Cardboard Tigers: Arroyo, Bare, and Brinkman

Second in an ongoing series.

Two fairly obscure Tigers today plus “Steady Eddie.”

Detroit Tigers pitcher Fernando Arroyo
Fernando Arroyo 1976 Topps #614

This is Fernando Arroyo, sporting the Tigers’ old double-knit pullover road jerseys. Fernando looks very serious in this photo. He was a 6’2″ right-handed starter who was drafted by the Tigers in the eleventh round in 1970, then spent the next six seasons working his way through the farm system, including stops in Bristol, Lakeland, Montgomery, and Evansville. In 1975, he finally made it to the bigs, throwing 53 innings as a middle reliever and spot starter, going 2-1 with an ERA of 4.58.

Despite getting a shiny 1976 Topps card with his 24-year-old face on it, he didn’t pitch in the majors that year, but did spend parts of the next three seasons in Detroit before finishing his career with the Twins (1980-82) and the A’s (1982 and briefly in 1986). His career totals included a 24-37 record in 121 games, 60 of them starts, and a 4.44 ERA.

Fernando is a member of the Mexican-American Hall of Fame in his hometown of Sacramento, California.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Ray Bare
Ray Bare 1976 Topps #507

Ray Bare was another right-handed pitcher for the Tigers from 1975-77. Drafted by the Cardinals in the supplemental draft in 1969, the Tigers bought him before spring training in 1975. He went 8-13 that season, mostly as a starter, with a 4.48 ERA. The back of this card notes that he threw a two-hit shutout against the California Angels on August 16, which broke a 19-game losing streak for the Tigers. Probably the highlight of a short major league career, which ended two years later. After starting the 1977 season with a 12.56 ERA, the Tigers sent Ray down to Evansville, then released him after the season. The Orioles gave him one more shot in 1978 with their AAA farm team, the Rochester Red Wings, but that was the end of the road for Ray.

Most players usually looked a bit different from year to year on their baseball cards, but Ray always had this expression and this mustache. Ray Bare died of leukemia in 1994 at the age of 44 in his hometown of Miami, Florida.

Detroit Tigers shortstop Ed Brinkman
Ed Brinkman 1974 Topps #138
Detroit Tigers shortstop Ed Brinkman
Ed Brinkman 1975 Topps #439

Ah, Steady Eddie. He certainly looks steady in these pictures, though considering his career perhaps they should have shown him with his glove on instead of holding a bat.

Ed Brinkman was a solid defender at shortstop, winning a Gold Glove in 1972 which somehow led to him being an American League All Star in 1973. Ed played all ten seasons that the second version of the Washington Senators existed from 1961 to 1970, then was traded to Detroit (along with third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez and pitcher Joe Coleman) for Denny McLain and Don Wert from the ’68 championship team. All three played a big part in the Tigers making it to the American League Championship Series in 1972. Eddie set an American League record in 1972 by playing in 72 straight errorless games (Mike Bordick of the Orioles most recently set the record at 110 games in 2002).

He was a high school teammate of Pete Rose at Western Hills High School in Cincinnati. Their coach said that Rose was a good player, “but no Brinkman.” After a stellar high school career, Eddie got the Senators to cough up a $75,000 bonus when he signed, which was a decent chunk of change for a ballplayer in 1961.

Rose, meanwhile, went largely unnoticed and ended up playing for an amateur league in Dayton, Ohio, after using up his high school eligibility. If his uncle hadn’t been a roving scout for the Reds, Rose might have never made it into professional baseball. The Reds gave him a miniscule payment to sign with them, and Ed later joked that Rose told him that “the Senators brought me my bonus in an armored truck. Pete said he had cashed his at the corner store.”

Ed was traded to the Cardinals as part of a three-way trade after the 1974 season in the deal that brought Padres’ slugger Nate Colbert to Detroit. He only played 24 games for St. Louis before they traded him to Texas – which is where the Washington franchise moved in 1971. He played just one game for the Rangers before the Yankees bought his contract in June of 1975. He’d had back problems for several years, and this limited him to just 44 games for the Bombers before he hung it up for good at the age of 33.

Ed played in an era where being a shortstop was primarily a defensive position; any hitting you got out of the position was a bonus. In 1,846 games, Ed hit .226 with 60 home runs, 461 RBI, and 30 stolen bases. He was later a minor league manager, coach, and scout for the Tigers and the White Sox before retiring from baseball in 2000.

His younger brother, Chuck, also played major league baseball as a catcher for the White Sox from 1969 to 1974, hitting .172 with one home run and 12 RBI in 149 games.

Ed Brinkman died in his hometown of Cincinnati on September 30, 2008, from heart disease. He was 66 years old.