What’s all this?

It all started with a box of keepsakes my father kept on his closet shelf, far from the dirty hands of his only son. The box was full of magic, as far as I was concerned, and I spent many a day staring at it on that ledge, just out of my reach, hoping he would take it down again and show me the treasures it held within. What as in it, you might be asking? Well, I will tell you. It was full of wonder. Postcards and baseballs and other things from the baseball players he had loved to watch when he was a child. Pictures like the one of Ted Williams (above) or Stan Musial.

Scan 173 copy (1)

Or Red Schoendienst

Scan 176

After years of looking at my father’s collection, I got the idea to start my own. Initially this involved me trying to get Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski to write me back. My campaign involved numerous yearly letters as well as Christmas Cards, but Yaz was never that interested in becoming my pen pal, so I chose to move on to others and there were certainly plenty of successes. However, one thing that stood out to me when I was a kid was that I could never really get the players to write back to me. Yeah, it was great to get back an autographed card, but what I was really looking for was a little bit extra. Maybe just a few words on a piece of paper, telling me about their careers and what it was like when they played, maybe an entire letter. Whatever the case, I decided I should try for more.

This led to the questionnaire. The idea is not to take up too much of anyone’s time. In fact, it should just take a couple minutes to answer the questions. But it was a ready-made form that would get a response in a way that simply asking questions in a letter did not. Over the years, the questions have changed a little, and there have been times when more than five were included, but for the most part the same core questions have always been asked and the many answers I have gotten back have been amazing.

Of course none of this was ever supposed to be released into the wild. I figured it was just a nice way for me to pass some time and continue the collection my father started in the early 1950’s. But, a job posting for a person to collect the oral histories of World War II veterans eventually convinced me otherwise. While they are certainly short, some more-so than others, these documents still are micro-histories of the men who played the game of baseball in their own words. These are not just the stories of the players we have come to know so much of. Yes, there will be all-stars here, but there will also be journeymen and guys who only ever got a cup of coffee in the majors. When I worked as a sports editor, I liked to say that no one sport ever held more importance in any paper I worked for than any of the other sports. This meant I paid as much attention to the local cross country runners as I did to the football team. That is the case here. All of the stories are equal and hopefully, equally enjoyable.

I have started the site off with a few entries, but will be adding more in the coming weeks and even more as I get more back in the mail. I hope to add oral history video in the future as we get out into the field and interview some of these men in person. I dream that one day we will have a completed questionnaire from every living person who played Major League Baseball. While I know this is not going to happen, for reasons of time and cooperation, it does not mean I cannot try – and have fun in the process. So, take a look around, and make sure to check back regularly for your daily dose of baseball history.

Rex Hudler

1992 Fleer

Hudler played for 13 years in the majors, breaking in with the New York Yankees in 1984 and finishing with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1998. In between he played for the Baltimore Orioles, Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals and California Angels. In 774 games, Hudler hit .261 with 56 home runs and 107 stolen bases. His best season came in 1996 while playing for the Angels. He hit .311 that year with 16 home runs and 14 steals while setting career highs in runs (60) and RBIs (40).

Cal Ripken, Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games played in Baltimore on Sept. 6, 1995. Hudler started the game at second base for the Angels, but was replaced by Spike Owen in the seventh inning. The Orioles won the game 4-2.

Hudler went on to become a broadcaster after his playing career. He worked for the Angels and is currently a color man for the Kansas City Royals.

We featured Dave Righetti in 2018.

Rex Hudler – career stats

Swings and misses

1985 Topps

Dave Owen played in 92 games for the Chicago Cubs and Kansas City Royals between 1983 and 1988. In 139 at bats, he hit .194 with one home run. He is the older brother of former major league shortstop Spike Owen.

1985 Topps

Dave Meier appeared in 145 games for the Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs between 1984 and 1988. In 277 at bats, he hit .253 with one home run.

New York Mets team postcard

Tom Gorman pitched for seven years in the majors, breaking in with the Montreal Expos in 1981 and finishing with the San Diego Padres in 1987. In 126 games he went 12-10 with a 4.34 ERA. He had his best year while pitching for the New York Mets in 1984. He won six games that season and had a 2.97 ERA while appearing in a career-high 36 games. Gorman also pitched for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jeff Sellers

1988 Topps

Sellers pitched for four seasons for the Boston Red Sox, going 13-22 with a 4.97 ERA. He came up with Boston in 1985, but appeared in just four games. He made 13 starts for the team the next year, then started 22 games in 1987, a year that saw him win seven games. He was 1-7 the following season before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately, an arm injury derailed Sellers’ career and he never appeared in a big-league game again.

Sellers was a member of the 1986 Red Sox team that lost in the World Series to the New York Mets. However, he did not play in the postseason.

In what would end up being his final major league game, Sellers pitched a no-hitter for 7 and 1/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians on Oct. 1, 1988. He surrendered a home run to Luis Medina in the seventh and was pulled from the game. Boston ended up losing 1-0.

Jeff Sellers – career stats

1989 Donruss

Jose Guzman

1989 Donruss

Guzman pitched for eight years in the majors, going 80-74 with a 4.05 ERA while playing for the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs between 1985 and 1994. Guzman posted double-digit wins for five straight seasons, starting with a 14-win campaign for the Rangers in 1987. He had what was arguably his career year in 1992 with Texas when he won 16 games and struck out 179 hitters, both career highs.

Guzman signed as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1993 season. He made his debut with the team on April 6, 1993, at Wrigley Field against future Hall of Famer John Smoltz and the Atlanta Braves. Guzman out-pitched Smoltz that day, throwing a complete game, one-hitter. He struck out seven to lead his new team to a 1-0 win. The Braves only hit came with two outs in the top of the ninth inning when Otis Nixon singled. The only run of the game came in the bottom of the first inning, when Mark Grace singled in Rey Sanchez.

We featured Bobby Witt in 2020.

Jose Guzman – career stats

1992 Topps

Swings and misses

1983 Donruss

Dwight Bernard pitched in 115 games for the New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers between 1978 and 1982. In 176 innings, he posted a 4-8 record with a 4.14 ERA and six saves, all of which he got in his last season as a major leaguer, 1982, while working for Milwaukee.

1992 Fleer

An all star in 1993, Andy Benes pitched for 14 seasons in the majors, going 155-139 with a 3.79 ERA while playing for the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, and Arizona Diamondbacks from 1989-2002. Benes twice finished in the top six in the Cy Young vote. He was sixth in 1991 with the Padres and third in 1996 with the Cardinals when he set his career high in wins with 18. He led the National League in strikeouts with 189 in 1994 and received MVP votes.

1994 Topps

A five-time all star, Luis Gonzalez played for 19 years in the majors, hitting .283 with 354 home runs. He broke in with the Houston Astros in 1990 and was with the club until 1995 when he was traded, along with Scott Servais, to the Chicago Cubs. He returned to the Astros in 1997 for a season before signing with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent. The Tigers eventually traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks and it was in the Valley of the Sun that Gonzalez became a star. He led the National League with 206 hits his first year in Arizona and also earned his first trip to the All-Star Game. He would return to the midsummer classic in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005. He had the best year of his career in 2001, as he hit .325 with 57 home runs, 142 RBIs and 128 runs scored. He led the NL in plate appearances that season with 728 and won a Silver Slugger. His career year helped Arizona reach the playoffs and eventually beat the New York Yankees in the World Series. Gonzalez went on to play for a season with both the Los Angeles Dodgers and finally the Florida Marlins. He retired in 2008.

Kirt Manwaring

1988 Donruss

Manwaring caught for 13 seasons in the majors, mostly for the San Francisco Giants, but later for the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies. In 1,008 games, Manwaring hit .246 with 21 home runs. His best year at the plate came in 1993 while playing for San Francisco. He appeared in a career-high 130 games that year while hitting .275 with five home runs and setting career highs in RBIs (49) and runs scored (48). In addition, Manwaring won the National League Gold Glove for catchers that season.

Manwaring’s Giants went 103-59 in 1993, but failed to make the playoffs as the Atlanta Braves won the NL West with a 104-58 mark. (Don’t forget, this was before wild cards and the expanded playoff format.)

Manwaring is recognized on the Giants Wall of Fame.

Kirt Manwaring – career stats

1990 Donruss

Phil Stephenson

1990 Score

Stephenson played for four seasons for the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres from 1989-1992. In 194 games, he hit .201 with six home runs. His career began in Chicago, but lasted just 17 games, as the Cubs dealt him to San Diego in September 1989. Stephenson played in 103 games for the Padres in 1990 and hit .209 with four home runs.

Stephenson paid back his former club with a home run at Jack Murphy Stadium on April 26, 1990. As he notes, Mike Harkey had pitched seven no-hit innings when Stephenson came up to lead off the eighth inning. He launched a bomb to right field that broke up the no-hitter and sent Harkey to the showers. Mitch Williams pitched the next two innings to preserve a 3-1 win for Chicago.

Stephenson played college baseball at Wichita State University. In 1981, he hit safely in 47 games, which was the NCAA record until Robin Ventura broke it with a 58-game streak in 1987.

Phil Stephenson – career stats

1991 Topps

Swings and misses

1984 Donruss

Bob James pitched for eight seasons in the majors, coming up with the Montreal Expos in 1978 and finishing with the Chicago White Sox in 1987. He was just 19 when he got his first taste of the big leagues and did not arrive for good until 1983, a year he split between the Detroit Tigers and Expos. Montreal traded him to the ChiSox for Vance Law in 1984 and he had the best year of his career the following season. James saved 32 games that year, which was second best in the American League. He won eight more and had a 2.13 ERA for Chicago. James finished his career with a 24-26 record, 73 saves and a 3.80 ERA.

1986 Donruss

Frank Eufemia pitched in 39 games for the Minnesota Twins in 1985. He went 4-2, with a 3.79 ERA and two saves in 61.2 innings. This would amount to his entire big league career. He pitched in the minors from 1982-1986. He returned for one more minor league season in 1992.

1985 Fleer

Rich Thompson pitched in 77 games for the Cleveland Indians and Montreal Expos between 1985-1990. He posted a 3-10 record with five saves and a 5.05 ERA.

Bob Patterson

1991 Donruss

Patterson pitched for 13 seasons in the majors, going 39-40 with 28 saves and a 4.08 ERA. He broke in with the San Diego Padres in 1985, but only spent a year in America’s Finest City, before joining the Pittsburgh Pirates the next season. Patterson stayed in Pittsburgh until 1993 when he joined the Texas Rangers. He pitched for the California Angels for two seasons beginning the next year before concluding his career in 1998 after a three-year run with the Chicago Cubs. Patterson had arguably the best season of his career while pitching for the Pirates in 1992. He won six games that year and had nine saves, while posting a 2.92 ERA in 64.2 innings.

Doug Drabek won 22 games in 1990. He picked up his 20th win at Wrigley Field on September 19. Patterson pitched the last 1.1 innings of the game against the Cubs, striking out two and not giving up a run, to preserve an 8-7 Pirates win.

1992 Fleer

Patterson pitched in three consecutive National League Championship Series for the Pirates from 1990-1992. He appeared in five games and had a 1.93 ERA.

Bob Patterson – career stats

1992 Topps