The Saltiest Comeback Ever

I’m one of the old guys who grew up during the glory years of the food-issue. And given the card-collector demographic, you probably are too. In fact, I bet you’re one of those who long for the return of the Hostess cards- and I don’t blame you. Bring back Hostess; bring back the Trident; bring back Hostess baseball cards. That’s been my mantra.

When Metropoulos & Co relaunched the Hostess brand snack cakes in 2013, they did so with the tagline, “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.” The campaign lit up the internet and probably hit a nerve with Grammar Nazis. Convenience stores, as an Inc.com article pointed out at the time, are a “key market for Hostess and young males are the target demographic for convenience stores.” Dave Lubeck, executive VP of the advertising agency handling the campaign, explained the deliberate grammatical error: “We wanted the language to reflect that young attitude and the way young people talk today, especially on social media.” The Creative Director behind the project, a man by the name of Matt Bowne, described the tagline as perfect, “because it was something people would never expect to hear from a 100-year old company.”

The comeback wasn’t as sweet as nostalgia and expectations had promised. Consumers have used social media to call out the company for smaller cakes, crappy tasting treats, and allergens (peanut residue). Even Chance the Rapper called them out, wanting the coin he felt they owed him for using his brand to sell their coffee cakes. Just recently, the company rebooted the fan favorite Suzy Q’s treat. But I give the company credit for trying to be relevant to a younger generation who might not have grown up gorging themselves on Hostess treats.

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There was a time when the target group for baseball cards was young males. That’s no longer the case, so, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there will be a return of the Hostess Cards anytime soon. And maybe that’s for the best. After all, things change and there are some collectors out there in the hobby who are pretty damn salty.

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Mother’s Cookies from a Scout’s Widow

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I had contacted the seller to get clarification on the description included in their eBay listing. The sets I was interested in were supposed to have 28 cards in them, but the listings said 18. A short time later I received a reply, telling me that I was “one nice person” and thanking me for bringing it to her attention; yes, there were actually 28 cards in the team set. She went on to say that she had lost her husband, who had been a scout for the Mets, and was scaling down his collection- something she’s been doing by herself, learning as she goes. “And when people are nice and help me I do appreciate it so much. I try my best and would never cheat anyone and am always honest with people.”

She didn’t mention her late husband’s name and I had no reason to doubt her story. To say I was curious is an understatement. Anyway, I went on to check the other items she had listed and what I found surprised me. While the two sets I was going to purchase were mid-late 80s oddball SGA’s, there were lots of good stuff: vintage singles, vintage lots, oddballs, vintage autos, HOF autos, update/rookie sets, wax boxes. A little something for every collector.

I purchased the two Mariners Mother’s Cookies sets and sent a message to the kind lady, expressing my condolences on the loss of her husband and offered to try to answer any questions she might have about his collection. I never did hear back from her. When the package arrived in the mail, the return address gave me the information I needed to see just who her husband, this former scout, was.

Prior to this purchase, I had never heard of Jerome “Mimi” Alongi. He was a part of a group who are some of, if not, the most unheralded people in the game of baseball. We know the players they evaluate, but do we ever know who these scouts are? Name me five scouts. Okay, how about four. Two? They might be unknown for the most part, but it’s impossible to win championships without them.

He had spent more than 25 years as a Major League scout, working for the Houston Colt 45s/Astros, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners. But unlike most of his scouting peers, Jerome did not have a background in professional baseball; he had been a restauranteur, having inherited, along with his brother, John, the family business. Alongi’s Italian Restaurant in Du Qion, Il. (established in 1933) continues to this day.

A sore back had led him to Hot Springs, Arkansas to try some of the natural hot springs as a remedy for the aches and pains. While there, Mimi met and became friends with Roy Hofheinz, former Mayor of Houston, Texas. “The Judge,” as Hofheinz was known, was one of the men responsible for bringing Major League Baseball to Houston and was the one who first referred to the Astrodome as “the Eighth Wonder of the World.” The Judge also had controlling interest in the Houston franchise and would later hire Jerome as a scout for his expansion team. Thus began his time in the majors.

Mimi had passed away years ago, in September of 2002, at the age of 76. And while there were not many stories to be found online from his time as a scout, I discovered that he had self-published a book in 1996 entitled, Mimi’s Dugout. According to an article in the August 11, 1996 Southern Illinoisan (or, The Southern), the book is a collection of “baseball highlights and oddities” and it noted that Alongi encouraged youth baseball groups to sell the book for their fundraising projects.

The community in which they lived was an important part of Mimi’s life. He often helped arrange and assist in youth baseball camps, many of which featured major league players. He was active in his church, serving on its board. He was also on the Du Qion Parks Board for 20 years, seventeen of which he served as president. But perhaps his biggest impact in his community was with the John A. Logan College athletic program.

Mimi had served two terms, beginning in the early ‘70s, on the JALC board of trustees. A long-time collector, he later organized a card and sports memorabilia show to help raise funds for the school’s baseball program. The first show, held in 1986, featured Ray Fosse as a special guest and was so successful that it became an annual event. At the time of Alongi’s death, the show had raised over $75,000 for the school’s baseball program. So deep was his love for the school that his desire was to buried in its sportswear, something his family obliged.

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I can’t help but wonder what will become of my collection once I’ve left this earth. My wife and kids have no interest in my hobby and I imagine there will come a point when my bride decides it’s time to depart with my stuff. It’s my hope that there will be an item(s) in my collection that will bring as much joy to a collector as these two sets from Jerome ‘Mimi’ Alongi’s collection will bring to me.

2018 Topps MLB Sticker Collection Seattle Mariners

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Overshadowed by the uber-popular Topps Heritage, the more simple Topps Sticker set is due for release on February 28th- the same day that Heritage is set to drop. And while you won’t find inserts, autos or relics, you will find a fun product at an affordable price point

Available in both hobby shops and retail stores, 2018 Topps MLB Sticker Collection will include 8 Stickers per pack and 50 packs per box. Packs are expected to be in the $1 range. For those who enjoy placing the stickers in an album, well, those are available too. Each album comes with 6 stickers, giving the collector something to start his collection.

As far as the Mariners represented in this set, there are 8 players, the Mariner Moose Mascot sticker, and a team logo sticker. I do have to question Topps’ inclusion of Jarrod Dyson and Danny Valencia- both of whom were allowed to become free-agents on November 2, 2017. I would much rather have seen Mike Zunino and James Paxton included.

  • 46 Jean Segura
  • 47 Robinson Cano
  • 48 Mariner Moose
  • 49 Nelson Cruz
  • 50 Kyle Seager
  • 51 Mitch Haniger
  • 52 Jarrod Dyson
  • 53 Felix Hernandez
  • 54 Danny Valencia
  • 148 Seattle Mariners

 

2018 Topps Heritage Seattle Mariners

We are a week away from the release date of 2018 Topps Heritage- and that means one thing: checklists for the product are now live. While it’s tempting for me to purchase (or hand-collate) a set- 1969 was the year I was born- I’m going to pass and once again just concentrate on the Mariners team set.

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Boxes of this year’s Heritage will be very popular among collectors (and speculators) and should command a premium, as it will feature the first cards of Shohei Othani in a major league uniform. While I was just a tad bit disappointed at the Mariners failed attempt to sign the Japanese phenom, I’m glad that I won’t have to pay inflated prices on his cards. There are already enough overpriced cards in the final 100 cards of the set.

Base Set:

There are a few noteworthy Mariners cards in the base set, including the first Mariner cards of Dee Gordon and Ryon Healy, as well as the first (and probably only) base card of Yonder Alonso, whom the team did not resign after the end of last season. *Alonso was included as an M in the Home Run Challenge insert set in Series 1.

  • 3 League Leaders (Judge/Cruz/Davis)
  • 21 Mitch Haniger
  • 69 James Paxton
  • 82 Yonder Alonso
  • 85 Mike Zunino
  • 100 Felix Hernandez
  • 102 Edwin Diaz
  • 172 Jean Segura
  • 186 Guillermo Heradia
  • 209 Dee Gordon
  • 233 Kyle Seager
  • 301 Robinson Cano
  • 322 Nelson Cruz
  • 429 Mike Leake SP
  • 449 Ryon Healy SP
  • 453 Ben Gamel SP

 

Parallels and Variations:

Topps is offering collectors a number of parallels this year: 100 Anniversary (numbered to 25), which features a stamp of the silhouetted logo used by MLB in 1969. Black Borders is a hobby-only release and will be limited to 50 each, while Magenta Backs will be limited to just 10 copies each. An interesting new twist to the parallel is introduced in Flip Stock (#/5), in which card fronts will feature a matte finish, while card backs will be glossy.

Chrome parallels feature 100 cards and will have Refractors (#/569), Black (#/69), the hobby-exclusive Gold (#/5) and 1-of-1 Superfractors.

  • THC-233 Kyle Seager
  • THC-301 Robinson Cano
  • THC-322 Nelson Cruz

Mini base variations are included once again, with copies limited to 100 each.

  • 21 Mitch Haniger
  • 100 Felix Hernandez
  • 209 Dee Gordon
  • 233 Kyle Seager
  • 301 Robinson Cano
  • 322 Nelson Cruz

 

Inserts:

Then and Now returns for another look at past and current players whose numbers are comparable to one another.

  • TN-7 Harmon Killebrew/Nelson Cruz

 

1969 Topps Bazooka All-Time Greats will feature 15 of the best current players in the game and is a retail-exclusive.

  • 69BG-10 Robinson Cano
  • 69BG-13 Felix Hernandez

 

Box loaders can be found inside of Hobby boxes. Each box will include one of three different box loaders: 1969 Bazooka Ad Panels, Posters (Limited to 50 each) and 1969 Originals- which will include original cards from 1969, each marked by a foil stamp.

  • 1969 Poster Box Loaders 69P-SM Mitch Haniger/Mike Leake/Robinson Cano/Kyle Seager/Nelson Cruz/Edwin Diaz/Jean Segura/James Paxton/Mike Zunino/Felix Hernandez/Ben Gamel

 

Relics:

Clubhouse Collection is a staple to the Heritage brand and will include Single Relics, Dual Relics (#/69), Triple Relics (#/25) and Quad Relics (#/10). Gold parallels (#/25) and Patch parallels (1 of 1) are also included in this year’s product.

  • CCR-FH Felix Hernandez
  • CCR-KS Kyle Seager
  • CCR-NC Nelson Cruz

1969 Mint Relics are some of my favorite relics; unfortunately they can be tough to come by and usually carry a premium cost. Cards feature an embedded coin, minted in 1969 and are only found in hobby boxes.

  • 69MINT-FH Felix Hernandez Minted Nickel (#/15)

 

 

Autographs:
Unfortunately (or, fortunately), there are no Mariners players featured in the Real One autograph set this year. There is, however, something else of interest to Seattle sports fans: fifteen different autographed cards featuring members of the Seattle Pilots team that lasted all of one year. I have to think that these will be the hot cards of 2018- Shohei Ohtani notwithstanding.

  • SPA-BE Bill Edgerton
  • SPA-BP Bill Parsons
  • SPA-BR Bob Richmond
  • SPA-BS Bernie Smith
  • SPA-BST Buzz Stephen
  • SPA-DB Dick Baney
  • SPA-DBA Dick Bates
  • SPA-FK Frank Kimball
  • SPA-FS Fred Stanley
  • SPA-JB Jim Bouton
  • SPA-MR Mike Rollyson
  • SPA-PK Pete Koegel
  • SPA-RH Roric Harrison
  • SPA-RK Ron Kotick
  • SPA-RP Ray Peters

 

Piecing it Together

Entire base team set was sent to me (sans #3 LL card) from Julie at A Cracked Bat. Julie was kind enough to also send the three short-printed, high numbered cards.

 

Tommy Smith

It’s February, the Winter Olympics are going and I couldn’t care less. Instead of watching the Winter Games, I’m searching for something- anything- on former Mariners outfielder, Tommy Smith. The typical wikipedia and baseball reference hits come up, but other than that, there’s very little. Should this surprise me? We are talking about a little-used player whose 5 years in the majors consisted of only 286 plate appearances.

I continue scrolling. Tommy Smith cards for sale; Tommy Smith career statistics; unrelated articles about different baseball players who share the same name. Finally, I am able to find something of use: Tommy Smith, University of North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Smith was a member of the 1968 NC State Wolfpack team that defied the odds and made the school’s first-ever appearance in the College World Series. After defeating and, thus, eliminating number two-ranked Texas, the Pack were set up against #1 ranked USC in the Semi-Finals. With his pitching staff running on fumes, Wolfpack head coach Sam Esposito had no other choice but to use Smith, a sophomore whose time on the mound that year was limited to just 15.1 innings. Despite a valiant effort by Smith, the Pack were shutout that day 2-0. Had their offense shown some timely hitting, Tommy Smith would have been the hero in leading his team to the championship game.

I begin searching again, hoping to find something on Smith from his time with the Mariners. I do find a website for his hitting academy, which features his 1977 Topps card with his bio. It doesn’t take long before Tommie Smith, the hero from the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, begins to show up in the hits. I’m disappointed; it seems as if the Tommy Smith I want to hear from has been silenced. That’s when it occurs to me: the world doesn’t need to hear the story of one of the original Mariners. What it does need is to be reminded of Tommie Smith‘s story , one that is far more significant. Even (and especially) in 2018.

Steve Burke

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There was a kid I remember from middle school who seemed to have disappeared after our 7th grade year. Jerry Taylor was his name.

At that point in our lives, I only remember speaking to him once: that time that I told him I was sorry. I don’t remember seeing him before sixth grade and I remember seeing him only once after seventh grade, but I can still picture him to this day. Hair-long over the ears, where it seemed to flair out, and bangs that were down to just above the eyebrow, off to one side. Always off to one side. He also had hair, barely visible, coming in above the lip. Another thing I remember about Jerry was he was always so unkempt; appearing to bathe infrequently. There was no doubt in my young mind that he was poor, judging from the clothes he would wear. Which is why I felt awful that day at recess when, playing football, I went to tackle him and tore his shirt. He was quite a bit bigger than me, so I thought I could at least stop him by grabbing his shirt and pulling him down. Like so often is the case in our lives, things didn’t work out quite like I had planned.

Years later, either during the latter part of my high school years or shortly after high school, I ran in to Jerry at my mom’s salon, where his mother was getting her hair cut. He still looked the same, only a few years older. To my surprise, he said, “hi Steve.” I was surprised that he remembered me, that he knew my name. I don’t recall him saying anything that day on the playground.

I tried finding Jerry on Facebook, thinking he might be on there. Not so much to “re-connect” (after all, there never was any real connection) but out of curiosity. What is he doing these days, where has life taken him? Would I even recognize him all these years later? My search came up empty- but I did find Steven Burke. He looked different than I remember him on his baseball card. Though he’s been out of the game for decades, he took part in an alumni game of former big-leaguers last summer in Stockton, California. And there, in a temporary profile picture, was a photo of Steve and his mom taken the day of his return to the diamond. In the comment section, Steve said it was the last picture taken of the two together before her death.

2018 Topps Series 1 Seattle Mariners

Continuing a tradition that is now in its sixty-seventh consecutive year, 2018 Topps Series 1 once again ushers in the major league season with an all-new design that is unlike any of its previous releases.

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Referred to in the card community as the ‘water slide set,’ the cards have been in hobby shops and retail outlets for two weeks now- but with pitchers and catchers reporting today, what better time to take a look at the Mariners that can be found in the 350-card set.

This year’s design features a full-bleed photo, marking the third straight year Topps has forgone the borders that had been a staple of the company’s first 64 flagship sets. Team colors work their way through the ribbon and nameplate that is found along the bottom of the card. Another unique addition to this year’s card design are the pixels that seem to be floating off at the end of the nameplates.

The Mariners team set features a mixture of pitchers and position players, with a team card, “combo card” (set checklist), and a card from the league leader subset.

Base Set

  • 116 Ariel Miranda
  • 143 James Paxton
  • 144 Jean Segura
  • 163 Mike Leake
  • 176 Team Card
  • 205 Combos (Cano/Motter)
  • 220 Nelson Cruz
  • 240 Robinson Cano
  • 253 Nelson Cruz League Leader
  • 321 Edwin Diaz
  • 348 Hisashi Iwakuma

Besides their regular cards (numbers 220 and 240, respectively), Cruz and Cano are also included on short-printed cards (SP) that features photo variations of their regular cards. Robinson also has a third card numbered 220- this one a super-short print (or SSP).

Parallels

Among the number of parallels found inserted into packs are Gold (numbered to 2018), Vintage Stock (#/99), Independence Day (#/76), Mother’s Day Pink (#/50), Father’s Day Blue (#/50), Memorial Day Camo (#/25) and Platinum (1 of each). Un-numbered Rainbow Foil parallels can found at a rate of 1 every 10 packs. There are also a number of parallels found exclusive to certain types of packs: Purple parallels can be found only in packs at Toys R Us; Clear cards (#/10) can be found in regular Hobby shop packs; Negative and Black parallels (#/67) are found in hobby and hobby jumbo packs.

Inserts

As has become the hobby norm, there are plenty of insert sets to be found in 2018 Topps Series 1.

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1983 Topps Baseball (1:4 packs) celebrates the highly popular set released 35-years ago and features current players on the classic design.

  • 83-34 Kyle Seager
  • 83-35 Nelson Cruz
  • 83-61 Felix Hernandez
  • 83-64 Robinson Cano
  • 83A-BG Ben Gamel (autographed)
  • 83A-DSM Drew Smyly (autographed)
  • 83A-KSE Kyle Seager (autographed)

 

MLB Awards (1:8 packs) recognizes some of the top players from 2017, including MVPs, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Award winners, Silver Sluggers and Gold Glove winners.

  • MLBA-49 Nelson Cruz

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Superstar Celebrations (1:8 packs) features 50 of the game’s biggest stars, featured on a bold design.

  • SSS-14 Nelson Cruz
  • SSS-18 Felix Hernandez
  • SSS-37 Robinson Cano

 

Topps Salute (1:8 packs) commemorate special events recognized by Major League Baseball, including Jackie Robinson Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Memorial Day.

  • TS-22 Ben Gamel
  • TS-23 Mitch Haniger
  • TS-50 Kyle Seager
  • TS-53 Jean Segura
  • SA-BG Ben Gamel (autographed)
  • SA-JSE Jean Segura (autographed)
  • SA-KS Kyle Seager (autographed)
  • SA-MH Mitch Haniger (autographed)

 

 

Piecing it Together:

10 of the 11 base cards acquired via trade with Tony at Off Hiatus Cards; still in need of the Cruz League Leader card (#253). Tony also sent me the Nelson Cruz Superstar Sensations card, as well as Nellie’s Rainbow Foil card.

JT, from The Writer’s Journey sent me the 1983 Topps insert of Nelson Cruz. I’m seeing some kind of pattern here with my trading partners.

Update: finished off Mariners’ base team-set from a TCDB trade with parsley24, who sent me card #253 Nelson Cruz League Leader.

Where’s the (g)love?

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I finished my previous post by referencing Salome Barojas’ role in an event that led to a coach losing his job. We’ll get to that in a minute…

Look at the Bob Kearney card and tell me what’s missing. It should be pretty obvious- but if you don’t see it, then read the title again. That’s right: there’s no glove. Which is strange, given that Bob was a catcher and that the photographer included a mask and shin guards. At least he didn’t leave out the arm.

If Bob Kearney had anything going for him, it was his strong throwing arm and a quick release. What he lacked in pitch-calling ability, plate discipline and power, and (apparently) people-skills, Kearney made up for it in punching out baserunners. And coaches.

And this brings me back to the 1985 Mother’s Cookies card. You see, I have my own theory as to why there’s no glove in the photo and it includes a photographer with a wicked sense of humor and a backstop who wasn’t smart enough to catch on or who himself had a good sense of humor.

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Bob had had enough. Already angered about Salome Barojas and Mike Moore having requested Orlando Mercado catch them on their starts, Kearney reached the boiling point on August 4, 1984 when he saw his name wasn’t on the lineup card. Things took a turn for the worse that day when pitching coach Frank Funk asked Kearney to catch Barojas’ side session. The catcher refused the coach’s request, so Funk went and grabbed Kearney’s mitt and threw it in the toilet. When Bob found out, he was furious; walking out to the bullpen, he punched Funk in the face. Seattle fired its pitching coach one month later.

That Kearney would act so impulsively isn’t a surprise, given that one of the Mariners former relievers (Ed Vande Berg) referred to Bob as ‘rockhead’ because of his habit of calling whatever pitch popped into his head, regardless of batter or game situation. (Kearney’s game calling was so bad that many of the team’s pitchers insisted on signaling their pitches to him, rather than having him sign them.) Speaking to the Seattle Times in 1985, Bob, responding to Vande Berg’s criticism, questioned the pitcher’s ability to think and was quoted as saying, “It’s nice to to have a good arm, but you need to use your noodle a little bit, too.” I don’t think Bob realized that when he was pointing a finger (Fastball!) at Vande Berg, he had three others pointing back at himself.

It appears the photographer in my theory wasn’t the only one with a wicked sense of humor. A few days after ‘Punchgate,’ Bob Kearney opened one of the local papers and saw a three-quarters page ad promoting the Mariners weekend series with the Minnesota Twins. He was not happy. “It seems every time we play Minnesota my batting average goes up. This series I really intend to come out swinging,” it quoted Kearney as saying- something he denied. “I never said those things. That’s bush league. They put a bulls eye on my face.”

Looks like Bob didn’t have a good sense of humor, after all.

War and Peace

Pitchers and catchers report in just a few days. Of late, there’s not a day that goes by where there isn’t some sort of labor drama being played out in the news, on social media. Players, agents, MLB execs, all firing off shots like it was Fort Sumter. It’s hard to believe we’ve had over two decades of relative peace in the sport.

 

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My daughter was born in the year 2001 and I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve wondered if she will ever know a day when our country is not in conflict with someone. My hope for this has been pretty much extinguished after reading a report put out by the Centre for Research on Globalization, which just last year reported a study from 2015 that shows the U.S. has been at war somewhere for 222 of its 239 years (or, 93% of our history).

This peace that I hope for my daughter, my two sons, and any future grandchildren is Shalom, a Hebrew term that speaks of not only a lack of conflict, but of wholeness, of completeness, of universal flourishing. It seems to indicate the ability to have peace (peace of mind) in the midst of struggle, of turmoil. Can peace be birthed from war? Or is this all just pie in the sky thinking?

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First-century Palestine. A young woman by the name of Salome (feminine name derived from Shalom) dances for her stepfather (Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee) and his guests. Afterwards, the ruler, pleased by the dance, promises to give the girl whatever she asks. Prompted by her mother Herodias, Salome requests the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Bound by his oath, Herod has the prophet beheaded.

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A scouting trip to Mexico during the 1981 MLB players strike was all it took for a major league career to be conceived. The success of Dodgers wunderkind Fernando Valenzuela had teams turning their attention to the talent in Mexico. So with plenty of time on their hands, Chicago White Sox manager Tony La Russa, GM Roland Hemond and minority club owner Eddie Einhorn traveled south of the border to scout a player by the name of Angel Moreno. Their plans were foiled with a change in scheduled starting times and when, later, a rain storm prevented them from seeing Moreno throw. La Russa eventually made it to a game in Mexico City, where he saw an unknown (to him) reliever pitch for the Mexico City Diablos. On their way to the airport, La Russa makes his request known; Salome Barojas is the one he wants.

Spring, 1982. The White Sox bring Salome to spring training without a contract. The twenty-four year-old pitcher is thrown into the fire and impresses the team so much that he becomes their closer, allowing Chicago to move LaMarr Hoyt to the starting rotation. Hoyt would go on to lead the league in Wins during the ’82 and ’83 season, while also capturing the 1983 Cy Young Award.

Summer of ’84. Seeing Barojas’ performance slip, the Sox work out a trade to send the righty to the northwest, in exchange for pitchers Jerry Don Gleaton and Gene Nelson. A month later, the Mariners move the future member of the Salon de la Fama (Class of 2002) to their starting rotation, where he finishes the year. While his 6-5 record and 3.95 ERA don’t look all that bad, Salome’s FIP tells a different story: 5.02.

It was also during that summer of ’84 that Salome played a role (to whatever extent, I don’t know) in a minor skirmish on the Seattle club that led to a coach losing his job. More on that in the next post…

 

 

Dreaming of Ed Vande Berg

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I had a dream about Ed Vande Berg the other night. Nothing weird or anything- just that I had ran in to him at the doctor’s office.

We sat talking in the lobby, like long-lost friends, and at one point in the conversation I asked Ed what he was doing these days. He said he was working for a company that offers transportation services to seniors and people who are disabled. “I shuffle Alzheimer’s patients back and fourth to their appointments,” he offered, like a pitcher serving up a nice, fat meatball.

“How ironic,” I thought to myself. “A relief pitcher who refused to be brought in from the bullpen on the tugboat and now he’s taking patients, whose memories have failed them, to their appointments.”

Our talk turned to the new pace of play controversies in Major League Baseball, and Ed was more than happy to give me his opinion. As he was getting ready to leave, I couldn’t help myself: “Hey Ed, are you on board with the player union’s suggestion of bringing back bullpen cars to improve the POP?” He just gave me a cold stare and walked away.