Cubs baseball cards trickled in throughout last week, and only one package was delivered over the weekend.
On occasion while laying on the couch watching TV, I’ll check out eBay with the search term, “Cubs.” Typically it will be an ending soonest search to see if I can grab any deals.
One such search found something that doesn’t come up for sale too often. Minor league items are something I enjoy, and a 1996 Orlando Cubs picture pack was up for bid. The starting bid was $2.99 plus $3.99 shipping, and I was able to win the item at that price – $6.98 shipped.
The item arrived and it was exactly what I expected. There were not many big names on the 1996 Orlando Cubs roster, a Double A affiliate. Among names that reached the major leagues you may recognize: Jeremi Gonzalez and Kevin Orie. Those are the biggest names. A few others reached the big leagues like Justin Speier, Chris Petersen, Hector Ortiz, and a few others suited up for just a couple games like Scott Bullett and Steve Trachsel.
Jeremi Gonzalez was one of the five players featured in this picture pack. His name was eventually spelled, Geremi, nine years after his MLB debut when he was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Gonzalez debuted with the Cubs on May 27, 1997, and won 11 games his rookie campaign. He played seven seasons in MLB over nine years with the Cubs, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, and Brewers.
Fun fact: Gonzalez was the pitcher on the mound for the Devil Rays in 2003 when Sammy Sosa was found using a corked bat.
Sadly, Gonzalez passed away in 2008 after getting struck by lightning in his native Venezuela.
Hector Ortiz also made the big leagues appearing in just under 100 games for the Kansas City Royals (1998, 2000-01) and Texas Rangers (2002). After his playing career, Ortiz became a coach and spent time in the Rangers and Cleveland Indians minor league system. Ortiz has also served as the big league first base coach for the Texas Rangers.
Jason Maxwell had a cup of coffee with the Chicago Cubs in 1998, making his debut on September 1. He would later play for the Minnesota Twins in 2000 and 2001. Maxwell is now a high school baseball coach in Tennessee.
The next name may sound familiar, but it’s likely not from his baseball playing days. Mark Kingston is the head baseball coach at the University of South Carolina where he led the Gamecocks to a NCAA Super Regional in 2018.
Kingston was a catcher in the Cubs minor league system from 1993 through 1996. The 1996 campaign marked his last organized professional baseball season. This past spring would have been Kingston’s third year as head coach at South Carolina. His college head coaching stints also include Illinois State (2010-2014) and South Florida (2015-2017).
Harold Williams was drafted three times. He was a 31st round pick by the Montreal Expos out of high school in 1989. Williams was taken in the 33rd round in 1992 by the Oakland Athletics, but returned to the University of West Alabama. After his senior season at West Alabama in 1993, Williams was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the 26th round.
Williams played his first three full seasons of pro baseball in the White Sox organization, then split the 1996 campaign between the Cubs and White Sox. He reached Triple A with the Iowa Cubs in 1997, and that marked his last year in organized pro baseball.