Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Boog Powell (#381)

John “Boog” Powell was the slugging 1st-sacker for the Orioles in the 1960s and early 1970s. He played for 17 seasons, all but the last 3 for Baltimore. (I didn’t know he also played for the Indians until someone posted his “Cleveland Red Pajamas” card on their blog a year or 2 ago. I also didn’t know he played for the Dodgers until tonight!)

Boog was signed by the Orioles in 1959, and played in the minors from 1959-61, with 2/3 of his games as a 1st baseman and the rest as an outfielder. He made his major-league debut in September 1961, playing 4 games with the O’s.

Powell was inserted into the starting lineup from the get-go in 1962, but with veteran Jim Gentile at 1st base, Boog found a home in left field, starting 112 games there ahead of 1961’s incumbent left fielder, future manager Dick Williams.

In 1964, Powell hit 39 homers (which would be his career-high) and led the AL with a .606 slugging percentage.

Boog continued as the team’s regular left fielder until midway through the 1965 season. Until then, his only significant playing time at 1st base was 23 games in 1963. With rookie outfielder Curt Blefary joining the team in ‘65, Powell began making the occasional start at 1st base in early June, and by the end of the month he had replaced the veteran Norm Siebern at 1st base. His only return to the outfield was for a 2-week stretch in late August (maybe Blefary was on the DL?) It was his last outfield time in his career.

Powell completed his transition to 1st base in 1966. He played 136 games there, clubbed 34 homers, and collected 109 RBI, while finishing 3rd in the MVP voting behind teammates Frank and Brooks Robinson. (Powered by those 3 offensive stars, and their starting pitching, it must have been one big party on the way to a World Series sweep!)

Boog’s numbers declined in ’67 and ’68, but he returned in a big way in 1969 (37/121) and 1970 (35/114). After finishing as the AL MVP runner-up in ’69, he won the award in 1970. The O’s made it to the World Series both years, winning in 1970. Powell was also a 4-time all-star selection from 1968-71.

Boog played for the Orioles through the 1974 season, but never again approached the numbers he put up in ’69 and ’70.

During spring training in 1975, Powell and pitcher Don Hood were traded to the Indians for catcher Dave Duncan. Boog was the tribe’s 1st baseman for all of 1975 and half of 1976. (Cleveland used 10 players at 1st base that season, with Boog starting 83 games there – 60 more than the next guy.)

Cleveland released him near the end of spring training in 1977. A few days later the Dodgers signed him, and used him almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter in his final season. His only start at 1st base came on August 15th. He made 2 more pinch-hitting appearances, then was released on August 31st, ending his 17-year career.

Powell finished with 339 home runs and 1187 RBI.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Angels in the Outfield: Eight is Enough

Duplicating a feat from the previous year, Topps again issued cards for EIGHT Angels' outfielders. (This doesn't even include "INF-OF" Woodie Held.) The pitching staff took the hit for this, with only 7 cards. At least Topps cut back from 4 to 3 catchers this year.

Here they are in order of 1968 games played in the outfield:
Rick Reichardt (148), Roger Repoz (114), Bubba Morton (50), Ed Kirkpatrick (45), Jimmie Hall (39), Chuck Hinton (37), Jay Johnstone (29), Jose Cardenal (0).

Cardenal was traded to the Indians in the off-season for Chuck Hinton, not in time to change his 1st-series card. The Angels also acquired Vic Davalillo, who played 86 games in the outfield.