Monday, June 6, 2011
#175 - Reggie Cleveland
Reggie Cleveland was from Saskatchewan and may be the only major league player to date from there. He was signed as a free agent in '65 after a scout saw him throw a no-hitter in a summer league. Reggie was a good athlete and played hockey as well as curled (I guess that's right - he did that curling thing on the ice with the brooms). He took a while to get on track, banging around Single A until '68, when he won 15 with a 2.77 ERA. He won 15 again in '69 at Double A and three more at Triple A. In '70 he won 12, all at Triple A. Both seasons he got some action up top but didn't do terribly well. But in '71 he made the rotation in spring training and had a pretty good rookie year. The Sporting News named him Rookie Pitcher of the Year although neither Topps nor Baseball Digest included him on their rookie teams. '72 started off pretty sweet as Reggie went 11-3 by July but then came back to earth, though he still recorded his lifetime high in strikeouts and innings.
In '78 Cleveland moved right into the Texas pen and became their ace there, with five wins and 12 saves. It was a short stay, though, and in '79 he went to the Brewers for Ed Farmer. That year was a disaster (1-5 with a 6.71 ERA) but he revived a bit in '80 with some spot starts in addition to the pen work and won 11 with a 3.73 ERA. In '81 his innings declined, his ERA shot up a bunch, and he was shut out from any post-season action. Reggie was released before spring training the following season and hung them up. He went 105-106 with a 4.01 ERA, 57 complete games, eleven shutouts, and 25 saves in his career. He was a decent hitter, sporting a lifetime .211 average.
After his career, Cleveland brought his charm to other businesses, primarily selling cars and real estate. From '91 to '95 he coached in the Blue Jays chain.
The Traded shot is from Candlestick and the black in the hat is too bright. The thing that sticks out though is that Reggie looks a mess. During his career he was a reputed big drinker and he definitely looks like he'd fit right in any of "The Hangover" movies.
They forgot a star which makes the second bullet confusing until you realize why. I am pretty sure this is the first card with quotes in the narrative. Also, I have dropped commenting on signatures for a while, but this has to be the first one I've seen that starts with a right lean and ends with a left lean.
Topps tries a bit of geographical tongue-in-cheek with the headline. Unfortunately their categorization of where Reggie was career-wise wasn't too accurate. He already came into his own: '73 was his best season.
Even though we have two NL guys we get together through that other league:
1. Cleveland and Al Oliver '78 Rangers;
2. Oliver and Bill Robinson '75 to '77 Pirates.