Sunday, October 1, 2017

Joe Hoerner (#227)

One of the all-time Rule 5 success stories, Joe Hoerner went from barely hanging on with a bad 4th-year team in 1965 to heading up the bullpen for the 2-time NL champion Cardinals from 1966-69).

Hoerner was signed by the White Sox in 1957, and after 5 seasons in their farm system he was selected by the soon-to-join-the-NL Houston Colts .45s in November 1961.

Primarily a starter for his 1st 2 seasons in the minors, he was a swing man for his final 3 minor-league seasons. In the majors, every one of his 493 games was as a reliever.

During his years with Houston (1962-65), Joe mostly played in the minors, but appeared with the Colt .45s for 1 game in ’63 and 7 games in ’64.


Selected by the Cardinals in the November 1965 Rule 5 draft, he immediately rose to bullpen star status. Joe appeared in 45 or more games in each of his 4 seasons with the Cardinals, while fashioning ERAs of 1.54, 2.59, 1.47, and 2.87. He led the team in saves for all 4 seasons as well.

Hoerner also pitched in 2 games in the ’67 World Series and 3 games in the ’68 Fall Classic.

After the 1969 season, Hoerner accompanied Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, and Byron Browne to Philadelphia in exchange for Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson. The Phillies’ relief corps had been headed up by Turk Farrell and Dick Hall for the past few seasons, but by 1970 both were gone, with Hoerner and Dick Selma (acquired in the 69-70 off-season for Johnny Callison) in their place.

My recollection of Hoerner’s time with the Phillies is that he was their bullpen ace for 2 seasons, but as I am typing this, I see in Baseball-Reference.com that he had the fewest innings pitched of the 5 relief pitchers, and his 9 saves were well behind Selma’s 22 saves. However, Hoerner did make the All-Star team that season (his only time), so maybe he was the situational lefty specialist (pitching 57 innings in 44 games).

He also had 9 saves in 1971, which was good enough to lead the team that season.

In June 1972 the Phillies made another of their bad trades, sending Hoerner and 1st base prospect Andre Thornton to the Braves for pitchers Jim Nash and Gary Neibauer. (Nash went 0-8 for the Phillies, to close out his career. Neibauer pitched 18 innings for the Philles, then returned to the Braves the following season. Meanwhile Thornton hit 250 home runs over the next 14 seasons with the Cubs and Indians!) 

Hoerner pitched for the Braves and Royals for the next 2+ seasons, then returned to the Phillies for the 1975 season. He was just a supporting player in his 2nd stint with Philly, as they now had Tug McGraw and Gene Garber heading up the bullpen.

Joe spent his final 2 seasons with the Rangers (’76) and Reds (’77) before retiring.

 In October 1996 he was killed in a farming accident at age 59.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bob Bailey (#580)

Here is the only card showing Bob Bailey in a Dodgers' uniform. Bailey played for the Dodgers only for 1967 and 1968 (traded from the Pirates for Maury Wills). His 1967 card is a capless number showing him in a Pirates' uniform. After the 1968 season, he moved on to the expansion Montreal Expos, and his 1969 card ALSO shows him capless in a Pirates’ uni. So Dodgers' fans: this is it for Bob Bailey!

Bailey played in the Pirates' minor league system for 2 seasons (1961-62) before making his major-league debut with the Pirates in September 1962. He started 12 of the final 15 games at 3rd base, replacing the veteran Don Hoak.


With Hoak traded to the Phillies in the off-season, Bailey became the starting 3rd baseman for the Pirates from day 1 of the 1963 season. He started 153 games at the hot corner in his rookie season.

The Pirates picked up veteran Gene Freese in 1964, and he shared the 3rd base job with Bailey that season (with Bob getting 60% of the starts at 3B, and another few dozen in left field). Bob was back to full-time status at 3rd base the following season, making 133 starts (to Freese's 17).

In Bailey's final season with the Bucs, he shared the 3rd base job with utility man Jose Pagan, with both starting about half the games. Bob also saw some playing time in left field on Willie Stargell's days off. After collecting over 500 at-bats in his first 3 seasons, Bob’s workload was reduced in 1966, only having 380 at-bats in 126 games.

After the '66 season, the Pirates sent Bailey and shortstop prospect Gene Michael to the Dodgers in return for shortstop Maury Wills. (With Gene Alley set at shortstop, Wills played 3rd base for the Pirates for the next 2 seasons. He would join Bailey in Montreal at the start of the 1969 season.)

Bob didn't have a full-time spot for his 2 seasons in LA. He had 322 at-bats in both seasons, playing less than 120 games each year. The Dodgers had also acquired 2nd baseman Ron Hunt in the same off-season, so their former ROY Jim Lefebvre moved over to 3B for many games, leaving only 65 starts there for Bailey. (He did start 23 games in left field.)

The following season Hunt was gone (freeing up 2nd base for Lefebvre), but Bob only started 88 games there, and none in the outfield.

Selected in the expansion draft, Bob was the Expos' 1st starting 1st-sacker. He started 83 games then gave way to ex-Dodger Ron Fairly in the 2nd half of the season. That was his only season with significant playing time at 1st base.

Bailey played for the Expos for 7 seasons (1969-75). After backing up young Coco Laboy in 1970, Bob regained full-time status from 1971-74, mostly at 3rd base, but at 3B and LF in 1974.

After the 1975 season he was traded to the Reds for pitcher Clay Kirby. Bob rode the bench in Cincinnati for 2 seasons, then played his final season (1978) with the Red Sox, mostly as a DH or pinch-hitter.

When his playing career was over, Bailey managed in the minor-leagues for several organizations from 1979 to 1987.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dissecting the 1968 Set

Well, my recent post about the 1967 set was so much fun to do, that I'm doing the same here for the 1968 set. I will also have similar posts for the '66, '69, '70, (and maybe '65) sets, but not this week.

The 1968 Topps set had 598 cards, 11 fewer than in 1967. This included 13 team cards, 20 managers, 30 rookie stars cards, 12 league leaders cards, 8 World Series cards, 20 All-Star cards, 7 checklists, and 3 multi-player cards. This leaves 485 cards of individual players.

Topps issued 20 All-Star cards which they didn't do in the previous year. How did they add 20 cards and still have a smaller set than the previous year? They short-changed other areas:
 - Only 30 Rookie Stars cards (43 in 1967)
 - Only 3 multi-player cards (13 in 1967)
 - Inexplicably, only 13 team cards (19 in 1967)
All that corner-cutting, and there were still 5 fewer player cards (485) than in the previous set.

Here is the position breakdown of the 485 player cards:

205 cards for "PITCHER"
50 cards for "CATCHER"
24 cards for "1st BASE"
19 cards for "2nd BASE"
22 cards for "SHORTSTOP" or "SS"
18 cards for "3rd BASE"
12 cards for "INFIELD"
95 cards for "OUTFIELD"

That's a total of 451 cards. The remaining 34 cards featured players at more than 1 position. Below is a sample of each position:


These are the only 2 players having a C-1B or 1B-C position.


Once again, Tom Satriano is the only C-3B in the set.  Teammate Ed Kirkpatrick is the only OF-CATCHER.  (There are no 3B-C or C-OF in the set.)


Felipe Alou appears again as a 1B-OF (along with Lee Thomas, Clarence Jones, and Mike Hegan).  His teammate Tito Francona has the opposite position, as does Chuck Hinton.


Chico Salmon is one of two 2B-OF in the set (along with Bob Savarine).  I wonder why Topps chose not to abbreviate Salmon's and Alou's positions, like they did with the others?  Jim Hart and Danny Cater are the only two with 3B-OF.


In the 1967 set, Topps botched Orioles' shortstop Luis Aparicio's position, naming him as "INFIELD".  This year, they did it again to the Orioles' shortstop.  Mark Belanger was the starting shortstop all season (with Aparicio having been traded), yet they have him as 2B-SS.  (No other Orioles' player was designated as 'SS'.)

In the last set, there was only one player with this position, but now there are 6 (Belanger, Phil Gagliano, Nate Oliver, Tim Cullen, Frank Quilici, Wayne Causey). As in the previous set, Dick Tracewski is the only SS-2B.


Like Alou and Francona, teammates share the opposing positions here.  Jerry Adair, Don Buford, and Bernie Allen have a 2B-3B position, while Dalton Jones, Jim Lefebvre, and Chuck Hiller have 3B-2B.

These are the only two players in the set with these positions.


And now the miscellaneous grouping.  In the '67 set, there was only 1 player with 1B-3B (Harmon Killebrew)  and none with 3B-1B.  Now, there are no 1B-3B cards, but 2 (Ed Mathews, Pete Ward) for 3B-1B.

There are 3 players having the dreaded INF-OF position (Gary Sutherland, Woodie Held, and Frank Kostro.)  Topps missed the boat here.  Sutherland was a semi-regular at both shortstop and left field in 1967, and played no other positions.  Topps could have had a rare "SS-OF" position if they were paying attention.



I noticed a few other things about this set while I was gathering the above information.  I have already railed about the uneven distribution of cards among the teams in this set, as well as the absence of a Giants Rookie Stars card.

I found that there is no card for an Indians' 1st baseman (because Topps refused to make any cards for Tony Horton), and also no 2nd baseman for the Giants (nor anyone remotely close, like an infielder or a combined position).  Tito Fuentes seems like a candidate for that card, but he is missing from the set.

I also found that the Astros have FOURTEEN pitchers, while most other teams have 9 to 11. Topps also went overboard with FOUR catchers for the Athletics, while everyone else has 2 or 3.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Robinson Crew (So?)

Here's a break from the normal routine. I went through my 1966 to 1970 cards, and found over a dozen cases where three or more players have the same last name (and many more with just two). I've already done the brothers thing, so they won't be included in this series.

I started off with Jackson, May, and Johnson. Now post #4 - The Robinsons:

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Jackson Five


Here's a break from the normal routine. I went through my 1966 to 1970 cards, and found over a dozen cases where three or more players have the same last name (and many more with just two). I've already done the brothers thing, so they won't be included in this series.

I'm starting off with all the Jacksons. (Reggie would have had a card in the 1968 set, if not for Topps' ineptitude.)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Horace Clarke (#263)

Here is Yankees’ 2nd baseman Horace Clarke. Horace played for the Yankees from 1965-74, and is one of 3 Yankees (along with Mel Stottlemyre and Roy White) to bridge the gap between the Mantle/Maris/Ford era and the Munson/Nettles/Murcer/Piniella era.

Clarke (a native of the US Virgin Islands) began his career in 1958 with the Yankees’ Class-D team in Kearney, Nebraska. After six seasons as a shortstop, he switched to 2nd base in 1964 (his 2nd season in triple-A).

Horace began the 1965 season in triple-A, but made his Yankees’ debut in mid-May, playing in 51 games that year, including 21 starts (mostly at 3rd base).


Long-time shortstop Tony Kubek retired after the 1965 season, so the Yankees moved 3rd baseman Clete Boyer to SS for the first half of the 1966 season, then Clarke started almost every game at shortstop during July and August. In September Horace moved over to 2nd base (replacing the soon-to-retire Bobby Richardson) to make room for September call-up Bobby Murcer.

Clarke was a fixture at 2nd base for the Yankees from 1967 through 1973. Over that 7-year period, he played more games (1059) and started more games at one position (1017) than any other Yankee. Roy White was a distant 2nd with 985 games played and 875 outfield starts.

After playing sparingly (9 starts) over the first 2 months of the 1974 season, Clarke and pitcher Lowell Palmer were dealt to the Padres at the end of May. Horace finished out his 10th and final season as the Padres’ 3rd-string 2nd baseman, behind Derrel Thomas and Glenn Beckert.