Thursday, September 5, 2013
July 13- Arizona Diamondbacks
I picked this cap up in November of 2011, all because an order I had placed with the Lids Web site was met with two egregious errors. About a week prior to my visit to the Lids location at Valley River Center in Eugene, Oregon I had purchased three caps, all of which were delivered to my house. Those three caps: the Lakeland Flying Tigers home cap, the 1994 Detroit Tigers alternate cap and a 1977 San Francisco Giants cap, which I’ll write about soon. Of the three caps only the Flying Tigers arrived without any issue. As for the other two; I had to return the Tigers cap because, even though the tags said it was a 7 3/8, it fit like a 7 ¾. In the case of the Giants cap the tags were marked as a Cooperstown Collection cap; however, they sent me this alternate cap instead. I was less than pleased, especially since I had to re-order the Tigers cap and the Giants cap had no more available in my size. I’m not the kind of collector who likes to go home from a day out empty handed, so rather than just get my money back I elected to pick up a certain Pittsburgh Pirates cap that my friend Leif had been hounding me to get and this Arizona Diamondbacks cap.
I never had any intention of outfitting my collection with white caps; after all, they’re much harder to maintain. But in the case of this cap I really wanted to expand upon my Cooperstown Collection line and get something that no one else really had. So far it’s been a bit of a success as I have yet to see anyone else wear one around Eugene, let alone the ballpark since I picked it up, which makes me a little bit sad. The lack of a presence is ironically fitting to the short lifespan of this cap which was only used for a handful of home game during the inaugural season in 1998. Originally classified as the standard home cap, it was changed to a home alternate when the purple cap was introduced before the start of the season. During that time, the logo was also reduced in size, though most of the versions that ended up in retail stores (like the one pictured here) still had the large logo. The cap that was used featured the smaller logo and was paired with the pinstripe vest jersey as shown here.
And during Buck Showalter’s press conference after being named as the Dbacks’ skipper.
The majority of the time when the larger logoed cap was shown it was featured on the heads of prospects from the expansion draft of 1997.
What’s actually interesting about the cap that I have is that it’s not even made up to the specifications of 1998. Well, it’s close, but if you look closely you can see that the purple on the cap I have is quite a bit lighter in shade. Obviously if I cared about it that much I wouldn’t have bought it and marked it up, I’m merely pointing out a small flaw just in case any of you cap collectors are way more of a perfectionist than I am.
When coming up with numbers to mark this cap up with I made a slight error with one of them, but I guess it’s not too detrimental as I highly doubt most non-Dbacks fans would have even caught it. Well, unless you’re a Pirates fan.
#5- Born in Danville, Virginia, Tony Womack was a seventh round draft pick by the Pirates out of Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina in the 1991 amateur draft. A base-stealer with a decent average, Womack floated around the minors from 1991-1996; however, he did make his Major League debut in 1993, but only played in 27 games between then and 1996. In 1997 Womack became the everyday second baseman under newly appointed manager Gene Lamont. The move would prove to be a real shot in the arm for both parties as Womack made the only All-Star game appearance of his career as well as finish in ninth place for the Rookie of the Year award and 24th for the National MVP award after stealing 60 bases (best in the NL), batting .278, hitting six home runs and scored 85 runs. The following season Womack would lead the NL in stolen bases with 58, post four points higher on his average and score the same amount of runs. This is where I made my mistake with the hat. Womack’s final season ended up being with the Pirates and was not a member of the Dbacks until the following season (1999) when he was traded for Paul Weichard and Jason Boyd. During the 1998 season however, there was someone wearing the #5. His name is Andy Stankiewicz.
Stankiewicz was originally a draft pick of the New York Yankees in 1986, but didn’t make his MLB debut until 1992. After that Stankiewicz bounced around to the Houston Astros and Montreal Expos before playing his final year with the Dbacks in 1998. Having all ready worn #5 with the Pirates, Womack donned it for the Dbacks from 1999-2003. During his time in Phoenix he set a personal best by swiping 72 bases in his first season, making it three straight years of leading the NL in stolen bases. That year he also led the league in triples (14) and set career highs in home runs (seven) and runs scored (111). Womack was also moved from second base to right field in 1999 and then moved to the shortstop in 2000 as Jay Bell all ready had the keystone locked up.
Womack was an important part of the Dbacks' World Championship Team in 2001, especially with two key base hits that both came in the bottom of the ninth inning of deciding games in the playoffs. Womack ended the first-round series with a walk-off single off the Cardinals' Steve Kline. Later, Womack set up Luis Gonzalez' famous game-winning single in Game 7 of the World Series with a game-tying one-out double against the Yankees' Mariano Rivera. Womack owns the Diamondbacks record for most stolen bases in a career (182).
Womack would play until 2006 with the Colorado Rockies (2003), Chicago Cubs (2003 and 2006), Cardinals (2004), Yankees (2005) and Cincinnati Reds (2006).
#26- Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 20th round of the 1990 amateur draft out of Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Damian Miller was on pace to being a life-long minor league player until he had a breakout season in 1997 was called up to relieve aging All-Star catcher Terry Steinbach for a few games. However, because Miller was used so infrequently and appeared so low on the Twins’ depth chart they had no problem allowing Miller getting thrown into the mix for the 1997 expansion draft, where he was selected in the 47th round by the Dbacks. Another interesting factoid about Miller is that he was never a member of the Major League Baseball Players Association, as he was a replacement player during the 1994 Major League Baseball strike. These players are barred from joining the players' union. Another notable name on this list is former Florida Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Kevin Millar.
Miller played for the Dbacks from 1998-2002, hitting .269 with 48 home runs and 194 RBI during his tenure. He was also the starting catcher for the Dbacks when they won their only World Series title in 2001 and made only one All-Star Game appearance in 2002 in Milwaukee. Miller was traded to the Cubs at the end of the 2002 season and then traded to the Oakland Athletics during the Winter Meetings in 2003 for Michael Barrett. Miller would only play one year each for both clubs before signing with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2004 as a free agent, playing out the rest of his career which ended at the end of the 2007 season. Other teams showed interest in Miller once his Brewers contract expired; however, Miller said he would only play for the Brewers if given an offer.