Monday, December 19, 2011

Zero-Year Cards, Part 7

1990 Pacific Legends #99 Lou Piniella (Pilots)

I'm starting to re-read what might be the best baseball book ever written, Jim Bouton's Ball Four. I'd forgotten that there were a few mentions of future star and manager Lou Piniella in it.

Piniella was in spring training with the ill-fated Seattle Pilots franchise in 1969. Bouton acknowledges that the guy can play and will probably contribute in the majors at some point down the line, but his personality was not quite at the major-league level yet and wouldn't last long in the Pilots organization. 

Bouton was indeed correct, as the Pilots dealt Piniella to the Royals in April of 1969 after spring training ended. Piniella would go on to win the 1969 NL Rookie of the Year award in Kansas City.

"Sweet Lou" played in a rash of organizations early on in his career before finding stardom with the Royals and Yankees. He was originally signed by the Indians in 1962. He was then drafted by the Senators in the first year draft in November of '62. He was sent to Baltimore in '64, where he'd make his major league debut (four games, one AB in '64). He was then dealt back to the Indians in '68, where he'd get his second taste of the bigs, appearing in six games for Cleveland in '68. He was then selected by the Pilots in the expansion draft. He'd go on to play with the Royals and Yankees the rest of his career and become a darn good manager as well. PHEW! 

This is one of my personal favorites from my zero-year card collection. It's hard enough to get cards of guys on the Pilots, as they only lasted a single year in '69 (they'd move to Milwaukee in 1970 and become the Brewers). But to have a card of a guy who never played a single game for them? That's the makings of a "first ballot" zero-year inductee.

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