Chasing After Trivia And Then Down The Rabbit Hole

I ran across a fun bit of trivia that I would think Mariners fans would know, but it’s still a fun challenge for everybody else.

Do you know what these five Seattle Mariners have in common?

Frank MacCormack (He doesn’t appear on a card with the Mariners, which is why I had to go with a borrowed image of a minor league issue)

1978 Mr. Chef's Fish & Chix San Jose Missions Frank MacCormack from COMC

1978 Mr. Chef’s Fish & Chix San Jose Missions #4 – Frank MacCormack – Courtesy of COMC.com

Rob Dressler
1981 Donruss Rob Dressler

Dave Elder
1981 Fleer Dave Edler

Gene Nelson
1983 Topps Gene Nelson

…And Harold Reynolds
1988 Topps Harold Reynolds

According to Baseball-reference.com, these are the five Mariners to have worn #24 before this guy…
1989 Donruss Ken Griffey
…And now that the Mariners have announced they will be retiring #24 for Ken Griffey Jr., there will be nobody else joining exclusive club.

FYI, Harold Reynolds also wore numbers other than 24 while with Seattle.

…And to be fair, Baseball Reference doesn’t count coaches and managers, so there may be others to have worn the number.

This is where I went down the rabbit hole I started wondering what other exclusive uni # clubs there are, not counting oddball numbers like 0 or 97. I could think of a few… The Yankees #4 (only Lou Gehrig), the Rays #12 (only Wade Boggs), The Expos #8 (Gary Carter and two other guys – BTW the Nats display but don’t “observe” retired Expos numbers), the Mets #41 (Seaver and five other guys), the Rockies #17 (Todd Helton and David Nied), the Royals #5 (George Brett and four guys), The Brewers #19 (Robin Yount and four guys) and #44 (Hank Aaron and three guys).

According to Baseball Reference, there was only one player who wore #19 before Tony Gwynn… Gene Richards:
1981 Fleer Gene Richards

But Gene Richards didn’t play in the majors until the late 1970’s. There must’ve been someone who wore the number in the years between 1969 and Gene Richards.

After a little poking around, I found Whitey Wietelmann.
1976 SSPC Whitey Wietelmann_0001
He was a coach from 1969 to 1979, but didn’t wear #19 the whole time… I’m guessing Richards asked for it and Wietelmann gave it up.

Here’s the back of Wietelmann’s SSPC card showing that #19 did indeed belong to him at the time:
1976 SSPC Whitey Wietelmann_0002

ANNNNNNYWAY… These are the ones I found before common sense stopped me from spending the entire afternoon researching these things. Does anybody know of any exclusive club numbers which I haven’t mentioned here?

A 1988 Topps Vending box at Target, and memories of an ice cream man in 1975

When I found the 2012 Topps at Target,  I also saw this vending box mixed in with the blasters.  I have to admit, I was tempted by it.  Sure, the value wouldn’t be there even if the box were full of Glavine rookies, but it’d be more fun than a repack full of Documentary and First Pitch packs.  1988 is one of my two favorite sets from the 1980’s (along with 1983), but I’ve already got the complete set, so there was no point in my buying this.  Pity.

I’ve never seen anything like this sold via retail before, somebody must’ve been clearing out their warehouses and said “Hey, I gots an idea!”  (Yes, the LOLcats have a warehouse full of cards… I think they might be behind Fairfield ).

I can’t even remember the last time I saw a vending box like this in person.  I’ve got a couple of beat-up examples somewhere in my vault (aka the closet in my mancave), but it’s been a couple of years since I’ve even seen those.

Vending boxes remind me of an ice cream man who came to our neighborhood in 1975.  He used to sell 100 rubber-banded 1975 Topps cards for considerably less than they’d cost out of a pack…  I assume that those cards came out of vending boxes.  He was a big reason that I completed that set in 1975.  Funny thing was, it didn’t occur to me until many years later that he might’ve been pulling out the stars, Mets or Yankees.  All I cared about was that this guy was selling cards cheap.  It was like Costco on wheels!