When you see some of the last names – Bonilla, Segura and Sizemore – you could easily mistake the 1993 Lethbridge Mounties for a team loaded with talent.
Alas, they were neither a good team, nor was their roster stacked with players who would go on to do great things in Major League Baseball (MLB).
Be that as it may, sometimes you have to just go with the hand you’ve been dealt. In this case, the cards on the table feature a squad that went just 29-44 in the Pioneer League. Only one of the players would suit up in the major leagues after graduating from this rookie-level team.
As for the baseball cards, it’s a fairly standard issue from
Fleer ProCards. The fact that the posed images of the fellas in pinstripes all depict a member of the team crouched down on one knee – in this case, the same knee each time! – is a new level of uninspired photography. The back of the cards, meanwhile, include biographical information and statistics, but very little in the way of interesting tidbits about each person.
But you’ve read this far, so let’s see if we can find some sort of trivia from this group that would make for good baseball banter.
Time, yet again, for another edition of
In The Cards:
Pitcher Miguel Bonilla (top left) was the ace of the Lethbridge staff. The Dominican logged more innings (106.2) than any other Mounties hurler in 1993 and five of his 15 starts were complete games. The youngest of 15 children, Bonilla finished the season with a 4-8 record, a 2.87 ERA and 59 strikeouts. The right-hander’s repertoire included a two-seam sinker, changeup, four-seam fastball, slider and curveball. “I like Canadians,” Bonilla told the Lethbridge Herald. “People in Canada don’t seem to be bothered by whether you’re black or white or Hispanic.” Bonilla didn’t climb the ranks of the minor leagues as a player, but he went on to work as a pitching coach for the Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League and the Pirates of the Gulf Coast League for several seasons.
John Dillinger (top right) was another effective member of the rotation. The Pennsylvania product, a 20th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992, made 15 starts for the Mounties and went 3-10 with a 3.92 ERA. Over 80.1 innings, Dillinger struck out 94 batters. He also registered three complete games. Not to be confused with that other John Dillinger – the infamous bank robber, who also played professional baseball – the pitcher made it to the Triple-A level, but he never cracked a major-league roster.
Ray Solomon (bottom right) was a useful arm out of the bullpen. The Windsor, Ontario native appeared in 23 games and posted a 3.60 ERA. During his 30 innings with Lethbridge, he went 2-2 with three saves and 23 Ks. In 1994, Solomon moved on to the Erie Sailors of the independent Frontier League, where he recorded a 4-2 record, a 2.73 ERA and 25 strikeouts through 33 frames. His playing days ended after that season.
Lefty Shawn Ohman (middle left) played independent baseball for a couple of seasons after he moved away from Lethbridge. The 6-foot-4 pitcher went a perfect 6-0 for the Regina Cyclones, with a 3.00 ERA and two complete games, during the 1994 season. With the Mounties, the Minnesota-born player posted a 3-4 record with a 4.46 ERA. He also collected 68 Ks in 78.2 Pioneer League innings.
Outfielder Anthony Bonifazio (bottom left), of Nevada, was never a blue-chip prospect, but the Florida Marlins bet on the multi-sport athlete when they made him a 29th-round selection in the 1992 MLB draft. The grandson of well-known Korean musicians, Bonifazio appeared in 25 games for the Mounties. He smacked a pair of long balls for Lethbridge but only batted .169 in 77 at bats. Bonifazio’s father, who went by the abbreviated name John Boni, was the vice-president of the Sahara hotel in Las Vegas. He put his son into sports to keep him away from casinos. After baseball, Bonifazio teamed up with 1995 American League (AL) Rookie of the Year Marty Cordova – a fellow Bishop Gorman High School alum – on a jewelry business called Skeletal Metal.
Shortstop Juan Segura (middle right) was the best hitter on the Mounties, putting up a .306 batting average in 242 at bats. The product of the Dominican Republic led Lethbridge in doubles, with 13, and the painful hit-by-pitch category, after he was plunked nine times. Segura also contributed 25 RBI, 33 runs and four stolen bases in his 66 games of rookie pro ball. Just 19 years old when he came to Alberta, Segura spoke very little English, requiring the assistance of an interpreter to do media interviews. He described himself as “just an average hitter” in the Lethbridge Herald, adding he was thankful for the opportunity to play baseball professionally.
As the lone MLB player on the team, Adrian Brown (top right) was the most successful graduate of the Mounties. The McComb, Mississippi outfielder – who also suited up for the Calgary Cannons in 1997 – played 447 in the majors over nine seasons. Most of his big-league time was with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he also worked briefly for the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals. The outfielder’s MLB totals include: 166 runs, 11 home runs, 86 RBI, 45 stolen bases and a career .258 batting average. Brown led the Mounties in stolen bases, swiping 22 bags in 1993, but he may not have even been the best outfielder named Brown on that Lethbridge squad. Willie Brown (top middle) topped the Mounties in home runs (16) and RBI (44).
Outfielder and first baseman Pat Lussier (middle right) provided some Canadian content for the Henderson Stadium crowds. The Montreal-born slugger played 51 games in the Pioneer League, launching five home runs while batting .293 for the Mounties. He stayed in Canada after the 1993 campaign, signing on with the Regina Cyclones over the next two years.
Cuban-born coach Juan Bustabad (right) was a first-round bust of the Boston Red Sox, taken in the second phase of the 1980 MLB draft. Although he never broke through to the bigs, the infielder did play 351 games at the Triple-A level. Bustabad also put together a very good coaching and managerial career when his playing days were done. He was named the Midwest League Manager of the Year in 2010 and followed that up as the California League Manager of the Year in 2011.
Pitching coach Bill Sizemore (middle) worked in the Seattle Mariners, Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates organizations. In addition to coaching, he also worked as a scout. As a player, Sizemore won two national championships with Cal State Stanislaus in the 1970s.
Thanks for viewing our latest set of Alberta baseball cards. Let us know what you think about the players and cards in the comments below.
Many thanks, as well, to follower
Larry Leach, who sent these cards our way so we could share them with you!
We are in the process of developing an online digital archive of Alberta baseball card sets with this
In The Cards series. If you have baseball cards you’d like to donate – or lend – to our cause, please email us at AlbertaDugoutStories@gmail.com with more information.