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How the Original Donruss Rated Rookies Turned Out

In 1984, Donruss released what some collectors consider one of the greatest baseball card sets of all time. In addition to 26 Diamond Kings—a subset of cards depicting a star player from every team—the 660-card set included 20 Rated Rookies, a new subset that highlighted a crop of promising young players selected by New York Daily News writer Bill Madden. The Rated Rookie would become a staple of the Donruss brand for years to come.

A few of the original Rated Rookies lived up to the hype, while others look silly in hindsight. Many of the 20 Rated Rookies that constitute cards 27-46 of the 1984 Donruss checklist fell somewhere in between. Here are their stories.

#27 Joel Skinner
Skinner broke into the majors in 1983 with the Chicago White Sox and appeared in 43 games in 1984, batting .213 with 3 RBIs in 80 at-bats. The San Diego native and son of two-time All-Star Bob Skinner hit 17 home runs during his nine-year major league career. Skinner is currently the bench coach for the Oakland A’s.

#28 Tommy Dunbar
The Texas Rangers selected Dunbar out of Middle Georgia College in the first round of the 1980 draft. The Graniteville, South Carolina native made his big league debut on September 7, 1983, but didn’t stick in the majors. Dunbar batted .231 with 3 home runs and 18 RBIs in his brief major league career before bouncing around the minors until 1991. He passed away in March while recovering from prostate cancer.

#29 Mike Stenhouse
The Montreal Expos gave Stenhouse a $32,000 signing bonus after making him the fourth pick of the 1980 amateur draft. The son of former major league pitcher Dave Stenhouse, Mike starred at Harvard, where he was a two-time All-Ivy Leaguer. He never lived up to expectations in Montreal and was dealt to Minnesota after the 1984 season. Stenhouse played one year with the Twins and one more with the Red Sox. Today, he is the executive director of the Ocean State Policy Research Institute in his native Rhode Island.

#30 Ron Darling
Who would’ve guessed that two of the first four Rated Rookies were Ivy League-educated? Darling was drafted ninth overall in 1981 out of Yale, where he double majored in French and Southeast Asian history. Darling went 136-116 in his 13-year major league career, was named an All-Star in 1985, and won 15 games for the 1986 World Series champion Mets. Today, Darling is a color commentator for the Mets and on national broadcasts for TBS.

#31 Dion James
The Sacramento native was a solid player during his 11 seasons with the Brewers, Braves, Indians, and Yankees, but his biggest claim to fame might be killing a bird with a batted ball during a 1987 game. The incident provided great fodder for one UPI writer, who reported, “The Atlanta Braves, a team not known for its knowledge of ornithology, say the bird Dion James killed with a fly ball was a dove and not a pigeon.” James was credited with a double on the play. Last month, the Yankees drafted one of James’s three sons.

#32 Tony Fernandez
Here’s one that Madden got right. The slick-fielding shortstop won four consecutive Gold Gloves from 1986-1989 and collected more than 2,000 hits while batting .288 in his 17-year career. Fernandez was named to five All-Star teams, won a World Series with Toronto in 1993, and hit .327 in 150 postseason at-bats.

#33 Angel Salazar
Salazar batted .155 with only 4 walks and 38 strikeouts in 80 games for the Expos in 1984, but his reputation as a strong defensive shortstop convinced the Kansas City Royals to trade for him. In 1986, Salazar set a Royals record for most consecutive errorless games by a shortstop. He was out of the league by 1989.

#34 Kevin McReynolds
McReynolds starred at the University of Arkansas before the San Diego Padres made him the sixth pick of the 1981 draft. McReynolds was traded to the Mets before the 1987 season and had 27 home runs, 99 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases for New York in 1988, finishing third in the NL MVP voting.

#35 Dick Schofield
The third pick of the 1981 draft, Schofield hit three home runs in 54 at-bats after earning a late call-up at the end of the 1983 season. The shortstop would hit only four home runs in 400 at-bats in 1984, the first of four seasons in which he finished with fewer than 100 hits and at least 400 at-bats. Schofield is the son of Ducky Schofield, a 19-year major league veteran, and the uncle of Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth. He is currently the hitting coach for the Rookie League Tempe Angels.

#36 Brad Komminsk
Komminsk was the fourth overall pick in the 1979 draft by the Atlanta Braves and tore through the minor leagues so fast that Hank Aaron called him the best prospect he’d ever seen. That alone made Komminsk worthy of the Rated Rookie label, but his minor league success didn’t translate to the majors. Still, he likely always had a fan in Evelyn Rogala, the woman who won $100,000 as part of a radio promotion sponsored by Goody’s Headache Powder when Komminsk hit a grand slam in a predetermined inning of a 1984 game. “We won at bingo times, but nothing like this,” Rogala’s husband told the AP. In 1987, Komminsk was traded for fellow Rated Rookie, Dion James.

#37 Tim Teufel
Teufel finished fourth in the National American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1984 after hitting .262 with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs. He won a World Series with the Mets in 1986, but was perhaps best known for his unique batting stance, the “Teufel Shuffle.” You can watch Batting Stance Guy’s Teufel impression at the end of this video. Today, Teufel manages the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.

#38 Doug Frobel
Frobel, an Ottawa native, hit 12 home runs for the Pirates in 1984, but batted only .203 and struck out in more than one-fourth of his plate appearances. His 20 career home runs rank him 20th among major league players born in Canada, 363 behind Larry Walker and 7 ahead of Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins.

#39 Greg Gagne
Originally drafted by the Yankees in 1979, Gagne was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1982 and developed into one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. Gagne tied a major league record by hitting two inside the park home runs in the same game in 1986 and won two World Series titles in Minnesota before moving on to Kansas City and Los Angeles. He retired in 1997.

#40 Mike Fuentes
Fuentes won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s top collegiate player at Florida State and was a second-round draft choice of the Montreal Expos in 1981, but was one of the least accomplished major leaguers among the 1984 class of Rated Rookies. He appeared in nine games, but entered eight of those games as a pinch runner or pinch hitter.

#41 Joe Carter
Carter would justify his place in the Rated Rookie subset long before he hit a walk-off three-run homer off Mitch Williams to win the 1993 World Series. The former Wichita State star blossomed with the Cleveland Indians, leading the league in RBIs in 1986, and was later named to five All-Star Games with the Toronto Blue Jays. Carter finished his 16-year career with 396 home runs.

#42 Mike Brown
Brown was selected in the seventh round of the 1980 draft out of San Jose State and had a five-year career with the Angels and Pirates. He had a career-high 9 home runs and 53 RBIs in 1985.

#43 Mike Jeffcoat
Jeffcoat appeared in 255 games, most of them as a relief pitcher, during his 10-year career, but the former Louisiana Tech standout is in the record books for something he accomplished at the plate. In the ninth inning of a 15-1 win against the Milwaukee Brewers in 1991, Jeffcoat, then a member of the Rangers, became the first American League pitcher to get a hit since Ferguson Jenkins in 1974 and the first to record an RBI since the designated hitter rule was adopted in 1973. Today, Jeffcoat is the head baseball coach at Texas Wesleyan University. The Rams went 31-23 last season.

#44 Sid Fernandez
Fernandez, who wore No. 50 in honor of his native Hawaii’s distinction as the 50th state, was a fan favorite throughout his career. A two-time All-Star, “El Sid” finished with 114 wins in 15 seasons, most of them with the Mets.

#45 Brian Dayett
Dayett appeared in 218 games over five seasons after being drafted in the 16th round of the 1978 draft by the New York Yankees. He was out of the major leagues by 1987, but played three more seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. Dayett is currently in his seventh season as a hitting coach in the Rangers’ minor league system.

#46 Chris Smith
Smith was selected in the 11th round of the 1978 draft by the Rangers, broke into the majors with the Expos, and was traded to the Giants. Smith batted .328 with 1 home run and 11 RBI in 22 games with the Giants in 1983, but was released after the season and never played in the major leagues again.

Unrated Rookies

Madden’s selections weren’t perfect. There were a number of rookies in the 1984 set who weren’t rated but probably should have been, including Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry. Other rookie stars, including Dwight Gooden, Kirby Puckett, and Roger Clemens, were omitted from the 660-card set altogether.

Future Rated Rookies

Donruss introduced a flashier Rated Rookie logo, the one most collectors associate with the brand, in 1985, and used it through 1993. Rated Rookies were included in Donruss’s baseball sets until the company lost its MLB license in 2005. Today, the Rated Rookie label lives on in Panini Donruss’s sets of NFL and NBA cards.

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entertainment
13 Great Facts About Bad Lieutenant
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Bad Lieutenant can be accused of many things, but one charge you can't level against it is false advertising. Harvey Keitel's title character, whose name is never given, is indeed a bad, bad lieutenant: corrupt, sleazy, drug-addled, irresponsible, and lascivious, all while he's on the job. (Imagine what his weekends must be like!)

Abel Ferrara's nightmarish character study was controversial when it was released 25 years ago today, and rated NC-17 for its graphic nudity (including a famous glimpse at Lil’ Harvey), unsettling sexual violence, and frank depiction of drug use. The film packs a wallop, no doubt. Here's some behind-the-scenes info to help you cope with it.

1. THE PLACID WOMAN WHO HELPS THE LIEUTENANT FREEBASE HEROIN WROTE THE MOVIE.

That's Zoë Tamerlis Lund, who starred in Abel Ferrara's revenge-exploitation thriller Ms. 45 (1981) more than a decade earlier, when she was 17 years old. She and Ferrara are credited together for writing Bad Lieutenant, though she always insisted that wasn't the case. "I wrote this alone," she said. "Abel is a wonderful director, but he's not a screenwriter. She said elsewhere that she "wrote every word of that screenplay," though everyone agrees the finished movie included a lot of improvisation. Lund was a fascinating, tragic character herself—a musical prodigy who became an enthusiastic and unapologetic user of heroin before switching to cocaine in the mid-1990s. She died of heart failure in 1999 at age 37.

2. CHRISTOPHER WALKEN WAS SUPPOSED TO STAR IN IT.

Christopher Walken had starred in Ferrara's previous film, King of New York (1990), and was set to play the lead in Bad Lieutenant before pulling out at almost the last minute. Ferrara was shocked. "[Walken] says, 'You know, I don't think I'm right for it.' Which is, you know, a fine thing to say, unless it's three weeks from when you're supposed to start shooting," Ferrara said. "It definitely caught me by surprise. It put me in terminal shock, actually." Harvey Keitel replaced him (though not without difficulty; see below), and the film's editor, Anthony Redman, thought Keitel was a better choice anyway. "Chris is too elegant for the part," he said. "Harvey is not elegant." 

3. HARVEY KEITEL'S INITIAL REACTION TO THE SCRIPT WAS NOT PROMISING.

"When we gave [Keitel] the script the first time, he read about five pages and threw it in the garbage," Ferrara said. Keitel's recollection was a little more diplomatic. As he told Roger Ebert, "I read a certain amount of pages and I put it down. I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna make this movie.' And then I asked myself, 'How often am I a lead in a movie? Read it, maybe I can salvage something from it …' When I read the part about the nun, I understood why Abel wanted to make it."

4. IT WAS ORIGINALLY SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY.


Lionsgate Home Entertainment

"It was always, in my mind, a comedy," Ferrara said. He cited the scene where the Lieutenant pulls the teenage girls over as a specific example of how Christopher Walken would have played it, and how Harvey Keitel changed it. "The lieutenant was going to end up dancing in the streets with the girls as the sun came up. They'd be wearing his gun belt and hat, and they'd have the radio on, you know what I mean? But oh my God, Harvey, he turned it into this whole other thing." Boy, did he. 

5. THAT SCENE WITH THE TEENAGE GIRLS HAD A REAL-LIFE ELEMENT THAT MADE IT EVEN CREEPIER.

One of the young women was Keitel's nanny. Ferrara: "I said, 'You sure you want to do this with your babysitter?' He says, 'Yeah, I want to try something.'"

6. MUCH OF IT WAS FILMED GUERRILLA-STYLE.

Like many indie-minded directors of low-budget films, Ferrara didn't bother with permits most of the time. "We weren't permitted on any of this stuff," editor Anthony Redman admitted. "We just walked on and started shooting." For the scene where a strung-out Lieutenant walks through a bumpin' nightclub, they sent Keitel through an actual, functioning club during peak operating hours.

7. A GREAT DEAL OF THE DIALOGUE AND ACTION WERE MADE UP ON THE FLY.

The script was only about 65 pages at first, which would have made for about a 65-minute movie. "It left a lot of room for improvisation," producer Randy Sabusawa said, "but the ideas were pretty distilled. They were there."

Script supervisor Karen Kelsall said supervising the script was a challenge. "Abel didn't stick to a script," she said. "Abel used a script as a way to get the money to make a movie, and then the script was kind of—we called it the daily news. It changed every day. It changed in the middle of scenes." Ferrara was unapologetic about the script's brevity. "The idea of wanting 90 pages ... is ridiculous."

8. AND THERE WERE EVEN MORE IDEAS THAT THEY DIDN'T USE.

Ferrara said a scene that epitomized the movie for him—even though he never got around to filming it—was one where the Lieutenant robs an electronics store, leaves, then gets a call about a robbery at the electronics store. He responds in an official capacity (they don't recognize him), takes a statement, walks out, and throws the statement in the garbage. "And that to me is the Bad Lieutenant, you know?" Ferrara said. 

9. THE BASEBALL PLAYOFF SERIES IS FICTIONAL.

The Mets have battled the Dodgers for the National League championship once, in 1988. (The Dodgers beat 'em and went on to win the World Series.) For the narrative Ferrara wanted—the Mets coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win the pennant—he had to make it up. He used footage from real Mets-Dodgers games (including Darryl Strawberry's three-run homer from a game in July 1991) and added fictional play-by-play. But the statistics were accurate: no team had ever been down by three in a best-of-seven series and then come back to win. (It's happened once since then, when the 2004 Red Sox did it.)

10. THEY HAD HELP FROM THE COP WHO SOLVED A SIMILAR CASE.

The disgusting crime at the center of the film (we won't dwell on it) was inspired by a real-life incident from 1981, which mayor Ed Koch called "the most heinous crime in the history of New York City." The street cop who solved it, Bo Dietl, advised Ferrara on the film and had an on-screen role as one of the detectives in our Lieutenant's circle of friends.

11. THEY DESECRATED THE CHURCH AS RESPECTFULLY AS THEY COULD.

Production designer Charles Lagola had his team cover the church’s altar and other surfaces with plastic wrap, then painted the graffiti and other defacements on the plastic.

12. IT WAS RATED NC-17 IN THEATERS, WITH AN R-RATED VERSION FOR HOME VIDEO.

Blockbuster and some of the other retail chains wouldn't carry NC-17 or unrated films, so sometimes studios would produce edited versions. (See also: Requiem for a Dream.) The tamer version of Bad Lieutenant was five minutes and 19 seconds shorter, with parts of the rape scene, the drug-injecting scene, and much of the car interrogation scene excised.

13. THE "SEQUEL" HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, NOR DID FERRARA APPROVE OF IT.


First Look International

Movie buffs were baffled in 2009, when Werner Herzog directed Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a sequel (or a remake), but in fact had no connection at all to the earlier film except that both were produced by Edward R. Pressman. Herzog said he'd never seen Ferrara's movie and wanted to change the title (Pressman wouldn't let him); Ferrara, outspoken as always, initially wished fiery death on everyone involved. Ferrara and Herzog finally met at the 2013 Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where Herzog initiated a conversation about the whole affair and Ferrara expressed his frustration cordially. 

Additional sources:
DVD interviews with Abel Ferrara, Anthony Redman, Randy Sabusawa, and Karen Kelsall.

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Big Questions
How Are Balloons Chosen for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?
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Getty Images

The balloons for this year's Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade range from the classics like Charlie Brown to more modern characters who have debuted in the past few years, including The Elf On The Shelf. New to the parade this year are Olaf from Disney's Frozen and Chase from Paw Patrol. does the retail giant choose which characters will appear in the lineup?

Balloon characters are chosen in different ways. For example, in 2011, Macy’s requested B. Boy after parade organizers saw the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. (The company had been adding a series of art balloons to the parade lineup since 2005, which it called the Blue Sky Gallery.) When it comes to commercial balloons, though, it appears to be all about the Benjamins.

First-time balloons cost at least $190,000—this covers admission into the parade and the cost of balloon construction. After the initial year, companies can expect to pay Macy’s about $90,000 to get a character into the parade lineup. If you consider that the balloons are out for only an hour or so, that’s about $1500 a minute.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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