#131 Steve Boros
It’s unclear what exactly Topps was thinking when making this card for Steve Boros in 1964. Boros hadn’t been a Cub for months when this card was distributed — the back of the card itself even mentions that Boros was sold to San Diego of the PCL in December 1963. San Diego was an affiliate of the Reds at the time, so if he was even worth depicting at all, it should have been as a Red. But since he didn’t even have a Major League contract for 1964 (at the time — he did play for the Reds eventually), why even give him a card?
Ultimately, Topps decided to just pretend that Boros was still in Chicago.
The trivia question on the card asks what the smallest crowd ever at an MLB game was at the time. The card (which is tough to read) claims the answer is 21, from a game in the late 1800s (I couldn’t read the exact year). This site claims the answer to be 23, at an A’s-Yankees game in Philly in 1916. Also pointed out is the announced crowd of 653 that came out to see the A’s (now in Oakland) play the Mariners in 1979. And you think crowds are bad at the Mausoleum now.
Steve Boros didn’t do much as a Major League player, and you can argue that he didn’t do much better as a Major League manager. He only played what amounts to three full seasons. He actually had a fairly decent year in 1961 as a rookie with the Tigers (he had a cup of cofee in the bigs in 1957 and ’58), getting on base at a .382 clip in 485 PA. He only hit five homers, but drove in 62 runs and walked 26 more times than he struck out (68 to 42). Being a Michigan native, it looked like he could’ve had a promising career ahead of him.
Things went a bit south in 1962. He did hit 16 homers, but his batting average dove to .228. He also wasn’t a particularly good third baseman. He posted a -1.3 defensive WAR, which wiped out the 1.2 he put up on offense.
That winter, the Tigers shipped him to the Cubs for pitcher Bob Anderson, and Boros didn’t get much of a chance with the Cubs. Ron Santo was pretty much anchored at third base, so when Boros did play he usually filled in at first for Ernie Banks or in right field for Lou Brock. (I’d like to note that in limited playing time, Boros’s .693 OPS was only slightly worse than Banks’s .695 for the whole season. 1963 was not a good year for Mr. Cub.)
The Reds purchased him with the intent of sending him to AAA in 1964, but Cincinnati got rid of their third basemen from 1963 — Gene Freese and Eddie Kasko — and gave Boros the job. Boros hit .257/.342/.322, which looks bad (well, it was bad) but was slightly better than the .269/.319/.326 posted by a slumping second-year teammate named Pete Rose.
The Reds moved Deron Johnson to third base in 1965, pushing Boros out. He appeared as a defensive replacement twice and never played in the Majors again.
He kicked around in AAA until 1969, and became a minor league manager in 1970 at age 33. After five years managing low-level teams in the Royals system, he coached for the Royals and Expos for a number of years before getting a shot at a Major League job in 1983. He managed the A’s to records of 74-88 and 77-85 in 1983 and ’84. He got another chance with San Diego in 1986, going 74-88. He remained a coach and front office member in the Majors until 2004.
In 1988, while working for the Dodgers, Boros reportedly was one of the key scouts who identified what Dennis Eckersley would throw to Kirk Gibson on a 3-2 count in Game 1 of the World Series.
Boros died December 29, 2010 at the age of 74.