I was doing my daily blog roll reading and I noticed that the Cardboard Junkie had posted a link to this here blog. I was immediately overcome with guilt because I haven’t posted here in six days and I figured I better get on it. Todays card of the day is Rick Manning, card #11. Manning, who as far as I know is of no relation to the football playing Mannings, was the Cleveland Indians star centerfielder. Manning came to pro ball in 1972 when he was drafted by the Indians in the 1st round, the 2nd pick overall, as a 17-year-old infielder. He signed immediately and began his career with the Class A Reno Silver Sox of the California League. He proved to be a horrible professional shortstop making 17 errors in his first 13 games. He made the switch to centerfield and the rest is history. He was in the big leagues by age 20 and had 12 assists from the outfield that year. He also batted .285 with 19 steals for the Indians as a rookie. He did not receive a single vote for ROY despite decent numbers, partly because of two other American League outfielders named Fred Lynn and Jim Rice. With Cleveland he was managed by a Hall of Fame outfielder named Frank Robinson. In a June of 1976 Baseball Digest article Robinson sang these praises of Manning: “He’s the most exciting ballplayer the Indians have had in many years, I think his potential is unlimited.” 1976 was probably his best year, the 21-year old centerfielder batted .292 with 6 homers, 43 RBI and 16 steals. He also won his first (and only) Gold Glove Award that year. From what I have heard from old time fans, had there been a Sportscenter in '76, Manning would have been the highlight reel... Back then it seemed like he would only get better, but he didn’t. He continued to play superb defense, but his bat never came around. He set a career high with 8 homers in ’82 and 52 RBI in 1980. He never batted higher than his .292 mark from ’76. in 1979 he did steal 30 bases. I think that Frank Robinson thought that he would become a player similar to Carl Crawford, but he ended up being more of a Coco Crisp. Even that comparison is a stretch-Crisp did hit .300, hit 15 homers and won a ring. Manning didn’t do any of these things. Exactly 11 years (to the day) after the Indians had drafted Manning, they sent him to Milwaukee on June 6, 1983, along with Rick Waits in exchange for Ernie Camacho, Jamie Easterly and Gorman Thomas. Manning would play for 5 seasons with the Brewers, never batting above .254 for them. I have read that somehow he was credited with developing the Cheese Head that Green Bay Packers fans still wear, so I guess it wasn’t a total bust. He retired after the 1987 season at 32 years old. Over his 13 year career he had 1349 hits and a .257 batting average. He is currently a broadcaster for the Cleveland Indians and has been for the past 18 years. Now, time for…
The Nitty Gritty
Name/Number: Rick Manning, Number 28
Age-Now and Then: 22 then, 55 now
Team’s 1977 Record: 71-90, 5th Place American League East
Topps Rookie Card: 1976, card #275 Number of Topps Base Cards: 13
1977 Stats Line: .227/5/18
Awards in 1977: None
Distinguishing Feature: His eager stare and bushy mullet.
Similar Modern Player: Scott Podsednik
What I said about this card then: Nothing.
What I think about this card now: Still nothing. My indifference on this card is the reason I put off posting it for 6 days…
Back of the card memorable moment: Won his first Gold Glove in 1976, was one of the youngest to do so.
Back of the card “fun fact”: Has established himself as one of the top centerfielders in the game.
The condition: NR MT-Slight ding in upper left corner.
Grooviness factor: The side burns, mullet and the maroon pumas are pretty groovy…
Wow! Factor: The Indians kept this guy and traded Eck?
Whats weird about this card: The direction he is facing.
Career Accolades: 13 year playing career, had 168 steals.
Best Season: 1976, hit .292 and won Gold Glove.
Nitty Gritty Fun Facts: Banged Dennis Eckersley’s wife, allegedly.
Where are they now?: Broadcasting games for the Cleveland Indians, has been doing it for 18 years now.
That’s it. I found it very tough to come up with anything about this card, hope I have better luck with card #12 of Don Aase. 31 years, LATER!