(Check out our other player card posts here.)

Have you ever known a guy who was just OK — or even pretty weak — at most aspects of his job but was an absolute boss in one, mainly trivial, area?

He’s the programmer who can’t write code worth a darn but who drops comments like Shakespeare.

Or he’s the accountant who couldn’t balance on three legs but figured out how to connect Excel to his Twitter account.

If you want an example in baseball, you can’t do much better than Pat Corrales.

 

1966 Topps Pat Corrales

 

Corrales, in case you forgot, was a light-hitting catcher who first signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1959.

It took him five years to work through the minors, but he finally made his Major League debut on August 2, 1964, just as the Phils were about to begin their historic swoon.

Corrales managed to stay in the Majors for parts of nine seasons, also logging time with the Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres, as well as spending 1967 in the minors with the St. Louis Cardinals.

He was a pretty good defensive catcher, throwing out 55 of 163 would-be base-stealers for a solid 34% caught-stealing rate.

But that “light-hitting” bit always foiled his attempts at logging regular playing time — he appeared in a total of 300 games and collected 166 hits in 757 at-bats for a .216 lifetime average.

So Corrales was just OK as a player for a good long time, which at least allowed him to accumulate several baseball cards. Some of those were pretty decent, too, like his eyes-to-heaven 1966 Topps card and his 1970 Topps issue, where he’s in a half-crouch with no gear (except a mitt) for the Reds. Makes you want to head into the backyard and play catch with him.

 

1970 Topps Pat Corrales

 

After Corrales’ last MLB appearance in 1973, he spent two more years in the Pads’ minor league system before hanging up his spikes as a player. He wasn’t done done, though, and moved right into coaching with the Texas Rangers in 1976.

And that’s where things started to turn around for him.

In 1978, Corrales took over as manager for the fired Billy Hunter on the last day of the season, then grabbed the reins full-time in 1979.

Texas finished 83-79 (3rd place in the American League West) in 1979, but slid to 76-85 in 1980.

Corrales was shown the door.

But by that point, he had already demonstrated where his real boss aptitude lay, with an assist from his 1981 Fleer card:

 

1981 Fleer Pat Corrales

 

Any awkwardness or unsureness that Corrales may have displayed on earlier cardboard is long gone here. He’s caught on to what you’re doing over there, and he’s about to call you out on it.

Morales followed that glint in his eye all the way back to a Major League dugout when the Phillies brought him in to helm their 1982 club.

He led the team to a solid 89-73 record, which landed them in second place in the old National League East division behind eventual World Series champion St. Louis.

Corrales began the 1983 season back in Philly, but he had some things working against him:

  • It was Philadelphia, and the Phillies hadn’t won anything since 1980. Fans and ownership were growing restless.
  • Management had brought in big (though old) names Joe Morgan and Tony Perez in the off-season.
  • Mike Schmidt was getting older and wouldn’t have many more chances at winning.
  • Pete Rose was OLD and might not have many more chances at breathing.
  • The Phils hit a rough stretch in May and June.

So, with his (their) record standing at 43-42, Corrales was canned on July 19. Octagenarian general manager Paul Owens replaced Ike … with Owens himself. (And, OK, Owens was only 59, but he sure looked like Methuselah.)

Owens led the Phillies to a 47-30 mark the rest of the way, good enough to take the NL East crown. From there, it was on to an NLCS victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers before dropping the World Series in five games to the Baltimore Orioles.

Meanwhile, Corrales wasn’t on the shelf for long … the Cleveland Indians hired him on August 1 to finish out their season after firing Mike Ferraro (40-60).

For baseball card collectors of the era, though, Pat Corrales will always be a swashbuckling part of the 1983 Philadelphia Phillies, and we have his 1983 Donruss issue to thank for that:

 

1983 Donruss Pat Corrales

 

In the space of two years, Corrales had honed his cardboard managerial schtick to perfection and emerged in full-on CHiPs mode.

Doffing the cap to reveal that magnificent coif was the finishing touch, but the smirk of 1981 had grown into full-on, camera-loving swagger by the time this photo was snapped.

That confidence carried Corrales through parts of five campaigns with the Indians, before the disappointment of 1987 was too much to withstand, and he tasted the ax again after a 31-56 start that season.

Truth be told, he never recaptured his cardboard magic from the early 1980s, either.

 

1985 Topps Pat Corrales

 

But for a stretch there, and especially at his peak, there was no one who could rock a manager card quite like Eric Estrada … er … Pat Corrales.

(Check out our other player card posts here.)

 

 

 

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