Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jack Hamilton (#193)

Jack Hamilton spent 8 years as a big-league pitcher, but unfortunately is most remembered for one grim event in 1967.

Jack was signed by the Cardinals in 1957, and spent 4 seasons in the low minors before the Phillies selected him in the minor-league draft following the 1960 season. After one season with the Phillies' class-A team in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, he made his major-league debut in April 1962. Appearing in 41 games in his rookie season, his 26 starts were 2nd on the Phillies behind Art Mahaffey's 39 starts. Unfortunately, Jack also led the league with 107 walks and 22 wild pitches. In 1963, he made 19 appearances for the Phillies, but played almost as many games for the team's AAA squad in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Jack's biggest contribution to the Phillies came after the 1963 season, when he was shipped off to the Tigers (along with outfielder Don Demeter) for pitcher Jim Bunning and catcher Gus Triandos. Hamilton spent the next 2 seasons with the Tigers, or, more accurately, as a starter with their AAA team in Syracuse. He did manage to play 9 games with the Tigers over 2 seasons.

The Mets purchased his contract after the 1965 season, and he became a fixture in New York's bullpen in 1966. He picked up 13 saves for the Mets, and led the relievers in games and innings pitched. Jack even managed to squeeze in 13 starts around his bullpen duties.

After 17 appearances in 1967, Jack was traded to the Angels on June 10th for pitcher Nick Willhite. He was used almost exclusively as a starter for the remainder of the 1967 season. On August 18th Hamilton was pitching against the Red Sox. With 2 out in the 4th inning, Jack severely beaned Boston right fielder Tony Conigliaro, which caused Conigliaro to miss the rest of 1967 and all of 1968.

1967 would be Hamilton's last full season in the majors. He became primarily a reliever in 1968, and divided his time between California and the Angels' triple-A team in Seattle.

After the 1968 season, Jack was traded to the Indians for pitcher Eddie Fisher (no, this one). After 20 relief appearances with Cleveland, he was traded on June 13th to the White Sox for pitcher Sammy Ellis. Hamilton only pitched in 8 games for the White Sox, the last coming on August 10th. He spent the rest on 1969 and all of 1970 pitching for the White Sox' AAA team in Tucson, AZ.

His last card was issued in 1969.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Don Lock (#59)

First, let me point out that the late-1960s cards of Don Lock are the most complete example of Topps' photographical laziness that I have found. Lock was traded to the Phillies in November 1966. His 1967 card shows him in a hatless photo. Fine, no problem there, because he was just traded. But, here it is ONE YEAR LATER, and Topps puts out another hatless card of Lock (with a different photo than 1967). To top it all off, Don's 1969 card (still with the Phillies, mind you) has ANOTHER hatless photo! More than 2 seasons after his trade from the Senators, and while on the Phillies roster for all that time, Topps couldn't squeeze out a new photo of Don Lock.

Don Lock was signed by the Yankees (I didn't know that until today) in 1958, and spent over 4 seasons on the Yankees' farm, until he was traded to the Senators on July 11, 1962 for 1st baseman Dale Long. Six days later, he made his major-league debut with the Senators. He started 63 of the final 76 games that season, all but one in left field.

In 1963, Don began the season as the center fielder, and except for a stretch of 19 consecutive games in late April and early May, he was the undisputed #1 in center, with 129 starts there. He also started 9 games in right field. Lock bashed 27 homers in his first full season.

1964 was more of the same, with Lock making 120 starts in center, compared to Ken Hunt's 30 starts. Don also started 25 games in right field, spelling regular Jim King. He also hit 20 home runs.

1965? The center field scoreboard says Don Lock 116 games, Woodie Held 34 games. Replaced by Woodie Held? That's what happens when your average drops to .215 and you only hit 16 home runs.

1966? Lock 101, Fred Valentine 55. Don's playing time is similar to 1965, but for the 2nd straight year, he hits a mere 16 home runs and collects less than 50 RBI.

Lock seems to be slipping in his last 2 seasons with the Senators. This affirms what I have often thought was a bad trade made by the Phillies in the mid-1960s (and always overlooked, in the shadow of the Fergie Jenkins trade). The Phillies traded pitcher Darold Knowles, who led the team in saves during his rookie season in 1966, for a starting outfielder who, under closer examination, was already on the decline. I can remember back in the 1960s, one of the "great reasons" to get Lock was that he "hit 99 home runs with the Senators" (something that is repeated on the back of this card).

Knowles went on to accumulate 143 saves in a 16-year career, which ended in 1980. Lock was heavily platooned during his 2 full seasons with the Phillies, and was sent packing to the Red Sox in early May 1969, for a guy whose entire major-league career consisted of one at-bat in 1965. Lock remained with the Red Sox through the end of the 1969 season, before retiring.

"Highly sought-after slugger"? Bah!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Final Card: Jim Ollom

Jim Ollom (#91) was signed by the Yankees in 1963. After one season in their organization, he was drafted by Minnesota, and spent the next 3 seasons as a starting pitcher in the Twins farm system, finally making his major-league debut in September 1966.

Ollom spent the entire 1967 season in the majors, and it would be his last season in the show. He appeared in 21 games, pitching 35 innings. Both of these stats ranked him 6th among pitchers named Jim on the 1967 Twins' staff.

Following the 1967 season, Ollom split each of the next 2 seasons with the Twins' minor league teams in Charlotte (AA) and Denver (AAA) as both a starter and reliever.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Jerry Stephenson

Jerry Stephenson (#519) appeared on baseball cards in 1965 and 1966, but not in 1967. He returns to the Topps card set in 1968.

Stephenson was signed by the Red Sox in 1961, and pitched 3 years (1962-64) as a starter in the minors before making the Red Sox team in 1965. Jerry remained on the team for the entire season, starting and relieving a total of 15 games.

In 1966, he started 11 of his 15 games (as one of 6 pitchers used in the back of the rotation behind Jim Lonborg, Jose Santiago, and Earl Wilson). Jerry also spent some time with triple-A Toronto.

Stephenson spent most of 1967 with Toronto, but also appeared in 8 games for Boston during the regular season, as well as pitching in the World Series. 1968 was not only his last year with Boston, but would also be his last full season in the majors. He was used mainly in long relief (23 games, 68 innings).

Stephenson was released by the Red Sox on April 17, 1969, and signed by the expansion Seattle Pilots on the same day. Appearing in only 2 games for the Pilots, he spent most of the season with their AAA club in Vancouver.

Jerry was traded to the Dodgers prior to the 1970 season, but only played 3 games for Los Angeles. He was a starter for the Dodgers' AAA teams (Spokane, then Albuquerque) from 1970 to 1972, before becoming their closer in 1973, his final season in baseball.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Gary Kolb

Gary Kolb (#407) was primarily an outfielder, but also caught a dozen or so games (mostly late in his career). He first appeared on a Topps baseball card in 1964. After his 1965 card, he disappeared for 2 seasons before returning to the 1968 set, with his final card coming in 1969.

Kolb was signed by the Cardinals in 1960, and played 3 1/2 seasons in their farm system (with brief call-ups in 1960 and 1962). In 1963, he logged considerable time with the Cardinals as a backup corner outfielder.

In early April 1964, Gary was traded to the Milwaukee Braves for catcher Bob Uecker. This was a bad break for Kolb, because not only did he get less playing time for the '64 Braves than he had with the '63 Cardinals, but the Cardinals went on to win the World Series in 1964!

1965 was Gary's first full season in the majors, but after playing sparingly for the Braves, he was traded to the Mets in July for catcher Jesse Gonder. His playing time increased with the Mets for the remainder of the season, but the Mets kept him in the minors for all of 1966.

After the 1966 season, Gary was sent to the Pirates in the Dennis Ribant for Don Cardwell trade, but played exclusively in triple-A in 1967. He would then play the entire '68 and '69 seasons in the majors.

1968 was Kolb's best season since 1963, as he appeared in 74 games for the Pirates, and played every position except pitcher, 1st base, and shortstop. With the addition of outfielder Ron Davis and the emergence of fellow catcher/outfielder Carl Taylor in 1969, Kolb had a reduced role. His last game was on September 1, 1969.

Kolb played for the Pirates' triple-A team for the 1970-73 seasons before retiring.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Final Card: Darrell Sutherland

Here is the final card for Darrell Sutherland (#551). Darrell was signed by the Phillies in 1963, one year before they also signed his brother Gary. (Darrell's picture is 5 years old, as it shows him in a Phillies' uniform from his days with the class-A Bakersfield Phillies in 1963.)

In April 1964, the Mets selected him from the Phillies in the minor-league draft, and from 1964-66, Darrell was a starting pitcher with the Mets' triple-A teams. During those same 3 seasons, he appeared in 10, 18, and 32 games for the big club, mostly as a reliever.

In 1967, Sutherland spent the entire season with double-A Williamsport, where he made 38 relief appearances and 1 start. After the season, the Indians selected him in the minor-league player draft.

Darrell only appeared in 3 games for Cleveland in 1968, while spending the bulk of the season with the Indians' AA and AAA teams.

His final pro season was in 1969, where he appeared in 47 games (all in relief) for the Indians' triple-A Portland team.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Final Card: Dick Calmus

After reading about all the goings-on at Wrigley Wax Headquarters, I decided to offer up a little-known Cubs card.

After first appearing in the 1964 set as a Dodger, Dick Calmus (#427) dropped off Topps' radar for 3 years, but returned here for his final card. When I first got this card back in 1968, I thought he looked like a young Jack Kennedy!

Calmus was signed by the Dodgers in 1962. After playing 1 season of class-D ball, he spent the entire 1963 season with the Dodgers, appearing in 21 games (all but 1 in relief). He then spent the next 3 seasons in the Dodgers farm system, mostly as a starting pitcher. Calmus was at AA Albuquerque in 1964, and AAA Spokane in 1965 and 1966.

In late April 1967, he was traded to the Cubs for pitcher Fred Norman (who would go on to pitch many years with the Padres and Reds). Calmus spent the entire season at triple-A Tacoma, then made one appearance with the Cubs on September 2nd. It would be his last major-league game.

Dick would play in the minors for 2 more seasons: for the Cubs in 1968 and the Dodgers in 1969.

I wonder why he even has a card here in 1968, since he pitched a grand total of 4.1 innings in 1967, and none in 1968.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bob Kennedy (#183)

Bob Kennedy was the first manager of the Oakland Athletics. In the A's final season in Kansas City (1967), manager Alvin Dark was given the boot with 40 games remaining. He was replaced on an interim basis by Luke Appling, with Kennedy making a fresh start in 1968 in Oakland.

Bob's tenure at the A's helm only lasted one season. After finishing 82-80, the Athletics brought in former Orioles' skipper Hank Bauer for 1969. (Bauer' stint was even shorter than Kennedy's, lasting only 149 games in 1969.)

Unlike almost all of his players' cards, Kennedy didn't get the "black cap" treatment from Topps. Here we see him in his Cubs' uniform, in a semi-recent picture. Bob served as the Cubs "head coach" from 1961 to 1965.

(From 1961 to 1965, instead of hiring a manager like all teams have done since baseball was invented, the Cubs got the bright idea of using a "manager-by-committee" approach. This College of Coaches included Kennedy and at least 5 other guys. Amazingly, this management strategy did not put an end to the Cubs decades-long record of futility. [/sarc] What the Cubs did do was put an end to this ridiculous arrangement in 1966 by hiring Leo Durocher as their manager.)

Bob's son Terry was a catcher for the Padres and other teams from 1978-1991.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Dave Duncan

Dave Duncan (#261) had his first baseball card in 1964 as half of an Athletics Rookie Stars card. He only played 25 games in 1964, then returned to the minors until resurfacing in 1967 for 34 games. Because of this, he was excluded from the 1965-67 sets. He would have a card every year from 1968 to 1977.

Duncan was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1963. After only one season in class-A ball, he spent the entire 1964 season with Kansas City (but only appeared in 25 games).

From 1965 to 1967, he played class A and AA baseball, and also appeared in some games for the Athletics in 1967, backing up #1 catcher Phil Roof. Dave's only season in triple-A came in 1968, when he split his time between Vancouver and the (now Oakland) Athletics. Duncan split the starting catching duties with the newly-acquired Jim Pagliaroni in 1968.

In 1969, Roof was back in the starter's chair, with Duncan and Larry Haney manning the 2nd and 3rd string catchers jobs. The following season, Dave again split the starting catching assignments, this time with Frank Fernandez. However, rookie Gene Tenace arrived on the scene, catching about 20% of the games.

1971 and 1972 were Duncan's only seasons as the Athletics' clear-cut starting catcher (with Tenace in reserve).

The latter part of Dave's career was spent bouncing from team to team. Before the 1973 season he was traded to the Indians for catcher Ray Fosse. In February 1975, he moved on to the Orioles for 1st baseman Boog Powell. After the 1976 season, the Orioles traded him to the White Sox for outfielder Pat Kelly, but Duncan was released in spring training.

Dave went on to have a long (and still active) career as a pitching coach for Tony LaRussa in Oakland and St. Louis. I wonder if any other non-pitcher was ever a major-league pitching coach?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Back on Topps Radar: Frank Quilici

Frank Quilici (#557) first appeared on a card in the 1966 set. After being left out of the 1967 set, he returns here, for the first of several consecutive seasons.

Quilici was signed by the Twins in 1961. After 4 1/2 seasons in the minors, he made his major-league debut in July 1965, and was the Twins' starting 2nd baseman for long stretches of games in July and September. He also played every inning at 2nd base for the Twins in the 1965 World Series. It's puzzling why he then spent the entire 1966 season back in triple-A. (Maybe an old-school Twins' fan can clear this up?)

In 1967, Frank played 11 games at triple-A and only 23 games with the Twins. Why the colossal lack of playing time? Two words: Rod Carew. That was Carew's rookie season, so any chance of Quilici recapturing his 1965 role went up in smoke.

In 1968, Quilici's playing time increased, as he started 40+ games each at 2B and 3B. The following year was even better for him, as he was a quasi-starter at 3rd base. Regular 3rd baseman Harmon Killebrew also played a significant number of games at 1st base, opening up 3rd for Quilici. (The same arrangement was used several years earlier with Killebrew, Don Mincher, and Rich Rollins.)

1970 was Frank's last season in the majors, and he went out in a flurry of activity. He played in 111 games, starting 41 of them at 2nd base (as Carew was limited to 45 games at 2nd base that season).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Multi-player Cards

Continuing with the theme from yesterday's post on my 1966 blog, here are the only 3 multi-player cards in the 1968 set.

#530 Bird Belters - These 2 players appeared (along with manager Hank Bauer) on card #1 in the 1967 set, as members of the 1966 world champion Orioles. It seems odd that Topps printed another Orioles' multi-player card in 1968, after issuing two in 1967. (A card for the 1967 champion Cardinals would have made more sense.)

#480 Manager's Dream - Here's a departure from the normal multi-player cards: players from different teams posing together. This would be Cardenas' last season in Cincinnati before shipping out to the Twins.

#490 Super Stars - One of the last cards featuring Mickey Mantle (no doubt taken at the 1967 All-Star Game).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Ron Brand

Astros' catcher Ron Brand (#317) is back on Topps' card roster after being left off in 1967.

Brand was signed by the Pirates in 1958, and played in the minors for 7 seasons, first as a middle infielder, before switching to catcher in 1961. Ron appeared in 46 games for the Pirates in 1963, mostly as a 3rd-string catcher.

His big break came after the 1964 season, when the Houston Colt .45s selected him in the Rule 5 draft. He became the Astros' #1 catcher in 1965, starting 94 games (to John Bateman's 38 starts). In 1966, Bateman took over the #1 job, starting 120 games behind the plate. Brand was 3rd on the games played list at catcher, behind Bill Heath (which explains Heath's presence on a 1967 card, instead of Brand).

In 1967, Brand and Bateman divided the starting job fairly evenly, but Bateman was the clear starter in 1968. To make matters worse, Brand had dropped to #3 catcher behind Dave Adlesh.

After the 1968 season, Ron was selected by the Montreal Expos in the expansion draft. One would think this led to a starting job for Brand, but the Expos also selected the Astros' other catcher (John Bateman) as well. So, Bateman and Brand picked up where they left off in Houston. In 1969 they split the starting job. In 1970, Bateman was the undisputed starter, and Brand actually got more playing time at 3B and SS than he did as a catcher. 1971 was a carbon copy of 1970 as far as Ron's playing time was concerned.

1971 was Brand's final season in the big leagues. He spent the 1972 season playing for Montreal's triple-A team. After not playing in 1973 and 1974, he played for the Dodgers' class-A team in Bakersfield, California at several positions, including 3 games as a pitcher.

Also check out Brand's 1969 card.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Walt Williams (#172)

From the previous post, we move across Chicago to the White Sox and Walt "No Neck" Williams. This is the 2nd year in a row that a White Sox' outfielder was named to the Topps All-Rookie team. (Tommie Agee was named the previous year. I wonder if it was Williams' fine play that enabled the Sox to move Agee to the Mets after the 1967 season?)

In 1966, 1968, and 1969, Topps used the same color-coding for each team's cards. Each color was used for one AL and one NL team. Coincidently, both the White Sox and Cubs were orange.

Williams was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1963. After one season in their farm system, he was picked up by the Cardinals and played 3 seasons with their minor-league teams, until he was traded to the White Sox in December 1966 (along with pitcher Don Dennis) for catcher Johnny Romano.

Walt spent the next 6 years in the White Sox' outfield (although he was in the minors for a good part of the 1968 season). He was a backup in the corner outfield spots as a rookie, but after returning to full-time status in 1969, he became the regular right fielder.

In 1970, Walt shared the right field job with Bill Melton. (Melton had been the regular 3rd baseman before and after 1970, but divided his time between 3rd and left in 1970.)

The following year, it was Pat Kelly who kept Williams from playing full-time in right field, as they shared the position evenly. In 1972, Kelly's playing time in right field increased to about two-thirds, while Walt's decreased further.

After one season as the Indians' backup left fielder, Walt was traded to the Yankees prior to the 1974 season. Williams spent his final 2 seasons with the Yankees, but rarely played the outfield.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lou Johnson (#184)

Here we see the hatless "Sweet Lou" Johnson, joining the Cubs after several seasons with the Dodgers.

Johnson was signed by the Yankees way back in 1953, but didn't make his major-league debut until April 1960, with the Cubs. In between, he spent several seasons with the Yankees' and Pirates' organizations, and played one season with the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues, until the Cubs acquired him in 1956.

Lou only played 35 games for the Cubs in his rookie season, spending most of that season with the Cubs' triple-A Houston Buffs team. On April 1, 1961 the Cubs traded him to the Los Angeles Angels. After one game with the Angels, he was traded to the triple-A Toronto Maple Leafs (an independent team in 1961) for outfielder Leon Wagner.

In 1962 Toronto became affiliated with the Milwaukee Braves, and Lou spent some time playing in Milwaukee. Johnson was back in the minors for all of 1963, first as Braves' property, then after May 8th, as a Tigers' farmhand.

Just before the start of the 1964 season, the Tigers traded Lou to the Dodgers for pitcher Larry Sherry. After playing for triple-A Spokane for the entire 1964 season, Johnson got his big "break" in early 1965, when the Dodgers' left fielder Tommy Davis broke his leg. Lou would be the Dodgers' primary left fielder for the next 3 seasons. His playing time slipped somewhat in 1967, due to an early-season ankle injury. The Dodgers brought in outfielder Len Gabrielsen to share the outfield load with Al Ferrara.

After the 1967 season, Lou was traded to the Cubs for infielder Paul Popovich and minor-league outfielder Jim Williams. Midway through 1968, it was on to the Indians in exchange for "Wonderful" Willie Smith.

After half-seasons in Chicago and Cleveland, Lou spent his final season (1969) back with the Angels. His last game was on September 6, 1969. His final baseball card was also in 1969.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Danny Frisella (#191)

This is the rookie card for Danny Frisella, a relief pitcher for the Mets and others from 1967 to 1976.

Frisella was signed by the Mets in June 1966. During his time in the Mets' minor-league system (1966-1970) he was a starting pitcher. He compiled a record of 11-5 during the first half of 1967 (in A and AAA ball), and then made his major-league debut on July 27th, starting 11 of his 14 games during his rookie season.

In 1968, he started 7 games in triple-A, and appeared in 19 games with the Mets, this year mostly in relief. Danny spent most of 1969 in the minors, so he missed all the "Amazin' Mets" hoopla. (I don't know if he was on the post-season roster. The Mets only used 6 pitchers in the NLCS, and 6 pitchers in the World Series, and he wasn't one of them.)

Frisella started 13 games for the Mets' triple-A team in 1970, and rejoined the Mets' bullpen, where he appeared in 30 games as the setup man for closers Ron Taylor and Tug McGraw. He won 8 games in each of 1970 and 1971, and became the right-handed closer in 1971, leading the team with 12 saves.

In 1972, his record slipped to 5-8, and his saves dropped to 9, as lefty Tug McGraw picked up most of the team's saves that season. After the season, Danny was traded to the Braves (with pitcher Gary Gentry) for 2nd baseman Felix Millan and pitcher George Stone.

Frisella spent 2 seasons in the Braves' bullpen, and was traded to the Padres for outfielder Cito Gaston in the off-season.

He was the Padres' closer in 1975, and although he compiled a 1-6 record, he led the team with 9 saves. After only one season, he was traded to the Cardinals on April 8, 1976. Two months later, after only 22 innings pitched, he was shipped to Milwaukee, where he became the Brewers' closer, again leading his team in saves.

On January 1, 1977 Danny Frisella was killed in a dune buggy accident in Arizona at age 30.

Here is a message board on the Ultimate Mets Database site, where fans (and Frisella's widow) have posted their comments.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Playing Card Inserts

Here are the 1968 Topps inserts - a deck of 33 playing cards. These cards measure 2 1/4" x 3 1/4". I don't remember which series these were inserted in. Unlike the 1969 deckle-edge insert cards, these cards aren't included on one of the checklists.

If I remember correctly, I got all these cards in 1968, but the Carl Yastrzemski card has not yellowed like all my others have, so maybe I got that one much later.

Notable stars of that time missing from this set are Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, and Lou Brock.

8/30/2013 edit:

Break-down by team:
3 - Pirates, Red Sox, Twins
2 - Phillies, Cardinals, Giants, Astros, Braves, Orioles, Tigers, White Sox
1 - Cubs, Dodgers, Reds, Yankees, Senators, Indians, Athletics, Angels
0 - Mets (Tommy Davis was traded to the White Sox in December '67)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Roy White

Here is the first "full" card for Roy White (#546). White appeared on a Yankees Rookies card in 1966, but did not have a card in 1967, despite having 356 plate appearances for the Yankees in 1966. C'mon Topps, why was White left out of the 1967 set, while this guy (who had exactly ZERO major-league games played prior to this card being issued, and whose subsequent major-league career consisted of 2 games) gets his own card?

White was signed by the Yankees in 1961, and played 4 seasons in the minor leagues as a 2nd baseman, before making his Yankees debut (as an outfielder) in September 1965. He spent the entire 1966 season with the Yankees, and started 66 games in left field that season (when Tom Tresh, the Yankees' regular left fielder, would move in to play 3rd base).

In 1967, Roy didn't start a game for the Yankees until July 19th, when he started 15 of the next 18 games at 3rd base. After spending all of 1966 with the Yankees, White played 84 games with triple-A Spokane (a Dodgers' farm team) playing exclusively at 3rd base. My theory is that the Yankees (who had traded long-time 3rd baseman Clete Boyer to the Braves in the off-season) were trying to convert White to a 3rd baseman. That experiment seems to have lasted 3 weeks at the big-league level, because by August, he was in right field, and would never play 3rd base again during his career.

White was the Yankees' regular left fielder from 1968 to 1973, and was all-star in 1969 and 1970. In 1970, he started 161 games in left, and in 1973 he started 162 games in left.

In 1974, he split his time between LF and DH, before returning to full-time left field duty from 1975-77. Beginning in 1978, Lou Piniella took over in left field, relegating White to backup status. He would play for the Yankees until retiring after the 1979 season.

Roy White was the Yankees' one link between the Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson eras.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bob Hendley (#345)

Although Bob Hendley's last major-league game was on September 3, 1967, Topps would issue cards for him in 1968 and 1969.

Bob was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958. After 3 1/2 seasons in the minors, he made his major-league debut on June 23, 1961, pitching 7 innings in a loss to the Cubs. Hendley started 13 of his 19 games during his rookie season.

In 1962, Bob advanced to #3 starter behind veterans Warren Spahn and Bob Shaw, and ahead of Lew Burdette. In 1963, Bob Shaw became the team's closer, but Hendley was still the #3 starter, as Denny Lemaster (in his 1st full season) leapfrogged over Bob in the rotation.

After the 1963 season, Bob was part of a big trade with the Giants, as he, pitcher Bob Shaw, and catcher Del Crandall went to San Francisco in exchange for pitcher Billy Hoeft, catcher Ed Bailey, outfielder Felipe Alou, and infielder Ernie Bowman. With the Giants in 1964, Bob joined a rotation that included Juan Marichal, Jack Sanford, and 3 others that started and relieved (Gaylord Perry, Bob Bolin, Ron Herbel). Except for the aging Sanford (35), all the starters were either 25 or 26 years old.

Bob only appeared in 8 games for the Giants in 1965, before being traded to the Cubs on May 29th (along with catcher Ed Bailey and outfielder Harvey Kuenn) for catcher Dick Bertell and outfielder Len Gabrielsen. He was used in a swingman role with the Cubs, as their top 3 starters were Larry Jackson, Dick Ellsworth, and Bob Buhl (all future Phillies).

In 1966, Hendley pitched mainly in relief, and led the team with (a paltry!) 7 saves. 1966 also was the rookie season of catcher Randy Hundley, so the Cubs fielded a Hendley/Hundley battery for a year and a half, until Bob's June 1967 trade to the Mets.

In New York, Bob spent the closing months of his major-league career making 13 starts and 2 relief appearances.

Hendley spent the 1968 and 1968 seasons with the Mets' triple-A team, making 27 appearances in each season.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Final Card: Sandy Valdespino

Sandy Valdespino (#304) appeared on Topps cards in 1965 and 1966, but since he spent most of 1966 in the minors, he didn't have a card in 1967. Now he's back for one last card.

Sandy was signed by the (old) Washington Senators in 1957. He spent 8 seasons in Senators'/Twins' minor-league system (including the last 5 in triple-A) before making his major-league debut with the Twins on April 12, 1965.

In his rookie season, Valdespino was 10th in at-bats among Twins players, which was tops among non-starters. (For all practical purposes, the Twins had 9 "starters" that season, because of the triangle of Don Mincher at 1B, Rich Rollins at 3B, and Harmon Killebrew at 1B-3B.) Valdespino was used primarily as a pinch-hitter and backup left fielder.

In 1966, Sandy's value to the team plummeted, as rookies Ted Uhlaender, Cesar Tovar, and Andy Kosco all found more playing time than Valdespino. In fact, he played more games at triple-A Denver (72) than he did with the Twins (52).

Sandy spent the entire 1967 season with the Twins, but was relegated to the bench. Although he played in 99 games, only 9 of them were outfield starts. The rest were pinch-hitting appearances or backup duty in left field. After the season, the Braves selected him in the rule 5 draft.

1968 was his only season with the Braves, but he played 2/3 of his games that season with triple-A Richmond. After the season, Atlanta traded him to the Astros for pitcher Paul Doyle, a 10-year minor-league veteran with no major-league experience.

After splitting the season between Houston and triple-A Oklahoma City, Sandy was traded to the Seattle Pilots on August 30, 1969 (with Danny Walton) for Tommy Davis. Valdespino played 20 games with the Pilots at the end of 1969, and although he played 8 games with the relocated Milwaukee Brewers in 1970, he spent most of that season in the minors, first in Portland Oregon, then in Omaha (after being sold to the Royals in July).

Sandy saw some brief action with the Royals in 1971, but spent most of that season and all of 1972 with the Royals' triple-A team in Omaha.

His final major-league games was on September 28, 1971, but he never appeared on a baseball card after 1968.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Jim Roland

Jim Roland (#276) had cards from 1963-1965, but missed out in 1966 and 1967. Here he resurfaces to begin a string of 5 seasons on a baseball card.

Jim was signed by the Twins in 1961, and spent only 2 seasons in the minors before making his major-league debut in September 1962. He spent the following 2 seasons with the Twins. Being a swingman, doesn't list him as being among the team's top 10 pitchers, but in 1963 he was 9th in innings pitched (49), and in 1964 he was 6th in innings pitched (94).

Roland spent the entire 1965 and 1966 seasons in the minors, rehabbing from arm injuries. He pitched about 30 games each season, mostly as a starter.

Jim returned to the Twins in 1967, and took his place alongside all the other Jims on the Twins' pitching staff. In 1967, he appeared in 25 games (all in relief) with 35 innings pitched. (I guess he was the "situational lefty".) The following season he made 4 starts and relieved in 24 games, but he was no longer the senior southpaw in the bullpen, as Ron Perranoski had been acquired from the Dodgers in the off-season.

In February 1969, Roland was sold to the Athletics, where he joined rookie Rollie Fingers and veterans Lew Krausse and Paul Lindblad in Oakland's bullpen.

After 3 seasons with the A's, Jim was sold to the Yankees in April 1972. At the end of August, the Yanks traded him to the Rangers for pitcher Casey Cox. With Texas, Roland pitched 5 games (a total of 3.1 innings), and fashioned an 8.10 ERA. That was enough to call it a career after the season.

Jim Roland died at age 67 on March 6, 2010 in Shelby, North Carolina, about 90 miles from his birthplace of Franklin, NC.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Final Card: Jack Lamabe

This is the final card for Jack Lamabe (#311).

Jack was signed by the Phillies in 1956. After one season with their class-D club in the Carolina League, he was released and subsequently picked up by the Pirates. Lamabe spent 5 seasons in the Pirates minor-league organization before making his major-league debut with the Pirates in April 1962.

After just one season in Pittsburgh, he was traded to the Red Sox (along with 1st baseman Dick Stuart) for pitcher Don Schwall and catcher Jim Pagliaroni. In his first season with Boston, Jack was the #2 man in the bullpen behind Dick Radatz. In 1964 Lamabe joined the rotation, compiling a 9-13 record. He spent most of 1965 with Boston's triple-A team in Toronto, then was traded to the Astros in September for pitcher Darrell Brandon.

Jack only played 3 games for the Astros. In December he was traded to the White Sox for outfielder Dave Nicholson and catcher Bill Heath. Lamabe made 17 starts and 17 relief appearances for the Sox in 1966.

He was one of baseball's big travelers in 1967, as one of 5 players to play for 3 teams that season (along with Jim King, Jim Landis, Ken Harrelson, and White Sox teammate John Buzhardt). In April he was shipped to the Mets, and 3 months later he had the good fortune of being traded from the lowly Mets to the eventual world champion Cardinals. He pitched in three games in the 1967 World Series (pretty much all the games that were not complete games by Bob Gibson).

All good things must come to an end however, and for Jack that was April 1968, when the Cardinals traded him to the Cubs. He finished his major-league career in 1968 with the Cubs, and spent the 1969 season in the minors, both with the Cubs' and Expos' organizations.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Back on Topps' Radar: Nate Oliver

Nate Oliver (#124) was a backup 2B-SS for the Dodgers in the mid-1960s. After appearing on Topps cards in '63, '65, and '66, he was out of the loop in 1967 before showing up 3 more times starting in 1968.

Nate was signed by the Dodgers in 1959, and spent the next 4 seasons in their farm system before making his major-league debut in April 1963. From 1963 to 1967 he shuttled between Los Angeles and their triple-A team in Spokane, playing a good amount of time in the majors (except for 1965).

Prior to the 1968 season, Oliver and 2nd baseman Ron Hunt were traded to the Giants for starting catcher Tom Haller. After just 1 season in San Francisco, he was shipped to the Yankees for pinch-hitter (and former 3rd baseman) Charlie Smith.

Two weeks into the 1969 season, the Yankees traded him to the Cubs for minor-league infielder Lee Elia. That was his last major-league season. Nate spent the 1970 and 1971 seasons in triple-A before retiring.