Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jody Harrington, Bad Start - 2288

Jody Harrington had a bad start in this July 1989 game.

The Elizabethton starter was greeted in the bottom of the first by a Princeton team that racked up seven runs, including a bases-clearing double, according to The Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Harrington ended up getting two other starts for Elizabethton that year, along with six relief outings. His ERA never really recovered. It came in on the season at 9.72.

Harrington's career began in 1988, taken by the Twins in the 10th round of the draft out of Armijo High School in Fairfield, Ca.

Harrington started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. He got four relief outings that first year, giving up four earned in 6.1 innings.

He returned to Elizabethton for 1989, getting those nine total outings, giving up 27 earned in 25 innings. He walked 29 and struck out 22.

For 1990, Harrington moved to single-A Kenosha. He got 22 outings, one start. His ERA came down to a good 1.74. He also picked up three wins and one save. Despite the numbers, it was his final year in affiliated ball.

Harrington is credited with coming back four years later, in independent ball. In 1995, Harrington got three relief outings with independent Winnipeg and five outings with independent Sioux Falls, ending his pro career.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,786
Made the Majors: 839 - 47.0%
Never Made Majors: 947-53.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 361
10+ Seasons in the Minors:212

Sandy Diaz, Bad Throw - 2287

Sandy Diaz fielded the ball in this August 1989 game for Elizabethton, but he didn't record the out. He also allowed a run to score, according to The Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Pitching in the sixth inning, the reliever Diaz grabbed the come-backer and threw to first. The ball, though, sailed wide for an error and a run. He then soon gave up another run on a single, The Daily Telegraph wrote.

It was a game Elizabethton would go on to lose in extras, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Diaz pitched in that game in his first season as a pro. He went on to play in four seasons. He never made AA.

Diaz' career began that year in 1989, signed by the Twins as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic.

Diaz played that first year in the rookie Appalachian League. He got into 12 games, starting seven. He had a 5-3 record, with a 5.37 ERA.

He split 1990 between Elizabethton and single-A Kenosha. Between them, he went 5-7, with a 3.78 ERA. He also struck out 96 in 116.2 innings.

It was back to Elizabethton for 1991, playing there exclusively. He got 13 outings, 10 starts. His ERA came in a 3.38.

For 1992, he split time between Kenosha and high-A Fort Myers. He had a 5.01 ERA om 22 outings, one start, at Kenosha. At Fort Myers, he had a 4.08 ERA in 11 starts. It was his final season as a pro.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,785
Made the Majors: 839 - 47.0%
Never Made Majors: 946-53.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 361
10+ Seasons in the Minors:212

Steve Kiefer, Everything Hit - 379

Originally published Oct. 18, 2012
Steve Kiefer was out trying to relax in spring 1988. What he ended up with was a night in the hospital, assaulted by a fellow bar-goer in what was later called a case of mistaken identity.

For Kiefer, though, the attack from behind with the beer bottle not only threatened his attempt to make the Brewers, it also threatened his life, The Milwaukee Journal wrote.

"Just a little bit deeper and it would have cut an artery, the doctor said," Kiefer told The Journal. "I'm lucky to be alive."

Kiefer ended up making the Brewers that year, but for only seven games. He would play in just one more big league season, a series of injuries and calamities conspiring to limit Kiefer's remaining big league time to a handfull of games.

Kiefer's career began in 1981, taken by the Athletics in the first round of the January draft, out of Fullerton College.

Kiefer started at short-season Medford, making AA Albany in 1983 then AAA Tacoma in 1984. Kiefer also made Oakland in 1984.

Called up in September 1984, Kiefer got into 23 games, hitting .175. He knocked in two and stole two bases. In his first major league at bat, though, Kiefer tripled.

Kiefer returned to the Athletics for 40 games in 1985, hitting .197 with a home run. Kiefer, though, didn't seem to be going anywhere with Oakland. Kiefer asked for a trade. Traded to the Brewers, Kiefer appeared to improve his hitting at AAA Vancouver, The Vancouver Sun wrote.

"I'd never hit over .300 before," Kiefer told The Sun in May 1986. "But I've changed my stance and I'm trying to hit the ball more to right field."

Kiefer didn't hit .300 that year at Vancouver, but the next year, at AAA Denver, he hit .330. In the majors, Kiefer got into two games with the Brewers in 1986, then 28 in 1987.

In August 1987, Kiefer was platooning at third in Milwaukee, but the guy he was platooning with, Ernest Riles, ended up playing well enough to take over, The Journal wrote.

By 1989, Kiefer was with the Yankees system, at AAA Columbus. He'd played in just seven games with the Brewers in 1988. But the bar attack in spring 1988 started the string of calamities. That summer, Kiefer's wife suffered the worst of all, a miscarriage, The Los Angeles Times wrote.

Then, in 1989, Kiefer suffered injuries in spring training and on a June triple. He did come back to get into five games in the majors with the Yankees in August, but they were his last of his six seasons with time in the bigs.

"I was looking to be called up (to the Yankees)," Kiefer told The Times in July of his hopes that year. "It seemed like everything hit when I got to the major leagues to stay. I never had anything that kept me out more than a week."

Kiefer continued playing one more season, playing between the Pirates and Mets AAA teams, ending his career. Along the way, though, Kiefer was able to give advice to his brother Mark Kiefer, helping Mark play in four major league seasons of his own.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Steve Dunn, Big Spot - 2299

When the Salt Lake cleanup hitter got called up in July 1995, Steve Dunn stepped into his spot in the batting order, according to The Deseret News.

He also quickly made himself at home, going 2 for 4 in one game, knocking a home run.

"I like hitting (in the cleanup position),"  Dunn told The News. "It's definitely a big RBI spot and I wanted to see what I could do there."

Dunn had already had a shot to see what he could do in the majors, a year before in Minnesota. Later in 1995, he got another shot, five final major league appearances to round out his big league career.

Dunn's career began in 1988, taken by the Twins in the fourth round of the draft out of Robinson High School in Fairfax, Va.

Dunn started with the Twins at rookie Elizabethton. In 26 games, he hit .284. He played 1989 between Elizabethton and single-A Kenosha.

He returned to Kenosha for all of 1990, hitting .297, with 10 home runs and 72 RBI. He then played 1991 and 1992 at high-A Visalia. In his second season at Visalia, he hit a career-high 26 home runs.

Dunn made AA for the first time in 1993 at Nashville. He hit .262, with 14 home runs there. He then made AAA Salt Lake in 1994. In May 1994, he made the majors.

With the Twins in 1994, Dunn got into 14 games, picking up eight hits in 35 at bats. He also knocked in four runs.

Dunn returned to Salt Lake for 1995, hitting .316 in 109 games. That September, he got his call back to Minnesota. In five games, he got six at bats. He walked once but didn't get a hit.

One more season at AAA in the Indians organization and Dunn's career ended after nine seasons as a pro.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,784
Made the Majors: 839 - 47.0%-X
Never Made Majors: 945-53.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 361
10+ Seasons in the Minors:212

Alex Nunez, Too Few - 2303

Alex Nunez didn't get a hit in this shortened August 1990 game, but neither could opposing Burlington, according to

Nunez went 0 for 2 for single-A Kenosha that game. Other hits from his team gave Kenosha starter Tim Nedin enough to get his seven-inning no-hitter.

Nunez ended up playing in five seasons as a pro. Hits ended up being part of his problem, too few of them. His career batting average for those five seasons was .199.

Nunez' career began in 1988, signed by the Twins as a free agent out of his native Dominican Republic. Nunez is also known by his formal name, Alejandro Nunez.

Nunez started at rookie Elizabethton. He hit just .151 in 31 games there. He then moved to the rookie Gulf Coast League in 1989, hitting .223 over 48 games that year. But he did steal 30 bases.

For 1990, Nunez played at Kenosha. In 117 games, the shortstop hit .197. He also hit no home runs and committed 42 errors. His stat line was enough to make a Philadelphia Inquirer dubious list of futile 1990 efforts. He also stole another 20 bases.

Nunez played 1991 at high-A Visalia, but did little better. He knocked in 16 and stole 19. His final season came the next year, with high-A Fort Myers. In 34 games, he hit just .122, ending his career.
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,783
Made the Majors: 838 - 47.0%
Never Made Majors: 945-53.0%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 361
10+ Seasons in the Minors:212

Chris Marchok, Chance To Chase - 300

Originally published Jan. 7, 2011
Chris Marchok had just been released by the Expos. For the first time in six seasons, all spent in the minors, Marchok was without a team.

Marchok set to work getting a new team. That work included simply throwing a ball against a wall to keep in shape, The Reading Eagle wrote in 1993.

"I love it," Marchok told The Eagle, after signing with the Phillies and reporting to AA Reading that May. "It's a great game. I started with I was 8 years old. I just want a chance to chase this career."

Marchok chased that career from the time he was a kid, through his time in college at Harvard, then after in the Expos and Phillies system.

Throughout his playing days, the goal was to make the majors. The thought of that, he once told an author, gave him goosebumps. But, his playing career finally ended with the end of the strike, and the thought remained just that, a thought. He never made the majors.

Marchok's professional career began in 1987, selected by the Expos in the 12th round by Montreal, out of Harvard. Throughout his career, Marchok was used mainly as a reliever.

Starting at short-season Jamestown, Marchok got into 18 contests. He started five, the most he would start in his career. He posted a 2.42 ERA.

He made single-A Rockford in 1988, with a 3.01 ERA. He made AA at Jacksonville in 1989. In 64 outings that year, his ERA dropped to 1.89.

That off-season, he made the Expos 40-man winter roster. He also made AAA Indianapolis. But, at AAA, the left-hander had trouble finding his way into games, teammate Steve Fireovid wrote in his diary of the 1990 season, The 26th Man.

Already in trouble in June, Marchok voiced his playing time frustrations to a friend. The friend inadvertantly referenced them, in front of Marchok's pitching coach, Fireovid wrote. "I don't know, Marchok told Fireovid later, "whether to laugh or cry."

Just over a week later, Marchok arrived back at AA. On July 6, pitching for Jacksonville, Marchok walked home a run. Between the two levels, Marchok still had an ERA of 2.60.

Marchok split 1991 again between AA and AAA. His ERA back at AAA Indianapolis that year hit 4.13. He spent his final year in the Expos system entirely at AA Harrisburg.

His final season as a professional came with Reading in 1993. His ERA there hit 5.59.

Marchok still pitched in 1994, but in amateur ball. He pitched in spring 1995 in replacement ball. Replacement ball gave him the chance to chase that career again.

"I got goosebumps thinking about that," Marchok told author Hank Davis later about the thought of wearing a major league uniform. Marchok spoke to Davis for his book Small-Town Heros: Images of Minor League Baseball.

Marchok went on to a career in financial services, The Bucks County Courier Times wrote in 2009. Marchok that year returned to baseball, to coach the William Tennent varsity baseball team.

"I know they can perform at a high level," Marchok told The Times about his new team, "but I feel my first step is getting them to understand that it takes more than baseball skills. It takes life skills."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Greg Litton, Best Asset - 20

Greg Litton hit a home run for his Giants in this 1992 game, but he knew that wasn't his game, according to The Associated Press.

Defense was his game.

"But I pride myself on being able to hit," Litton told The AP afterward. "I think I've been trying too hard. I've never been a home run hitter. I have some power, but that's not my best asset."

Litton hit that home run in his fourth major league season. He ended up getting time in two more, 374 total big league games in all. He hit 13 big league home runs.

Litton's career began in 1984, taken by the Giants in the first round of the January draft out of Pensacola Junior College in Florida.

Litton started with the Giants at short-season Everett. He hit .235 in 62 games. He moved to single-A Fresno in 1985, then AA Shreveport in 1986. He hit .246 there.

Litton then split 1987 between Shreveport and AAA Phoenix and played 1988 back at Shreveport. He started 1989 at Phoenix. That May, he made the majors.

With San Francisco in 1989, Litton got into 71 games. He hit .252 with four home runs. He hit his second home run in a July game off the Cardinals' Frank DiPino.

That October, the rookie also got to play in the World Series. He went 3 for 6.

Litton returned to the Giants for another 93 games in 1990. He hit .245 while knocking in 24. In August, Litton helped the Giants to a win with a tie-breaking double, avoiding a sweep.

"We all knew we needed the win to avoid the sweep," Litton told The AP after that game. "But you can't think of all that when you're at the plate. That's one of the big reasons we've had the success we've had is that we don't think about the past."

Litton continued with the Giants for two more seasons, getting into 59 games in 1991 and 68 in 1992.

He then moved to the Mariners for 72 games in 1993, hitting .299. He rounded out his big league career with 11 games in Boston in 1994.

He then played one more season at AAA in 1995, ending his professional career.

Years after his playing career ended, Litton recalled to a Pensacola magazine how he got his start in the game in high school, after failing to make the school's baseball team as a freshman.

"My dream was always to play major league baseball, and I learned real quick that I was going to have to earn it. It wasn’t going to come easy," Litton told the magazine InWeekly years later. "If I wanted it, I was going to have to start lifting weights, I was going to have to start running, and working at it, and that's what I did."
1990 CMC-Pro Cards Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:1,782
Made the Majors: 838 - 47.0%-X
Never Made Majors: 944-53.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 361-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:212
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