Tuesday, June 21, 2016

1989 Star Minor League Baseball, Series 1

A little bit of history here on A Pack To Be Named Later today.

This is the first set that was issued by a minor league card producer to be marketed in wax packs across the country.

The set was issued in two series for a total of 200 cards. (Series 2 was featured on this blog a little while ago). The unfortunate part is even though it's the first of its kind, there is almost nothing in the set worth anything. There is a Hensley Meulens error variation at card No. 99 and a Joey (Albert) Belle card at No. 199. Everything else can be had for pennies. The cards are poorly cut, virtually all of them different sizes.

The natural game to play when opening packs like this is determining whether any of "Tomorrow's Stars" actually became stars. I'll also take it a step further and determine whether the minor league team featured on the card is still in existence today.

#53 - Steve Morris, Kenosha Twins

Morris made it no higher than Class A Kenosha, ending his career after the 1990 season. The Kenosha Twins were purchased in 1992 and moved to Fort Wayne the following year where they became the Fort Wayne Wizards. They're now known as the Fort Wayne TinCaps and have been a San Diego Padres affiliate for several years.

There is the no-nonsense back. Morris was drafted in the 35th round, so that tells you Morris' actual star potential.

#79 - Mike Rhodes, Fort Lauderdale Yankees

Rhodes looked pretty good after hitting .318 in rookie league ball in 1988. But after back-to-back seasons of sub-.220 batting in Class A that was it for him. The Yankees' 30-year relationship with Fort Lauderdale ended three years after this card was made. The Red Sox moved in and the Fort Lauderdale Red Sox lasted one year. There hasn't been a pro affiliate team in Fort Lauderdale since.

#40 - Dera Cook, Memphis Chicks

Dera Clark pitched for 10 seasons in the minors for the Royals, Braves and Padres. He spent time in Triple A each year from 1990-94 but didn't make the majors. The Double A Memphis Chicks, a tribute to the old Memphis Chicks teams of the first half of the 20th century, were highly successful. But in 1998, the Pacific Coast League added the Memphis Redbirds. The Chicks moved to Jackson, Tenn., and became the Double A West Tenn. Diamond Jaxx, a Double A team for the Cubs. The Jaxx changed their name to the more reasonable Jackson Generals in 2010 and have been a Mariners affiliate since 2007.

#80 - Gabriel Rodriguez, Fort Lauderdale Yankees

No stars yet. Rodriguez pitched his way to Double A in 1988 but was done by 1990.

#71 - Brian Deak, Durham Bulls

Deak put up some power numbers in Class A ball and make it to Triple A for four different teams in the early '90s, but didn't crack the majors. Durham was a High Class A team of the Atlanta Braves at this time, but the movie Bull Durham was released at around the same time as this card set. That helped lead to Durham becoming a Triple A team 10 years later and the Bulls have been the Tampa Bay affiliate ever since.

#81 - Bob Zeihen, Fort Lauderdale Yankees

Zeihen had reached Triple A by 1990 but didn't play beyond that.

#83 - Jamie Cooper, San Jose Giants

Still no one who has played even one major league game. Cooper advanced to Triple A Phoenix in 1992 but hit just .223. The San Jose Giants are still around and still a Class A team for the San Francisco Giants. The relationship between the two cities began in 1988.

#78 - Chris Howard, Fort Lauderdale Yankees

Very nice, Chris. Does this photo remind you of this?

Finally, we have someone who reached the majors. Howard appeared in 27 games total for the White Sox, Red Sox and Rangers between 1993-95 as a pitcher. Interestingly, his is the only card in the pack where both pitching and hitting stats are listed.

#96 - Royal Clayton, Albany-Colonie Yankees

Clayton, the brother of Royce Clayton, was one of those Four A players, pitching for five years for Triple A Columbus and then another Triple A year with Phoenix. The Albany Colonie Yankees lasted from 1985-94, then moved to Norwich, Conn., where they became the Norwich Navigators. The Navigators were renamed the Connecticut Defenders in 2006 and a Giants affiliate through 2009. The team then moved to Richmond, Va., and were named the Flying Squirrels.

#84 - Steve Decker, San Jose Giants

Decker is the second major leaguer from the pack and the one with the most time in the majors. Decker played four years for the Giants, a year for the Marlins and a handful of games for the Rockies and Angels, lasting until the 1999 season.

A star?

Nope. No matter what the front of the pack says.

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