Sunday, October 4, 2020

I'm Voting for a Baseball Player This November

Tonight I decided to fill out my mail-in ballot. After selecting my choice for President, a name directly to the right on the ballot was someone that I immediately recognized.

Trevor Mallory went to high school here in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was drafted in the 2nd round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991. He signed that card for me in 1995 when he was with the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League. Now he's running for Property Appraiser in Pinellas County.

It's not every day where you get to vote for someone that you have their autographed baseball card.

This is by no means an endorsement for Mr. Mallory.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The 1989 Star Minor League Baseball Card Set Had Some Killer Prospects, Literally

The goal of a minor league card set is to highlight the top prospects that look like they'll one day be major league players.

In 1989, Star produced a 200-card set loaded with prospects. Lots of them went on to have successful careers in Major League Baseball. Two cards, in particular, card #140 and card #180, both had killer careers.

Jim Hvizda, Gastonia Rangers

Jim Hvizda (card #140) was a Texas Rangers prospect. In 4 seasons (3 in the Rangers organization and his final in 1991 with the Milwaukee Brewers), he had a 14-8 record, 53 saves, and a 2.47 ERA. The AA level would be the highest level that he would reach.

After his baseball career ended, he would meet Kimberly and later marry her. They had 3 children together and she already had a daughter from a previous marriage.

Over the years, Hvizda apparently developed a severe drinking problem and began experiencing financial, career, and emotional difficulties. In 2011, Kimberly took the four children and left their home in Upper Uwchlan, Pennsylvania, eventually finding a new place to live in East Brandywine.

Hvizda tracked her down and began stalking her, as she filed for divorce. In late 2011, he was caught lingering outside her home after being told by township police to leave. She obtained a protection from abuse order against him, which forbade him from having contact.

On March 25, 2012, he convinced her to meet him outside the Wawa where she worked to turn over some paperwork. She did not know, however, that he had purchased a hunting knife and that he planned to kill her. When he approached her car, he stabbed her in the chest, cut her neck, and then stabbed her in the stomach, leaving the knife in her body. Hvizda then walked a half-mile to the Upper Uwchlan Police Department office and told the desk officer what had happened. 'I just stabbed my wife,' he said. He was arrested and held without bail after giving a full confession to investigators. He is currently serving life in prison in Pennsylvania.

Fabio Gomez, Watertown Indians

Fabio Gomez (card #180) was a Cleveland Indians prospect when this card came out. He would have a 10-year minor league career, reaching as high as AAA. In 1992 he would lead the Reno Silver Fox in home runs with 19. His baseball career ended in 1996 where he played one game for the independent Albany Diamond Dogs going 1-3 with a stolen base.

In 1999 he was watching his son while his girlfriend was at work. He forced his neighbor, Joan Morane into his apartment. He then bound her with duct tape, raped her, and fatally bludgeoned her with a 10-pound dumbbell. He carried her body to a nearby dumpster in the apartment complex. He was arrested the next day on kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder charges. He is on death row in Arizona.

Looks like Star made cards of prospects and suspects that year.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Oh, That Poor Photographer in Jackson, Tennessee

A lot of problems with these four Jackson Generals cards from the 1991 Classic Best Minor League series. No one's picture matches their names. Jeff Juden is on Sam August's card. Sam August is on Orlando Miller's card. Shane Reynolds is on Jeff Juden's card and Orlando Miller is on Shane Reynolds' card.

I talked to a baseball card photographer recently and asked him how this could've happened. I thought that maybe the photographer mislabeled the images before handing them in. He agreed, but also added, "usually it's a roster # screw up, the players switched jerseys, the photographer screwed up, or the company did." He also pointed out something that I wouldn't have known, commenting on Jeff Juden's pose with the bat, "well, Jeff with a bat tells me the photographer had no clue."

Jeff Juden is a pitcher posing with a bat. I learned that card companies typically frown on those types of images unless it's a veteran. Somehow, Jeff got one over on this particular photographer. He actually got away with it on another card that same year on a 1991 Line Drive AA card. Perhaps it was the same photographer.

None of these error cards were ever corrected. Can you imagine how many times these players must've said "that's not me" when an unknowing fan approached them for an autograph?

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