In The Cards: 1986 Edmonton Trappers

By IAN WILSON

As a team, the Edmonton Trappers didn’t accomplish a great deal in 1986.

The Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL) squad went 68-73 in front of 229,682 fans at John Ducey Park that season, falling short of a postseason berth.

That said, the primary purpose of minor-league baseball teams has never been about winning championships. Player development and converting young athletes into Major League Baseball (MLB) talent has always been the underlying goal of these feeder squads. In that regard, this Trappers team had plenty of success stories.

Before we look at some of those notable graduates, we should mention a few things about this set of cards. The design and posed photos on the front are very basic, but there is something endearing about those Trappers caps, jerseys and the logo, so keeping it simple works here.

The back of this ProCards collection, however, is weak. First off, it’s not a numbered set and there’s no checklist, so here’s hoping we’re actually playing with a full deck here. Second, it’s a bit too basic and light on information. Some cards include nothing more than a name and position, giving the item the look of a name tag more than a baseball card.

Let’s break things down a bit further in this edition of our In The Cards series:

20200710_082347
Starting pitcher Ray Chadwick (top right) has remained a familiar face in ball diamonds across Western Canada. The North Carolina product made his MLB debut with the California Angels in 1986, the only year he would crack a major league roster. In 27.1 innings for the big club, Chadwick went 0-5 with a 7.24 ERA. It was a rough go during those seven MLB starts, but the 16th-round selection in the 1983 draft was a solid performer for the Trappers, going 17-20 between 1985 and 1987. He also played parts of two seasons with the Vancouver Canadians before calling it quits after the 1990 campaign. Chadwick went into coaching after that and he has been a long-time skipper with the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Wolfpack of the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC).¬† Chadwick’s Trapper teammate, Robert Bastian (top left), has an interesting card. The fellow fixture in Edmonton’s rotation opted to go for a photo posing with a bat, which you see hurlers do from time to time. But what’s going on with those mismatched sweatpants? Or are those shorts? ProCards also spelled his last name wrong, so this card is a bit of an adventure. Bastian was in his last season of pro ball when the picture was taken. Unlike Chadwick, he never made it to the big leagues but in two seasons and nearly 300 innings with the Trappers, Bastian went 14-24 with a 4.59 ERA.
20200710_082456
Every night at John Ducey Park was a doubleheader with the Cliburn brothers in Edmonton’s lineup. Identical twins Stew (middle right) and Stan Cliburn (centre) formed a rare battery for the Trappers. Stan, the catcher, played 54 games for the Angels in 1980, batting .179 with two long balls that year. Stew, meanwhile, cracked the majors as a relief pitcher for the Angels between 1984 and 1988. He went 13-5 with a 3.11 ERA and six saves in 185 innings of MLB play. Stan had a decent season for the Trappers in 1986, batting .267 with nine homers and 35 RBI in 80 contests. Stew, however, developed tendinitis that year. He appeared in 20 games for Edmonton but required surgery at the end of the season. The brothers from Jackson, Mississippi both played multiple seasons for the Trappers, and they stuck together in baseball after their playing days came to an end. The Cliburns ascended the minor-league ranks, yet again, as coaches with¬† … you guessed it … the Twins organization.
20200710_082605
Southpaw Tony Fossas (top left) was edging closer to a 14-year MLB career when he made his way to Edmonton for the 1986 and 1987 seasons. The Cuban appeared in 47 games for the Trappers over those two years – 22 of those were starts. He went 9-11 in that time. The left-handed specialist suited up for seven different major-league squads – including the Milwaukee Brewers, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals – between 1988 and 1999. The 12th-round pick of the Texas Rangers in the 1979 draft pitched over 400 MLB innings, recording a 17-24 record, seven saves and a 3.90 ERA.
20200710_082708
Outfielder Rufino Linares was on the down slope of his playing career when he made his way to Alberta’s provincial capital in the mid-1980s. The Dominican’s 207 MLB games were in the rearview mirror in 1986, including his 11 home runs, his 15 stolen bases and his career .270 batting average. Linares played 183 games for the Trappers in 1985 and 1986. He produced 23 home runs, 15 triples and 119 RBI in that span. Sadly, the former Atlanta Brave passed away in a motor-vehicle collision in Santo Domingo in 1998 at the age of 47.
20200710_082814
Devon White (bottom right) was featured on the card you wanted to own from this set. The speedy centre fielder was one of the best players to put on a Trapper uniform, and he took his game to a whole other level in the majors. Devo’s resume speaks for itself – three-time MLB all star, three-time World Series champion and seven-time Gold Glove winner. White played 192 games for the Trappers between 1985 and 1990, with the last 14 of those matchups setting the stage for his departure from the California Angels to the Toronto Blue Jays. If you were lucky enough to see him sprint around the outfield in Edmonton, you had a pretty good idea of how good he was going to be.
20200710_082918
Infielder Gus Polidor (middle left) was well-known to Trapper fans. The undrafted free agent signing of the California Angels played a total of 334 games for Edmonton, including 72 with the Trappers in his last professional season of baseball in 1993. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 1995 when Polidor was shot and killed in his hometown of Caracas, Venezuela while trying to protect his son.

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

We are continuing to work on the creation of 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.

print

Leave a Reply