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Diego Segui

September 9, 2009

Diego Segui TRADED

Baseball cards didn’t take center stage in my childhood until 1975, but I got  several packs of cards in 1974. When I think of that very first year of cards, I think of journeymen in mushy doctored caps and altered uniforms staring out into the void above a word that was by far the biggest to ever appear on any of my cards: TRADED. I don’t remember if I even understood this word when I first read it, but I knew the players branded with it were somehow diminished, as if the word been stamped onto them by a large steely mechanism at the end of a conveyor belt sifting defectives from the main assembly line. From the first, my world of gods was defined by obscurity and banishment.

None of the players in these cards were known to me, and none would ever make much of an impression in years to come. Diego Segui is the emperor of the TRADED wing in my collection. He showed up two more times in one of my packs, once in 1975, with a demented cockeyed grin on his face, and again in 1977, wearing a Seattle Mariners batting helmet even though he hadn’t been in a league where pitchers batted since the trade alluded to on this TRADED card, the card I will forever associate with Diego Segui.

It’s no accident that he wears an expression of weathered resignation above the declarative banner. His career to that point had been a tour of places that had vanished. Signed and then quickly released by the Cincinnati Reds during the era when the team, due to lingering McCarthy-era paranoia, was officially known as the “Redlegs,” Segui began his major league career with the Kansas City A’s (death date: 1967), moved on to the Washington Senators (death date: 1971), then after one more season (their last) with the Kansas City A’s and the inaugural edition of the Oakland A’s, he joined the Seattle Pilots for their one and only gasp in 1969. After his first few years in the league presiding over various extinctions, Segui settled into a few years as a journeyman traveling among teams that managed to survive his apparently apocalyptic presence. He even went to the World Series with the Red Sox and pitched one inning, mopping up in a lopsided loss. Nonetheless, the Red Sox released him the following spring. He hooked on with the Padres, but, alas, Diego never appeared in a game for San Diego, and the following year he moved on again, back to Seattle, to a team that was, oddly enough, beginning rather than ending. The development would have made for a hopeful ending to Segui’s itinerant, doom-laced career had he not gone 0 and 7 with a 5.69 ERA before slipping out of the picture altogether.

10 comments

  1. That card could almost pass as an Old West “WANTED” poster.


  2. I think that he was the starting pitcher for The Mariners in their first game.


  3. Nice to see that Diego’s son kept the tradition alive by playing for the Expos. David may have been the better player, but his team killing powers were much weaker than his father’s as the Expos survived for seven years after he left.


  4. Was Segui the least impressive ERA crown winner in MLB history? In 1970 he started the year in the bullpen, and pitched mostly in losses for the first two months of the season. Then Blue Moon Odom got hurt and Segui assumed a starting spot in late June, which he held only until early September (injury?). Two mop-up appearances in the last week of the season got him to exactly 162 innings with a 10-10 record and a 2.56 ERA — which must have irked Jim Palmer, who in a mere 305 innings went 20-10, 2.71 to finish second.

    Segui pitched for just about every sad sack AL franchise in a 15-year span. Would have made a great biography, no?


  5. 1974 was my first real season of collecting baseball cards and I must have thousands of them. I hated those “Traded” cards. My 7 year old eyes thought they ruined the look of the card and like you Josh I had no idea what traded really meant or why they had to stamp it on a card. I always thought of it as a bad mark like something your second grade teacher would stamp on a bad note.

    I would learn what “traded” meant when my favorite player, Tug Mcgraw would get traded at the end of the year.

    sansho1, Segui may of had the worst season to win an ERA crown. Off the top of my head Buzz Capra’s 1974 season and Craig Swan’s 1978 might not be that great for an ERA winner.


  6. The only player to toil for both the Pilots and Mariners, I believe.


  7. His “team killing powers…”
    …aye,verily, the Curse of the Ancient Mariner…


  8. The Ancient Mariner! I recall very well that he received that nickname as soon as he signed with them. Josh has written about it before, but I remember being so excited about watching two new teams begin in 1977. Of course, at that time the Royals, Padres, etc. were only 8 or 9 seasons into their journey, but that was before my time. The first pack of cards we got in 1978 (had to split it with my brothers) had an Otto Velez with the Blue Jays cap. Had to have it.


  9. I always attach Diego Segui’s name to the Forkball. I remember the back of one of his cards mentioning that being his killer pitch.


  10. Diego’s killer pitch the forkball:) …..as a kid I used to take the back of the card’s blurb as gospel…….as a cynical adult, i wonder how much was true, or just some random thought of a cynical, underpaid topps writer, too bitter to do his research……..
    topps writer: ‘sigh, it’s friday….your kidding me i have to write about this guy? diego?……..thank god he is a vet so i dont have to write to much….i’ll go with the forkball is his killer pitch….no one to fact check me…..oh some day in the FUTURE there may be some device where people can fact check me…..but not in 1974….it’s punchout time for me….time to hit the Pabst’



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