Saturday, May 21, 2016

Red Sox With No Cards: 1997

1997 was a little bit better from a card standpoint.  Oddly, most of the players who have no Red Sox cards are players who have appeared in one of these posts before.  So a number of these players have actually been with the Red Sox spanning multiple years.  Yet, they have no cards.

Borland had been a fairly important part of the Phillies bullpen for several years coming into the 1997 season.  The year before, he pitched in 69 games with a 7-3 record and a 4.07 ERA.  The Phillies traded him to the Mets prior to the 1997 season with Ricardo Jordan for Rico Brogna.  He appeared in 13 games for the Mets before being traded to the Red Sox for fellow No Card Member Ricky Trlicek.  Borland pitched in just three games for Boston, with a 13.50 ERA.  He never pitched in more than 18 games again after 1997.  Toby Borland was not related to former Red Sox pitcher Tom Borland.

1997 was Brandenburg's second season with the Red Sox and his last season in the Major Leagues.  He was used frequently by Boston, pitching in 31 games, but was inconsistent at best.  He finished the season 0-2 with a 5.49 ERA.  The side-arming reliever did pick up 34 strikeouts versus 16 walks in 41 innings.  After the season, Brandenburg was traded back to the Rangers along with Aaron Sele and Bill Haselman for Jim Leyritz and Damon Buford, though he did not pitch in the Majors for them.

After a one-game stint with the Red Sox in 1996, somehow Ken Grundt made it back to the Big Show in 1997.  This time, he pitched in two games, but he wasn't much better than he had been the previous season.  He pitched three innings, compared to the 0.1 inning he pitched in 1996, though with a 9.00 ERA.  Grundt pitched one more season in the minor leagues in 1998 before hanging it up.  Despite pitching for four organizations, Grundt only ever pitched in the Major Leagues with the Red Sox, and never had a Major League card.

Hudson's third season with the Red Sox was his best one yet.  Yet, he still did not get a proper Major League card with Boston.  He pitched in 26 games with a 3-1 record and a 3.53 ERA.  He did have a little trouble with the free pass, walking 14 while also striking out 14 in 35.2 innings.  Hudson did not pitch in the Majors for the Red Sox in 1998, despite staying in the organization.  He was traded at the trading deadline to the Brewers for Eddy Diaz in a very minor trade.  Diaz never played for Boston and Hudson made it into just one game for Milwaukee.  That was his last appearance in the Majors.

For a short amount of time in 1997, it looked like Kerry Lacy might emerge as the Red Sox closer.  He picked up three saves over the course of about 12 days.  That was his save total for the season though.  Lacy's opportunity arose as a result of Heathcliff Slocumb's ineffectiveness.  Lacy was also in his second season with the Red Sox after being acquired in the same trade as Mark Brandenburg (for Mike Stanton).  Unfortunately, Lacy's overall season was not very impressive.  He had a 6.11 ERA over 45.2 innings and issued more walks than strikeouts.  He never appeared in the Majors again after 1997.

After a season away from the Majors, Mahay made it back to Boston in 1997.  This time, he was a left-handed relief pitcher after transitioning away from the outfield.  Mahay was very impressive in his first season as a reliever, showing up in 28 games, oftentimes as a lefty specialist.  His ERA was a sparkling 2.52 and he was 3-0 with 22 strikeouts versus 11 walks in 25 innings.  Mahay would bounce back and forth between the minors and majors over the next couple of seasons but would eventually have a long Major League career as a lefty reliever.  Mahay did not appear on many cards over his career, which had more to do with his status as a former replacement player than it did as a reliever.

The longtime Twins pitching prospect made the Opening Day roster for the Red Sox in 1997 after a coming over from Minnesota toward the end of the 1996 season.  Mahomes pitched in ten games over the first month of the season before being sent to the minors, and eventually Japan.  Mahomes was 1-0 with an 8.10 ERA.  One of the major things that sunk his season was giving up 10 walks in just 10 innings and only striking out five.  He would make it back to the Majors in 1999 with the Mets, for whom he turned in a good season.  He would then pitch in the Majors for a few more years.

McKeel played a bit more often than he had in his debut season in Boston in which he appeared just once, as a defensive replacement.  He still appeared as a defensive replacement a couple of times, but he actually accumulated three at-bats.  Four of his games were as a catcher, with one as a first-baseman.  McKeel did not get a hit in his three at-bats and struck out once.  He would resurface with the Rockies in 2002 and actually pick up four hits in 13 at-bats.

Pride was always an interesting player.  He was the first deaf player in Major League baseball since 1945.  He was coming off a fairly successful season with the Tigers in 1996 and played reasonably well again for Detroit in 1997.  He was picked up as a free agent in late August by Boston and made it into two games for the Red Sox, both as a pinch hitter.  In one of those at-bats, he homered.  Pride would bounce around a bit over the next several seasons, and even returned to Boston in 2000.  He was a fascinating story.

Making his second appearance on one of these posts, Trlicek last appeared for Boston in 1994.  Since that time, he bounced around several organizations, playing in the Majors for the Mets in 1996.  Trlicek began the 1997 season on the Opening Day roster for Boston and pitched in 18 games for the Red Sox, going 3-4 with a 4.63 ERA.  Not good, but not terrible either.  He walked 18 though and just struck out 10 in 23.1 innings, which was definitely not good.  Trlicek was eventually traded back to the Mets for Toby Borland and pitched in nine games with an 8.00 ERA.  That was his last appearance in the Majors.

If I had to pick just one player from this group who I would most like to see in a Red Sox uniform on a card, I would pick Curtis Pride.  His story is inspirational.  Deaf from birth, he had to overcome a lot to make it to the Major Leagues.  And in just two pinch-hit at-bats with Boston, he picked up a home run.  I would have liked to see bullpen stalwarts like Mark Brandenburg, Joe Hudson, Kerry Lacy, and Ron Mahay as well, and we likely would have had 1997 been more like the early 1990's when companies were producing cards of many more players.  Someone like Ken Grundt or Walt McKeel likely would never have seen any cards.  Their Major League careers consist of just a few games each.


  1. I agree with you on Pride. I have team issue postcards of a few of these guys

    1. Also. I've said it before but I love these posts

  2. Ah Joe Hudson, saw him in live in 96 against the Brewers. Scott Karl pitched the game of his life to match Roger Clemens.