Bob Rodgers 1990 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for October 20, 2017

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What is this BOB Rodgers bullshit?

He is BUCK Rodgers! When you have a name like that, I don’t want to hear any Bob nonsense.

Buck Rodgers was one of those respected managers who never quite had his day of glory. Although if your name was Buck Rodgers, every day is kind of awesome.

He was a catcher for the original Los Angeles Angels in 1961. He played for 9 years in the majors and had a good reputation as a defensive catcher. He caught Bo Belinsky’s no hitter in 1962 and caught Dean Chance’s Cy Young winning season.

When his career wound down, he coaches for the Twins, Giants and the Milwaukee Brewers throughout the 1970’s. Then in 1980 while coaching for the Brewers, manager George Bamberger had a heart attack. Rodgers took over the talented young squad that responded to his managerial style. Bamberger returned but ultimately resigned, leaving the job for 1981 to Rodgers.

1981 was the strange strike season and the Brewers had a decent first half but won the second half in a tight race and went into an October showdown with the Yankees.

In the best of 5 series, the Brewers lost a pair of close games at home before heading to New York where the Yankees looked to sweep. New York had the lead in the 7th but Ted Simmons hit a 2 run homer and later an RBI double that put Milwaukee up for good in a 5-3 final. RBIs by Cecil Cooper and Ben Oglive were the difference in a 2-1 win that sent the series to a fifth and deciding game.

The Brewers took a 2-0 lead in Game 5 but the Yankees would come storming back and win the game 7-3 and go on to the ALCS and World Series.

Rodgers looked like he had a powerful team ready to contend in 1982. But the Brewers came out sluggish and with the team floundering with a 23-24 record, he was replaced by Harvey Keunn. Rodgers was out of a job while the Brewers went on to win their first pennant.

Hired by the Expos, Rodgers managed their top minor league club in Indianapolis in 1984. The next year, he was promoted to manage the Expos.

He had talent but not a lot of depth as Montreal tried to contend in a division with the Cardinals and the Mets. They won 84 games in 1985 but slipped to 78-83 in 1986 and lost Andre Dawson and Jeff Reardon in the off season.

The next year, the Expos won 91 games and contended for a chunk of the season despite a smaller payroll. The 48 year old Rodgers would be named National League Manager of the Year.

After an 81-81 season in 1988, things looked like they were going to click for the 1989 squad. They had a deep pitching staff, anchored by Bryn Smith, Pascual Perez, Kevin Gross and Dennis Martinez. Tim Burke led the bullpen. Andres Gallaraga supplied the power. Tim Raines had the speed.

And in the spring, they made a shocking trade. Ace and pending free agent Mark Langston came over from Seattle. They now had an elite front line starter and the NL East was winnable.

On August 2, 1989, the Expos were 63-44, 21 games over .500, and up by 3 games in the NL East. They needed 2 more solid months and they would be in the playoffs for the first time since 1981.

Rodgers was now considered to be among the elite in managers.

Then the roof collapsed. Starting with a 12th inning 1-0 loss to Pittsburgh, virtually nothing went right for the Expos.

They went 18-37 the rest of the way, the worst record in baseball during that stretch. Forget the playoffs, they couldn’t even finish with a winning season. They ended dead even, 81-81, identical to the previous year.

Langston left via free agency and the trade cost the Expos Randy Johnson.

He managed a winning season in 1990 but 49 games into the 1991 campaign, he was let go.

The Angels didn’t let him stay unemployed for long as they picked him up to finish the 1991 season. But during the 1992 season, he was involved with a bus crash that injured him and caused him to miss much of that year.

He came back but wasn’t the same and was dismissed during the 1994 campaign. It was his last big league managerial job.

Rodgers had a nice peak with Montreal but sadly could never convert it to the post season.

One thing is tragic. He never managed the Kansas City Royals when Tom “Flash” Gordon.

Having Buck Rodgers manage Flash Gordon would have been almost too much awesomeness.