Cubs of Yore: Gary Varsho

July 13, 2007 | Comments (0) | by The Hundley

Here's a little number I'll try and do every so often over here. I had some limited success with this at another site (world reaction varied from annoyance to ambivalence), but since we're so Cub crazy here, it seems like a better fit. I basically stole this premise from somewhere else, but it was so long ago I forget. Sorry...

Nickname: Scary Gary

Played for The Cub: 1988 - 1990

Random Write-up: Some may refer to Gary as a role player or a journeyman, as in someone who is good enough to play in The Bigs, but not good enough to shine. It's true, he probably does qualify as one of those, but in my household, Gary held a different title: Cub Hero. When you're in grade school, some things just don't make sense, and you do what you want, damn the torpedoes. Even though he played sparsely (just 153 games during his Cub tenure), we cheered him like mad when he came on as a defensive replacement. Maybe it was because he looked the part**. Shit, he was a 5th round pick of The Cub in 1982, straight out of the baseball factory that is The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. (Rumor has it he was also a whiz at making train engineer bib overalls). Unfortunately, his career stats say he was lucky to have spent as much time out of the minors as he did.

What the Hell?: I'm sure you all remember where you were when "The Sandberg Game" happened, but do you remember The Varsho Game? July 2nd, 1991, Gary came back to Wrigley to torment The Cub for not seeing his greatness. In a 13-4 route, Gary did his best Hack Wilson and hit two dongs and one triple while knocking in six. Scary Gary also saw some postseason action as a member of Smokey Leyland's Pittsburgh Pirates. It was here that he became known as a real postseason performer, ripping up the 1991 and 1992 NLCS while raking to the tune of .667! It was playing under Leyland that Gary realized he would one day like to get into managing the game. And wouldn't you know it, in 2004 he went 1-1 for The Phillies while head coach (and former Cub), Mt. Bowa, served a two game suspension.

Also of Note: Had some minor league managing experience in The Midwest League, leading the Appleton Timber Rattlers to a 148-128 record over two years. After his stop in A League, he moved up to AA Reading Phillies to a 158-126 record. After that it was a bench coach for Bowa in Philly for 5 seasons, and now serves as The Indians base running coach. Fleeced the MLB for over $1.5 million over his career. Not bad, Gary. Not bad at all. Dude obviously loves the game.

** or maybe it was because he did the old "I have a bat for a boner!" pose on his baseball card.