06 November 2014

one man carries the torch for both the penguin and davey lopes

the last pitcher ron cey faced as a major leaguer was juan nieves.  it was july 12, 1987, and cey was a member of the oakland a's at the time as his 1987 topps traded card attests.
nieves struck cey out in the 7th inning, and later in that game, the penguin was pinch-hit for, denying him one more big league at bat.  the player who hit in cey's place? none other than former nemesis reggie jackson.

juan nieves didn't last much longer than cey. as it turned out, nieves missed the entire 1989 season due to injury, so his last appearance came in 1988.  he still received a card in 1990 from topps, and from o-pee-chee, which is what is shown below.
nieves pitched in his final game on october 2, 1988, again facing the a's.  in that game, the last batter nieves faced was terry steinbach, who drew a walk.

now let's take a minute to see what was going on with davey lopes' torchbearers.  like cey, lopes last played in 1987.  he was with the astros - here's his 1987 fleer card -
when he pinch-hit for nolan ryan on october 4, 1987.  lopes flew out against the reds' tom browning, and that was it for his career.

tom browning finished his career in 1995 (this is his 1995 score card)
with two starts for the kansas city royals, the last of which came on may 19.  browning didn't make it out of the 5th inning that day, as he was removed from the game following an rbi single hit by terry steinbach.

so, steinbach had the honor of carrying the torch for both cey and lopes.  he wound up going home to minnesota to finish his career, and did so in october of 1999 (here's his 2000 topps card)
with a double off of james baldwin of the white sox.

baldwin, who pitched for the dodgers in 2001 after leaving chicago (this is his 2002 upper deck victory card)
bounced around a bit and eventually landed in baltimore in 2005.  actually, he began the season with the orioles, was picked up on waivers by the rangers, but then later returned to the orioles on another waiver claim.  the second time around with the orioles included his final big league appearance - a relief appearance against the yankees on september 29.  the last batter he faced was bernie williams who was retired on a comebacker.

williams, seen here on a 2007 topps hit parade insert
retired following the 2006 season, doubling off of scott downs in his final big league appearance (during the regular season, anyway).

scott downs, who was an angel on his 2013 topps card,

spent 2014 as a member of the kansas city royals.  he just became a free agent following the world series, and if he doesn't sign with anyone for next season, then the torch is passed to the last batter he faced in the bigs - cleveland's zach walters - but i won't count the loogy out just yet.


Tony L. said...

Juan Nieves is still the only man to throw a no-hitter as a Brewer. He was born in Puerto Rico, but went to prep school in the Northeast. Under the rules at that time, his Puerto Rican birth made him an amateur free agent not subject to the draft, and the Brewers gave him a big bonus to beat out half the other teams in the major leagues for his signature on a contract.

defgav said...

Love these torch-passing posts!