Sunday, June 13, 2021
Saturday, May 29, 2021
Friday, May 14, 2021
Sunday, March 14, 2021
1968 was the second year I collected baseball cards.
It seemed like the first series had a lot of players who were in the not-to-be-found 1967 high-numbered series. (Tom Seaver, Rod Carew, Brooks Robinson, Vada Pinson, Rocky Colavito, Al Ferrara, Cookie Rojas, and Juan Pizarro to name a few.) So I quickly had cards for those missing players.
These were my favorite cards from that set.
Bobby Wine - I always liked this photo, but I'm not sure why. Although I was a Phillies fan, I was not particularly a Bobby Wine fan, nor was he one of the team's top dozen or so players.
Gary Sutherland - I do know why I liked this card. His rookie card in 1967 was in the high-numbered series, so I didn't get that until years later. Plus, here's a kid only a few years older than my pre-teen self at the time, and he was IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES! Surely he would be the Phillies' "shortstop of the future", with only the aging Dick Groat and weak-hitting Bobby Wine to contend with.
NL ERA Leaders - Two Phillies among the league's top three!
Super Stars / Manager's Dream - These 2 cards were in the 6th or 7th series, and were 2 of the 3 multi-player cards in the 1968 set. The players were from a mix of teams, which was a departure from Topps' usual multi-player cards.
NL Batting Leaders - In 1967, Tony Gonzalez had worked his way up from platoon left-fielder to every-day center-fielder, and finished with a .339 batting average. (In the late-60s, Phillies' fans had to find positives anywhere we could!)
Tom Seaver - I still don't have Tom Seaver's 1967 rookie card, so this was my first Seaver card. ROY, shiny trophy, what's not to like?
Denny McLain - I admit, I jumped on the Tigers' bandwagon sometime during the 1968 season, and followed McLain's trek to 30 wins and the World Championship.
Mickey Mantle - A favorite card of mine and 99.99% of all the other kids.
Saturday, January 30, 2021
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Ken Suarez was a backup catcher for the Athletics, Indians, and Rangers from 1966-73.
Suarez was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1965 and made his major-league debut in April 1966. He started 26 games as a rookie, behind regular backstop Phil Roof.Dave Duncan (3 years younger than Suarez) for the #2 spot.
After the ’67 season he was selected by the Indians in the Rule 5 draft, and spend the next 2 seasons as the Tribe’s 3rd-string catcher.
In 1968 he was with the team for the whole season, but only played 17 games (1 start), with Joe Azcue and Duke Sims doing most of the catching. In ’69, he was behind Sims and rookie Ray Fosse, and spent part of the season in the minors.
After languishing in the minors in 1970, he returned to Cleveland in 1971 and saw his most action to date (50 games, 39 starts, 123 at-bats). Still, he was stuck behind All-Star and Gold Glove winner Fosse.
Ken was part of an 8-player trade with the Rangers after the 1971 season. He backed up Dick Billings in 1972 but started 88 games in 1973 (to Billings’ 67 starts). Unfortunately that was his last hurrah.
In 1974 the Rangers were going to go with rookie Jim Sundberg behind the plate, and after Suarez filed for arbitration he was traded back to the Indians for Chico Cardenas. He ended up sitting out the season due to contract issues, but in mid-September the Indians traded him to the Angels for Frank Robinson. (So in a year where he did not play, he was traded twice for ex-Reds’ All-Stars!)
Monday, October 12, 2020
Bob Barton was a journeyman catcher for the Giants and Padres. His only season as an everyday player came in 1971 with the Padres.
Barton was signed by the Giants in 1959 and started out with the Class D Hastings (Nebraska) Giants. By 1963 he made it to the triple-A level, where he remained for another 5 seasons. He did get a cup of coffee with the Giants in September 1965.
He began the 1966 season with the Giants, backing up starter Tom Haller. By mid-season he was demoted to triple-A Phoenix, with veteran 3B/C Ozzie Virgil called up to replace him. Barton alternated with prospect Dick Dietz and veteran Dick Bertell while at triple-A.
In 1967 the Giants decided to keep Dietz as Haller’s backup, and with another catching prospect (Don Bryant) slated to play for Phoenix, Barton was loaned out to the Cubs’ AAA team for most of the year.
After the 1969 season, Barton was traded to the Padres along with pitcher Ron Herbel and 3rd baseman Bobby Etheridge for pitcher Frank Reberger. This was an immediate promotion to 2nd-string status. He started a third of the games behind the dish in 1970, with Chris Cannizzaro starting most of the other games.
After only catching 5 innings for the Reds in the first month of 1973 (hey, they had Johnny Bench!) he was released in mid-June. As in the previous year, he was idle for the remainder of the season.
The Padres signed him in April 1974, and he played in 30 games as their 2nd-string catcher, then was released at the end of the season, ending his 10-year career.
Barton passed away in 2018 at age 76.
Saturday, July 18, 2020
1965 – Has his own card (#396)
1966 – Part of a 3-player Orioles Rookie Stars card (#579)
1967 – Not in the set
He returned to the Topps set for 1968-71.
Bertaina was signed by the Orioles in 1961 and began playing in 1962. He pitched in the Orioles' system for most of the next 6 years, getting a few games with the big club in '64 and '65, before really making the team in 1966. That year he pitched 16 games early and late in the season, while spending July and August in the minors.
In late-May 1967 Frank was included in the trade that sent 1st baseman Mike Epstein to the Senators in exchange for pitcher Pete Richert. He started 17 of his 18 games for the Sens that season – part of the team's young staff that included Darold Knowles and Casey Cox (both 25), Barry Moore (24), Bertaina and Dick Bosman (23), and Joe Coleman (20).
In 1968 he made 23 starts as the #4 starter (and top southpaw) in the rotation, although his record slipped to 7-13.
In 1969 he found himself in the bullpen with only the occasional starting assignment. After pitching in 16 games, he was traded back to the Orioles in mid-June for a minor-league pitcher. Frank spent the remainder of the season in triple-A, only appearing in 3 games for the O's during a September call-up.
Bertaina was also relegated to triple-A in 1970, until a mid-August deal with the Cardinals. Frank pitched in his final 8 major-league games in the season’s last 2 months.
He retired after playing for the Cardinals' AAA team in 1971.
Bertaina passed away in 2010 at age 65.