This is the first in a hopefully ongoing series of autographs from the prospects of days old. I’ve collected a handful of such autos over the years, which is thankfully fairly easy since so few of these guys became huge stars.
Tom was a big prospect for the Dodgers back in the day; he was one of those storied 1990 Score draft pick cards, in fact. I never expected a huge amount from him, but he did seem like a decent burner on the bases, so I thought his cards might be worth a look. I particularly liked his 1991 Final Edition card, shown here:
1991 Upper Deck Final Edition
I’m happy for Tom that he had a fruitful career, and I’m happy to have an auto from somewhere in that career. Hall of Famer? No way. Hall of Very Gooder? Nah. But a fun player to watch in his prime.
Time for another Leaf Gold Rookie. Still a ways to go in the 1991 set, and then we’ll get to 1992. Reggie was another of the early prospects that I learned about, included with a class of Wil Cordero and Dan Opperman. He was often compared to Eric Davis, who was a superstar at the time and one of the players that I really admired. Reading that made me instantly want every one of his cards I could find, which was not much back in 1989. Come 1991, he had a card in the Upper Deck Final Edition set and the Leaf Gold Rookies, so of course I snapped up those as soon as I could. I believe I traded for Reggie’s Gold Leaf card through a friend who had pulled it from a pack.
I think Reggie falls in the same category as Zeile: good but not great. Injuries held him back a lot (like Davis), and of course he bounced from team to team, which couldn’t have been good for him overall.
I have to comment on this card: the photo is pretty weak by Gold Leaf standards. The color coordination, which was the set’s strength, is still there, but you can just barely see Sanders’ face and the pose is only so-so. Kind of disappointing.
Oh, and here’s a 1991 Final Edition card of Sanders with Ryan Klesko, since I wasn’t sure where else to put it:
I’ve told the tale of the 1989 Upper Deck High Numbers a few times, but this card in particular has an interesting story. I was part of a little card club back in 1989…we were a group of kids and a couple of older guys who would meet in the basement of the public library and swap cards from our collections. This usually resulted in the older guys ripping off the kids (thanks, jerks). But this card represents a little change. When I saw Zeile I was instantly intrigued – a prospect I hadn’t heard of? I checked out the guy’s stats on the backs and decided he looked like a pretty good catching prospect; the kid I was trading with wanted a bit for him, but to me it was totally worth it. I seem to remember dealing some 87 Fleer Update cards for him, but the actual trade is lost to the mists of time. Either way, I didn’t care. I had what I wanted.
Of course, Zeile went on to have a pretty decent career, if not Hall of Fame. He remained one of my favorite players during his playing years – one I always kept an eye on, even if this card disappeared into the ether sometime in the late 90s (this is a recently acquired copy). Thanks for the good years, Todd.
You’re looking at a genuine baseball pioneer. Okay, so Bert Blyleven is the best-known Dutch-born player in the majors, but Eenhoorn was far more instrumental in the formation of baseball in the Netherlands. It’s a shame he never caught on at the major league level, because he was a hell of a fielder. The bat just never caught up with the glove, and with Derek Jeter drafted just a year later, the writing was on the wall for Eenhoorn. He got some major league playing time, but never stuck.
It’s a shame, too, because I thought he was going to be the Yankees’ shortstop for a decade or so. You never know with prospects though…
I thought this guy was going to team with Ken Griffey Jr. to become some sort of outfield dynamic duo. This card certainly caught my attention at first because here he was covering second yet clearly marked as an outfielder. Combine that with the allure of 1989 Upper Deck High Numbers (which I really considered to be the cadillac of traded sets, already my favorite hobby staple) and I had to learn more about Pee Wee. I read up on him as quickly as I could and found out that he had decent pop for a little guy. Yep – perfect counterpoint for Griffey, and this image of the Seattle outfield was set in my mind. Of course, he never panned out, but we won’t worry about that.
I still think this is a cool card. I love this era of Mariners uniform so much that I used to have the yellow S hat. I don’t know what it is about the uniforms that speak to me, but they do. Combine it with the Spring Training blue jersey and that old school Diet Pepsi billboard in the back, and this is a nice time capsule of the late 80s.
Rockies and Marlins prospects kind of sit at a weird intersect here. The two teams were introduced as I was starting to stop collecting, but had prospects in 1992…so while I have some memories of John Burke, I was never as high on him as some of the prospects covered here. That said, I always loved this card. The shot with the rockies got kind of cliche, but it was fresh here. I love the colors here, and especially the lighting. Man, Upper Deck had some great photography back in the day. What happened?
Anyway, I seem to remember Burke got injured and was never the same. Kind of like the other Rockies savior, David Nied. It was a pretty bad thing to be a Rockies pitcher in the 90s, before the humidor. I mean, it’s not great now, but it’s a damn sight better.
Believe it or not, this was one of the key cards of the 1990 Upper Deck issue for me. I had been reading about Offerman for a couple of years at this point and never seen so much as a picture of him. To see this, this ethereal shot of him where his face was only partially visible…well, it was like something out of a dream. I had visions of this card being the next Griffey card, with Offerman having so much potential.
Of course, we know how it turned out. He was merely okay, and probably the capper to his career was his infamous attack on a minor league umpire. But I’ll always have the teenage memories of Offerman’s 1990 Upper Deck.