Last week, I mentioned a great website called TwinsCards.com, on which I found seemingly unending info on the Minnesota Twins. Within the many pages, I found a card of Rick Stelmaszek which I never knew existed.
Back in the 70's, minor league card sets were not a huge deal. They were usually printed midway through the season and offered only at the ballpark.
In 1977, Stelmaszek was back in the Texas Rangers organization, playing for the Tucson Toros. He had a decent season, hitting .283 in 83 games, but he did not get a call up to the Rangers. The Rangers were well-stocked at catcher, with Jim Sundberg in his prime, backed up by Bill Fahey, John Ellis and Ed Kirkpatrick.
The Toros finished 65-73 in 1977. Only a few players went on to have decent major league careers. Pat Putnam, Tommy Boggs and Len Barker enjoyed the most success in the majors.
A few other players had been in the majors for a while and were fighting to return. Kurt Bevacqua made it back for several solid seasons as a utility player. David Clyde and Mike Wallace did not make it back.
After the 77 season, Stelmaszek joined the Wisconsin Rapids Twins as a player-manager. At 29, his playing days were about over, but his career really had just begun. By the way, is that woman in the background checking out Stelmaszek?