Friday, March 15, 2013
Bill Krueger and Brad Havens
Those two rather insignificant players in Dodger history are keeping me from attaining a 15 year goal. Both played bit parts as members of the 1988 Dodgers. How I even started trying to attain this goal is a bit of a story in itself.
There was a motion picture from 1985, Mask, that starred actress/singer Cher and an up and coming young actor by the name of Eric Stoltz. It was based on a true story about an extraordinary teenager that had a facial deformity. He was a brilliant kid that dealt with the constant prejudices and societal biases. The story showed how he dealt with these issues with wit, maturity, intelligence and humor. He was also a Dodger fan and a big one at that. He had all these motorcycle gang bikers hunting him down 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cards for him. His dream was to collect the entire ’55 Dodgers team.
It was while watching that movie for the umpteenth time that I decided to do the same thing with past Dodger championship teams, but with one caveat. I wanted to collect cards from players on that roster that personally signed them. Eventually my plan was to mat and frame the entire collection. I started with the easiest to collect, the 1988 Dodgers. At least I thought it would be easy.
This journey for me began back in 1998 as I collected these signed cards. I mailed cards off to players players from that roster, most returned them signed, others didn’t. The first to send back a signed card was pitcher Tim Belcher as he actually signed the date he autographed it on the front of his ’88 Topps card. I never imagined that I still wouldn’t have the collection completed as the Dodgers entered the 25th anniversary of that championship team.
Granted, there were times that I stopped pursuing the signatures. But I always kept the accumulating collection stored away in a box. I never abandoned it completely. There were 38 players that stepped on the diamond during the ’88 season for the Dodgers. That’s 39 cards to collect if you count Lasorda. Over the years I collected several signatures from players from that team at Spring Training or at Stadium events. Of course there are the stars from that team that included Hershiser, Gibson, Marshall, Sax and Scoiscia, but there were also some obscure players that I have found the most difficult to get. As it stands today, the two that have eluded me are Brad Havens and Bill Krueger.
Brad Havens-A journeyman left handed pitcher that pitched only in nine games for the Dodgers that season, had come to the team the year before in a deal along with John Shelby from Baltimore in exchange for Tom Neidenfuer. Havens was released by the Dodgers in May of 1988 and finished the year with Cleveland.
Bill Krueger-Another journeyman pitcher who actually cracked the starting staff of the Oakland A’s before he was a Dodger and then later the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins after his Dodger stint. Krueger entered one game that year and only one game as a Dodgers as he spent almost the entire year with AAA Albuquerque. He started the July 4th game against the Cardinals and he didn’t get out of the third inning. Within a few days he was back to Triple A Albuquerque. Finding a card with Krueger in a Dodger uniform is impossible because only one exists. It was issued by the Target department stores, but it is a black and white, Krueger is in an A’s jersey and thing that isn’t even standard baseball card size. An interesting note about the game Krueger started, the Cardinal starter against him was John Tudor, who took the loss. Tudor was dealt to the Dodgers for Pedro Guerrero in mid-August and contributed to the Dodgers stretch drive.
So today I wait for cards to return to me that were mailed to these two former Dodgers. The collection is 94.8% complete and I was even successful at getting signed cards from two players from that squad that have since passed, Tom Crews and Mike Sharperson, via internet auction.
Once the entire collection is in place, it’ll be time to mat and frame the whole thing. Perhaps adding a World Series patch and an actual ticket stub from the series to the frame. As the end of this collection draws near, it’ll be time to go after the 1981, which is about 50% complete. I’m telling you, Dodger collectibles aren’t easy to accumulate and can cost a bit in the long run, but to me, it's all worth it.
And now for your daily Yasiel Puig update, an update that I'll probably continue until he formally lands on the Dodgers 25 man roster. The way he's playing, I can't see how he can be left off this team.
In tonight’s action, he provides about 50% of the Dodger's offensive punch, homering in the first inning to drive in two. It was an opposite field shot to right center field. He followed that up, singling in the 3rd inning, again to right field, then stealing second base. He scored the Dodgers third run as Juan Uribe knocked him home with a double. In the fifth inning, Puig lined another single to left field and eventually came around to score again after a couple of knocks.
Thus far, Puig is hitting .459, 2 homers, 8 RBI, 11 runs, 17 hits in 37 at bats. He’s living up to the old maxim that “you don’t walk off the island,” as Puig has yet to draw a base on balls, to which I say, “who cares?”
How do you keep this kid off the team. I say platoon him in right field with Ethier to face lefties and additionally he can spell Crawford or Kemp on days they need a game off.