This is Dan Fife’s only card which hasn’t happened too much in this set. ’73 was the only year Dan spent any significant time in the majors and by the end of ’75 he was out of baseball entirely. That he has a card at all is pretty surprising. Traded from the Tigers late in spring training of ’73 he didn’t debut until August and then only got into ten games, which may explain his pensive glance in what appears to be Oakland. He did OK as a late-season call-up after a middling season in Triple A. Baseball-reference has his ERA a tad higher at 4.35 but the set of stats that would prove most predictive is the strikeout to walk ratio. After barely topping 1.00 in the minors it didn’t even approach that number up top. Dan had experienced some arm issues early in the season and they would get worse the next couple years. But Dan wasn’t a one-trick pony and it wouldn’t be long before he was in the profession at which he continues to excel.
Dan Fife was born in Illinois and at a young age relocated to Clarkston, Michigan, where he was a three-sport star in the big three. As a quarterback, point guard, and pitcher he regularly made all-county and all-state teams and his senior year of ’67 was drafted in a late round by Detroit. But he was also offered a multi-sports scholarship to the University of Michigan and that was the path for which he opted. Back then freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity sports but in ’68-’69 Dan got rolling and didn’t look back. As a sophomore he became the starting point guard and over the next three years would average 13 points, five assists, and five rebounds as the hoops floor leader. Also on his hoops team were Tom Lundstedt, who would go on to catch for the Cubs and Twins, and a guy named Rudy Tomjanovich, who would go on to post some serious NBA numbers. Baseball would be tougher because the basketball season would regularly go deep into the baseball one and the Big Ten baseball seasons were relatively short anyway. Dan pitched his sophomore year and then played center field and second base his sophomore one because he didn’t have time to get his arm in shape. In ’71 Michigan was hurting for pitching so Dan returned to that role even though he got a super late start because of the hoop team’s success that year in the NIT. In baseball both Lundstedt and Elliott Maddox were on his team at Michigan and he played summer ball also which allowed him to raise his profile in that sport a bit. In ’71 he was again drafted by Detroit, this time in the second round. Even though hoops was his first love and he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks he opted for the Tigers and that summer threw peas for his first Class A team. He then moved out west where he continued to throw well at the same level. In ’72 he got bumped up to Double A where he had very good numbers. Then in spring training of ’73 the Twins were looking to unload Jim Perry and his $70,000 salary and so traded him to Detroit for Dan and some cash.
Fife’s experience for the Twins was a downtick to the roll he was on for the Tigers. His shoulder pain would lead to his wildness and in ’74 after posting a double-digit ERA in a couple innings up top he returned to Triple A where he had a pretty sour year in the pen. By then it was known he had rotator cuff issues and in ’75 he was dropped down to Double A. He had some decent numbers when he played – 3-1 as a starter with a 3.86 ERA – but again the walks heavily outnumbered the strikeouts and he spent the majority of the season on the DL. When that year ended so did his career. He finished 3-2 with a 5.43 ERA in the majors and 36-31 with a 3.92 ERA in the minors.
Before ’75 was over Fife got a job as an assistant basketball coach at his alma mater Michigan. He did that for the next three seasons and then returned to Clarkston where for a couple years he fooled around with a golf start-up with some friends. Then in ’81 he coached his old high school’s freshmen hoops team on a volunteer basis, did well, and was then offered the varsity job, which he accepted. So since ’82 he has been coaching basketball at Clarkston High and is widely recognized as the dean of coaches in the state. He has also been the athletic director for a number of years and runs a summer clinic as well.
So Dan’s given name is Danny which is how he is referred to in just about every article I read for this post. He has some pretty good star bullets for his Detroit years in the minors and a nice fat signature. As Dan Fife he definitely has one of the shortest names in the set.
There is a good chunk of music news that needs updating. On August 25, 1973 new Number One’s appeared on both sides of the pond. In the US “Brother Louie” by Stories began a two-week run in the top spot and in the UK Donny Osmond’s “Young Love” started a four-week run. The US gets a big nod on that one. Also on that date the band Faces officially split up, mostly due to Rod Stewart’s success as a solo act. On August 24, 1974 a three-week run at Number One is initiated by Paul Anka’s “(you’re) Having My Baby” to confirm the year as king of syrupy love ballads. On the same date Traffic performs its final live gig in the UK at the National Jazz, Blues, Folk & Rock Festival.
No way around this hook-up except through the ’73 Twins:
1. Fife and Jim Holt ’73 to ’74 Twins;
2. Holt and Ray Fosse ’74 to ’75 A’s.