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  1. Nice story on Bob Oliver.  Didn’t realize that he bounced around the minors that many years after his final MLB days.

    On a side note, I believe it was the recently departed Charlie Metro who was the manager in the early part of the 1970 season for the Royals.  Bob Lemon didn’t take over the helm until later in the season.

    (RIP Charlie~ You were always a favorite of mine. You did a great job with the expansion Royals and devoted your life to baseball.)

  2. Bruce,
    I really enjoy these pieces using baseball cards as springboards to consider the careers of the players depicted, especially the journeymen stories.
    I am curious. I wonder how many players today have a career arc like Bob Oliver, particularly the twilight minor league years. Has the relatively more generous paydays that major league players enjoy today made such a slow, painful decline sub-major leagues less likely?
    And the Nolan Ryan connection ‘tween Oliver pere and fils (I thought Darren a solid pro when he pitched for the Mets.) made me shake my head in wonder. That is one fact I’ll trot out to impress
    at trivia slams. (NOT that it’s trivial… wink )

  3. Good catch, Bucco. Metro was manager for 54 games before giving way to Lemon.

    Thanks, Joe. I find the stories of the journeymen so much more interesting than the stars. Following the peaks and valleys, and the trades and releases, makes their careers more eventful in some ways.

  4. Interesting thought Joe.  I can’t seem to think of many recent players who had a fairly significant MLB career that later hung around the minors for any amount of time. 

    The one that immediately comes to mind is Wes Chamberlain. Though never an every day player, he played a fair amount over four to five seasons. 

    After leaving the big show in 1995 he floated around the minors until 2004 often playing for AAA and independent teams throughout the country.

    (I won’t count Jose Canseco who seems to appear with independent teams for his own publicity.)

    I know quite a few foreign players go back to their native countries and play in their home leagues after their MLB career.

  5. Bruce,

    Much like you, I enjoy the journeymen tales too.  One of my current favorites is Jeff Cox currently the White Sox third base coach who played for the A’s from 1980 to 1981.

    He signed with the Royals as an undrafted free agent late in 1973 and attended their baseball academy.  He was promptly released in early 1974.

    Signing on with two independent teams in 1974, he would later be released by both. (Most people would have given up the dream at that point).

    After attending a tryout with the A’s in 1975, he was able to garner a contract.  Scrapping his way through the minors over several seasons. He finally appeared with Billy Martin’s A’s in the early 1980’s.

    Topps found it fitting to include him in their 1981 set only to mess up and use a picture of Steve McCatty on his rookie card!

    For all his perseverance, his photo never appeared on a Topps card.  You have to look to the ‘81 Donruss set for that.

    A true baseball lifer who has given himself to the game.

    P.S.  Call out “Hey there’s Steve McCatty” when at the ballpark.  You’ll get a funny reaction out of him!

  6. What about Rickey Henderson continuing to play in the minors after his career ended?  He wanted to get back to the majors, and I believe he played for Newark.