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Back of the book

I shelled out for an off-condition card of the interestingly named John O'Rear to get me within one of completing the 1980 TCMA Albuquerque Dukes set that I have loved since I was a young teen.

I'm in a bit of card buying freeze right now but I'm fortunate in that my tastes aren't that expensive.

All that's left to finish the set is Don Crow. Yeah, not Scioscia or Stewart. Don Crow.

But that doesn't matter for this post. Neither Crow nor O'Rear were in the back of the book that I cared about when it came to upcoming Dodgers prospects.

Before Bowman became a prospects thing, I figured out who the hot prospects were in the Dodgers' organization by turning to the back pages of the team yearbook that I had ordered.

Here is the first prospects page in the first Dodgers yearbook I ever bought, the 1977 issue.

Here are the next two pages.

In my mind back then, those were all of the Dodgers prospects. And I wanted all of them to make the major leagues and kick National League West ass.

Some of these players, even if they made the majors for only a sip of coffee, are burned in my brain as if they had an eight-year major league career.
They mean so much to me that I looked at these pages -- brought out to see if ol' O'Rear ever made that coveted space -- and wondered whether I had a card for each of the players featured here.
I think I'll do that now. I'll start from the beginning.

Mark Bradley never made an appearance as a Dodger on a baseball card -- unless you count the 1983 Dodgers Police set -- but he did show up as member of the New York Mets in the 1984 Topps and Fleer sets. (I meant to scan the '84 Fleer Bradley card -- it's such a sunny picture -- but discovered black gunk on the photo. Yuck. Now I have to buy a new '84 Fleer Bradley card!)

Bradley came to the Mets in a trade in which the Dodgers acquired someone who is now the high school baseball coach where I live (well, it's about an hour-and-a-half away, our newspaper's coverage area is huge).

Next up is Pedro Guerrero. Of course I have a card of Pedro Guerrero. According to my calculations, I have 114 cards of Guerrero.

It's highly amusing to see established players like this in the back of a yearbook. Even more amusing to me than seeing them on their first Bowman card.

Brad Gulden, like Mark Bradley, doesn't appear on any major issue, major league cards with the Dodgers. He shows up first with Topps on a three-player prospect card with the Yankees (he was one of the catcher that first got starts when Thurman Munson died). This is his only solo Topps card.

We've turned over the page two now. The first prospect is Rafael Landestoy. He shows up on several '80s cards but I love oddballs like this so much. Landestoy first appeared in Topps in the 1980 set with the Astros. He would return to the Dodgers and get his first L.A. Topps card in 1983.

One of the two biggest disappoints off those 1977 yearbook back pages as Leonard went on to a productive slugging career with the enemy. I rooted for Leonard to be called up to the Dodgers and smack some opponents around. But with Dusty Baker and Reggie Smith in the outfield, that never happened.

Leonard was traded to the Astros, and then the Astros traded him to the Giants and just a bunch of misery followed. Interestingly, the players Leonard was dealt for are not all that impressive (Joe Ferguson, Mike Ivie, Ernie Riles).

Joe Simpson is probably known most these days, first, as a broadcaster, and, second, as that guy who shares a card with Pedro Guerrero and Rudy Law in the 1979 Topps set.

But I knew him as a Dodgers prospect in the '77 yearbook. The Dodgers didn't even trade him. They just let the Mariners purchase him.

The best thing about this Steve Shirley Target card is that his hairstyle is the same as in the photo in the '77 yearbook because it's the same photo! That is what made the most impact on me when I saw his write-up in that yearbook. Check out the dude with the hair!

Shirley actually has several different looks on his minor league cards, making collecting his cards worth it on that alone. But he never made a major league set. He appeared in 11 games for the Dodgers in 1982 and that was it.
The Jeff Leonard situation may have been annoying but this one really hurt.

I liked Dave Stewart from the time he appeared in that '77 yearbook. I don't know if I was basing my opinion on anything concrete but I was certain he would become a star. I was not happy when the Dodgers traded him for Rick Honeycutt (although I was super happy that they landed Honeycutt at the trade deadline). And then his legend, after some shaky years, just grew and grew with Oakland and then Toronto. Nobody even remembered his Dodgers years!

Except for me.

Like Stewart, Rick Sutcliffe kind of wore out his welcome with the Dodgers (specifically Tom Lasorda), but at least they got one good year out of him. He was the only good thing about the 1979 season for L.A.

Also like Stewart, he's on about a zillion 1980s and 1990s cards, only with the Cubs.

Mike Tennant has just two cards, according to Trading Card Database, both minor league issues. I have one of them.

I thought I didn't have any of them, but that's because his name is spelled wrong on this card.

Ron Washington might be the most satisfying appearance on big-league cards for me as I rooted just as hard for him as I did Dave Stewart or Pedro Guerrero.

Sure, it's disappointing that he never appeared on a card as a Dodger, but he has so many classic cards and then later became so well-known as a manager (and the Braves' current third base coach) that it's just delightful that I can see him staring back at me as a youngster from the back of the 1977 Dodgers yearbook.

An unusual one as Hank Webb was not an up-and-coming prospect when he showed up in the Dodgers yearbook. He had already appeared on a Topps baseball card! A couple times!

The 1976 card is only solo Topps card but he goes as far back as appearing on a rookie stars card in the 1973 set. He probably wasn't impressed with seeing his name listed with those other dudes in the '77 yearbook.

I started with a 1980 TCMA Dukes card and I'll end with one.

Myron White appears on just three cards, two of them minor league issues. The other is the all-inclusive 1990 Target set. I have that card, too, but I wanted to book-end with the TCMA Dukes.

I'll probably snap up that Don Crow card as soon as I have some extra funds and complete this thing. I may also go through some other yearbooks and see if I can clean sweep the prospects in the back of the book like I did with the 1977 one.

That may or may not be all that interesting to y'all. But I know, once again, my curiosity has been satisfied.


Old Cards said…
This wasn't intresting to me, but I think it is interesting that your Old Man post, which you termed a "snit fit", got 20 comments while your Compliments post only got 3 comments. So maybe you should have a "fit" post more often. Enjoy your blog!
Of course it's Don Crow. There's a Don Crow in every set, isn't there? Best of luck crow hunting.
night owl said…
@Old Cards ~

Yup. Totally aware of that. I knew it when I was writing the Compliments post. Human nature.
Zippy Zappy said…
Old school prospecting.
John Bateman said…
Hank Webb is really interesting - already on a Topps Card with the Mets - really do not think he should have been in the year book.

In 1984/85 Hank Aaron had a quote that Jeff Leonard was the one major leaguer who remind him the most of himself.
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