Background- Duane Ward had a short career, flew under the radar of many fans, but was an important player on the great Blue Jays teams of the early 1990s. The Braves drafted him out of high school in New Mexico with the ninth overall pick in 1982, but he flamed out in their system as a starting pitcher. That included a season with the Durham Bulls in 1983, where he had a losing record and an ERA over 4. The Braves traded Ward to the Blue Jays in 1986 who gave him a chance to pitch out of the bullpen. He would have a six year run with more than 10 saves. Ward worked primarily as the setup man for Tom Henke, but would take over the closers role in 1993. He led the American League in saves that season, and helped the Blue Jays win their second World Series title.
Card- The 1980s Durham Bulls teams have some challenges. There are some really good players from the Bulls run as a Braves affiliate, but many do not have a certified autograph. The players are also all from the junk wax era, so it's also really hard to find a card that is unique, or offers a challenge to track down. Ward was a good player on a good team, yet I really only had two choices if I was not going to use a really ordinary base card. I went with a Desert Storm edition of his 1991 Topps card. I paid more in shipping than I did for the card. Maybe Topps will get Duane Ward to sign some Archives cards at some point, until then I am going with this card for my Durham Bulls collection.