17 September 2016

1988 Best Orlando Twins #28 Bernardo Brito

    Following a 1987 design that resembled 1986 Donruss, Best Cards patterned the fronts of their 1988 team sets after the 1986 Topps set.  I think I actually like Best's approach a little better, though the "Orlando '88" is perhaps a bit reduntant, due to the inclusion of the team logo.  Best Cards' back designs didn't change much for the entire 1987-1990 length of their existence, and were always a bit spartan.

     After seven seasons in the Indians organization, 1988 found Bernardo Brito still murdering the ball, but also still stuck at the AA level.  In early March, the Cleveland Plain Dealer had a good feature on Brito that helped explain his seeming lack of progress.  Bernardo was from the hills of San Cristobal, not the bigger cities of Santo Domingo or San Pedro de Macoris, and didn't grow up in quite the same baseball saturated environment as most young Dominican prospects.

     "He's still got a long way to go," [Luis] Isaac said. "He never had any coaching when he was a kid.  He never heard of a cutoff man or a bunt play until he got here.  Usually it takes Latin players about three or four years longer to reach their maximum."

     Isaac was the scout who heard about Brito and drove into the mountains of the Dominican Republic to find and, ultimately, sign him.  The article goes on to say that Brito  would most likely only succeed as a designated hitter, but then explained how most such players were usually experienced veterans, and that it would be difficult for a rookie to break into the majors in the DH role.  To me that was, perhaps, a perfect description of Major League baseball's perpetual resistance to the entire concept of the DH.  Basically until Edgar Martinez came along, it was somehow foreign to just put a good hitter with limited fielding ability in the DH role and take full advantage of that.  Most designated hitters were either aging veterans who no longer had the mobility to play in the field, or utility-type guys who were perhaps too good to leave in the minors, but little more than average bats in the Majors.

    Despite the praise and high hopes by March 25th the Indians decided he was a no longer a prospect and released Bernardo Brito.  Five days later, Brito was signed by the Minnesota Twins and sent to Orlando, their AA affiliate in the Southern League.  By June 15th, Brito was leading the Southern League in home runs for the Twins with 15.  By July 5th, Brito had been named to the Southern League All-Star team and was leading the league with 19 HR and 57 RBI.  Not bad for a non-prospect!

03 September 2016

Player Collection Bobble Heads

     I was excited when some of the players I collect started having bobble heads issued, and couldn't wait to add them to my collection.  I try to stay under $25 if at all possible, and have been fairly successful with that approach, but at least one will likely remain out of reach.  Dave Henderson was issued a bobble head by the Yakima Bears in 2009.  No clue why they did it, as Hendu never played for Yakima, and they were not an Oakland or Seattle affiliate, but when they surface, they usually sell for over $250.  It is, however, one of the better likenesses I've seen on a bobble head.

     Prior to becoming a coach for the Giants, Roberto Kelly managed their Single-A affiliate in the South Atlantic League from 2005-2007.  He led the Greenjackets to 1st place finishes in 2006 and 2007, and won SAL Manager of the Year honors in 2006.  Kelly's very first bobble head was given away by the Augusta Greenjackets on July 30, 2016.

     Dave Winfield is now represented in bobble head form by 4 of the 6 teams for which he played over his 20+ years in the Majors.  The Padres have now issued three bobble heads for Big Dave.  The one shown here was given away at Petco Park on June 15th, 2003.  There is also a more rare version featuring Dave in a brown jersey.  It tends to be much pricier than the more common white jersey version.  Winfield got one more bobble head from the Padres, a mini, that was limited to 2000 and given away at the 2016 All-Star Fan Fest.  It looks to be 4-5" tall.  I'll probably pick one up after the prices settle down a bit.

      The Yankees bobble head was not a stadium give away (the Yankees still don't seem to care much for Winfield, even all these years later), but rather is an exclusive from Man of Action Figures, a Miami, Florida based action figure store.  They have a large presence online and on eBay.  I am grateful for them as they produced Winfield's only Yankees figure of the man since his retirement.  According to the eBay listing, it is limited to 288 pieces, but can be had for a very reasonable $14.99 + $13.99 shipping (which might seem steep, but it arrived quickly and fully intact).  The Yankees bobble actually reminds me more of Walt "No Neck" Williams than Dave Winfield.

     Toronto honored Winfield with a Blue Jay bobble head on April 7th, 2002.

     Two bobble heads have been issued by the Minnesota Twins for the home town favorite.  The one with the green base was issued on July 22, 2001, in honor of Winfield's Hall of Fame induction.  Given the serial numbers on the laminated card that came with the statue, I suspect upwards of 10,000 of these were given out at the stadium.  The second, with the red base, was given out to Twins season ticket holders for the 2002 season, and is supposedly limited to about 2500 pieces.  As he played for the Angels for a season and a half, I'm hoping to one day see an Angels bobble head issued for Winfield, but I'm not holding my breath for anything from Cleveland.

     Tuffy Rhodes received three bobble heads, all in fairly quick succession, during his time playing with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes.  I previously posted about the double bobble with Nakamura.  Each of the individual bobble heads was supposed to come with a Buffaloes lanyard (typically for carrying your game tickets), but all I received was the figures.  I haven't been able to track the exact release information, but I suspect these were released (from left to right) in 2001, 2002 and 2003.  I have seen a small figure of Tuffy in his Orix uniform, but I think it is just a statue and not a bobble head.

     I have yet to post anything about my collections of players who share my last name (or derivations thereof), but thus far it seems only one of them has a bobble head to his name.  That would be Josh Pressley.  He was a decent hitting first baseman who bounced around a lot from 1998-2006 before finally hitting the independent circuit where he would spend the rest of his career.  His one statue comes from the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League, where he played for 5 seasons.