Thursday, May 2, 2013

1980 TCMA Glens Falls White Sox Baseball (Color) #5, Mark Esser

Red borders and blocky white text must mean TCMA's back in town! Today's set marks an encore performance for Chicago's AA team in Glens Falls, a franchise that started 1980 with a black-and-white set, whose #5 was shadowy Mark Platel. I assume that offering proved popular enough to merit this mid-season bump to full color.

I see you there, Budweiser

1980 was also a busy year for Esser, who'd started 1979 with Chicago's White Sox after doing great things against single-A hitters in 1978. He lasted less than a month on the South Side, pitching 1.2 innings, garnering a 16.20 ERA, and striking out one batter (Dave Roberts) before being sent  down to the AAA Iowa Oaks, where he was managed by young (34 year-old) manager Tony LaRussa.

LaRussa built his strategic reputation on revitalizing pitchers in Oakland and St. Louis, but Tony didn't do much for Mark, who unfortunately never made it back to the bigs. Based on 1979's stats in Iowa, I suspect a minor but lingering injury that didn't improve until the off-season.

Esser broke 1980 spring training with single-A Appleton, probably a kick in the gut when you'd started on a major league roster the previous year. Mark once again blew away low-minors competition, going 4-0 in 5 starts, then jumped to both AA Glens Falls (today's card) and AAA Iowa with mixed results. He spent 1981 in denouement, then pitched a final year with Glens Falls before retiring (career stats).

TCMA printed 30 cards for this color set, adding #20 "Sox Infield" to the black-and-white version's 29 player checklist. Players in bold reached the majors.
  1. Ron Perry
  2. Len Bradley
  3. Mark Teutsch
  4. Randy Johnson
  5. Mark Esser
  6. Andy Pasillas
  7. Kevin Hickey
  8. Rick Seilheimer
  9. Mark Platel
  10. Julio Perez
  11. Vince Bienek
  12. Fran Mullins
  13. Rick Wieters
  14. Dom Fucci
  15. Randy Evans
  16. Steve Pastrovich
  17. Luis Rois
  18. Reggie Patterson
  19. Ted Barnicle
  20. Sox Infield
  21. Mike Pazik, Manager
  22. Abner Haines, Trainer
  23. Bob Bolster, Clubhouse Manager
  24. Duane Shaffer, Coach
  25. Orlando Cepeda, Instructor
  26. Lorenzo Gray
  27. Ray Torres
  28. Tom Johnson
  29. Batboys
  30. A.J. Hill

Find scans of most of the set on Auctiva, an image hosting site. Wish I could go back in time and tell those photographers to stop taking players photos at noon.

Value: 1980 TCMA cards remain easy to find, so $1-2 for non-star singles is reasonable and team sets run $10-15.

Fakes / reprints: TCMA reprinted several team sets for "collector's kits" in the late 1980s. Reprints come with black ink backs and originals have blue ink.

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