Monday, February 20, 2012

#171 Bob Rodgers

Card thoughts: Rodgers was generally known as “Buck,” but was never so named on any of his cards. The perspective of this card makes the bat Rodgers is holding look like a toy. Question: Does Topps use prop bats in some of it’s photos?

The player/manager: Buck Rodgers was fine defensive catcher who was strong in the clutch, but didn’t hit for a high average. His best season in his 9 seasons with the Angels was his first full season when he caught 150 games (a rookie record), hit 34 doubles, drove in 61, and hit .258. This was enough for Topps to give Rodgers an all star rookie card.

Immediately after retiring a player, Rodgers was hired by his former (and only) big league manager Bill Rigney as one of his coaches on the Twins. He remained in that role until 1974, and later coached the Giants (1976) and the Brewers (1978-80). Rodgers finally got his first chance as a major league manager with the Brewers when #21 George Bamberger had a heart attack near the beginning of the 1980 season. Bamberger attempted to come back, but left again before the end of the season, so Rodgers managed two different times in one season: He went 27-21 the first time around and then 13-10 the second. Rodgers managed the team full time in 1981, but the Brewers started slow in 1982, and he was replaced by Harvey Kuenn. Of course, that team would go to World Series as “Harvey’s Wallbangers.”

He next had a much longer run as the Expos manager from 1985 to 1991. Rodgers only finished below .500 one season of all the full seasons he managed north of the border, and he even won a career high 91 games in 1987 (for which he won Manager of the Year honors).

Rodgers finished his managerial career with his original team, the Angels, who he managed from 1991 to 1994. Another freak experience happened to him during this tenure. The Angels team bus was involved in an accident, and Rodgers was seriously injured, breaking his knee, his elbow, and a rib. He was confined to wheelchair for most of the season, with coach #128 John Wathan, taking over in midseason.

Rodgers finished his managerial career with a 784-774 record, a .503 winning percentage. He only made the playoffs once (in the split season of 1981) where his Brewers lost to the Yankees.

Rear guard: You can see there's another manager card error. Two managers share card #141: The other is Chuck Cottier. No glaring missing players, although in hindsight Andres Galarraga should have been chosen as the rookie representative, as he had more at bats than #131 Razor Shines. The lack of Miguel Dilone card, who played 51 games with the Expos before being released, will be discussed when the Padres manager card comes up.

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