Saturday, July 21, 2012

Final Card: Eddie Stanky

This is Eddie Stanky's last card (#564). 1968 would be the last year in a 3-year gig as the Sox' manager.

Stanky was born in Philadelphia in 1915 (and became known as "The Brat from Kensington", later shortened to "The Brat"). Eddie played minor-league baseball from 1935-1942, and made his big-league debut in 1943 as the Cubs' regular 2nd baseman. He split the 1944 season between the Cubs and Brooklyn Dodgers, then held down the starting 2nd base job for the Dodgers (1945-47), Boston Braves (1948-49), and New York Giants (1950-51).  In 1945 he led the National League in runs and walks.

After the '51 season, he was traded to the Cardinals, spending 2 seasons there as a player-manager before becoming the full-time manager in 1954 and 1955.

After leaving the Cards' manager post in 1955, he spent one season managing the Giants' AAA team in Minneapolis in 1956, then spent several years in a player-development role for the Cardinals. He resurfaced in 1965 as a minor-league manager for the Mets.

Stanky was hired by the White Sox before the 1966 season, and remained there until his firing after 79 games in 1968. The team finished in 4th place in his first 2 seasons, and were in 8th place (18 1/2 games back) at the time of his firing.  They should have kept him, as the team finished the season 36 games behind the Tigers.

After his firing, he coached college baseball in Alabama, then made a 1-game interim manager appearance for the Texas Rangers in 1977.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Don Wilson (#77)

Like Gary Nolan, Don Wilson was a notable rookie in 1967 that was not included in the 1967 Topps set.

Wilson was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1964, and pitched 3 seasons in the minors, making his big-league debut on September 29, 1966.

Don joined the Astros' starting rotation as a rookie in 1967, compiling a 10-9 record in 31 games. He was a top-4 starter in each of his seasons with the team (1967-74). Early on, Wilson was behind veterans Mike Cuellar, Dave Giusti, and Larry Dierker.

By the end of the 1960s, Cuellar and Giusti were gone, leaving Dierker and Wilson at the top of the rotation. 1971 was Don's best season, going 16-10 with 180 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA in 268 innings. He also made his only all-star appearance that season, pitching 2 innings. [Interesting note: both teams only used 4 pitchers in the '71 all-star game.]

Wilson tragically died in January 1975, at age 29 of carbon monoxide poisoning. The incident occurred at his home, and also claimed the life of his son. This was one of several deaths of current or former Astros players.