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Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Baseball Analysts: Finn: Our Favorite Obscurities

Join the DHing Chad Finn as he roots for the “nobodies and the obscurities of the present and the past, the no-names and misfits, the Oddibes and Bombos, the who’s-hes?, never-weres and maybe an occasional one-hit wonder or two”...and come back to us Duke Carmel...all is forgiven.

Dwight Taylor: With just two at-bats in four games for the 1986 Kansas City Royals, Taylor would rank as an unknown even in my warped world - that is, if not for these two personal semi-claims to fame:

1) Spotting my 9-year-old sister staring at him, jaw agape, while he chatted up fans before a Guides game in ‘84, he playfully tugged her pigtail and teased, “What’s the matter, dear? Haven’t you ever seen such a handsome black man before?” She hadn’t as far as I knew, which I dutifully informed Taylor. I’m pretty sure he’s still laughing.

2) According to Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley, the Guides’ beat writer for the Portland Press Herald back in the day, Taylor and his wife were the parents of five children by the time they were in their mid-20s, thus earning the nickname “Try Some Sleep At Night” Taylor from his teammates. I suppose that passes for G-rated clubhouse humor. (Update, courtesy of a Google expedition: Taylor, now 45, has 10 kids and four grandchildren. That’s what you call a productive ballplayer.)

Repoz Posted: May 11, 2006 at 01:12 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Daryn Posted: May 11, 2006 at 01:57 PM (#2014434)
You are half way there JC.
   2. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:00 PM (#2014437)
Very nice piece. Very nice. The first Dwight Taylor item is an all-time classic.
   3. Addicted To Glove Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:08 PM (#2014440)
Steve Buckley knows everybody and everything. Just ask him! *yawn*
   4. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:08 PM (#2014441)
The fact that Mickey Pina didn't get a mention saddens me. One of the all-time great PawSox.
   5. BDC Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:10 PM (#2014442)
Funny, when I read the intro I thought immediately of Greg Legg, who not only has a cool name but finished with a lifetime .409 batting average. I always used to keep hoping that Legg would resurface. He's younger than Julio Franco. Of course, who isn't.

There are several other cup-of-coffee types that I remember fondly. Brian Sikorski, because I saw his first major-league start (and only victory), a win over the Yankees. George Vukovich, because he was the Vukovich who was almost completely undistinguished, not the Vukovich who hit .160 and was a dream third baseman. Rene Lachemann, who became perfectly well-known as a manager, but as an obscure catcher was on my for-some-reason favorite baseball card. I remember the text on that card: "There may be a Lachemann battery in the A's future, because Rene's brother Marcel is a pitcher in the organization." Rene never caught Marcel in the majors, but Marcel also went on to coach and manage. Then there was Scipio Spinks, whose name was even better than Shooty Babitt. (Razor Shines is another great name; I heard him give an after-dinner speech once, very smart baseball guy.)
   6. Archie Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:17 PM (#2014450)
I asked (Walpole) Joe Morgan why Pina never made it. His answer surprised me. Joe said Pina could hit the curve but not the fastball.
   7. GGC:BTF's Biggest Underachiever Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:32 PM (#2014460)
Greg Blosser.
   8. Tschingsch Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:38 PM (#2014472)
My friends and I always rooted for the unknown players when we were younger, we each had our favorite "crappy" player. Mine was Domingo Ramos. I wonder if he saw the "Domingo Ramos fan club" banner we made as a joke and was forced to take down at a game at the Vet when he was with the Cubs. And as I'm pretty sure someone else here, after his amazing .071/.160/.141 performance in '87, my best friend's was Ron Karkovice.

Ramos had to make some room for Harold Reynolds in '86, after I found a glitch in Micro League baseball where a crappy left-handed batter with speed would get a bunt single about 90% of the time if noone was on 1st base. I replayed the '86 Mariners for 1/2 a season and if I remember correctly he was batting .547. I wonder if anyone else ever noticed that, and/or wondered why my crappy players were always in the batting leaders.
   9. Slinger Francisco Barrios (Dr. Memory) Posted: May 11, 2006 at 02:58 PM (#2014494)
I don't know if he counts as obscure enough, but I always liked Paul Popovich because of his alliterative, iambic name. When I found out many years later that he was far worse than his BA indicated, that made it all the better in retrospect.
   10. 44magnum Posted: May 11, 2006 at 03:14 PM (#2014518)
Dana Williams. I got to take batting practice with him during Spring Training in WInter Haven 1987.

Any Sox fans know where I can find complete rosters for New Britain & Pawtucket 1986-1991?
   11. Tom (and his broom) Posted: May 11, 2006 at 03:33 PM (#2014539)
From growing up with the Giants, my all time favorite players that never quite lived up to my expectations.

LF - Donnell Nixon, Otis Nixons brother, made Otis look good i guess.
3b - Tom O'Malley, pretty swing, great line drive bat, no power, no defense.
Rf - Randy Elliot, rode an awesome spring training to a few months in the show, ripped lefties, couldn't hit righties.
1b - Rich Murray, Eddies brother, was gonna succeed McCovey but never hit in the majors.
CF - Max Venable, as a rule V pick he was McCovey's legs for a year, unfortunately that was as good as it got.
2b - Joe Strain, was supposed to be everything that Robby Thompson turned out to be.
SS - Joe Pettini, couldn't hit enough to beat out Lemaster...enuf said.
C - Mike Sadek, John Montefusco's personal catcher, nice catch and throw guy, no bat.
P - Trevor Wilson, Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda... great peripherals as a young pitcher, injuries, overuse, career over.
   12. North Side Chicago Expatriate Giants Fan Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:07 PM (#2014585)
LF - Donnell Nixon, Otis Nixons brother, made Otis look good i guess.


I remember reading that Nixon was a great prospect until he was derailed by injuries. I am pretty sure he had 142 stolen bases in high A the year Vince Coleman had 145 in low A (1983). He also hit .321 (thebaseballcube doesn't have OBP or SB for him, interestingly) at age 21 that year.

He hit well and got on base when he came to the Giants, but it didn't last long. At that point, he couldn't steal like he used to and wasn't much of a fielder either.
   13. Sexy Lizard Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:21 PM (#2014602)
My all-time favorite pitcher is Cliff Speck, and my all-time favorite game was <a >this one</a> in which Speck got his first win (of two) and Ed Olwine got his first save (of three). Speck actually made it into a commercial for the Sporting News (with dale Murphy), while Olwine set some sort of record for Least Muscular Ballplayer.
   14. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:22 PM (#2014603)
The Pirates, in the mid-60s, had a catcher named Orlando McFarlane. I loved the name. The Bucs also had a pitcher named Earl Francis who was supposed to be "another Bob Gibson" but never really harnessed his stuff.

-- MWE
   15. Sexy Lizard Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:25 PM (#2014608)
Aw, hell, this was the Speck-Olwine game.
   16. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:25 PM (#2014609)
Funny, when I read the intro I thought immediately of Greg Legg, who not only has a cool name but finished with a lifetime .409 batting average. I always used to keep hoping that Legg would resurface. He's younger than Julio Franco. Of course, who isn't.

Greg Legg is probably the most popular player in the history of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. He won the "favorite player" polls in the local alt-weekly several years after he retired.

All my favorite obscure Phillies are basically from 1997-1999, when I became a fan. And it's going to be that way for the rest of my life. Kevin Sefcik, Matt Beech, Yorkis Perez, Anthony Schumaker, Wendell Magee.
   17. simpleton & childlike gef the talking mongoose Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:32 PM (#2014620)
one of my all-time obscure faves would be a 2b named tom heintzelman, to whom i sent a fan letter for some now-inexplicable reason when i was maybe 11 in '71 or so after seeing what must've been an unusually memorable newpaper photo of him turning a double play (or something) for what was then the cards' double-a team in little rock (i'm from arkansas). a few weeks later, during the off-season, i got a very nice full-page handwritten letter back from the guy.

i think he wound up having maybe half a cup of coffee with the giants a couple of years later. i guess his dad, ken (a pitcher, i think), had a longer career.
   18. Steve Treder Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:35 PM (#2014626)
i guess his dad, ken (a pitcher, i think), had a longer career.

His dad had a very substantial ML career: 13 years, 1500 innings.
   19. simpleton & childlike gef the talking mongoose Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:37 PM (#2014629)
also -- john wockenfuss. great last name (especially if "fuss" was pronounced "foose," as i've always assumed is the case). as a kid, for some bizarre reason (hey, my mom wound up institutionalized, so i come by such things naturally, i figure) i thought it would be a neat name for a dance, a la the frug or the freddy. "c'mon, kids, everybody do the wockenfuss!"

of course, it's probably german for "mediocre catcher."
   20. simpleton & childlike gef the talking mongoose Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:39 PM (#2014632)
thanks, steve. apparently i'm too lazy to walk 15 feet & pick up the baseball encyclopedia, or hit a few keystrokes & call up baseball-reference.com (though as wonky as the computer here at work has been the last week or so, i'll stand by that omission, by god).
   21. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:45 PM (#2014637)
   22. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: May 11, 2006 at 04:47 PM (#2014643)
No love for Gary Miller-Jones?
   23. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: May 11, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2014748)
Great post. Some of my favourites include Rusty Meacham, Barbaro Garbey, Milt Cuyler, and Kevin Ritz.
   24. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 11, 2006 at 07:14 PM (#2014880)
3b - Tom O'Malley, pretty swing, great line drive bat, no power, no defense.

No power - until he got to Japan. O'Malley was the 1995 Central League MVP with the Yakult Swallows, putting up a .302/.429/.570 line with 31 HR and 87 RBI.
   25. Tom (and his broom) Posted: May 11, 2006 at 07:25 PM (#2014898)
Vortex, i am not surprised...he was young and had a picture perfect swing, and in retrospect he was much better defensively than i first thought.

Though him hitting with that kind of power in Japan says as much about their fields as it does about O'Malley.
   26. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: May 11, 2006 at 07:32 PM (#2014910)
I have almost too many of these guys to list. Bronswell Patrick, Greg Hansell, Ron Wright...
   27. Cris E Posted: May 11, 2006 at 08:12 PM (#2014970)
My college roommate was a dedicated Sal Butera fan. I liked Mickey Hatcher myself, though I could always find room for any of my APBA guys like the versatile Denny Walling or Wayne and Greg Gross. (BTW, I always thought of W & G as brothers and made no effort to learn more about either of them lest it topple my imaginary world.)
   28. cardsfanboy Posted: May 11, 2006 at 08:21 PM (#2014984)
I liked the name rich batchelor thought it was the greatest name in baseball history (beating out rusty kuntz)

I wished that Tommy John surgery was about 1 decade sooner, Cardinals had a young pitcher named John Fulgham (damn baseball-reference is slow today) that I always list as the guy that I fondly remember. although I guess looking at his numbers he did show potential.
   29. AADeuce Posted: May 12, 2006 at 03:46 AM (#2016254)
When I think of Max Venable, I think of every scrub from the Angels in the 1991 (I think) Score Set, which made sure to mention that him and Jack Howell had shirts printed up that read "SCUD SQUAD" and Scud stood for "Sitting Comfortably Until Deployed".

Also, for what its worth, our cities all star team play Butch Hobson's son in the districts this past year. The kid is an f'n beast. Dominated our squad the entire tourny.
   30. Trevor P. Posted: May 12, 2006 at 04:31 AM (#2016286)
As an A's fan in the early-to-mid-90s, I had plenty of obscure favorites: Dann Howitt, Kirk Dressendorfer, Webster Garrison, Lance Blankenship.

But my favorite was Steve Wojciechowski. If only because I was probably the only person within a fifty-mile radius who could spell his name correctly.
   31. Jeff K. Posted: May 12, 2006 at 05:09 AM (#2016318)
Mine? Mike Stanley. I know he doesn't remotely count, but he should, because he was mine when he looked very likely to end up like most of the guys mentioned in this thread. When he started getting somewhat regular playing time, I was as shocked as anyone else. When he left the Rangers and had his historic season with the Yankees, I couldn't have been happier for him.

So for all these guys who never made it, at least one did, and he proved that there's sometimes a diamond in that crappy rough.
   32. Dr. Vaux Posted: May 12, 2006 at 05:18 AM (#2016323)
I'm a Tiger fan... enough said.
   33. Benji Posted: May 12, 2006 at 05:28 AM (#2016328)
Mine include Buddy Bradford, David West, Buzz Capra, Balor Moore....oh boy I'll be wracking my brain thinking of the other "future stars" of my imagination.
   34. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: May 12, 2006 at 07:27 AM (#2016376)
While working for the Giants' Triple-A team during the early 90s, Ted Wood became a favorite of mine. Smooth lefty swing, doubles power, had some speed, drew walks.
Ted Wood.
If he could.
But he can't.
So he's in Phoenix.

On the mound, I liked Gil Heredia, 1991 PCL ERA champ.
   35. DCW3 Posted: May 12, 2006 at 07:28 AM (#2016377)
I wished that Tommy John surgery was about 1 decade sooner, Cardinals had a young pitcher named John Fulgham (damn baseball-reference is slow today) that I always list as the guy that I fondly remember. although I guess looking at his numbers he did show potential.

Fulgham finished third in the league in RSAA in his rookie season, especially impressive considering he only pitched 146 innings. He probably shoud have won Rookie of the Year. (Of course, if he did, then he'd be remembered as a famous washout rather than an obscurity.)
   36. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: May 12, 2006 at 08:20 AM (#2016389)
this is the most handsome black man she'd ever seen? where did she live? the middle of idaho?
   37. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: May 12, 2006 at 08:31 AM (#2016391)
this is the most handsome black man she'd ever seen? where did she live? the middle of idaho?

Apparently, Maine, also not a hot spot for members of the African diaspora. He's not a bad-looking guy, really. It's just the specs that are unfortunate.
   38. RMc's Unenviable Situation Posted: May 12, 2006 at 01:56 PM (#2016467)
He's younger than Julio Franco. Of course, who isn't.

Let's take a look at the 153 MLB players who were born in 1958.

Three of them (Jim Beswick, Rafael Vasquez and Tom Wiedenbauer) retired in the 1970s.
46 more retired by 1985.
A total of 99 were done by the end of the 1980s, leaving only 54. (The average "final year" for 1958-borns is 1988).

By Opening Day 1995, only fourteen were left playing MLB.
Atlee Hammaker, Bill Krueger, Dave Righetti and Scott Fletcher quit after 1995.
Alan Trammell, Lee Guetterman and Steve Howe retired after the 1996 season.
Don Slaught's last season was 1997.
Wade Boggs and Willie McGee left MLB at the end of 1999.

That left only four. Gary Gaetti and Orel Hershiser quit in 2000.
Rickey Henderson left the majors in 2003.

Julio Franco is still playing.
   39. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: May 12, 2006 at 04:13 PM (#2016605)
Three of them (Jim Beswick, Rafael Vasquez and Tom Wiedenbauer) retired in the 1970s.
If your last year in the bigs comes at age 21, if not earlier, can that really be called "retiring?"
   40. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: May 12, 2006 at 05:00 PM (#2016662)
My favorite was a minor league catcher named Bob Hurlbutt for the Asheville Tourists. I don't think he ever sniffed the majors.

As far as big leaguers, I liked Mark Clear and Juan Nieves, middling pitchers for the Brewers.
   41. Mike Emeigh Posted: May 12, 2006 at 05:05 PM (#2016670)
Some favorite minor leaguers, this year:

Josh Rainwater
Kevin Slowey
Burke Badenhop

-- MWE
   42. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: May 12, 2006 at 06:44 PM (#2016783)
Since I began following baseball ('85), I rank Juan Nieves as the second-most obscure pitcher to throw a no-hitter.
No. 1 is Joe Cowley.
   43. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 12, 2006 at 06:57 PM (#2016799)
My dad and I bonded over a utility infielder named Rico Rossy. My dad loved yelling "Ricooooooooooo Rossy." And we both joked that they only kept him on the team as a translator for Hipolito Pichardo. That's another fun name to say.

Since I began following baseball ('85), I rank Juan Nieves as the second-most obscure pitcher to throw a no-hitter.

Bud Smith is gaining on him.
   44. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: May 12, 2006 at 07:43 PM (#2016883)
Kevin Koslofski!

Russ Morman grew up in my town, graduated from Wichita State, and only saw major action in the majors in 1986 for the White Sox. Career .249/.304/.366 line in 518 PAs spread out over 9 seasons with the White Sox, Royals, and Marlins.
   45. esseff Posted: May 12, 2006 at 09:49 PM (#2017012)
Interesting that there would be elaboration on both Heintzelman and Fulgham. Not only were they both Cardinals prospects, but also both were Cardinals prospects from the St. Louis area. Specifically, both were from the northwest 'burbs. I believe Fulgham was from Pattonville H.S. and Heintzelman was from the St. Charles area (St. Charles Duchesne H.S., maybe?). Another Cardinal prospect from the same area in the same time frame was lhp Al Olmsted.

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