Thursday, June 7, 2018

Forgotten Sons of El Cajon (a big Guys From Granite update)

Lots of updates to my collection of pro ballplayers who went to my high school to get to in this post. But first off, a new name to add to the list. Congrats to Jordan Verdon on being selected in the recent MLB draft by the Detroit Tigers out of San Diego State. A third baseman, he was taken in the 23rd round as the 675th overall player selected. The Granite Hills alum was previously drafted out of high school in 2015 in the 25th round by the Mets (719th overall), but chose to attend SDSU instead. While his collegiate career started kinda slowly, things really came together in 2018, finishing his Junior season with 27 doubles and 40 extra-base hits, both the most by an Aztec since 1984. Hopefully his success continues into the minors and he makes his way up to Detroit before long. Looking forward to Jordan getting some cards on the market that I can go after.

Long ago I made a post of what I thought was a comprehensive list of all the guys from my high school that played minor league baseball. My source for the list was baseball-reference, which I thought was infallible. And while I still love good ol' B-R, turns out the site kinda sucks in some regards. Especially since the "upgrade" they did a year or two ago so now you have to click in the search box before you start typing a player's name.. so annoying. And how you now have to click boxes to reveal a lot of the info instead of it just being there in the player profile pages.. hate that! And how they took out the nice little "bullpen" (or whatever they were called) bio section they used to have and instead now link to (if available) the SABR bios, which are like frucking novels about each player and I'm sorry but I don't have all day to read that when all I want is some quick basic background info on the guy and some notable moments from his career. And why can't the search be smart enough to figure out simple typos and offer suggestions? You better be sure you can spell "Saltalamacchia" right, because even one letter off will give you a "zero results" dead end. Really annoying. [/ranting about baseball-reference]

But a lesser known stat site that actually might be a better resource sometimes is The Baseball Cube. Where B-R betrayed me when it came to searching for players from my high school, TBC pointed me to a few players I wasn't aware of. I was eventually able to track down some cards of these guys.

Man, I love old minor league cards! Tim Doerr was an infielder originally drafted out of Granite Hills by the Cubs in the 4th round of the 1970 draft, but chose to attend UCLA instead. The Reds picked him up in the 18th round in 1974, and he spent his pro career in their system putting up decent numbers before hanging it up after 1978 with AA Nashville. This card is from 1976 TCMA. Tim's also got a 1974 Seattle Rainiers card out there I'd like to track down someday, but I think it's pretty scarce. Not sure if Tim is any relation to HOFer Bobby Doerr.. anybody know?

As for Charles Renneau, he was drafted by the Reds in the 12th round of the 1974 draft. A righty who spent a couple years in Cincinnati's system, he called it quits after a year in the Twins organization. Though always a pitcher, seems Charles wasn't a bad hitter, putting up a .333 average in 31 professional plate appearances. This 1977 TCMA card from his final year as a pro seems to be his only card on the market. (Wooo... completed player collection!)

Since these cards don't pop up on the blogs very often, thought I'd show the backs too. That's an incredible Clinton Pilots logo! And lol at the "Olcajon" typo on the Visalia Oaks card.

Here's another 1977 TCMA card and the more-familiar 1981 TCMA design. Kenny Barton is a guy who wasn't on my radar until just recently. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Giants in 1976 out of Grossmont College, the local J.C. He played all over the field, but mainly second base. After spending the late 70s in the Giants chain, he then played with the Indians organization for a couple years, topping out at AAA for his last year in 1981. He's also got a 1976 card out there I need to complete his trio of cards.

Now here are a couple guys I actually went to school with, though not in the same class. Brian Smith was ahead of me and Mike Wilson was behind.

Brian J. Smith was a late draft pick by the Mariners in '95, but only lasted a couple years splitting time between second base and the outfield in their system before winding up on an independent team, and was done playing by 2002. I think my PC of him is now 50% complete, as he seems to only have a couple baseball cards out there. In addition to this 1997 Everett AquaSox card, he's also got one from 1999 Newark Bears I need to track down someday.

Mike J. Wilson signed with the Phillies in the 1998 draft. He was a RHP who put up solid numbers for a few years, but couldn't get past AA, wrapping up his career in 2003 with a couple games in the Giants' chain. Similar to Brian Smith, his very common name makes it hard to search for his cards. (He is not the same Mike Wilson who appears in some 2002 Bowman and Topps products and 2011 Bowman, an outfielder with Seattle.) I think I've now completed this PC. I already had his 1999 Batavia Muckdogs card, and now this 2001 Batavia Muckdogs card checks off both cards of his I know about.

Brian Graham was drafted by Oakland in the 4th round of the 1982 draft out of UCLA. He had some decent stints, but couldn't get out of AA, eventually finishing his career in 1986 split between the AA teams of Detroit and Milwaukee. I think he has a few cards out there, but yet again, he has a somewhat common name and there are other baseball players from the era with the same name, making it confusing to search (not only players, but also trainers and managers named Brain Graham with cards.. not sure if this Brian went into coaching or if that's a different guy). This Madison Muskies card is from 1983.

Johnny Coit, on the other hand has a distinctive name and seems to be a one-card-wonder, meaning the PC is complete now with just this 2004 Alaska Goldpanner card. Nice. He was actually attending Cal State Northridge at the time. The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks are a collegiate summer team. Coit went undrafted and played independent ball in 2007 and 2008.

Mark McRoberts was a few years behind me. Looks like he had 3 cards produced and I've knocked them off. Sweet! Another completed PC! Mark signed with the Phillies in the 14th round of the 2000 draft. A catcher-turned-outfielder, he had trouble keeping his offense consistent. The Padres picked him up in the minor league 2003 Rule V draft, but he was done by the end of the 2004 season.

Chris Dunwell is another guy I wasn't aware of until just recently (no thanks to b-r). Drafted by Oakland in the 15th round of the 2002 draft out of SDSU, he scuffed in the minors for 4 years and that was it. 325 strikeouts vs 108 walks doesn't seem too bad, but wasn't good enough to stick around very long. Looks like he's got six cards out there and I'm just missing one to complete the PC (2001 Alaska Goldpanners).

Johnny Omahen is no stranger to my blog. I got a TTM return from him a while back (among my first times attempting through-the-mail autograph collecting), and nearly completed a Bowman auto rainbow, only missing the 1/1. Nice to add another minor league card of his. He made it up to AAA a couple years ago, but couldn't quite break thru to the bigs. Looks like he's now doing private instructional work on pitching back home in Alpine, a neighboring city of El Cajon in East County San Diego.

Sean Bischofberger is a cool one to add to my collection. This corner infielder was a 22nd round pick by the Braves in 1998, but didn't sign with them, instead attending Cal State Fullerton. He later played independent ball, with his career lasting from 2002 until 2005. His best year was probably 2002, hitting .290 with 12 homers in 65 games. This is his only baseball card that I know of (2004 San Angelo Colts). Another completed PC! I went to school with him, though he was a couple years behind me.

Scott Shoemaker, another pitcher who topped out at AAA, got a Bowman card, so I've already got some representation of him in my collection, but this quartet of minor league cards is pretty nice. I think the only minor league card of his I'm missing now is 2005 Greenville Bombers.

Casey Craig also got a Bowman card in the early 00s. I think these 6 might be all his minor league cards, leaving only some low-numbered Bowman parallels left for me to chase.

Apparently there were a couple different guys named Brandon Decker in the early 2000s. The first card (Crushers) is my guy, attending Granite Hills then SDSU before a couple years of independent ball. The other guy with the same name (Kernals and Owlz) is from Florida and got drafted by the Angels but didn't last long. I probably should had researched better before buying these cards. LOL. Oh well.

Frank Carey was active in that overproduction sweet spot of 1989-1991, so he's got lots of minor league cards. Here are six of them. After Granite, he attended Stanford and was later drafted by the SF Giants. He was a decent contact hitter but didn't stick around as a pro for long, finishing his career with just 5 games in AA (though that was good enough to get him a couple cards with the Shreveport Captains).

Now here's an active guy. Travis Taijeron made the majors with the Mets in 2017. He signed with the Dodgers in the offseason and has been playing ok in OKC (AAA) so far this season. I'm a little bummed he hasn't gotten any MLB cards other than one Topps Now card last year (at least there was that, though). He has plenty of minor league cards, however, and I've added four more of them here.

Sean Ross is a bit of a mystery to me. He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 40th round of the 2017 draft out of high school but didn't sign and apparently didn't play at all for the rest of the year (injured? took a "gap year"?). Looks like he eventually started playing at SDSU in 2018 and did well in limited action (.333, 6 hits in 18 at-bats), so I'm hoping he keeps it up and eventually goes pro. Scored this Leaf Perfect Game #'d 1/5 auto a little while back for a few bucks.

Brian Giles has had the best MLB career out of any guy from Granite Hills. While he has way too many cards out there to try supercollecting, I can at least attempt to round up all his minor league issues, and this is a nice lot I've recently picked up. The two Skybox cards looks like dupes from the front, but have different numbers on the back. And speaking of backs..

I really like this red 1990 Star Watertown Indians card. Not only is Watertown, NY sacred ground in the cardsphere (Night Owl's home), but I think this is Brian's earliest card. Plus it gives a shout-out to Granite Hills, albeit with a slight typo.

Dang it, when blindly rounding up Brian (Stephen) Giles cards, you're liable to accidentally buy cards of Brian (Jeffrey) Giles, as I did with this pair. Doh! Maybe I should just start collecting him too.

At least there's only one Marcus Giles in baseball. Snagged a few more cards of my former classmate here. I wonder what he's up to these days. Hope he's doing well. I have little interest in any high school reunions, though if you told me Marcus was gonna be there, I might think about it.

Let's close out this long post with the original Guy From Granite, the late Mike Reinbach. Scored this Japanese card on eBay recently. Really like it because it seems nearly all of his cards show him batting, so it's nice to finally get a card of him in the field.

Go Granite Hills Eagles! See you next time.


  1. I thought of you when I saw that Jordan Verdon pick. 23rd rounders don't really get cards anymore so I suspect his cards will come in the form of the minor league team sets. But he could be a weird candidate for a Bowman set one day if he performs like crazy out of nowhere.

    1. Yeah, not holding my breath for a Bowman card, but minor league cards would be fine. And who knows, maybe he could sneak into a set like Pro Debut, Heritage Minors, or even Bowman.

  2. An entire post filled with obscure minor league cards? Heck yes! This was fascinating to look through - I only wish more than one or two people from my high school played pro ball.

    1. Yeah, it's nice to have some variety in this minicollection, though as this post shows, it can get confusing with guys with common names.

  3. Is Tim Doerr related to Bobby Doerr you ask? Let me check baseball-reference and get back to you.

    1. Ha, thanks. ;) It'd definitely be cool if B-R's "related to" info also included minor league guys. For what it's worth, Tim Doerr's full name is Timothy Robert Doerr. Hmm.

    2. Hi! Tracy Doerr here;) My dad Tim is no relation to Bobby. Go team!!

  4. Love me some Clinton Pilots (now Lumberkings) action!

  5. That Shoemaker Spinners card says 70's Braves all over it. I doubt I have any of those M. Giles cards in Braves collection, although the Pelicans probably wouldn't count there. Speaking of Giles the boo boo Brian, I could use one of those for my Name Game binder.

  6. Really cool stuff. Only one major leaguer went to my high school. Baseball cube has it correct but baseball reference has him going to high school in Tennessee.

  7. This is a great post which is inspiring me to add some minor league cards to my search list and do this for my high school as well.