1990 Topps #162 – Todd Zeile

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The Card

The 1990 Topps set was a hideous abortion of secondary colors, halftone gradients, and squares. Topps tried real hard to cram the trendiest design elements into a single layout and succeeded in making one of the ugliest sets of the decade. It didn’t help that most of the photos were blurry and uninspiring.

On the back, you get the vitals, stats, and a useless fact printed on muddy card stock. Art deco fonts also came into style in the early 90’s, and Topps found a way to use it for the player’s name (the Broadway font, in this case).

Zeile was one of the many “future stars” touted by all the card companies and hobby magazines. How did they choose these guys? Now that we can take a closer look at all the metrics, it just doesn’t make any sense.

The Player

Zeile progressed quickly through the minors and looked like a pretty good hitter, but certainly nothing special. He made it to the majors in 1989 at the age of 23.

A catcher originally, Zeile was moved to third base by manager Joe Torre in an effort to make him a more productive hitter and prolong his career. He spent most of the rest of his career there and was not very good. Zeile ended the decade having committed more errors than any other player in the 90’s.

Zeile’s bat proved to be mediocre. A highlight may have been driving in 103 in 1993 with the Cardinals or hitting 31 home runs in 1997 with the Dodgers, but Zeile never hit .300 and was never the best player on his team. He was never voted onto an All-Star team and never received an MVP vote. To his credit, Zeile has the most home runs in major league history for players whose last name begin with the letter Z.

He played 16 years for 11 different teams and was durable, avoiding injury for most of his career. On October 3, 2004, he became one of 41 players to hit a home run in his final at bat. Zeile’s final home run also made him the last person ever to hit a home run off a Montreal Expos pitcher.

After retiring, Zeile (who looks a bit like Greg Kinnear) pursued film production and acting, with bit parts on TV and in the movies. In 2011, he was sued over failed real estate project in Mammoth Lakes, California.

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