Monday, August 6, 2018

1988 Starting Lineup Talking Baseball: Pirates Team Set

I posted before about the Starting Lineup Talking Baseball game.  I got this as a gift for my 13th birthday in 1988.  I went through the two sets of cards that came with the game: NL All-Stars and AL All-Stars.   I had one expansion cartridge beyond what came with the game, and that consisted of the Pirates, Phillies, and Mets.  Here are the Pirates cards.  If you saw those All-Star cards, you'll notice that those featured photos, while these feature drawings instead, for some reason.

I've been a Pirates fan since soon after I started opening packs of 1987 Topps.  I grew up between Philly and Baltimore, a bit closer to Philly, in northern Delaware.  Everyone was a Phillies fan.  Mike Schmidt was every boy's hero.  I had always had some baseball cards around, but in early 1987, the neighborhood kids and I started seriously purchasing 1987 Topps packs from our local 7-Eleven.  I decided to pick a favorite team, and I looked through all the cards I had so far to inform my decision.  I somehow settled on the Pirates, which is funny because the 1986 Pirates those cards were based on were not a good team at all.  But I stuck with my choice, and was in time to see them rebuild into a three-time NL East winner.
Andy Van Slyke.
Brian Fisher.
Andy Van Slyke was one of the cornerstones of that rebuild.  Really, in trading All-Star catcher Tony Pena to the Cardinals, the Pirates got several pieces which would serve them well.  Van Slyke became a 3-time All-Star himself with the Pirates.  I picked up several of his rookie cards back in the day, and just recently got an autographed card of him, which I'll feature when it comes in the mail.

Brian Fisher I don't really remember.  He pitched with the Bucs 1987-1989, going 19-22 with them, with a 4.72 ERA.  He played one more year with Houston afterwards.
Mike Dunne.
Jose Lind.
Mike Dunne was another piece of the Pena trade with the Cards.  He had some promise, but didn't work out in the long run.  Jose Lind was an acrobatic infielder, winning a Gold Glove in 1992.
Sid Bream.
Bobby Bonilla.
If you're a Pirates fan, then Sid Bream surely broke your heart.  That the Bucs missed the 1992 World Series because of Bream's hit for the Braves was a terrible moment in my adolescence.  Bobby Bonilla was another of the cornerstones of those division winners, except that he was gone by the third year.  By 1992, Bonilla had moved on to the Mets.
John Smiley.
Junior Ortiz.
John Smiley was a staple of the rotation for those late 80s/early 90s Pirates teams.  He even led the NL in wins in 1991.  Junior Ortiz I only barely remember; he was mainly the backup catcher for the Bucs, through the 1989 season.
Jim Gott.
Darnell Coles.
My first memory of Darnell Coles is as a Tiger, although he started out as a Mariner.  The Pirates traded 1987 team batting leader Jim Morrison to Detroit for Coles and a player to be named later, but then traded Coles back to Seattle for Glenn Wilson soon thereafter.  Seattle then traded him back to Detroit.  The main thing I remember about Coles is reading a story, many years ago, about Coles throwing a ball out of the stadium, over the roof, one game (here's a story that refers to that).  Jim Gott was in the Bucs' bullpen from mid-1987 through 1989, and played with the Blue Jays, the Giants, and the Dodgers otherwise in his career between 1982 and 1995.
John Cangelosi.
Mike Diaz.
John Cangelosi played with the Bucs from 1987 through 1990, as a utility player/backup outfielder.  Mike Diaz was a utility player in the majors in 1983 and from 1986 through 1988, mainly with the Pirates but also with both Chicago teams.
R.J. Reynolds.
Jeff Robinson.
R.J. Reynolds, of the same name as the tobacco company, was with the Dodgers from 1983 through mid-1985, then with the Pirates for the rest of his career until retiring in 1990.  His best year was probably 1987, with 51 RBI and a batting average of .260.  There were two pitchers named Jeff Robinson in the late 80s/early 90s, both of whom played at one point with the Pirates.  This is Jeff D. Robinson, the relief pitcher.  In 1988, he pitched in 75 games with the Pirates for 124.2 innings, with a 3..03 ERA.  The other Jeff Robinson was a starting pitcher and was only with the Bucs for part of 1992.

Doug Drabek.
Barry Bonds.
Here we have two stars of the early 90s Bucs.  Doug Drabek won a Cy Young award in 1990, going 22-6 with a 2.76 ERA.  Barry Bonds, of course, is Barry Bonds, and probably wasn't doping at this point in his career.
Felix Fermin.
Mike Lavalliere.
Felix Fermin was only with the Pirates for his first two seasons, 1987 and 1988.  He got a chance to play everyday after being traded to the Indians in early 1989.  Mike Lavalliere was one of several good pickups for the Bucs in the Tony Pena trade to the Cardinals.  He became the starting catcher, was a good hitter, and won a Gold Glove in 1987.
Al Pedrique.
Rafael Belliard.
Al Pedrique was a Topps All-Star Rookie in the 1988 set.  He did bat .301 for the Pirates in 88 games in 1987.  Things didn't work out, and 1989 was his last season in the majors.  Rafael Belliard had a long career, with the Bucs from 1982 through 1990, and then with the Braves until retiring after the 1998 season.  He only played everyday for a couple of those seasons and was a lifetime .221 hitter, but was valuable enough as an infielder to keep around for that long, and started all 6 games of the 1995 World Series for the champion Braves.

Thanks for reading!

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