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Monday, September 6, 2010

Ultimate: A Grand Slam, A Blown-Out Arm and Two Long-Waits

After Creighton Gubanich secured his spot in baseball lore in 1999, all he wanted to do was look forward.

"Great, I'm in the history books,'' Gubanich told The Hartford Courant. "But it's over and done with now. Time to move on and try to stay up here as long as possible.''

Gubanich got himself into the history books on May 3, 1999, collecting hitting a grand slam for his first major league hit. He was the first player to do so in 17 years and the fourth overall.

But 'as long as possible' turned out for Gubanich to be not that long. On the season, Gubanich only played in a total of 18 games. Those 18 games turned out to be his entire major league career.

That Gubanich 1999 Topps Traded card was one of the 54 cards that came in my first Ultimate Super Jumbo Pack, it was also one of the coolest. Gubanich is a player that fits nicely with the theme of this blog. He played professionally for a total of 13 years. He made it to the majors, but only briefly.

He also had that one big moment, a moment that would be duplicated four years later when Chase Utley made his first major league hit a grand slam for the Phillies. Gubanich, in a direct link to the CMC set, was also the first player to do it since Orlando Mercado did it for Seattle in 1982. Mercado was still around in 1990 and was a member of the CMC set, yet to be reviewed.

I was also pleased to see several minor league cards hidden inside the Ultimate Super Jumbo Pack. There was Joshua Neese, a pitcher for the short-season Niagara Falls Rapids, actually two. Neese was pictured on his 1994 Fleer Excel card. The card was one of two doubles in the pack. That's how I got the clean front and back scan there.

Neese went 12-3 for Niagara Falls in 1993. But he only played in one game in 1994 with Lakeland. Neese left that game after throwing a 1-1 slider. He felt something in his elbow and immediately called to the bench, according to the Lakeland Ledger account.

Neese returned to short-season for 1995, this time at Jamestown. But he wasn't the same. He had a 3.72 ERA as a reliever. It was his final year in affiliated ball. He returned for three seasons in independent leagues from 1997 to 1999 and he was done.

Then there's Tom Wilson, shown here in his 1994 Classic Gold minor league card. Wilson was with the Yankees system then. He played 1994 with AA Albany-Colonie, taken by the Yankees in the 23rd round of the 1990 draft.

But it wasn't until 2001, more than a decade after he was drafted, that he saw time in a major league game. He played in nine games that year for Oakland, his first of four consecutive years in which he'd see major league time. In 2002 and 2003, he became a virtual regular, playing 96 games each season for Toronto.

The Arizona Daily Star noted in 2002, after Wilson hit two home runs in one game, that Wilson even got a brief one-day call-up in 1998 with Arizona, but never got into the game.

"I'm excited every game I play,'' Wilson, who played previously at Tucson, told The Daily Star in May 2002.

So that concludes the tour of my first Ultimate Super Jumbo Pack.

I've got five more to open. We'll see what the rest of them have. I'll get to those soon. Until then, here's one more card from the pack. It's Roger McDowell's 1993 Triple Play card.

It's not the usual card. But it is pretty interesting. I'll let you notice why.


  1. I think I remember McDowell wearing the toolbelt on the field with the Mets also. I think he was spoofing baseball doctoring like Joe Niekro getting caught with the emery board.

  2. Love that Fleer Excel set. One of my fav cards from it is the Eric Chavez, who is one of my favorite recent players and a guy who I felt would have challenged for the HOF if he hadn't succumbed to injuries.

    1. Eric Chavez wasn’t in the 1994 Excel set, he wasn’t drafted until 1996.