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Card of the Week: 1992 Bowman #367 Dale Sveum

Posted by Andy

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.

Rk Player Year HR OPS+ Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Rob Deer 1991 25 92 DET 134 539 448 64 80 14 2 64 89 175 .179 .314 .386 .700 *9/D
2 Dale Sveum 1987 25 95 MIL 153 586 535 86 135 27 3 95 40 133 .252 .303 .454 .757 *64
3 Cory Snyder 1987 33 89 CLE 157 615 577 74 136 24 2 82 31 166 .236 .273 .456 .729 *967
4 Dave Parker 1987 26 92 CIN 153 647 589 77 149 28 0 97 44 104 .253 .311 .433 .744 *9/3
5 Dave Kingman 1986 35 90 OAK 144 604 561 70 118 19 0 94 33 126 .210 .255 .431 .686 *D/3
6 Reggie Jackson 1984 25 94 CAL 143 584 525 67 117 17 2 81 55 141 .223 .300 .406 .706 *D/9
7 George Foster 1983 28 95 NYM 157 647 601 74 145 19 2 90 38 111 .241 .289 .419 .708 *7
8 Tony Armas 1983 36 85 BOS 145 613 574 77 125 23 2 107 29 131 .218 .254 .453 .707 *8D
9 Gary Gaetti 1982 25 93 MIN 145 565 508 59 117 25 4 84 37 107 .230 .280 .443 .723 *5/6D
10 Joe Pepitone 1964 28 91 NYY 160 647 613 71 154 12 3 100 24 63 .251 .281 .418 .698 *38/9
11 Del Ennis 1956 26 95 PHI 153 672 630 80 164 23 3 95 33 62 .260 .299 .430 .729 *7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/15/2011.

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:
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?"
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.

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.

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