SABR Baseball Biography Project is an absolute treasure for the curious baseball fan. I picked out this card for today's blog because Tom Chism was making a goofy face and had the prerequisite late-1970s mop of hair and mustache. His career major league record consists of an 0-for-3 and a few defensive substitutions at first base in a September cup of coffee with the 1979 O's. But then I found Chism's SABR biography, and learned that Tom:
-Idolized Dick Allen and Mickey Mantle, and wore the latter's #7 whenever it was available to him. (With Mark Belanger entrenched at shortstop for the Orioles throughout the seventies, Tom settled for #12 in his brief stay in Baltimore.)
-Didn't play baseball at his high school because he didn't see eye-to-eye with the coach, but was a two-time batting champ in a semipro league in Wilmington, Delaware. Rocker George Thorogood later played in that same league.
-Hit around .300 and posted on-base percentages of .375 or above at every stop on his way to the Orioles, but was a man without a position. The club assigned him to first base because he was thought to be too slow for the outfield, but first Lee May and then Eddie Murray had that spot locked down in Charm City.
-Returned to AAA Rochester after frustrating stints in the Minnesota and Detroit organizations, and spent the 1981 season as a player-coach with the Red Wings. He even performed spot pitching duty, allowing three runs in four innings spanning four games.
-Spent a couple of years scouting for the Orioles, and was given a World Series ring for his work in 1983. Unfortunately, it was stolen during a home invasion in 2008 and disposed of by the thief because it was traceable.
-Has a son, T.J., who has spent the past five seasons in the Mets' farm system as a pitcher, posting a 2.11 ERA as a reliever. The younger Chism has not yet reached AA.
The more you know...