Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Final card: Jerry Buchek

Here is the final card for Mets' 2nd baseman Jerry Buchek (#277). This was the first of three Buchek cards I acquired. Jerry's 1967 card is in the high-numbered 7th series, so I didn't get that until years later.

By the time I jumped on the major-league baseball bandwagon in May 1967, Buchek was the Mets' regular 2nd baseman. I didn't realize until checking his stats for this column that he only became a Met on April 1st that year, about a week before the start of the season. His 1967 card shows him in full Mets' gear, which is an amazing and unexpected feat by the Topps photography department, given their record of lagging behind the curve with updated photos for the 1967-68-69 Don Lock, 1968-69 Woody Fryman, 1968-69 Turk Farrell, 1968 Tommie Aaron, etc, etc, etc.

Buchek was signed by the Cardinals in 1959, and played 4 seasons (1960-63) in their farm system as a shortstop, making brief appearances with St. Louis in 1961 and 1963.

He made the Cardinals for good at the start of the 1964 season, playing in 35 games as a SS-2B backup, as well as a few appearances in the World Series. During the 1965-66 seasons, although still a backup, he began playing much more at 2nd base than in previous seasons.

A week before the 1967 season, Jerry was traded to the Mets (along with pitcher Art Mahaffey) for veteran shortstop Ed Bressoud and outfielder Dan Napolean. Buchek alternated with veteran Chuck Hiller at 2B during April, then started almost every game at 2B during May, June, and July. For the remainder of the season, he alternated between 2nd, 3rd, shortstop, and the bench. In 411 at-bats, he only managed to hit .236, which probably hastened the end of his career.

The emergence of rookie 2nd baseman Ken Boswell severely limited Buchek's playing time in 1968. He was primarily relegated to the bench, although he made a few dozen starts at 3rd base spelling veteran Ed Charles. After the season, Jerry was traded back to the Cardinals, for minor-league pitcher Jim Cosman.

Before the start of the 1969 season, he was flipped to the Phillies in exchange for 1st baseman Bill White. Buchek spent the year with the Phillies' triple-A team in Eugene, Oregon before retiring.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Genius that is Bud Selig

Ok, we're going to vote on who moves to the American League. Are there any suggestions?


What? I can't hear you.

What? You'll have to talk over the noise.

Criminy, I just can't hear anyone over the loud protesting by those damn fans. Can't they see I'm busy?

Ok, here's what we will do. Raise ONE finger to vote for the Astros...

and TWO fingers to vote for the Brewers.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Back on Topps' Radar: John Boozer

John Boozer (#173) returns to the Topps set after missing out in 1967. John had a baseball card every year from 1963-69, except in the 1967 set. How ironic, since that was his only winning season (5-4).

Boozer was signed by the Phillies in 1958, and spent his entire career in the Phillies' organization. Except for the 1968 season, he pitched in the minors every season from 1958 to 1969, primarily as a starting pitcher.

John made his major-league debut in July 1962. He was primarily a long reliever for Philadelphia, but also made some spot starts. Most of his time in the bigs came from 1963-64, and 1967-69.

I remember that in 1967, he was recalled around Memorial Day, after the Phillies cleaned house of several veteran relievers. After the 1966 season, the Phillies went on a binge, signing aging veterans Dick Hall, Pedro Ramos, and Ruben Gomez to shore up their bullpen. Only Hall panned out, and the other 2 (along with holdover Bob Buhl) were all given an early-season boot.

The Phillies' revamped bullpen that season included Turk Farrell (acquired in May) and Hall as the 2 firemen, along with rookie Grant Jackson (a lefty) and the recently-recalled Boozer. They also reclaimed Dallas Green off the scrap heap, who didn't do too much in his final season except collect days toward his pension.

Anyhoo, Boozer was the right-handed long man and occasional spot starter. Somehow, he managed to stay with the big club for the entire 1968 season. I don't know if it was his performance, as much as it was the Phillies not having many other options. After all, it would be another year or so until their "phenoms" (Lowell "Shades" Palmer, Billy Champion, Barry Lersch, and Billy Wilson) were ready.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bubba Morton (#216)

The 2nd Bubba for today is Wycliffe "Bubba" Morton, outfielder for the California Angels in the late 1960s.

Morton was signed by the Tigers back in 1955, and spent 6 seasons in the minors before breaking in with the Tigers in April 1961. Bubba spent all of 1961 and 1962 as a spare outfielder, behind starters Al Kaline, Rocky Colavito, and Bill Bruton.

In May 1963, he was purchased by the Milwaukee Braves, but played only 15 games for them before spending most of '63, and all of 1964 in the minors. His minor-league adventures continued in 1965, but this time as a member of the Indians' organization.

Morton was traded to the Angels at the end of the 1965 season, and after spending most of '66 in triple-A, he returned to the majors and played his final 3 seasons with California. He played about 80 games in each of those 3 seasons, but the Angels' roster was packed with outfielders in those days. The 1967 Topps set features EIGHT outfielders on the team. The Angels' 1968 and 1969 rosters also featured 8 outfielders with significant major-league experience. If your name wasn't Rick Reichardt, you pretty much scrambled for playing time.

Morton spent the 1970 season playing in Japan.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

All-Star Cards

After a 5-year absence, Topps re-introduced All-Star cards in their 1968 set, featuring players selected as 1967 All-Stars by The Sporting News. These choices differed somewhat from the actual 1967 All-Star lineup (which was still voted on by the players that season).

In the actual game, the NL had Juan Marichal, Joe Torre, Bill Mazeroski, and Richie Allen starting at P, C, 2B, and 3B respectively. The AL featured Dean Chance, Rico Petrocelli, and Tony Conigliaro starting at P, SS, and RF. Otherwise, the starters were those you see in the 2 large blocks of cards below. Surprisingly, Joe Morgan, Ron Santo, and Ken Holtzman were not even on the actual All-Star roster in 1967, yet all were picked for the first team by The Sporting News.

Four of the six outfielders started at their natural position, while Hank Aaron and Tony Oliva each started in centerfield.

Oh, The Sporting News selected 2 pitchers in each league, 1 lefty and 1 righty, so...

The backs of these 20 cards formed 2 photos - Orlando Cepeda and Carl Yastrzemski. Contrary to what I would have thought, the 2 puzzles were not made exclusively from the player cards from Cepeda's or Yaz' own league. (My scanner bed is not large enough to hold all 10 cards, hence the cut-off tops.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Joe Verbanic (#29)

This is the second of four Joe Verbanic cards. Joe appeared on a Yankees Rookies card in 1967. He also had cards in '68, '69, and '70, all with the Yankees, and all hatless (c'mon Topps!). This same photo below was also used for his 1969 card.

Verbanic grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania, the same sports hotbed that produced Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Babe Parilli, Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Sr, Tito Francona, Doc Medich, and Pete Maravich among others. (In fact, Dorsett, Medich, and Verbanic were from the same town!)

Joe was signed by the Phillies in 1961, and began his career as a relief pitcher with their Miami Marlins farm team in 1962. After another season in Miami, he moved up the ladder and eventually made his major-league debut with the Phillies in June 1966. Verbanic pitched in 17 games for the Phillies that season, but was traded to the Yankees that December for veteran pitcher Pedro Ramos.

Joe split the 1967 season between the Yankees and triple-A. In 1968, he managed to stick with the Yanks for the entire season, compiling a 6-7 record in 40 games (11 starts).

Verbanic missed the entire 1969 season with arm troubles. When he returned in 1970, his career was essentially over. Joe pitched 7 games for New York, and 15 games for AAA Syracuse. He also missed most of the following season, only pitching 5 games for Syracuse. Verbanic wrapped up his career in 1972, back with the Phillies' AAA team for a 39-game stint.

I often thought that Topps should have made another 1966 Phillies Rookies card featuring Verbanic and rookie pitcher John Morris. (Morris was traded to the Orioles for pitcher Dick Hall, and later surfaced on a 1969 card as a Seattle Pilot.)

Here's an internet page for Verbanic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sammy Ellis (#453)

Sammy Ellis had a 7-year career as a starting pitcher in the 1960s, mostly with the Reds. He was signed by Cincinnati in 1961, and although he appeared in 7 games for the Reds in 1962, he spent most of 1961-63 in the minors.

In his rookie season of 1964, Sammy led the bullpen with 52 games, 122 innings, and 14 saves. The following season, he joined the rotation and compiled a 22-10 record, which, along with Jim Maloney's 20-9 gave the Reds a nice one-two punch.

After slipping to 12-19 in 1966 and 8-11 in 1967, Ellis was shipped off to the Angels for pitcher Bill Kelso. His one season in California was more of the same (9-10 record), and Sammy was traded to the White Sox in January 1969 for outfielder Bill Voss. After only 10 games with Chicago, he was traded to the Indians for pitcher Jack Hamilton, and was assigned to triple-A for the remainder of the season.

Ellis' final major-league game was in June 1969. His last baseball card was also in 1969. He spent the next 2 seasons in the minors before retiring.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

1969 Baseball Stamps - All the Rest

Here are the rest of my 1969 baseball stamps (well, except for the Padres' Larry Stahl, but he didn't fit into one of the group rectangles!) I got all these in 1969, and they've been sitting in glassine envelopes ever since.

I have no idea who I'm missing (except for the Phillies' Tony Taylor). It's weird that I have no stamps from the 2-time NL champion Cardinals, nor the Yankees, Reds, Dodgers, Braves, Red Sox, Orioles, Angels, Astros, Expos, Royals, or Pilots.

(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

1969 Phillies Stamps

Ok, so these aren't from 1968, but the photos were probably taken in 1968 (well, all but Don Lock. Apparently, Topps was unable to locate Don Lock after 1966!)

I was just reading the latest post by Jim on his Phillies Room blog where he made a reference to the 1969 Topps baseball stamps. I forgot that I had these until reading his post. When I located them, I didn't find any doubles, but I have 76 of these stamps from various teams, mostly Phillies, Pirates, Cubs, Twins, and Athletics. I wonder why out of 76 stamps, I have none from the Red Sox, Yankees, Orioles, Angels, Cardinals, Expos, Astros, or Reds?

Here are the Phillies (I seem to be missing the Tony Taylor stamp that Jim referred to):

And here are 3 recent ex-Phillies. (Cater is actually about 4 years removed from the team, but Topps is still showing him in a Phillies uniform.)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cap Peterson (#188)

Charles Andrew "Cap" Peterson had an 8-year career in the 1960s as an outfielder, primarily for the Giants and Senators (Topps' two "green" teams, coincidently).

Cap was signed by the Giants in 1960, and spent 4 seasons in their farm system, the first 3 as a shortstop. After a cup of coffee at the end of the 1962 season, and 22 games in May, June, and September 1963, Peterson spent the entire 1964 season with the Giants, where he was used mostly as a pinch-hitter. (The Giants' starting outfield was Willie McCovey. Willie Mays, and Jesus Alou. Even their bench was well-stocked with outfielders Harvey Kuenn, Matty Alou, and an aging Duke Snider, so there wasn't much room for Peterson.)

In 1965, McCovey had moved to 1st base, Snider retired, and Kuenn was pushed to the back burner, so there was more time in the field for Peterson. He played in 60 games, and was the team's 5th outfielder, making 20 starts in left field.

Cap found himself with a semi-regular job in 1966. With rookie Ollie Brown now in right field, Jesus Alou moved over to left field, which became a 3-way job-share with Peterson and last year's regular left fielder, Len Gabrielson. After the season, Cap was traded to the Senators along with pitcher Bob Priddy for pitcher Mike McCormick.

Cap began the 1967 season as the starter in right field. After sharing the job with previous Nats' right fielder Jim King for about a month, King was traded away, giving Peterson more playing time. During the second half of the season, Cap shared right field with Fred Valentine, who would move over from his regular center field spot to give Ed Stroud or Hank Allen some starts in center.

1968 was the beginning of the end for Cap's career. Rookie Del Unser started 154 games in center field, moving everyone else (Fred Valentine, Ed Stroud, Hank Allen, and rookie Brant Alyea) over to the right field melting pot with Peterson. Cap made 37 starts in right, another 11 in left, but was mostly used as a pinch-hitter.

After the 1968 season he was traded to the Indians, where he played for 1 season as a pinch-hitter and backup left fielder.

Peterson played in triple-A for 3 more seasons before retiring. He passed away on May 16, 1980 from kidney disease at age 37.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bobby Wine (#396)

I can still remember getting this card in 1968, and how I really liked it. Why? I wasn't really a Bobby Wine fan. I think maybe it was the fact that the photo was so crisp, and because there were many hatless Phillies' cards in the 1968 set, this one just stood out as a nice card.

This was Bobby's last card as a Phillie. After the season, the Montreal Expos selected pitcher Larry Jackson in the expansion draft. When he chose to retire, the Phillies sent Wine to the Expos as compensation. It wasn't a great loss for the Phillies. Wine had missed all but 27 games of the 1968 season with a back injury, and the Phils had rookie Don Money waiting in the wings to take over in 1969.

This photo is from 1965, as that is the only season that Wine didn't wear his familiar #7 uniform. He had switched to #13 for that season in deference to veteran Dick Stuart.

The Phillies signed Bobby in 1957, and after 5 seasons in the minors, Wine made the team in 1962. He shared the shortstop job with Ruben Amaro Sr that first season, but was the clear #1 shortstop from 1963-65, although Amaro continued to start many games at short.

After losing his starting job to veteran Dick Groat in 1966, Wine regained the position for the 1967 season. It was to be his last signifcant time with the Phillies. The 1968 season began with rookie Don Money being handed the SS job. When he faltered in early April, Wine took over for a few weeks until being sidelined for the season with his ailing back.

Moving to Montreal in 1969, Wine was the Expos' starting shortstop for their first 3 seasons. His playing time began to diminish in the final weeks of the 1971 season, and for 1972 he had lost the starting job to Tim Foli. After only 18 at-bats over 34 games, Wine was released on July 10th.

He went on to a long coaching career with the Phillies and Braves, and also scouted for the Braves.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dick Tracewski (#488)

Over the next few posts, I am going to be completing my series on players who retired in the late 1960s (specifically, those players who retired in 1968 or 1969, or whose last card was in 1968).

This post was going to be about 8-year veteran Dick Radatz (who retired in 1969). When I went to my 1968 binder (which is arranged by teams) to retrieve his card, I couldn't find it. Indians? No. Red Sox? No. What the? After consulting my Book of All Topps Knowledge I learned that the veteran Radatz did not have a card in 1968. He was released by the Cubs during spring training in 1968, and spent the entire season with the Tigers' triple-A team, before returning to the majors for one more season in 1969.

I will have to update my list of players without a 1968 card. Meanwhile, on to fellow 8-year-veteran-retiring-in-1969 Dick Tracewski.

Tracewski was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953. After 5 seasons in the minors, Dick spent 1958 and 1959 in military service. He returned to another 3 seasons in the minors, and made the Dodgers at the start of the 1963 season.

Tracewski had significant playing time during his first 2 seasons with the Dodgers, backing up Maury Wills at SS in 1963, and sharing 2B with Nate Oliver in 1964. In 1965 he received less playing time than before, primarily as Junior Gilliam's backup at 3rd base. Dick saw action in the 1963 and 1965 World Series with the Dodgers.

After the 1965 season, Dick was traded to the Tigers for relief pitcher Phil Regan. With the Tigers, Tracewski was relegated to 3rd-string middle infielder, especially after the arrival of rookie Tom Matchick in 1968. Still, Tracewski played briefly in his 3rd World Series in 1968. He retired after the 1969 season.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Final Card: Bob Allen

Hooray! Tax season is over. I will now attempt to be more of a player here.
Here is the final card for Indians' pitcher Bob Allen (#176), who had a 5-year major-league career, all with the Indians. Allen was signed by Cleveland in 1956, and spent 5 years working his way up the minor-league ladder, beginning in Class D in 1956. For his first 3 seasons, one of his teammates was future big-league pitcher Jim Perry.

Bob made his major-league debut in 1961, as a member of the Tribe's bullpen. He appeared in 48 games as a rookie. He regressed in 1962, pitching only 30 innings in 30 games, while spending part of the season with triple-A Salt Lake City.

In 1963, Bob returned to the Indians for a full season, logging similar playing time as he did in 1961. Allen was the only lefty in the bullpen, which this year included ace Ted Abernathy and 43-year-old veteran Early Wynn. Allen and Abernathy were the only pitchers on the team not to make any starts.

After the 1963 season, Allen was traded to the Pirates, who returned him to Cleveland before the 1964 season. Bob spent the next 2 seasons with the Indians' triple-A team in Portland, Oregon before finally returning to Cleveland for the entire 1966 and 1967 seasons.

An 0-5 record in 1967 spelled the end of Allen's major-league career. Over 5 seasons, he pitched in 84 games, all in relief. Bob continued to pitch in the minors for the Indians (1968-70), Angels (1970), and the Padres (1971-72) before retiring.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Who didn't get a card, but shoulda...

Today, I'm continuing to pick at the shortcomings my analysis of the 1968 set.

As I posted earlier with the 1966 and 1967 sets, here is a list of some of the players who didn't appear on a regular or rookie card in this set, along with the number of games played in 1968:

Most of these are rookies who made their debut in 1968. Reggie Jackson is a different case. He made his debut with the Athletics in June 1967, but in 118 at-bats in 35 games, he only hit 1 home run. Maybe this caused Topps to write him off as a non-factor. Fortunately for us, our fellow blogger Steve at White Sox Cards has filled the gap.

Bobby Bonds wasn't called up until late June, but he had been tearing up the minor leagues for over a year. Other rookies who grabbed a starting job at the start of the season included Del Unser and Bobby Cox (who both made the Topps 1968 all-rookie team).

Non-rookies without a card were Indians' 1st baseman Tony Horton (who never had a card in his 6-year career), Roberto Pena (a journeyman shortstop who joined the Phillies in late April and took over the starting job in May for the injured Bobby Wine), and Red Sox pitcher Sparky Lyle.

I can't imagine how Topps could have overlooked Reggie Jackson and Bobby Bonds for their teams' rookie cards, but almost all of these players could have been added to the 7th series, which was months away. (Did we really need all those extra Mets cards?)

5-15-2011 edit:
Yesterday, I learned that relief pitcher Dick Radatz didn't have a card in the 1968 set. Radatz (nicknamed "The Monster") broke in with the Red Sox in 1962 and finished 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting. He led the AL in (what would have been) saves in 1962 and 1964. In June 1966 he was traded to the Indians, and in April 1967 he moved on to the Cubs.

From 1962 to 1967, Dick appeared in 62, 66, 79, 63, 55, and 23 games. His last major-league appearance in 1967 was on July 7th. No doubt that was the reason he was left out of the 1968 set. Still, the Braves' Tommie Aaron was afforded a card in 1968 after not having played since the 1965 season, so why didn't Radatz get similar treatment? Dick spent the entire 1968 season in the minors, before resurfacing for 1 final season in 1969 with the Tigers and Expos. His final card was in the 1969 set.

12-27-2011 edit:
In addition to Dick Radatz, these players also had cards in 1967 and 1969, but not in 1968:
Johnny Podres - P (was retired during 1968)
Jesse Gonder - C (1967 was last year in majors)
Bob Chance - 1B
Dave Nicholson - OF
Gary Geiger - OF
Tommie Reynolds - OF
Galen Cisco - P
Fred Newman - P
Tom Egan - C
Chuck Harrison - 1B
Jim Beauchamp - OF
John Kennedy - 3B

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Distribution of teams within the 1968 set

Yesterday, I revisited my earlier post about the lack of a Giants Rookies card.

There were 25 cards for the Giants in 1968. However, in the 598 card set, the last Giant appears on card #545. This means that in the last 53 cards, there were no Giants. Was a planned Giants Rookies card pulled and replaced with someone else? Although the set starts off with each team being represented every 20 cards or so, in those final 53 cards, we have:

5 Mets (!?!)
4 Astros, Red Sox, Senators, and Yankees
3 Angels, Athletics, Indians, and Pirates
2 Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Orioles, Reds, Twins, White Sox
1 Tigers and Phillies

The Phillies were really cut short, having only ONE card among the last EIGHTY-SIX cards!

A further analysis of the entire set shows that some teams had as many as 5 more cards than other teams:

30 Orioles, Reds, Red Sox
29 Astros, Cubs, Mets, Senators
28 Athletics
27 Cardinals, Dodgers, Pirates, Twins, White Sox
26 Angels, Yankees
25 Braves, Giants, Phillies, Indians, Tigers

20 All stars
12 Leaders
8 World Series
7 Checklists
5 Other

So, my long-time suspicion that the Phillies were short-changed in the 1968 set turns out to be correct. (Trades were not the reason, as the only significant off-season Phillies' trades were Jim Bunning for Woodie Fryman, and Dick Ellsworth and Gene Oliver for Mike Ryan, which gives an imbalance of 1 card.)

Topps' late-series push of excessive Mets, Astros, Red Sox, and Senators cards sent the totals for those teams soaring above the team average.