Phantom Cardboard: The Strange Case of the 1970 Seattle Pilots

1970 Seattle Pilotsby Kevin Kimmes

If you have been reading the site lately, you are well aware that I have started a daily column, The Numbers Game, which looks at past and current players in the Brewers organization based on their jersey numbers, including the 1969 Seattle Pilots, the team that would become the Brewers. That column will return tomorrow. Today I wanted to share something interesting that I discovered while doing my research over the past week: There are no Milwaukee Brewers cards that appear in the 1970 Topps baseball card set, however there are Seattle Pilots cards, cardboard representations of a team that never was.

So how did this happen? It’s a simple timing issue really. Every year Topps releases Series 1 of their baseball product prior to the start of the regular season. It’s an appetizer, if you will, to the upcoming baseball season. Due to the lead time required to get all images approved and printed, any last minute transactions, or in this case changes in name and venue, would not be able to be accounted for, thus cards for a team that never played a single inning. According to Chris Olds, editor of Beckett Baseball, this is one of two incidents like this, the other being in 1974 when some San Diego Padres cards were printed with “Washington Nat’l Lea.” on them.

To give you an idea of how small of a window the change in ownership created, the Pilots were officially declared bankrupt on April 1, 1970. The Brewers would play their first official home game at Milwaukee’s County Stadium on April 7th, 1970, a mere six days later.

Below is a checklist/breakdown of every player that appears in the set in a Pilots uniform and where they actually played in 1970:

#  2 Diego Sequi – Played for Oakland

# 31 Marty Pattin – Played for Milwaukee

# 53 John Kennedy – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Boston on June 26th, 1970.

# 88 Pilots Rookies (Miguel Fuentes & Dick Baney) – Probably the most tragic card of the set, Fuentes not only threw the final pitch for the Pilots in 1969, but was murdered during the off-season in his native Puerto Rico by a bar patron who thought Fuentes was relieving himself on his car. Baney, who also appears on the card, did not play in the majors in 1970.

#111 Mike Hegan – Played for Milwaukee

#134 Danny Walton RC – Played for Milwaukee

#158 Jerry McNertney – Played for Milwaukee

#185 Don Mincher – Played for Oakland

#224 Steve Barber – Played for both Chicago (NL) and Atlanta

#249 Bob Locker – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Oakland on June 15th, 1970.

#271 Greg Goossen – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Washington on July 14th, 1970.

#289 Gene Brabender – Played for Milwaukee

#323 Wayne Comer – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Washington on May 11th, 1970 for Hank Allen and Ron Theobald.

#359 Phil Roof – Played for Milwaukee

#370 Tommy Harper – Played for Milwaukee. Harper is the only player to be named to the 1970 American League All-Star squad from Milwaukee.

#393 John Gelnar – Played for Milwaukee

#418 John Donaldson – Played for Oakland

#441 John O’Donoghue – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Montreal on June 15th, 1970 for Jose Hererra.

#473 Don Bryant – Played for Houston

#499 Skip Lockwood – Played for Milwaukee

#514 Steve Hovley RC – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Oakland for Al Downing and Tito Francona on June 11th, 1970.

#533 Buzz Stephen RC – Did not play in the majors in 1970. MLB experience consists of 2 games with the Twins in 1968 in which he went 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA.

#556 Dave Bristol (MGR) – Managed for Milwaukee

#574 Bobby Bolin – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Boston for Al Yates on September 10th, 1970.

#596 Mike Hershberger – Played for Milwaukee

#613 Dave Baldwin – Played for Milwaukee

#652 Rich Rollins – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being released on May 13th, 1970 and signed by Cleveland the same day.

#667 Bob Meyer – Played for Milwaukee

#688 Ted Kubiak – Played for Milwaukee

#713 Pilots Team Card

If you would like to see what the cards look like, high quality scans of both the fronts and backs are available here. I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 7 of The Numbers Game.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.

The Numbers Game: 2 Can Be As Bad As 1…

Nyjer Morganby Kevin Kimmes

Good morning and welcome back to the second installment of The Numbers Game. Today, I will be looking at the players who have worn jersey number 2 for the Pilots/Brewers over the years. So, let’s get started.

Seattle Pilots:

No player was assigned the number 2 in the Pilots organization in 1969.

Milwaukee Brewers:

Ted Savage – 1970-71: Savage played 114 games in the outfield for Milwaukee in their inaugural season recording 77 hits (12 for homeruns), 57 walks and a batting average of .279. Despite the 1970 campaign being the best of his career, he would only play 14 games in 1971 before being traded to the Kansas City Royals for Tom Matchick.

Bob Heise – 1971-73: Acquired in a trade from the Giants for Floyd Wicker during the 1971 season, Heise is best known for having played on four teams that made the post-season. Unfortunately for Heise, he did not make a single post-season appearance for any of these four squads.

Bob Sheldon – 1974: The first player on the list to spend his entire career with Milwaukee, Sheldon would appear in 94 career games between ’74, ’75 and ’77. He recorded a stat line of .256/.317/.324 with 67 hits and 23 walks. Sheldon would switch his number to 16 for the ’75 campaign.

Kurt Bevacqua – 1975: Bevacqua was acquired from the Kansas City Royals in 1975 to back up 3rd baseman Don Money who had been experiencing arm issues. Bevacqua would take uniform number 11 in 1976.

Fun fact: according to his 1976 Topps baseball card (#564), Bevacqua is the 1975 Joe Garagiola/Bazooka Bubble Gum blowing champion.

No player was assigned the number 2 in either 1976 or 1977.

Lenn Sakata – 1978-79: Lenn switched from number 21 to number 2 for the 1978 campaign. He was only the second Asian-American player to play in the MLB when he debuted with the Brewers in 1977. A utility infielder for most of his career, Sakata holds the dubious distinction of being the Baltimore Orioles starting shortstop when Cal Ripken, Jr. began his consecutive games played streak.

No player was assigned the number 2 from 1980 through 1982.

Randy Ready – 1983-86: A utility infielder, Ready logged 120 games over 4 seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers to begin his career. Ready was traded to the San Diego Padres for a player to be named later on June 12, 1986. That October, the Brewers would receive Tim Pyznarski to complete the deal.

Edgar “Kiki” Diaz  – 1986, 1990: Acquired as an undrafted free agent, Diaz appeared in 91 games for Milwaukee in his 2 MLB seasons, primarily at shortstop. He carries a career line of .268/.335/.294 with 62 hits and 22 walks.

No player was assigned number 2 in 1987.

Mike Young – 1988: Young appeared in 8 games for Milwaukee in 1988 registering 0 hits in 14 at-bats and walking twice.

No player was assigned number 2 in 1989 or 1991.

William Suero – 1992-93: A utility infielder who primarily played at 2nd base, Suero played solely for Milwaukee in his two years in the majors. In 33 games for Milwaukee, Suero was 7 for 30 with a line of .233/.324/.267. Suero died at the age of 29 in a fatal car crash in his native Santo Domingo.

Jose Valentin – 1993-99: Acquired on March 26, 1992 from the San Diego Padres with Ricky Bones and Matt Mieske in exchange for Gary Sheffield and prospect Geoff Kellogg, Valentin would see action with Milwaukee in eight consecutive seasons. Despite having a career batting average of .243, his career OBP of .321 is a testament to his plate discipline and willingness to walk.

Tyler Houston – 2000-02:  The second overall selection in the 1989 MLB June draft, Houston played three seasons with Milwaukee. He is best remembered for hitting 3 homeruns on July 9, 2000 against the Detroit Tigers, making him the first back-up catcher in Brewers history to receive a curtain call from the fans.

Bill Hall – 2002-09: Hall made his MLB debut with the Milwaukee Brewers on September 1, 2002. He helped the 2005 Brewers have their  first .500 season since 1992, splitting his time among 2nd base, 3rd base and shortstop while maintaining a batting average of .291 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.

Despite being named the team MVP in 2006, and signing a 4 year extension in 2007, Hall fell out of favor with both fans and management over the next several seasons. In 2007 he led all MLB center fielders with 9 errors and the lowest zone rating (.837). Struggles against right handed pitching only exacerbated the situation in 2008 leading to Hall being vocal about being traded and falling out of favor with fans due to the remark.

On August 19th 2009, Hall was traded to the Seattle Mariners for minor leaguer Ruben Flores.

Joe Inglett – 2010: Inglett appeared in 102 games for Milwaukee in 2010 hitting .254/.331/.401 with 36 hits and 15 walks. More interesting is the fact that on July 27th, 2010, Inglett pitched a complete inning for The Brewers in which he recorded a 0.00 ERA against 3 batters.

Nyjer Morgan – 2011-12: Our final entrant on today’s list is the man known as T-Plush, Nyjer Morgan. Morgan who was acquired from the Washington Nationals prior to the start of the 2011 season was a firecracker in a Brewers lineup that finally brought home the NL Central title. Morgan’s clutch hitting in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks led The Brewers on a collision course with their division rivals, The St. Louis Cardinals, in the NLCS.

Morgan would see his production drop off in 2012 leading to a reduced role in the outfield and his eventual release at the end of the season.

See you all back here tomorrow for part 3.

Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.