Friday, November 4, 2011

#32 Dave Bergman

Card:  This is Bergman's fifth Topps card.  He shared a rookie card in '78 with Clint Hurdle, Miguel Dilone, and Willie Norwood.

Picture:  Bergman is shown here in a great action shot snaring a ball down the first base line in Candlestick Park.  The inset captures Bergman in a rare moment without his mustache.

Player:  Dave Bergman was drafted in the 2nd round of the '74 draft and tore up single-A Oneonta to a .348/.496/.597 line and was named league MVP.  Bergman's success carried through to Double-A West Haven in '75 where he hit .311 and was once again named league MVP.  All this earned Bergman a call up to the Yankees but Bergman floundered going 0-17 in his debut in New York.

Needing more time to fine tune his game, Bergman spent all of '76
at AAA Syracuse batting .295.  Repeating at Syracuse in '77 Bergman improved, hitting .312 with 90 walks giving Bergie a nifty .422 OBP.  Bergman got another brief look in the Big Apple going 1-4.  The Yankees didn't think Bergman's talent would translate to big league success and he was dealt to Houston as the player to be named later in the Cliff Johnson deal.

Bergman made the Astros out of spring training and stayed with them the whole year despite batting only .231 with only six extra base hits in 186 at bats.  Bergman spent most of '79 back in AAA batting .280 with 95 walks but got a September call up and batted .400 (6/15) for the Astros.  Bergman stuck with the Astros in '80 and was used almost exclusively as a defensive replacement and pinch hitter.  Starting only nine games all year, Bergman hit .256 in 78 at bats.  Bergman went one for three as the Astros lost to the Phillies in the NLCS.

Bergman started the '81 season in Houston but was traded in late April with Jeff Leonard to the Giants for Mike Ivie.  In San Francisco,  Bergman continued in his familiar role pinch hitting, coming in late in games to play defense at first base and getting an occasional start in left field.  Bergman wasn't flashy but hit .252 to .286 with 4 to 6 home runs from '81 to '83.  

On March 24, 1984 Dave Bergman was traded twice, first to the Phillies for Alejandro Sanchez and then to the Tigers with Willie Hernandez for Glenn Wilson and Johnny Wockenfuss.  In Detroit, Bergman shared time at firstbase and pinch hit. Bergman batted .273 for the first place Tigers and had some timely hits including a thirteen pitch at bat that ended with a walk-off three run home run against the Blue Jays in the 11th inning.  Bergman didn't start in any of the Tigers playoff games, getting one hit in six pinch at bats, but he and the Tigers were world champs.

Bergman struggled mightily over the next two years.  Playing a reserve role he hit .179 and .231.  Bergman rebounded in '87 batting .273 with a .379 OBP and slugged a career best .453.  The Tigers won the AL East but lost to the Twins with Bergman batting one for four in the ALCS.

In '88 Bergman received more playing time and performed well batting .294 in a career high 289 at bats.  On a poor Tigers team in '89, Bergman was penciled in the lineup on a frequent basis and batted .268 in 385 at bats.  Bergman returned to his bench role in 1990 and over the next three years was a defensive sub for Cecil Fielder and pinch hitter.  Bergman rounded out his career hitting .278, .237, and .232 over his last three years and retired following the '92 season.

Flipside:  Eh, that May 2 game isn't as impressive as his game Sept . 18 vs the Padres.  Bergman had an RBI single, a stolen base, and a home run in a 4-1 win.  Of course Topps wasn't privy to Win Probability Added or any of that yet.

Oddball:  That 0-17 with the Yankees in '75 was painful! Billy Martin told Bergman he was the worst player he ever saw in a major league uniform.  Bergman divulges this and a lot of other stuff here.

History: Bergman was solid pinch hitter and good defender, with a great eye walking more in his career than striking out (380 to 347).  His weaknesses were exposed when forced to play everyday but he could be counted on to be ready when called upon.

Today Bergman runs the Grosse Point Red Birds Baseball Organization and serves on the board of two foundations.  Bergman is an active member on the Board of Trustees for CATCH which is the organization founded by Sparky Anderson to help sick and needy children.  Bergman was fishing buddies with former pitcher Joe Niekro and since his sudden passing, Bergman has served as treasurer of the Joe Niekro Foundation.

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