Monday, November 16, 2015

Ted Savage (#119)

Ted Savage was the first of many young outfielders developed by the Phillies’ farm system in the 1960s:

Ted Savage (debut - 1962)
Johnny Briggs (1964)
Alex Johnson (1964)
Adolfo Phillips (1964)
Larry Hisle (1968)

All but Briggs were dealt away within a year or 2 of their major-league debut. As a result, by the early 1970s Phillies’ fans were treated to a starting outfield populated by the likes of Oscar Gamble, Roger Freed, and Ron Stone.

Savage was signed by the Phillies in 1960, and made the team at the start of the 1962 season. Ted platooned in left field with Wes Covington, starting 65 games there and 17 games at the other 2 spots. He hit 7 homers while compiling a .266 batting average.

Content to go with Covington for the next 3 seasons, the Phils dealt Savage to the Pirates following his rookie year for veteran 3rd baseman Don Hoak. (Hoak would be a 1-year stopgap player, until Richie Allen took over the hot corner in 1964.)

Savage only played for the Pirates for one season. In 1963 he was buried on the outfield depth chart behind Roberto Clemente, Bill Virdon, Willie Stargell, Jerry Lynch, and Bob Skinner. A spare part, Ted was sent back to the minors for all of 1964.

In December 1964 Savage was traded to the Cardinals, and spent most of the next 2 seasons in the minors, although he did play a few dozen games with St. Louis.

After 9 appearances (all as a pinch-hitter) in 1967, Ted was sold to the Cubs in May and became a quasi-regular for the first time since his rookie season. He split the right field duties with Lee Thomas and Al Spangler.

The remainder of Savage’s career was a series of 1-year stays with 5 teams. In April 1968 he was shipped out to the Dodgers for pitcher Phil Regan and OF-1B Jim Hickman (a steal for the Cubs!). A year later the Dodgers flipped him to the Reds for veteran backup catcher Jimmie Schaffer.

In April 1970 the Brewers purchased him from the Reds, then traded him to the Royals in 1971 for infielder Tom Matchick. Ted’s only full-time action after leaving the Cubs was his 1970 season with the Brewers.

Ted played in Mexico in ’72 and ’73, then retired from the game.

He earned a Ph.D. and spent 9 years as the athletic director for a university in St. Louis. Savage also worked in the Cardinals’ community relations department from 1987 to 2012.

At age 79, he is the oldest living player from the 1966-70 era that I had not featured on my blogs.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Phil Regan (#88)

Here’s relief pitcher Phil Regan, on his last card as an LA Dodger, a first-series card with wide-grain burlap borders.

Phil was signed by the Tigers in 1956, and pitched in their farm system for 4 ½ seasons until making his major-league debut in July 1960. Phil was a starter for the Tigers from that time on through the 1964 season, reaching a high water mark of 15 wins in 1963.

After being limited to only 16 games in 1965 (and spending some time in the minors), Regan was traded to the Dodgers after the season for utility infielder Dick Tracewski. Phil joined the Dodgers for the 1966 season, their last hurrah in the Sandy Koufax era. With the team having a starting rotation of Koufax, Don Drysdale, Claude Osteen, and Don Sutton, Regan became a full-time reliever that year, leading the NL with 21 saves. "The Vulture" also made his lone all-star team that season.

The 1967 season was not kind to the Dodgers or their fans. Koufax had just retired, Tommy Davis and Maury Wills were traded away, and the team began their only 3-season string of 2nd division finishes under manager Walter Alston.

After the 1967 season, the Dodgers began dismantling their veteran bullpen, sending Ron Perranoski and Bob Miller (along with starting catcher John Roseboro) to the Twins for pitcher Jim Grant and shortstop Zoilo Versalles. (Versalles was such a non-factor in his one season in LA that he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and was scooped up by the Padres.)

In late April ’68, Regan was sent packing to the Cubs (along with spare outfielder Jim Hickman) for outfielder Ted Savage. [ What was going on here? In ’65 Regan was traded straight-up for a utility infielder, and proceeded to lead the league in saves. Two seasons later he is traded (WITH another player) for the likes of Ted Savage? Regan then went on to lead the NL again with 25 saves! Couldn’t ANYONE evaluate talent?]

Phil pitched for the Cubs until June 1972. After collecting 25 saves in ’68, he followed up with 17 saves in ’69 and 12 more in ’70. He also won 12 games in both 1968 and 1969.

Regan was sold to the cross-town White Sox in early-June 1972, and pitched in 10 games (13 innings) until getting his release 6 weeks later, ending his 13-year career. In 371 National League games, he made just 4 starts. He started 101 of his 180 AL games, all with the Tigers.

Regan later coached and/or scouted for the Mariners, Dodgers, Cubs, and Indians, and managed the Orioles for the 1995 season.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Jim Northrup (#78)

Here is Jim Northrup, embarking on a banner year in 1968 which would lead to the World Series championship for the Tigers. Jim reached career highs in games, at-bats, and RBI in ’68. He also clubbed 2 homers and collected 8 RBI in the Fall Classic.

Northrup played 4 years (1961-64) in the Tigers’ farm system and made his big-league debut in September 1964. In '65 he was with Detroit for the entire season as the team’s 4th outfielder, primarily playing right field when Al Kaline moved over to center field.

In 1966 Jim’s starts in right field increased to 97 games as he moved up to the #3 spot (behind Kaline and Willie Horton) in the outfield. With Don Demeter shipped out to the Red Sox in mid-June, Kaline spent much more time over in center field than he had in 1965.

The Tigers’ used a 4-man outfield in the late-1960s. With defensively-challenged slugger Willie Horton holding down left field, the other 2 spots were a rotation of Kaline, Northrup, and Mickey Stanley, with the fleet Stanley usually only playing center field.

1968 to 1970 were Jim’s big power years, hitting over 20 homers each season.  His 90 RBI in 1968 was 3rd in the AL.

In August 1974 he was traded to the Expos, who flipped him to the Orioles a month later. Northrup finished his career as a part-time center fielder for the Orioles in 1975.

He passed away in June 2011 at age 71.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pat Jarvis (#134)

Pat Jarvis pitched for the Braves for 7 seasons (1966-72) before wrapping up his career in 1973 with the Expos.

Jarvis was signed by the Cubs (I did not know that) in 1960 and after one season on their farm he moved on to the Tigers’ organization. After the 1963 season, he went to the Braves in a minor-league deal for pitcher Bruce Brubaker.

Pat made his major-league debut in August 1966, and was a key member of the Braves' starting rotation from 1967-70, winning 15, 16, 13, and 16 games in those seasons, and leading the staff in wins during the ’68 and ’60 seasons. He also started one game in the 1969 NL playoffs.

In 1971 he slumped to a 6-14 record, and was relegated to the bullpen for 12 of his 35 appearances. He bounced back in 1972 with a 11-7 record, but it was almost all as a reliever.

Before the ‘73 season, Jarvis was traded to the Expos for pitcher Carl Morton. This was to be his final major-league season, pitching only 39 innings (all in relief) while compiling a 2-1 record. His final game was on September 23rd.

Pat was dealt to the Rangers in December, but was released in March 1974, ending his 8-year career.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

NL / ML Rookies (#579, 569, 539)

Topps' custom for Rookie Stars cards from 1964 to 1972 was that by the time they got to the 7th series, if there weren't at least 2 remaining rookies for the same team, they would group them on "NL Rookies", "AL Rookies", or "ML Rookies" cards.  (I'm not sure why they just didn't put Ivan Murrell and Jim Ray on a "Houston Rookies" card.)

Larry Hisle was handed the Phillies' starting center field job to begin the 1968 season, but flopped miserably, and after only 7 games was sent down to AAA for much-needed seasoning. He returned the following spring as the #1 center fielder, and after a great rookie season, slumped in 1970 and split 1971 between the Phillies and the minors. He later played 5 years with the Twins (including a career year in 1977) and 5 years with the Brewers.

Mike Lum played 8 full years with the Braves (1968-75), and was then a part-time player for the Reds (1976-78) and Braves (1979-81). He was the Braves’ regular right fielder in ’71 and ’72, the years when Hank Aaron played 1st base.

After cups of coffee with the Astros from 1963-68, Ivan Murrell was drafted by the expansion Padres in 1969 and played 3 full seasons in San Diego as a part-time outfielder. Murrell bounced up and down between the Padres, Braves, and their minor-league teams from 1972-75, then played in Mexico from 1976-83.

Les Rohr pitched in the Mets’ farm system from 1965-70, and saw action in 6 games with the Mets between 1967 and 1969.

Jim Ray pitched a few games for the Astros in ’65 and ’66, then was a bullpen mainstay from 1968-73. He finished his career in 1974 with the Tigers.

I was surprised today to see how short Mike Ferarro’s MLB career was. Although he played in the minors from 1962-75, he only made brief appearances with the Yankees (10 games in ’66, 23 in ’68) and Seattle Pilots (5 games in ’69) before his only season as a regular in 1972 (124 games for the Brewers). He also managed the Indians in 1983 and Royals in 1986.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Claude Osteen (#440)

Claude Osteen was a starting pitcher for 18 seasons (1957-75), primarily for the Dodgers and Senators. He compiled a career record of 196-195, and started 488 of his 541 career games. Most of his relief appearances came early in his career.

Osteen was signed by the Reds in 1957 and was assigned to their AA Nashville team. Although he pitched in the minors from 1957-59, he played a few games with the Reds in ’57 and ’59.

Claude was with the Reds for the entire 1960 season, starting 3 games but mostly working out of the bullpen. He spent most of 1961 back in the minors, then was traded to the Senators in September for pitcher Dave Sisler (brother of Phillies’ outfielder Dick Sisler).

Osteen pitched the next 3 seasons in the Senators’ rotation, his high point winning 15 games in 1964.

After the 1964 season, Claude was traded to the Dodgers (with 3rd baseman John Kennedy) for outfielder Frank Howard, 3rd baseman Ken McMullen, pitchers Phil Ortega and Pete Richert, and 1st baseman Dick Nen.

Osteen pitched for the Dodgers for the next 9 seasons, joining a rotation featuring Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, and a fading Johnny Podres. Over time, Don Sutton replaced Podres and Bill Singer replaced Koufax. With the retirement of Drysdale after the 1969 season, Claude became the dean of the starting rotation.

Claude started 2 games in the 1965 World Series, and 1 game in the 1966 Series. He also won 20 games in 1969 and 1972, and was a 3-time all-star with the Dodgers. He got the win in the 1970 all-star game (thanks to Pete Rose’s walk-off steamrolling of Ray Fosse at home plate!)

1973 was Osteen’s final season with the Dodgers. He won 16 games that year, but with a fully-stocked rotation of Sutton, Andy Messersmith, Tommy John, and Al Downing, Osteen was traded to the Dodgers after the season for outfielder Jimmy Wynn.

Claude played most of 1974 with the Astros (compiling a 9-9 record in 138 innings), but moved on to the Cardinals in August in exchange for 2 minor-leaguers. He pitched in 8 games (mostly in relief) over the final six weeks, then was released the following April.

Osteen spent his final season with the White Sox in 1975, pitching 204 innings in 37 starts with a 7-16 record. (After his shabby treatment by the Cardinals in 1974, it was good to see him wrap up his long career as a workhorse!) He was released in April 1976.

After his playing career, he was a pitching coach for the Cardinals, Phillies, Rangers, and Dodgers.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tom Haller (#185)

Tom Haller was a catcher for the Giants and Dodgers in the 1960s. Here we see him on his last card as a Giant. He was traded to the Dodgers prior to the 1968 season for Ron Hunt, but both players appear as Giants in the ’68 set.

After playing quarterback at the University of Illinois, Haller was signed by the Dodgers in 1958. After 3 seasons in the minors, Tom began 1961 with the Giants, but spent the 2nd half of the season back in the minors.

He platooned at catcher with veteran Ed Bailey in 1962 and 1963, then took over as the #1 catcher in 1964, a position he would hold through the 1967 season. Haller made the all-star team in 1966 and 1967, his final 2 seasons in San Francisco. He also clubbed a career-high 27 homers in 1966.

In February 1968 (with rookie catcher Dick Dietz ready for regular playing time) Haller was traded to the Dodgers for 2nd baseman Ron Hunt and utility infielder Nate Oliver. It was the first trade between the two teams since their move to California in 1958.

Tom was immediately installed as the starting catcher in LA, taking over for John Roseboro, who had been traded to the Twins 3 months earlier. Haller made his 3rd consecutive all-star squad in 1968, then continued as the #1 catcher in 1969.

In 1970 he started 91 games behind the plate, with backups Jeff Torborg and Bill Sudakis (the team’s starting 3rd baseman in 1969) splitting the remaining games.

In 1971, Tom shared the starting catching duties with Duke Sims (acquired from the Indians), with rookie Joe Ferguson also getting a few dozen starts as the 3rd-stringer.

Haller was traded to the Tigers after the 1971 season, and spent the ’72 season backing up perennial all-star Bill Freehan. By early August, Tom’s old pal Duke Sims was acquired from the Dodgers, and joined the catching mix. Haller only started 4 games after Sims’ arrival.

During one start in July 1972, Haller was catching, while his older brother Bill (an American League umpire) was working behind the plate.

The Phillies acquired Haller before the 1973 season, mostly to serve as a mentor and insurance policy for Bob Boone, who, after a cup of coffee in September ’72, would be handed the starting catching job in 1973. Haller decided to retire, rather than accept a trade to the Phillies.

Haller was the Giants’ GM from 1981-85, and the White Sox’ GM in 1986.

He passed away in November 2004 at age 67.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Orioles Team (#334)

Here is the Orioles team card. Topps did away with the superimposed yellow or red background for their team cards in 1968, but only issued cards for 13 of the 20 teams.

What a difference 1 year makes! The Orioles went from World Champions in 1966 to tied for 6th place in 1967. Why? Frank Robinson missed every game from 6/28 to 7/28 after a collision caused him to suffer from double vision.

Also, almost all their starting pitchers came down with arm injuries. The most severe was Jim Palmer, who spent most of '67 and all of '68 recuperating in the minors. Dave McNally, Wally Bunker, and Steve Barber were also ineffective, with Barber traded to the Yankees in July.

In place of Palmer and the others, rookie Tom Phoebus stepped up to lead the staff with 14 wins, 179 strikeouts, and a 3.33 ERA.

Not to worry, the Orioles would be back in 1969 (and 1970... and 1971).

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dick Williams (#87)

What a rookie season! After finishing no higher than 6th place for the previous 7 seasons (including two 9th and two 8th place finishes), the Red Sox gave Dick Williams his first big-league managing job in 1967, and he guided the team to their first World Series since 1946. Unfortunately, just as in ‘46, the Sox lost in 7 to the Cardinals.

Williams began his baseball career as an outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Signed in 1947, he played 4 seasons in the minors, then played for Brooklyn as a spare outfielder from 1951 to 1954.

Dick spent all of 1955 and part of 1956 in the minors. After only 7 games with the Dodgers in 1956, Williams was claimed off waivers by the Orioles, and became their regular center fielder for the remainder of the season.

In mid-June 1957, Williams was traded to the Indians, who then traded him back to the O’s a few days before the start of the ’58 season. After just one season back in Baltimore (this time as a swing man between 1B/3B/CF), he was shipped out to the Kansas City Athletics.

Williams played for the A’s in ’59 and ’60, starting about half the team’s games at 3rd base or 1st base. In 1961, Williams was traded on the 2nd day of the season to ... (anyone?) the Orioles! Now in his 3rd stint with the team, Dick shared the left field job with Russ Snyder, while also making the occasional start at 1st base. 1962 would be his last in Baltimore, and he was relegated to a utility role.

Williams wrapped up his playing career with 2 seasons in Boston, playing his final game on 10/1/64.


Dick immediately went into managing, piloting Boston’s AAA Toronto team to first-division finishes in ’65 and ’66. That earned him the Red Sox’ job in 1967, and what a year for the BoSox. Not only did they win the pennant, but Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown, and Jim Lonborg led the AL in wins and strikeouts while winning the Cy Young award.

Williams managed the Red Sox until his firing with a week remaining in 1969. He moved on to Oakland for 1971-73, guiding the team to 3 division titles and 2 World Championships in his 3 seasons. This was all done with players that were famous for not liking each other (or not liking Williams, I don't remember which).

Dick had less success with the Angels (1974-76) and the Expos (1977-81), then moved on to the Padres from 1982-85, including winning the NL pennant in 1984. His final manager’s job was with the Mariners from 1986-88. He later worked for the Yankees as a consultant.

In 21 seasons as a manager, Williams compiled a 1571-1451 record, with 4 pennants and 2 World Series Championships. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008.

Williams passed away in July 2011 at age 82.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Felipe Alou (#55)

Felipe Alou played 17 seasons (1958-74) for 6 teams, mostly the Giants and Braves. Although mostly an outfielder, he played about half his games at 1st base from 1965-67 with the Braves and from 1971-73 with the Yankees.

Felipe is the oldest of the 3 Alou brothers, who all began their careers with the Giants. Felipe's son Moises also played in the majors from 1990-2008.

Alou was signed by the Giants in 1955, and played 2 ½ seasons in the minors before making his big-league debut with the Giants in June 1958. Felipe backed up rookie Willie Kirkland in right field for the remainder of the season.

1959 was more of the same for Alou, backing up Kirkland in right field. In late July, rookie Willie McCovey joined the Giants, which caused incumbent 1st baseman Orlando Cepeda to play about half his games in left field for the next few seasons. With Willie Mays in center field, all other outfielders would have to vie for playing time in right field.

In 1960 Alou was the regular left fielder for the 50+ games when Cepeda would move in to 1st base. From 1961 to 1963, Felipe was the Giants' regular right fielder, often backed up by his brother Matty. His youngest brother Jesus joined the Giants in September 1963, Felipe's last few weeks with the Giants. All 3 Alou brothers played in the same outfield only once – on September 15th.

After the season, Felipe was traded to the Braves (with pitcher Billy Hoeft, catcher Ed Bailey, and infielder Ernie Bowman) for pitchers Bob Shaw and Bob Hendley, and catcher Del Crandall. Alou began the '64 season as the Braves’ starting center fielder, but by mid-June had lost that post to Lee Maye, and spent the remainder of the season as the 4th outfielder.

Felipe began playing 1st base in 1965, and spent the next 3 seasons dividing his time between 1st, left field, and center field. He also was quite good with the stick. In 1966 he finished 2nd among NL batters with a .327 average (right behind his brother Matty). In 1968 he finished 3rd (behind Pete Rose and Matty) with a .317 average.

After Mack Jones was traded away following the 1967 season, Alou spent the next 2 seasons as the Braves' regular center fielder.

After the '69 season, he was traded to Oakland for pitcher Jim Nash. Alou only spent one full season with the Athletics. At age 35, he played in an outfield that included Rick Monday and Reggie Jackson, both 24. Felipe played in left field, and also 70 games in right (mostly when Jackson played center in Monday's absence).

Felipe started the first 2 games of the 1971 season, then at week's end was traded to the Yankees. He played the rest of '71, all of '72, and most of '73 in the Big Apple. He was a regular in 1971, playing RF/CF/1B. For the next 2 seasons he shared the first base job with Ron Blomberg.

In September 1973 Alou hit the road again, this time for Montreal. He played 19 games for the Expos during the season's final month, then was sold to the Brewers in the off-season. After 3 games with Milwaukee, he was released in April 1974.

Alou became a manager after his playing career, with stops in Montreal (1992-2001) and San Francisco (2003-06).