Leon “Bull” Durham was a popular player in Chicago. Twice an All-Star, once a Silver Slugger, but with Mark Grace’s arrival he became expendable (much like Buddy Bell when Chris Sabo burst on the scene in 1988). The Cubs decided to take the Bull to market, and got pitcher Pat Perry in return. He only played 21 games for the Reds in 1988, and in 1989 returned to St. Louis, where his career began in 1980.
This is the final 1988 Topps Reds card. But… not the final 1988 card. Come back tomorrow for one more…for now.
The Reds acquired Van Snider from the Royals for Jeff Montgomery, and after two uneventful seasons in the Reds’ system, he was dealt to the Yankees with Tim Leary for Rod Imes and Hal Morris. Snider entered law enforcement after his baseball career and spent time with the Mayfield Heights Police Department.
I thought this was the final player to complete the roster for 1988. After reviewing the list, however, I realized there are two more. So that will finish out the week nicely. Come back tomorrow for another guy who didn’t get a Reds card in 1988 Topps or Topps Traded.
Tim Birtsas arrived in Cincinnati as a part of the Jose Rijo/Dave Parker trade with the A’s. Fleer included him in their year-end Update set, but Score and Topps both focused on the big-name players in the trade. Birtsas played three years with the Reds and contributed a 3.86 ERA to the 1990 World Championship team.
Ron Roenicke bounced around quite a bit during his 8-year big league career, wrapping it up with 14 games in Cincinnati in May 1988. After finishing the season with the Reds’ AAA club, he moved on to Texas’ minor league system, but never again saw action in the majors as a player. From 2011-2015, Roenicke served as the Brewers’ manager.
Mario broke the news yesterday that Major League Baseball has extended Topps’ exclusive license to produce baseball cards with team logos. While there are several serious and legitimate complaints about Topps’ efforts in recent years, we need to remember that in this case, Topps is not to blame. MLB has every right to limit who produces their product, even if collectors don’t like it. If there has to be only one, I am personally glad it is Topps. The company’s long history with baseball makes them the logical choice in an exclusive deal.
Major League Baseball is the one to blame here. While Topps could and should assign a group of employees to focus on quality control so that they are above reproach, I’m not sure a non-exclusive license would necessarily eliminate all the problems they have faced. Humans make mistakes. Typos. Errors. It is what it is. Who knows, competition might cause more intentional errors just to move product.
I’m not thrilled with most of what Topps is releasing. In the past, I was a defender of Archives, and I’m still looking forward to its release this year, but I think there is a bit of retro-overload. Between Archives, Heritage, Living Set, and so many retro inserts, it is easy for an old grump like me to get confused. I can barely read the copyrights on the back, and it is frustrating when I have trouble figuring out if a card is 2015 or 2018. If they didn’t reuse the same designs so often, maybe it would be better. But Topps loves 1987 and 1983 and 1953 and it’s just difficult to keep up with everything.
I don’t buy much product off the shelf. I’m a Reds collector. Buying a blaster for $20 and pulling 2 or 3 cards of my team is silly when I can wait a few months and get the full team set for $4, then pick up a few inserts that interest me here and there. So my money isn’t important to Topps. Unless the high spenders cut back their purchases, Topps won’t try to change. They are successful, and can pretty much do whatever they want without any real competition (don’t get me wrong, I love Donruss, but they aren’t real competition). Complaints lodged on Twitter and blogs don’t amount to squat when you’re still devouring the product as soon as it is released.
MLB is the one to blame for all the “monopoly” complaints, not Topps. MLB could have opened up the license to allow Donruss or Upper Deck or Honus Bonus to produce a licensed product. I’m sad there will be no other licensed cards in the near future, but I’m glad Topps still has a license, even if I don’t buy a whole lot directly from them.
Rob Dibble received the call to join the Reds in June 1988 and made a big impact in 37 games throughout the second half of the season. He struck out 59 batters in 59 1/3 innings, and Fleer and Score included the Nasty Boy in their year-end update sets. Topps, however, ignored the flamethrowing reliever since he didn’t play for the Yankees.
Randy St. Claire came to Cincinnati with Jeff Reed and Herm Winningham in exchange for Tracy Jones and Pat Pacillo. He only appeared in 10 games, and photos of the pitcher in a Reds uniform are next to impossible to find unless they appear on baseball cards. The photo I chose comes from the 1989 Upper Deck release.
St. Claire was released by the Reds in 1989 at the end of spring training and spent the next couple of years in the minor leagues before making it back to the bigs in 1991 with Atlanta.
Norm Charlton made his debut with the Reds on August 19, 1988, lasting only 2 and a third innings in a loss against the Cardinals. Charlton started ten games through the end of the season, then moved to the bullpen in 1989. During the Reds’ 1990 World Championship season, he split time between the starting staff and the Nasty Boys bullpen.