Saturday, March 23, 2019

Jim Hardin (#222)

Jim Hardin pitched for the Orioles from 1967 to 1971. Early-on, he and Tom Phoebus backfilled a rotation decimated by injuries to Jim Palmer and Wally Bunker. After a few years, Palmer recovered and returned to the Orioles’ rotation, and Mike Cuellar was acquired from the Astros. Having served his purpose, Hardin moved on to the Yankees.

Hardin was signed by the Mets, and played in their farm system from 1962-1965. After the ’65 season the Orioles acquired him in the minor-league draft.

He made his Orioles’ debut in June 1967, after the above mentioned injuries decimated the starting rotation (also including Dave McNally).

Jim was 8-3 as a rookie, and won 18 games in 1968 as the O’s #2 starter behind a fully-recovered McNally, who won 22 games.

He slipped to 6-7 in 1969, but by then was the #5 starter behind Cuellar (23 wins), McNally (20), Palmer (16) and Phoebus (14).

Hardin pitched one more full season with the Birds (1970), and although they won the World Series, it was a down season for him personally, posting a 6-5 record. He and Phoebus (5-5) were the forgotten members of the rotation, as the Big Three all won 20+ games and made 40 starts each.

Jim was traded to the Yankees in May 1971, and after another bad season was released the following April. He was picked up by the Braves a few weeks later and pitched 26 games (mostly in relief) in his final season.

After his playing career, Hardin became a small aircraft pilot. He was killed in 1991 when his 6-seat plane crashed in Key West, FL. He was 47.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Vern Fuller (#71)

This is the rookie card for Vern Fuller, the Indians' starting 2nd baseman for most of 1967-1969.

Fuller was signed by the Indians before the 1963 season out of Arizona State University (just before the Athletics started using that school as their farm system, producing Rick Monday, Sal Bando, and Reggie Jackson!)

After a season in the minors, Vern missed almost all of 1964 with injuries, playing no minor-league ball and only 2 games with the Tribe in September.

He played all of '65 and '66 back on the farm, save for a September call-up in 1966.

Fuller was up and down between Cleveland and triple-A for the first half of 1967, but was recalled in mid-July and started 62 of the final 73 games at 2nd base, replacing the floundering tandem of Gus Gil, Pedro Gonzalez, and Chico Salmon.

In 1968 Vern split the 2nd base duties with Chico Salmon for the first half of the season, and with rookie Dave Nelson in the second half.

Surprisingly, even though Nelson was named Topps all-rookie 2nd baseman in 1968, he only started 30 games in 1969, mostly from late-July to mid-August. Meanwhile, Fuller started 72 games, with newly-acquired bust Zoilo Versalles playing some games there as well.

Rookie Eddie Leon took over in 1970, relegating Fuller to just 33 at-bats in 29 games for the season. He only made 1 appearance between 6/12 and 8/18, and spent no time in the minors, so maybe he was injured for a good chunk of the season? Anyway, he retired after the season.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

John Hiller (#307)

John Hiller played for 15 seasons (1965-80), all for the Tigers. He pitched in 545 games, all but 43 in relief. The most games he ever started was 12 in 1968 and 8 in 1969.

Hiller was signed by the Tigers in June 1962, and pitched in the minors from 1963-64, before making his big-league debut in September 1965.

He pitched 1 game for the Tigers in April 1966, but returned to the minors for the rest of the season.

John began the 1967 season in the minors, then was called up for the 2nd half of the season. He made the Tigers to stay beginning in 1968. Hiller pitched 2 innings in the 1968 World Series, but gave up 4 runs for a 13.50 ERA.

After having a heart attack in January 1971, he missed all of 1971 and the first half of the 1972 season.

Hiller's best years were 1973 and 1974. In '73, he led the AL in saves (3), games (65), and games finished (60), and had a career-low 1.44 ERA while winning 10 games. He also finished 4th in the Cy Young voting.

In '74 he won 17 games (all in relief) and made his only All-Star team. John led the Tigers in saves from 1973-76, and again in 1978.

1980 was his final season. After pitching 11 games in April and May, he retired as the Tigers' all-time leader in games pitched. At that time, he was 4th on the career saves list, behind Sparky Lyle, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Rollie Fingers.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Final Card: Ted Davidson

I don't often post back-to-back cards of players on the same team, but 6 years after (I thought) I completed my "1968 Final Cards" series, yesterday I discovered that Reds' pitcher Ted Davidson also had his final card (#48) in the 1968 set.

Davidson was signed by the Reds in 1960. He made his major-league debut in late-July 1965 (at age 25). In 1966 he pitched in 54 games (all in relief), but his career took a turn for the worse in 1967.

Davidson was shot by his estranged wife in a bar in March 1967 and missed a few months while recovering. He began pitching in the minors by June, and was back with the Reds for 9 games in September.

Ted pitched 23 games out of the Reds’ bullpen during the first half of 1968, but was traded to the Braves (with pitcher Milt Pappas and infielder Bob Johnson) for pitchers Tony Cloninger and Clay Carroll, and shortstop Woody Woodward.

For the Braves, he pitched 2 games in June and 2 in July, then spent the rest of the season in the minors, never to return.

In his final pro season (1969), he bounced around in triple-A for the Cubs, White Sox, and Indians.

Davidson passed away in 2006 at age 66.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Bill McCool (#597)

Bill McCool was in his last season as a Cincinnati Red in 1968, and is shown on the next-to-last card in the set.

Signed by the Reds in 1963, he came up in April 1964, and was named to the Topps All-Rookie team that year.

Bill played from 1964-1970, wrapping up his career with the Padres (’69) and Cardinals (’70). He was almost exclusively a reliever, although he did start 1/3 of his games in 1967.

McCool led the Reds in saves in 1965 (21) and 1966 (18), and made the All-Star team in '66.  In 1967 he took a back seat to the newly-acquired Ted Abernathy.

The June 1968 acquisition of Clay Carroll from the Braves pushed McCool further down on the bullpen depth chart, and by season’s end he was left unprotected in the expansion draft.

The Padres selected him in the draft, and he led the new team in saves (a whopping 7!) in their first season.

He was traded to the Cardinals in April 1970, splitting that season between St Louis and their AAA team. It was his last year in the majors.

Between October 1970 and February 1971 Bill was traded twice – first to the Red Sox and then to the Royals, but he played for neither team.

He spent his final season (1971) with the triple-A affiliates of the Royals and Twins.

McCool passed away in 2014 at age 69.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Tom Satriano (#238)

Tom Satriano was the Angels’ backup catcher and 3rd baseman from 1961-69, and also played for the Red Sox from 1969-70.

He and Jim Fregosi, Dean Chance, and Ron Kline were the only members of the expansion 1961 Angels still playing into the 1970s, and Satriano played more games during that first season than any of the others.

Tom was signed out of USC by the Angels on July 22, 1961, and made his Angels’ debut the very next day. After playing in 35 games as a rookie, he spent most of 1962 and 1963 in the minors. Satriano was primarily a 3rd baseman and 2nd baseman, and didn’t start catching on a regular basis until 1964.

He played all of 1964 with the Angels, but split the ’65 season between the Angels and their triple-A team.

Satriano was back with the Angels on a full-time basis beginning in 1966. From 1966-68 (as in 1964) he came to bat more than 200 times each season. His 83 starts in 1968 were the most for his career.

In June 1969 Tom was traded to the Red Sox for catcher Joe Azcue, and backed up Russ Gibson ('69) and Jerry Moses ('70) in his final 2 seasons.

He was released in April 1971, and played for the Padres’ AAA team in Hawaii that season before retiring.

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.