Todd Simmons – 1989 Fleer
October 29, 2010
There Were Way Too Many Cards Per Set In The Junk Wax Era, Vol. 5
Todd Simmons. Go to BR.com. Go ahead. Type in his name.
What pops up?
This guy never made it.
Of course, he’s not the only one to get a card that never made the bigs, but most of those may have been on ‘rookie prospect’ cards, ‘#1 draft pick’ cards or ‘Team USA’ cards. Not just a regular ol’ common with no special mention of anything about his rookie-dom.
Let us see what I can put together.
Simmons was a 4th round pick in 1984 by the White Sox from Cal State Fullerton. He pitched well in the NY-Penn league but got rocked in the Midwest League. In 1985, he was in the Padres organization. He was part of the huge Lamarr Hoyt trade that netted the Padres a fat slob with a drug problem, Simmons and another minor leaguer in exchange for Ozzie Guillen, Bill Long, Luis Salazar and Tim Lollar. (Hoyt did have a good year in 1985, but he was out of baseball after 1986 thanks to being arrested three times.)
Simmons pitched well in Reno in 1985. He moved to the pen and was lights out in AA Beaumont in 1986, and then was promoted to Viva Las Vegas and struggled a bit in the high desert altitude. But ERA in the ‘old’ PCL were something to ignore.
He pitched fairly well in 1987 and 1988 in Las Vegas. I don’t know if he was called up and didn’t play (I’d love to find the list of players on a roster that never got into a game…I keep searching…) but he never made it into a big league game.
But obviously Fleer thought he had a chance, so they gave him a for-real big league style card with no indication that he was a ‘prospect’ on the front.
That off-season, the Padres went to work re-tooling themselves after cratering in 1987 and rebounding in 1988 under Jack McKeon. They jettisoned Stan Jefferson, Jimmy Jones, Lance McCullers, Chris Brown, Keith Moreland, Andy Hawkins, Ed Vosberg, and Dickie Thon from their 1988 team. When Fleer went to production, Simmons may have still been a ‘contender’.
Right before Spring Training, the Padres sent Simmons and Jim Austin to Milwaukee for Dan Murphy. Murphy pitched 6 1/3 innings for the 1989 Padres. Austin made it to the bigs and had a one-hit wonder year in 1992 before injuries (I gather) got the best of him.
So what happened to Todd Simmons? Why was he on a single card? Remember, Fleer had ‘prospect’ cards as well.
(Gotta love the name “Brad Pounders” – too bad he never made the bigs. In fact, he didn’t play at all in 1989 after being part of the purge of 1988 – traded to the Mets for Rich Rodriguez and didn’t even make their minor league squads.)
Jerald Clark had 15 at bats for the 1988 Padres – and he just got this card. Simmons got a for real card. Wha? Simmons was on a prospect card himself in 1988. Only one prospect card to a customer?
Anywho, the staggeringly mediocre Brewers didn’t keep Simmons in the majors and sent him down. On June 29, though, he was packaged with Lavel (I hit .395 in El Paso once, so I have to be good, right? Right?) Freeman and sent to the Rangers for Scott May (not the hoopster, IU fans) and minor leaguer Mike Wilson.
They don’t have the splits for the 1989 American Association, so I don’t know how well they did in respective places, but I tell you this was a non-trade if you ever had a non-trade.
Simmons was a combined 4-8 with a 5.58 ERA as a reliever in the AA, which was NOT a hitter’s league (except in Denver). He was gone from organized ball after 1989.
Freeman, just two years after his .395 season, hit .238, which INCLUDED Denver. In 1990, he hit .214 for Toledo and that was that for him.
Mike “Tack” Wilson was at the end of a long minor league career. He hit .267 combined for Denver and Oklahoma City, then hit .220 for AA Hunstville in the Oakland chain in 1990, and that was it except for a year in independent ball.
May lasted until 1991 in the Brewers minor league organization, then made it back to the bigs briefly for the 1991 Cubs.
Still, that doesn’t give me any reason as to why Fleer gave a real, honest-to-goodness card to Simmons and left Clark on a prospect card.
The only reason I can see was that Fleer was playing a numbers game – needing to fill the set and Simmons had a photo of him taken during a Padres spring training game. That and no other company thought he was worthy of a card, so Simmons would have been an ‘exclusive’ or something.
Heck, who knows. All I know is that it…