Thursday, March 26, 2020

Bill Landis (#189)

Although his debut came with one game in 1963, Bill Landis' rookie season was 1967, with the Impossible Dream Red Sox. This is his rookie card.  His only other card (in 1969) used the same photo.

Landis was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1961 (I did not know he was previously with the Athletics), and pitched one inning for them in the last weekend of the 1963 season. Otherwise, he spent 6 seasons in their farm system.

In November 1966 the Red Sox selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He was on Boston’s roster for all of 1967, and had a rough start to his career.

Bill pitched in 18 games (all but one in relief) in his first season. He pitched in 7 games between 4/16 and 6/10, often for less than 1 inning per game. His ERA varied from 54.00 to 9.00 in the season’s first half.

After his June 10th appearance he was only used once until late-July. (The Sox had called up another rookie left-handed reliever in early July, who gave them better results.)

Landis settled down during his 7 appearances over the season’s final 2 months. He did not make the post-season roster for the Sox (nor did Lyle, which is surprising given his 2.28 ERA over 27 games).

Bill pitched 2 more seasons with the Red Sox, and was the 5th man in the bullpen both years, making 38 and 45 appearances. He came down with a sore arm late in the 1969 season, which would affect the remainder of his career.

He played the 1970 season with Boston’s AAA team in Louisville, then was traded to the Cardinals for pitcher Bill McCool that winter.

Landis pitched only 10 innings for the Cards' AAA team in 1971 before retiring.

Monday, March 16, 2020

John Donaldson (#244)

John Donaldson played 6 seasons from 1966-1970, and in 1974, all for the Athletics except for playing the 2nd half of 1969 with the Seattle Pilots.

Donaldson was signed by the Twins before the 1963 season, and drafted by the Kansas City Athletics after his first season. He played in the Athletics’ farm system for the next 3 seasons, initially as a shortstop until making the switch to 2nd base in 1966.

John made his major-league debut in late-August 1966, playing 15 games over the final weeks of the season.

After starting the 1967 season in AAA, he joined the Athletics in early-June and started 100 of the final 110 games at 2nd base, pushing incumbent Dick Green over to a 3rd base rotation with Danny Cater and Sal Bando.

In 1968 he started 81 of the first 103 games at 2B, then was replaced by Green and only made 9 more starts for the rest of the season, including three at 3rd base.

Donaldson found a seat on the bench in 1969, his only start coming in the first game of a May 30th doubleheader. On June 14th he was traded to the Seattle Pilots for backup catcher Larry Haney. He returned to regular playing time with the hapless Pilots, starting 91 of the final 107 games.

In mid-May 1970, the Brewers traded him back to the Athletics for shortstop Roberto Pena. John returned to the backup role he had from mid-‘68 to mid-‘69.

Donaldson didn’t make the team in 1971, and spent the next 3 years in the minors – bouncing to the Tigers, Orioles, and Padres, but never playing for any of them.

He was released by the Padres in April 1974 and signed with the Athletics. He spent most of his final season in the minors, but did play 9 games for the Athletics in April and May, and one in October.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Rob Gardner (#219)

This is Rob Gardner’s first card as a member of the Chicago Cubs. I first became aware of him when I got his Mets’ card in the 1967 set.

Gardner was signed by the Twins in 1963 (I did not know that.) After the ’63 season, he was selected by the Mets in the first-year draft.

Rob made his major-league debut with the Mets in September 1965. He appeared in 41 games (17 starts) for the Mets in 1966, more than twice as many games as he played in any other season. 1966 was the only year he did not spend any time in the minor leagues.

He began 1967 in triple-A, then was traded to the Cubs in mid-June (with catcher JOhn Stephenson) for pitcher Bob Hendley. Rob pitched in 18 games for the Cubs over the second half.

Gardner was traded to the Indians during Spring Training 1969 for pitcher Bob Tiefenauer. He spent most of 1968 and all of 1969 in the minors, only appearing in 5 games for the Tribe in September 1968.

He was traded to the Yankees in June 1969 for catcher Johnny Orsino, but only played 1 game for the Yanks in September 1970.

New York traded Ron to the Athletics in early-April 1971 for Felpie Alou, but 6 weeks later he was traded back to the Bronx for Cury Blefary. He played 20 games for the Yankees in ’72, but spent most of ’71 and ’72 in the minors.

After the 1972 season he was traded BACK to Oakland, this time for MATTY Alou.

He was sold to the Brewers in May 1973, but after 10 games was returned to the A’s in July.

Gardner played for the Tigers’ AAA team in 1974 and the Yankees’ AAA team in 1975 before retiring.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Ron Herbel (#333)

Ron Herbel looks determined to not finish with a 4-5 record for the 3rd straight year. (He didn't – his 1968 record was 0-0! He did get back to 4 wins in 1969 though.)

Herbel was signed by the Giants in 1958, and made his major-league debut in September 1963. He was a member of the Giants’ rotation from 1964-67. His best season was 1965, posting career highs in wins (12) and strikeouts (106).

(Why would Topps abbreviate San Fran one way on 4 lines, then change to another way?) 

Ron shifted to bullpen duty for the Giants in 1968 and 1969, but only pitched 43 innings in 1968.

After the 1969 season he was traded to the Padres with catcher Bob Barton and 3rd baseman Bobby Etheridge for pitcher Frank Reberger. Ron notched 9 saves with San Diego, then on September 1st he moved on to the Mets. He led the National League in 1970 with 76 appearances.

In December he was flipped to the Braves for 3rd baseman Bob Aspromonte. Herbel was the 11th man on Atlanta’s pitching staff in 1971, and was released the following spring.

He was picked up by the Twins but spent 1972 playing for their AAA team, never to return to the majors.

A notoriously bad hitter,  his .029 career batting average is the lowest in major-league history for a player with at least 100 at-bats.

Herbel passed away in 2000 at age 62.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Dick Kelley (#203)

Dick Kelley was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, and made his major-league debut on April 15, 1964. In that game he had the misfortune of giving up 4 earned runs while facing 5 batters (2 hits, 3 walks) but recording no outs, so his zero innings pitched resulted in the dreaded ERA of "infinity".

He spent the rest of the 1964 season in triple A, then returned to pitch 2 innings on the final day of the season. His no-hit/no-runs/no-walks performance LOWERED his ERA for the season to 18.00.

Aside from the rocky 1964, Kelley pitched 6 more seasons in the majors (1965-71). In 1966 and 1969 he was primarily a starter, and a reliever for the other years. (He missed the 1970 season.)

Kelley divided his time between the Braves and their AAA team in '65 and '66.

He pitched 98 innings for the Braves in both 1967 and 1968, but that was not enough of an impression to keep him off the expansion draft list. The Padres selected him in the post-1968 draft.

Dick started 23 of his 27 games for the Padres in 1969, and posted career-highs in innings (136) and strikeouts (96). He must have been injured in 1970, because he did not play for the Padres, and only played 1 game for their triple-A team.

Kelley returned to the Padres in 1971 as a reliever, and made 48 appearances (a career high) in his final season.

He pitched 9 games for the Rangers’ AAA team in 1972, before retiring.

Kelley passed away in 2001 at age 51.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Ed Stroud (#31)

This is Ed Stroud’s first solo card.  He previously appeared on a White Sox Rookies card (with Walt Williams) in the 1967 set.

Stroud began his career in the White Sox organization in 1963. His nickname of “Streak” was due to his stealing 74 and 72 bases in his first two minor-league seasons! After 4 seasons in the minors, he made his Sox debut in September 1966.

In mid-June 1967 he was traded to the Senators for veteran outfielder Jim King. (The first of King's two trades that season.) It was a good move for Stroud, who was stuck behind Tommie Agee, Ken Berry, Pete Ward, and rookie Walt Williams in the Sox’ outfield.

Ed played 79 games in center field over the 2nd half of the ’67 season, sharing the starts with Hank Allen.

In 1968, rookie Del Unser took over the center field job, so Stroud moved over to the right field mix with Cap Peterson, Fred Valentine, and others. Ed led the pack with 52 starts. He also played in left field occasionally when Frank Howard was at first base.

The arrangement in 1969 was much the same as in ’68, except now Ed had Lee Maye above him in the pecking order.

1970 was a career year for Stroud. Unser was limited to 100 or so games, and half of them were in right field for some reason. Ed was the primary center fielder that year, starting 95 games. He had career highs in hits (115) and stolen bases (40).

All that quality play in 1970 got him a ticket out of Washington, as he was traded back to the White Sox for 1st baseman Tom McCraw during spring training in 1971. Stroud played in 50+ games over the first half (rarely starting) and by midseason he was back in the minors, and retired after the season.

Stroud passed away in 2012 at age 72.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Steve Whitaker (#383)

Here is outfielder Steve Whitaker, in his last season as a Yankee.

Whitaker was one of a long line of Yankees' outfielders (along with Roger Repoz, Bill Robinson, Roy White, Bobby Murcer, and Jerry Kenney) who were touted as, if not the next Mickey Mantle, then the next Roger Maris or surely the next Tom Tresh. (Only White and Murcer panned out for the Yankees. )

Whitaker was signed by the Yankees in 1962, and played in the minors from 1962-65. He bashed 27 homers in ’64 and 24 in ’65. He also hit 20 homers in 1966 before his August call-up to the Yankees.

In 1967 he started 108 games in the outfield (mostly in right field, replacing the traded Maris), but only hit 11 home runs while batting at a .243 clip.

Steve split the 1968 season between the Yankees and triple-A, then was selected by the Royals in the expansion draft.

During spring training in 1969, he was traded to the Seattle Pilots for disgruntled rookie Lou Piniella (who went on to win the Rookie of the Year award). Whitaker didn’t fare as well as Piniella. He couldn’t find regular work with the expansion team, and was used mostly as a pinch-hitter, while also spending all of August back in triple-A.

After the 1969 season he and outfielder Dick Simpson were traded to the Giants for pitcher Bob Bolin. He only played 16 games for the Giants (the last on May 9th) and played the remainder of 1970 for the Giants’ AAA team.

Whitaker played for the Padres’ AAA team in Hawaii in '71 and '72 before retiring.


Having not collected baseball cards in 1970 or 1971, I lost track of Whitaker's career after 1969 until today, because by the time I was buying cards again in 1972, Steve had retired. His final card is in the 1971 set.