The Cubs Want a New Pitcher, This One’s Broken

Paul Minner had been playing off and on in the Majors since 1946, though it would take the expanded checklists of 1952 for him to finally get rookie cards from Topps and Bowman. My copy is very beat up. The corners are the roundest of the cards I have assembled so far and numerous creases make their way across the card surface. While I’m not really looking to upgrade this card, it did set a floor for the just how much damage I’m willing to tolerate for most names. So begins my foray into the plentiful second series of ’52 Topps.

Minner came up as an ineffective pitcher in the Dodgers organization after WW2. Practicing in the outfield with the oft-injured Pete Reiser in 1948, Minner damaged his neck diving for a ball. The injury made throwing effective fastballs impossible and he reportedly could not straighten his neck for several years. The loss of velocity and awkward condition of his neck made Brooklyn’s front office lose confidence and ship him off to the Chicago Cubs.

“Lefty” developed a junk ball repertoire with the Cubs and used excellent accuracy to place his slow-moving pitches. He put in several serviceable years as a middle of the rotation pitcher before another injury finished his career. Minner slipped in a hotel bathtub late in the 1956 season and cracked a vertebra in his neck. I found a few allusions about there being more to the bathtub story but haven’t found anything of substance.

Looking at his stats he is actually one of the better pitchers appearing in the set. Solid WAR and adjusted FIP numbers show an effective player stuck on a subpar team.

Minner Could Get Across the Plate

Minner’s final baseball card came in the 1956 Topps set as card #182. The larger portrait is a rehash from a photo that first appeared on his 1954 Topps card. What’s great about it is the action shot showing him sliding (collapsing?) on his back across home plate. He scored 5 times the previous year and actually drove in 14 runs. While his batting skills never were going to light the world on fire, they were substantially better than most pitchers.