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Monday, October 21, 2019

Kevin Burdeck suffered a broken nose in the dugout at AAA; He never made the bigs

Originally published June 13, 2010
Usually, the danger for baseball players comes on the field, through falling batting averages and dropped balls. For Kevin Burdick, the danger came sitting on the bench.

On June 6, 1990, Burdick's Buffalo Bisons teammate Wes Chamberlain fouled off a pitch. The ball ricocheted off the back dugout wall and into Burdick's nose, according to an account in The Pittsburgh Press.

Burdick suffered a broken nose, separated septum and broken blood vessels, The Press wrote. He was also out for nearly a month.

"It was very unfortunate," Buffalo manager Terry Collins told The Press. "Not only was he hitting well, he was a real catalyst for our ballclub. He gave every ounce of energy he had every night."

Burdick appeared on course for Pittsburgh. He was hitting .310 at the time. After he returned, his average dropped to .282. It would be his final year of four with the Pirates organization. It would also be his second-to-last in the minors, his career ending without making the majors.

Burdick's professional career began in 1987, when he was taken by the Pirates in the 18th round, out of Oklahoma. With the Sooners, Burdick led a come-from-behind victory in April 1986 with a bases-loaded single. He won first-team All-American honors that year.

With the Pirates, Burdick began at short-season Watertown. He made AA Harrisburg in 1988. With the Senators, the infielder was tagged as one to watch, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Harrisburg manager Dave Trembley told The Post-Gazette Burdick reminded him of Tim Flannery.

"He's scrappy and very durable, and I think he'll stick around long enough to get a shot (at the major leagues)," Trembley told The Post-Gazette.

Burdick made the Eastern League All-Star team in 1989, before earning a promotion to AAA Buffalo. He returned to Buffalo for 1990 then moved on to to the Cleveland system for 1991. He played only 36 games that year at AAA Colorado Springs before his career ended.

But, when he got hit by that foul ball in June 1990, the Pirates believed he had a future.

Burdick told The Press the injury was the first time he'd had to miss a game due to injury.

"I guess it just caught up with me," Burdick told the paper. "My nose doesn't look bad, but everything inside is damaged. That ball crushed everything."

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Henry Gomez started well at AAA, then hit a rough spot; His career ended soon afterward, short of bigs

Henry Gomez had about as successful a start as he could have to begin his AAA career in August 1993 - he threw a complete game for a win, The Toledo Blade wrote.

His second start came with some mistakes, though, mistakes that helped lead to a 5-2 loss to Ottawa, The Blade wrote.

"He got those three pitches up and they jumped all over them," Toledo pitching coach Jeff Jones told The Blade. "Actually, the rest of the fastballs, - most of the pitches he threw - were down."

Gomez first made AAA and made that second start - in his eight professional season. That second AAA start, however, also turned out to be one of his final appearances as a pro. He never made the majors.

Gomez' professional career began in 1986, signed by the Cubs as a free agent out of his native Venezuela. Gomez was also credited by his formal name, Henrique Gomez.

Gomez started with the Cubs at rookie Wytheville. He went 2-5 over 16 outings, six starts. He threw a two-hitter in August, but still took a 1-0 loss.

He moved to short-season Geneva for 1987. He went 3-3 there over 10 starts. He then played at single-A Charleston for 1988. He went 6-14 there over 27 starts, with a 3.98 ERA.

With Charleston, he threw another two-hitter that July, this time a win. He also threw three three-hitters, according to his Peoria card back.

Gomez first arrived at Peoria in 1989 for an abbreviated, three-game campaign. He returned there for the full season in 1990. He started 29 games, went 7-12 and had a 4.06 ERA.

He had a bad outing for Peoria in July 1990, including giving up a two-run double. His 29 starts that year was tied for most starts in Peoria history.

He made AA Charlotte for 1991 and went 5-8 over a mix of starting and relief. He then played 1992 in Mexico, at Mexico City. For 1993, he signed with the Tigers and played at AA London and AAA Toledo.

In that first start at AAA, in August 1993, Gomez gave up nine hits in the complete-game effort against Columbus. He also gave up a two-run home run to Kevin Maas, The Blade wrote, then didnt give up anything again until the ninth. Gomez got into six total games at Toledo that year, to end his career.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,197
Made the Majors:1,157-36.2%
Never Made Majors:2,040-63.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 480
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283

Jerry Nyman was related to major leaguers, just not the one whose name he shared

When Jerry Nyman entered the pros in 1990, he appeared to follow at least one family member into baseball.

While he has the same name as the Jerry Nyman who played in the majors from 1968 to 1970 and later spent a long career coaching in the minors, it doesn't appear that the younger Jerry Nyman was related to him.

According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the younger Jerry Nyman was actually related to two other major league Nymans - Nyls Nyman and Chris Nyman. And The Post-Dispatch's write up, about new signees' relations to other players makes no reference to the older Jerry Nyman.

While Nyls Nyman and Chris Nyman each made the majors, the younger Jerry Nyman only played in the pros briefly. He played a single season at Jamestown in the New York-Penn League. He didn't get to play in a second.

Nyman's playing career began and ended that year, signed by the Expos as an undrafted free agent out of Cal State Sacramento. Nyman's formal name was credited as Gerald N. Nyman.

Nyman is credited among the Sacramento State alums to play in the pros. He played there from 1989 to 1990.

Upon his signing with the Expos, The Post-Dispatch wrote of Nyman, calling him a St. Louisan and younger sibling of Nyls and Chris. Nyls Nyman was born in 1954 and Chris Nyman in 1955. Jerry Nyman was born in 1967.

Nyls Nyman played in 120 major league games from 1974 to 1977. Chris Nyman played in 43 major league games in 1982 and 1983.

The other major league Nyman, the apparently unrelated major leaguer and coach Gerald Smith Nyman, pitched in 30 major league games from 1968 to 1970. A native of Utah, he was born in 1942.

Regardless of whether the two Jerry Nymans were related, they did have a good chance of meeting on the field. In 1990, as the younger Jerry Nyman played with the NYPL's Jamestown Expos, the older Jerry Nyman coached - for the NYPL's Welland Pirates. The two teams were even in the same division.

But the younger Jerry Nyman managed just that one season. He saw 33 games at Jamestown. He played outfield and hit .151. He picked up one double, four RBI and two stolen bases.

His Jamestown card notes he enjoyed playing golf and he counted Jack Clark and the Chicago White Sox as his baseball favorites.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,196
Made the Majors:1,157-36.2%
Never Made Majors:2,039-63.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 480
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283

Dorn Taylor waited until his sixth pro season to make the majors, then until his fifth start for his first win

Originally published June 21, 2012
Dorn Taylor had to wait until his sixth professional season to make the majors. Then he had to wait until his fifth start to get his first major league win.

But, on May 20, 1987, Taylor went 6.1 innings, giving up three earned runs. His Pirates went on to win 5-3.

"It's about time," Taylor told The Associated Press afterward. "This feels almost as good as it did when I first got called up."

Taylor ultimately got into 14 games for Pittsburgh that year, starting eight. While he would back to the majors in two more seasons, he would only get two more wins.

Taylor's career began in 1981, signed by the Pirates as an undrafted free agent, out of Pfeiffer College.

Taylor started play in 1982 at single-A Greenwood. He went 9-8 in 24 starts, with a 2.30 ERA. He stayed in single-A through 1984, making AA Nashua in 1985.

He then got his first look at AAA in 1986, with five starts at Hawaii. Taylor started 1987 back in the minors. But, by the end of April, he was in Pittsburgh.

Taylor appeared in 14 games for the Pirates that year, getting eight starts. He went 2-3, with a 5.74 ERA. He played out the rest of the year in the minors, amounting to just 12 outings between AA Harrisburg and AAA Vancouver. That off season, he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his elbow.

He played all of 1988 at AAA Buffalo, amounting to 22 starts. He went 10-8, with a 2.14 ERA. But he didn't return to Pittsburgh. Going into 1989, Taylor continued his success in the spring. Pirates manager Jim Leyland began to take notice.

"When does his turn come?" Leyland told The AP of Taylor, noting his success at AAA the previous year. "Sometimes we forget much of what Dorn Taylor has done."

Taylor started the year with the Pirates, but just lasted three games. In 4.2 total innings, he gave up five earned runs. Called back in September, he got into six more innings, giving up just one earned run.

In 1990, Taylor returned to Buffalo. This time, he went 14-6, with a 2.91 ERA. But he wasn't called up to Pittsburgh until September. That June, the Pirates were calling on other pitchers, but not Taylor.

"I think I deserve a chance," Taylor told The AP in June. "I have so much more confidence than I've ever had before. I think I can pitch up there."

Taylor, though, pitched in the majors just four more times, just 3.2 more innings. He gave up one earned run. He didn't return for 1991.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Dan Hargis dealt with draft day by going fishing; Also took part in Candid Camera on-field prank

As he waited to find out if he'd be drafted and where in June 1989, Dan Hargis decided to do with something he'd always done, he told his hometown Mattoon Journal Gazette.

"I think I'll go fishing," Hargis told The Journal Gazette. "I'll let someone else sit by the phone."

Hargis, a product of Eastern Illinois University, didn't have to go fishing long. The Expos selected him in the fifth round.

Despite his early selection, Hargis' stay in the pros proved brief. He played in three pro seasons and topped out at single-A.

Hargis' career began that year, taken by the Expos 124th overall out of Eastern Illinois.

After his selection, The Journal Gazette also recorded his reaction.

"I always thought to myself I did (have pro potential)," Hargis told The Journal Gazette. "But I'm not sure all the people believed it when I said I was going to play."

Hargis started with the Expos at single-A Rockford. The catcher got into 13 games and hit .182. He then played 1990 between high-A West Palm Beach and short-season Jamestown. He saw 60 games on the year and hit .174.

That August, at Jamestown, Hargis found himself in the spotlight - part of a literal Candid Camera prank. Peter Funt came to town to see what a pitcher - Hargis teammate Bob Baxter - would do if his catcher gave nonsensical signs, according to The Jamestown Post-Journal.

Hargis was among only a select few in on the joke, The Post-Journal wrote.

"I said, 'I am, but you're not watching,'" Hargis recalled to The Post-Journal later of Baxter asking for the sign in a mound conference. "I was almost having to pinch myself to keep from laughing. I was trying to keep a straight face."

Hargis returned to Rockford for 1991. He got into 71 games, hit six home runs and ended with a .216 batting average. That season marked his last as a pro.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,195
Made the Majors:1,157-36.2%
Never Made Majors:2,038-63.8%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 480
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283

Orlando Merced played through injury for early shot at playoffs; Saw 13 major league seasons

Originally published Sept. 8, 2010
By season's end, Orlando Merced knew he wasn't going to take home Rookie of the Year honors, despite his break-out rookie campaign for the Pirates that year in 1991. A late injury diving back into second base helped see to that, shutting him down for the last week.

But, going into the playoffs, Merced wasn't going to let his injury prevent him from playing, in the National League Championship Series, or the World Series.

"I'm getting a chance to do what a lot of players don't do who play or 12 years," Merced told The Beaver Country Times in the regular season's final days. "I have all winter to heal. They always say no pain, no gain. In my case, that's true."

Merced, who hadn't started since Sept. 26, announced his return to the starting lineup in Game 3 of the NLCS, taking the first pitch from John Smoltz deep to center for a lead-off home run and an early Pirates lead.

Merced ended up finishing a distant second in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting that year, to Jeff Bagwell. Merced finished the year with a .275 average, 10 home runs and 50 RBIs.

It was a year that came six seasons after the Pirates signed the outfielder out of his native Puerto Rico. Merced's career started off slow, hitting .228 in rookie ball in 1985, then just .191 at single-A in 1986. By 1988, he found his bat, hitting .283 in single-A. He made AA Harrisburg and then AAA Buffalo in 1989.

Merced made his major league debut in June 1990, playing 25 games for the Pirates that year. Sent down in late July, the Pirates made clear Merced was on their radar.

"We like Merced," Pirates manager Jim Leyland told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He gave us some versatility, but it's tough for a young guy to execute in that role."

By spring training 1991, Merced was fighting for a roster spot out of spring training, his break-out rookie year not yet on anyone's mind.

"The only thing you can try to do is keep hitting the ball the same way," Merced told The Associated Press as spring training wound down, "and maybe the next time it will come through for you. ... All I can do is try to do my job and hope the people in charge make the right move."

The right move, the Pirates felt, was to send Merced down. But he wouldn't stay down long, called back up in mid-April. He soon convicted the Pirates to let him stay.

He hit a tie-breaking home run in mid-May, capping a five-game stretch where he went 9 for 18 with three home runs, according to an AP account. In July, a Merced three-run shot contributed to an 11-7 Pirates victory. In September, another Merced three-run shot came in a pinch-hit role, in the ninth inning, to key a 12-10 Pirates win.

The Pirates went on to win the division. But Merced's Game 3 NLCS lead-off home run would go to waste as the Pirates lost the game 10-3 and went on to lose the series 4-3.

Merced's 1992 campaign wasn't as good, he hit just .247 with six home runs. Perhaps it was his vision. He got glasses by September and started hitting better, according to The AP. He had been driving behind his wife when he realized he couldn't read her license plate.

"I'm picking up what I couldn't see before," Merced told The AP. "I'm seeing the seems on the ball a lot better."

By June 1993, Merced was seen as getting back to his rookie form. He was hitting .364 by early June. He hit .313 on the year. "When I came out of spring training, I told myself I wanted to make everything count this season - every game, every at-bat," Merced told The AP.

Merced stayed with the Pirates through 1996, when he was traded to the Blue Jays. He played 1997 through 1999, starting with Toronto, then going through Minnesota, Boston and then Chicago and finally Montreal.

Merced played 2000 in Japan, with the Orix Blue Wave. He returned stateside for 2001 to join the Astros. He played his final three seasons in Houston.

Merced played his final game in September 2003. But he returned for spring training 2004, hoping to make the roster of his first club, the Pirates. But a quiet spring meant no spot for Merced.

"It was going to be my last year," Merced told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after being cut. "I was looking forward to doing some damage off the bench in Pittsburgh. Now, that's not an option for me anymore."

Friday, October 18, 2019

1990 Minor League Baseball Teams - Player Features


Features completed on the minor leaguers of 1990, sorted by team. Links go to the team's page that contains features on each player, coach or team official represented in the team's 1990 baseball card sets.



For the full interactive version of the map of the map above, with links embedded, click over to Google Maps: 1990 Minor League Teams Completed

Team (Features+Interviews)

AAA
American Association

-Buffalo Bisons (26+2)
-Denver Zephyrs (27+3)
-Indianapolis Indians(31+1)
-Iowa Cubs (26+1)
-Louisville Redbirds (44+1)
-Nashville Sounds (29+3)
-Oklahoma City 89ers (31)
-Omaha Royals(29+4)

International League


-Columbus Clippers (31)
-Scranton Red Barons (27+1)
-Pawtucket Red Sox (30+4)
-Richmond Braves (29+2)
-Rochester Red Wings (29+2)
-Syracuse Chiefs (31+2)
-Tidewater Tides (30+5)
-Toledo Mud Hens (27+4) 


Pacific Coast League


-Albuquerque Dukes (30+5)
-Calgary Cannons (28+3)
-Colorado Springs Sky Sox (28)
-Edmonton Trappers (24)
-Las Vegas Stars (27)
-Phoenix Firebirds (32+2)
-Portland Beavers (26+3)
-Tacoma Tigers (28+3)
-Tucson Toros (27+2)
-Vancouver Canadians (27+2)

AA
Eastern League


-Albany Yankees (33)
-Canton-Akron Indians (28)
-Hagerstown Suns (36+2)
-Harrisburg Senators (25+2)
-London Tigers (21+2)
-New Britain Red Sox (31+1)
-Reading Phillies (29+1)
-Williamsport Bills (27+3)

Southern League


-Southern League All-Stars
-Birmingham Barons (30+1) 
-Charlotte Knights (Future)
-Chattanooga Lookouts (26)
-Shreveport Captains (26+1)
-Tulsa Drillers (34+1) 

-Wichita Wranglers (Future)

High-A
California League 

-
Bakersfield Dodgers (Future)
-Modesto Athletics (41+3)
-Palm Springs Angels (27)
-Reno Silver Sox (Future)
-Riverside Red Wave (29)
-Salinas Spurs (25+1)
-San Bernardino Spirit (31+1)
-San Jose Giants (29)
-Stockton Ports (28)
-Visalia Oaks (31+1)

Carolina League

-Durham Bulls (Future)
-Frederick Keys (Future)
-Kinston Indians (Future)
-Lynchburg Red Sox (Future)
-Peninsula Pilots (Future)
-Prince William Cannons (Future)
-Salem Buccaneers (27+1)
-Winston-Salem Spirit (Future)

Florida State League
-Baseball City Royals (Future)
-Clearwater Phillies (Future)
-Dunedin Blue Jays (28+1)
-Fort Lauderdale Yankees (Future)
-Lakeland Tigers (Future)
-Miami Miracle (Future)
-Osceola Astros (Future)
-Port Charlotte Rangers (Future)
-Sarasota White Sox (Future)
-St. Lucie Mets (Future)
-St. Petersburg Cardinals (Future)
-Vero Beach Dodgers (Future)
-West Palm Beach Expos (Future)
-Winter Haven Red Sox (Future)

Single-A
Midwest League 


-Appleton Foxes (29+1)
-Beloit Brewers (26)

-Burlington Braves (31+1)
-Cedar Rapids Reds (33+5)
-Clinton Giants (40+1)
-Kenosha Twins (28+2)
-Madison Muskies (38+1) 

-Peoria Chiefs (Future)
-Quad City Angels (Future)
-Rockford Expos (31+2)
-South Bend White Sox (32)
-Springfield Cardinals (28)
-Waterloo Diamonds (27)
-Wausau Timbers (31)



South Atlantic League 
Short-Season
Northwest League 


-Bellingham Mariners (39)
-Bend Bucks (32)
-Everett Giants (33+1)
-Southern Oregon Athletics (33)

-Spokane Indians (Future)
-Yakima Bears (37)

New York-Penn League


-Auburn Astros (29)
-Batavia Clippers (32)

-Elmira Pioneers (Future)
-Erie Sailors (Future)
-Geneva Cubs (28+1)
-Hamilton Redbirds (27)
-Jamestown Expos (Current)
-Niagara Falls Rapids (Future)
-Oneonta Yankees (28)

-Pittsfield Mets (Future)
-St. Catharines Blue Jays (33+1)
-Utica Blue Sox (Future)
-Welland Pirates (Future)

Rookie
Pioneer League


-Billings Mustangs (29+4)

-Butte Copper Kings (Future)
-Gate City Pioneers (27+2)
-Great Falls Dodgers (Future)
-Helena Brewers (Future)
-Medicine Hat Blue Jays (27)
-Salt Lake City Trappers (Future)

Appalachian League


-Bristol Tigers (33)
-Burlington Indians (28)

-Elizabethton Twins (Future)
-Huntington Cubs (31+2)
-Johnson City Cardinals (Future)

Gulf Coast League
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