Sunday, August 27, 2017

I Love The 90s Cardinals #1 - Milt Thompson

Why I am making this post?  

I have always tried to do themed posts on Mondays.  I think it started out two or three years ago when I did posts about a recently purchased/traded for card, but I quit doing those since I make those types of posts all of the time.  I still do, they just aren't forced into a theme.  Plus, I borrowed the idea from a group of local Raleigh-Durham collectors on Facebook who would make a similar post on Mondays.  I scratched that idea at some point a year and a half ago and went to the Venerable Old Card posts about cards pre-2000s.  These were fun posts, but the vast majority of them ended up being about Cardinals players from the 1980s and 1990s whom I grew up watching. 

My two main collecting interest at this point in my life are Durham Bulls and Cardinals cards.  I have been making some themed Durham Bulls posts for awhile now, I figured it would be fun to make a series of posts about some Cardinals cards.  More specifically I am going to go with the Cardinals players from the 1990s.  I know it was a really rough decade for the team, but those years in my life were the end of middle school through my college graduation.  I cannot even tell you how many Cardinals game I went to during that time, but it was a large number.  Excited to share out a few cards of the players I grew up watching, at least until I run out of players.  

For the first post I am going to kind of combine the whole Durham Bulls thing with the 1990s Cardinals.  There aren't too many players who have appeared for both teams, but this guy is one of them.  

Milt Thompson was sort of the prototypical 1990s Cardinals player.  He had spent a few years with the Braves and Phillies before the Cardinals traded Steve Lake for him.  I'm not sure the Cardinals had intended to use him as starter since they also had Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, and Tom Brunansky.  However, Willie McGee ended up only playing 58 games in 1989 which meant that Milt Thompson ended up with almost 600 plate appearances.

The 1990 Cardinals were just terrible, not Milt's fault at all, but he ended up getting a little more than 450 plate appearances that summer.  The team had gone cheap around this time when Gussie Busch died and his son August IV took over.  So, they traded away Tom Brunansky in April and Willie McGee towards the end of the summer.

Willie McGee gave us Cardinals fans a batting title that year, which was something.  Except McGee was playing in Oakland when we won it.  Still kind of an odd little moment in baseball history.  Eddie Murray was leading the NL in batting when McGee got traded and then went cold at the end of the season.

I am pretty sure that Milt would have made the 600 number on plate appearances if he had not found the bench for chunks of time during August and September.  Remember cheap.  The Cardinals had three young outfielders, all making the Major League minimum, start games at the end of the season.  Cheap yes, but the trio of Ray Lankford, Bernard Gilkey, and Felix Jose were at least talented.

I always post Ray Lankford cards, so you get Bernard.  Plus Bernard was an all around talent since he was in Men In Black for all of 30 seconds getting hit in the head with a baseball.

Back to Milt.  He actually became a bat off the bench his last two years with the Cardinals.  Pretty sure that was supposed to be his original role on the team when they traded for him.  Maybe not, I was in seventh grade when this happened. What do I know?  He was basically between 200 and 300 plate appearances during those years.

Milt left after 1992 just in time to rejoin the Phillies in 1993.  Again, bat off the bench, but he helped that team a lot.  Like this.....

He also batted .294 in the World Series that year against the Blue Jays.  He hit a home run in Game 3 off of Duane Ward and ended the Series with 6 RBIs.  Not his fault that Joe Carter walked off Mitch Williams.  

A Milt Thompson card, or two, for my post.  I am going to go with my most recent card of him first.  You might be thinking, "Who knows their most recent Milt Thompson card?" Well, at some point back in April I made some posts about finishing off my 1990 Upper Deck set.  I was successful, at finishing the set, but opening 1990s wax (foil since it was Upper Deck) means lots of doubles.  In my doubles pile....

Typical Upper Deck from the time.  Nice picture on the front of the card, kind of looks like it was taken in Wrigley Field prior to a game.  The red pullovers were the Cardinals batting practice jerseys during the 1980s and 1990s.  The background looks like it's the ivy wall with the brick top.  Can't see the basket, but the back of the card confirms what the front of the card hints at in terms of location....

with the brick wall behind him in the picture.  

Surprisingly, Milt actually had some nice cards with the Cardinals.  At least I think so, especially a pair of his 1991 Topps issued cards.  His base Topps card, great photography that year, has a cool action shot of him ducking on inside pitch during a Spring Training game.....

Crooked scan, apologies.  His Stadium Club card from that same year also had an action shot of him.  On this card he's running in to catch a fly ball in Wrigley.  The ivy always makes for a nice background on baseball cards.  I approve of card photos there.  

Overall, Milt was a much better player for the Cardinals than I remembered.  He also played for the team during a real point in the franchise's history.  His final Cardinals line, in a little more than 500 games, was .274/.334/.387 with 20 home runs, 21 triples, and 67 doubles.  Milt also stole 86 bases and ended three of his four seasons with an OPS+ over 100 (average player is 100) with marks of 107 in 1989, 127 in 1991, and 116 in 1992.  His 1990 was a little rough with an OPS+ of 71, or a little bit lower than Jason Heyward. 

A random 1990 song from my Ipod.  


  1. Willie McGee is one of my all-time favorite Cardinals. Actually... him and those speedy Cardinals from the 80's.

    1. I like McGee, Coleman was another one of favorites. Wish some team would go with the speed line-up again, likely won't happen again.