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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Jim Pankovits, Then and Now

A few days ago I posted the feature of Pawtucket Red Sox Jim Pankovits, better known as former Houston Astro Jim Pankovits. He was a consistent member of the Astros from 1984 to 1988 and a consistent member of the baseball card sets I and many others grew up collecting.

Though I didn't mention it, that post was a precursor to this weekend, today. I'm headed over to Troy, NY and the home of the Tri-City Valley Cats, where Pankovits is now in his second year managing for the club. It will be my third interview for the blog, after Dann Bilardello and Roger LaFrancois from a couple weeks ago, the manager and hitting coach of the Batavia Muckdogs respectively.

I first noticed that Pankovits was manager of the ValleyCats last year, long before this blog came to be. That's because I have seen Pankovits before, not as a player, but with my dad going to see minor league games back home in Iowa in the mid-90s. Pankovits was manager of the Quad City River Bandits in Davenport, Iowa, in 1995 and 1996. The River Bandits were in the same league as the Cedar Rapids Kernels, where my dad and I saw many games. We also got over to Davenport once or twice.

The aim of many of the trips was because I collected autographs. Now they're just something cool to have. I got baseballs autographed, a few bats. The bats are in our front room, leaning against the couch. I also got many pennants autographed. The thought has crossed my mind to use those as a follow up to the 1990 CMC set. Of course, I won't be done with the CMC set until mid 2012, so we'll see how I feel then.

Along with the autographs, I also saved the rosters from the programs, to help identify the autographs later. Many of the rosters have my marks to indicate which players I got that day. One of them is up top. I think if you click on it, it will enlarge, and there will be Pankovits listed as manager.

Many of the managers and coaches were former major leaguers, among them Pankovits. I would, of course, know this ahead of time and search through my collection to find the cards. I have a bunch of autographed cards, including three of Pankovits, his 1986, 1987 and 1989 Topps cards.

So that brings me to today. Some time after starting this blog I realized that, not only was Pankovits someone I had encountered in my younger years, but he also was a member of the CMC set and relevant to the mission of this blog.

So I'll be talking to Pankovits about his playing career and his longtime managing career. I also happened to notice Night Owl's coincidental post today on the very topic of Jim Pankovits. I'll also be bringing along my 1989 Topps card and a 1988 Topps card to help answer Night Owl's longtime question that he never got to ask himself.

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