In The Cards: 1981 Edmonton Trappers

By IAN WILSON

Here we have the inaugural edition of the Edmonton Trappers, who were brought to the city from Ogden, Utah.

Peter Pocklington, the owner of the Oilers of the National Hockey League (NHL), purchased the Triple-A team and relocated it in time for the 1981 Pacific Coast League (PCL) season.

The Chicago White Sox affiliate went 62-74 that first year, well out of the playoff picture. The Trappers did, however, draw 187,501 fans to John Ducey Park, proving there was an appetite for high-calibre baseball in Alberta.

Edmonton had plenty of Major League Baseball (MLB) talent on its roster, but the team lacked true star power in its introductory campaign.

Who cares when you look this good though, right? Sporting lids that look like they could melt in the acid rain (it was a thing in the 1980s, you can look it up) and pin-striped uniforms that might just be the sharpest looking pyjamas you’ve ever seen, the Trappers had that Leo Chavalier look of a winner.

Of course, it’s only fitting that Red Rooster convenience stores – another classic staple of the ’80s – gave us this 24-card set. The photography is a step above Polaroid quality, and there is ample player information, including stats and interesting tidbits, on the back of each card. So, yes, I would love some Trappers baseball cards to go with my 14-ounce Slush Puppie.

Let’s rewind things, yet again, for another edition of In The Cards. Behold the Trappers in all their glory:

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First baseman/designated hitter Gary Holle (top left) was the best hitter on the team, leading the Trappers in home runs (26), batting average (.327) and on-base percentage (.397). The New Yorker, who got a taste of MLB life during a five-game, pinch-hitting cameo with the Texas Rangers in 1979, was playing in his final season of professional baseball in 1981. Holle switched sports and became the general manager of the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association. The Patroons won a championship in 1984 under legendary hoops coach Phil Jackson.
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Pitcher Juan Agosto (centre) was a force out of the bullpen for the Trappers, appearing in 48 games and chucking 120 innings for Edmonton. The Puerto Rican posted a 7-10 record, with a 3.90 earned run average (ERA) and seven saves in 1981. Agosto went on to play 15 MLB seasons for five different teams before winding down his playing career with the Calgary Cannons in 1996.
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Leo Sutherland (middle right) led the team in stolen bases, with 51. In 123 games and 466 at bats for Edmonton, Sutherland hit .277 with 63 runs and 43 RBI. The Cuban-born outfielder played a total of 45 games with the Chicago White Sox in 1980 and 1981, and finished his pro career as a member of the Trappers in the 1982 season.
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Lefty Rich Barnes (top left) was one of the youngest pitchers on the team, and he was a workhorse, logging more innings than any other Trapper that year. In his 163 frames, the 6-foot-4 Florida product went 13-8 with a 4.75 ERA and 80 Ks. The second-round pick of the White Sox returned to Edmonton for another season in 1982. Barnes ended up appearing in 10 games – four of them starts – for the White Sox and the Cleveland Indians, posting a 1-3 record with a 5.74 ERA.
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Pitcher Reggie Patterson (middle right) made 20 starts for Edmonton, putting in 136 innings of work. The Albama righthander led the Trappers in complete games, with six, and recorded a 3.31 ERA while combining 10 wins with eight losses. Patterson made his MLB debut on Aug. 13, 1981, giving up 11 earned runs in 7.1 innings for the White Sox. He returned to Edmonton in 1982 but would never pitch for the White Sox again. Instead, he played parts of three seasons for their cross-town rivals, the Chicago Cubs and their Triple-A affiliate in Iowa. Patterson, who was robbed and shot while he was in Venezuela for winter ball, gave up the hit to Pete Rose that broke the all-time hit record that formerly belonged to Ty Cobb.
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Second baseman Jay Loviglio (bottom left) had a solid campaign for the Trap, batting .299 with 11 homers, 71 runs and 57 RBI in 113 contests. The New Yorker managed to suit up in 46 MLB games for the Philadelphia Phillies, White Sox and Cubs. When his playing career ended, Loviglio became a minor-league manager and hitting coach, as well as an infield instructor for the Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As always, thanks for looking through the cardboard collectibles with us! We invite you to leave a comment about the players and cards below.

The photos for this gallery are courtesy of the operator of the Twitter account @EDM_BASEBALLFAN. A tip of the cap to that Edmonton baseball booster for sharing pictures of his cards with us!

We are seeking to create an online digital archive of Alberta baseball card sets with our In The Cards series. If you have baseball cards you’d like to donate – or lend – to the cause, please email us at AlbertaDugoutStories@gmail.com with more information and to make arrangements.

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