Cardboard Tigers: Bailey, Cabell, Casanova

Fifth in an occasional series. Collect ’em all!

I’m working through a stack of Tigers baseball cards from the late 1960s and early 1970s, with occasional newer cards, such as the ones featured today.

Howard Bailey – Topps 1984 #284

Howard Bailey was a Michigan kid who grew up to play for the Tigers in 1981 through 1983. Born in Grand Haven in 1957, he pitched at Grand Valley State College in Allendale in the seventies, then was signed by Detroit as an undrafted free agent in 1978. He worked his way up through the farm system, compiling a rather unimpressive record highlighted by his 1980 season with the Montgomery Rebels (AA), where he went 12-12 with a 3.44 ERA and 132 strikeouts in 186 innings.

He spent parts of the 1981 and 1982 seasons with the big club before sticking around for the entire 1983 season, appearing in 33 games (including 3 starts) with a 5-5 record and a 4.88 ERA.

In the Tigers’ championship year of 1984, Howard was back in Evansville, where he got off to an 0-8 start with an inflated ERA of 6.47, which got him a ticket back to Montgomery, where he finished his pro career with 18 ineffective games. At that point, it appears he’d lost his control, racking up a WHIP of 1.846 between the two farm teams.

Enos Cabell – Topps 1984 #482

Enos Cabell had already spent ten seasons in the big leagues with Baltimore (1972-74), Houston (1975-80), and San Francisco (1980) before coming to Detroit in 1981. Enos was an above-average hitter who could play either corner infield spot and also do spot work in the outfield if needed. I remember him as a building block on Sparky Anderson’s early eighties teams that were working their way into contention, and always felt a little bad that he didn’t get to be part of the World Series champion team in 1984 when the Tigers granted him free agency after the ’83 season.

This is his 1984 Topps card, but he’d already re-signed with the Astros. He played parts of two seasons with Houston before being traded to the Dodgers in 1985 where he finished his career.

Enos was one of seven players who were suspended by Major League Baseball before the 1986 season for using cocaine. The suspension was lifted when the players agreed to make donations to anti-drug groups and perform community service. He played his last season in L.A., hitting .256 in 298 at-bats and still playing all three outfield positions, first and third base, and pinch hitting, all at the age of 36.

He finished with a .277 average, with 1,647 hits, 596 RBI, and 238 stolen bases. Not bad for a guy who Bill James infamously stated “can’t play baseball” in his 1983 Baseball Abstract.

These days, Enos is a special assistant to Astros’ general manager James Click.

Raúl Casanova – Omega 1998 #87

Frankly, I don’t remember Raúl Casanova at all. Not just in Detroit, but at all. The late 1990s and early 2000s were kind of my dark period for baseball, though. I was fed up with the steroid nonsense and the Tigers were, as we’d prefer not to remember, lousy. And they were working to abandon Tiger Stadium for a new place downtown. So I was kinda checked out on them for a few years, which is apparently when Raúl showed up.

Raúl made his major league debut with the 1996 Tigers, who finished 53-109 under Buddy Bell in what was also Randy Smith’s first season as general manager. He played three seasons with Detroit, backing up Brad Ausmus in ’96, starting the majority of games at catcher in ’97, and then backing up the immortal Paul Bako in ’98. He then bounced around for six more major league seasons with the Brewers, Orioles, White Sox, Devil Rays, and Mets.

Raúl’s Wikipedia entry says that he “was a catcher from 1996 to 2008 with the exception of 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2006.” Those are pretty big exceptions, really. Sort of like “He was there except when he wasn’t, which was about a third of the time.”

The final insult came in 2008, when the Mets put him on the bereavement list to attend the funeral of his father in Puerto Rico. When he returned, they designated him for assignment, ending his career. This is yet another in a long list of reasons why the New York Mets suck.

I have no idea what Raúl is up to these days. He’s only 48, so I hope he’s healthy and enjoying life.

Even if I don’t really remember him at all.