The Upper Deck

Welcome to The Upper Deck, Baseball America’s daily look at the biggest stories around the game and some lighter fare. If you have videos, GIFs, photos or stories you want us to know about and feature in this space, hit me up on Twitter at @vincelara or email me here.


Dustin Fowler made his major league debut Thursday and after one inning, his season was over. Fowler ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee crashing into the first-base-line rail while chasing a foul fly ball in the first inning of the Yankees’ game in Chicago. Fowler, called up as the Yankees limp through a torrent of injuries, is out for the season with the tear, which brought manager Joe Girardi to tears.

“I was in tears, actually,” Girardi told reporters. “Because I know what it takes to get here and how hard he has worked and what is supposed to be a really exciting day for him turns into a really bad day. I’m still disbelief. I’m in tears for the kid.”

Fowler never even got to bat. He was scheduled to bat in the second inning. His recovery time is said to be six months.


Former Louisville star Brendan McKay has had himself quite a couple of weeks. He was named College Player of the Year, got drafted No. 4 overall by the Rays, got a record signing bonus eclipsing $7 million, and on Thursday won USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award as the country’s top college player. Once McKay embarks on his pro career, the Rays say they’ll allow him to play both ways, at least to start.


The Fresno Grizzlies, the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate and employers of one of the most inventive promotional groups in minor league ball, on Thursday hosted a Tribute to Springfield Night. Part of the promotion involved players wearing jerseys inspired by the long-running Fox show “The Simpsons,” including Homer Simpson’s hand reaching for a donut. Perhaps what had the fans most excited, though—or d’oh—was that the first 1,000 people in Chukchansi Park would get a voucher for a free dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme. At least, that’s what would have Homer most excited.


Mark Kingston, fresh off leading South Florida to the NCAA Tournament and a win in the Gainesville Regional, is reportedly going to be hired as coach at South Carolina. The Bulls were 42-19 this season and Kington has led them to regionals two of the past three seasons. Kingston reportedly interviewed for Chad Holbrook’s old job on June 22. The South Carolina board of trustees was to meet Friday morning with “baseball coach” as one of the items on the agenda.


Freddie Fitzsimmons, a righthander who won 217 games in a 19-year career that spanned 1925-43, was honored Thursday by his hometown. Mishawka, Ind., christened Fitzsimmons’ boyhood home as a historical site, to be preserved as the city sees fit. Fitzsimmons played for the Giants and Dodgers, back when both were where they should have stayed, New York City! Alas.


Always swing away. That’s the message for Reed Butz. The 18-year-old used a baseball bat to help two trapped men escape when their semi rolled over on rain-slicked I-90 in Illinois Wednesday. Butz, who was driving with his mom, told The Associated Press he stopped when he saw the truck roll, grabbed a baseball bat out of his car and smashed the windshield of the semi 20-30 times, freeing the appreciative men. No injuries were reported, although Butz probably needs a new stick.


You’ve heard the tired adage, ‘It’s Five O’Clock somewhere’? Well, nowadays it’s a National Something Day everyday. On #NationalHandshakeDay, several teams took to Twitter to show what they got, including low Class A Bowling Green, a Rays affiliate.

Not to be outdone, Bowling Green’s low Class A rival West Michigan, a Tigers affiliate, had itself #SocialMediaNight, which included wearing Snapchat Selfie Jerseys.


Good things come in threes, so to round up our social/promo portion of this, Double-A Portland said it would wear jerseys on July 6 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of “A League of Their Own,” the Tom Hanks-Madonna-Geena Davis movie that paid homage to the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, a women’s professional baseball league which existed from 1943 to 1954, spawned in part by World War II when a majority of men who were professional ballplayers enlisted or were drafted into the military. No word on whether “Tank Girl” Lori Petty would attend.

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