Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cardinals Team (#497)

In previous seasons, all teams except the Astros had team cards. In 1968, for some reason there were only 13 team cards.

Here is the team card for the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Manager Red Schoendienst is front and center, flanked by 2 of his coaches on either side. Curt Flood and Orlando Cepeda (#30) are the 2 players seated on the far left. Steve Carlton (#32) is behind Schoendienst.

The back of the card shows the previous year's leader in several categories. Bob Gibson is absent from these leaders, because he missed 2 months of the 1967 season with a broken leg.

The Cardinals' started the 1967 season with Bob Gibson, Ray Washburn, Larry Jaster, and Al Jackson in the rotation, with Steve Carlton as the #5 starter. In early May, rookie Dick Hughes pushed Jaster out of the rotation. A surprise to me TODAY was that Nelson Briles didn't join the starting rotation until 7/21 (while Gibson was out with a broken leg). When Gibson returned, Briles stayed in the rotation, and both Jaster and Jackson were out.

The Cardinals 1967 World Series rotation was:
1. Gibson (CG)
2. Hughes (others in relief)
3. Briles (CG)
4. Gibson (CG)
5. Carlton (Washburn and others in relief)
6. Hughes (Briles, Washburn, and others in relief)
7. Gibson (CG)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wayne Causey (#522)

Wayne Causey was signed by the Baltimore Orioles as a bonus baby in June 1955. As such, he would remain on the Orioles roster for 2 years before spending any time in the minor leagues.

He started 56 games at third base for the Orioles, more than any of the other 5 players the Orioles used there. In 1956, he lost the starting 3B job to George Kell, who was acquired from Detroit during the season. (Kell would be replaced in 1958 by Brooks Robinson.)

After spending most of 1957 and all of 1958-60 in the minors, Causey was traded to the Athletics prior to the 1961 season, along with 4 other players for outfielders Whitey Herzog and Russ Snyder.

Wayne was the Athletics' starting third baseman in 1961, and the backup SS-3B in 1962. His best seasons in Kansas City were from 1963 to 1965, as he started more than 125 games at shortstop in each of '63 and '64, and made 40, 59, and 33 starts at 2B, SS, and 3B in 1965.

I wonder if this versatility was his ticket out of Kansas City, because in May 1966, he was traded to the White Sox for Danny Cater, who had been Chicago's regular left fielder for the previous season.

With the White Sox, Causey's playing time was diminished since Chicago's roster was already filled with non-first-base infielders (Al Weis, Don Buford, Jerry Adair, Pete Ward, Ron Hansen, Lee Elia, Gene Freese) all looking for (and getting) playing time. Wayne managed to start 40 games at 2B in 1966, and 75 games at 2B in 1967.

In mid-July 1968, Causey was traded to the Angels for infielder-outfielder Woodie Held, and 1 week later was sold to the Atlanta Braves. For all 3 teams in 1968, he was used primarily as a pinch-hitter.

Although Causey's last game was on September 20, 1968, he did have one more Topps card in 1969.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cubs Rookies: Jose Arcia / Bill Schlesinger

The 1967 Topps set included 43 rookies cards. Most teams had 1 or 2 rookies cards, with a few teams (Astros, Cubs, Athletics, Orioles, Yankees) having 3 rookies cards.

The 1968 Topps set only had 29 rookies cards. Most teams only had 1 card. The Pirates, Reds, Indians, Twins, and White Sox had 2 rookies cards, while the Orioles had 3 cards, just like the previous season (good farm system?). For some reason, the Giants did not have a rookies card in 1968.

Here is the Cubs Rookies card (#258) for 1968.

Jose Arcia was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1962, and bounced around in the minors from 1962 to 1967 with 4 organizations (Colt .45s, Tigers, Indians, Cardinals) before being acquired after the 1967 season by the Cubs.

In 1968 (as a rule 5 draftee) he remained on the Cubs roster all season as a backup middle infielder. After the season, he was drafted by the expansion Padres. In San Diego, he shared the starting second base job in 1969, and was the backup SS-2B in 1970.

After the 1970 season, he played exclusively in the minor leagues through the 1976 season, for the Padres, Angels, Twins, Royals, and Astros.

The career of Bill Schlesinger was even shorter than Arcia's. Schlesinger played minor-league ball from 1964 to 1970 for 4 organizations (Red Sox, Athletics, Cubs, Phillies). His major-league career consists of 1 game in 1965 with the Red Sox (which is when this airbrushed picture was probably taken).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Denny McLain (#40)

Denny McLain was originally signed by the White Sox, but made his major-league debut with the Tigers in 1963. He returned to the big leagues to stay in the following season. McLain had a string of 5 excellent seasons from 1965 to 1969, with the high point coming in 1968, when he won 31 games and led the Tigers to the AL pennant. McLain and Mickey Lolich pitched the Tigers to victory over the Cardinals in the World Series. Denny was also the MVP in 1968, and won the Cy Young Award in 1968 and 1969. (McLain is the only pitcher to win 30 games since 1934.)

After the 1969 season, the bottom fell out for McLain, as he had off-field problems (including a suspension for gambling). Before the 1971 season he was traded to the Washington Senators, where he proceeded to lose 22 games.

After that season, it was on to Oakland and then Atlanta. The Braves released him prior to the 1973 season, but he played in the minor leagues in 1973 before retiring.

During his playing career, McLain was a popular nightclub organ player.

More info here

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Final Card: Norm Siebern

Here is the final card for Norm Siebern (#537). I first became aware of Siebern when I got his 1967 card, where he is pictured as a first baseman for the Giants. My first (and last) thought about him then was "He's a first baseman on a team that has Willie McCovey!", and I dismissed him as an over-the-hill backup or a never-was. However, if I had examined the card back more closely then, he was an everyday player from 1958 to 1964.

Siebern was signed by the Yankees in 1951, and toiled in their farm system for a few years (missing 1954 and 1955 for military service). His major-league debut came on June 15, 1956.

At the start of the 1958 season, Norm was in the big leagues to stay. He was the Yankees' regular leftfielder in 1958 and 1959. After the 1959 season, Siebern was traded to the Athletics along with RF Hank Bauer, pitcher Don Larsen, and backup 1B Marv Throneberry for RF Roger Maris and 2 other players.

Norm played for Kansas City for the next 4 seasons, as their regular first baseman and as a backup outfielder. After the 1963 season, Siebern was traded to the Orioles for first baseman Jim Gentile.

Norm was in Baltimore for 2 seasons. He was their regular first baseman in 1964, and would split the position 50-50 with Boog Powell in 1965. (Powell played half of his games in LF, and the other half at 1B.) Siebern was traded to the Angels after the 1965 season, and had more playing time there than in his last year with the Orioles.

After only 1 year, he was traded to San Francisco. His stay with the Giants was short, as he was sold to the Red Sox in July 1967. He was used mostly as a pinch-hitter, since the Sox had George Scott at first base, with Dalton Jones as the primary backup.

After playing in only 27 games in 1968, Siebern was released by the Red Sox in early August, ending his 12-year career.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Back on Topps' Radar: Hawk Taylor

Now back to my series named "Back on Topps' Radar". I planned to include three of my last 4 posts (Bob Tiefenauer, Julio Gotay, and John Tsitouris) in that series, but as it turned out, their 1968 card was also their last.

Bob "Hawk" Taylor (#52) was a career backup catcher on some bad teams. Taylor has several baseball cards in the early 1960s, but none since 1964. (He also appeared in the 1969 card set as Bob Taylor, an outfielder for the Royals.) Since he didn't have a card in 1967, this 1st-series 1968 card was my first clue of his existence.

Hawk was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 as a bonus baby, requiring him to be on the major-league roster for the rest of the season. His debut was in early June. Later he spent time with the Braves' minor league teams, and rejoined the Braves in 1961. Since the Braves already had Del Crandall, Joe Torre, and Bob Uecker at catcher, Taylor as used as a spare outfielder for his last 3 seasons in Milwaukee.

After the 1963 season, he was sold to the Mets. The 1964 season was Taylor's first shot at significant playing time, as he appeared in 92 games and had over 200 at-bats. The Mets' entire catching staff consisted of 3 sub-par backups: Jesse Gonder, Chris Cannizarro, and Taylor. Even with that poor competition, Taylor was still 3rd string.

Hawk spent most of 1965 with the Mets' triple-A team in Buffalo, as Cannizarro took over the starting catcher's job, and the backup roles were filled by suspects such as John Stephenson, Jesse Gonder, and Jimmie Schaffer. Even coach Yogi Berra caught a few games.

In 1965, Taylor split time between New York and their triple-A team in Jacksonville. With the Mets, he was still the 3rd string catcher, this time behind newcomer Jerry Grote, and John Stephenson. Taylor also played a few games at first base.

In early 1967, he was traded to the Angels, where he filled a now-familiar role: 3rd string catcher. He spent all of 1968 in the minors, before the Royals scooped him up in the rule 5 draft.

He played for the Royals for parts of 2 seasons, as a pinch-hitter and backup outfielder in 1969, and as a pinch-hitter in 1970. Taylor was traded to the Red Sox prior to 1971, but did not play in the majors after 1970.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Final Card: Bob Tiefenauer

Announcement: If anyone's interested in football cards, be sure to check out my new football blogs. You can find them through my profile, or on this blog's sidebar, above the baseball card blogroll. (And also here: 1967 1968 1971 1972)

Bob Tiefenauer (#269) returned to the Topps baseball card world in 1968. He previously had baseball cards in 1959, 1962, 1964, and 1965. You can't blame Topps for this one, as his career travels (below) are enough to make your head spin!

On the back of his card, we see a 4-year gap in major-league service between 1955 and 1960. As Topps often does with long-time vets, his minor league stats are omitted from the back of the card.

Bob began playing pro baseball in 1948 in the Cardinals' system. Tiefenauer had a 6-game cup of coffee (8 innings, all in relief) with the Cardinals in 1952, followed by 2 more seasons back in the minors. In 1955, he resurfaced with the St. Louis, this time for 18 relief appearances (32 innings).

In September 1955, Bob began a 5-year odyssey through oblivion that started with his trade to the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers assigned him to the minor leagues, where he remained for the entire 1956 season. After the season, he was traded to Toronto, an unaffiliated AAA team in the International League. He made over 60 appearances per season (all in relief) for Toronto in 1957 and 1958. Following the 1958 season, Toronto traded him to the Indians, but he retired, rather than play in 1959.

In 1960 he spent some time with the Cleveland Indians until his early June acquisition by the Cardinals. St Louis kept him in the minors for the rest of 1960 and most of 1961, although he appeared in 3 games for the Cardinals.

After the 1961 season, he was purchased by the expansion Houston Colt .45s, and spent the 1962 season with Houston, before being traded BACK to the Cardinals (again) just before the 1963 season.

It almost seems that the Cardinals liked to mess with him, because in mid-June of the same year, he was traded again, this time to the Milwaukee Braves. After playing for the Braves for 2 seasons, he was traded to the Yankees in June 1965. His time in New York was short, because 2 months later he found himself back with the Indians!

Bob spent all of 1966 and most of 1967 with the Indians' triple-A Portland team, pitching in only 5 games for Cleveland in 1967.

This year (1968) he didn't even play for the Indians, as he was traded to the Cubs at the end of March for pitcher Rob Gardner. Bob appeared in only 9 games for the Cubs in 1968, his last on September 21st.

He played for Chicago's triple-A team in Tacoma, WA for most of 1968 and all of 1969 before retiring.
Tiefenauer played 19 seasons in the minor leagues!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ernie Banks (#355)

Here we have Chicago Cubs superstar Ernie Banks. "Mr. Cub" never played minor league baseball, but he did play for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League from 1950 to 1953.

Banks is one of a handful of former Negro League players still playing major league baseball into the late 1960s. I guess it's common knowledge that Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were Negro League veterans, but I recently learned that Yankees catcher Elston Howard was Banks' teammate with the Monarchs. (I also discovered that early 1970s Detroit Tigers infielder Ike Brown played in the Negro Leagues. I mistakenly assumed that anyone not making the major leagues until the 1970s would have been too young to play Negro League baseball.)

Banks was signed by the Cubs on September 8, 1953, and made his major-league debut at shortstop on September 17th, playing 10 games that first season.

From 1954 to 1969, Banks was in the lineup almost every day, playing 150 or more games for 12 of those 16 seasons. Between 1954 and 1960, he led the league in games played 6 times. Banks was originally the Cubs regular shortstop, but in 1962 he moved over to first base.

Beginning with the 1970 season, the 39-year-old Banks cut back his workload, sharing the first base job with Jim Hickman. In 1971, Joe Pepitone took over the first base chores, while Banks only played 20 games at 1B. He appeared in 52 other games as a pinch-hitter.

Ernie was released by the Cubs after the 1971 season. He had played his entire 19-year major-league career with the Cubs, and retired with 512 homeruns. His 277 homeruns as a shortstop was the record until Cal Ripken came along.