Continuing on our week-long appreciation of the 1991 Line Drive Pre-Rookie set…
One thing that the Line Drive sets has over other nationally-issued Minor League Baseball sets is that they included managers and coaches… Such as this guy who achieved a small amount of fame throwing the knuckleball…
…A small amount of Baseball Hall Of Fame, that is. One could make the argument that Phil Niekro is the biggest name in the set, although obviously not as a player.
I laughed when I looked up Ross Grimsley on baseball-reference.com and saw that one of his nicknames is “Crazy Eyes”… Even from seeing him on a baseball card, the dude does have very blue eyes that seem to go right through you sometimes. Naturally, you cannot see his eyes on this card…
…but you can on this one:
Grimsley was an All-Star in 1978, was a Topps All-Star Rookie in 1971 and won 124 games over 11 seasons, mainly with the Reds, Orioles and Expos. He’s made a longer career as a pitching coach, and has been with the Giants’ AA team (Connecticut Defenders –> Richmond Flying Squirrels) since 2010.
Chris Chambliss was the 1971 AL Rookie Of The Year with Cleveland, and is commemorated on a 1977 Topps card for hitting the ALCS-winning home run against the Royals in 1976.
Chambliss’ London Tigers won the Eastern League title in 1990, and his 1991 Greenville Braves finished in first but lost in the playoffs. Chambliss is the cousin of former Celtic Jo-Jo White. I didn’t know that.
Don Gullett was 109-50 over his injury-shortened 9-year career with the Reds, and pitched in 5 different World Series. He’s a member of the Cincinnati Reds Hall Of Fame.
Jim Lett has spent 40+ years working in baseball. He most recently was the Nationals’ bullpen coach in 2013.
I’ve developed an attachment to Lenn Sakata over the years, I’m not entirely sure why. He was a utility infielder with the 1983 World Champion Orioles, and also played for the Brewers, A’s and Yankees. He’s made a long career of coaching and managing, most recently having managed the San Jose Giants in 2014.
Gary Ruby has pitched in the minors, been the Director Of Player Personnel with the Phillies, Minor League Pitching Coordinator with the Pirates, and has been the pitching coach of the AA Corpus Christi Hooks for the past 3 years.
Jerry Manuel would later be the manager of the White Sox and Mets.
Kevin Kennedy managed the Rangers and Red Sox, but most of you probably know him as a broadcaster with ESPN, MLB Network and several teams.
Phillies fans will likely recognize this guy, and not just because he’s one of the guys they got from the Angels for Von Hayes:
Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been the Phillies’ GM since 2009, and is currently the subject of “Ruben Must Go!” campaigns.
I’m sure everybody recognizes former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
Terry Collins is currently the manager of the Mets… I didn’t like him at first, but he’s won me over somewhat and I’m OK with the Mets sticking with him.
…Unless they can convince Joe Maddon to come to Queens. Sorry, Terry.
Ron Washington achieved his fame by managing the Rangers until this past season.
Bob Apodaca pitched a few years with the Mets and held the thankless job of being the Colorado Rockies pitching coach. In 1973, Apodaca has an infinite ERA as a 23-year-old rookie pitcher; he pitched to two batters, walked them both and one of them scored.
Tim Bogar managed the Rangers to a 14-8 record after Ron Washington resigned, and as I’ve always liked Bogar I’m disappointed that he didn’t get the permanent job.
Everybody knows Clint Hurdle as the Pirates manager and previously as the manager of the Rockies. What many may not know is that he was once a top prospect for the Royals.
Eric Wedge was an Original Rockie (although he spent much of the 1993 season on the DL) and would go on to manage the Indians and Mariners.
Don Wakamatsu used to manage the Mariners, and is currently the bench coach for the Royals.
The one and only time I went to Spring Training was in the early 1990’s, and in a game between the Mets and Dodgers, the L.A. catcher had “WAKAMATSU” on his back. “Wakamatsu?!?” I exclaimed to no-one, “Who the heck is Wakamatsu?” That moment has stuck with me, and I’ve developed a bit of an attachment to the guy.
Two other guys I would’ve featured if I had their cards from this set:
John Stearns, Manager of the Knoxville Blue Jays and former Mets catcher
D.J. Dozier, outfielder for the Williamsport Bills who played 25 games for the Mets in 1992 but is probably better known as a running back who was the Minnesota Vikings’ first round pick in 1987.
Tomorrow’s post: Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.