Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1981 TCMA Oklahoma City '89ers #17 Ryne Sandberg

The only reason I have this Ryne Sandberg baseball card in my collection is because I was (and am) a huge Bob Dernier fan.  The summer of '82 saw the arrival of Bobby D. in Philly.  He had enjoyed a few cups of coffee with the Phils during the '80 and '81 seasons, but new manager Pat Corrales decided to give the fleet switch hitter more playing time in 1982.  Dernier would often spell Garry Maddox in center or George Vukovich in right, and he was tabbed as one of the club's hottest prospects.  In a story I have yet to completely tell, I met Bob Dernier during the summer of 1982 and played catch with the future Gold Glove winner.
1981 TCMA Oklahoma
City '89ers #5

At the time, as far as I knew, Dernier had two baseball cards - a Topps Future Stars card that Dernier shared with Ozzie Virgil and Mark Davis, and a minor league baseball card featuring Dernier as a member of the AAA Oklahoma City '89ers.  The Card Doctor, the first baseball card store in my home town, was looking to capitalize on the success of the Phillies' hot rookie, and he had a few of the '89ers team sets for sale.  Dernier was featured at the top of each small stack of cards.  I had to have that Dernier card, and so I purchased an '89ers team set.  The Dernier card went into my Phillies binder and the other 25 cards in the team set went into a cheese box with a bunch of doubles.

I didn't realize until the rookie card hysteria of the mid-80's that I held this coveted Sandberg card in my collection.  I believe the card was featured in an article in the old Baseball Cards magazine, at which point I rediscovered the card and treated it as if it could disintegrate at any given moment.  I think at one point I carefully inserted the card into a screw-down holder, only to come to my senses and eventually move the card into a binder with the rest of my 1981 Phillies cards.  
1981 TCMA Oklahoma
City '89ers #26

Sandberg's professional baseball career came full circle this week when he was named the new manager of the Phillies' AAA team in Lehigh Valley.  I can't wait to pick up a 2011 IronPigs team set, as 30 years later, I'll add a second Ryne Sandberg minor league Phillies card to my collection.

Fielder:  I always felt bad for this guy.  He's the last card in the set, he was forced to pose gloveless, and TCMA had no idea what position the guy played.  According to Baseball Reference, Jeff Ulrich played five seasons in the Phillies' and Expos' minor league systems, and he was in fact a catcher.  He enjoyed his best year in 1981, when he hit .251 in 61 games with the Class A Peninsula Pilots and the AAA '89ers.  And now you know.


night owl said...

Not much of a Fielder if he doesn't have a glove.

That is classic.

Jim from Downingtown said...

No discussion of Bob Dernier is complete without a mention of the inside-the-park homer! That was amazing.

Jim said...

Night Owl & Jim - Agreed on both counts!