Tag Archives: Obscure Athletes

Obscure Spotlight: Deivi Cruz

Obscure Athletes

deivicruz Deivi (Day-Vee) Cruz is one of those oft-forgotten Steroid Era singles hitters. I have a feeling that if Cruz played today, he would be much less obscure than he was during his Major League playing days, which lasted from 1997-2005. He was last seen suiting up for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League in 2006.

Cruz was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Giants in 1993. He was selected by the Dodgers in the Minor League Draft in 1996, and was immediately flipped to the Tigers later that day, December 9. For some reason, Detroit was the only team that wanted Cruz, and it was for the Tigers that Cruz debuted in 1997.

That year Cruz sprung onto the scene, appearing in 154 games for the Tigers in his rookie season. He played both shortstop and second base, two positions between which he flipped throughout…

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Obscure Spotlight: Vincent Brisby

Obscure Athletes

brisby Vincent “Ultimate” Brisby was one of the pre-eminent figures of the Patriots teams I grew up watching, which threw the ball around the sandlot before all the cool kids were doing it. These Parcells-led, Bledsoe-quarterbacked teams, however, were always in the hunt for greatness but never broke through to win it all.

Parcells’ first draft at the helm of New England was in 1993, and he picked Bledsoe with the first overall selection. The Pats had three second-rounders, and with the 56th pick, the last of the second round, they went with Brisby. A Houston native, Vincent went to UL-Monroe (then known as Northeast Louisiana), where he stood out, though the school was small and relatively unsuccessful.

Brisby’s best seasons came in 1994-95, his second and third seasons in the league, respectively. In 1995 he started all 16 games for the Patriots, catching 66 passes for 974 yards, along with…

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Obscure Spotlight: Mark Redman

Obscure Athletes

markredman In July of 2006, one of the hottest debates in baseball focused on the perennially last-place Kansas City Royals. The team was back in the cellar, and with the All-Star break approaching, the question became: Do we REALLY need every team represented on the damn All-Star team? Who could possibly go to PNC Park to rep the Royals?

Usually, even bad teams have SOMEBODY who can be reasonably considered an All-Star. Not the ’06 Royals. Instead they sent Mr. Mark Redman, a lefty pitcher who, with a 6-4 record at the Break, was the only Royals starter with a winning record. Just how bad of an All Star was Redman? The cursory numbers don’t do justice to the horrifying nature of this man being an All Star.  At the ’06 break, Redman had a 5.27 ERA, and a perfectly bad 32-32 BB/SO ratio. Opposing batters had a .354 on-base percentage…

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Obscure Spotlight: Robert Person

Obscure Athletes

robertperson Pitcher Robert Person had a MONSTER game at the plate once. On June 2, 2002, playing for the Phillies, he had a 2-home run, 7 RBI game, including a grand slam. Amazingly, he would have hit two grand slams that day, and collected 11 RBI if the wind at Veterans Stadium had been  a little different. Person’s improbable outing came in his first start after missing a month with an elbow injury.

Despite his home run-hitting prowess, Person was an average MLB pitcher, who could have been excellent if not for a series of nagging injuries. He was born in Lowell, MA, and drafted out of the University of Arkansas by the Indians in 1989. He was picked by the Marlins in the 1992 Expansion Draft, but didn’t make his debut until 1995 for the Mets.

As a Met, Person only played parts of two seasons, before New York traded…

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The Opportunist: Wally Szczerbiak’s NBA Career

szczerbiaAs the Sweet 16 boils down to the Elite Eight, I’d like to turn your attention to a man who turned his knack for striking while the iron’s hot into a decade-plus-long NBA career. It was during the tournament in 1999, when Wally Szczerbiak stormed onto the national scene. His Miami, Ohio RedHawks were the 10 seed, facing the heavily-favored, seventh seeded Washington Huskies.

In a 59-58 win over Washington, Szczerbiak scored a remarkable 43 points. He took 33 shots from the field–the rest of the Red Hawks attempted just 22 shots. He collected 12 boards and shot 5-12 from three-point land. The team advanced to the second round, where they took on the 2-seeded Utah Utes.

It was a showdown featuring Szczerbiak versus Utah’s future NBA sharpshooter Andre Miller. Miller did his best, scoring 20 points and grabbing six rebounds, but it was Miami of Ohio, behind Szczerbiak’s 24-point, 8-rebound effort, continuing their Cinderella run to the Sweet 16. Miami finally lost to Kentucky, but Wally Szczerbiak became a household name (once households learned how to pronounce it).

Wally went sixth overall to the Timberwolves  in that year’s draft. His tourney foe Andre Miller went eighth. After an impressive rookie season, two more solid years followed for Szczerbiak, including his 2002 campaign–his best as a pro. He made his lone All-Star game appearance in 2002 for the T-Wolves. And that off-season, seeing what they had in Szczerbiak, Minnesota decided they NEEDED to keep Wally in the Twin Cities, so they gave him a 6-year, $63 million extension, the structure of which was heavily back-loaded.

Six  years and several teams later, Szczerbiak was one of the richest bench players in the NBA and an annual member of the NBA’s All-Expiring-Contract team, the players of which are constantly on tour throughout the land, and whom are traded mid-season almost every year (See: Raef LaFrentz). He was somewhat famously involved in the trade that sent Ray Allen to the Celtics, as he moved to Seattle before their final season as the SuperSonics in 2007-08.

He now works in broadcasting, as a member of the MSG network post-game crew for Knicks games. In total, Szczerbiak played parts of twelve seasons in the NBA, and was a pretty good player (14.1 PPG). But he always carried the “ridiculously overpaid” moniker. I say he was simply one of the most opportunistic players the game has ever seen. It’s good work, as they say, if ya can get it.

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OA Podcast Episode 6

Obscure Athletes

What is this nonsense? What is this nonsense?

Today on the Obscure Athletes Podcast, we talk about dual-purpose NFL-MLB stadiums, the Raiders’ quest to build the 2008 Super Bowl Championship team, and the Sixers’ bid at losing streak history. Two days late, but twice as great, today is episode six of the Obscure Athletes Podcast!

Click here to listen to OBSCURE ATHLETES PODCAST EPISODE 6

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Obscure Spotlight: Bo Outlaw

Obscure Athletes

booutlaw Sometimes Bo Outlaw had his goggles on, and sometimes he had them off, resting on his forehead. Either way, the guy couldn’t hit two free throws in a row to save his life. But that’s okay because Outlaw is one of the toughest basketball players I’ve ever seen. Dude was pure grit and hustle, and we love him here at OA.

Outlaw, primarily a power forward, went to the University of Houston, where his defensive tenacity and NCAA-leading .684 Field Goal percentage during his senior season earned him Southwest Conference Player of the Year honors. Despite his college performance, Outlaw went undrafted following his 1993 senior year, and had to take a less-conventional route to the NBA.

Undeterred from chasing his dream after being first shut out by the NBA, Outlaw signed on with the Grand Rapids Hoops of the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association. There he played an impressive half-season…

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