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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ultimate Super: Into The Gap

Don't miss today's player: Ray Stephens, Up In The Air

Wade Boggs doubled to left in the top of the ninth and LaSchelle Tarver showed why he was in to pinch run.

"When it hit the gap, you just have to think: 'Score!'" Tarver told reporters after the Red Sox early September win. "I was just trying to get a head of steam up. The throw was up the line and it wasn't that close."

It was one of three runs Tarver scored for the Red Sox in 13 games that year. He also got 25 at bats and three hits. But those 13 games, shown on the back of his 1987 ProCards Pawtucket Red Sox card, were the only 13 games Tarver would see as a player.

Tarver's ProCards entry was included in my third Ultimate Super Jumbo Pack, one of a handful of interesting non-Hall of Fame and non-CMC cards in the pack. I hit the Hall of Fame cards Monday. The eight cards of CMC set members in other sets I'll hit later this week.

It's players like Tarver that this blog is all about. His final year was 1987, three years before the 1990 CMC set. Perhaps he and these other players I'm finding, like Creighton Gubanich, could be honorary CMC set members.

Elsewhere in this third USJ Pack was Joe Slusarski's 1992 PinnAcle card. Slusarski had a good and lengthy career, getting pitching time in parts of seven major league seasons.

But there was also a gap of five years in between where Slusarski only got time in one season, 1995. The year before, and for three seasons afterward, Slusarski never saw the majors. Then he saw time from 1999 through 2001, his final appearance coming that June.

Aside from cards of players with short major league stays or stays with gaps, Will Clark's 1995 PinnAcle card was there. I'm sure I've seen this card on a blog before. It's Clark signing autographs for fans with one fan holding his 1991 Fleer entry.

The back of Clark's card talks about his intensity. "Just watch Will's face the next time he comes to bat with men on base," the card reads.

This 1985 Fleer entry of Bobby Brown was there. Admittedly, Brown caught my eye for his name. The back notes Brown got playing time in the previous year's World Series after the Padres' Kevin McReynolds went down with an injury.

Other highlights of Brown's career, according to Fleer: he's a switch hitter, he was named the International League's co-player of the year in 1979 and led the Carolina League in triples in 1976. Fleer also has Brown's age as a day older than Baseball-Reference.

Then there's Harold Baines' 1984 Topps card. Baines had four seasons and 537 hits under his belt by 1984. I'm pointing out Baines' card because it gives me a chance to post a link to The Onion's article last September, upon Derek Jeter hitting his 2,722nd career hit: Derek Jeter Honored For Having Fewer Hits Than Harold Baines, though Jeter has since eclipsed the White Sox legend.

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