Steve Ontiveros 1978 Kellogg’s 3-D Super Star – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for April 8, 2017

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There were two Steve Ontiveros’. Actually I am sure there have been many, but two played baseball at a very high level. And when one stopped playing the other continued, frankly I didn’t know there were two of them.

One Steve Ontiveros pitched for the A’s in two different stints and wound up leading the league in ERA. Evidently he played briefly for the 2000 Red Sox. I have no memory of that.

That was not this Steve Ontiveros. The Steve Ontiveros who wound up in my box of Frosted Flakes was an infielder.

The Bakersfield California native was a 6th round pick by the San Francisco Giants in 1969. And as the old guard of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry were leaving, the Giants were developing a whole new slate of terrific players.

Ontiveros looked like the third baseman of the future. In 1973, Ontiveros lit up AAA Phoenix. He batted .357 with an eye popping 1.030 OPS, 0 homers and 16 triples as well that year and earned the title Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year.

He played well in his initial few years with the Giants but regressed. By the time 1976 came around, he was 24 years old but looked washed up with injuries and a season long slump/

The Giants threw him into the trade that sent Bill Madlock to the Giants and Bobby Murcer was sent packing to Wrigley.

Ontiveros made the best of the change of scenery by having the best season of his career.

On May 10th, in a game against the Astros, he drove in 4 runs by himself. 7 days later on May 17th, he matched the 4 run batted total as the Cubs romped to a 23- 6 victory.

Ontiveros played in a career high 156 games at season. He would post career highs in virtually every category, earning the 3-D Kellogg’s Treatment.

Injuries kept him to just 82 games in 1978 but he played a full year again the next season. But he got hurt throughout the 1980 campaign and he never returned to the majors.

He disappeared from my consciousness as he went to Japan to keep playing keeo playing.

Right around the time he was going to Japan, the A’s promoted a young player named Steve Ontiveros. I remember thinking “He must have reinvented himself as a pitcher.”

Nope.

The world is evidently big enough for two Steve Ontiveroses.

Bob Bailor 1978 Kellogg’s 3D Super Stars Card – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for February 4, 2017

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The first year I really collected the Kellogg’s 3D cards was in 1978. I think someone got me the whole set. Either that or I ate a CRAPLOAD of Rice Krispies that summer.

I assumed every player was a superstar. As I wrote in my Lee Mazzilli entry, some teams needed a representative. The 1978 collection reflected the results of the 1977 season, which happened to be the first for the Toronto Blue Jays.

They needed a representative. And Kellogg’s tapped Bob Bailor to be the Toronto star.

Using Sabermetrics, pitcher Jerry Garvin had the highest WAR total for the 1977 Blue Jays. But back then, people did not honor 18 game losers with ERA’s over 4 who led the league in a single category: Home Runs allowed. (Bailor did not crack the top 5 in WAR for the Blue Jays that season, but nobody knew that yet.)

Veteran Ron Fairly was the Toronto representative in the All Star Game in 1977. But by the time the cards went to the printer, he was playing his 21st and final Major League Season with the Angels.

So the honor went to Bailor. I always found the vagueness of his position “Outfield-Infield” to be odd, especially since the Kellogg’s Cards were specific even in the outfield. Players were listed as Left Field, Center Field or Right Field, as opposed to Topps’ general “OF” designation.

Not Bailor. Just don’t put him at catcher.

To be fair, that was an accurate description of how Blue Jays manager Roy Hartsfield used him.

The Pennsylvanian native was a product of the Baltimore Orioles farm system. When the American League expanded into Seattle and Toronto, Bailor was the Blue Jays’ first pick (and second overall to Rupert Jones going to Seattle.)

Bailor batted .310, setting an expansion season record. He also did not strike out until his 51st at bat of the season, a record at the time. Keeping his bat in the lineup meant putting him all over the diamond.

He started 49 games at shortstop, 46 games in center, 13 in left and a pair of games in right field for 1977. In 1978, he added third base to his resume, starting 28 games there as he won his second straight “Player of the Year” award in Toronto. He did not make the All Star team however either year.

His offensive production began to dip and by 1981, Bailor was traded to the Mets.

Ultimately he found himself as a role player for the Dodgers and played his final big league game in the 1985 NLCS against St. Louis. Eventually he returned to the Blue Jays and earned a pair of World Series rings as a coach for manager Cito Gaston.

Bailor was many things but most of all he was versatile. If the Outfield-Infield label was not vague enough for you, keep in mind he added one more position to his arsenal in 1980. He pitched 3 games that year.

I guess Outfield-Infield-Pitcher would have been a bit much.