Saturday, November 17, 2012

My First Player Obsession: Todd Zeile

Back in 1989 there were not many bigger rookies with the brightest future than Todd Zeile.  Zeile was a second round pick for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1986 draft.  He blew through the Cardinals farm systems, and his name was getting more recognized at each level.  By 1989 many baseball news and magazines slated Zeile to be one of the top players for years to come.  He broke into the big leagues in 1989 as a catcher, and played late in the year.  Zeile was pegged to win the NL Rookie of the Year by magazines during spring training in 1990.  But he struggled in his first full season as a Cardinal, hitting .244/15/57.  In 1991 his manager Joe Torre moved him from catching, experimenting him at first before moving him to third base for good.  Zeile had one of his best years as a Cardinal in 1993, hitting .277/17/103, but by 1993 the once top prospects status of being a big time star had faded into being an average player.  In early 1990 his 1989 Upper Deck Update card was priced in Beckett at $11.00, and 1989 Fleer Update card was at $7.00.  In 1993 his rookie cards had dropped in both cards, Upper Deck Update $1.25 and Fleer Update 75 cents.

The peak of my collecting as a kid was in 1989, and being a kid living in St. Louis there hasn't been a brighter rookie star for years.  I collected everything Zeile, from cards, magazines, to banners.  I bought in Todd Zeile while the market was hot for him.  If Zeile cards were in Beckett for $11, in St. Louis they were double that.  I continued to collect Zeile cards though I figured his value in cards were no more, now I was vested because of my passion collecting Zeile cards.  Until 1994, I had every known, and even unknown Todd Zeile cards.  His career after he left the Cardinals became hard to follow, even for me, someone who collected and followed him.  During the next nine years after leaving the Cardinals in the summer of 1995 he played for ten different teams, including playing for three different clubs in one season: Cubs (1995), Phillies (1996), O's (1996), Dodgers (1997/98), Marlins (1998), Texas (1998/99), Mets (2000/01), Rockies (2002), Yankees (2003), Expos (2003), Mets (2004).

You would assume a player that moved around to as many teams that he would have won a World Series, but he did not.  He did get into the playoffs four times, 1996 O's, 1998 TEX, 1999 TEX, 2000 METS.  He ended his career with respectable numbers for someone who never even once appeared in an All-Star Game.

In 16 seasons from 1989-2004 he played for 11 different teams:

.265 AVG / 2,004 Hits / 253 Home Runs / 1110 RBI

Here are a couple cool facts about Todd Zeile.  Zeile became the 41st player to hit a home run in their last professional at bat, and it happened to be the very last home run given up by a Montreal Expos pitcher before becoming the Nationals.  Zeile caught in his final ever game, only Biggio has more time between catching appearances.  Zeile appeared as a pitcher in 2 games, but has a hefty 22.50 ERA.  Zeile stated according to publications after his release from the Yankees in 2003, that he never a part of an organization worse than Yankees.

Today I have rekindled my love for collecting Todd Zeile, not because of his value of cards, but because of the man.  I got to meet him in 1992 and got his autograph, plus I got to meet him a few years later when I played a state game at Busch Stadium.

Today Todd Zeile is an actor/producer in some roles/movies/or shows and I bet unless you seen his name in the credits or was a teammate you may not even notice.  He has been in many TV roles, and movie rolls in such titles as:

MOVIES: Dirty Deeds, Zookeeper, and I AM
TV SHOWS: King of Queens

Co-Producer of Charlie Sheen's Show: Anger Management

I have actually not seen his movie I AM in which he stared and produced, but it is on Netflix and I will be watching that in the coming week and reviewing it!  So for all of you out there who have Zeile in your common boxes, hopefully we can drum up a little trading and collecting demand.  If anyone has any relic or card autos of Zeile please let me know.  I very rarely find them on Ebay or COMC because he had very few of each.  I leave you with just a few of my hundreds of Todd Zeile cards, maybe a few you never seen or forgot about.

1988 Arkansas Travelers #7 (Oldest Zeile I have)

My All Time Favorite Zeile Card - One of the last as a catcher, and it's a "Play at the Plate"

1989 Upper Deck/Fleer Update Cards, 1989 Louisville AAA


  1. I spent more than a few hours heckling Todd Zeile. Played with his batting gloves a lot and he always took the first pitch. Always.

  2. When Zeile moved from catcher to third, he never again looked truly comfortable in the field. With what I remember and stats I read, he was a great defensive catcher, but always lead the league in errors at third. In 1990 he was in a slump and started stepping out on pitches and popped up everything. In 1991 what I have read and seen with Zeile he started taking the first pitch so he could correct his footing, and after awhile it turned into a habit. He was always a positive guy, and his career turned out pretty good.


No negative comments please, this blog is for fun and not intended as a business...just a collector giving some views.