Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Project Durham Bulls #44 - Doug Rader

1965 Durham Bulls 

I do enjoy finding cards of the Durham Bulls players that I have watched over the past ten years plus that I have lived around Durham and Raleigh.  However, the Durham Bulls are one of the longest running Minor League teams around and have a long history with many great players.  I love finding some of the older players, especially the ones that I do not know a lot about, and taking time to find out more about their careers.  While I was growing up in the 1980s and early 1990s, I knew Doug Rader as a manager, but I did not know a thing about him as a player until I moved to North Carolina.
The Astros signed Doug Rader as an amateur free agent out of Illinois Wesleyan University in 1965.  He was sent to start his professional baseball career with the team's Carolina League affiliate in Durham.  Rader ended up playing 112 games for the Bulls and hit .209/.307/.385 with 14 home runs, 14 doubles, and 38 RBIs.  Not a great line, but he still ended up getting promoted to Double A the following season.  Rader made his Major League debut in 1967.  He played 11 years, mainly with the Astros, but he also appeared in games for the Padres and Blue Jays.  In all, Rader had 1,300 hits, 155 home runs, more than 700 RBIs, and an impressive 5 Gold Gloves.

After retiring, Doug Rader went into coaching and managing.  He managed the Rangers during the 1983, 1984, and part of the 1985 season.  In 1986, the White Sox used him to manage the team for two games after management fired Tony LaRussa in the middle of the season.  Rader also managed the Angels for three seasons in the early 1990s.  He worked as a hitting coach with the Marlins for the franchise's first two seasons, but retired after the 1994 season.  To the best of my knowledge, he has not worked in baseball since that job.

I am really happy with this card.  Like really happy.  The Greats of the Games autographs have always been one of the great products of the late 1990s and early 2000s.  By the time that the mid 2000s rolled around, I am not sure that the many collectors would describe the product as great.  I still think it was a nice set, definitely a step back though.  This Rader card is a far cry from the 1999 or 2000 sets, but there is still plenty to like.

First, the Nickname cards were always a staple in the Donruss Signature set.  Fleer never used nickname cards even though the products were rivals of sorts.  Fleer went with the nicknames in this set.  Yes, they are sticker autographs, but Fleer also picked some unique players.  Besides, the Donruss Signature Set had also turned to sticker autographs too.  I have another one of these cards of Tom Henke "The Terminator", who never appeared in any other autograph product.  Rader also only appears in this set as a signer.  Really unique cards to own.

Rader was a redhead and earned the nickname "Red Rooster" based on the way that his hair stuck out of his hat.  In some ways, I wish that I had a simple card with a regular Doug Rader signature.  However, if you only have one choice of card for a player, this is a pretty sweet card and a really good addition to my collection of Durham Bulls cards.  


  1. Awesome signature & nickname inscription. I remember Rader from his managerial days in the 80's, but it looks like The Red Rooster had a pretty solid career as a player.