13 January 2015

steve yeager's torch is being carried by alberto callaspo

it pains me to note that steve yeager, the catcher for the team of my youth, spent his final year in the big leagues with the mariners.  that pain is tempered a bit by the existence of this very nice 1986 o-pee-chee card
he played in only 50 games in '86, with his last appearance coming on august 29.  he pinch hit that day in the bottom of the 9th inning of a game against the yankees.  with the m's down 13-12, yeager was summoned to hit for harold reynolds with the tying run on first base, and against the yankees' closer dave righetti, yeager flew out to end the game.

dave righetti would pitch for a few more seasons, ending his career in 1995 with the chicago white sox.  i don't know that i have a card of rags from his chisox days, so here's a 1993 upper deck card instead.
righetti had began his career as a starter, even throwing a no-hitter for the yankees in 1983 before being moved to the bullpen the following season.  he made 10 appearances for the white sox in '96, with the first 9 coming as a starter despite having started only 4 games (for the 1992 giants) since the season of his no-hitter.  anyway, righetti's final big league appearance came as a reliever, in a game against the indians on september 18, 1995.  he pitched the 9th inning with the white sox down 11-1, and although he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, he retired dave winfield on a pop-up and then got billy ripken out on strikes to end the threat and his career.

billy ripken, meanwhile, is protecting what's his on the back of his 1993 donruss card
he finished his playing career with the tigers in 1998, hitting .270 in 27 games.  he was released by detroit in july of that year, not too long after playing in his final game on july 13. in that game, ripken was a late-inning defensive replacement who was in the on deck circle waiting for his first plate appearance of the game when the last out was recorded.  so, i'll go back to june 20, which was the game featuring ripken's previous appearance (and final at bat).  he got only a single at bat in that game against the royals' tim belcher, who coaxed a fly ball out.

tim belcher went to anaheim to pitch for the angels the following season, and he was there again in 2000, his final season.  this is a 2001 upper deck victory card
showing the former dodger in those disney-fied angel unis. belcher made 9 appearances (all starts) for the halos in 2000, and finished with a record of 4-5.  one of those losses came in his final start, on september 30 against the mariners.  belcher lasted only 2.2 innings that day, and the blow that knocked him off of the mound for good was a walk to david bell.

david bell continued to play through the 2006 season.  he finished that year with the brewers, after starting the season with the phillies whose uniform he is wearing on his 2006 topps heritage card
bell was the brew crew's third baseman on the final day of the season in 2006 as they faced the cardinals.  he went 1 for 4 at the plate, but his last at bat resulted in a backwards k, courtesy of josh kinney.

josh kinney had made his debut earlier that season, and was on the team's postseason roster as well, winning a ring as the cardinals beat the tigers in 5 games.  he stayed with the cardinals' organization through the 2010 season, and was featured in the 2009 upper deck set
kinney spent 2011 with the white sox and 2012 with the mariners, and hasn't pitched in the big leagues since.  he spent last season in the pirates' organization, but is currently a free agent.  so, yeager's torch has been carried by someone else for the last couple of seasons.  in kinney's last big league appearance, he relieved felix hernandez in a game agains the angels, and allowed a single to former teammate albert pujols, but then struck out kendrys morales and got alberto callaspo to fly out.

and that's how we get to callaspo, the current torchbearer of steve yeager's career.  callaspo, shown here on his 2014 topps card
was recently signed as a free agent by the braves to a one-year contract, so he should carry the torch a bit longer.


Josh D. said...

When you post these, it makes me wonder....are there players that don't have a torch anymore?

That is, is there a pitcher/batter set who both had their last MLB experience in the same at-bat?

Perhaps a couple of marginal September call-ups, finishing up the meaningless last game of the season, then not making the roster again the next year?

gcrl said...

josh that's a great question. i haven't found one yet, but i came close with someone (i can't remember who). the situation was what you described - a couple of september call-ups playing in what would be their last game, but the batter got one more at bat after the pitcher was removed from the game. i'll keep looking!

Josh D. said...

Good to know! If you ever find one, let me know!!!! :-)