Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Random Topps Card of the Day: 1990 Topps #539 Neal Heaton

Thanks to the Topps Card Randomizer, introducing the Random Topps Card of the Day for Tuesday, December 31, 2013:

  • Official Card Set Name and Card Number: 1990 Topps #539.
  • Player Name, position, team: Neal Heaton, pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Major League Debut: September 3, 1982.
  • Last Line of Statistics: 1989 stats (Pirates): 42 G, 147.1 IP, 6-7, 55 R, 50 ER, 67 SO, 55 BB, 18 GS, 1 CG, 0 SHO, 0 SV, 3.05 ERA.
  • Any special information about player: Drafted by the Indians #2nd, June 1981. Traded by the Expos to the Pirates 03/26/1989. Bats: left. Throws: left.
  • Number of regular Topps Cards (includes regular and traded cards only): 5. This is his fourth Topps card.
  • Blurb on the back: "Neal was signed as a 2nd round Draft selection of the Indians, June 24, 1981 by Scout Leon Hamilton. Neal is a 1979 graduate of Sachem (N.Y.) High School."
  • Commentary: Of the six colors Topps used for their 1990 design, I think the light blue looks the best. Sure any Oakland Athletics card with green borders looked great, and the red borders suited teams like the Cardinals and Red Sox, the blue looked great with for almost EVERY team. Including the Pirates, who did not have a single blue element in their logo, uniform, lettering, etc. Case in point? The card of veteran pitcher Neal Heaton of the Pirates. Now, although Heaton had been in the majors full-time since his eight game cup-of-coffee in 182, for some reason, he did not appear in his first Topps card until 1987, long after his days with the Indians and Twins (although there were no issues joining those other companies apparently). All of Heaton's hard work paid off when he was named to his first and only All-Star Team in 1990. In fact, during that rain soaked affair, the NL skipper, Roger Craig, held Heaton back in the event that the game would go into extra innings. I remember the broadcasters that night saying something to the effect of "Craig could use Heaton to pitch nine innings if he had to." I'm sure Heaton's real manager, Jim Leyland, would not have agreed, but considering he was a durable starter with a lot of relief experience, if it had to come down to it...well (it never happened as the AL won 2-0 in the rain-delayed affair). Heaton would finish the year with a 12-9 record in 30 games, a 3.45 ERA, 68 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.24. He would pitch for one more season with Pittsburgh before being traded in 1992 to the Royals in exchange for Kirk Gibson (who quite frankly, I don't recall seeing him on a Topps card in a Pirates uniform). After spending most of the season in KC, Heaton was released and signed on with the Brewers (he appeared in one game for Milwaukee). In 1993, he pitched for the Yankees. Upon being released from the Bronx in June of that year, Heaton retired from playing.
  • Beckett value: $0.01-$0.05.
  • How many cards of this player do I own?: 9 cards.

Tomorrow's card will be: 2009 Topps #286. Post will arrive at 1:00 PM CST. We're looking back at a card from 2009 here on the blog tomorrow.


JayBee Anama

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