Ernie seems like a good guy. His career was not long, he did not earn a ton of money, but he has managed to be a pretty productive person outside of baseball. He has spent time working as a maintenance man at a school district in his hometown of Salinas, California, raises money for Alzheimer's disease, and has an educational foundation which helps run baseball camps and gives out scholarships for kids to help pay for college.
Which brings me to Ernie Camacho the baseball player. He was drafted by the A's in 1976 and was in Oakland by the end of the 1980 season. He was traded around his first few seasons in the Majors going from the A's to the Pirates, the Pirates to the White Sox, was released by the White Sox and signed by the Brewers, who then traded him to the Indians in June of 1983. If you are doing the math that's 5 teams between the end of 1980 and the middle of 1983.
Cleveland stashed him away in Triple A for the majority of 1983, but he was given the closers job in 1984. Camacho led the Indians with 23 saves and posted a 170 ERA+ and 3.5 WAR as a relief pitcher. How good is that? The 3.5 WAR are in line with a lot of Mariano Rivera's seasons and it would have been good enough to be one of Trevor Hoffman's better seasons too.
He didn't make the All-Star Game and did not receive a single Cy Young vote that year. Kind of a shame.
Camacho had some arm injuries which limited in 1985, bounced back for another 20 save season in 1986, but was never the same after that season. He pitched in Cleveland until the end of the 1987 season, joined the Astros in 1988, the Giants in 1989 and start of the 1990 season, and finally the Cardinals. In all of the stops, he never pitched more than a few games with each of the teams.
Clearly, that 1984 season bought him several other chances to play.
The Cardinals signed Ernie Camacho on July 2nd, 1990. The Cardinals were in last place at that point in the season and manager Whitey Herzog had already quit his job. He was placed with the Triple A Louisville Redbirds for a stint before they team called him up with expanded rosters in September.
September of 1990 was a brutal month for the Cardinals. The team went 10-18 and they effectively had parted ways with several of the 1980s Whiteyball Era players who were on the roster, but did not leave the bench for long stretches of time. Terry Pendleton had 6 at bats after the first week of September and Vince Coleman played in one game after the second week of September. Camacho appeared in 6 games from mid-September through early October. He gave up runs in four of the six appearances, but also did not figure in the decision for any of the games.
His last Major League game pitched was the final game of the 1990 season for the Cardinals. In fact, he closed out the game, which was a 9-2 loss to the Expos. The Cardinals were actually winning the game 2-1 in the 7th inning when the Expos batted around on Ken Hill and Ken Dayley, scoring 7 runs. The final Expo run came in the 8th inning on a home run off of Camacho by catcher Nelson Santovenia. In better news, the last pitch that Camacho threw in a Major League uniform struck out Hall of Famer Tim Raines.
Camacho also managed to squeeze a baseball card out of his 6 appearances with the Cardinals.
This card is airbrushed, not originally a Cardinals picture. Amazing sometimes the details that people miss while they are trying to change baseball cards. Sure, the shoulders look really goofy, which is the first thing that tells you that the card might be airbrushed, but check out his shoes. Those black and orange cleats in the background are pretty sloppy. Make the Nike swoosh white and it would be passable, maybe it is hard to black shoes airbrushed into red shoes. I will say that the astroturf and blue wall actually make the card look like the photo was taken in Busch Stadium. Maybe that is airbrushed too, maybe it's not.
Back of the card.
and the stats on the back. Not the prettiest card style wise. I have posted a few other cards from this set in past 1990s sets. It comes from the 1990 Topps TV set, which was an order by phone set that Topps put out. The design is very 1990s, but the checklist is pretty solid. It has all of the regular players you would expect to see, but it also has a good number of minor league players and players who just passed through town for a short time.