Monday, January 21, 2013

1976 Oklahoma City 89ers Team Set

1976 Oklahoma City 89ers Team Issue #14, #4, #15 and #20
I've long held a certain affinity for minor league baseball cards, ever since I acquired the 1981 TCMA Oklahoma City '89ers set from the Card Doctor back in the day.  I'm not sure what draws me to minor league baseball cards.  It could be that they're harder to find (in some cases) and I enjoy the hunt.  Or it could be that I can imagine the players featured as full of hope and anxious for their shot at the Show.  Whatever the reason, I still try to track down minor league sets issued by each of the Phillies' affiliates every year.  I'll also take a break in my eBay searches for "Dernier refractor" or "Phillies oddball" and perform a search for "Oklahoma City team set" every once in a while.

One such recent search yielded me a set I had never seen offered for sale before, and it's now the oldest minor league team set* in my collection.  The 1976 Oklahoma City '89ers set was issued by the Phillies Triple-A affiliate and it features 24 cards of the team's players and coaches.  1976 was the first season the '89ers franchise was affiliated with the Phillies, having spent the 1973 through 1975 seasons as the Indians' top farm club.  According to my 2001version of the Standard Catalog, the set was handed out to the first 2,000 fans attending the 89ers' July 26th home game.

The team went 72-63 under their manager, future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, finishing in second place in the West Division of the American Association behind the Denver Bears.  It was Bunning's fifth and final season as a minor league manager in the Phillies organization.  In 1977, Bunning was elected to the Fort Thomas, Kentucky city council in what would be the start of his political career.  He retired from politics a few years ago after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 1999 and in the U.S. Senate from 1999 to 2010.

1976 Oklahoma City 89ers Team Issue #18, #6, #11 and #10
The set is fascinating in that in features a host of former and future Phillies as well as a few players I never realized were once a part of the Phillies organization.  Only seven of the subjects featured never spent time with the Phillies, and only four of the players included in the set never made it to the Majors at all.  Since there are only 24 cards, I thought I'd take my time and look up some pertinent facts for each of the players or coaches featured.

*As I was putting together this post, I realized I only had 23 of the 24 cards in the set and the card of Dane Iorg was missing.  I've contacted the seller, but I have yet to hear back from him or her as to the availability of the missing Iorg card.  My guess is that I'm going to be stuck trying to track down the elusive Iorg card on my own.  Frustrating, to be sure, but it's still a fantastic "set" to add to my collection.

Uniform Number, Player (Phillies Years/Major League Years)
1.  Terrence Jones - of (NA)/(NA) - Jones spent six seasons in the Orioles and Phillies organizations.
2.  Sergio Ferrer - inf (NA)/(1974-195, 1978-1979) - Ferrer played 125 games with the Twins and Mets.
3.  Ron Clark - coach (1975)/(1966-1969, 1971-1972, 1975) - Clark played in one game with the 1975 Phillies before ending his playing career and serving as a coach for the '89ers.
4.  Lonnie Smith - of (1978-1981)/(1978-1994) - Skates was a member of three World Series Champion teams, beginning with the Phillies in 1980.
6.  Jim Morrison - inf (1977-1978)/(1977-1988) - Morrison enjoyed a 12-year career with the Phillies, White Sox, Pirates, Tigers and Braves.
7.  Mike Buskey - inf (1977)/(1977) - A September call-up in 1977, Buskey appeared in 6 games for the Phillies, going 2 for 7 with a triple.
8.  Dane Iorg - of (1977)/(1977-1986) - Iorg appeared in 12 games with the Phillies before being shipped to the Cardinals (with the next guy) as part of the Bake McBride deal.
10.  Rick Bosetti - of (1976)/(1976-1982) - Bosetti appeared in 13 games with the Phillies before he and Iorg joined the Cardinals.
11.  Jesus Hernaiz - rhp (1974)/(1974) - Hernaiz made 27 relief appearances for the 1974 Phillies, never making it back to the big leagues.
12.  Fred Andrews - inf (1976-1977)/(1976-1977) - Andrews played in 16 games for the Phillies, before he was shipped to the Mets in March 1978 for Bud Harrelson.

1976 Oklahoma City 89ers Team Issue #7, #12, #21 and #19

14.  Jim Bunning - manager (1964-1967, 1970-1971)/(1955-1971) - Bunning had his #14 retired by the Phillies in 2001.
15.  Randy Lerch - lhp (1975-1980, 1986)/(1975-1984, 1986) - A member of the Phillies 1980 World Series squad, Lerch wasn't on the active roster for the postseason.
16.  Dan Boitano - rhp (1978)/(1978-1982) - Boitano pitched one inning of one game for the Phillies in 1978.
18.  Willie Hernandez - lhp (1983)/(1977-1989) - I had no idea Hernandez, who was a member of the 1983 Wheeze Kids, was once a Phillies farmhand.  The Phils lost Hernandez to the Cubs in the 1976 Rule 5 draft.  Hernandez enjoyed his best season in 1984, winning the MVP and Cy Young awards while helping the Tigers to a World Championship.
19.  Bill Nahorodny - c (1976)/(1976-1984) - Nahorodny appeared in three games with the '76 Phils.
20.  Ruben Amaro - coach (1960-1965)/(1958, 1960-1969) - Amaro Sr. also coached with the Phils in 1980 and 1981.
21.  Dave Wallace - rhp (1973-1974)/(1973-1974, 1978) - Wallace appeared in 7 games with the Phillies, pitching to a 16.20 ERA in 6 2/3 innings.  He spent eight seasons in the Phillies minor league system.
22.  Wayne Nordhagen - of (NA)/(1976-1983) - Nordhagen put together an eight-year career with the White Sox, Blue Jays, Pirates and Cubs.  He only spent a few months playing for the '89ers early in the 1976 season.
23.  Quency Hill - lhp (NA)/(NA) - Hill was the player to be named later shipped to the Dodgers in the Ted Sizemore deal in December 1976.  He never made it to the Majors.
24.  Jack Bastable - c (NA)/(NA) - Bastable played 648 games in the minors making it as high as Triple-A Oklahoma City in 1976 and 1977.
25.  John Montague - rhp (1975)/(1973-1975, 1977-1980) - Montague spent the majority of his seven-year career with the Expos, Mariners and Angels, but he did appear in 3 games with the Phillies in 1975.
26.  Manny Seoane - rhp (1977)/(1977-1978) - Seoane appeared in 2 games with the Phillies in 1977 before he was traded to the Cubs for Jose Cardenal.
28.  Larry Kiser - lhp (NA)/(NA) - Kiser pitched in the Phillies organization for 7 seasons, but he never donned the maroon pinstripes.
30.  Bob Oliver (NA/1965, 1969-1975) - Oliver enjoyed his best seasons with the Royals in the early 1970s.

1976 Oklahoma City 89ers Team Issue #3, #16, #25 and #26


Steve F. said...

A lot of blasts from the past among those names for me, as I remember them from the Phillies yearbook or from the Reading (at the time not yet Fightin') Phils.

However, there are not a lot of major league Phillies cards among them though. I have a close-to-complete collection of signed cards of players who appeared as Phillies in the 1970s*, and I believe the only guys in that set who appeared on a Phillies major league card are Smith, Morrison, Bunning, Lerch, Hernandez, Amaro and Wallace. And Bunning, Hernandez and Amaro appeared during different stints with the team, while Morrison and Wallace each only appeared as 1/3 or 1/4 of rookie cards. So there were a lot of marginal Phillies among them.

A bunch more of them appeared here, in virtual cards, though:

*Two clarifications:

- first, my collection is not just of the 1970s, but it is nearly complete for the 1970s as there are probably under 200 different players who appeared on major league cards as Phillies in that decade, and most are/were responsive by mail for autographs--in fact, of everyone who appeared as a Phillie on a Topps or SSPC/TCMA card in that decade (excluding all the team-issued postcards, that is), off the top of my head the only ones I don't have at least one autographed card from are Cesar Tovar, Curt Flood, Roger Freed, Jeff James, Billy Wilson and Deron Johnson (anyone want to make a trade?); and

- second, I only seek one card of each player, so I don't have 17 different Mike Schmidt signed cards; I have the same number of Schmidt signed cards as I do of Jim Morrison. Well, maybe a couple more, but the same number, 1, in my main Phillies signed card collection.

Matthew Glidden said...

Nice profile, that's some great minor league vintage. Looks like Dane Iorg runs ~$8 via Beckett's marketplace right now.

Worth trying, as they might have it for less. (And thanks for confirming there's no OKC #5 type card for me to chase. :-)

Jim said...

Thanks for the tip Matthew. Looks as if I may be able to complete this set after all!

Steve F. said...

I just landed this set myself! Thanks for writing about it last year--that put it on my radar. And I have an extra Bunning card (as I won it separately on eBay) so since it is his last baseball card while in uniform, and he is now AFAIK signing through the mail, I will send it off to him for an autograph. Fingers crossed that I get it back. But at least I have two of them.

Matthew Glidden said...

Great to hear, hope Bunning's autograph comes through for you!

Unknown said...

Ohhh lord I lived in Oklahoma city Durning this time I was 12 years old and i was at all the games I have some 8×10 of some of the players.

Jim said...

That's fantastic Melissa!