Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New player collection: Brian Simmons

This just happened to me for the second time--I've started another Michigan Baseball PC without even knowing it!  The last time it happened, it was Jason Christian, a couple years ago.  THIS time I was digging around on eBay and randomly searched for "Michigan Wolverines" in the baseball category since a few sellers note colleges in their titles.  To my surprise, a new player popped up:  Brian Simmons.  I looked him up on baseball-reference and confirmed he was indeed a Wolverine!

A Pennsylvania native, Brian was the White Sox's second round pick in 1995, right after future MLBers Sean Casey and Brett Tomko went back-to-back, and a few picks after the Royals took some kid named Carlos Beltran.  This was after being picked by Baltimore in the 35th back in 1992 but opting to head to Ann Arbor instead.  In his three college seasons he put up pretty good numbers over 160+ games, including a .317 AVG with 13 HR and 45 RBI in '95.  It's also nice to see that he managed to complete his B.S. in chemistry, according to his LinkedIn page.

Brian's early pro stats showed that his decent power wasn't a fluke, then proved that again during a five-game cameo his 1998 rookie season when he homered from both sides of the plate in a late September win over the Royals (a game won by fellow Wolverine Jim Abbott!).  The OF didn't fare as well in 54 MLB games the following year, though at least his AAA numbers looked promising.  Unfortunately, his career took a turn for the worse during spring training in 2000 when he went out for the year after rupturing his Achilles.  He recovered enough to be included in the January, 2001 deal with Toronto that brought David Wells to the South Side, but his 60-game numbers with the Blue Jays that year were awful, and he then bounced around several AAA and Independent teams before retiring after 2004; according to LinkedIn he now works for a company that sells medical devices.

Still, despite his very brief career, he managed to appear on 35 cards, and thanks to the fact that I really ramped up collecting in the late 90s, I actually already have four of those, meaning I had another PC started without even knowing it!  Here they are:
Brian Simmons 1998 Fleer Tradition Update RC
This card hails from the '98 Fleer Update boxed set that's more famous for J.D. Drew's RC.  It's one of Fleer's solid designs that suffers from being an inevitable step down from the high water mark '97 set.  Still, I give it good marks for photography, full-bleed photos, and stamps that denote things like a player being a rookie.
Brian Simmons 1999 SkyBox Thunder
'99 Skybox Thunder is a very weird set for me.  Despite despising the design (and the weird writing on the backs), I completed the set because I had so much of it to start with, and that was the case because I somehow won a free box of it from Beckett years ago when I was a subscriber.  Anyway, Simmons was part of it, and therefore I have his base card, though I still need the ridiculous "Rant" and "Rave" parallels, the latter of which is numbered to 150.
Brian Simmons 1999 Upper Deck
I swear I recall a blogger referring to this as the "salad tongs" set recently, but I can't find that post, so if you're responsible for that, feel free to claim your kudos in the comments!  Weird borders aside, this isn't a bad set, and it's one of many UD issues I completed years ago.
Brian Simmons 2000 Upper Deck
Finally, here's Brian's UD base card from the follow-up to the '99 set, and there's an obvious improvement here.  It's one of three Simmons cards from his final year of appearing on them, with the others being Fleer Impact and UD Exclusives Silver (#d to 100).  Because his run stops with 2000, he doesn't appear on any Blue Jays cards, which makes sense given his stats with them.

So how did this former Wolverine with MLB cards slip by me?  I don't know, but I think the REAL question is how another Michigan baseballer drafted by The ChiSox eluded the attention of my Pale Hose fan colleague.  Well?  Explain yourself, Jeff!  In all seriousness, I expect he's got a few Simmons pieces in his team sets, meaning his PC of the guy is likely already a few steps ahead of mine.  Follow along with my pursuit of his run with this spreadsheet and Picasa album.

Stay tuned pretty soon (whatever "soon" means on this blog) for a brand spanking new trade post!


  1. I suck. But what I really like is seeing more White Sox cards in your collection.

    1. Ok, I guess we both suck. What I've done in the past is searched for UM players on baseball-reference, but I'm betting I skipped over Simmons just because he appeared in relatively few games. That'll teach me to be more careful. And you can bet you'll still see a nice number of White Sox over here thanks to Simmons, Getz, and Richard, not to mention a Sabo, Putz, and Abbott or two. How about you, are you gonna PC him now? Like I said, I bet you've got more of him that I do.