24 October 2014

bringing steve garvey's career to the present

i really liked wrigley wax's idea of trade links as a subject of posts, even though those featuring the team of my youth were pretty much dead ends.  i may do a few more in the future around other dodger players of note, but instead i went looking for another way to connect players together.  what i came up with was sort of a 'x' degrees of separation to a current player, using final plate/pitching appearances to link them.  the upside is, unless two players face off against each other in each of their final appearances, the link will never be broken.  i'll show you what i mean using my favorite player, steve garvey.

the garv last appeared in the major leagues in 1987 - may 23, 1987 to be exact.  here's his 1987 topps card.
the padres were playing the expos, and garvey was brought in to pinch hit for lance mccullers in the 9th inning.  the expos pitcher at the time was neal heaton, who retired garvey on a fly ball and got the last two padres hitters out to complete a 2-hit shutout.  so, the last pitcher steve garvey faced in his career was the expos' neal heaton.  here's heaton's 1987 fleer card.
fast forward to baltimore, june 26, 1993.  heaton is a member of the new york yankees, and is called in to relieve john habyan with the orioles leading the yanks 9-6.  heaton winds up finishing the game, pitching 2.2 innings and giving up a couple of home runs.  the last batter heaton faced was former dodger mike devereaux, who flied out to end the home half of the 8th inning.

devereaux, of course, returned to the dodgers to finish his playing career - this is his 1998 pacific online card from his second dodger stint
devereaux's final big league at bat came on april 17, 1998 with the dodgers in chicago facing the cubs.  he entered the game as a pinch-hitter but stayed in the game and later faced ben vanryn, a former dodger prospect.  devereaux drew a walk in the 8th against van ryn but was stranded, and his big league career was over.

there aren't too many cards of vanryn out there - this is a 1994 bowman's best blue parallel
from his dodger farmhand days - but he pitched in the majors for four different clubs (the dodgers weren't one of them as he made his debut in 1996 with the angels), and he appeared for three of those four in 1998 alone.  the cubs traded vanryn to the padres in early may, and by the end of the month, he was pitching for the blue jays.  it was with toronto later that season that he made his final big league appearance.  on september 26, 1998, vanryn came in to pitch the top of the 10th inning in a tie game against the tigers.  he retired the first two batters he faced, but then allowed a single to tony clark and was pulled.  the tigers didn't score, and the blue jays wound up winning the game a couple of innings later, but vanryn did not appear in the big leagues after that appearance.

tony clark finished up his career as a member of the diamondbacks in 2009 - here's his 2009 upper deck card
by striking out as a pinch-hitter on july 12 against the marlins.  the marlins' pitcher that k'd clark was josh johnson, seen here on his 2011 topps card
now johnson presents an interesting case, as he spent the 2014 season on the 60-day dl with the padres, and hasn't pitched since 2013.  if he fails to return to the majors, then the last batter he faced in a big league game was michael saunders, who is still active today.  he had a pretty cool card in the 2014 topps set
if johnson does return in 2015, then the next link on steve garvey's career legacy is yet to be determined.  still, that's how you bring steve garvey to the present day in 5 or 6 steps.