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.

Swings and misses

1988 Donruss

Mark Thurmond pitched for eight seasons in the majors. He came up with the San Diego Padres in 1983, then worked for the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants before retiring in 1990. In 314 games Thurmond went 40-46 with a 3.69 ERA and 21 saves. His best season came for the Padres in 1984 as he won 14 games and helped them reach the World Series. Thurmond pitched in two games of the series against the Detroit Tigers. He was the Game 1 starter but lost to Jack Morris. The Tigers went on to win the series in five games.

1992 Stadium Club

Tim Jones played in 252 games for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1988-1993. He hit .233 with one career home run. Jones best season was his second in the majors as he hit .293 in 42 games in 1989.

Tom Poquette

1977 Topps

Poquette played for seven seasons in the majors, breaking in with the Kansas City Royals in 1973 and finishing with the Royals in 1982. In between he played for the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers and hit .268 with 10 home runs in 452 games. Poquette was a regular for the Royals as a rookie in 1976. He hit .302 that year, then hit .292 in 1977. However, his average slid to .216 in 1978 and Kansas City dealt him to the Red Sox midway through the 1979 season. Poquette performed well for Boston, hitting .331 in 63 games, but the Red Sox released him the next year. He caught on with the Rangers, then returned to the Royals before concluding his career.

Poquette and the Royals faced the New York Yankees three straight years in the American League Championship Series. The two teams played from 1976-1978, with New York prevailing every time.

Tom Poquette – career stats

1981 Topps

Swings and misses

1981 Topps

Jerry Garvin pitched for six seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays from 1977-1982. In 196 games he posted a 20-41 record with eight saves and a 4.43 ERA. Garvin’s best season was his first, as he went 10-18 with a 4.19 ERA and 127 strikeouts for Toronto as a rookie. He lost 12 games the next year, then pitched out of the bullpen for the rest of his career.

1992 Topps Stadium Club

Bill Swift won 94 games during 13 years in the big leagues, spent pitching for the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies. He won 21 games and had a 2.82 ERA for the Giants in 1993 and was an 11-game winner for the Mariners in 1998, which was his last year in the majors. His best season, however, came in 1992 when he won 10 games and had a 2.08 ERA for San Francisco. His performance was good enough to earn him second place in Cy Young vote that season. Greg Maddux won the award.

1993 Upper Deck

The starting catcher for the 1990 World Series champions, Joe Oliver spent 13 years in the majors playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Seattle Mariners, Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. In 1,076 games he hit .247 with 102 home runs. Oliver hit at least 10 home runs in seven of his seasons. His most productive year came for the Reds in 1993 as set a career highs with 75 RBIs and 14 home runs. Oliver hit .333 for Cincinnati against the Oakland A’s in the World Series. The Reds swept the A’s 4-0.

Gary Wayne

1990 Score

Wayne pitched for six years in the majors, going 14-14 with a 3.93 ERA for the Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers. Wayne played from 1989-1994 and never made a start in the big leagues. He had his best season while pitching for the Twins in 1992 as he won three games and posted a 2.63 ERA in 48 innings.

Wayne was an original member of the Colorado Rockies franchise. He pitched in 65 games for the team in 1993, its inaugural season, and had five wins, which was his career high.

We featured Mickey Stanley in 2018.

Gary Wayne – career stats

1990 Donruss

Casey Candaele

1988 Score

Candaele played for nine years in the majors, hitting .250 with 11 home runs for the Montreal Expos, Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians between 1986-1997. Candaele hit .277 for Montreal as a rookie in 1987 and finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year vote. He had his best year at the plate while playing for the Astros in 1990. He hit .286 in 130 games that season, then drove in a career-high 50 runs the next season. He played exclusively in the minor leagues for the next two years before coming back up with Cleveland in 1996. He appeared in 38 total games over the next two seasons with the Tribe before retiring.

Candaele is the son of Hellen Callaghan St. Aubin who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that was featured in the movie A League Of Their Own.

1992 Fleer

Swings and misses

1972 Topps

Milt May played for 15 years in the majors, breaking in with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1970 and finishing back with the Pirates in 1984. In between he also played for the Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants. In 1,192 games May hit .263 with 77 home runs. He had his best season in 1981 while playing for the Giants. That year May hit .310 and finished the season with MVP votes. He was a member of the 1971 Pirates’ team that won the World Series. May had two at bats in the series and singled home the winning run in Game 4. May got a second World Series ring in 1997 when he was the hitting coach of the Florida Marlins team that won it all.

1985 Topps

Brian Dayett played in 218 games for the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs from 1983-1987. He hit .258 with 14 home runs. Dayett’s best year was his final season when he played in 97 games for the Cubs and hit .277 with five home runs. He went on to play for three seasons in Japan before retiring.

1992 Topps

Kevin Tapani pitched for 13 years in the majors, winning 143 games for the New York Mets, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs from 1989-2001. Tapani appeared in just 16 total games from 1989-1991, so 1992 was his rookie season and he delivered for the Twins, winning 12 games and finishing fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year vote. He had the best year of his career in 1991, going 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA. He finished seventh in the Cy Young vote that season. Tapani won 16 games again in 1992 and posted double-digit wins for Minnesota in each of the next two years. He was traded to the Dodgers midway through the 1995 campaign, but won a total of 10 games between Minnesota and Los Angeles. He was a 13-game winner for the White Sox in 1996, then won 19 games for the Cubs in 1998, despite a 4.85 ERA. Tapani made two starts for the Twins in the 1991 World Series against the Atlanta Braves. He was the winning pitcher in Game 2, throwing eight innings and giving up two runs. He lasted just four innings in Game 5, however, and took the loss.

Doug Corbett

1981 Fleer

An all-star in 1981, Corbett pitched for the Minnesota Twins, California Angels and Baltimore Orioles during an eight-year major league career. Corbett was third in the American League Rookie of the Year vote in 1980, posting a 8-6 mark with 23 saves and a 1.98 ERA for the Twins. He was an all-star the next year as he led the AL in games (54) and games finished (45). However, he was far less effective the next season. His ERA jumped to 5.13 and he saved just 11 games for Minnesota and the Angels. Corbett had a solid season for California in 1984, finishing with a 2.12 ERA in 45 games. He remained in Anaheim for two more seasons before finishing his career with the Orioles in 1987. Corbett won 24 games and saved 66 more to go along with a 3.32 ERA in 313 career games.

Corbett pitched in his first game on April 10, 1980, facing the Oakland A’s. He came on in relief of Mike Marshall, who had relieved Jerry Koosman, and pitched the next five innings of the game, which the Twins won 9-7 in the 12th inning.

You can help Corbett’s son here.

Doug Corbett – career stats

1987 Topps