Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Filling out the lineup card
I’ve always been a little bit of a hoarder when it comes to sports memorabilia. From an early age, I saved newspaper clippings, magazines, and ticket stubs. I’m not sure why. I just always liked photos I saw of sports displays – later known as man caves – and figured I’d have one someday. Which I still don’t.
One of the coolest, most unique items I have are a couple of minor league lineup cards from my time in high school. I was fortunate enough to play my high school games in a Double A ballpark, and once in a while one of the pro teams would leave behind something in the dugout, like a baseball from BP. However, on three occasions, I found the previous game’s lineup card pinned in the visitor’s dugout, which we chose as our home dugout each game so the late afternoon sun wouldn’t be in our eyes. Each time this happened, I snagged it and put it in my bag.
I’ll share each lineup card, as some certainly had some future Major Leaguers playing that day. Keep in mind, these are the lineups posted in the visiting team’s dugout.
Lineup card one:
Norwich Navigators @ Binghamton Mets – April 15, 2001
Final Score: Navs won 5-2
Way back when, the Navigators were the Yankees Double A affiliate. I found it to be very cool that they used the big league stationary. To me, that’s a cool touch. When a player walks by and looks at the lineup, he should be reminded that he’s just two levels away from being a Yankee.
There are a few familiar members of the Yankees who suited up that day, notable their 4-5-6 hitters: Juan Rivera, Marcus Thames, and Andy Phillips. All played a decent amount of time in NY, although both Rivera and Thames really made their marks on other teams; Rivera with the Angels and Thames with the Tigers. Phillips played a bit for the Yankees in mid-2000s.
I also noticed 3B Andy Morales, who was a big Cuban signing, but never made it to the Majors. Mike Jerzembeck is a name I remember as well, and I have a few of his cards. He made a few appearances for the parent clube in 1998 – so hey, he was part of that amazing 125-win season. I hope he got a ring.
As for the Mets, I recognize a lot of the names since it was the hometown team growing up, but I can’t imagine many are household names. I think the biggest name on the lineup card is likely former reliever Heath Bell.
With a 9.5 WAR in the Majors, Juan Rivera was the best future Big Leaguer featured here, although one might argue Heath Bell had a better career as a three-time All-Star.
Lineup card two:
Norwich Navigators @ Binghamton Mets – April 7, 2002
Final Score: Mets won 5-4
We have the same matchup, just one season later. As a senior, this was my final go-round of high school ball. By this time, scouts were flocking to the stands to see me. That is a lie. Although there were scouts from time-to-time to watch a few guys on my team. In one instance, there was a scout from the Twins watching my buddy pitch. I was playing third, and completely airmailed a throw to second on a double-play ball. There went my shot at getting drafted.
Anyways, the Yankees had a few more names I remember, although gone were the big boppers from the year before. I do remember Kevin Reese, Mike Vento, and catcher David Parrish, who was a former first round pick of the Yankees. On the hill that day was Brett Jodie, who made one start for the Yankees the year before.
On the Mets side, it looks like another uninspiring team in terms of future impact players. Aaron Heilman got the start, as he was the Mets prized first rounder out of Notre Dame the year before. It was a big deal that he started the year in Binghamton. It’s safe to say he never quite lived up to the expectations of someone drafted in the first round TWICE. I also recognize Prentice Redman and Esix Snead, both who made it to the Majors.
Unless I’m missing someone on the lineup card, Aaron Heilman was the most successful Big Leaguer with a 2.1 WAR.
Lineup card three:
Portland Sea Dogs @ Binghtmaon Mets – 5/5/02
Final Score: Mets won 5-1
Ok, a different franchise! This time it’s the Portland Sea Dogs, then Double A affiliate of Marlins. Now they are home to the Red Sox Double A team. That’s too bad.
This game definitely featured the best opposing player. Checkout the 1B for Portland that day – 2000 #1 overall pick Adrian Gonzalez. I could be wrong, but I don’t see anyone else of note on the Sea Dogs roster. For the game, Gonzalez did go 0 for 4, but clearly is far and away the best player on any of the three lineup cards with a 43.7 career WAR. That is good, to say the least. Maybe he hasn’t been the most dominant 1st overall pick, but he’s put together a very good career.
The Mets look similar to the last game, even with Heilman on the mound again. In fact, he threw 7 innings that day, allowing six hits and striking out 7 for his first win of the year.
So there you have it, three pretty cool pieces of my childhood that I was lucky enough to snag. I’m glad I’ve kept these over the years, as I love going back and looking at them. If you recognize any other names, please let me know!