In The Cards: 1995 Edmonton Trappers

By IAN WILSON

The Edmonton Trappers made the best of their time at John Ducey Park in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Originally built in 1933, the ball diamond served the provincial capital well over the decades. The addition of bleachers boosted capacity to over 6,000 fans and the Trappers worked hard to make it a Triple-A quality facility. Yet, despite renovations, the Pacific Coast League (PCL) club longed for a new stadium.

Team president Mel Kowalchuk could only dream about the record-breaking attendance potential of the squad when Fernando Valenzuela played for Edmonton in 1991.

But in 1995, his dream came true. John Ducey Park was torn down and replaced by a 10,000-seat stadium along the North Saskatchewan River. The ballpark, dubbed “Son of Ducey” by Edmonton Journal columnist Cam Cole, would take the name Telus Field in the fall.

Players and coaches on the Trappers, meanwhile, didn’t care what it was called. Neither did the fans. They were just happy to have a state-of-the-art building to go play and watch baseball at.

The stadium didn’t translate into instant on-field success for the team, which went 68-76 in 1995 and failed to qualify for the postseason. But the Trappers did win back-to-back championships in 1996 and 1997, followed by another PCL title in 2002.

The new digs did, however, give rise to annual attendance figures that smashed the 400,000 mark for the first time. Edmonton saw their overall crowds jump from 272,631 in 1994 (ninth in the PCL) to 426,012 in 1995 (good for second in the league). An exhibition matchup between the Tony La Russa-led Oakland Athletics and the Trappers at the end of July also helped put butts in the seats that season. The 1996 attendance number reached 463,684, which was the best year for crowds in franchise history.

Before we get to know some of the players and staff from that 1995 team, let’s give a quick critique of this 30-card set – produced by Edmonton’s Macri Photographic Design – that is featured in this edition of In The Cards. While the images are static and don’t feature any action shots, the picture quality is quite good. The photos are sharp and you can easily make out the faces in these casual poses. The design on the front is simple, with the team logo, name and position at the bottom. The back of each cardboard cutout provides a pleasant design that includes biographical info, statistical data and an interesting tidbit or two about each person. All in all, it’s a nice looking set that has stood the test of time.

Onto the players and coaches …

Third baseman Jason Giambi (bottom left) is the star of this set, but in Edmonton he had yet to establish himself as the homer-smashing star he would become in Major League Baseball (MLB). The Oakland Athletics must have liked what they saw in him, though, because the second-rounder split time evenly with the A’s and the Trappers in 1995. During his 55 games with Edmonton, the Californian posted a robust .342 batting average and a .441 on-base percentage. In those 190 at bats, he also picked up 26 doubles, 34 runs, 41 runs batted in (RBI), while registering just three long balls. Giambi never looked back after leaving the Trappers. The 6-foot-3 corner infielder was well on his way to stardom with the Athletics and the New York Yankees. Giambi was named the American League (AL) MVP in 2000 and the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2005. He was also a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner. By the time his 21-year MLB career wrapped up, Giambi had a .277 batting average, 1,441 RBI and 440 home runs.
Outfielder Scott Bryant (middle) was a key cog in the Trapper offense in 1995. The Texan clubbed 10 long balls and finished third on the squad in RBI production, with 69. Bryant appeared in 119 games in his lone season with Edmonton, during which time he led the team in doubles (33) and batted .288. The 20th overall pick of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1989 amateur entry draft never did make it to the majors, despite playing six seasons at the Triple-A level. His best season of professional baseball came in 1994 with Edmonton’s provincial rivals, the Calgary Cannons. During that campaign, Bryant set career highs in homers (20), RBI (87), runs (69) and batting average (.320). He also smacked home runs in five straight games for the Cannons. The Texas Longhorns retired Bryant’s No. 25 in 2009 and he still owns a number of hitting records at the university.
There was another Scott in the outfield who helped pace team hitting, as well. Scott Lydy (top middle) led the Trappers in home runs (16) and runs scored (78). He also finished second in doubles (29) and stolen bases (15), while batting .290 and chipping in 65 RBI. That’s a pretty nice year for the Arizona product. By the time he arrived in the Alberta capital, the 6-foot-5 slugger had already achieved his dream of playing in the big leagues. Lydy’s only taste of MLB action came in 1993, when he suited up in 41 games and had 102 at bats for the Athletics. He batted .225 with five doubles, two homers, a pair of stolen bases, 11 runs and seven RBI for Oakland. Lydy played in Japan for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks in 1996 and continued playing minor-league baseball and independent ball through 2007.
Pitcher Doug Johns (top left) was the most effective arm in the rotation, going 9-5 with a 3.41 earned run average (ERA) in 23 games and 132 innings for the Trappers. That led to his first MLB callup, which saw the lefty post a 5-3 record with a 4.61 ERA in 11 games for the A’s. The Indiana-born hurler entered the 1995 season as the PCL’s reigning leader in ERA and opposition batting average. The southpaw limited opposing hitters to a .234 average and put up a 2.89 ERA with the Tacoma Tigers in 1994. The 16th-rounder ended up pitching in four MLB seasons with Oakland and the Baltimore Orioles, collecting 20 wins, two complete games and 180 Ks in his 386 innings. His playing career ended in ignominious fashion when he was arrested on marijuana-related charges in 1999.
Manager Gary Jones (bottom middle) was as much of a rising star as any of the players on his roster when he came to Edmonton. The former Chicago White Sox draft pick was named the Midwest League Manager of the Year in 1991 and the Southern League Manager of the Year in 1994, when he led the Huntsville Stars to a title. Jones skippered the Trappers to consecutive PCL championships in 1996 and 1997 before joining the Athletics as a first base coach in 1998. More minor-league managerial gigs followed, as did MLB postings. Jones was the minor league field coordinator for the Boston Red Sox in 2002, and the minor league infield coordinator for the San Diego Padres in 2007. The Texan served as the third base coach for the Chicago Cubs from 2014 through 2017 (picking up a World Series ring along the way). More recently, he has returned to the Triple-A level, working as the manager of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the top affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
John Wasdin (top middle) was the workhorse of the pitching staff. The righthander led the Trappers in innings pitched (174.1), game starts (28), wins (12), and strikeouts (111). All that time on the mound may have taken its toll, however, as Wasdin also conceded the most homers in the PCL (26) and got lit up for 193 hits and 107 earned runs. The first-round pick of the Athletics was rewarded with a trip to the big leagues in 1995, nonetheless. He went a respectable 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA during five outings for Oakland that season. The Florida State University graduate returned to Edmonton in 1996 and assembled a 2-1 record and a 4.14 ERA, to go with 30 Ks in 50 innings and nine starts. He once again pitched for Oakland that season, but was traded to the Boston Red Sox on Jan. 27, 1997 in exchange for Jose Canseco. He spent four years in the Red Sox organization, bouncing between the minors and the big club and earning the dubious title of “Way Back Wasdin” for his propensity for giving up home runs. Despite such adversity, Wasdin continued to take the mound in the minor leagues, in Japan and for other MLB clubs. In total, he pitched 793.3 major-league innings and recorded a 39-39 record with a 5.28 ERA. He surrendered 135 homers in 328 games. From 2017 to 2019, he worked as the minor league pitching coordinator and bullpen coach for the Baltimore Orioles.
Orv Franchuk (middle) needs little introduction in Alberta baseball circles. But in case you’re in the dark about his achievements, here are some of the highlights. Franchuk suited up at Pepperdine University until a torn Achilles tendon ended his playing career in his senior year. He scouted for the Cincinnati Reds and California Angels in the 1970s and 1980s before taking on a hitting coach role with the Angels. That was the title he held with the Trappers from 1995 through 1997. He kept working in the Oakland A’s organization as a roving hitting instructor and catching coordinator until 2002, when the Albertan managed the Vancouver Canadians. Franchuk then moved on to the Red Sox organization, where he was their minor league hitting coordinator from 2003 to 2006. That stint earned him a World Series ring. Franchuk continued coaching and returned to Edmonton in 2011, where he managed the Capitals of the independent North American League to a championship title. Even more coaching gigs followed, including posts with the Chattanooga Lookouts and Northwest Nazarene University. Alberta kept calling him home, however. In 2014, Franchuk returned to Edmonton to coach the Prospects of the Western Major Baseball League. He was with the Prospects until 2018. Franchuk is a member of the Edmonton Sports Hall of Fame.
Whatever pop second baseman Paul Faries (left) lacked in his bat, he was a useful part of the batting lineup in 1995. The Californian was able to roam the base paths with some regularity, due to his .300 batting average and .351 on-base percentage. Another Pepperdine University alum, Faries also stole 14 bases and scored 67 runs in 117 games for the Trappers. His speed and ability to put barrels on baseballs helped Faries get to the majors, where he played 96 games for the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giantes between 1990 and 1993. Faries played over 800 Triple-A games and he was named a member of the Pepperdine University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.

Thanks for flipping through the cards with us – we urge you to leave a comment about the players and cards below.

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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