Rick Lundblade

From BR Bullpen

Frederick Hubert Lundblade

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

C/1B Rick Lundblade played six seasons in the minor leagues from 1985 to 1990. He became an unwitting part of baseball lore when he was the baserunner in Dave Bresnahan's infamous "potato play" in 1987.

A big man for a catcher at 6' 5", 230 lb., he split his time almost equally with first base, with a few games in the outfield sprinkled in. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 6th round of the 1985 amateur draft out of Stanford University where he played in the College World Series in 1983 and 1985. He began his professional career that same year with the Bend Phillies of the Northwest League where he hit .281 with 24 doubles and 15 homers in 68 games, scoring 56 runs and driving in 55. In 1986, he played 70 games in the Florida State League with the Clearwater Phillies, hitting .259, before being promoted to the AA Reading Phillies where he batted .268 in 20 games. He followed that with another solid season at Reading, in the Eastern League, where he hit .300/.347/.450 in 127 games, with 14 homers and 74 RBIs. He looked like a solid prospect at that point, but his name made the papers for a completely different matter on August 31st, when Williamsport Bills catcher Bresnahan decided to celebrate the end of the season by playing a practical joke. In the 5th inning, after calling time, he returned to his position with a shaved potato hidden in his mitt; after the next pitch, he deliberately threw the potato wide of third base, where Lundblade was the baserunner, to fool him into going home, where he tagged him with the real baseball, which he had all along. Umpire Scott Potter was unamused; he ruled the runner safe and Bills manager Orlando Gomez removed Bresnahan from the game and fined him $50. When the story played out in newspapers across the U.S., the parent Cleveland Indians released Bresnahan, bringing his career to an end.

For his part, Lundblade was again in AA in 1988, hitting 221 in 40 games for Reading, while also making his AAA debut with the Maine Guides of the International League, where he hit .298 in 17 games. He finished that season in the New York Mets organization, with the Jackson Mets of the Southern League, where he hit .247 in 49 games, although it is not clear what transaction sent him there. In 1989, he was a back-up with the Mets' AAA affiliate, the Tidewater Tides, but hit just .171 in 47 games, although he did hit 7 homers. In his final season, 1990, he was with a third organization, that of the Baltimore Orioles, back in AA where he played 18 games for the Hagerstown Suns, hitting .259.

Bresnahan became something of a minor celebrity for pulling the "Great Potato Caper", but Lundblade has not been completely forgotten either. After baseball, he became a lawyer in Oregon and says he still gets asked about the play regularly, even if the commemorative interviews tend to focus on Bresnahan. As he puts it: "It's a story that has never died, and I suspect it never will. It was a fun moment in retrospect. Richie Ashburn was the color guy for the Phillies and the following day he was talking about it. And he says 'The funny thing is, the Lundblade kid actually went to Stanford. The Stanford guy couldn't distinguish between the potato and the baseball.'"

Further Reading[edit]

  • Kevin T. Czerwinski: "Backup catcher's career mashed in 'Potato Caper'; Bresnahan released after tricking runner by throwing spud into outfield", MiLB.com, December 27, 2006. [1]

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