Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Card of the Week: 1986 Procards Lakeland Tigers John Smoltz

Now that the July 31 trade deadline has come and gone, the focus in baseball is on playoff chases and the August 31 trade deadline.  For this deadline, a player must be on the roster prior to September 1 in order to participate in the playoffs.  Teams here look for that key addition that could help them get into the postseason and beyond.  Most of the players traded during this time period are usually from teams who are looking to dump a big salary for a prospect that could help them in the future.
This past Monday, is an anniversary of one such trade.  One that helped one team short term and other, long term.
1986 ProCards Lakeland Tigers

In August of 1987, the Detroit Tigers were in a tight pennant chase with Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers.  They picked up veteran starter Doyle Alexander from the Atlanta Braves for minor leaguer pitcher John Smoltz.
Alexander was nothing short of brilliant after the trade for '87 Tigers. He went 9-0 in 11 starts with an ERA of 1.53 and helped the team when the division title. Alexander went on to pitch two more seasons for Detroit before retiring from the game.
Meanwhile, Smoltz made his major league debut in 1988 and later became a key member of Atlanta's run of 14 consecutive division titles, five National League pennants and one World Series championship.  Individually, Smoltz made eight All Star teams, won a Cy Young award and is the only pitcher in MLB history with 200 or more wins and 150 saves in a career.
Who knows what kind of career Smoltz would have had if he stayed in the Tigers' organization. Probably not as accomplished as it turned out. Regardless, this trade is considered one of the biggest trades in MLB history.
As for the card itself, This is Smoltz's first professional card. It was released only as a set of the Lakeland Tigers ballclub by Procards.  Procards manufactured many of the minor league team sets of the 1980s.

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