Recent Royals: 2001 Topps Mike Stodolka

I have very few card collections given my limited resources and space, but I did decide some time ago to begin collecting on-card Royals autographs. It’s been a blast so far trying to track these things down and this is the latest addition to my collection. To view the cards currently in the collection, take a look at the Gallery. If you have any on-card Royals autos- especially one you don’t see in that gallery there- chances are I need them so don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

For the life of me, I can't type this guy's name right. Try it!

The 2001 Topps Golden Anniversary auto set suffers from some serious overboard ball action and a slight dose of late ’90’s/early ’00s font explosion. But, hey- they got the autos on-card!

And on this card we have the signature of former Royals pitching prospect Mike Stodolka. He was the 4th overall draft pick of 2000 and was working his way up through the minors as a starter. Unfortunately, he got shut down for Tommy John surgery in 2003. He came back to pitch in 2004 and 2005 but Instead of hanging it up (or simply getting fired), he pulled a rare move and switched from pitching to 1B/OF. This move (the same made with some measure of success by injury-prone phenom Rick Ankiel) has always baffled me because, as someone who has developed neither pitching or batting ability (or, for that matter, athletic ability of any type), I think of pitching and batting as so completely separate skills that require a lifetime to master one or the other.

Obviously, people who are legitimately athletes are capable of doing pretty much anything that involves throwing a ball, hitting a ball or beating up D&D nerds like me so I shouldn’t assume that it’s such a difficult move to make. And, in fact, Mike Stodolka did a pretty fine job of making the transition. He batted to an OPS of over .280 in his first 2 years at the dish and even handled AAA pitching pretty well in his third and final year in the system. But, at age 26 and with the newly-drafted Billy Butler coming up behind him, he didn’t have much of a chance and disappeared from professional baseball after the 2008 season.

In looking up info on Stodolka, I found this fantastic round-up of the draft in which he was drafter 4th. Check out the names on that list… hindsight is 20/20 my friends.

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