Tom Trebelhorn 1989 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for October 14, 2017


Tom Trebelhorn is, in my recollection, a generic place holder manager. I remember he was a manager for the Brewers and briefly the Cubs. He was a minor league manager and a big league coach.

Baseball is filled with Trebelhorns, guys with tons of baseball wisdom and the misfortune of never being the manager of a team when all the pieces are in place.

And along the way, Trebelhorn coached and managed many players and imparted wisdom and guidance.

How do I know that?

Rickey Henderson mentioned him in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

Trebelhorn coached Rickey in the instructional league about the basics of base stealing. He must have known SOMETHING as his student became the greatest base stealer of them all.

The playing career of Trebelhorn, a native of Oregon, was not on par with Rickey Henderson. He played 5 years in the minor leagues but never got to the show. Instead he became a lifelong coach and manager.

He bounced between the minor league systems of the Pirates, A’s and Indians. He managed in Boise in 1975 and 1976, where he was Henderson’s manager.

In 1977, he managed in Modesto where he had Henderson again along with future Giants pitcher Ernie Camacho.

In 1979, he managed at Batvia in the Indians system. Future big leaguer Carmello Castillo was on that team.

In 1982, he went home to Portland to manage the Pirates farm team there. He managed a combination of young future big leaguers, like Brian Harper, Junior Ortiz and Jose DeLeon, as well as veterans hanging on, like Odell Jones, Willie Horton and Paul Dade.

When the Pirates moved their Triple A team from Portland to Hawaii, Trebelhorn went with them in 1983. Once again he had a mix of older and younger players including Don Stanhouse and Joe Orsulak.

After managing in Vancouver for the Brewers in 1985, he was promoted to manage the major league squad to finish the 1986 season.

In 1987, things looked like they might be going Tom Trebelhorn’s way. The Brewers started the season by winning their first 13 games and they stayed in contention for the AL East for much of the season.

They finished with 91 wins but far behind the AL East champion Tigers and the runner up Blue Jays. But his first season in the bigs as a manager was quite an accomplishment.

He would never come close to duplicating it. He would have a few more winning seasons but he was let go after the 1991 season.

Trebelhorn’s final big league managerial job was during the 1994 strike year with the Cubs. The team did not fare well and Trebelhorn’s lone highlight was following through on a dare that he would take questions from fans after the game at a firestation if the Cubs lost.

He spent years in the Orioles system, both in the front office and as a third base coach and bench coach. Eventually, he would return to managing in the Pacific Northwest, managing the Salem Volcanoes in Oregon.

The Giants affiliate had Trebelhorn manage such players as Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Gary Brown, Joe Panik and Matt Duffy. All of them won World Series titles and played in those Octobers for San Francisco.

The manager, like Bruce Bochy, gets the lionshare of the credit for developing those players. But they all had managers who molded them before they got to the bigs.

Sometimes it is the Tom Trebelhorns of the world who help turn minor leaguers into Major Leaguers.

Just ask Rickey Henderson.

I may not remember Bryan Clutterbuck… but evidently a lot of people DO!

Back in January of 2009, I wrote a quick post about former Brewers pitcher Bryan Clutterbuck.

Basically I was saying how I don’t remember him… but who am I kidding. I was basically giggling because his last name sounds like 2 or 3 words that George Carlin would include among the “Seven Words.”

But it is funny how that post keeps getting hits, comments and private e mail messages.

Evidently a lot of people know Bryan Clutterbuck… and the consensus is he seems like a terrific guy.

He may not have blazed through the big leagues, but evidently he has been a positive person to people who remember him more than even the most die hard Brewers fans.

He evidently does a lot of charity work and also coaches little leaguers in Michigan.

Sometimes we forget that the men on the baseball cards are actual people… and their brief careers might not get them into Cooperstown, but there are a lot of other small towns where their careers make them memorable.

So good work Bryan Clutterbuck.
I wish that I had your career.

And to honor you, I will post the link to your lone complete game victory in the major leagues.

On April 25, 1989, Brewers manager Tom Trebelhorn gave the ball to Clutterbuck to face the Twins.

He had to face solid big leaguers like Dan Gladden, Wally Backman, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti and Greg Gagne as well as World Series heroes like Gene Larkin and Jim Dwyer and oh yeah… future Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett.

Paul Molitor led off the game with a home run for the Brewers… and the offense unloaded on Twins starter Roy Smith who let up 5 runs (and 3 homers) in 4 innings.

Clutterbuck had a 5-0 lead going into the 6th and a 10-2 lead going into the 9th. Trebelhorn didn’t go to the bullpen, even when Clutterbuck let up a 2 run 2 out double to Gene Larkin.

He got Jim Dwyer to ground out to second and Clutterbuck went the full 9.

Only 10,034 were at Milwaukee County Stadium to see his finest moment on the field… but it seems like his finest moments in life came afterward.

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