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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cooperstown Cards: Certain Pitch

The Milwaukee Brewers successfully made a four-run comeback against the Yankees in April 1986 and the Brewer knocking in the winning run was Ernie Riles.

"I don't look for a certain pitch, I look for a location," Riles told The Associated Press after his game-winning single. "I wanted a pitch that I could hit in the air. He hung a slider that was up and in."

Riles went on to play in nine major league seasons with five teams, including parts of four seasons with the Brewers and one with the Athletics. His season with the Athletics in 1991 is depicted on his 1992 Topps card that came in my latest Cooperstown pack.

In this pack came Riles, along with one Hall of Famer, three CMC set members and a former Cub my wife and I saw in 2009, when he was managing an independent league team. Also in the pack were three "runs," only 97 more and I could purchase 10 Topps Gold cards.
The Hall of Famer in the pack was another Athletic, Dennis Eckersley. Eckersley's card back is filled with stats from 17 of his 24 major league seasons. The former starter had 43 saves for the Athletics in 1991.
My wife and I were at Fenway Park in July 2004 on the day Eckersley was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Eckersley, of course, pitched in seven seasons for the Red Sox and part of an eighth. While there, Eckersley's induction was noted on the center field screen, as seen in the photo above, with random people in the foreground.

Elsewhere in the pack was Les Lancaster, the former Cub we saw in 2009. Lancaster then was managing the Sioux City Xplorers. That's Lancaster above, No. 50, at the July 3, 2009 game. I remember the game as rainy and chilly.

On the back of his 1992 Topps card are his five major league seasons to that point. Topps notes his first seven-strikeout game was July 19, 1987. His first shutout came three years later, May 9, 1990.
Then there are the three CMC set members in the pack, Brent Mayne, Bernard Gilkey and Kevin Maas. I've featured two of them, Maas and Gilkey. Mayne is still to come.

Mayne's card has his major league time from 1990 and 1991. It also has his time at AA Memphis in 1990 and single-A Baseball City in 1989. It also notes he had a two-run, inside-the-park home run on Sept. 27, 1991. He also made his debut in the majors Sept. 18, 1990.
Gilkey's card back goes back to 1985, when he played for short-season Erie. Then it continues through to his first seasons in the majors in 1990 and 1991.

I featured Gilkey back in January:
Bernard Gilkey had refused a trade from the Diamondbacks to the Pirates and talk was Arizona Manager Buck Showalter would give Gilkey reduced playing time as a result, The Beaver County Times wrote in February 1999.

Gilkey wasn't concerned. Things were fine between him and his manager, he told The Times.

"The best manager I ever had is the one who puts my name in the lineup," Gilkey told The Times, "and that's my goal here, to make this club."(Continue reading)
Then there was Kevin Maas' card, which includes his stats back to 1986, when he was with short-season Oneonta. It also includes his 1990 and 1991 stats with the Yankees, where he hit 21 home runs in 79 games in 1990.

I also featured Maas in January:
Nolan Ryan went for his 300th, Kevin Maas and the Yankees in July 1990 held him at 299. Maas knocked a home run off the future Hall of Famer, making Ryan wait for his milestone win.

"Just to bat against a Hall of Famer is an honor," Maas told The Associated Press after the game, "and to hit a home run off him is the greatest feeling I've had in my life."

That home run off Ryan was Maas' third in three games and his seventh since his debut a month earlier. Maas would go on to hit 21 home runs for the Yankees that year in just 79 games, prompting overheated comparisons between Maas and other Hall of Famers and hopes for a long career swinging the bat for the Yankees. (Continue reading)

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