Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Little wonder Herriage had only one card

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

In this day and age, it is almost unheard of for a major league baseball player to not have at least one baseball card to memorialize his time, no matter how brief, in the bigs.

That wasn't always the case, though. In the post-war era of 16 major league teams, even during the years of the Topps and Bowman bubblegum wars, with up to seven series of cards being issued over the course of the season, it was not uncommon for players to slip through the cracks.

Fortunately, many of those players who were ignored by the gum companies made an appearance on a regionally or team-issued card. While this makes it more challenging for team collectors and descendants to find a card of such players, at least the possibility exists that a sought-after card may surface.

Recently we found out of the existence of such a card for a Kansas City A's pitcher Troy Herriage.

A native Oklahoman, Harriage entered professional ranks in 1951, at the age of 20. He pitched for three seasons (1951-52, 1954; he was in the military in 1953) for Class C and D teams out west, with a 32-28 record. Moving up to Montgomery in Class A in 1955, Herriage had a breakout year, with a 15-7 record and 2.41 ERA.

After the season he was selected in the Rule 5 minor league draft by Kansas City.

Sadly, Herriage was outgunned by big league batters with the Athletics in 1956. He won only one game while losing 13. His ERA was 6.64. In 103 innings he gave up 135 hits and 64 walks, striking out 59. He didn't get much run support; the A's averaged only 2.23 runs per game in his 13 losses. 

Not surprisingly, Herriage was back in the minor leagues in 1957. In 1957-58 on Class A and AA Kansas City farm clubs, he was 8-20.

After retiring from pro ball following the 1958 season, Herriage worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry.

Herriage's baseball card legacy consists, so far as we know, of a single 1956 Kansas City Athletics team-issued postcard. Besides the blank-back card provided by the team for players to answer fan requests for photos and autographs, Herriage's card can also be found with the advertising imprint on back for the June 22 Kansas City Live Stock Night promotional game. We carried an entry about that set on this blog on Jule 8.

The existence of the card was reported by Maine collector Bob Thing, who sent the photocopy which appears here.

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