Monday, December 8, 2014

Card #141: Cleveland Indians Future Stars

Who Can It Be Now?
We have three players on this card who had varying degrees of success as major leaguers and in their post-playing careers. 

1. Christopher Michael Bando was born on February 4, 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio. Bando was not drafted directly out of high school in Cleveland, and chose instead to attend Arizona State University to play baseball. While at Arizona State, he made news for hitting a home run in the championship game that won the Sun Devils the 1977 College World Series. 

That led the Milwaukee Brewers to select Bando with the 541st pick of the 1977 draft (22nd round, 3rd pick of the round). Okay, I say that his CWS heroics led to the pick, but the reality was probably closer to nepotism: the Brewers signed Chris's older brother Sal as a free agent prior to the 1977 season. Apparently, though, the money on offer from Milwaukee was not sufficient to sway Chris to sign, so he went back to ASU for another season.

During his senior year of 1978, he hit .415/.508/.744 with 17 HR and 102 RBI in 258 at bats (along with 49 walks). That season propelled him into the second round of the 1978 draft, where the Cleveland Indians selected him with the 36th pick overall (10th pick of the round). He signed was assigned to Double-A Chattanooga (Southern League) where he stayed through 1980. After a good year in Triple-A Charleston in 1981, the Indians gave him a shot at the big leagues at the age of 25 once the strike ended.

Bando did not hit all that well right away, and he had both Ron Hassey and Bo Diaz in front of him. The Indians traded Diaz to the Phillies to open up a spot for Bando to be the righty hitter in a platoon with Hassey in 1982. He scuffled at the plate in his limited playing time until 1984, when he slashed at .291/.377/.505 and hit 12 HR in 260 plate appearances at the age of 28.

The problem, though, was 1985. All of his good work was undone and then some. In 199 plate appearances, Bando "hit" .139/.234/.173, good enough for an OPS of .407. In other words, terrible. He was sent back down to Triple-A to right the ship. He came back in 1986 and enjoyed the most playing time he would see in his major league career -- 92 games, 290 plate appearances (.268/.325/.327) -- but, the power he showed in 1984 was nowhere to be found. 

He filled a similar role with similar plate appearances in 1987 with even worse results -- .218/.260/.332. Thus, when he struggled mightily in 1988, the Indians decided to release him in August. He appeared in one game in 1988 without a plate appearance for the Detroit Tigers, who cut him after the season. He signed on for 1989 with the Oakland A's, and, after 1 game, 2 at bats, 1 hit, and 1 RBI for the A's, his playing career ended.

Mustache Check: Chris was a good, clean-shaven, All-American Bando.

2.  Thomas Martin Brennan was born on October 30, 1952, in Chicago. He attended Leo High School in Chicago (part of the Chicago Catholic League which counts a number of major league alumni in its ranks). Undrafted out of high school, Brennan stayed close to home and matriculated at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Brennan then led Lewis to the Division II College World Series in 1974. The Indians took notice and drafted him 4th overall in the first round of the 1974 draft -- one spot ahead of where the Atlanta Braves selected Dale Murphy.

Cleveland being Cleveland and Brennan being a college star, the Indians pushed Brennan to Triple-A Oklahoma City immediately after he signed. Bad idea. In 50 innings, Brennan allowed 46 hits and 56 walks (38 earned runs, 42 runs) in 13 starts, good enough for a 6.84 ERA. In 1975, the Indians tried the same thing, and Brennan was even worse -- 122 innings, 149 hits, 98 walks (52 strikeouts), leading to 103 runs (96 earned) and 21 HR allowed to boot...leading to a 7.08 ERA.

It took Brennan until 1981 -- at the age of 28 -- to finally reach the majors.  By that point, he had spent all or parts of 7 seasons at Triple-A in Oklahoma City, Toledo, Portland, Tacoma, and Charleston. He got his chance in the major leagues in September of 1981, and he pitched fairly well -- 48-1/3 innings with an ERA of 3.17 in 7 appearances.

That led to his only complete season in the major leagues in 1982, in which he appeared in 30 games (14 starts) with 92-2/3 innings pitched. He gave up a lot of hits -- 112 -- but he controlled his walks extremely well (just 10). Along the way, he earned the nickname The Gray Flamingo for how his windup featured a pause in his delivery when he was perched on one leg.

Yet, he would find himself splitting 1983 between Triple-A and Cleveland and, after the season, traded to the Chicago White Sox for a player to be named later that would not be named until 18 months later. He made four appearances with his hometown club in 1984, and they let him go. He signed with the Dodgers for 1985. But after a 7.39 ERA (despite a 3.47 FIP), he was out of the majors after 1985. He spent one final Triple-A season where he started out -- Oklahoma City -- in the Rangers organization before his career came to an end.

Mustache Check: Brennan saved the Indians from the ignominy of not having a mustachioed prospect fit for sharing in 1982.

3. Von Francis Hayes was born on August 31, 1958, in Stockton, California.  He attended St. Mary's High School in Stockton. but he was not selected by any major league team out of high school. He then enrolled at St. Mary's College of California in Moraga, California. His play there led the Indians to select him in the 7th round of the 1979 June Draft

Hayes did not play in the Indians system until 1980, however, when he hit .329/.405/.500 in Single-A Waterloo with 15 HR, 90 RBI, and 51 steals in 59 attempts. That showing was enough to get him promoted directly to Triple-A Charleston in 1981 where he once again hit well: .314/.401/.474  with 10 HR and 34 steals in 41 attempts. Hayes only played in minor league rehab assignments after 1981.

He actually made the major league roster directly out of spring training in 1981 and appeared in the 9th inning of a 7-1 win against Texas as a defensive replacement for Jorge Orta. Hayes came back to the majors when the strike ended and notched his first major league hit in his second major at bat -- a single off Brewers starter Jim Slaton on August 11, 1981, in a game Milwaukee won 6-1. 

In 1982, Hayes started regularly for the Indians -- mostly in right field but also making appearances in left, in center, at first, and at third, though he came up through the minors as a third baseman. At the age of 23, he hit .250/.310/.389 with 14 HR and 32 SB in 45 attempts. But, the Indians decided to cash in on Hayes's talent by using Hayes as a trading chit to rebuild their own farm system. So, on December 9, 1982, the Indians sent Hayes to the Phillies in return for pitcher Jay Baller, catcher Jerry Willard, outfielder George Vukovich, and infielders Manny Trillo and Julio Franco.

Through the trade, Von Hayes got the nickname "Five-for-One." Phillies fans never warmed to Hayes. As the Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Paul Hagen put it in 1991:
Hayes had an oil-and-water relationship with the crusty Veterans Stadium boobirds almost from the moment he came to Philadelphia as the one in a controversial five-for-one trade at the winter meetings in Honolulu nine years ago today. He was smooth and elegant and that didn't play in South Philly, where the fans like players with a little dirt under their fingernails.
Or, as NBC Philadelphia stated, "[t]he Phillies thought they were getting a five-tool player who could complement superstar third baseman Mike Schmidt. Instead they got an average outfielder who would make only one All-Star game in nine seasons in Phillies baby blue."

Hayes was traded from Philadelphia to California at the end of the 1991 season in exchange for pitcher Kyle Abbott and outfielder (and future Phillies GM) Ruben Amaro, Jr. He spent one season with the Angels, and that was the end of his career.

Mustache Check: Von Hayes was silky smooth in the field and in terms of his facial hair.

Family Ties
Chris Bando's brother Sal Bando is the far better known of the Bando brothers, having played for the Kansas City/Oakland A's and the Milwaukee Brewers from 1966 through 1981. Since Sal does not appear in the 1982 Topps set (only in Donruss and Fleer), let me use this opportunity to say that I'm still bitter about Sal and Bud Selig not resigning Paul Molitor in 1992.

Chris's son Ben Bando played with Arizona State (5 games) in 2006. Another son, Phil Bando, played 8 games in the Anaheim Angels system in 2009 after being drafted in the 45th round of the 2009 draft.

Goody Two Shoes
Another Chris Bando fact is that he is a baseball coach for San Diego Christian College in California. His coach's page mentions that his "lifelong accomplishments in competitive baseball along with his focus on building whole person growth for the glory of God is an asset to SDCC Hawks." Or, as his LinkedIn page puts it, the goal of his career is to "glorify God through the arena of baseball, by teaching sound baseball fundamentals, sound doctrine and a faithful commitment to the local church."

Tom Brennan appeared in the movie "Rookie of the Year" as the home plate umpire in the final scene of the movie, according to a story reprinted in full on this website from a newspaper called The Southtown Star. IMDB improperly credits a different Tom Brannan with the role.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
Obviously, Von Hayes had the most successful career of these three guys. I would question including Brennan as a "future star" since he was already 28 years old when he appeared on this card. Topps tended to show players that had appeared in the majors already on these cards, though, so making a call as to who should have appeared on this card in his place is tricky. Maybe Mike Fischlin or Jerry Dybzinski? In other words, when the Indians traded Von Hayes, they did it out of necessity -- they needed more younger talent.

I mentioned above that Chris Bando is coach at SDCC. He's been in baseball in one capacity or another since he retired from playing. His first year out of playing he was the manager of one of the best minor league teams in Brewers history according to Reviewing The Brew: the 1990 Stockton Ports. He remained in the Brewers system as a manager through 1995 when he joined the big-league team as third-base coach. He did that two years under Phil Garner, then served as bench coach in 1998. He was reassigned to be a scout in 1999, and then was shown the door after the 1999 season when brother Sal was also kicked to the curb. Chris then joined up with the Indians organization until 2005, when the Arizona Diamondbacks hired him as a scout. Since then, he's managed twice in independent leagues and, as I said, in college.

Tom Brennan moved back to Illinois after his playing days ended and, according to his minimal LinkedIn biography, he works as a facility manager at "a local community bank." Since it appears he has been with the same bank for nearly 15 years, this Chicago Sun-Times article puts him at Standard Bank and Trust in Hickory Hills, Illinois. He also volunteers as a youth pitching coach around Chicago's South Side.

Von Hayes has also done some managing in his post-playing career in the Diamondbacks organization and in independent baseball. He also coached at his alma mater, St. Mary's College in between selling boats and moving from Florida to Illinois and back again. Based on his LinkedIn profile -- and we went three-for-three for this card -- he is a Partner in First Source HR/Employco, a company which he describes as "a professional employer organization that offers payroll services, competitive workers' compensation rates, human resource services, employee benefits and much more."

Just don't call him Five-for-One.

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