Tuesday, August 7, 2012

4 Guys, 1 Card...

7 Arms, 3 Faces, 2 players, 1 coach, 1 umpire, and 3 guys laying down.  This may be the only card I have ever seen that has all of those items.

Sure, we know that Lou Collier is present (and safe, apparently) on this card, but who are these other guys?

Well, we can first deduce that Collier has just slid into (and passed) third base given the brushing of the line.  Therefore, we need to know the identity of the Pirates third base coach, opposing third baseman, and third base umpire for this game.  Obviously, we need to figure out what game this is.  While the card says Collier made his debut on 6-28-1997, I'm not assuming this card depicts that particular game, since the photo could be from any game in 1997. 

According to Collier's 1997 Game Log, he appeared in 18 games against the Mets, White Sox, Cardinals, Expos and Astros.  The third baseman clearly has blue on his jersey, ruling out the Sox, Cards, and 'Stros.  That leaves 3 Mets games and 1 Expos game.  In the Expos game, the box score shows Collier came in at SS for Mark Smith in the ninth inning, however he did not bat during the game.  Down to three.

In the July 14th matchup with the Mets, Collier's entered as a pinch runner, replacing Dale Sveum at 2nd base.  The following batter, Jason Kendall, hit a double to deep right-center scoring Collier.  Obviously, Collier was not involved in a play at third in this situation. Down to two.

Collier's second career game (June 29) was against the Mets.  He went 1-4 with an RBI.  His lone hit was a single, and the following batter struck out to end the inning.  That leaves one game.

Collier made his pro debut on June 28, 1997 against the Mets.  To lead off the bottom of the 8th, Lou Collier was sent in to pinch hit for Kevin Polcovich.  Collier hit a line-drive single to right field.  The next batter, Keith Osik, followed suit with a right-field single of his own, advancing Collier to second.  Tony Womack then grounded the ball to the shortstop who complete a forceout at second.  Womack was safe at first and Collier was safe at third...as evidenced by the card above. 

It's safe to assume that Womack grounded the ball close to second base, making the smart SS play a flip to the second baseman.  Given Womack's speed and the location of the toss, the 2B probably tried to take advantage of Collier's questionable youthful baserunning by gunning to third.  Collier clearly slid through the base, but managed to keep a hand on the bag. 

So, I must give a brief nod to Upper Deck for having an absolutely great picture from Collier's debut on his debut card.   

Now that we know the game, we can identify the remaining cameos.  First, the box score tells us that the Mets third baseman for the game was Edgardo Alfonzo.  Upon further investigation, the face and wristband also strongly suggest Edgardo Alfonzo. Look up other pictures of Alfonzo, and you will likely see that same single blue wristband in many of them.

The box score also says that the third-base umpire was Charlie Williams.  However, Williams was black, so that can't be his arm.  Given the umpire's position inside the infield, we can assume that it is the home plate umpire.  With runners on first and second, the 2B-umpire would be in the infield between first and second.  On a deep ball to the short stop, the 3B-umpire would be required to go out and toward second for the play.  In that event, the home plate umpire would rotate to inside third.  The home plate umpire for this game was Jerry Meals. Meals' most famous games are the 20-K gem by Kerry Wood and Justin Verlander's second no-hitter.

I originally though the easiest person to identify would be the Pirates' third base coach.  I figured a simple google search would net those results.  It wasn't so easy, however.  I had to go several pages into a search from multiple directions to find certain names to check out.  After all that, I finally found that the Pirates third base coach in 1997 was Jack Lind.  Ironically, the best photo I could find of Lind is in a Mets hat.

So there you have it. 

Jack Lind went to the ground to ensure that Lou Collier safely slid in to third.  Much to the dismay of Edgardo Alfonzo, Collier was ruled safe by Jerry Meals.

That, ladies (yeah right) and gentlemen, is the story of 1998 Collector's Choice #208 Lou Collier.

Though it didn't help in my research, I did manage to find the game recap in the Beaver County Times, which was pretty cool.

I also want to commend Nachos Grande on the outstanding card selection. Thanks for the contest!

...oh yeah, don't forget to vote for this post when voting opens!


SpastikMooss said...

That was a fantastic read. And I too give kudos to UD for actually using a picture from his debut!

Kyle4KC said...

Dang, you better have an off day if we meet in the bracket b/c otherwise I don't stand a chance! (if I even get out of the 1st round) ; P

Nice post!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Spankee, you're not convincing me. The uniform sleeve looks wrong, and there's no way the home plate ump is that close to third for that play, especially when an overthrow could mean a play at the plate. Is this maybe spring training?

Spankee said...


I had the same concerns as you. The sleeve bothered me quite a bit. So, I went through the Beaver County Times (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=QLZAdv6BrvsC&dat=19970401&b_mode=2&hl=en) box scores for Pirates spring training (roughly 30 games or so). Collier only appeared in a handful of games in spring training. I couldn't find any against the Mets nor could I find any appearances against teams with any blue that had third-basemen that would remotely match the picture.

Spankee said...


To elaborate on the umpire positioning:

With runners on first and second, there's no situation where the third base umpire should end up in the infield. However, in a situation like I described, the home plate umpire is required to move to the infield and cover third if it appears the runner and the ball are headed to third. It is then the responsibility of the first base umpire to rotate to home plate.

amr said...

The game on June 28th was a night game, and the play in question in the 8th inning. That's clearly midday sun. I think it's spring training.

It wouldn't have to be the Mets, doesn't really look like a Mets sleeve. Actually, Mets were in Grapefruit League in 1997, Bucs in Cactus League, with at least the Dbacks, Royals, Rockies, Brewers, Clevelands, Giants, Dodgers, As, Angels, Padres, and Ms.

amr said...

alsto the fact that both teams are wearing dark jerseys indicates spring.

Spankee said...


Neither of those points help my argument, though...and as I've learned from being married, I know it is better to go down swinging for my incorrect stance than to admit I was wrong.

Actually, the first thing that tipped me off to it being spring training (before the 3B sleeve) is that the Pirates alternate jerseys in 1997 had the Pirates logo on the right sleeve. The jersey in the picture only has the brand patch.