Monday, August 24, 2009

Cardboard appreciation: 1988 Donruss John Pawlowski

(Today is the anniversary of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the Roman city of Pompeii in 79 A.D. I find that quite appropriate as my Lumbergh-like boss heaps more and more work on me. I feel like I might blow a gasket that will rival Vesuvius! Anyway, onto happier topics: this is the 45th edition of Cardboard Appreciation):

I know there are a few card bloggers out there who went to school with people who ended up playing in the major leagues. I remember hearing their stories, although other than Steve of White Sox Cards, I can't recall specifics.

It's not that unusual of a phenomenon if you attended a large high school, especially if that high school was in the south or west, places where they play ball year-round. But I didn't attend a large high school. And I attended school in the Northeast, where you play ball strictly between April and August, and even April is iffy.

The player shown above went to my high school. He was a couple of years older than me. He was always a good ballplayer, and then he went to Clemson University to pitch. From there, I lost track of him, but I did know that he made it to the major leagues for a brief period of time.

I never knew he was featured on a baseball card. Then, one day, years and years after Mr. Pawlowski's playing career was over, I was in a collectibles shop in a tourist area near where I live. There was a pile of baseball cards, almost all from the late 1980s and the vast majority were 1988 Donruss. I never liked '88 Donruss and didn't collect the cards when they were first issued. But the cards I saw on that day were super cheap (frankly, the shop owner should have been giving them way).

So I picked through them looking for the stars -- Clemens, Puckett, Brett, Ryan. Then I saw the Pawlowski card. I never would have recognized him -- I barely knew what he looked like when I was in high school. But I recognized the name. For no other reason other than the fact he walked the same hallway as me when we were teenagers, I bought the card.

Pawlowski pitched in just eight career major league games -- all for the White Sox and all in relief. He threw 17-plus innings, gave up 15 earned runs, struck out 12 and finished his career with a 7.64 ERA.

Not good numbers at all. But to this day, he might be the only person from my alma mater to make the major leagues. And that's about the only good reason I can think of to appreciate a 1988 Donruss card.


  1. Interesting. Only kid I know from my school that went on to the Bigs was Brian Bowles. He was 2-1 with a 3.23 ERA in 24 relief appearances. We were on the HS basketball team together, but never really knew him.

    I don't even know if he has a card.

  2. Pawlowski is the head coach at College of Charleston. His bio is here which also includes a picture of a Score card he had.

  3. The closest my high school came to a major leaguer was Timmy Norris, who was drafted by the Orioles in the 4th round in 1978 (100th overall, 52 spots behind Cal Ripken Jr.). He and Cal were roommates in the minors, but elbow problems and immaturity apparently hampered Tim and he never made it to the majors. He was 27-29 in five minor league seasons with a 4.61 ERA.

    Norris was one of the baseball coaches when I was in high school, and his son Brooks was a year behind me. He seemed like a nice enough guy.

  4. I played in little league with a pudgy kid named Colter Bean. In fact, his dad was the coach, and he's the one who finally taught me how to hit. He also coached our basketball team, and he taught me how to run the fast break. Anyway, a few years later Colter switched to a different high school with a better baseball program, and, long story short, he is now the all time appearances leader for the Columbus Clippers, and got a little bit of time in big leagues as well.

  5. Mad Guru ~

    Pawlowski's moved on to be the head coach of Auburn University. This past season was his first year. The Tigers were 31-25 (11-19 in the SEC)

  6. I went to Mt. Carmel H.S. in Chicago. Denny McLain went there many years before me. Chris Chelios briefly went there a bit before me.
    While I was there, so were the following:

    Tony Furjanic-FB-Miami and Buffalo
    Erik Pappas-MLB-Cubs, Cards
    Mel McCants-NBA-LA Lakers

    After me were Simeon Rice and Donovan McNabb and others

  7. He had graduated a few years before me, but i went to the same high school as Kurt Kepshire who made it to the bigs with the cards. He had a card in the 1985 set. I dont know where he is now...
    btw, have you recieved the package of dodger "junk" i sent ya yet?