Bill Bene – 1989 Topps

December 30, 2010

Yes, It Is Hard To Hit When You Duck & Cover

I remember getting this card in my last fling of card collecting. It also coincided with starting my Baseball America subscription.

Bene makes Robbie Beckett look like Tom Seaver.

The back of the card said that they had beaucoups scouts at a JV game in his junior year at Cal State Los Angeles.

So, he wasn’t in a Division 1 program, and pitching JV as a JUNIOR?

And he was a first round draft pick??

Bene was Steve Dalkowski without the booze, though the photo above looks like he was roused from his bed the day after a raucous affair.

Bene actually had to throw to dummies because he broke the wrists of two teammates during simulated games.

Here’s the beginning of Bene’s career after a brief short-season stint in 1988.

1989 – 0-4, 10.33, 27 IP, 56 BB, 24 K, 5 HB, 18 WP

1990 – 1-10, 6.99, 56 2/3 IP, 96 BB, 34 K, 6 HB, 23 WP

1991 – 1-1, 4.15, 52 IP, 65 BB, 57 K, 2 HB, 21 WP

Did he hit the Bull?

He was getting better. In 1992, he pitched decently and in 1993, in AA San Antonio, it looked like he had it put together. Sure, 5-6, 4.84 wasn’t great, but in 70 2/3 innings he walked just 53.

Then came 1994. He started at San Antonio again, and was promoted to Albuquerque. That was his undoing. A 10.12 ERA in 13 1/3 innings with 16 walks and 5 WP. The Dodgers let him go after that season.

The Reds took a chance in 1995, but seven hits and nine walks in four innings was the end of that. Bene later pitched some in the independent leagues and then resurfaced in 1997 in the Angels’ system.

His line in AA and AAA – 0-4, 6.68, 68 2/3 IP, 70 H, 66 BB, 70 K, 21 WP. Right back where he started from.

Perhaps if he wasn’t a Top 5 pick, there wouldn’t have been pressure on him to perform right away, and he could have been in extended spring training just trying to figure it out.

But of course, scouts may have said to themselves, “I’m watching a guy pitch in a Division II Junior Varsity game. Why am I here??”

As for Topps, featuring #1 draft picks was a good idea – too bad the cast of characters weren’t so hot:

Mark Lewis

Bene

Monty Fariss

Willie Ansley

Ty Griffin

Five of the top 13 in that draft never made the majors, and two others had a negative WAR. Lewis had a -3.7 WAR in almost 1000 major league games.

You know, I think I’d rather go play roulette than try to draft in the first round of the major league draft.

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One Response to “Bill Bene – 1989 Topps”


  1. [...] picks. During this time, the rookie card phenomena started, and so then cards were given to these youngsters. As a rule, baseball draft picks are the biggest risks in any pro sports, because you just never [...]


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