Showing posts with label 1989 Upper Deck. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1989 Upper Deck. Show all posts

Kevin Seitzer

Get to the chopper!

Why we like him: Next time you want to impress your baseball-diehard friends, bring up the topic of criminally underrated infielders of the late '80s and drop the name Kevin Seitzer. Seitzer was always one of those guys that you never really thought about when discussing the best hitters of the era, and he wasn't necessarily elite, but all he did was produce consistently. After George Brett's move from third to first base and DH to accommodate his aging body after the '86 season, the Royals needed a young guy to step up and fill the void Brett left at third base, and the 25-year old Seitzer proved to be just what the doctor ordered. He let the league with 207 hits in 1987 on his way to posting a .323 average.  He also led the league in plate appearances that year with 725 and finished second behind Mark McGwire's neck in Rookie of the Year voting.

After winning the 1985 World Series, Kansas City was in the process of trying to build another contender. Seitzer's youth and his bat were part of that surge in the late 1980s that peaked with a second place finish in the AL West in 1989.  Seitzer was the spark for a very good Royals team that featured the aforementioned Brett, Bo Jackson, and Danny Tartabull in the lineup and pitchers like Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Jeff Montgomery, and a young and still somewhat mentally stable Tom Gordon.

Seitzer also possesses one of the strangest transaction stories I've ever seen. After a mediocre 1991 season, the Royals let Seitzer walk, and then-division rivals Milwaukee snatched him up off the market, but released him again after the 1992 season. In 1993, he was signed by the Athletics, and this time was released in July, only to be signed yet again by the Brewers.  Try to keep up with this: he was released by the Brewers again in after '93, signed as a free agent by the Brewers before '94, released after '94, signed by the Brewes before '95, and traded by the Brewers for Jeromy Burnitz in '96. Clearly his contract with Milkwaukee just said, "I can't quit you."

After the 1997 season and a trip to the World Series with the Indians, Seitzer retired. Since then, he's served as hitting coach for the Diamondbacks and Royals, where he still coaches this season. For his playing career, Seitzer left a fairly impressive stat sheet behind. His totals: 12 seasons, a sneaky-good .295 average, two All Star appearances in 1987 and 1995, and four signed free agent contracts with the same team.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kevin Seitzer, Ballplayer.

Mickey Tettleton

There is an entire oriole in his cheek.

Why we like him: Any kid who likes baseball even a little bit has, at some point, impersonated all the goofiest hitting stances he's ever seen.  We've all looked like idiots portraying Craig Counsell, Tony Batista, and Chuck Knoblauch.  We've pulled hamstrings pretending to be Jeff Bagwell or Moises Alou.  But anybody with the ability to stand, hold a bat, and look completely indifferent could look like Mickey Tettleton.

He always just stood there motionless in the box with a massive hunk o' chaw in his cheek and bat hanging lifelessly at a shallow angle to the ground.  Pitchers didn't know if he was ready to hit, daydreaming, trying to strikeout, or dead.  Then as the pitcher made his delivery to the seemingly dumbfounded Tettleton, his weight would rock back, his hands would get back and ready, he'd step, and swing as if he was trying to kill a charging rhinoceros. Most of the time, if he made an offer at it, he'd hit it.  Sometimes, it would even disappear over the Tiger Stadium roof.

Tettleton spent 14 seasons in the majors with the A's, Orioles, Tigers, and Rangers and wore a different number with each team, oddly enough.  He spent most of his career behind the plate before natural wear and tear forced him to take up roles in the outfield and and first base, which is common for any catcher who probably swallows gallons of tobacco juice every day and has very few decent teeth left.  He was a two-time All Star in 1989 and 1994, and his patience helped him rack up 949 walks for his career.  Though not a very good defensive catcher, he was certainly one of the best power-hitting catchers of his era too, amassing 245 home runs at a time when a catcher hitting 25 home runs in a season was compared to Johnny Bench.

I think any kid who saw Tettleton play has to remember him fondly.  He was a true dirtbag who just oozed baseball and Red Man juice.  You probably would too if you stuck an entire acre of Amazon rainforest in your cheek every inning.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to grab a broom, stand like Mickey, and swing for the roof in Detroit in the driveway.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mickey Tettleton, Ballplayer.