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.

Joe Johnson

1987 Fleer

Johnson pitched in 62 games for the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays from 1985-1987. In 327.1 innings he went 20-18 with a 4.48 ERA. Johnson’s best stretch in the big leagues came in 1986 after the Braves traded him to the Blue Jays for Jim Acker. Johnson made 15 starts for Toronto and went 7-2 with a 3.89 ERA. However, his ERA jumped to 5.13 the following season and soon his major-league run was over. Johnson pitched professionally from 1982-1990.

Johnson was featured in Sports Illustrated‘s July 6, 1987 issue, titled “One Day In Baseball.” A writer followed Johnson for an entire day leading up to what would end up being his final major league start. You can read the article here.

1987 Topps

Joe Johnson – career stats

1988 Topps

Eric Bell

1988 Topps

Bell pitched in parts of six seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros. In 68 games he posted a 15-18 record with a 5.18 ERA. Bell played from 1985-1987 with Baltimore, then spent the next four seasons in the minor leagues, before resurfacing with the Indians in 1991. He appeared in seven games for the Tribe in 1992, then pitched in 10 games for the Astros in 1993, concluding his big-league run. The vast majority of Bell’s time in the majors came in 1987 with Baltimore. He pitched in 33 games that year, making 29 starts for the Orioles, finishing with a 10-13 record and a 5.45 ERA.

Bell made his major league debut on Sept. 24, 1985, at County Stadium in Milwaukee against the Brewers. He entered the game in the eighth inning in relief of Scott McGregor, Nate Snell, Tippy Martinez and Scott Stewart. Bell pitched a clean eighth inning, striking out two. Milwaukee won the game 10-6.

We featured Steve Garvey in 2018.

Eric Bell – career stats

1988 Score

Skip Pitlock

1971 Topps

Pitlock pitched in 59 games for the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox between 1970 and 1975. In 192.2 innings he posted an 8-8 record with a 4.53 ERA. Pitlock was up with the Giants in 1970 and won five games. He did not return to majors until 1974, with Chicago. He won three games that season, then faced just one hitter in 1975, which ended his major league service. Pitlock pitched professionally from 1969-1976.

Pitlock hit his lone career home run on Aug. 8, 1970 off Houston Astros pitcher Wade Blasingame. It came in the bottom of the fifth inning of their game at Candlestick Park and helped the Giants to a 6-5 win.

Skip Pitlock – career stats

1975 Topps

Mike Hart

1988 Topps

Hart played in 47 games for the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles. In 105 at bats, Hart hit .162 with four home runs. Hart’s big-league service time was actually split by three seasons. He was up with the Twins in 1984, then returned to the majors in 1987 with Baltimore. Hart played professionally from 1979-1987.

Hart got his first big-league hit in his third big-league game, singling off Milwaukee’s Moose Haas in the fifth inning of their game at County Stadium on May 11, 1984. The Brewers got the best of Hart and the Twins that day, winning 4-1.

Mike Hart – career stats

Steve Searcy

1989 Donruss

Searcy pitched for parts of five seasons in the majors, compiling a 6-13 record with a 5.68 ERA while playing for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies from 1988-1992. The best run of Searcy’s career came in 1992 while with Philadelphia. He won two games and had a 4.15 ERA in 18 games that season.

Searcy made his major league debut at Comiskey Park on Aug. 29, 1988 against the Chicago White Sox. He pitched 7-and-2/3 innings and gave up five hits and three runs. The White Sox won the game 3-2 and Searcy took the loss.

Steve Searcy – career stats

1991 Topps

Doug Jennings

1989 Topps

Jennings played for five seasons in the majors, with his tenure taking place between the years 1988 and 1993. In 189 games he hit .202 with five home runs. Jennings spent most of his career with the Oakland A’s. However, the 42 games he played for the Chicago Cubs in 1993 proved to be his best stretch in the majors, as he hit .250 with two home runs.

Jennings played for Oakland in the 1990 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. His lone plate appearance came in Game 1 when he pinch hit for A’s starter Dave Stewart in the top of the fifth inning. Jennings singled off Jose Rijo, but was forced out at second base on a Rickey Henderson ground ball. The A’s lost the game 7-0 and the series in four games.

When his MLB career ended, Jennings went on to play for the Orix BlueWave in the Nippon Professional Baseball league. In Japan he teamed with future major league star Ichiro to help Orix reach the NPB series in 1995 and 1996. The team won the championship in 1996.

Doug Jennings – career stats

Charles “Boots” Day

1971 Topps

Day played for six years in the majors, breaking in with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969 and finishing with the Montreal Expos in 1974. In 471 games, Day hit .256 with eight home runs. He had his best season in 1971, while playing for the Expos. Day hit .283 that year and set career highs in runs scored (53) and RBIs (33). In addition to the Cardinals and Expos, Day played briefly for the Chicago Cubs in 1970.

On July 2, 1973, Day came to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning of the Expos’ game against the New York Mets at Parc Jarry in Montreal. Buzz Capra was on the hill for the Mets and Day took him deep to give the Expos a 2-1 walkoff win.

On Oct. 2, 1972, Bill Stoneman threw his second career no-hitter, beating the Mets 7-0. Day started the game in centerfield and had one hit, a triple that plated Tim McCarver, Ken Singleton and Jim Fairey, in the bottom of the third inning. Montreal won the game 7-0.

Day wore the number eight when he played for the Expos. The number was eventually given to Expos’ rookie catcher Gary Carter in 1975. Carter went on to the baseball Hall of Fame and the team retired the number.

Following his playing career, Day coached and worked as a scout. He retired from coaching in 2021 after serving as the bench coach for the Evansville Otters in the Frontier League.

We featured Ron Fairly in 2018.

Boots Day – career stats

1972 Topps

Mark Huismann

1985 Fleer

Huismann pitched for parts of nine seasons in the majors. In 152 games he compiled a 13-11 mark with a 4.40 ERA and 11 saves. He broke in with the Kansas City Royals in 1983, then went on to play with the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates where he ended his big-league run in 1991. Huismann’s best year was 1986, which he spent with the Royals and Mariners. He pitched 97.1 innings that season and had a 3.79 ERA to go with three wins and five saves.

Huismann made his major league debut on Aug. 16, 1983 at Royals Stadium in relief of Mike Armstrong, who relieved starter Bud Black. Huismann pitched 1.1 innings and earned the win in a 18-7 Kansas City victory.

Huismann saved 33 games for the Omaha Royals in 1985 and was the American Association’s pitcher of the year.

Mark Huismann – career stats

1985 Topps

Dave LaPoint

1984 Topps

LaPoint pitched for nine different teams during 12 years in the majors. In 294 games he posted an 80-86 record with a 4.02 ERA. LaPoint broke in with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1980, then went on to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies before his big-league run ended in 1991. He posted double-digit win seasons three times in his career, but had double-digit loss seasons five times. He went 9-3 with a 3.42 ERA for the Cardinals in 1982 in what was technically his rookie year and finished eighth in the National League Rookie of the Year vote. He won 14 total games in 1988, while pitching for the White Sox and the Pirates, in what was arguably the best season of his career.

LaPoint pitched in two games of the 1982 World Series for the Cardinals. He pitched 1.2 innings of relief in Game 1, which St. Louis lost 10-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers. He got the start in Game 4 and went 6.2 innings, allowing one earned run. The Brewers won that game as well, 7-5. However, the Cardinals won the series in seven games.

1985 Topps

We featured John Stuper in September 2021. Perhaps, not coincidentally, he listed LaPoint as one of his favorite teammates.

1989 Upper Deck

Dave LaPoint – career stats

1991 Donruss

Tom Lawless

1983 Donruss

Lawless played for eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays between 1982 and 1990. In 343 games he hit .207 with two home runs and 53 stolen bases.

Lawless is the only player to ever be traded for Pete Rose (who he listed as his favorite player growing up). In 1984 the Reds dealt Lawless to the Expos for Rose.

Lawless got to the World Series twice with the Cardinals. He appeared as a pinch runner in the 1985 World Series that saw St. Louis lose to the Kansas City Royals. He played in three games of the 1987 World Series against the Minnesota Twins. In Game 4 of that series he hit a two-run home run off Frank Viola in the bottom of the fourth inning. The home run has become infamous for Lawless’ bat flip, which you can see here. The Cardinals won that game, but lost the series in seven games.

Following his playing career, Lawless was a long-time minor league manager. He also managed the Houston Astros for 24 games in 2014.

We featured John Tudor in 2018 and Ricky Horton in 2021.

Tom Lawless – career stats

1986 Topps