Tuesday, July 31, 2012

#201 Rod Carew Super Veteran

Then and Now:  You can't tell it from the picture but Carew wore #21 when he first came up with the Twins in '67 before switching to his familiar #29.  He went on to win the A.L. Rookie of the Year with 19 of the 20 votes.  Carew has a big grin in the newer picture and he always seemed happy with the Angels after a tumultuous relationship with Twins owner Calvin Griffith.

Career Span:  4/11/67 to 10/5/85.  The Twins had a talented team in the late 60's with stars like Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva in their prime.  Carew also played with older veterans such as Johnny Roseboro and Al Worthington.  
As his career wound down with the Angels Carew played with rookie Devon White who would play until 2001.

All-Star: An 18 time A.L. All-Star, Carew was selected or voted to the team every year but his last.
He played in 15 contests and batted .244 in 41 at bats.  His best game was in '78 when he blasted two triples in four at bats. 

League Leaders:  Led the league in batting average seven times between 1969 and 1978. 
Also led the league in:
Hits- '73, '74, and '77
Runs- '77
Triples- '73, '77
OBP- '74, '75, '77, and '78
Using Baseball Reference's WAR, Carew led positional players three times- '74, '75, and '77.

All Time:  23rd in hits - 3,053
7th in singles- 2,404
34th in batting average- .328

Gold Glove: Nope.  Most advanced metrics show Carew was a plus defender at first base and average to slightly above average at second base.  He wasn't regarded as a reliable fielder with the leather but it was an award he always wanted.  His 33 miscues in '74 didn't help his cause although it was the only time he committed more than 20 in a season.  While errors can be subjective and don't speak of a players range, unjust or not, they cemented an image of a poor fielder.

Silver Slugger: Zilch.  By the time the award came around in 1980 Carew was facing stiff competition from his fellow first basemen. 

Postseason: Carew was never on the winning side of a playoff series.  In four playoff series Carew had just 11 hits in 50 at bats. 

MVP:  Won the MVP in '77, finished in top 10 five other times and received MVP votes in nine different seasons.

Hall of Fame:  Elected in his first year of eligibility in 1991 with 90.5% of the vote.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

#200 Rod Carew - California Angels

Check out that headband!  Rod Carew's fashion choice was typical of athletes in the early 80's.  Others who wore it well include gridiron great Walter Payton and later hoopster Cliff Robinson
This is Carew's 16th Topps card.  I must say that his glove looks enormous.

Player:  Rod Carew was born in the Panama Canal Zone and emigrated to New York City when he was 14.  He did not play baseball in high school, opting to play semi-pro ball instead.  He caught the attention of the Twins who signed him to a free agent contract in 1964.

Carew debuted with the Twins in '67 and won the AL Rookie of the Year award and appeared in his first All-Star game.  He batted .292/.341/.409, very impressive numbers for the late 60's especially a middle infielder.  He followed that up with a .273 average which would prove to be the lowest of his career as he would peel off 15 straight seasons batting over .300.

The left-handed second baseman made a living of using the whole field and he won the first of seven batting titles in 1969 with a .332 mark.  He struggled in the Twins ALCS loss to the Orioles, eking out just one hit in 14 at bats.  Carew was batting .376 in June 1970 when he tore ligaments in his knee and was sidelined until September.  He came back as a pinch hitter but was hitless in five at bats and two more in the post season as the O's beat the Twins again. 

As Carew continued to recover fully he batted .307 in '71.  He improved to an AL best .328 in '72 which was just a prelude to the dominance he would show over the next six years.  From '73 to '78 he batted .350, .364, .359, .331, .388, and .333. 

Halfway through the '77 season, Carew's batting average was at .401 and his final .388 was the highest seasonal mark since Teddy Ballgame was tearing up the AL in 1941.  By now playing first base, Carew's '77 campaign was truly magnificent with a .388/.449/.570 line.  He led the majors with 129 runs scored, 239 hits, and 16 triples while earning 9.5 WAR. 

Aggressive on the base paths, Carew stole home seven times in '69 a feat he would pull off 17 times in his career.  After healing fully from his knee injury he would steal 30-35 bases a year.

Carew signed with the Angels in '79, and despite a thumb injury that limited him to 110, the year was a success as he bated .318 and returned to the postseason for the first time in nine seasons.  Despite a 7 for 17 performance from Carew, the Angels dropped the ALCS in four games to the Orioles. 

Although no longer a speedster, Carew continued to hit for a high average .331, .308, .319, and .332 over the next four years.  In '82 he had a disappointing ALCS against the Brewers with a .176 average in five games.  Carew hit .295 and .280 over the next two years collecting his 3,000th hit during the '85 season.  He called it quits after the '85 retiring with a lifetime average of .328.

Flipside:  Some might fine print there.  I'm surprised Topps didn't forgo the seasonal highlights and give his stats a larger font. 

Oddball:  Carew didn't want to retire after the '85 season but he did not receive one single offer from a major league team.  Ten years later he was found to be a victim of collusion, and was awarded over $780,000.

Carew can be seen here endorsing the K-Tel Rod Carew Batting Trainer:

Maybe he felt bad about teaching kids to hit off balance in the late 70's 'cos now he has his own website dedicated to the science of hitting. 

History:  Simply put, Carew was one of the best hitters ever.  His .328 lifetime batting average is the 34th highest of all-time.  More of his career achievements will be explored in the next post:  Rod Carew Super Veteran.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

#199 Marty Bystrom - Philadelhia Phillies

Marty Bystrom's third Topps card is one of the rare staged action shots in this set and is reminiscent of Topps cards of the 60's and 70's.  Bystrom has some poofy hair in the "action" shot but it is cut much closer to the head in the inset.  Here is a good shot of his white man 'fro.  
Player:  Marty Bystrom was signed by the Phillies as an 18 year old free-agent in December of 1976.  A year and a half later he hurled a perfect game at single-A Peninsula throwing 67 of his 89 pitches for strikes. 

Bystrom made his MLB debut with the Phillies on Sept 7, 1980 with an inning of scoreless relief and three days later he twirled a complete game shutout over the Mets.  He followed that up with seven scoreless innings and three more quality starts as he helped the Phils lock up the NL East.  The rookie was named NL Pitcher of the Month as he ended the year with a 5-0 record and a 1.50 ERA in 36 innings.  He made one start each in the NLCS and World Series and received a no-decision in both games.  The Phillies won the series to cap Bystrom's fantastic rookie year.

Expectations ran high for Bystrom in 1981 and he did well to start the season with a 3.35 ERA (109 ERA+) but was shut down in June with shoulder problems.  He had a set back in spring training in '82 when the pain in his shoulder came back.  He only pitched in 19 games that season but was not effective (4.85 ERA, 1.438 WHIP). 

A back injury during the spring delayed the start of Bystrom's '83 season.  When he came back in May he struggled to regain his form.  A shutout of the Expos on 9/14 helped Bystrom earn a postseason roster spot despite a 4.60 ERA during the regular season.  Bystrom threw one scoreless inning in the NLCS as the Phils won the pennant but lost to the Orioles in the World Series. 

The next spring, Bystrom injured a nerve in his shoulder and his '84 season did not start until May.  After 11 starts the Phillies traded Bystrom and prospect Keith Hughes to the Yankees for Shane Rawley.  He had struggled with Philadelphia but had a 2.98 ERA in 7 starts for New York.  He underwent elbow surgery in the offseason and did not return until July.  He found the road to recovery difficult and was hit hard (5.71 ERA) in 8 starts. 
Bystrom spent the next four seasons in the minors playing for the Yankees, Giants, Phillies, and Indians organizations before calling it a career at age 30.

Stuff:  90 mph fastball, slider, change, curve  

Flipside:  That is a lot of innings for a young arm.  Including postseason work, Bystrom logged 690 innings in his 18-21 year old seasons. While I am no doctor or pitching coach I wonder if it played a role in his constant health problems

Oddball:  The Phillies were able to get Bystrom on the postseason roster in 1980 despite the fact that he wasn't on the big league roster until September 1st.  Bystrom replaced injured pitcher Nino Esponosa and the maneuver was cleared by the commissioner's office.  It happens all the time these days but the move was controversial at the time.

History:  Bystrom had a great start to his career but what followed was as injury riddled battle which included five incomplete seasons in the majors and four more spent completely in the minors. 
He ended his career with a 29-26 career W-L record to go with a 4.26 ERA (87 ERA+) in just 435 innings. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

#197 Jim Eisenreich - Minnesota Twins

This isn't your run-of-the-mill rookie card.  Jim Eisenreich would not appear in a Topps set again until 1988.  More on that later.  As far as I can tell, he never wore number 56 during a regular season game, so I am assuming this is a spring training picture.

Player:  Jim Eisenreich was a 16th round draft pick of the Twins in 1980. He excelled in the minors and won the centerfield job to start the '82 season.  Statistically he was doing well in his rookie campaign but Eisenreich's fight with a then undiagnosed nervous condition began to wear on him.  With his twitches and facial ticks increasing, he was sent to the DL in May after he pulled himself out of five consecutive games.  With doctors still unsure of his affliction, Eisenreich returned and soldiered on for a few more weeks before ending his season to seek treatment.  In 111 plate appearances he batted .303 with a 118 OPS+.

Comeback attempts at the beginning of '83 and '84 were short lived and Eisenreich retired at age 25.  As two years passed, Eisenreich was dominating the local semi-pro league. During this time he had been finally given a proper diagnosis, Tourette's Syndrome.  He received treatment and was encouraged by friends to try a comeback and he signed with the Royals.  After hitting .382 at Memphis he was called up and his journey back to the majors was a great story.  Eisenreich DH'd but failed to find his batting stroke as he hit just .238. He followed that up with a .218 mark in a part time role in '88.

Eisenreich started the '89 season as a reserve but by the end of April was in the lineup nearly everyday and playing all three outfield spots.  For the year, he hit 9 home runs, stole 27 bases, and posted a .293/.341/.448 line.  He had a decent year as a regular in 1990 while batting .280.  He platooned the next two years and hit .301 and .269. 

After the '92 season Eisenreich signed with Philadelphia where he would enjoy four successful years batting .300 or better each year.  In '93 he sported a .318/.363/.445 line in 394 at bats.  When he wasn't starting he was the Phillies main pinch hitter and he helped them to a first place finish.  Although the Phillies came up short in the '93 World Series, Eisenreich homered in the Game 2 win over the Blue Jays.

Eisenreich had his best season in 1996 (2.5 WAR) when he put up an eye-popping .361/.413/.476 line in 373 plate appearances.  Once again a free agent, he signed with the Florida Marlins.  He batted .280 during the '97 season with his new team.  Eisenreich didn't play much in the NLDS or NLCS but he was productive (4-8) in the World Series conquest including a homer in the Marlins wild Game 3 victory. 

The Marlins of course had a massive fire sale and Eisenreich ended up in a Dodger uniform.  1998 would be his last season in the majors as he hit just .197 as a pinch hitter and occasional starter for the Dodgers.  Eisenreich retired with a career line of .290/.341/.404 and a 103 OPS+. 

Flipside: That's quite a season he had at Wisconsin Rapids in '81.  If you can't quite make out the numbers they show that in 134 games he batted .303 with 23 HR, 99 RBI, 101 R and 84 BB.

Oddball:  When Eisenreich left the Twins in '84 he was replaced on the roster by future Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.

History:  Eisenreich earned 11.4 WAR and won a World Series ring with the Marlins.  However his most meaningful work is done through the Jim Eisenreich Foundation which helps children with Tourrette's.  With help from doctors he was able to overcome the hurdle that had plagued him since childhood and have a successful career. 
An in depth bio can be found here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

#195 Bob Stoddard - Seattle Mariners

Rookie card alert!  Ok, so Bob Stoddard didn't have a long illustrious career, but this is the first of his two Topps cards.  The main pic is a posed shot of Stoddard taken at Tiger Stadium.  Since Stoddard didn't come up to the Mariners until August it's fairly safe to say it was taken when the Mariners visited Detroit in August.  The inset was taken at a different time (note the shorter mustache).

Player: Bob Stoddard had an up and down career in the minors.  He had ERA's over 4.90 in '78 and '80 but posted marks of 3.00 or less in '79 and '81.  The former 10th round pick's success with Spokane in the '81 season earned him five September starts with Seattle.  He showed promise with a 2.60 ERA in 34.2 frames of work. 

Stoddard was unable to crack the Mariners roster to start the '82 season.  He didn't take to the dry air of the Mariner's new AAA affiliate in Salt Lake City and his ERA jumped to 5.20.  Still the Mariners called him up to start game two of an August double header in Detroit.  He lost a complete game in a 3-2 decision to the Tigers.  He had several other strong outings including a two hit shutout over the Rangers a month later.  His major league line for the year showed a nifty 2.41 ERA (177 ERA+) in 67.1 innings.

The right-handed hurler started the '83 season in the rotation but struggled with consistency.  Stoddard's season was highlighted by a two hit shutout over the Red Sox on July 23.  It was his only start of the month as he had been banned to the pen.  He pitched in 35 games, 23 of which he started and had a 9-17 record and a 4.41 ERA (97 ERA+). 

Stoddard was hit around for a 5.13 ERA (78 ERA+) in 79 innings during the '84 season.  By now Stoddard had fallen from prospect status and started 1985 back in AAA.  He was hit hard and released in June.  Picked up by the Tigers, he posted a 0.59 ERA in 30.2 innings for AAA Nashville and was called up by the Tigers.  Stoddard pitched in mop up duty and logged 13.1 innings while allowing 10 earned runs. 

Stoddard's career path quickly entered journeyman status.  He was cut by the Tigers, signed by the A's, and later traded to the Padres in April of '86.  Called up a few months later he pitched well in limited use.  Despite a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings the Padres cut Stoddard in the offseason.  He caught on with Kansas City and made his Royals debut with their major league squad in June, '87.  He pitched fairly well in 40 frames with a 4.28 ERA (108 ERA+) but it would turn out to be his last hurrah in the majors.  His final stats show a 18-27
career record despite a 104 ERA+ in 433.1 innings of work.

Stuff:  Fastball 85-87 mph, curve, change

Flipside:  I already mentioned his two-hitter on 9/17 but it should be noted that he lasted 7.2 innings without giving up a hit.  At that time it was the deepest point in a game that a Mariner had taken a no hitter.

Oddball:  Stoddard labored in the minors in '88 and '89 before calling it quits. He came out of retirement as a replacement player during the lockout in '95 and was signed to a minor league deal by the Mets.  The 38 year-old appeared in three games for Norfolk before retiring for good.

History:  Stoddard showed some promise early in his career but he never panned out.   
Today Stoddard runs his own baseball training facility and youth baseball league, aptly named Stods.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#194 Cesar Geronimo - Kansas City Royals

Cesar Geronimo displays perhaps the thickest mustache in MLB history. This is his 13th Topps card but just the second with facial hair. The Reds team policy kept him clean-shaven during the 70's but I bet he was happy to show up in spring training in '81 with this beauty.  Enough about his hairy upper lip....Geronimo is shown following through with his lefthanded swing. 
I wonder if the people in the background know they are on this card?  I wrote in the first edition of this post that this pic was likely shot in the same game as his '82 card.  There are a lot of similarities, but as reader Byron pointed out in the comments, he is wearing two different style helmets.   

Player:  Cesar Geronimo was originally signed out of El Seibo, Dominican Republic by the Yankees in 1967.  He was plucked by the Astros as a Rule 5 pick prior to the '69 season.  On the Houston roster for the entire season, he played in 28 games but batted just eight times with two hits. 

Geronimo spent half of the 1970 season refining his game at AA Columbus.  Blessed with great range and a cannon arm (the Yankees tried him at pitcher in the minors) the Astros used him as a defensive sub at all three outfield positions.  He got into 47 games in 1970 and 94 in '71 but had fewer at bats than games played and batted under .250 both years. 

After the '71 season the Astros included Geronimo in the eight player deal that sent Joe Morgan, Jack Billingham, Dennis Menke, and Ed Armbrister to the Reds for Lee May, Tommy Helms, and Jimmy Stewart.  With the Reds Geronimo saw much more time than he had in Houston.  He started often against righties and batted .275/.344/.412 in 285 plate appearances in '72.  Geronimo's average dropped to .210 in 358 trips to the plate in '73, but it was good enough to push Bobby Tolan out of centerfield. 

Over the next four years Geronimo was the everyday centerfielder for the Big Red Machine.  When he sat against southpaws, he usually entered the game later as a defensive sub or pinch hitter.  He would win four straight Gold Gloves and post 5.6 Defensive Wins Above Replacement over the '74-'77 seasons.  A line drive hitter, he didn't hit much with pop as had around 35 extra base hits a season.  His average varied around the mid 250's but he batted a career best .307 with a 125 OPS+ in '76. 

In the postseason Geronimo struggled mightily with the bat.  Heading into the 1975 World Series he had just 6 hits in 64 career postseason at bats.  Against Boston, he turned things around and hit two HR to go with a .280 average in the Reds seven game triumph.  Similarly he hit .182  against the Phillies in the '76 NLCS but had 4 hits in 13 at bats as the Reds swept the Yankees.

Geronimo's playing time with the Reds decreased over the next three years to the point that he batted less than 200 times in 1980.  He was then traded to the Royals before the '81 season. 

Over the next three years with KC, Geronimo filled a bench role as a fifth outfielder.  He batted .246, .269, and .207 as he came to the plate about 100 times each season.  After the '84 season he was released which ended his 15 year playing career.   

Flipside:  Geronimo had quite an unusual year in 1982.  Over the first two months he recorded 18 hits in 46 at bats with a surprising .391/.423/.696 line.  He then fell into a deep funk and had just one hit over the next 26 at bats.  He then had 13 hits in 47 at bats to end the season.  He was particularly effective with runners in scoring position, hitting .393, leading to 23 RBI in his 119 at bats.

Oddball:  It is weird but pretty well circulated that Geronimo was the 3,000 strikeout victim of both Bob Gibson and Nolan Ryan.

Until recently I had never heard of the locker room fight between Pedro Borbon and Geronimo.  It happened before a game in late July, 1975.  Neither brawler was injured, but fellow Red Merv Rettenmund who tried to break up the fight, was sent to the hospital when his toe was gashed open by a cleat during the skirmish.  Few Reds knew what the friends and roommates were fighting over since the verbal portion was conducted in Spanish. 

History:  Geronimo made a name for himself with his defense and strong arm as he graced centerfield for the powerful Reds teams during the 70's.  He won two World Series and played in the postseason six different years.  His final stats show a .258/.325/.368 line with a 93 OPS+.  He had 11.7 career WAR with nearly half (5.8) coming from defense. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

#193 Harry Spilman - Houston Astros

Harry Spilman seems unsure of himself as he takes a whack at a pitch in a bright spring training photo.  This is his fifth Topps card, not bad for someone with 280 career at bats when this card came out.

Player:  Harry Spilman was signed by the Reds as an undrafted free-agent in 1974 and started to get some attention when he hit .373/.453/.562 at AA Trois-Rivieres in 1977.  He got his first MLB hit in 1978 when he was given four pinch at bats late in the season.   He spent a good part of ’79 back in the minors but was deployed by the Reds as pinch hitter with a handful of starts at first and third.  He batted .214 in 65 plate appearances and was 0-2 in the ’79 NLCS.
Spilman spent 1980 as a pinch hitter and was given a start at first about twice a month.  He batted .267 with an OPS+ of 109 and hit the first four homers of his career.  He started the ’81 season in the same role but was traded to the Astros for Rafael Landestoy in June.   Spilman never got on track and batted just .241 with just one extra base hit in 64 trips to the plate.
The Astros kept Spilman on the bench the next four years as a pinch hitting specialist and occasional starter at first.  From ’82 through ’85,  he never came to the plate more than 87 times and posted batting averages of .279, .167, .264, and .136.
He signed as free agent with the Tigers where he was reunited with former Reds manager Sparky Anderson who remembered Spilman as a youngster in Cincinnati.  The move was a curious one as the Tigers already had a similar player in Dave Bergman.  Spilman was given a few starts at DH but after hitting .245 he was released mid-year.  The Giants picked him up and he did well posting a line of .287/.368/.426 with a 124 OPS+.  Including his time with Detroit he had a career high 143 at bats. 
Spilman continued in a reserve role starting only six games in ’87 but his numbers dropped across the board.  He did hit a pinch HR in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the NLCS against the Cardinals to cut the score to 6-5 with two outs in the ninth.  Nonetheless the Giants lost the game and the series.
Spilman hit just .175 in 40 at bats with the Giants in ’88 and was cut in August. He had five hitless at bats after Houston picked him up.  He spent part of ‘89 as a reserve for AAA Tucson but was 10-36 in 32 games with Houston in ’89 which rounded out his major league career.  He played one more year at Tucson before hanging up the cleats at age 36. 

Flipside:  Topps liked to report highlights of games the player's team won, but geez they could have made an exception in this case.  In a 7-6 loss against the Giants on 9/30 Spilman went 4-5 with two home runs.  His second tater gave the Astros a 6-5 lead in the ninth.  I suppose if Houston relievers Danny Boone and Dave Smith hadn't blown it in the ninth, the back of Spilman's card would have been different.  

Oddball:  Despite having never played catcher in the minors, the Reds worked Spilman out there during spring training in 1980.  He caught just two innings as a Red but got into 22 games behind the plate with the Astros and Giants, including three starts.  Even in retirement his receiving ability came in handy as he caught his neighbor Nolan Ryan in off season workouts.

Spilman appeared in 12 major league seasons but had just one steal ('87) and one triple ('88).

History:  Spilman was one of the last players to make a career out of pinch hitting.  With 12 and 13 man pitching staffs there no longer remains room  for such a player.  Spilman carved out a 12 year career as a left-handed bat who could play both corner infield spots and catch when needed.  His career numbers (-0.7 WAR, .237 batting average) are poor but he is an example of a player doing what it takes to stay in the majors.  
Spilman has coached in the minors and majors since his retirement which included a stint with Houston as the Astros hitting coach from 2000-'04.   

Friday, July 6, 2012

#192 Floyd Rayford - Baltimore Orioles

Here is Floyd Rayford on his first solo Topps card.  It appears to be a spring training photo and Topps was wise to get a shot of him then since he only played 146 innings in the field in '82.  Rayford looks rather disinterested in the inset picture. 

Player:  Floyd Rayford was a high school catcher drafted in the fourth round by the Angels in '75.  "Honey Bear" played five seasons in the Angels chain with moderate success, playing primarily at the corner infield spots.  While stationed at AAA Salt Lake City in '79, the Halos traded Rayford to the Orioles for Larry Harlow.  Rayford made his MLB debut in '80 but spent most of the year at AAA Rochester.  He eeked out 4 hits in 18 at bats with the O's.  

Rayford spent all of '81 in the minors and worked on re-learning the catching position.  He made the '82 Orioles team but rotted on the bench most of the year.  He played in only 11 of Baltimore's first 72 games.  But when manager Earl Weaver moved Cal Ripken Jr. to SS, Rayford then started 13 games over the next 5 weeks at 3b.  Although he knocked 3 home runs over this stretch, he hit just .136.  Rayford ended the year with a .132/.220/.302 line.  He got most of his action at the hot corner, while logging three innings behind the plate.

The burly thirdbaseman started the '83 season back at Rochester and was tearing it up at a .371 pace when he was traded to St. Louis.  They put him on their major league squad and used him as a pinch hitter and platoon starter at 3b against lefties.  He posted a .212/.278/.337 line in 117 trips to the plate. 

Rayford was sold back to Baltimore during spring training in 1984.  He served as the O's backup catcher and hit lefties well (107 OPS+) but struggled against right handers (73 OPS+).  Overall he hit .256 with four homers in 269 plate appearances.  He played more third than catcher in '85 and had a career year.  He hit 18 long balls and batted .306/.324/.521 while earning 2.8 Wins Above Replacement in 359 at bats.  His success was short lived as he was quite a hacker, walking 10 times with 69 whiffs.  The '85 campaign represented his first and only season spent entirely in the bigs.

The '86 season was a let down as he batted .176 in half a season of work.  He batted just 52 times in '87 with a .220/..250/.340 line.  Rayford spent the next four years in the minors with the last three as a player / coach for the Phillies AAA team.  He retired with 38 HR in 1,044 major league at bats with an OPS+ of 86. 

Flipside:  Having played just 34 games, Rayford was lucky to get a card in this set.  It is hard to imagine Rayford stealing double digit bases, but he did just that in his younger (and presumably lighter) days in the minors.

Rayford had only 7 hits in '82 but 3 landed over the fence for home runs. 

Oddball:  Although the Angels traded Rayford to the Cards in the midst of his '79 season at Salt Lake, he stayed with the Gulls (California's top affiliate) and was voted team MVP.  You won't see that happen anymore. 

History:  Rayford had an interesting career highlighted by one very good year in '85.  He never played in the postseason but had some good years in the minors.  Since ending his playing days Rayford has coached in the minors for several franchises.