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#211 Jim Coker

11/03/2009

211 Jim Coker211 Jim Coker back

It’s badly off-center (bordering on miscut on the back), but otherwise a fairly nice card. Coker is shown here as a member of the Cardinals, but is not wearing a cap. That’s mostly because there are no pictures of him wearing a Cards hat as he never actually played a game for them. He’s wearing a Giants jersey in this shot (the orange and black stripe around the neck gives it away), but he only played a grand total of four games for them so this is a rare sight too.

The trivia question is not rubbed off, and asks what team holds the mark for escaping shutouts, which I guess is a fancy way of asking who went the most games between shutouts. The answer provided then is still the right answer now. The Yankees went 308 games without being shut out between 1931 and 1933. The National League record is just 208 games, set (oddly) by the Cincinnati Reds in 2000 and 2001.

Topps certainly had a way with names back in these days, and Coker’s actual given first name was “Jimmie.” So, naturally, none of the cards Topps made in his career lists him as Jimmie. All except for his 1967 card simply list him as “Jim,” and the ’67 lists him as “Jimmy.” Well done, Topps.

Jimmie Coker was a catcher who had a career that spanned nine seasons, but he only appeared in 233 games. He was signed as a 19-year-old by the Phillies in 1955 and had a cup of coffee with them in 1958. In his proper rookie season of 1960, he played 81 games and hit 6 homers with 34 RBI and a .214/.289/.329 line in 285 plate appearances.

Over the next two years, he appeared in just 16 games with the Phillies and was purchased by Baltimore after the 1962 season. Three weeks later, he was traded to the Giants in a six-player deal. After the 1963 season that saw him get a grand total of 6 PA, he was traded to St. Louis for forgettable pitcher Ken Mackenzie.

But even though he was with the Cards long enough to get a baseball card made, he was traded to Milwaukee four days prior to the start of the 1964 season along with light-hitting Gary Kolb for another little-used backup catcher named Bob Uecker (who, astonishingly, managed to be much, much worse than Coker).

After not playing for the Braves, but posting a respectable .823 OPS with 16 homers with AAA Denver, Coker was finally purchased by the Reds for $35,000 in August 1964. He appeared in 130 games with Cincinnati from 1964-67. At the age of 31, he was out of baseball for good.

For his career, Coker hit .231 with 16 homers and a 77 OPS+. The native of tiny Throckmorton, Texas, moved back after his playing days and died there in 1991 at the age of 55.

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