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.

Jeff Barkley

1986 Topps

Barkley pitched in 24 games for the Cleveland Indians in 1984-1985. He did not get a win, but did get a save. His career record was 0-3 with a 5.40 ERA. His professional career lasted from 1982-1986.

Barkley’s first game took place on Sept. 16, 1984, at Oakland Coliseum. He pitched 2/3 of a inning in relief of Tom Waddell, who relieved starter Don Schulze. Barkley was credited with a hold as Cleveland beat the A’s 8-4.

Jeff Barkley – career stats

1985 Topps

Swings and misses

1980 Topps

Frank Riccelli pitched in 17 games for the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros between 1976 and 1979. He went 3-3 with a 4.39 ERA in 41 big-league innings.

1981 Topps

Craig Minetto pitched in 55 games for the Oakland A’s from 1978-1981. He won one game, save another, lost seven and had a 5.40 ERA in 145 innings of work.

1984 Fleer

Bobby Johnson played in 98 games for the Texas Rangers from 1981-1983. In 249 at bats, he hit .197 with 9 home runs. He is the nephew of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks.

Jim Poole

1992 Topps

Poole pitched for 11 seasons in the majors, breaking in with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1990 and finishing with the Montreal Expos in 2000. In between, he pitched for the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies and Detroit Tigers. In 431 games, Poole went 22-12 with a 4.31 ERA and four saves. He had what was arguably his best year while pitching for Baltimore in 1993. He appeared in 55 games that season and posted a 2.15 ERA.

As noted, Poole pitched for Cleveland in the 1995 World Series against the Atlanta Braves. He appeared in two games and took the loss in the decisive Game 6 after giving up a home run to Dave Justice to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. The Braves won the game 1-0 and the series 4-2.

Poole was the last Oriole pitcher to get a win in Memorial Stadium.

Jim Poole – career stats

1992 Fleer

Keith Miller

1992 Upper Deck

Miller spent nine years playing in the majors for the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals from 1987-1995. In 465 games, he hit .262 with 12 home runs and 63 stolen bases. He typically served as a utility man, but he was Kansas City’s primary second baseman in 1992, a year that saw him hit .284 while setting career highs in runs (57), RBIs (38), doubles (24) and stolen bases (16). He also matched his career high with four home runs that season.

Miller made his big league debut on June 16, 1987, in Montreal as a member of the Mets. He singled in the top of the fifth inning off Bob Sebra for his first career hit. He proceeded to steal second base and score on a Gary Carter sacrifice fly. Miller added a single off Andy McGaffigan in the top of the seventh to a solid debut.

Keith Miller – career stats

1993 Upper Deck

Darren Holmes

1992 Fleer

Holmes pitched for 13 years in the majors, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves between 1990 and 2003. In 557 big league games, Holmes went 35-33 with a 4.25 ERA and 59 saves. Holmes enjoyed the best year of his career while pitching for the expansion Rockies in 1993. He saved 25 games that season and won three more. He saved 14 games for Colorado in 1995 and won nine games for the Rockies in 1997. In 2002 he posted a 1.81 ERA in 55 games for the Braves.

Holmes pitched in 34 games for the Yankees in 1998. He did not see any action in the postseason. He is currently the assistant pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles.

Darren Holmes – career stats

1994 Topps

Swings and misses

1980 Topps

Craig Chamberlain pitched in 15 games for the Kansas City Royals in 1979 and 1980. He went 4-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 79 innings pitched. He was quite effective for Kansas City as a rookie in 1979. He made 10 starts that season and threw four complete games while earning his four career wins and sporting a 3.75 ERA.

1981 Fleer

Alan Hargesheimer spent parts of four seasons in the majors, pitching for the San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs between 1980-1986. He appeared in 31 games and posted a 5-9 record with a 4.72 ERA.

1992 Fleer

Mike Capel pitched in 49 games for the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros between 1988-1991. He went 3-4 with a 3.62 ERA and three saves.

Jeff Reed

1989 Upper Deck

Reed caught for 17 seasons in the majors, breaking in with the Minnesota Twins in 1984 and finishing with the Chicago Cubs in the year 2000. In 1,234 major league games, Reed hit .250 with 61 home runs. In addition to the Twins and Cubs, he also played for the Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies. He had his best year at the plate while playing for Colorado in 1997. Reed hit .297 that season with 17 home runs, 47 RBIs and 43 runs scored, all of which were career highs.

Browning threw his perfect game on Sept. 16, 1988, at Riverfront Stadium against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cincinnati won the game 1-0. Reed did not have a hit as Dodgers starter Tim Belcher limited the Reds to just three of them.

Pete Rose managed Reed and the Reds during their run to the 1990 World Series. Reed appeared in 72 games during the 1990 season and saw action in four games of the National League Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, he did not play in any of the World Series games, as the Reds swept the Oakland A’s in four.

Jeff Reed – career stats

1991 Leaf