Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Derek Bell

Drafted on June 2, 1987 by the Blue Jays in the 2nd round of the 1987 amateur draft, Bell spent several years in the minors before making his MLB debut in '91. During his time with the Jays he was voted the 1991 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year and the 1991 International League Most Valuable Player. He was also a World Series champion in 1992.

On March 30, 1993 he was traded by the Blue Jays with Stoney Briggs (minors) to the San Diego Padres for Darrin Jackson.

Nearly two years later he was traded by the Padres with Doug Brocail, Ricky Gutierrez, Pedro Martinez, Phil Plantier and Craig Shipley to Houston for a player to be named later, Ken Caminiti, Andujar Cedeno, Steve Finley, Roberto Petagine and Brian Williams. The Houston Astros sent Sean Fesh (minors) to the San Diego Padres to complete the trade.

Bell would be known as one of the Killer B's during his time with Houston. However, after an argument with Dierker (who had just returned to the team after nearly dying) and the opinion that he was becoming a liability, he was traded to the Mets on December 23, 1999 with Mike Hampton for Kyle Kessel (minors), Roger Cedeno and Octavio Dotel.

Just short of a year later he signed as a Free Agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Apparently the past few years have not been good to Derek. In 2006 he was found to be in felony possession of crack cocaine. In 2009 it appears he was found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia on at least two different occasions.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tony McKnight

Tony McKnight was drafted by the Astros in the 1st round (22nd pick) of the 1995 amateur draft. He played five seasons in the minors before making his major league debut in 2000. He would play in just three games in 2001 with the Astros before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Mike Williams.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bob Lillis

Bob Lillis was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1951 and played in thier minor league system for several years. His first major league game was in 1958

On May 30, 1961 he was traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers with Carl Warwick to the St. Louis Cardinals for Daryl Spencer. The Houston Colt .45's drafted him October 10, 1961 from the St. Louis Cardinals during the expansion draft. The Astros released him in in 1967.

A scout and instructor in the Astros organization from 1968 to 1972, he joined their major league coaching staff in 1973 and replaced Bill Virdon as manager on August 10, 1982

He was replaced by Hal Lanier in '85.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mitch Meluskey

Just like Chris Holt, Houston and Detroit were the only major league teams that Mitch Meluskey played for. Not only that, they were both born on September 18 (although two years apart). He finished fifth in balloting for the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2000 after hitting .300 with 14 home runs and 69 RBIs.

Houston Astros (1998-2000, 2003)
Detroit Tigers (2002)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tom Griffin

After being drafted by the Astros in the 1st round (4th pick) of the 1966 amateur draft, Griffin spent a few years in the minors before making his major league debut on April 10, 1969. He continued to play for the Astros until 1976 and was at that time picked up by the Padres.

Griffin's final game was with the Pirates on May 11, 1982.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Chris Holt

Chris Holt was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1992 amateur draft. On December 11, 2000 he was traded by the Astros with Roger Cedeno and Mitch Meluskey to the Detroit Tigers for Brad Ausmus, Doug Brocail and Nelson Cruz.

Holt spent the majority of his MLB career with Houston, except for the 30 games with Detroit and 12 games with AAA Colorado Springs in 2002 before going to Japan.

He was a member of the Astros' National League Central Division champions in 1997 and 1999.

Astros (1996-97, 1999-2000)
Detroit Tigers (2001)
Yokohama BayStars (NPB) (2002-03)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dave Meads

It's time to start posting some more cards! I've gotten lazy and have neglected my blog. Actually, the last three or four posts were scheduled to be published while I attended a sex offender registration conference in Galveston, Texas. The week after that I was actually on vacation, though I spent most of the time going out of town; one trip to my rheumatologist, one trip to take my kid to the doctor, a visit for an eye exam for myself (getting my first pair of bifocals; these things are expensive and will eat up some of my baseball card funds!). Following all of that I had to do the Thanksgiving thing. Then, when I got back to the office there was a ton of work to catch up on plus I've been in court nearly every day.

So, now it's time to catch up on some cards! I'll start off with what came in the mail today: Dave Meads

Meads was drafted by the Astros in the 6th round of the '84 amateur draft on January 17, 1984. He spent several years in the minors until 1987. That year he played in 45 games. The next year he only played in 22 games with the Astros. He also played over 20 games in the minors during those years (Tucson). He retired in '89, still with Tucson.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bob Abreu

Bobby Abreu (aka "El Comedulce" (the candy-eater) and also "La Luche"), started his Major League career with the Houston Astros. He played only 74 games over two seasons with Houston before becoming the 6th pick for the Devil Rays in the 1997 expansion draft.

Abreu is currently with the Angels.

Awards (or, the Many reasons Houston should have kept Bobby Abreu rather than Richard Hidalgo):
1996 Houston Astros Minor League Player of the Year
1999 Venezuelan Winter League All-Star OF
1999 Venezuelan Winter League Player of the Year
1999 Philadelphia Phillies Player of the Year
2000 Philadelphia Phillies Player of the Year
2001 Philadelphia Phillies Player of the Year
2004 NL Silver Slugger Award (OF)
2004 MLB All-Star
2005 NL Player of the Month (April)
2005 NL Gold Glove Award (OF)
2005 MLB All-Star
2005 Winner of the Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star game. (41 home runs over 3 rounds)
2009 AL Player of the Month (July)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 6th round of the 1988 amateur draft. He played five games in the major leagues in 1991. From 1988 to 1995 he played in a total of 116 games in the minors for various Astros farm teams.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Andy Mota

Andy Mota was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 6th round of the 1985 amateur draft, but did not sign. In 1987 he was drafted by the Astros in the 12th round of the 1987 amateur draft.

He played 27 games in the majors in 1991 (with Houston). Most of his career was spent in the minors (1987-1994), with the majority of that spent with the Houston organization.

Andy is the son of Manny Mota.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Alvin Morman

Morman was drafted by the Astros in the 39th round of the 1991 amateur draft. He spent six seasons with Houston and one season with them in the majors. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Jose Cabrera; eventually traded in 1998 by the Indians with Shawon Dunston and Jose Mesa to the San Francisco Giants for Jacob Cruz and Steve Reed. Signed as a Free Agent with the Kansas City Royals in 1998 and released a year later.

Following his baseball career, Morman received a master’s degree in school counseling from North Carolina Central University, and is currently a guidance counselor at a public school.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mark McLemore

Mark McLemore was drafted in the 4th round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft out of Oregon State University. McLemore made his big league debut for the Astros on May 24, 2007, pitching one inning of relief against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He missed the entire 2008 season due to elbow surgery but made it back to the Round Rock Express last season.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Glenn Wilson

Glenn Wilson played his first pro game with the Tigers in 1982; he was drafted in the first round in 1980. After playing for the Phillies (1984-87), Mariners (1988) and the Pirates (1988-89, 1993) he ended up in Houston (1989-90) after being traded for Billy Hatcher.

Wilson was known as Glennbo, a reference to Rambo, once appeared in a Phillies promo ad dressed as Rambo. I'll have to tell my little brother about this (we started calling him Glenbo back around 1973, way before Rambo existed).

In 1979 he was on the NAIA All-American team. He played college ball for the Sam Houston State Bearkats (1978-80). It appears he applied as the head baseball coach there in 2006. That would have been great; at least I'd know where to find him so I could get a card with a better looking sig (still need to upgrade this one for my SHSU alumni collection).

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

George Bjorkman

George Bjorkman was traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Houston Astros for Jeff Meadows (minors). On March 26, 1984 he was sent by the Astros to the Montreal Expos to complete an earlier deal made on February 24, 1984.

He had only one card issued (this one). You can see where he started to sign with a blue pen, which appeared to run out of ink, so he signed over what he had already written.

Sent off on5/28/09; returned on 7/21/09

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mike Simms

Drafted by the Astros in the 6th round of the 1985 amateur draft
Debut: September 5, 1990
Final Game: October 3, 1999

Houston Astros (1990-92, 1994-96)
Texas Rangers (1997-99)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mike Groppuso

Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1st round (44th) of the 1991 June Draft. Played minor league ball for Houston until 1999. Currently the baseball coach at Kingston High School in Kingston, New York.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mike Cosgrove

Drafted by the Houston Astros in the 2nd round of the 1970 amateur draft (Secondary Phase). Major league debut was on September 10, 1972. Final game was with Houston on September 25, 1976.

Originally drafted by the Reds in 1969 but did not sign. In 1989, Cosgrove played for the Orlando Juice of the Senior Professional Baseball Association. In 1990 he pitched 4 games in the Senior Professional Baseball Association for the Florida Tropics. It appears Cosgrove played three games this past summer with the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jim York

Jim York played with the Royals from 1970-71. Following that he spent four seasons in Houston, beforing playing one more season in the majors with the Yankees (1976).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jim Deshaies

Initially drafted in 1978 by the Expos, Deshaies did not sign a contract until four years later with the Yankees. In 1985 New York traded him for Joe Niekro and some players to be named later. In '91 he was granted free agency; he continued to play ball with several other teams until 1995.

Deshaies remained in baseball after his retirement. He has been in broadcasting, both on television and in radio.

Sent off on 11/1/99; returned 11/22/99

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fernando Nieve

Fernando Nieve, aka "The Snowman", made his debut with the Astros on April 4, 2006. He had spent the previous five years in the minor league organizations. In March of '09 he was selected off waivers by the Mets.

I've never been a big fan of cards with signed stickers, and I'd honestly have to say this was one of the ugliest cards produced (no offense to the Snowman). What was Donruss thinking when they produced this series?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Al Osuna

Al Osuna pitched for Houston for three years (1990-93); prior that that he spent a few years with their minor league teams.

He was drafted twice in 1985 (Orioles and then the Padres) but did not sign. In '87 he signed with Houston. He was traded in 1994 to the Dodgers for James Daspit.

Is it just me or is the '91 Donruss Rookie set the ugliest set ever released?

Friday, October 23, 2009

John Mizerock

Drafted on June 5, 1979 by the Astros in the 1st round (8th pick) of the 1979 amateur draft, Mizerock would spend several seasons in the minors before making his major league debut in '83. He remained with Houston until released three years later.

Since retiring from playing he has managed in both levels. Last season he was with the Royals as a bullpen coach but it was announced two weeks ago that he would not be returning. Dayton Moore claims it was a "philosophical change".

Sent off on 5/5/00; returned 12/7/00

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Alan Knicely

Alan Knicely was drafted by the Astros in the 3rd round of the 1974 amateur draft. After spending some time in the minors he finally made it up to the big leagues on August 12, 1979. He spent most of his time in the majors as a back up catcher.

On March 31, 1983 he was traded by the Astros to the Cincinnati Reds for Bill Dawley and Tony Walker.

*Southern League MVP, 1979 (shared with Danny Heep)
*American Association MVP, 1984
*The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year, 1984

The first card shown reminded me of a song by some other folks from Houston...

"Now go out and get yourself some big black frames
With the glass so dark they won't even know your name
And the choice is up to you cause they come in two classes:
Rhinestone shades or cheap sunglasses!"

TTM 6/29/09---10/19/09

Gene Pentz

Here's a card I received this week; it's been a while since one has been sent back inscribed so I was quite pleased. I just wish I had a better card, rather than one that is so dark.

In December of 1975 Pentz was traded by the Detroit Tigers with Terry Humphrey, Mark Lemongello and Leon Roberts to the Astros for Jim Crawford, Milt May and Dave Roberts. He was released in September of 1978 and picked up by the Pirates.

Sent off on 10/5/09 and received back on 10/20/09

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jim Gentile

Diamond Jim Gentile first played in the majors with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1957. He ended up in Houston in June of '65 after being traded by Kansas City. By July of the following year he was traded to the Indians.

Gentile hit 46 home runs in 1961 while with the Orioles, including a new AL season record of five grand slams. That year he hit grand slams in consecutive innings during one game.

Sent off on 9/10/09; returned 10/16/09

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tommy Helms

Helms made his major league debut September 23, 1964 with the Reds.

On November 29, 1971 he was traded by Cincinnati with Lee May and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros for Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke and Joe Morgan.

In December 1975 he was traded to the Pirates for Art Howe.

Following his playing career he managed the Reds (1988-89), twice filling in for Pete Rose, including when Rose was suspended for betting.

Career highlights and awards:
2× All-Star selection (1967, 1968)
2× Gold Glove Award winner (1970, 1971)
1966 NL Rookie of the Year

TTM 10/5/09--10/13/09

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bobby Shantz

Bobby Shantz's first game was May 1, 1949 with the Philadelphia Athletics. During the 1961 expansion draft he was picked up by the Colt .45s from the Pirates. By the following May he was traded to St. Louis for Carl Warwick and John Anderson.

Career highlights and awards:
*3x All-Star selection (1951, 1952, 1957)
*8x Gold Glove Award winner (1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964)
*1952 AL MVP

TTM 9/11/09---9/18/09

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Phil "Scrap Iron" Garner

Traded to Houston by Pittsburgh on August 31, 1981 for Johnny Ray, Randy Niemann, and Kevin Houston, Phil Garner would remain an Astro until the summer of '87, at which time he was traded to the Dodgers. In 2004 Scrap Iron but back on an Astros uniform when he replaced Jimy Williams as manager.

The next season the Astros played in their first World Series but lost against the White Sox. By 2007 Garner was released and replaced by Cecil Cooper (himself recently released by Houston). As it turns out, Houston announced this week that Garner is one of ten that will be interviewed to replace Coop.

As player:
Oakland Athletics (1973–1976)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1977–1981)
Houston Astros (1981–1987)
Los Angeles Dodgers (1987)
San Francisco Giants (1973)

As manager:
Milwaukee Brewers (1992–1999)
Detroit Tigers (2000–2002)
Houston Astros (2004–2007)

3x All-Star selection: 1976, 1980, 1981
World Series champion (Pirates)- 1979

Sent off on 3/5/09; received back on 3/13/09

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dave Veres

Dave Veres was with the Astros from 1994-95, having signed with them as a free agent; prior to that he spent some time with the minors affiliates of Oakland and L.A. He was traded along with Raul Chavez to the Expos for Sean Berry.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jeff Juden

Jeff Juden was signed by the Astros in the 1st round (12th pick overall) of the free-agent draft in 1989. Most of his time with Houston was spent in the minors. He would play in only 4 games in '91 and just 2 in '93 before being traded along with Doug Jones to Philadelphia in exchange for Mitch Williams.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jeff Calhoun

Jeff Calhoun was drafted by Houston in the 3rd round of the 1980 amateur draft. He spent several seasons in the minors before being called up during the '84 season. He would stay with the Astros until he was traded to the Phillies in 1987 for Ronn Reynolds.

While he was was Houston he was a reliever with the 1986 National League West Champion; unfortunately, in Game 6 he managed to throw a few wild balls and the 'Stros lost 7-6.

These days Calhoun has been involved in the ministry at Second Baptist in the Houston area; he also coaches there on the high shool baseball team.

Sent off on 6/17/09; returned on 6/24/09

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eddie Taubensee

Eddie Taubensee spent a season with the Indians before being traded along with Willie Blair for Kenny Lofton and Dave Rohde. He would stay with the Astros from 1992 through part of '94 before being traded to the Reds.

It looks like Eddie was playing in the dirt, found a ball and was thinking something along of the lines of "Hmmm...this looks familiar. I think I'm supposed to do something with this...but what?"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Raul Chavez

Currently playing for the Blue Jays, Raul Chavez was a member of the Astros in 2000 and again from 2002-2005. He was originally signed by Houston as an amateur free agent in 1990 and played in several of their minor league divisions through 1995 before making his major league debut with the Expos in '96.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Denis Menke

Denis Menke's first game was April 14, 1962 with the Milwaukee Braves. After six seasons with the Braves he played for the Astros (1968-71), Reds (1972-73), and again for the Astros in 1974.

In 1969 Menke and Jim Wynn hit grand slam home runs in the same inning.

While he was with the Astros he was an All-Star selection two times (1969 and 1970).

He was a hitting coach for the Astros for six seasons.

Sent off 12/22/07; returned 1/3/08