TTM Success: Vern Rapp
In just ten days from his home address, Vern Rapp signed my 1984 Topps Traded card. This is the eighth Reds autograph from the 1984 Topps/Topps Traded sets that I have obtained; I have four others in the mail at the moment (and will probably have more out by the end of the month).
In 1984, Rapp managed the Reds to a 51-70 record in 141 games before Pete Rose took over for the remainder of the season. Rapp had previously managed the Cardinals in 1977-78, and announced his retirement from the Montreal Expos organization as a coach at the end of the 1983 season. A Boston radio station decided to broadcast a tribute to Rapp as a parody of the many Carl Yasztrzemski-themed tributes being paid on-air for his retirement (see the Sports Illustrated write-up here). The Reds brass caught wind of the broadcast, realized that Rapp could potentially be an asset to the team, and talked him out of retirement.
Rapp never played in the major leagues, but his minor league record stretches back to the 1940s. He started out at age 18 in 1946 playing for a Cardinals affiliate. His last at-bat in the minor leagues came in 1976 at the age of 48, almost like a minor league version of Minnie Minoso. He got a hit for AA Denver in his first plate appearance since 1966. His playing career ended with 792 hits, prompting Topps to change the number of cards in their annual set just a few years later.
If you believe that last part about Topps, I have a few thousand late 1980s baseball cards that would make a great investment…maybe even pay for your kids’ college educations!