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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dollar Tree Cards: 1989 Fleer, Pack 2

Going through these packs is always a fun exercise, not really for the cards themselves, but for the stories they uncover. Sort of like the main focus of this blog, not the cards themselves, but the stories behind the players on those cards.

The cards just provide the names to be researched.

That's especially so because these 1989 Fleer cards don't seem to have the interesting stuff on the back as other cards do. This is the second 1989 Fleer pack from the Dollar Tree packs I picked up recently for my birthday.

In this pack, there was a player signed out of the sandlots, an alphabetical home run king, a player linked to an unintentionally funny video and just a sad story about a player's career, and later his life, ending.

All of these stories, of course, come courtesy of Baseball-Reference's Bullpen and Wikipedia.

There were also two CMC set members in the pack and a soon-to-be Hall of Famer.

The CMC set members were Paul Kilgus and Don Gordon, both players I've featured previously on the blog.

Kilgus I featured back in June. That's him up top on his CMC card looking at something to his right. I can only assume, by my presentation of the two cards, that he is looking at his 1989 Fleer card. I can only assume, though.

His feature, posted June 9, cites a quote to his hometown paper about how being a lefty was a real benefit for a pitcher. According to the back of his Fleer card, he graduated from college with a degree in biology.

Gordon was notable in that he was the pitcher who gave up the hit that Paul Molitor's 1987 hitting streak to 39 games. Gordon's feature was posted in May.

The soon-to-be Hall of Famer is Roberto Alomar. He was close last year and should get in this year. The card I got in this pack was the dual Roberto-Sandy Jr. card. Incidentally, I got the regular Sandy Jr. card in the first Dollar Tree 1989 Fleer pack.

On to the other highlights of the pack. Among them were Claudell Washington and Kevin Gross. Washington, according to Baseball-Reference's Bullpen, was signed out of the sandlots of Oakland.

Washington and Gross were the longest-serving players in the pack. Washington played 17 seasons in the majors, Gross played 15. Gross also had a no-hitter, in 1992, and gave up Rafael Palmeiro's first home run, according to Wikipedia.

Washington is credited in Baseball-Reference's Bullpen as being discovered playing sandlot ball in Berkely, not having played high school ball. The Los Angeles Times had a good story on Washington after he went to the Angels in spring 1989.

The home run king in the pack was this guy, Willie Upshaw, here with the Indians. Upshaw is a home run king by alphabet. No other player whose name begins with a "U" has hit more, according to Bullpen.

Tom Filer there has his own record, according to Bullpen. Filer went 7-0 with the Blue Jays in 1985, becoming the only player to have such an unbeaten record with one team.

The sad story is Frank Williams. Williams died in 2009 after a life the spiraled out of control from a 1989 car accident. In the end, he was living on the streets. Williams was a native of Seattle. The Seattle P-I's account of his life: Frank Williams: 1959-2009

To end this on a more upbeat note, here's Jim Traber. He played parts of four seasons in the majors, all with Baltimore. But it's not his time with Baltimore that makes him interesting. It's his time with the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1990 and 1991 that makes him interesting.

His Wikipedia article references one game in Japan, where Traber rushed the mound, chasing the pitcher into center field. The video of the incident is below, set to Yakety Sax.

335 - Paul Kilgus, Throw Strikes, 6/9/10

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