Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Random Card #21

I've always thought that this card was absurd. If anyone deserved to be represented on a Grand Slammer card in a White Sox uniform, it would've been Robin Ventura. He had 18 career grand slams. Robin Ventura didn't even play in this game. Craig Greback played third base.

Then again, this is depicting the magical, just short of the playoffs because of the stacked Oakland team, 1990 season. Ron Karkovice, who maybe would crack a .300 average if he went 1 for 3 on Opening Day, did the improbable. It's not the fact that he hit a grand slam. It's that a backup catcher hit an inside the park grand slam.

Many Sox fans were scratching their heads on August 30, 1990. A single to Phil Bradley, a double to Ivan Calderon and a walk to Frank Thomas set up one of the most unlikely scenarios.

Karko hit a line drive off of the Twins Dave West, just over the glove of Greg Gagne. The ball rolled to the wall in left-center, a comedy revival ensued. Center fielder John Moses flipped the ball to left fielder Dan Gladden, who had his back to the play for some unknown reason. This allowed the lead-footed Karkovice to round the bases to give the Sox a 4-2 lead. The Sox held on to win 4-3 in Minnesota.

The Sox had three of their four hits on the day in that fourth inning. Looking through the box score, some interesting things happened. The most surprising move would be the rookie Frank Thomas being pinch hit for by Dan Pasqua, who got the fourth and final hit of the day for the Sox. Jack McDowell won his eleventh game and Bobby Thigpen saved his 44th game in a year where he would set the single season save record.

A sign of things to come would be a young Frank Thomas playing DH, while Carlos Martinez played first base. Instead of switching Frank over to first base late in the game, manager Jeff Torborg plugged Steve Lyons at first. Hindsight is 20/20. It seems like a questionable move now, but back then Frank Thomas was still an unproven commodity.

Ron Karkovice's amazing feat always reminds me that anything can happen in baseball. Catchers can hit inside the park home runs, future Hall of Famers can be benched early, and a veteran can be set up completely in the wrong position for an improbable piece of history to happen. This is why I never count any team out until that final out is made. You never know who may step up and create a bit of history.

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