Player: Born and raised in Cleveland, Jerry Dybzinski went to Cleveland State and was drafted by the Indians in the 15th round in 1977. After two and a half years in the minors Dybzinski broke camp with the Tribe in 1980. Dybzinski backed up both shortstop and secondbase and got a chance to start at the former when starter Tom Veryzer was out for four weeks with injury. Dybzinski showed a steady glove and nice range but he batted just .230 with very little pop in 278 plate appearances. The following year the strike and competition from Fischlin and Alan Bannister limited Dybzinski to 57 at bats. He hit .298 but his 17 safeties were all singles.
By 1982 Veryzer was gone and Dybzinski won the starting job at short. He got off to a good start and was batting .288 at the end of April. He started 48 of the first 50 games but when his average dipped to .217 he was benched in favor of Fischlin. He was eventually sent to the minors and did not return until September. He ended the year batting .231 in 246 trips to the plate.
Three days before opening day in '83 the Indians sent Dybzinski to the White Sox in exchange for Pat Tabler. Dybzinski shared the shortstop position with Scott Fletcher and played in a career high 127 games. Dybber hit his typical .230 but was considered the better defender.
When the White Sox faced the Orioles in the ALCS it was Fletcher who got the starting nod. After Fletcher went hitless in the first three games, Dybzinski got the start in game four. The Sox were down two games to one and facing elimination in the best of five set. With the game scoreless in the seventh, Dybzinski came to the plate after Greg Walker and Vance Law opened the inning with singles. Dybzinski attempted a sacrifice bunt but it resulted in a forece out at third. Julio Cruz then singled to left but Dybzinski overran second base and didn't notice that Law had been held at third. With Dybzinski was caught in a run down, Law broke for home but was thrown out at the plate. Chicago's rally died out but Dybzinski got a chance to redeem himself. With the game still scoreless with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Dybzinski singled to keep things alive but after a Julio Cruz single, both runners were stranded and the O's ended up winning 3-0 in 10 innings.
In 1984 Dybzinski backed up Fletcher at shortstop and Law at third batting .235 in 132 at bats. He was a spring training casualty in '85 and was picked up by the Pirates. He got into only five games for Pittsburgh before he was sent down to the minors for the rest of the year. Dybber spent all of '86 with Seattle's top farm club but never made it back to the majors.
Flipside: Collected, cracked and produced. I wonder if Topps drew verbs out of a hat when coming up with these highlights.
Oddball: When he was benched and then sent to the minors Dybzinski did not handle it well at all. He refused to report to AAA Charleston and was suspended without pay. A week later he still hadn't reported and the Indians didn't know where he was. Dybber finally reported to his post three weeks after the demotion. Maybe he was overwhelmed with the pressure of playing in his hometown but it ticked off Indians management and he was gone the next year.
History: Dybzinski was a typical good fielding-light-hitting shortstop. Unfortunately for him he was considered by some White Sox fans as a goat for killing the rally in Game 4 of the '83 ALCS. If nothing else he was consistent batting between .230 and .235 in the four years he played the most. He retired with a career stat line of .234/.293/.290 in 1,037 plate appearances.
Amazingly the trade of Dybzinski by the Indians to the White Sox can be linked to current Indian reliever Joe Smith.
1. Dybzinski traded to Chicago for Pat Tabler
2. Cleveland swapped Tabler to Kansas City on 6/3/88 for lefty hurler Buddy Black
3. Cleveland sent Black to Toronto on 9/24/90 for three players including pitcher Alex Sanchez4. Cleveland traded Sanchez back to Toronto for Willie Blair on 11/6/90
5. Cleveland packaged Blair and catching prospect Ed Taubensee to Houston in exchange for Kenny Lofton and Dave Rohde on 12/10/91
6. Cleveland enjoys five great years from Lofton and sends him and Alan Embree to the Braves for Marquis Grissom and David Justice on 3/25/97.
7. Cleveland trades David Justice to the Yankees on 6/29/00 for Zach Day, Jake Westbrook, and Ricky Ledee.
8. Cleveland gets ten up and down years from Westbrook but it is Day who keeps thing going with his trade to Montreal on 7/1/01 in exchange for Milton Bradley
9. Cleveland tires of Milton Bradley's game and trades him to the Dodgers for Franklin Gutierrez on 4/3/04
10. Cleveland, Seattle, and New York Mets swung a three way, eleven-player deal that saw Gutierrez land in Seattle with reliever Joe Smith coming from New York to Cleveland on 12/11/08
It reminds me the red paper clip story with the tarder eventually getting a house. So when you see Joe Smith pitch for the Indians this year, or highlights of Kenny Lofton or David Justice in a Cleveland jersey, remember it doesn't happen without Dynbzinski.