Tuesday March 16, 2004
A LOOK BACK:
The 1988 USA OLYMPIC TEAM
Over the course of this week, I will be taking a look at the rosters of the USA Olympic Baseball teams back to the 1984 team. (Check out my posting on the 2003 Team USA Roster) Baseball was an exhibition/demonstration sport in the 1984 Olympic Games with an 8-team tournament format. In 1992, it became a medal sport. Some really great players were able to represent America throughout these years. Some of the best college players of those years were chosen for the teams, until the 2000 team, when minor leaguers were allowed to play. Some players have gone on to become stars of the major leagues; some had remarkable college careers that simply did not translate into the professional level. Some were affected by injuries and some became coaches. I will discuss the players on the US Roster, with their big league successes, if any.
Monday – 1984 Olympic Team
Today, we will take a look at the 1988 team. Note - The 1988 Topps Traded Set included players who were drafted in 1988 and on Team USA. Interestingly, there are three cards of players in Team USA uniforms who are not on the official team roster. My assumption is that they played in some Team USA exhibition games before the actual Olympics. The first is Jim Campanis, a catcher from USC. His dad, Jim, was a big leaguer. His grandfather, Al Campanis played for the Dodgers (and is famous most for unfortunate things he said). This Jim never made the big leagues. Next is Baylor alum, left-handed pitcher Pat Combs, who was actually a 1st round draft pick in 1988 by the Phillies. He went 4-0 for the Phils in September of 1989 and lasted one full season in the rotation. He had a four year career. The third is another left-handed pitcher, Jim Poole, from Georgia Tech. Being a left-handed relief pitcher kept him in the big leagues for 10 seasons. He played with the Dodgers, Rangers, Orioles, Indians, Giants, Phillies, Tigers and Expos. He pitched a total of 431 games, all in relief. He went 22-12 with a 4.31 ERA. The below players were all on the 1988 USA Olympic Roster.
1988 OLYMPIC TEAM
Team USA again assembled an impressive collection of college stars and was expected to run through the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea. This time, the USA team went 2-1 in pool play. In the semi-finals, they got a complete game from Ben McDonald in a 7-2 win over Puerto Rico. That set up a rematch with Japan for the Gold Medal. In 1988, the US squad got two home runs from Tino Martinez and a complete game from Jim Abbott to capture the Gold.
Head Coach – Mark Marquess
Mark Marquess is currently in his 28th season at Stanford University. His overall record is 1,157-553-5. Leading up to the 1988 Olympics, Marquess had led Stanford to the 1987 and 1988 National Championships. He has led the Cardinal to five consecutive College World Series. His coaching record is amazing, but he was a pretty good athlete at Stanford for three seasons in the ‘60s. His career average there was over .400. He went on to play four minor league seasons in the White Sox minor league organization before going into coaching. He was also a three year member of the football team, spending time at QB, split end, defensive back and punt returner.
Marquess has been involved in International baseball frequently in his career, coaching a number of teams. He also was active in developing youth and other amateur programs across the country.
Marquess gathered another very impressive group of coaches. Dave Bingham and his 807-495-2 record was back again for the ’88 Olympics. LSU’s legendary coach Skip Bertman was an assistant for the team. Mississippi State’s coach Ron Polk was the other coach. In 30 years of coaching, his combined record is 1,198-578-2.
Jim Abbott - LHP - U. of Michigan - Drafted in 1988, 1st Round, 8th overall by the California Angels
Abbott won the Golden Spikes Award in 1987 and then the Sullivan Award as the national’s top amateur athlete in 1988. In his three seasons at Michigan, he was a combined 26-8 with a 3.03 ERA. Abbott was one of the last players to move directly from the college ranks to the big leagues. In 1989, he made his major league debut on April 8. He made 29 starts and went 12-12 with a 3.91 ERA. In 1991, he was 18-11 in 34 starts, with a 2.89 ERA. Interestingly, in 1992, he dropped his ERA to 2.77, but had just a 7-15 record. He spent the next two seasons with the New York Yankees where, in 1992, he threw a no-hitter. He then split 1995 between the White Sox and Angels. He was out the entire 1997 season after going 2-18 with the Angles in 1996. He came back with the White Sox for five starts in 1998, and did well, going 5-0. In 1999, he spent time with the Brewers and went 2-8. For his career, he was 87-108. He was exactly an average pitcher. His OPS + was 100 and his 4.25 ERA was exactly the same as average in that time. He had a pretty solid major league career, and I haven’t even mentioned that Abbott was born without a right hand, making everything that he did even more impressive, including two big league hits. He never used that as an excuse. Abbott was worthy of everyone’s admiration!
Bret Barberie – 2B – U. of Southern California – Drafted 7th round in 1988 by the Montreal Expos
I have to start by mentioning that Barberie is my hero because he was married to Fox’s Jillian Barberie, but aside from that, he was a pretty good baseball player. After two seasons at Cerritos College, he became a top player for USC. In 1988, he hit .384 with 11 homers. He made his major league debut in June of 1991 with the Expos. He was used as a utility player for two years there. He was drafted by the Florida Marlins 6th overall in the expansion draft. He recorded the first hit in Marlins history. He played a lot of 2B for the Marlins for two seasons before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles where he spent the 1995 season. 1996 was his final season in the big leagues and he played in just 15 games for the Chicago Cubs (going 1-29) before being released. For his six big league seasons, he hit .271/.356/.363 with 16 homers and 133 RBI.
Andy Benes - RHP – U. of Evansville - Drafted in 1988, 1st Round, 1st overall by the San Diego Padres
At 6-6 and 240 pounds, Andy Benes was the clear #1 pick in the 1988 draft. In his junior season at Evansville, he went 16-3 with a 1.42 ERA and struck out 188 batters in 146 innings, both school records. He once struck out 21 in a game. Unlike Abbott, Benes didn’t make his big league debut until August of 1989. He was 6-3 with a 3.10 ERA. He then went on to win at least 10 games in ten of the next eleven seasons. During that stretch, until 2000, he was good for at least 25 and usually 33 starts a season. Starting in 2001, however, he started experiencing a lot of pain in his shoulder. He struggled through two more seasons before retiring following the 2002 season. For his 14 year career (spent between the Padres, Mariners, Cardinals and Diamondbacks), he was 155-139 with a 3.97 ERA. He also hit 8 homers.
Jeff Branson - SS – Livingston - Drafted in 1988, 2nd round by Cincinnati Reds
Jeff Branson was unbelievable at Livingston. His freshman year, he hit .352 with 8 homers and 50 RBI. His sophomore season, he his .403 with 7 homers, 38 RBI and 23 SBs. His junior year, he hit .435 with 11 homers and 51 RBI. For that time, he walked 92 times and struck out just 60 times. It took Branson until the 1992 season to get to The Show, but he ended up being a valuable utility player for the Reds for over 5 years, playing 3B, SS, and 2B on a regular basis. He was traded to Cleveland in 1997 and spent the 1998 with the Indians too. He was out of the big leagues in 1999, but appeared in 31 more games with the LA Dodgers between the 2000 and 2001 seasons. For his nine year career, he hit a combined .246/.300/.372 with 34 homers and 156 RBI. He will be the manager of the Williamsport team, the short season Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates (where Tom Prince is the hitting coach).
Mike Fiore – OF – U. of Miami – Drafted in 1988 by the St. Louis Cardinals
Fiore was a great college player at Miami. His junior season, he hit .423. He came back for his senior season in 1988 and hit .397 with 15 homers and 83 RBI. He won the Dick Howser Award as college baseball’s best player. In his four years there, he walked 22 times and struck out just 87 times. His minor league career was brief. I really can’t find any reason for that, so if anyone knows, please help me out. I did find that he was the GM of the US Olympic team in 1996.
Tom Goodwin - OF – Fresno State - Drafted in 1989, 22nd overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers
Speed was the game for Tom Goodwin. Actually, it is his speed that has kept him in the big leagues for so long. He is in Cubs training camp again this season and likely will be their 4th or 5th outfielder again. He came up in September of 1991 with the Dodgers. He spent three seasons with the Dodgers being used mainly as a pinch runner. He was released after the 1994 seasons and the Royals picked him up. In 1995, he was finally given semi-full time position. In seasons where he got over 300 at bats, his batting averages were .288, .282, .260, .290, .259, and .263. His stolen base totals those years were 50, 66, 50, 38, 39, 55. So, he’s not a spectacular hitter, but he can be important to a team as a situational hitter, a base runner and a defensive replacement. In his 13 big league seasons, he has spent time with the Dodgers, Royals, Rangers, Rockies, Giants and Cubs. He has hit .269/.334/.341 with 364 stolen bases.
Ty Griffin- 2B – Georgia Tech - Drafted 1st round in 1988, 9th overall by the Chicago Cubs
In three seasons with the Yellowjackets, Griffin stole 127 bases, a record. He hit .332 and was over .345 his last two years. In ’88, he hit 14 home runs too. He was a pretty sure thing when the Cubs drafted him. But he really struggled to hit in the minors and never made it to the big leagues. I know he spent some time in the Northern League too after leaving affiliated ball.
Tino Martinez - 1B – U. of Tampa - Drafted 1st round in 1988, 14th overall by the Seattle Mariners
Martinez had a very impressive three year career at the University of Tampa. In his freshman season, he hit .330 with 17 homers and 66 RBI. His sophomore year, he hit .422 with 12 homers and 82 RBI. His junior year, he improved to .452 with 25 homers and 74 RBI. In his three years, he walked 116 times and struck out just 34 times. After being drafted, Martinez was called up to the Mariners in August of 1990. He played in 20 games with the big club that year. He then played in 36 games in 1991. His averages those two seasons were .221 and .236. He started getting primary playing time in 1992, and his numbers, particularly his power numbers increased until 1995 when he hit .293/.369/.551 with 35 doubles, 31 homers and 111 RBI. That meant that he got big money after the season to play some first base for the Yankees, taking over the position vacated by fan favorite, Don Mattingly. They may not have realized it at the time, but Martinez was a big part of the Yankees title years. In 1997, he hit 44 homers and drove in 141 runs. In six years in pinstripes, he averaged 29 homers and 115 RBI. He spent the last two years in St. Louis. He was sent back to his hometown this offseason and will spend the 2004 season with the Devil Rays.
Billy Masse - OF – Wake Forest – Drafted by New York Yankees in 1988
Masse played for two seasons at Wake Forest. In those years, he combined to hit .407 with 37 homers and 113 RBI. He was not only an All-American, but an Academic All-American. That helped him in his pro career. He didn’t do so well in the minor leagues, never making it to the big leagues. His intelligence and people skills have led him to becoming the Yankees AAA manager at Columbus.
Ben McDonald - RHP – Louisiana State - Drafted 1st Round in 1989, 1st overall by the Baltimore Orioles
Ben McDonald was almost as big as Mark Prior coming out of LSU. He had led the Tigers to the College World Series with a lot of innings. He signed and was shortly up in the big leagues, pitching 6 games in relief for the Orioles already in 1989. In 1990, he came up and pitched in 21 games (15 starts). He went 8-5 with a 2.43 ERA. After that though, he was always surrounded by injuries. In 1992 and 1993 he started at least 34 games, but other than that, each year, he missed time with a bad shoulder. However, despite that, he pitched nine big league seasons between the O’s and the Brewers. He retired after the 1997 season. His career record was 78-70 with a 3.91 ERA. His OPS + for his career was 115.
Mike Milchin - P - Clemson - Drafted 2nd Round in 1989 by the St. Louis Cardinals
At Clemson, Milchin was a 1B who would come in and pitch the late innings. He was drafted by the Cardinals in 1989, but was released by them after the 1993 season. The Dodgers picked him up and he pitched in the minors with them until he was released following the 1995 season. The Twins signed him, and he made his big league debut with the Twins in May of 1996. He pitched 21 2/3 innings in 26 games in relief. He had a 2-1 record with a 8.31 ERA before they released him in August. The Orioles picked him up and he pitched in 13 more games with them, going 1-0 with a 5.73 ERA. Milchin now works for SFX Sports in Houston, a sports agent company.
Mickey Morandini - SS - Indiana - Drafted 5th Round in 1988 by the Philadelphia Phillies
Morandini was a scrapper who fit in perfectly with those early ‘90s Phillies teams. In college at Indiana, he twice hit over .400 in four seasons as a Hoosier. He didn’t put up spectacular offensive numbers but was definitely willing to take a walk. He spent his first eight seasons with the Phillies before being traded to the Cubs in 1998 for Doug Glanville. He had his best offensive season in 1998 when he hit.296/.380/.385 with 8 homers and 53 RBI. He struggled in 1999. He split the 2000 season between Philly and Toronto. Following his retirement he has supported his wife with R.S.V.P. Full Service Stationary, a provider of specialized invitations, and helped raise their three kids.
Charles Nagy - RHP – U. of Connecticut - Drafted in 1988 1st Round, 17th overall, by the Cleveland Indians
Charles Nagy spent two seasons pitching for U. Conn. He combined to go 10-7 with a 2.59 ERA. However, he struck out 194 hitters in 139 innings. He came up to the Indians in June of 1990 and pitched in 9 games. He went 2-4 with a 5.91 ERA. In 1991, he went 10-15 with a 4.11 ERA. In 1992, he was 17-10 with a 2.96 ERA. Including those two seasons, he had at least 10 wins in eight of nine seasons. He was a three time All-Star and three times won 17 games. However, injuries curtailed his impressive career. He struggled from 2000 until the end of his Indians tenure in 2002. Fact is, he had no cartilage in his right elbow, yet he was still struggling to eat up innings for his team, whatever role it was needed. He spent the beginning of the 2003 season with the San Diego Padres, but retired in July and became a special assistant to Indians GM Mark Shapiro.
Doug Robbins - C - Stanford – Drafted by Baltimore Orioles in 1988
Robbins caught at Stanford for four seasons. He hit over .300 and had some power, but he was primarily known for his catching. He threw out 56% of would-be basestealers! That got him drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, but his minor league career never led him to the big leagues.
Scott Servais - C - Creighton - Drafted 3rd Round by the Houston Astros
Servais spent three seasons at Creighton. He was a member of Team USA in 1986 and 1987 as well. His career average at Creighton was just .291 and he averaged 9 homers a season. Not spectacular numbers, but enough to get him drafted. And that opportunity led to an 11 year big league career. He spent time with the Astros, Cubs, Giants, and Rockies. He served primarily as a backup catcher, although he was the starter in his three years with the Cubs. For his career, he played in 820 games and hit .245/.306/.375 with 63 homers and 319 RBI.
Dave Silvestri - IF - Missouri – Drafted 2nd Round in 1988 by the New York Yankees
Dave Silvestri had an RBI single in the championship game against Japan. He hit .380 in his three seasons at Missouri, including .406 his junior season. The Astros drafted him in 1988, but traded him to the Yankees in 1990. He played in 7 games for the Bronx Bombers in both 1992 and 1993, 12 games in 1993 and 17 games in 1995 before being traded to the Expos in July. In 1996, he played in 86 games for the Expos. He then had brief call ups with the Rangers, Devil Rays and Angels. 1999 was his final season in the big leagues.
Joe Slusarski - RHP – New Orleans - Drafted 2nd Round in 1988 by the Oakland A’s
Slusarski pitched two seasons at New Orleans. He went 13-1 (2.87) and 13-6 (3.37) in those seasons. Slusarski ended up being another of the A’s pitching prospects of the early ‘90s who dealt with arm injuries throughout his career. He made it to the big leagues for 20 games (19 starts) in 1991. He was 5-7 with a 5.27 ERA. He pitched in 15 games for the A’s in 1992. He pitched just twice for the A’s in 1993 before the arm injury. He was out for the 1994 season. He came back to pitch 12 games for the Brewers in 1995, but more arm problems haunted him. He did make a comeback with the Astros in 1999, getting into three games. In 2000, he pitched in 54 games in relief for Houston, and pitched 12 games in 2001 between the Astros and Braves. What could have been, huh? He ended his career with a 13-21 record with a 5.18 ERA. He is now the Astros AA pitching coach at Round Rock.
Ed Sprague - 3B - Stanford - Drafted in 1988 in 1st Round, 25th overall by the Toronto Blue Jays
Sprague’s father, Ed, pitched in the majors for 9 seasons in the ’60s and ‘70s. Sprague was a power hitter for Stanford, hitting 16 and 22 home runs in his last two seasons there. He made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1991, playing 61 games. He played just 22 big league games in 1992. He was the team’s everyday third baseman in 1993 and contributed heavily to the Blue Jays back-to-back World Series championships. He stayed with the Jays until a trade deadline deal to Oakland in 1998. In 1999, he signed with the Pirates and made his lone All-Star appearance. 2000 was split between the Padres and Red Sox, and 2001 was spent in Seattle. For his 11 big league seasons, he played in 1,203 games and hit .247/.318/.419 with 152 homers and 558 RBI. He is now in his second season as the head baseball coach at the University of Pacific.
Robin Ventura - 3B – Oklahoma State - Drafted 1988, 1st Round, 10th overall by the Chicago White Sox
Robin Ventura is arguably one of the best hitters in college baseball history. He was a 3 time All-American. As a freshman, he hit .469 with 28 doubles, 21 homers and 96 RBI. His sophomore year, he hit .428 with 21 homers and 110 RBI. Is junior year, he missed some time and hit “just” .391 with 16 doubles, 24 homers and 88 RBI. He also walked 180 times and struck out just 71 times. His 58 game hitting streak in 1987 was incredible, and finally broken up by Stanford’s Jack McDowell. Ventura spent a year in the minors, making his big league debut September 12, 1989. Since then, he has always been a starter. He spent his first ten years with the White Sox. He spent three seasons with the Mets before a year and a half with the Yankees. He was traded last year at the trade deadline to the Dodgers after the Yankees acquired Aaron Boone. He is back with the Dodgers this year. In 15 big league seasons, he has played in 1,977 games. He has hit .267/.363/.445 with 289 homers and 1,154 RBI. He has just been a solid overall player, winning six Gold Glove Awards and playing in two All-Star games.
Ted Wood - OF – New Orleans - Drafted 1st Round in 1988, 29th overall by the San Francisco Giants
Wood is another product of the New Orleans program. In his three seasons, the OF hit .368, .409, .357. His last two seasons, he combined for 31 homers. Despite his high draft position, Wood did not get much opportunity in the major leagues. He was called up and played in 10 September games for the Giants. In 1992, he got 58 at bats in 24 games. He was let go and signed with the Montreal Expos where he got 26 at bats in 13 games. Overall, he hit just .183/.276/.231, but he did hit one home run!
Those are the members of the 1988 USA Olympic Baseball team. If you have any information, stories or anything on any of these players, please e-mail me.
MONDAY - Twins 4, Orioles 5
Jose Offerman is giving Ron Gardenhire some data to go off of when he decides who to bring north to Minneapolis. Yesterday, he hit his 2nd homer of the spring. Corey Koskie went 2-3 with a double. Matthew Lecroy had an RBI double in three at bats. On the mound, Rick Helling went 5 innings and gave up 4 hits, walked one and gave up one run, while striking out three. JC Romero, Juan Rincon and Kevin Tolar each pitched scoreless innings. Joe Roa should have been out of his inning, but a close-call walk led to a run in his inning of work. Brad Thomas, trying to lock down a spot in the Twins bullpen, gave up 3 hits, walked 2 and gave up 3 runs. He did strike out one.
Today, the Twins will be playing the Toronto Blue Jays down in Ft. Myers at noon.
FORMER TWINS PERFORMANCES
Another look at how former Twins players performed Monday.
· Jason Maxwell, 2B – Texas Rangers (0-0, 1 R)
· Chris Gomez, SS – Toronto Blue Jays (0-2)
· Quinton McCracken, LF – Seattle Mariners (0-1)
· Eddie Guardado, RP – Seattle Mariners (1 IP, 1 K, 1st outing of Spring)
· Warren Morris, 2B – Detroit Tigers (1-4)
· Greg Swindell, RP – Kansas City Royals (1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, HR to Nic Jackson)
· LaTroy Hawkins, RP – Chicago Cubs (1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 ER)
· Chad Allen, LF – Texas Rangers (1-2)
· Danny Ardoin, C – Texas Rangers (0-1)
· Chad Moeller, C – Milwaukee Brewers (0-4)
· Dustan Mohr, CF – San Francisco Giants (2-4, 3 RBI, 3B)
· AJ Pierzynski, C – San Francisco Giants (1-3)
Extra! Extra! Check out The Hardball Times! It is a new website with a dozen great baseball bloggers including Aaron Gleeman, Ben Jacobs, Alex Belth and Bryan Smith, as well as Bill James’ assistant Matthew Namee
We now have what we believe to be the first blog of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Roses and Rattles. Chris Snethen was on a website and notice there weren’t any D-Backs blogs, so he up and started one. It should be good, so be sure to bookmark it. I’m not sure that Arizona fans will have a lot to look forward to this season, although Sexson brings some excitement, and Alex Cintron could become a star.
And on that note, that is it for today! Let me know what you think about the 1988 Olympic information. Also, if you have any information on any other Olympic baseball players from any of the teams, specifically from 1992, 1996 or 2000 teams, please let me know! Or, if you have any questions or comments on anything, let me know. E-mail me. Happy Monday, and have a great week!
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