Monday, November 3, 2014

Rookie cards in the dugout

A couple of different blog posts and some baseball news led me to this post today.

You've probably heard that the Twins are naming Paul Molitor their new manager. This is interesting to me because when has there been three managers in major league baseball with rookie cards that are coveted and famous as there is now?

Not only do we have 1978 Rookie Shortstops card in the dugout now, but we have these other two notable rookie cards as well:

All three of these managers made quite a name for themselves as players, which obviously is why their rookie cards are so valued. This is also interesting because of the old baseball theory that the best players make lousy managers (stop looking at me with one eyebrow raised, Dodgers and Phillies fans).

But these cards interest me in another way. And that is: I have all three of these cards.

We are now in an era in which a manager's rookie card is perhaps more obtainable than during any other time -- obtainable by me, anyway. The managers of today didn't start out in the 1950s or 1960s. I don't need to go hunting through vintage to find a rookie card of Joe Torre or Bobby Cox or Tony LaRussa. The managers of today got their starts during the junk wax era, or immediately prior to it. This was prime collecting territory for me.

When I looked through the list of current managers, I realized that I have the rookie cards for 12 of them. That's got to be some sort of personal record.

What's more, I should have the rookie cards for nine other managers. They're readily available, but because I didn't pick up any traded sets in the late 1980s, I missed out on having at least 20 rookie cards of the 30 managers that are working today (well, 29, the Rays don't have a manager right now).

But let's break it down for record-keeping purposes:

The Impossible Manager Rookie Cards

These are guys who probably have an obscure minor league rookie card somewhere, but I don't have all day to figure what it is or how obtainable it is:

Buck Showalter - Orioles
Fredi Gonzalez - Braves
Bryan Price - Reds
Joe Maddon - Cubs
Terry Collins - Mets

The New Crowd Manager Rookie Cards

These are the "wave of the future" managers, the guys whose rookie cards arrived in the mid-to-late '90s.

A.J. Hinch - Astros
Mike Matheny - Cardinals
Mike Redmond - Marlins

The Manager Rookie Cards I Should Have

How is it possible that I don't have a 1990 Donruss card of Chip Hale?

Robin Ventura - White Sox
Brad Ausmus -Tigers
Joe Girardi - Yankees
Lloyd McClendon - Mariners
John Gibbons - Blue Jays
Chip Hale - Diamondbacks
Walt Weiss - Rockies
Matt Williams - Giants
Jeff Banister - Rangers

Ventura, McClendon, Weiss and Williams are all in Topps or Fleer Traded products from 1987 or 1988. Banister is obscure, but he's in the 1991 Line Drive set, and considering how many of those I have, I can't believe he's not in one of my cardboard boxes. Ausmus is in a four-player rookie card in '92 Topps, which somehow eluded me.

The Manager Rookie Cards I Do Have

Look at the pretty pictures:

Paul Molitor, Twins (as far as I know, Klutts is the only one here, who didn't become a manager in pro ball).

Ryne Sandberg, Phillies

Don Mattingly, Dodgers

Ned Yost, Royals

Bruce Bochy, Giants (both 2014 World Series managers appeared as rookies in the 1979 Topps set)

Clint Hurdle, Pirates

Mike Scioscia, Angels

Ron Roenicke, Brewers

Terry Francona, Indians

Bud Black, Padres

Bob Melvin, A's

John Farrell, Red Sox

Maybe I'll go through the effort of tracking down some of the other manager rookie cards, although knowing the shelf-life of a manager, I'd have to move fast. I'd like to at least grab the '88 Traded set, which even I can afford, just to add it to my '88 base set. That would take care of Ventura, McClendon and Weiss.

At any rate, it's kind of cool to go from the days where if I wanted a rookie card I'd have to find a 1971 high numbered card of Dusty Baker/Don Baylor, dig up a 1948 Bowman of Yogi Berra, or plunk down some cash for a '54 Topps Tom Lasorda (come to think of it, I still need to do that for the Dodger collection).

Before long, I won't be able to boast that I have a dozen rookie cards of current managers. There will be more Mike Matheny managers, whose rookie cards come from the Period When I Wasn't Collecting.

So I'll enjoy this while I can.


  1. "Eddie" Romero, on the 79 Brewers' card, is a current minor league manager. Kind of a grump but a decent signer. Four of the five managers without rookie cards as players have them as managers -- Showalter in '92, Maddon in '06, Gonzalez in '07 and Terry Collins in '11. Collins has not had a Topps Flagship card but has been in each of the last four Topps Heritage sets. He is also in the '91 Line Drive AAA that you mentioned. To my knowledge, Bryan Price does not have any major league issues. I'm not sure that U L Washington has managed but he is a longtime hitting coach in the minors.

    1. U.L. at least managed in A ball as I interviewed him as manager way back in 1989.

    2. You're right -- 1989 Weiland Pirates. Learn something new every day!

  2. The elephant in the room. God we're getting old!

  3. Jeff Banister is in the 1992 Topps Debut set. As far as I know, this is his only MLB card. It has his carrier statistics: 1 AB, 1 H, 1.000 BA.

  4. It's funny, while poking around COMC just the other day, I stumbled across an image of a 1981 card featuring Buck Showalter, Nashville Sounds outfielder. I would've bought it if it were much, much cheaper.

    Here's the link, if anyone's interested. Funny thing is that he doesn't look much different than he does now.

  5. McClendon is in the 88 Topps base set, not Traded. I'm 99.9% sure.

    1. Yeah, I miss ID'd on that. His first card is actually in the '87 Fleer Update set.

  6. I going to have to go back and see what I have . Cool post. Bobby Cox was 69, I think Larussa was in 68

  7. Cool post. A few years ago I came to the same realization that (other than getting older) today's manager rookie cards are somewhere in my mountain of 3,000 or 5,000 card boxes and readily available. The fun part part for me is to track their managerial careers and potential HOF possibility and then dig out the cards from the mountain. As you've already realized this is a long term project.