Saturday, April 27, 2013

Random Topps Card of the Day: 1987 Topps #137 Jerry Willard

Thanks to the Topps Card Randomizer, introducing the Random Topps Card of the Day for Saturday, April 27, 2013:

  • Official Card Set Name and Card Number: 1987 Topps #137.
  • Player Name, position, team: Jerry Willard, catcher, Oakland Athletics.
  • Major League Debut: April 11, 1984.
  • Last Line of Statistics: 1986 stats (Athletics): 75 G, 161 AB, 17 R, 43 H, 8 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 0 SB, .385 SLG, 22 BB, 28 SO, .267 AVG.
  • Any special information about player: Signed with the Phillies as a Free Agent 12/20/1979. Signed with the Athletics as a Free Agent 04/04/1986. Bats: left. Throws: left.
  • Number of regular Topps Cards (includes regular and traded cards only): 3. This is his third and final Topps card.
  • Blurb on the back: "Jerry graduated from Hueneme (Cal.) High School in 1978. He attended Oxnard (Cal.) College."
  • Commentary: For many of today's collectors, the 1987 Topps set is as iconic a set as the 1952 Topps set. While I'm not saying that the 1987 set is even remotely close in popularity and value to the famous '52's, for collectors like myself, it was the starting point to our cardboard lives. Yes, there are probably enough cards from this set out there that could be literally engulfed in flames and still retain its lack of monetary value, but it still holds a place in our hearts. I mean, even Topps recognized this because they used it as their "mini" insert set in 2012. Anyhow, up until 1985, Jerry Willard was known as one of the five players who were infamously traded by the Phillies to the Indians in exchange for Von Hayes. To this day, I still wonder who got the better of this deal. In 1984, the then 24-year-old catcher became part of the Tribe's catching platoon, sharing the job with veterans Chris Bando and Ron Hassey. However, with 68 starts behind the plate (and 85 games played overall), he saw the most action of the three. The starting job was his going into the 1985 season, whose numbers were pretty good (.270 with 7 home runs and 36 rbi's) on a young starting lineup that included Brett Butler, Joe Carter, Pat Tabler, Tony Bernazard, and Brook Jacoby. He signed with the A's as a free agent, platooning with Mickey Tettleton as the team's primary catcher. But with Terry Steinbach winning the catcher's job in 1987, Willard was demoted to the minors. He did appear in 7 games (2 in May, the rest in September), hitting .167 with two walks. In Tacoma, Willard hit .298 with 6 home runs, drove in 38 rbi's, and finished with an OPS of .889. Now, Topps stopped including Willard in their sets, but his career was still ongoing. He was released by the Athletics after the 1987 season, and was nowhere to be found in 1988. The White Sox signed Willard to a minor league contract, so he spent the next two seasons in Vancouver, the Sox' Triple-A affiliate. He did return to the majors as a September call up in 1990, appearing in three games. The Braves signed him in 1991, and did make the squad out of spring training. Used primarily as a pinch hitter (and unsuccessful at that, going 0-7 in 9 games (he was sent up and ordered to come back to the dugout twice), he was sent to the team's Triple A affiliate in Richmond, where he hit over .300 8 home runs and 38 rbi's. He made his return for good in September, and finished the month with 3 hits in 6 at bats. He was added to the team's postseason roster, where his walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4 gave the Braves a 3-2 win. He stayed with the Braves organization for two more years, spending most of 1992 with the team before being DFA's (designated for assignment, and signing with the Expos for the rest of the season) and all of 1993 with Richmond. On May 10, 1994, as a member of the Mariners, he was behind the plate when a foul tip off the bat of Julio Franco (who ironically was also in that five-player deal for Von Hayes), struck his right shoulder, causing a fracture and damaged cartilage. Unable to throw a ball, he was placed on the DL, and when he was activated, played the rest of the year in Calgary. After one final season in Tacoma (the team changed affiliates), he called it a career.
  • Lo-Hi Beckett value: $0.01-$0.05.
  • How many cards of this player do I own?: 3.
Tomorrow is Retro Sunday, the one day of the week that we feature a card from 1951-1975. The card we will feature tomorrow is: 1956 Topps #145. Come back at 1:00 PM CST to see who (or what) it is.


JayBee Anama

No comments: