Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Card #109: Dave Revering

Who Can It Be Now?
David Allen Revering was born on February 12, 1953, in Roseville, California. He was a prodigious slugger in his youth baseball days, being named to multiple all-star teams while playing for Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks in suburban Sacramento. His play in high school gained attention from scouts, and he was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds with the final pick in the 7th Round of the 1971 June Draft. 

The Reds sent Revering to their Gulf Coast League affiliate in Bradenton to start his career, and immediately Revering made an impact. As you might be able to make out on the back of the card above, Revering hit 8 homers and walked 28 times in 167 plate appearances at Bradenton, slashing at .271/.398/.556.  Those are pretty impressive numbers anywhere you go. But, what all does not show you is that Revering put those numbers up in a league in which batters as a whole had a slash line of .238/.333/.302. Let me put it this way: Revering's 8 home runs represented 17.8% of all homeruns hit league-wide that season. He hit more homeruns than every team except the Royals and his own Reds (the rest of the Reds' team had 5 homers). In every respect, it was a very impressive debut.

While Revering could not and did not keep up the paces as a slugger as he moved up to Single-A Tampa the next season, he still showed impressive patience at the plate, a good batting eye, and good pop. He moved up to Double-A in 1973 and to Triple-A in 1974 -- all with the same skills all the way up the ladder.  

But then, at the ages of 21, 22, 23, and 24 covering the years 1974 through 1977, Revering was stuck at Triple-A. His 1975 season was not great, but 1976 and 1977 both were excellent years.  Why didn't he move up? 

That answer is pretty easy. He was in the Cincinnati organization. Cincy had eventual Hall of Famer Tony Perez at first. One year older than Revering -- and able to play third base credibly -- was Dan Driessen. Driessen became the starter in 1977 when Perez moved on to the Expos. Revering was stashed and stuck behind these guys, and in the age of "no free agents", Revering sat in Triple-A for over three full seasons.  His Triple-A Totals? In 465 games: 1795 Plate appearances, 92 HR, 318 RBI, 236 BB, 288 Ks, and a slash line of .279/.375/.523.  

These days, that would probably not happen. Revering was the type of player who was undervalued in the 1970s because his batting average did not reflect the hitting skills like OBP and SLG that are important in scoring runs.  I mean, what strikes me about Revering's skills in the minors is how high his OBP was every single year -- his worst year was in 1974 at Indianapolis when, at the age of 21 (4.1 years younger than the average player in the American Association that season), Revering had a .344 OBP (league average was .349). By 1975, a "Free Dave Revering" movement would have started up among the statheads of the baseball worlds to get Revering a chance to play somewhere.

His chance to play did come, eventually, in Oakland in 1978. Indeed, the only reason that his chance came was because he was out of options and would have to pass through waivers to return to Triple-A. Knowing this, the Reds tried to trade Revering to Oakland twice, essentially (more on that below), but in reality he was sent there in exchange for Doug Bair. On a very bad Oakland team saved from last place by the expansion Mariners, the now 25-year Revering appeared to leave his on-base skills at Triple-A -- .271/.303/.415. Yes, he slugged better than league average (which was .385) but he got on base less frequently (league OBP: .326).

1978 was Revering only 150+ game season in the majors. When Billy Martin took over, he employed something of a platoon system involving Revering and catcher/1B Jeff Newman. Revering also did not make any friends in the organization after the 1979 season. He was asked by Tom Weir of The Sporting News what the problem with the A's in 1979 was. His answer: "Our biggest problem is lack of talent. We have about five men who can play every day in the Major Leagues." When Weir asked for personal goals, Revering said, "to get out of here."

His wish was granted in May of 1981. Revering was sent to the Yankees with two minor leaguers in exchange for Jim Spencer and Tom Underwood. This trade led to a nice little short-printed oddity in the Granny Goose Oakland A's baseball card set that the San Jose Fuji finally chased down about a year ago, and it made Revering a little happier.

Revering, like Bob Lacey before him, had clashed with Billy Martin over playing time. Martin had buried Revering on the bench against both lefties and righties, using him only against tough righties. In the New York Times on his trade to the Yankees, Revering said that Martin had not played him against lefties or righties prior to the trade, "[t]hen he would pinch-hit me in the ninth against [Goose] Gossage. Have you ever tried hitting Gossage when you haven't played in a week? Have you ever tried hitting Gossage when you play every day?"

He had a point, but Revering did not capitalize on the opportunity with the Yankees either. Both his on-base skills and his power evaporated, and he struggled to make contact with the ball. Over the course of his Yankee career -- 45 games in 1981, 14 games in 1982 -- Revering slashed at .214/.276/.302. 

That inability to hit led the Yankees to seek help elsewhere for first base. Revering was sent to Toronto with minor leaguer Jeff Reynolds and third-baseman Tom Dodd in exchange for John Mayberry. Leading up to the trade, the New York Times noted that Revering had been unhappy due to his "uncertain status" with the club.  On the way out of town, Revering was quoted as saying "I'm happy to go. Now I'll get some playing time."

But, as Mayberry had found out already, Toronto had Willie Upshaw playing first base literally every day -- 160 games worth -- so Revering found at-bats almost exclusively at designated hitter

In August, though, the Blue Jays decided to go in another direction. They designated Revering for assignment, assuming that he would report to Triple-A to continue collecting his $250,000 a year salary. The Blue Jays were wrong. Revering instead gave up the contract and became a free agent. 

A few days later, he signed with the Seattle Mariners. He again struggled to make contact and struggled to get on base. The Mariners chose not to renew his contract after that season, so Revering signed a minor-league deal to compete for the first base job with the Detroit Tigers. He did not win the job and told the Tigers that he did not want to play in the minors. So, the Tigers released him, and Revering left baseball.

Mustache Check: Yes, Revering makes it 10 cards in a row with a stache involved.

Trivial Pursuit
When the onset of free agency came in the mid-1970s, Charlie O. Finley threw a hissy fit about the whole deal. He decided to sell his players off to the highest bidder. When Bowie Kuhn stepped in and said that Finley couldn't just sell off his players, Finley started "trading" them away in de facto sales. 

One of the "trades" that Finley made was with Cincinnati after the 1977 season. Finley sent Vida Blue to the Reds in exchange for Dave Revering and $1.75 million. Kuhn was not amused and determined that this trade too violated his suddenly established rule of sorts against such sales. Therefore, Revering came over to the Reds for Doug Bair and a dollar value just under Kuhn's established limit of $400,000.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Dave Revering just abused Milwaukee pitching. He killed us.  Yes, it was only in 134 plate appearances, but he hit .298/.346/.484 against Milwaukee. He hit better against only the two 1977 expansion teams of Seattle and Toronto.  I definitely remember him abusing the Brew Crew, and, as it turns out, two of his career four homers against Milwaukee came against the closer on the 1981-1982 Brewers -- Rollie Fingers. In other words, those two homers had to have hurt.

Revering seemed to wear out his welcome quickly in a lot of places in the majors. In the discussion after the Vida Blue trade, a wire story ran about how he was going to refuse to go to the minor leagues no matter what Bowie Kuhn said about the Blue deal. We've seen some of his negativity and agitations about wanting to be on a different team above.

To me, the most telling story about Revering came in 1999. Bobby Cox had managed Revering with the Blue Jays. In 1999, Cox was trying to manage the ball of rage known as John Rocker. When asked about whether Cox had ever managed a "crazier" player (that was the word Cox used) than Rocker, Cox could not.  But, as SFGate put it, "the closest he came to coming up with a name was Dave Revering . . . ."  The same discussion was carried in the New York Daily News; in that story, it mentioned that Cox really didn't know if Rocker was crazy. But, as to Revering:
That was not the case with onetime Yankee Dave Revering, whom Cox had briefly in Toronto. "Revering I knew was crazy," Cox said. "I finally had enough of him when he swung at a 3-2 pitch that was a foot over his head and wound up getting Cecil Upshaw thrown out at third. After the game, I had a shouting match with him in the shower and released him right there."
Cox's memory isn't 100% wrong, but it's not 100% right. Revering's final at-bat in Toronto was a base hit in the first game of a doubleheader against Boston on July 28, when Revering pinch hit for Leon Roberts and singled off Bob Stanley. But there is a plausible situation in the first game of that series on July 26 against Boston in the top of the 4th inning. Upshaw was caught stealing on the front end of a double steal with Revering at the plate in an at-bat that ended in a strikeout against Red Sox starter Dennis Eckersley. Maybe Bobby made up his mind at that point to get rid of Revering.

So, what's Dave Revering up to these days? I know he lives in Utah, as many online autograph forum regulars probably know, and he's pretty good about returning cards autographed.  It appears that he is involved with HumaniTerra Designs in Las Vegas now, according to this LinkedIn profile.

Otherwise, he likes to hunt, fish, and shoot guns. Seriously, that's what I've got. For example, here are two videos of Dave Revering showing off a product called the D.O.A. Tactical Bench:

In terms of hunting and fishing, here are a few stories to review. First, Revering is buddies with Kent Danjanovich, the Senior Editor of Sportsman's News, which promotes itself as the official publication of Sportsman's Warehouse. Revering and Danjanovich -- who calls Revering his "fellow Pro-Staffer" -- went fishing in northern Manitoba at Big Sand Lake Lodge in 2009.

They also went goose and mallard hunting in Alberta in the Peace River area. They went fishing in Mexico at Hotel Buena Vista Beach ResortHe went on a big-game hunt in Namibia in Africa (his photo is about 2/3 of the way down the page). Finally, here's a photo in which Revering killed a zebra and a gemsbuck. The write-up there also mentions that Revering killed a jackal, a warthog, and a kudu; indeed, there is even an ad showing Revering as the US contact for the South African hunting trips.

I have to admit -- I am not a hunter.  I don't have any problem with people who do it, though, and in many cases it is necessary for the preservation of the animals (such as whitetailed deer in the U.S.). But, it was tough for me to see photos on that African safari page of animals that I have only seen in zoos sitting there dead with a guy or gal with a gun roosting behind them. 

I couldn't do it, and it's not for me. As long as we're not killing off endangered species -- and the meat of the edible animals is eaten -- I don't have a problem with it.

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