Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Keep it Like the Kaiser

Today's the All-Star Game, but I think every other blog has commemorated the event appropriately and I really do not have anything else to add to the conversation.  Well, that is except for a hardy "Go National League!" since the Cubs are actually in playoff contention and there's more than a snowball's chance in hell the home field advantage matters to them.

Obligatory "the All Star Game is an exhibition and shouldn't determine something as important as home field advantage in the World Series!" snide comment.  It really shouldn't though.

Today I'm going to show off a card that has eluded me for a while and I then, in turn, forgot about it entirely when it came to blogging:

Vintage Cubs and White Sox cards command a premium at my LCS's - for obvious reasons.  Thus, finding a simple '57 common like the unassuming Don Kaiser here would have cost me at least $6 for a card in this condition.  So not worth it.

My hesitation and cheapness paid off as I eventually came across this card for less than a buck and it now comfortably rests in my binders.  The seller resides in San Jose, CA - thus, no Chicago "homer" mark up!

Now, I have $5 that I can use towards finding some other new additions to the CATRC.

However, I made the fatal mistake of forgetting to scan/take pictures of the card before I filed it into it's proper page.  Therefore, I never put it up here on WRJ and it's been damn near a month.

I hope the Kaiser takes pity on my transgression.

After posting an eye-popping record of 49-1 with seven no-hitters in high school, Kaiser recieved a $50,000 bonus to sign with the Cubs in February of 1955. Due to the bonus baby rules of the time, Don had to remain on the big league roster because and was used sparingly in eleven relief appearances with no decisions in 1955.
Notably, on the way to make his MLB debut, the cabbie drove the country-boy rookie several miles out of the way in order to rack up extra charges on the bonus baby.  Everybody wanted a piece of his reported $50,000 bonus; however, to this day, Don claims he only got $15,000 out of the Wrigleys.

After the 1956 season, the stat line for which you can read on the back of the card above, it sure looked like the whiz kid was growing into his role and that the Cubs had a key rotation piece for many years to come.

Unfortunately, the '57 season did not go nearly as well - he posted a 2-6 record with a 5.00 ERA across 20 games (13 starts).  He was demoted to the bullpen by the summer and was used as a mop-up man.

In an attempt to recoup some value on their investment, they packaged the struggling Kaiser with Eddie Haas and the aging Bob Rush for more young talent in Milwaukee's Taylor Phillips and Sammy Taylor.

Phillips, like Kaiser, had had a rough 1957 season coming off an impressive rookie campaign and Sammy Taylor was a hot catching prospect who was immediately put on the active roster.

None of these pieces ever lived up to their full potential for their new franchises.  In fact, our subject Mr. Kaiser never ever ascended back to the Major Leagues for the Braves.  He toiled on the farm in mediocrity through the 1961 season before hanging up his spikes.

After calling it quits on his baseball career, Don returned to his native Oklahoma and took up a very different career. Instead of locking up hitters with his blazing fastball, he locked up jailbirds as a jailer for Pontoto County, eventually becoming a deputy sheriff.

Don retired in 1992, but continues to work part-time as a district court bailiff.

Don never got to wear a Braves uniform in official MLB action
Image courtesy of John on Flickr

Thus concludes the tale of Clyde Donald Kaiser, one of many young talents that the bonus baby rule derailed.  After all, throwing players from high school into the Major Leagues is generally not a very good idea.

Another name checked off of the CATRC list!


  1. Man - I need to make road trips. The only other LCS I have ever hit is in Colorado. And I think his prices are too high. Time for a road trip!