Imagine being a Seattle Pilots fan back in the spring of 1970. You had heard the threats from ownership towards the end of the season: show up or else... The threats of from the city: pay your bills or face eviction. It became quite apparent during the offseason that the financially-strapped team could not survive long enough to move into the new stadium that was supposed to be built in Seattle Center. A judge would declare the team bankrupt on April 1, 1970 and ordered the team be sold to an ownership group headed by Bud Selig, the man who had struck an agreement to buy the team during secret negotiations during Game One of the 1969 World Series. And so the team headed to Milwaukee- only days before the beginning of what was to be their second season. Forty-six years later, we're only two days away from the release of 2016 Topps and I think it's safe to say the company isn't pulling the plug on this upcoming release...
I wonder how many disappointed fans tore up their 1970 Topps Pilots cards upon news of their team taking flight for Milwaukee. I know that I would have done something like that as a child, had I been in their shoes. But some fans/collectors, the discerning ones, might have looked at their Diego Segui card and seen hope. Here was a man who had left his family and his home in Cuba to pursue a career in the Major leagues; he had not been back home since 1960. After struggling to live up to the promise that he showed with "stuff" that former pitching coach Cot Deal said was just as good as Juan Marichal's, Segui was taken by the Seattle Pilots in the Expansion Draft that followed the 1968 season and went on to become the team MVP during their lone season.
Now, about that discerning fan/collector... perhaps they would have seen a foreshadowing of some sort on Segui's card number 2. When the city of Seattle was awarded another expansion franchise and Mariner team officials began putting together a roster, they turned to the former Pilots star.
Unfortunately, Segui's second go around in Seattle didn't go very well. The thirty-nine year old had his moments- he was named Opening Day starter (while taking the loss against the Angels) and would later strikeout 10 Red Sox hitters in a game- but he struggled to an 0-7 record over 40 games (7 of which were starts). And while he saw his strikeout/walk ratio improve to the best it had been in nine seasons, he also watched his hits per 9 innings hover around 9 and the number of home runs per 9 increase to the highest of his career. Segui would pitch the final game of his major league career on September 24th against the Chicago White Sox.