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Monday, March 1, 2010

Cesar Bernhardt, Head Games - 821

(Check out the revisited Cesar Bernhardt feature, redone Jan. 22, 2011)

When some of a player's more memorable moments are being replaced by a sports reporter and starting a crazy play by getting hit in the head by a line drive, you can probably guess whether that player made the majors.

For Cesar Bernhardt, the accurate guess would be 'no.'

Beginning with the White Sox organization, Bernhardt spent eight seasons in the minors, plus an apparent attempt at replacement ball, but he never made the majors.

Bernhardt did OK at the plate, hitting .267 over his minor league career. He had a two-run double to help seal a 1991 Birmingham Barons division crown. That previous spring, he hit a two-run home run. In September 1990, Bernhardt had three hits, helping down a traveling team of Korean All Stars. Also that year, he hit two triples in one game.

But it all comes back to the sports writer and the head shot.

Bernhardt was playing at single-A South Bend in 1989. In a three-game set with Burlington, Bernhardt was replaced by Sports Illustrated writer Rick Wolff, who was doing a story about the minor leagues. Wolff, who had played minor league ball in the 1970s, went 4-7.

Actually, Bernhardt was having his best season that year, hitting .300 in 127 games. But that was in single-A, his fourth minor league season. He made AA in 1990. He only made it to AAA for part of one season, for 87 games in 1991.

It was during his stint with Vancouver that Bernhardt's head started a play in which a runner skipped over home, hung out by the dugout, then scored. The blog Misc. Baseball has the full account. But the play began with a ground ball off Bernhardt's forehead.

It was also a play that included five fellow CMC setters: Don Wakamatsu, Marv Foley, Ed Naveda, Chip Hale and Dan Henley.

1990 CMC Tally
Cards Reviewed: 65/880 - 7.4%
Made the Majors: 39 - 60%
Never Made the Majors: 26 - 40%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 16
10+ Seasons in the Minors: 21

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