Thursday, August 23, 2018

Ted Abernathy (#264)

I posted Ted Abernathy’s high-numbered 1967 card in 2009 with a group of other players, but it’s time to give him his own write-up (and something other than a capless big-head card!)

At age 33, Abernathy was rescued from the Rule 5 scrap heap by the Reds in November 1966, then paid them back by posting a 1.27 ERA in 1967, while leading the NL with 28 saves! In his 2 seasons with the Reds (67-68), Ted led the league in appearances (70, 78).

His pro career began way back in 1952, when he was signed by the (old) Washington Senators and assigned to their Class-D team. After 2 seasons in the low minors, Ted missed the 1954 season while in military service.


Abernathy made his major-league debut in April 1955, pitching in 40 games for the Nats (including 14 starts). He split the ’56 season between Washington and triple-A, then was back with the Senators for all of 1957, appearing in 26 games.

Ted spent all of 1958-62 in the minors, except for 3 innings with the Senators in April 1960. After shoulder surgery in 1959, he became a side-armed "submarine style" pitcher.

After his May 1960 release, he was signed by the Braves the next month, and traded to the Indians in 1961, but he would not return to the majors until May 1963, with the Cleveland.

After 2 solid seasons with the tribe (43 and 53 games), he was sold to the Cubs in April 1965. Abernathy led the NL in games (84) and saves (31) that season, with a 2.57 ERA.

In May 1966 he was traded to the Braves for Lee Thomas, and although he pitched in 38 games, after the season he landed on the Braves’ Richmond roster, where he was stolen by the Reds in the Rule 5 draft.

After 2 workhorse seasons in Cincinnati, Ted was on the move again, back to the Cubs for one season.

He made an early-1970 pit stop with the Cardinals, before finishing his career with 2 ½ seasons in Kansas City, appearing in 144 games for the Royals before his February 1973 release, a month before his 40th birthday.

He passed away in 2004 at age 71.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Mike Andrews (#502)

This is Mike Andrews’ first solo card (having previously appeared on a Red Sox Rookies card in the 1967 set). Mike is fresh off his rookie season with the 1967 Impossible Dream BoSox. I was surprised today to see that Andrews had a relatively-short 7-year career (not counting his 5 games in 1966).

Signed by Boston in 1961, he played for 5 seasons in the minors (1962-66) – mostly as a shortstop, until switching to 2nd base for 1966.


Mike made his major-league debut in September 1966, then took over the starting 2nd base job with the Red Sox as a rookie. After riding the bench for the first 6 games in 1967, Andrews started 135 games that season, and played in 5 of the 7 World Series games, batting .308 in the Fall Classic.

He was the team’s regular 2nd baseman through 1970. In ’69, Mike made his only All-Star team, and hit .293 that year, along with 15 homers (more than double the previous year).

With newly-acquired rookie Doug Griffin ready to take over the 2nd base job in 1971, Andrews was traded to the White Sox for shortstop Luis Aparicio. In Chicago, Mike split the 2nd base job with Rich McKinney, while also starting a few dozen games at 1st base in relief of Carlos May.

In 1972 he was the full-time 2nd baseman, starting 143 games there. That was to be his last year as a regular, probably thanks to his batting average dropping to .220 from the .282 he hit the previous season.

Andrews was used mostly as a DH in 1973. After only starting 35 of the first 90 games, he was released on July 16th.

Two weeks later he was picked up by the Athletics, and was reunited with his old Red Sox manager Dick Williams. Andrews played 18 games over the final 2 months of the season. He also played 2 games each in the ALCS and the World Series.

There was a ruckus during that World Series, when owner Charlie Finley tried to fire Andrews after making 2 errors in 1 game. The commissioner forced Finley to reinstate Andrews, but he was subsequently released in November, ending his major-league career.

Andrews played 123 games in Japan during 1975, then retired.

His younger brother Rob Andrews played for the Astros and Giants from 1975-79.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Felix Millan (#241)

Here is Braves' 2B Felix Millan. 1968 is the year he finally nailed down a starting job, after some brief playing time in '66 and '67.

"The Kitten" began the season as the team's starting 2nd-sacker in 1968. By mid-June, last year's starter (Woody Woodward) was traded away to the Reds in the 6-player Clay Carroll-for-Milt Pappas deal, leaving plenty of playing time for Millan, who started 143 games while posting a .289 batting average.


Felix continued his fine play for four more seasons with the Braves. He made the All-Star team every year from 1969-71, and won Gold Gloves in 1969 and 1972. He also hit a career-high .310 in 1970.

After the 1972 season he was traded to the Mets with pitcher George Stone for pitchers Gary Gentry and Danny Frisella. Millan played for the Mets for 5 seasons, the first 4 as their regular 2nd baseman.

His final season was 1977. Felix started the year as the regular 2nd baseman, but by mid-May was alternating with Lenny Randle, Doug Flynn, and Joel Youngblood. Millan started 81 games that year, but at age 33 with his batting average dropping 35 points from the previous season, the Mets decided to go with Flynn for the following season.

Millan played in Japan from 1978-80. After winning the batting title in 1979, he had a bad year in '80 and was released after the season.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Joe Foy (#387)

Here is Joe Foy, in his third and final season with the Red Sox. After the 1968 season, he was selected by the expansion Kansas City Royals.

Joe was signed by the Twins in 1962 (I did not know that!) and played one season on their farm as a 1B/C. After the ’62 season he was drafted by the Red Sox in the minor league draft. In ’63 he moved over to SS and 3B, and was primarily a 3rd baseman during the ’64 and ’65 seasons.

Foy made the Red Sox at the start of the 1966 season, and was the regular 3rd baseman from the get-go. The Sox had released incumbent Frank Malzone in November 1965, paving the way for Joe to start 139 games at the hot corner (along with 13 more at SS) during his rookie season. He hit .262/15/63 – not bad for a rookie.


Joe started only 106 games the following season, as the BoSox acquired veteran infielder Jerry Adair for their pennant drive, and he cut into Foy’s playing time. Adair played a lot at shortstop in 1968, which benefited Joe, as he started 144 games at 3rd base. It was Foy’s last hurrah in Boston. After the season, both he and Adair were drafted by the Royals (Foy at #4, Adair at #51).

Foy was the Royals’ starting third baseman for 1 year only. Although leading the upstart Royals in games, plate appearances, at-bats, runs, and RBI, and second in hits, stolen bases, and walks, Joe was traded to the Mets after the 1969 season. (The Mets, in their never-ending search for a 3rd baseman, sent rookie outfielder Amos Otis to Kansas City.)

 In 1970 Foy started about 2/3 of the games at 3rd base, while 2nd-year man Wayne Garrett played the rest. Joe’s numbers were way down from his years with Boston and Kansas City, so much so that he was available in the post-1970 Rule 5 draft, and scooped up by the Senators.

Nomad Joe started 36 of the first 45 games in 1971 for the Senators, his last on May 27th. He was sent to the minors at the end of May, and after batting only .191 in 15 triple-A games was released in mid-July.

Foy passed away in 1989 at age 46.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Mike Marshall (#201)

Mike Marshall was a relief pitcher for 9 teams from 1968 to 1981, most notably for the Expos and Dodgers.

He was signed by the Phillies (I didn’t know that until today) in 1960, and played in their farm system as a SHORTSTOP (also didn’t know that) through the 1964 season. He switched over to pitching at the start of the 1965 season, and after 1 year was sold to the Tigers. D’oh! Why did the Phillies let go of so many good young players back then? 

After a year on the Tigers’ farm, he made his major-league debut in May 1967. Mike pitched in 37 games (all in relief) and fashioned a team-leading 1.98 ERA as a rookie. What did he get as a reward? He spent all of the 1968 season in triple A, posting a 15-9 record with 190 strikeouts, but didn’t even get a September call-up to help the eventual world champs! (I also didn’t realize until today that he didn’t pitch for the Tigers in ’68. That makes 3 things I’ve learned today. I’m tired now!) 


Apparently the high-riding Tigers didn’t need the services of this promising young hurler, and left him unprotected in the expansion draft. As a further insult, he was the FIFTY-THIRD pick in the draft, by the Seattle Pilots. Marshall played all of 1969 for the expansion Pilots, his only season as a starting pitcher. He also hit .259 (7 for 24), a higher average than all but 3 of the every-day batters.

He was sold to the Astros after the season, but by mid-June 1970 was traded to the Expos for outfielder Don Bosch.

Mike played for the Expos for the next 3 ½ seasons. The “light” switched on during the 1971 season, as Marshall began a 6-year period of unusually high workload. He led the NL in games pitched from 1972-74, and in games finished from 1971-1974. In 1973 (his last with the Expos), he appeared in a phenomenal 92 games, finishing 73 of them, while collecting an NL-best 31 saves. He also was the Cy Young Award runner-up.

After the 1973 season he was traded to the Dodgers for outfielder Willie Davis. (Amazing, because he was at the peak of his career, while Davis was in decline.) As if 92 games weren’t enough to wear a man out, in 1974 Marshall pitched in ONE HUNDRED AND SIX GAMES! He again led the NL in games finished (83) and saves (21), and won the CY Young Award that season. He also made his first of 2 All-Star teams that year, the other coming in 1975.

He came back to earth in 1975, pitching a modest 58 games. In June 1976 he was traded to the Braves for Lee Lacy and pitcher Elias Sosa. (I guess the Dodgers wanted to unload him before he broke down from over-use! If so, that worked out for them. After pitching 54 games in 1976, he only made 16 appearances in 1977.)

After a short time with Atlanta, the Rangers purchased his contract at the end of April 1977, but he played only that 1 season for Texas.

He was granted free agency after the 1977 season, and was without a team until the following May, when the Twins signed him. Marshall made a comeback with the Twins, pitching in 54 games in 1978 and an AL-leading 90 games in 1979. He also led the league with 32 saves in 1979.

He was released in June 1980, and more than a year later was picked up by the Mets in August 1981, but was released after the season.

Oddly enough, the record shows he pitched 1 inning for the Angels’ AAA team in 1983. Seems like a bad idea, resulting in a 60.75 ERA.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

50 Years Ago - 1968 Opening Day Lineups (AL)

Here are the opening day American League lineups from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of their 1968 finish.

Pitching aces Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich must have been resting up for their big seasons ahead.  1st baseman Norm Cash is missing too.


Tom Phoebus stepped up as a rookie in 1967 to fill the void when 1966 pitching stars Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, and Wally Bunker all went down with injuries, and was rewarded with the Opening Day nod in 1968. Mark Belanger missed the opener, so Dave Johnson slid over to shortstop.  And why is "Clank" in right field, having swapped positions with Frank Robinson? Hiding bad outfielders in right field is a little league ploy!


Just like the Tigers, the Indians are without their #1 pitcher (Sam McDowell) for Opening Day. Everyone else here was a regular in 1968.


1967 ace Jim Lonborg blew out a knee during an off-season skiing trip, so the Opening Day starting nod goes to .... Dick Ellsworth????  What about Gary Bell?  Dalton Jones and Joe Lahoud are filling in for Joe Foy and Ken Harrelson.


Wow!  I'm surprised to realize the Yankees finished as high as 5th place in 1968. Jake Gibbs, Bobby Cox, and Andy Kosco were the regulars at C, 3B, and RF, but not on Opening Day.


Here are the Athletics in their first season in Oakland, and only Bert Campaneris returns from 1967's Opening Day lineup. Nice mix of airbrushing and capless shots, Topps!  I wonder if any geniuses at Topps ever thought to back-load the Athletics' cards to the later series, after they had time to develop their Spring Training photographs?


The Twins were in the hunt until the last week of 1967, but fell off to 7th place in 1968. They seemed to have good pitching and a good everyday lineup (except at shortstop).


Just like the Twins, the White Sox really bombed in 1968.  After finishing in 4th place (3 games back) in 1967, they finished 8th (36 games back) in '68. They acquired Luis Aparicio and Tommy Davis, but lost Tommie Agee and Don Buford. 


This was the Angels' regular lineup for most of the season, with a few exceptions: Paul Schaal missed the 2nd half of the season following a beaning; Vic Davalillo was acquired in mid-season to play center field; right field was a carousel of 5 different starters.


Ahhh... the Senators.  They finished in 10th place in 1968, but the following year Teddy Ballgame would coax them to 4th place, instilling new life in them just in time for their move to Texas! Bernie Allen was the regular 2nd baseman in '68, and right field was shared by Ed Stroud and Cap Peterson, but the rest of these guys were 1st string.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

50 Years Ago - 1968 Opening Day Lineups (NL)

Here are the opening day lineups from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of their 1968 finish.


The complete starting lineup for the 1967 World Champs is back on Opening Day 1968.


After trading catcher Tom Haller to LA for Ron Hunt in the off-season, the Giants used 2nd-year Dick Dietz as their regular catcher, but not on Opening Day. Jim Hart’s defensive shortcomings finally pushed him to the outfield.


Did pitcher Fergie Jenkins and 2nd baseman Glenn Beckert miss the team bus?


Johnny Bench started 139 games in 1968, but none until game #6. Alex Johnson was acquired from the Cardinals in the off-season, and won his first every-day job. After 1969 he would be on the move again, in keeping with his career-long pattern of wearing out his welcome every 2 years.


Deron Johnson spent 1 season in Atlanta between his stints with the Reds and Phillies. Rookie Mike Lum replaced Rico Carty (who missed the ’68 season with tuberculosis) in left field.


Jim Bunning was acquired from the Phillies in the off-season and was named Opening Day starter, ahead of Bob Veale. Like Bunning, Veale was usually among the NL strikeout leaders, but was already on the Bucs’ staff for a few years. I guess they had to justify the 4-for-1 trade for Bunning. The rest of these guys were the season-long regulars.


With Bunning traded away to the Pirates, Chris Short became the team’s ace. In his 1st season with Philly, Mike Ryan shared the catching duties with Clay Dalrymple. Rookies Don Money and Larry Hisle were handed the SS and CF jobs in spring training, but flopped in April and were sent back to the minors for a year. As you can see, they both won Topps All-Rookie awards a year later. Dick Allen returned to the lineup after missing the last 6 weeks of 1967 with a hand injury, but played left field in 1968.


For the 2nd straight year, Don Drysdale did not pitch on Opening Day. The Dodgers traded away veteran catcher John Roseboro to the Twins for shortstop Zoilo Versalles, who was a bust in his 1 year in LA. New backstop Tom Haller cost them their 1967 regular 2nd baseman Ron Hunt. I wonder why Jim Lefebvre didn’t play 2B on opening day?


Where are catcher Jerry Grote and left fielder Cleon Jones? Aside from J.C. Martin and Art Shamsky, this is the Mets’ regular lineup that took them to their first post-season a year later. (Robert Barone was probably glad to see Shamsky in the starting lineup!)


The Astros’ regular catchers were John Bateman and Ron Brand, but rookie Hal King got the Opening Day nod. Joe Morgan started the first 6 games, then missed the rest of the season with injuries. For some reason, Jimmy Wynn was the left fielder for the first 2 months, before moving back to center field.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Jerry Grote (#582)

Jerry Grote was the Mets' starting catcher from opening day 1966 through the end of August 1976.

Grote was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in June 1962 and was assigned to their double-A team in his hometown of San Antonio, TX. He showed good power for a rookie catcher thrown into double-A ball by hitting 14 homers in 121 games.

He played for the Colt .45s for all of the 1964 season, starting 88 games behind the dish, while sharing the spot with last year’s incumbent John Bateman, who made 72 starts.

Jerry spent all of 1965 in triple-A, probably due to his .181 batting average the year before. In mid-October he was traded to the Mets for pitcher Tom Parsons (who had just compiled a less-than-stellar 1-10 record with New York). It turned out to be a steal for the Mets!


The Mets traded away 1965's starting catcher Chris Cannizzaro a week before the start of the 1966 season, opening up the starting job for Grote. (Interestingly enough, Cannizzaro would not get significant major-league playing time again until 1969, with the expansion Padres.)

Grote was the Mets' #1 catcher from the start of the 1966 season, until 9/1/76. When rosters were expanded then, rookie prospect John Stearns was called up, started most games in September, and for several years thereafter.

During Jerry's tenure with the Mets, they appeared in 2 World Series, winning in 1969. He caught every inning of both series. Grote made 2 All-Star teams ('68, '74), but never showed the power from his rookie season in the minors, topping out with only 6 home runs in 1969.

With Stearns taking over the catching as of September 1976, Grote was traded to the Dodgers in August 1977. He appeared in 2 post-seasons with LA ('77, '78) while serving as Steve Yeager’s backup.

Grote was granted free agency after the 1978 season, and was out of baseball for 2 years until the Royals picked him up in April 1981. He made 20 starts in that strike-shortened season as John Wathan's backup, but was released on September 1st.

The Dodgers signed him for the remainder of the season, but he only made 2 pinch-hitting appearances, both in October. Grote was released after the season, ending his 16-year career.

He was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in 1992.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Bill Hands (#279)

Bill Hands was a top-3 starter for the Cubs from 1968-72. His best season came in 1969, when he won 20 games for a team apparently headed to the post-season.

Hands began his career in the Giants’ organization in 1959. He pitched in their farm system for SEVEN seasons, and made his major-league debut with 4 games in 1965 (3 in early June, 1 in October).

After the ’65 season, he and catching prospect Randy Hundley were traded to the Cubs for veteran reliever Lindy McDaniel and fading outfielder Don Landrum, in what many Giants' fans consider to be another in a string of bad trades by Giants' management in that era.


Bill was a full-time pitcher for the Cubs for the next 7 seasons. Primarily a starter in ’66 and a reliever in ’67, Hands became a full-time starter in 1968, and responded by winning 16, 20, 18, 12, and 11 games in each of the next 5 seasons. Along with winning 20 games in 1969, he pitched 18 complete games.

After the 1972 season he was traded to the Twins for reliever Dave LaRoche. Hands was primarily a reliever during his 2-year hitch with the Twins, but did not enjoy the same success that he had during his stay with the Cubs.

In September 1974 he was claimed off waivers by the Rangers. He appeared in 2 games for Texas that month and 18 in 1975. Although traded to the Mets in February 1976 for pitcher George Stone, Hands retired before the ’76 season.

 He died in Orlando, FL in March 2017 at age 76.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Hank Allen (#426)

Hank Allen is the younger brother of Phillies and White Sox slugger Dick Allen. Dick, Hank, and their younger brother Ron all came up through the Phillies’ farm system.

Hank was signed by the Phillies in 1960, and played in their organization for 5 years, mostly at 1st base but also some time in the outfield. After clubbing 25 and 37 homers in ’61 and ’62 (playing Class B, C, and D ball), he was promoted to single-A Miami in 1963.

Allen only managed 6 homers in 1963 and 12 homers at double-A Chattanooga in 1964. It seems the Phillies may have soured on his power outage, and sold him to the Senators before the 1965 season.

Hank’s power returned somewhat with the change of scenery (23 homers at AAA Hawaii in 1966), and he made his major-league debut in September 1966.


In 1967 Allen split the center field job evenly with Fred Valentine and newcomer Ed Stroud. In 1968, rookie Del Unser started almost every game in center field, leaving little room in the crowded Senators’ outfield for Allen. He spent half that season in triple-A.

In 1969 Hank was back with the Senators full-time, splitting the right field job with Stroud and Lee Maye. Allen was 3rd among the outfielders in innings played (behind Frank Howard and Unser).

In May 1970 Allen was traded to the Brewers for outfielder Wayne Comer, but spent most of that year in the minors. After the season he was flipped to the Braves for veteran catcher Bob Tillman, but was released in April 1971 and played in the minors that year.

Hank was out of baseball for most of 1972, then was signed by the White Sox when rosters expanded on September 1st. He provided bench depth for the remainder of that year and all of 1973.

In 1974 he played briefly for the Padres’ AAA team in Hawaii, where he had played for most of 1966 as a Senators’ farmhand.

After his playing career Hank became a Thoroughbred horse trainer, and more recently worked as a scout for the Astros.