Part of the fun of collecting lineup cards is to try and get lineup cards with guys who go on to become MLB players, if not stars. As an example, our first MiLB lineup cards are from a Class A game that Trey Mancini played in. Two years later, Mancini’s playing regularly for the Baltimore Orioles.
The independent Atlantic League offers the opportunity to get lineup cards of players who are usually on their way out of professional baseball. Typically, none of the MLB organizations are willing to offer them a contract. The Atlantic League is often their last chance to catch someone’s eye and get back to an MLB organization, perhaps even make it back to the big league.
Most former MLB players in the Atlantic League were journeymen-type players, if that. So it caught my interest when I saw that 2003 Cy Young winner Eric Gagne, 41, had joined the Long Island Ducks in an attempt to make it back to MLB.
For three years, Gagne was the best closer in MLB, including posting 55 saves in 2003 in winning the Cy Young Award.
So I went to see the Ducks play the Bees in New Britain earlier this week, hoping to get a chance to see Gagne pitch.
Unfortunately, he didn’t play in a 4-3 Bees walk-off win, but I hoped to at least get the Ducks’ lineup card with his name on it. I asked manager Kevin Baez for the lineup card, but he said no. He gave me his card last season after a Long Island win, so I’m guessing the reason he didn’t give it to me was because his team on a walk-off.
New Britain manager Stan Cliburn did give me his dugout lineup card, but unfortunately, it did not include the Long Island relief pitchers.
But he also gave me the official lineup cards, without me asking. Long Island’s card had Gagne on it.
Long Island’s card is the yellow one. Here is a close-up. Gagne is #30.
Not the most aesthetically pleasing lineup card we have ever gotten, but cool to have a lineup card with the 2003 Cy Young Award winner nonetheless.
2017: 10 lineup cards (3 dugout/bullpen; 7 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 131 lineup cards (90 dugout/bullpen; 39 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)
Lineup card from the New Britain Bees first ever victory? Check.
Sean and I made it to New Britain’s second-ever game on Friday, April 22nd. The Bees are a new team in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, playing in New Britain Stadium, formerly home to the AA Eastern League New Britain Rock Cats. The Rock Cat organization bolted for a new stadium in Hartford after last season, opening the door for the formation of the New Britain Bees.
The Bees lost their first-ever game to the York Revolution, 4-3, the night before. Sean had a Little League game and it was a school night, so we didn’t make it to the Bees first game.
We did make it to Friday night’s game. Despite the threat of thunderstorms, the game went off without a hitch. The Bees scored on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third, and that single run held up for a 1-0 victory, the franchise’s first-ever win.
Nick Greenwood, who had a cup of coffee with the St. Louis Cardinals on a couple of occasions earning a pair of victories, went six innings to get the win.
With two outs and no one on in the top of the ninth, things got a little hairy for the Bees. After a double and a walk, a Revolution player hit a hard grounder down the third base line. The third baseman got his glove on the ball, but in doing so, knocked it into foul territory.
The Revolution player on second tried to score on the play, running through a stop sign from the third base coach. He was thrown out at the plate to end the game.
Sean and I were already sitting near the Bees dugout, and quickly asked Bees manager Stan Cliburn for the lineup card after the bang-bang play at the plate. Cliburn pulled the lineup card off the wall and handed it to Sean.
Assuming Cliburn filled in his own lineup card, he’s got some nice handwriting. He also kept score for the New Britain batters. The baseball in the picture is a foul ball I caught on the fly.
Lineup Card Stats
2016: 11 lineup cards (9 dugout/bullpen; 2 “official batting order”)
Lifetime: 74 lineup cards (56 dugout/bullpen; 16 “official batting order”; and 2 “relief pitcher usage”)
Leagues: MLB: American League; National League. MiLB: International League; Eastern League; Carolina League; New York-Penn League. Independent Leagues: Atlantic League; Can-Am League; American Association. Colleges: NCAA – American Athletic Conference; NCAA – Ivy League; Cape Cod League; New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL); Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL)