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.

Don Carman

1986 Topps

Carman pitched for 10 years in the majors, playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Texas Rangers from 1983-1992. In 342 games, Carman posted a 53-54 record with a 4.11 ERA and 11 saves. He won 10-or-more games for Philadelphia from 1986-1988. His best win total came in 1987 when he won 13 games. Carman led the National League in losses, with 15, in 1989.

Carman made his major league debut on Oct. 1, 1983. He entered the game in the ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates and retired the side in order to earn the save in a 5-3 Phillies’ win.

On Aug. 20, 1986, Carman threw eight perfect innings against the San Francisco Giants. San Francisco’s Bob Brenly led off the ninth inning and hit a ball that bounced off the heel of Phillies’ centerfielder Milt Thompson’s glove. The play was ruled a double, ending Carman’s quest for a perfect game. He did not allow another hit and got the win when Juan Samuel homered to lead off the 10th inning, sending Philadelphia to a 1-0 victory.

Don Carman – career stats

1989 Topps

Swings and misses

1972 Topps

Rich McKinney played in 341 games for the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees and Oakland A’s from 1970-1977. In 198 at bats he hit .225 with 20 home runs. His best season came in 1971 when he hit .271 with eight home runs while playing for Chicago.

1979 Topps

Greg Pryor spent 10 years in the majors, playing for the Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals from 1976-1986. He hit .250 with 14 career home runs. Pryor was a member of the 1985 Royals team that beat the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. He appeared in one game of the series, taking over for George Brett at third base in the ninth inning of Game 5. Pryor wrote a book about his time playing baseball called The Day The Yankees Made Me Shave. It is available here.

1989 Topps

Jim Eppard appeared in 82 games for the California Angels and Toronto Blue Jays from 1987-1990. In 139 at bats he hit .281. He played professionally from 1982-1992.

John Fishel

1989 Donruss

Fishel played in 19 games for the Houston Astros in 1988. In 26 at bats he hit .231 with one home run. He played professionally from 1985-1990.

Fishel was a member of the Cal State Fullerton team that won the 1984 College World Series. He was named the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament, where he had 13 hits in six games.

Fishel’s lone career home run came off St. Louis Cardinal Steve Peters in the Astrodome on Sept. 3, 1988.

We featured Steve Garvey in 2018.

John Fishel – career stats

Dave Campbell

1971 Topps

Campbell played for eight years in the majors, breaking in with the Detroit Tigers in 1967 and finishing with the Houston Astros in 1974. In between he also played for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. In 428 games Campbell hit .213 with 20 home runs. He had his most productive season in 1970 while serving as San Diego’s starting second baseman. He slugged 12 home runs that year and stole 18 bases while hitting .219. He also posted career highs in runs (71) and RBIs (40).

Campbell got his first career hit on Aug. 7, 1968. He started at second base for the Tigers that day as they hosted the Cleveland Indians. In the bottom of the eighth inning Campbell took Cleveland’s Mike Paul deep, driving in Don Wert. The bomb helped Detroit to a 6-1 win.

Campbell is, perhaps, better known as a broadcaster. He worked as a color commentator for ESPN from 1990-2010.

Dave Campbell – career stats

1973 Topps

Steve Shields

1988 Score

Shields pitched in 102 games for the Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins from 1985-1989. In 219 innings he compiled an 8-8 record with a 5.26 ERA and three saves. His best season came in 1988 while pitching for New York. He won five games that year and made a career-high 39 appearances, while posting a 4.37 ERA.

Steve Shields – career stats

1989 Topps

Dan McGinn

1970 Topps

McGinn pitched in 210 games for the Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos and Chicago Cubs from 1968-1972. Used mostly as a relief pitcher, McGinn compiled a 15-30 career record with a 5.11 ERA and 10 saves. He had his best season while pitching for the Expos in 1969, going 7-10 with a 3.94 ERA and six saves.

McGinn owns a couple of firsts for the Expos as he was part of their inaugural squad in 1969. He was the first relief pitcher used by the team and he also hit the franchise’s first home run, connecting off Tom Seaver in that same game on April 8 at Shea Stadium.

We featured Steve Renko in 2018.

Dan McGinn – career starts

1971 Topps

Swings and misses

1989 Topps

Pete Stanicek played in 113 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1987 and 1988. In 374 at bats he hit .243 with four home runs. He played professionally from 1985-1990.

1993 Topps

Dave Martinez spent 16 years in the majors, playing for the Chicago Cubs, Montreal Expos, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves from 1986-2001. In 1,918 games, Martinez hit .276 with 91 home runs and 183 stolen bases. He enjoyed his best season in 1996 while playing for the ChiSox. Martinez hit .318 that year with 10 home runs, 15 steals, 53 RBIs and a career-high 85 runs scored. Following his playing career, Martinez became Joe Maddon’s bench coach, first in Tampa Bay and then in Chicago. He was part of the Cubs’ team that won the 2016 World Series. In 2018, Martinez took over as the manager of the Washington Nationals. He guided the team to the World Series in 2019, where they defeated the Houston Astros, giving Martinez his second series ring.

1993 Topps

Randy Milligan hit .261 with 70 home runs in 703 big-league games. Milligan broke in with the New York Mets in 1987, then played with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Montreal Expos before his career ended in 1994. Milligan hit 20 home runs for the Orioles in 1990.

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