Is This The Card That Started It All?

I remember too much, it seems. My ex says that I never had a purge button in my brain. As I get older, I find that I may not have as sharp and clear of a memory of certain events if overwhelmed by information, but I still remember scads of stuff. Most unimportant and trivial, yet that’s my modus operandi.

I do recall receiving some baseball cards in 1972. I recall opening packages at my grandparent’s house in Ladoga, Indiana. I can look at my 1972 binder and remember who they were, for the most part. (Tony Perez, John Bateman, Ray Culp, Glenn Beckert, Joe Grzenda, among others….)

I also remember being a total idiot in the late 70’s  (not the first nor last time, albiet to be honest I was just a kid) and gave away some of my older cards like this one to get some of the current set that I was chasing. I wonder if Mike Finney still has them??? Or maybe I gave them to Todd Newkirk?? (They both moved out of town by ninth grade, and I don’t know where they are now. Not that it really matters, but it may be cool to see that my first 1972 Ted Kubiak is out there, somewhere…)

What I expressly remember is seeing this card back in 1972 as part of my first few packs and wondering about why Scherman stuck a finger out of his glove. Mind you, I was all of 6 1/2 so I didn’t have much of a frame of reference, but I thought this was wild and mysterious. Of course, I then started to do it in T-Ball. I then saw a glove that had an opening for an index finger but it wasn’t my size. I never did get one, and I think I stopped putting my index finger outside of my glove after a while.

The way I played the field, though, my glove was mostly a decoration anyway.

Because he was amongst the first players I ever received in a pack of cards, I always tried to follow Scherman. Yet it was hard in the pre-internet, pre-cable TV days. The Tigers weren’t big in Indiana, and by the time I really started to pay attention they were abysmal and Fred as on the move to Houston and then Montreal. Scherman’s last card was in 1976 and I really started my first wave of collecting with the 1977 set and he didn’t warrant a card as the Expos released him in mid-summer.

This card did catch Fred in his maj0r-league peak. He was the relief ‘ace’ for that bunch of Tigers, but of course being a Billy Martin employee meant you had to be up from some wacky stuff. Even though Fred had saved 19 games by mid-September 1971 he was called into the relieve Joe Niekro in the first inning of the second game of a double header against Baltimore and finished the game! Just a few days later he started game two of a doubleheader and pitched a complete game win. Then he went back to the pen, of course.

In 1972 he gave way at times to Chuck Seelbach after some struggles, and then when John Hiller made his miraculous comeback from a heart attack he was just a lefty reliever trying to make it in the crazy world of baseball. After the Expos released him in 1976 he didn’t catch on anywhere, but found a spot in the Pittsburgh chain in 1977 and had a so-so year in Columbus before hanging ’em up.

Except for those seasons when Billy Martin made him the ‘closer’ (as it was then) there wasn’t anything special about Scherman. Yet he always was someone I remembered and still look up from time to time. Was he my first one? You always remember….

Enzo Hernandez – 1972 Topps

February 16, 2012

RBI’s Don’t Tell The Whole Story

Lovers of baseball minutae seem to point to Enzo’s 1971 season as one of the hallmarks of futility, mainly because over the course of 549 at bats (618 plate appearances) he collected a grand total of 12 RBI.

Yes, you read that right. 12 RBI.

Now, those of us who are hip to the new metrics realize that Enzo’s 12 RBIs aren’t any kind of measure of a player’s effectiveness because they are so team related. This is quite true, since if 1971 Enzo hit clean-up for the 1927 Yankees he’d definitely have more than 12 RBI, and if 1920 Babe Ruth replaced Leon Roberts in the 1978 Mariners he’d struggle to accumulate 100 RBI.

Enzo’s 12 RBI is a symptom of his suckitude and of the overall awfulness of the 1971 Padres, not the disease in of itself.

Enzo arrived as the Padres shortstop of the future after Baltimore traded a pu-pu platter o’ prospects to the Padres for Tom Dukes and Pat Dobson. Baseball teams always jumped when the Orioles traded prospects since they were so good at developing them – of course if Earl Weaver and the O’s were willing to trade them then they may know something that others in baseball didn’t know. Time and again Baltimore hornswaggled teams by peddling ‘prospects’.

Hernandez was one of those ‘prospects’. He allegedly could pick it and he had wheels. By the end of his career, he was fortunate that Johnny LeMaster came into the league to replace him as the poster child of no-field, no-hit middle infielders.

Preston Gomez installed Enzo as the lead-off hitter and shortstop for the 1971 Padres early in the season when Tommy Dean was found wanting. Gomez had Enzo lead off 137 times, and Hernandez rewarded his manager and the Padres with a sub .300 OBP and a .255 SLG. As a leadoff man his OBP was .289 and he scored just 55 runs in those 137 games.

That’s a measure of stink that the 12 RBIs can’t match. The 12 RBI, though, are a reflection on the rest of those wretched Padres. Sure, his OPS was .395 with runners in scoring position, but he had just 105 plate appearances with runners in scoring position.

No one got on base in front of him either. The pitchers were, well, pitchers. The seventh place hitters had an OPS+ of 73. The eighth place hitters had an OPS+ of 101.

Wait, what?

That was 81 games of Bob Barton, who was at least competent with the bat. But he was dreadfully slow and didn’t have that much power, either. So he needed to be on third for Enzo to score him.

So no one on was on base for Enzo, and when they were, they needed to be on third base. Ergo, the 12 RBI’s are a reflection of both the individual and collective ineptitude on display in San Diego in 1971.

A convergence of stank, as it were.




I was in a LCS while I was back in Minneapolis and rummaging through some cards from the 70’s. This is one of the cards I needed from the great 1972 set.


I think everything is airbrushed here. Everything. George Hendrick didn’t exist in this photo…

Jim Roland – 1972 Topps

October 30, 2011

Why Is This Man Smiling? Why Not?

I’m back.

No, really, I am.

What has happened since my aborted Gint-A-Cuff pack?

Well, lots. But I’ve got all my stuff, figuring out where to store my cards, and am officially open for business.

Kind of.

I’ve got a bunch of cards to sort through, and then need to figure out how to tactically deploy my doubles. I got a lot of shinys, some good parallels, and a couple of relics that I know people want / need. And, I have at least kept up my want lists. So I’m thinking of Christmas in…December or something like that.

Mr. Roland is a card I received from my hiatus. I had to steal the scan from the Baseball Card Cyber Museum, because right now I am sans scanner. But I wanted to be sure I nabbed a photo of his.




But I’m not a lefty. No sir.

Well, at least I don’t THROW lefty.

I don’t know how often I’ll post. Just point your reader or what not to me and I’ll, well, show up from time to time.

The new job is amongst the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, but a challenge is a good thing.

And how does this all apply to Mr. Roland, except for projecting his mood that’s pictured on the card?

Well, I’m happy to have a job and to be here, and so was Jim Roland.

Roland never appeared in the minors after 1966, and lasted in the bigs until 1972. But he was just happy to be there. In his full seasons in the bigs (1963-64, 1967-72) he never:

Pitched in more than 39 games.

Pitched more than 86 1/3 innings.

Saved more than three games.

Won more than five games.

Lost more than six games.

Started more than 13 games.

Finished more than 12 games.

He was just…there. A lefty arm in the pen. Break glass and use in emergencies. In his career, he was credited with three holds and two blown saves. 108 of his 187 relief appearances were low leverage. His team was behind 143 times when he got the call from the pen. Now, he’d pitch in 87 games and throw 51 1/3 innings with 19 holds and inherit about 58 runners a season. Not then, he was the 9th or 10th guy, always.

His 1971 season (his last full season in Oakland), he appeared in 31 games. Oakland was 5-26 when he showed up on the mound. When he was idle, Oakland was 96-44. He pitched four times in May and just three times in August. He went 1-2 with one save and a 3.15 ERA. His save came on June 4, when he polished off the Senators in a 1-2-3 21st. Yes, the 21st. Rollie Fingers blew a save, but still pitched 5 1/3 innings. Roland wasn’t facing the dregs either; he got Mincher, Howard and Biittner to close out the game.

Ron Klimkowski was used even less than Roland, but at least Klimkowski went down to Iowa for five starts to stay sharp. Not Roland.

But he was happy to be there. And why wouldn’t he? He was a big leaguer.





That’s Boots Day?

When you know the name before you see the photo, sometimes you’re going to get surprised.