Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Ken Gerhart, 1988 Topps Toys 'R' Us Rookies #11

I feel bad for Ken Gerhart, because he is entrenched in a foggy netherworld of my Orioles fandom. Ken roamed the outfield from 1986 through 1988, meaning that I was 6 years old when he played his last game for the team. I was sitting here trying to find something to write about today, and I realized that I couldn't tell you what the difference is between him and Pete Stanicek. Sure, if I thought about it for a minute, I could tell you that Pete played second base and went to college at Stanford, but that's probably a lucky guess because his last name starts with "Stan". See? This was supposed to be about Ken Gerhart, and I'm rambling about Pete Stanicek. I had to search my archives to see if I'd featured a Gerhart card, and I found one post from 2010 that doesn't even mention him in the body. It's just me wondering what to do with all of my extra "junk wax", a dismissive term that lumps Gerhart in with all of his late 1980s brethern.

So, Ken Gerhart. He played college ball at Middle Tennessee State and was a fifth-round pick of the Orioles in 1982. He hit lots of home runs in the minor leagues, including 31 at Class A Hagerstown in 1983. He also posted a .384 on-base percentage that year, and a .407 mark in 68 games at AA Charlotte in 1985. He got a September call-up to Baltimore in 1986 and hit .232/.267/.304 with a single home run, hit off of Teddy Higuera in a 3-1 O's win. At age 25, he won the team's starting left field job in the spring of 1987 and hit .297 with 3 HR and 8 RBI in April. But his performance tailed off in each successive month, and an errant Doug Jones pitch in an August 12 game against Cleveland broke his wrist and ended his season. His final stats were .243/.286/.440 with 14 homers and 34 RBI. He returned as a regular in 1988, but his personal performance was just as disastrous as the team's overall play: in 103 games he batted .195/.256/.344 with 9 home runs and 23 RBI in 291 plate appearances. He never played in the majors again, spending 1989 in the minors with the Giants and appearing in a handful of games with the Indians' AAA Colorado Springs club in 1990. His final major league batting stats: .221/.271/.384, 24 HR, 64 RBI.

If anyone quizzes me on Ken Gerhart now, I'll be able to muddle my way through it. Of course, if anyone is quizzing me about Ken Gerhart, I might have bigger problems.

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