year old Sully jump up and start cheering and STILL gives this 38 year old Sully goose bumps.
So why the hell am I going over that scene? Beyond the fact that it is awesome... it kind of reminds me of the Yankees pursuit of Cliff Lee.
The Yankees have been obsessing over Lee since the 2009 World Series when he handed them their only 2 losses. And then this year, it looked like the Yankees were going to pry him loose from the Mariners... only to be outfoxed by the Rangers and have it haunt them in the ALCS when Texas and Lee man handled them for the pennant.
(Jesus Montero, the prospect the Yankees wouldn't part with to get Lee, had better turn out to be good!)
So in this scenario, Cliff Lee is Superman and the Yankees are of course Zod.
Superman is about to kneel and swear his loyalty to Zod and the Yankees.
Lois Lane, crying, would be the Rangers... and frankly the rest of baseball seeing the Yankees get what they want.
In this one? I'M Lex Luthor looking around, noticing something is wrong.
First of all, if the Yankees are looking to give Lee a seven year deal like they gave Lee's former teammate C. C. Sabathia... that is assuming he will be a premium pitcher in his late 30s.
That's not always a safe bet. Cy Young candidates can break down in an awful hurry. Don't believe me?
Take a look at the top 5 Cy Young finishers for 2007: Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, Brad Penny, Aaron Harang and Carlos Zambrano.
3 years later you could get all five for a six pack of Sprite.
And before you think I am being just a gloomy glass is half empty guy, remember that at at age 31, he was having back issues.
His numbers in Texas were good but hardly the stellar stats he was piling up on a dreadful Seattle team.
Remember his stretch in mid August when he was getting clobbered?
Do things like "bad backs" tend to get better with age? If he was with the Yankees, he would probably turn to Andy Pettite and ask "Hey, when your back was messed up in your 30s, what did you use?"
And Pettite would reply "Sorry man, they test for that stuff now."
Imagine if injuries catch up with him like those 2007 Cy Young candidates. Isn't a bad back a red flag?
And of course there is the New York factor. He needs to come up bigger than Clark Kent's alter ego in order to justify a huge contract.
Now Sabathia came up bigger than his waist size when he arrived in 2009. He won the ALCS MVP and looks like he'll be an ace stud for years to come.
He's been the exception.
It's easy to think of Kevin Brown as being the hot head, hand breaking bust blowing Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
But remember when the Yankees acquired him, he was a stud who was coming off a solid year with the Dodgers and was going to take Roger Clemens spot in the rotation. I still can hear Charlie Steiner describing him as "a warrior."
Think his heroics in the 1997 NLCS and 1998 post season earned him any good will in New York?
How do you think Cliff Lee's Game 1 World Series clubbing this year would have gone over in New York?
How did A. J. Burnett fare? He won the GIGANTIC Game 2 of the 2009 World Series... and that bought him good will for almost 45 minutes.
And if Cliff Lee might not be a fit in New York, there's the question of New York not being the right fit for Cliff Lee.
Sometimes those warning signs of a guy not wanting to play in the big spotlight are not unfounded.
How did Randy Johnson, one of the best pitchers of the last quarter century, do in New York? He was miserable before he threw his first pitch.
Even the great Johan Santana has lost some of his luster since arriving in Queens.
And then there is the bizarre contract circus that's going on in New York.
With Prince Hank sounding off and the team playing the contract haggling with Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter in public, the once stable Yankee organization is slowly looking more and more like the old Bronx Zoo... remember the one where they kept signing big players and couldn't make the playoffs.
And I know this is sacrilege to say, but if things don't go well in the free agent season are the Yankees as big a lock to win a World Series as they used to be?
A team where Rivera isn't there... or only signed for a year? A team where the veterans are tied up to huge unmovable contracts as they are rewarded for past seasons (when they ALSO made big bucks)?
And remember, this team is getting older and their young players aren't exactly challenging the veterans for playing time.
If their young players were any good, they would have been able to TRADE for Lee in the regular season.
So yeah, Cliff Lee is Superman this off season... but there is ample Kryptonite out there.
The Yankees might very well end up with a crushed hand.
And before any gives me grief for comparing the Yankees to evil General Zod, remember that in this scenario, I'M Lex Luthor!
Victor Martinez has moved on from the Red Sox. There was no post season glory with him behind the plate. Heck the Sox never won a post season game in the year and a quarter he called Fenway home.
But he got a few hits for the Sox, made an All Star team and was a likable enough guy to root for.
This Red Sox fan wishes him well as he goes off to Detroit.
Meanwhile with Martinez gone and Beltre certain to go elsewhere, Theo is piling up some draft picks. He knows that the Sox will pick at least 4 times before the second round is up.
So either the Red Sox will be sniffing around for some big time free agent knowing that their draft won't be blown... or they could be ready to deal some prospects because the cupboard could be replenished next summer.
Either way, the winter is starting to get interesting in Boston. Good luck in Detroit, Victor. You'll look good with the Old English D.
If there is ever a lynch pin to the success of the Yankees since 1996, it has been the dazzling career of Mariano Rivera.
There are some people who think Rivera is overrated and there are some people who poo poo the importance of relievers. “They throw less than 100 innings a year. How much value do they have?”
People who say that about Mariano Rivera are idiots. That’s not my opinion. I can PROVE they are idiots in a court of law.
Yes, many relievers are overrated. I have argued that Trevor Hoffman, while a terrific pitcher who has had a nice career, is overrated. He has compiled a lot of saves but also has come up short in an alarming number of big games.
The fact that there could be a statistical system that would put Armando Benitez in any form of elite reliever category is almost as mind boggling as that piece of crap Crash winning the Oscar for Best Picture.
But Rivera is different. Year in and year out he is automatic. Year in and year out he snuffs out rallies. Year in and year out he shortens close games to 8 innings.
AND he gives the Yankee line up the confidence knowing that if they just beat up the other team’s middle relief and hand the lead to Rivera, they’ll have a win.
Plus the starting pitchers know that they don’t have to go 9, and their win loss record will look good by the end of the year.
And in the unrelenting pressure cooker that is New York, Yankee fans haven’t REALLY had to worry about the 9th inning for nearly 15 years.
Put the stats away for a second (even though Rivera’s 2010 numbers are, as usual, awesome.)
Who puts the opposition on their heels more? Who makes the other team think “If we don’t at least tie the game in the 8th, we’re DEAD” more than Rivera?
And let’s get down to brass tacks here. Which Yankee star will be the hardest to replace?
You can find another solid shortstop. You can find another slugger… you can find another starting pitcher.
But where else is there an immovable object on the mound for the ninth? Who is going to fill in for him?
Whoever it is, he won’t be as good as Rivera. And when he proves he isn’t as good as Rivera, EVERYONE in New York will remind him.
Think New York doesn’t eat young players up alive? Talk to Joba Chamberlain. He was supposed to be Joba’s heir apparent in 2007. Now it is 2010 and he’s already a mess and Rivera is still at the top of his game.
And the Yankees want to play hard ball?
I say let them. But why can’t other teams make a run at him?
Seriously, why should other teams play some B.S. honor code about not bidding on Yankee superstars? It’s not like the Yankees ever say “Hey, we can’t bid on that player! He would never be identified as a Yankee. Let’s not even call his agent.”
NO! They try to gobble up the big players… as is their right. But guess what? OTHER teams can make a bid on Rivera.
If the Yankees are only offering him a 1 year contract, another team should offer him 2.
And I think the Red Sox should offer him 3 years.
First of all it will give the Red Sox a bullpen going into 2011 of Bard, Papelbon and Rivera.
Are you kidding me? Games would be over in the 6th!
Secondly it will give the Red Sox some flexibility when Papelbon’s free agency comes about after the 2011 season.
And yeah, I think in three years Rivera will still be an elite reliever. Has he shown ANY signs of slowing down?
But most importantly not only will it improve the Red Sox, but it will put the Yankees in unfamiliar territory.
Can you imagine the Yankees moving ahead with a shaky closer? Or even a pretty good closer?
Yankee fans haven’t experienced having a subpar closer since before the 1994 strike… you know the era when they couldn’t make the post season.
Giardi already has suspect bullpen handling skills… let’s see how he does without the no brainer in the ninth!
Decimating the Yankees bullpen while the Rays are dismantling their division winner could make the Red Sox the favorite in the A.L. East.
It’s a great chance to give the Red Sox an all time bullpen to go with a rotation headed by Lester and Buchholz and give the Yankees an gut punch?
Isn’t it worth making the call? Make the offer.
There’s no way it will happen if they DON’T make the offer.
And maybe it will bring other teams into the bidding. Seeing Rivera on another team can only help the Red Sox win the East.
Will it happen?
Probably not… but remember, when the Yankees played hardball with Andy Pettitte after the 2003 World Series, the Red Sox actually made the highest bid before he signed with Houston.
And 2004 ended up to be a good year for the Sox.
Rivera wants to be loyal to the Yankees? Have him prove it.
As if the idea of a player ending his career in a place other than the Bronx is so insane.
And Jeter's agent is "baffled" by the fact that the Yankees are offering a shortstop closer to 40 than to 35 ONLY a three year deal that would keep paying him as one of the elite players in the game.
And all the Jeter defenders are waxing poetic about Jeter's place among legends like DiMaggio and Mantle and shouldn't the Yankees pay him for his leadership qualities and what he has done in the past for the Yankees?
As if he took less money to play for the Yankees when he signed that 10 year, $189 million contract.
As if HE went to third to make room when a superior shortstop came to town.
Wasn't he already well compensated for past services rendered?
So I have a crazy way to settle this nonsense... have Jeter go out on the open market! See what he is worth! And then have the Yankees match the best offer.
Isn't that the fair thing?
That way we get to see how fair the Yankee offer is... and we get to see what Jeter's loyalty to the Yankees truly is.
And Yankees, see what he is worth and consider if you want to ante up. Even iconic franchise players can part ways with their teams.
The 49ers parted ways with Joe Montana. The Bruins said toodleloo to Bobby Orr.
In baseball even the likes of Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg and Christy Mathewson wrapped up their careers elsewhere.
And oh yeah, Babe Ruth finished his career as a Boston Brave.
Perhaps the Yankees might say "Do you know what? We're not going to match the Padres offer." And in a way, can you blame them?
They signed Jorge Posada to a "let's be loyal to our boys" contract after the 2007 off season. Not one team could possibly have offered him 3 years... the Yankees gave him 4. And he was worthless after 2 seasons.
Maybe they don't want to get in the habit of over compensating for players they have already paid a fortune for.
It wouldn't kill the fan base to see a Yankee legend wear someone else's uniform.
All of this insanity can be solved the good old fashioned American way. Find out Jeter's worth and decide to pay it or not.
That way there is no question. Is the Yankee offer an insult? If it beats the market, then obviously it isn't. Is being a Yankee the most important thing to Jeter? If he resigns for less money, then no doubt.
So the Mets are going to do it. They are going to hand the keys to one of the most expensive rosters in baseball and what SHOULD be one of the marquee franchises in the game to a guy who couldn't handle the baseball pressure cookers that are Houston and Anaheim.
Now you are going to put him in the New York media market who want to run managers out of town on a rail AFTER they win a World Series?
The Mets are giving a hot head manager with a 24/7 sports media hovering over Queens waiting for him to say something stupid?
This is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
If I am Bob Melvin, Wally Backman or even Bobby Valentine for that matter... I'd have my resumes ready. There might be an opening in APRIL!
Some word problems were kind of easy. Like "If you are going to play a football game in a stadium, and the league needs to have 100 yards of playing space, 20 yards of end zone space and six feet on either side beyond the endzone... how big does the playing field have to be?"
Simple addition. And if the playing space is less than the sum total of space needed, should they play there?
The whole fiasco at Wrigley today is mindboggling. They had no problem playing football for years in Wrigley because they figured out if the field was positioned in a certain direction, there was enough room to play football.
The novel concept of MEASURING was employed.
And the Big 10 sent Northwestern a letter this week about the lack of space? They just figured this out 36 hours ago?
This game wasn't a surprise! It's been on the schedule for a while. It's not like the Northwestern football team knocked on Wrigley Field's door on Thursday and said "Hey, do you mind if we play here this weekend?"
So figure it out, folks. Hey, when I was a kid, I wanted the Red Sox to play in my front yard. But they couldn't. Do you know why?
In 1988, he played for the Dodgers against his former Mets teammates in the NLCS. In the epic momentum shifting Game 4, Heep once again came up as a pinch hitter.
In the World Series Game 1 that year, the "Kirk Gibson Game", Heep once again came up as a pinch hitter.
Later he played for the 1990 AL East Champion Red Sox and played for the 1991 Braves, but was cut before they won the NL Pennant.
I guess asking him to be on ANOTHER miracle pennant winner would have been too much to ask. But for a part time pinch hitter, four trips to the post season and two World Series rings and playing in so many memorable games isn't anything to sneeze at.
Astros fans were patient with Knicely. He was an Astros Future Star in 1980 as well. He played 7 games with the Astros in 1979, 1 in 1980 and 3 in 1981. So later when he had a HIS OWN baseball card it looked impressive like he played 3 seasons between 79 and 81 instead of just 11 games.
In 1981, he managed to hit 2 homers in those 3 games... both against the eventual World Champion Dodgers. (One off of Bob Welch and one was an 8th inning game tying shot off of Dave Goltz.)
Maybe the Astros should have had him on their 1981 Divisional Series roster against the Dodgers that year.
Red Sox fans might be amused to see Sprowl picked as a future star for 1981. Turn the clocks back to 1978 and Don Zimmer must have thought he was a budding star right then and there.
In a critical game on September 10th, 1978 between the Red Sox and Yankees, Boston was trying to end a crippling losing streak. The Yankees were trying to sweep a 4 game series in Fenway and pull into a tie with Boston.
Who should Don Zimmer start? Veteran Yankee killer Bill Lee? Or 22 rookie Sprowl who had one big league start under his belt?
Zimmer went with Sprowl. In Spaceman, I asked "Why in the name of Yahweh was Bobby Sprowl pitching in a pennant race?" He was pitching because Zimmer let his pride get in the way. He was told that Sprowl had ice water in his veins.
That might have been true, but throwing him into that game against the defending champs was simply cruel.
Sprowl didn't last an inning. Bill Lee came out of the bullpen and threw 2 1/3 shutout innings.
Sprowl never won a game that year. He never EVER won a game in the bigs.
Topps optimistically made him a future star based on his 10-11 season for Tuscon in 1980. Alas it never was to be.
Not in Boston nor in Houston.
So there you have it... one guy was a veteran of many post seasons... one should have been a post season weapon... and the other was thrown into the deep end too soon.
Stars? Maybe not... but worth a Sully Baseball salute.