Friday, October 17, 2008

#493 Tigers Rookie Stars: Bill Roman and Bruce Brubaker

Tigers' Rookies by you.
Back-to-back rookie cards at the end of the week! Today we go to Motown and find one legitimate Tigers cap and one pretty sneaky airbrush. Well, not so much "sneaky" as "crap on a stick, they even airbrushed his face!". Poor Bruce.

First baseman Bill Roman is another Detroit native - seems like we've had a run on them lately - and a product of the University of Michigan. The Tigers signed him in 1960, and he climbed steadily through their system with a .289 batting average through 1964. At the very end of that season, he appeared in three games with the big league club. He socked a pinch hit home run against the Yankees' Jim Bouton in his very first at bat, and added two hits in his first career start the next Saturday. The following year, Bill broke camp with the Tigers but failed to get a hit in eighteen at-bats through May 9. That got him a quick ticket out of town, and he wasn't summoned again until September. Thankfully, he singled in his first at-bat to end his skein. But he was used sparingly, notching just two totals hits in nine at-bats that Fall and finishing at .074 with no RBI. Unsurprisingly, Roman's career stat line ends right there, at age twenty-six.

Fun fact: Bill was the fourth Tiger ever to homer in his first at-bat. Two others have followed, with first baseman Reggie Sanders being the last to accomplish the feat (9/1/1974).

As for pitcher Bruce Brubaker, his career was even more sparse than Roman's. The righthander signed with the Milwaukee Braves as a teenager in 1959, but passed through four organizations (twice being selected in the Rule 5 draft) in eight seasons before debuting with the Dodgers on April 15, 1967. I mention the exact date because it was the only game the then-25-year-old pitched in the majors that year...or the year after...or the year after that. He mopped up in a lopsided loss against the Cardinals, but didn't so much mop up as fan the flames, serving up a three-run home run to Lou Brock to put the exclamation point on a 13-4 drubbing. Bruce would pitch the second - and final - game of his major league career for the brand new Milwaukee Brewers on August 5 (my birthday!), 1970. He again came in to cough up a few runs at the end of a loss, surrendering a two-run dinger to Chicago's Syd O'Brien in a 9-3 defeat. Though Brubaker had just two games and a 13.50 ERA to show for his thirteen years of toil in the minors, he's had a colorful post-baseball career. According to always-trustworthy Wikipedia, the ex-pitcher owns a car dealership in Owensboro, Kentucky and writes a weekly sports trivia column called "I Betcha Didn't Know" in the local Messenger-Inquirer. I'd love to link to it, but apparently the paper's website is only accessible if you're a dead-tree subscriber. Go figure.

I Betcha Didn't Know: Bruce Brubaker had as many career games pitched (two) as he had Topps baseball cards. He also appeared on 1967 Topps #276, as a hatless Dodger.
Tigers' Rookies (back) by you.


  1. Yes, a hatless, and hairless Dodger. I picked up his '67 card not long ago, but I never noticed that he'd only pitched in 2 MLB games.

  2. Yeah, I looked up his card on eBay last night...that is one unflattering photo!