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.

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