I'm guessing that sometime today, Dale Sveum is going to be named the new manager of the Red Sox. But let's turn back the clock to the playing portion of Sveum's career. (For those who do not know, his last name is pronounced "Swaim".)
Sveum was a 3rd baseman and shortshop with the Brewers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and then bounced around with a bunch of other teams through the rest of the 90s. He posted a career OPS+ of 82 with a .236 batting average, and thus wasn't particularly well know for his offensive abilities. Interestingly, though, he did post a 25 HR, 95 RBI season in 1987, but since that was a crazy homer-happy year, that was good for just a 95 OPS+. Before the steroids era, this was quite uncommon.
It never happened before 1956, when 25 homers was downright Ruthian.
Now, there's a story about Sveum that is just about my favorite thing ever. I wrote about it a long time ago on the B-R blog, and I'm posting a slightly modified version of that post right here.
Sveum is the subject of my all-time favorite baseball quote. The only place I have ever seen it referenced was in the sports section of the Philadelphia Enquirer on August 20, 1992, in an article by Frank Fitzpatrick. This was about 10 days after the Phillies had traded Sveum to the White Sox, in the dog days of yet another losing season for the Phillies. (Little did anyone know they'd make the World Series the following year.)
Anyway, the quote, directly from Fitzpatrick's piece is:
Oh, SNAP! Isn't that the best comeback you've ever heard? Lee Thomas was never afraid to speak his mind, but that was an unusually harsh statement.Someone in center field brought a banner that read: "Bring Back Sveum." Last week, Dale Sveum, now with the White Sox, said he missed Philadelphia like a hole in the head. That prompted Phils general manager Lee Thomas to say: "Did he say anything about the hole in his bat?"
Sveum has made more news in his career over bad issues than good one, his bitter departure from Philly a good case in point. Most famously, he broke his leg in a collision with teammate Darryl Hamilton (which was not Sveum's fault.) More recently, Sveum was let go as third-base coach of the Red Sox after getting more than his fair share of runners thrown out at home. (Of course, they did win a World Series in 2004 with him in that job...)
Anyway, let's talk about this baseball card. Bowman used to be its own company, but by 1992 it was owned by Topps and this was simply a subsidiary set issued by the card giant. The front features an odd photo, with the sun in Sveum's eyes and him engaging in that age-old baseball warm-up exercise: palm scratching.
The back features what looks like the media guide photo, which is as good as any, but would work better if the front were an action shot. The overall color scheme on the card back is simply atrocious: too many colors and patterns, and the large "B" in the middle is very distracting.
The stats on the back are splits by team, which is a pretty cool concept. It's of course not terribly meaningful, as most of the splits are tiny samples, but nevertheless it was interesting to see out-of-the-box thinking, and I do think this sort of card back helped usher in more broader attention to more interesting stats.