Saturday, April 19, 2008

Dave Stapleton

Here's Dave Stapleton's 1981 Topps card. Career Stats as of 1981: 449 AB, 144 H, 7 HR, 45 RBI, .321 AVG. Born 1/16/54 in Fairhope, Alabama.

This card represents Dave's first year in the majors after spending 7 years in the minors in such locales as Winter Haven, FL, Bristol, CT and Pawtucket, RI. Spending five years in Pawtucket paid off for Dave who led the International League in runs, hits and doubles in 1979. He was also named International League player of the month for May 1980 by Topps. This didn't go unnoticed by the Red Sox brass because they decided that year to give Dave his big shot in the big league. So even though this card says he played second base, Dave was a utility guy who played almost every position. He covered, first base, second base, shortstop, third base even the outfield at times. But it was first base where Dave eventually found a home. He must have been beaming with pride after toiling away on crappy minor league teams year after year playing during cold New England nights. But as soon as Dave got comfortable along came Bill Buckner who replaced Dave at first base from 1984 to 1986. Dave only got a chance to play in 82 games during that time, coming into the game for defensive purposes to replace Buckner who had bad ankles. Most people might remember Dave from the 1986 World Series versus the New York Metropolitans, game 6 to be exact. No one knows how Dave felt on the night of October 25th when John McNamara, the Red Sox Manager at the time, in his infinite wisdom decided to throw away his normal game plan and kept Dave in the dugout and left Bill Buckner out on the field to man first base. No, no one really knows exactly what was going through Dave's mind when in the bottom of the 10th inning, when he would normally be put in the game to safeguard against any defensive mishaps, he was forced to sit on the bench and witness THIS. The Red Sox lost that World Series and they didn't made it back for another 18 years. And it wasn't until 2008 that the Red Sox fans reconciled with Bill Buckner for that play by letting him throw the first pitch in the home opener. I wonder if Dave was watching.

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