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?