Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dick Dietz (#104)

Dick Dietz was the catcher on the 1967 Topps All-Rookie team, one of 2 Giants to be selected to the squad. Dick's rookie card appeared in the 1967 set, where he was listed as an outfielder.

Dietz was signed by the Giants in 1960, and played in their farm system from 1960 until June 1966. Usually a catcher, he played only in the outfield during the 1963 - 1965 seasons.

Dick made his major-league debut in mid-June 1966, and played 13 games over the 2nd half of the season.

Dick started 34 games in 1967 (behind veteran Tom Haller's 120 starts), then became the Giants' primary catcher beginning in 1968, after Haller's trade to the Dodgers. Hmm... until now, I always thought Dietz was the full-time catcher starting in 1968, but he caught about half the games during the '68 and '69 seasons, with Jack Hiatt and Bob Barton splitting the remaining games.

Dick became the everyday backstop in 1970, starting 137 games that season, hitting 22 home runs with 107 RBI in 1970, and getting a trip to the all-star game.

In 1971 he hit 19 home runs, while starting 127 games behind the plate. Dietz finished out the season with the Giants, but after the player strike in Spring 1972, Dietz (who was the team's player representative) was put on waivers in April.

He was claimed by the Dodgers, and played 27 games as LA's 3rd-string catcher behind Chris Cannizzaro and Duke Sims. After Dick broke his wrist on July 30th, and was lost for the season, rookie Steve Yeager was called up to fill the 2nd-string role, while Sims was traded away.

1973 was Dietz' final season, and he found himself in Atlanta as the Braves' backup catcher/1st baseman.

Dietz passed away on June 27, 2005 at age 63.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Tom Seaver (#45)

Tom Seaver was the right-handed pitcher on Topps’ all-rookie team in 1967.

Seaver was drafted by the Dodgers in June 1965 but did not sign. He was then drafted by the Braves the following January, but the pick was voided by the commissioner on a technicality involving his college playing status. The Mets won a lottery (which also included the Phillies and Indians) and signed Seaver in April 1966.

After 1 season in the minors, “Tom Terrific” debuted with the Mets in April 1967, starting the 2nd game of the season, and going on to start 34 games and pitch 251 innings (leading the team in both categories). With 16 wins, he was the only Mets’ pitcher with double-digit wins, and was named the NL Rookie of the Year.

Seaver spearheaded the Mets' rise to respectability, after spending their first 7 seasons as the league's doormat. He was an all-star in 11 of his first 12 seasons (only missing in 1974). He also won the Cy Young award in ’69, ’73, and ’75. Tom was a 5-time 20-game winner, and led the NL in wins in 1969 and 1975. Seaver led the NL in strikeouts 5 times and ERA 3 times. All of the above stats were as Met.

During the 1977 season, he was traded to the Reds and continued winning through the 1981 season. After an off-year in 1982, he returned to the Mets for 1983 (another sub-par season), then had 2 good years for the White Sox (1984-85) before wrapping up his career in 1986 with the ChiSox and BoSox.

Seaver pitched in the post-season 3 times: ’69 and ’73 with the Mets, and 1979 with the Reds.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Joe Sparma (#505)

Joe Sparma was the forgotten man for the Tigers in the 1968 post-season. The team's #4 starter, he was relegated to the bullpen for the post-season, since teams used a 3-man rotation in those days. He did pitch 1/3 of an inning in the Series.

Joe went to the same Massillon, Ohio high school as former Athletics' outfielder Mike Hershberger, although Joe was 3 years younger than Mike. Joe was also a quarterback at Ohio State in 1961 and 1962. He and teammate Paul Warfield led Ohio State to the Big 10 championship in '61.

Sparma was signed by the Tigers in 1963. After 1+ seasons in the minors he was called up in late-May 1964 and remained with the Tigers for the rest of the season, making 11 starts and 10 relief appearances.

Although Joe spent some time in the Tigers' bullpen in 1966 and 1969, he was primarily a starter during his years with Detroit. His best season came in 1967, when he collected 16 wins in 37 starts, while striking out 153 batters in 217 innings (all career highs for him. Sparma was pitching a no-hitter against the Pilots on 5/31/1969 when Don Mincher got a hit with one out in the 9th inning.

After feuding with manager Mayo Smith for more than a year, Joe was traded to Montreal in December 1969 for pitcher Jerry Robertson, who was 5-16 in his rookie season for the expansion Expos.

Sparma compiled an 0-4 record in 9 games (all by May 12th), and was promptly sent down to the minors for the rest of the 1970 season. He pitched for the Tigers' AAA team in 1971, before retiring.

Joe suffered a heart attack and died following bypass surgery on May 14, 1986 at age 44.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

1967 World Series

I'd better get this posted, before the World Series ends.....

The 1967 Fall Classic featured the Cardinals and the Red Sox. The Cards were making their 2nd trip there in 4 years, while the Red Sox hadn't seen post-season action since 1946 (when coincidentally, their opponent was the Cardinals).

In 1967, Boston had just come off two 9th-place finishes, and entered the season not only with a new manager (Dick Williams), but it was Williams' 1st big-league managing assignment.

Leading the way for the rejuvenated Sox were triple-crown winner Carl Yastrzemski, pitcher Jim Lonborg, infielders George Scott and Rico Petrocelli, and outfielders Reggie Smith and (until his mid-August beaning) Tony Conigliaro.

The Cardinals were too much for the upstart Sox. This was a veteran club that had just won the Series in 1964, and had an all-star caliber player at just about every position.

In short...Gibson would just not lose. All St. Louis had to do was find one more win from among the rest of their rotation, which they did in game #3.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Phillies Rookies: Larry Colton / Dick Thoenen

This is the only Phillies Rookies card in the 1968 set (#348). (There was only one Phillies Rookies card in the '66, '67, and '68 sets. That number ballooned to 3 in the '69 set. Backlog of prospects? Nah.)

Each of these players had a major-league career lasting exactly one game. (Larry Colton pitched 2 innings on 5/6/1968, while Dick Thoenen pitched 1 inning on 9/16/1967.) This is the rookie card for both players, and the only card for Thoenen. Surprisingly, Colton re-appears on a 1969 Phillies Rookies card.

Larry Colton was signed by the Phillies in 1964, and was a starting pitcher in their farm system for 5 seasons (1965-69), starting at least 25 games each season except for 1968. That season, he spent part of the time riding the bench in Philadelphia, along with some time on the DL.

At the time, it was reported that he "hurt his shoulder reaching for the telephone on his bedside table". Years later, it was revealed that he was injured in a bar fight, and it cost him his shot in the majors.

After the '69 season, he was sent to the Cubs to complete the Johnny Callison for Dick Selma and Oscar Gamble trade. Colton pitched the 1970 season for the Cubs AAA team, then was out of baseball until pitching the 1975 season for an unaffiliated class A team.

At one time, Colton was married to the daughter of movie star Hedley Hedy Lamarr.

Dick Thoenen was signed by the Phillies in 1963, and pitched for 7 seasons in their farm system. Although a starting pitcher for his first 3 seasons, he was converted to a reliever at the start of the 1966 season and worked out of the bullpen in double-A (1966), and triple-A (1966-69).

His cup of coffee was pitching the 4th inning in relief of starter Rick Wise. After giving up hits to the Dodgers' Bob Bailey and Luis Alcaraz, he retired Don Sutton, Nate Oliver, and Wes Parker in order.

I found this write-up about Dick Thoenen recently at the NJ Baseball blog. At the end of the blog post, there's a newspaper clipping listing the Phillies' September 1967 call-ups. Larry Bowa was among them, although he wouldn't get into a major-league game until April 1970.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Final Card: Recapping all 50 51

For the past few years, one of the recurring series on this blog has been a player's final card. The 1968 set includes the final card for 48 49 players and 2 managers, pictured below in order of years of service, from Eddie Mathews (17 years, and the only player to play for the Boston, Milwaukee, AND Atlanta Braves) to several players with 2-year careers (no 1-year wonders this time).

Some played several more seasons after their final card was issued (Pete Mikkelsen to 1972, Jim Bouton to 1970, plus a cameo in 1978), others went out on top (Mathews and Roger Maris played in the '68 World Series), or went out near the top (Elston Howard and Norm Siebern played in the '67 Series), while the vast majority just went.

Also check out the 1966 and 1967 final cards.

11/12/2018 edit: Also Ted Davidson:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Final Card: Bill Denehy

The last card in the 1968 "final cards" series...

This is the only solo card for pitcher Bill Denehy (#526). He also appeared on a Mets Rookies card in 1967 - a very pricey card, due to his cardmate Tom Seaver.

Denehy was signed by the Mets in 1965, and was a starting pitcher in their system for 2 seasons.

He made his major-league debut on 4/16/1967, but after going 1-7 in 15 games (8 starts), he was sent down in late June. After the 1967 season, Bill was traded to the Senators for MANAGER Gil Hodges.

Denehy only pitched 2 innings for the Nats in '68, but was 9-10 in 25 starts in the minors. He spent most of 1969-73 pitching in the minors for the Indians, Mets (again), Tigers, Yankees, Phillies, White Sox, and Red Sox.

 In 1971, Bill spent all but the month of April pitching for the Tigers, appearing in 31 games (1 start).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Final Card: Fred Klages

Here is the final card for White Sox' pitcher Fred Klages (#229). He also appeared on a White Sox Rookie Stars card in the 1967 set.

Klages is from the sports hotbed of southwestern Pennsylvania, specifically Ambridge in Beaver County*, which is also the hometown of 1960s Detroit Lions middle linebacker Mike Lucci.

Fred was signed by the White Sox in 1962, and was a starting pitcher in their minor-league system for 8 seasons (1962-69), the last four in triple-A.

His brief major-league career started in September 1966, when he made 3 starts. In 1967, he made one start on June 14th, then another 10 appearances (mostly starts) from July 31st to the end of the season. His last major-league game came on September 11th - the one-year anniversary of his debut.

After 2 more seasons with the Sox' triple-A team, he played part of the 1969 season in the Mexican League.

* After clicking on the "Ambridge" link above, you can navigate to other sports stars from Beaver County, PA, including Joe Namath, Babe Parilli, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Po James, Tito and Terry Francona, Doc Medich, Hal Woodeshick, Joe Verbanic, Pete Maravich, and Norm Van Lier.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Final Card: Tony Pierce

Here is the only solo card for Athletics' pitcher Tony Pierce (#38). He also appeared in a late-series Athletics Rookie Stars card in the 1967 set.

Pierce was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1964, and was a starting pitcher in their minor-league system for 3 seasons. Tony advanced slowly, pitching in Rookie and A ball in '64, repeating A ball in '65, and moving up to AA in '66.

After compiling a 13-8 record with AA Mobile in 1966, Pierce skipped over triple-A, jumping up to Kansas City to start the 1967 season. Tony worked out of the bullpen, where he and Paul Lindblad were the only lefties on the entire staff. Besides his 43 relief appearances, he also started 6 games (including all 5 of his games in September).

When the Athletics moved to Oakland in 1968, Pierce returned to the bullpen. He only pitched in 17 games that season, the last on June 21st. I suspect he came down with arm problems, since he never played in the majors or minors again.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Final Card: Bill Kelso

This is the final card for Bill Kelso, and his only solo card (#511). He previously appeared on Angels Rookie Stars cards in the 1965 and 1967 sets. Kelso appeared in the majors in 4 seasons, but primarily 1967 and 1968.

Bill played in the Dodgers' farm system from 1959 to 1963. For his first 4 seasons he was a catcher, only pitching 3 games in 1962 before converting to full-time pitcher in 1963. After the season, he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the Rule 5 draft.

Kelso pitched the next 3 seasons in the Angels' system, while also pitching 10 games in the majors during 1964 and 5 games in 1966. Bill was primarily a reliever, except for his minor-league 1964 season.

1967 was the only season Kelso was not in the minors. He made 1 start and 68 relief appearances, and had a 2.97 ERA during his rookie season, and was the #2 reliever behind veteran closer Minnie Rojas.

After the season, he was traded to the Reds for starting pitcher Sammy Ellis, a 22-game winner in 1965. Neither Kelso or Ellis ever approached the success they had prior to the trade. Kelso made 29 relief appearances for the Reds through mid-July, then was sent down to AAA where he appeared in 20 games before his September recall. He finished out the season with 6 more relief appearances in the final weeks.

Bill pitched in the minors for 4 more seasons (mostly as a starter), with the Royals, Twins, Athletics, Expos, and Cubs.

After his playing career, Kelso scouted for the Angels, Phillies, and Astros.  Some of his signees were Bob Dernier, Lance Berkman, and Roy Oswalt.

He passed away on 5/11/2009 at age 69.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Final Card: Pete Cimino

Philadelphia-area native Pete Cimino (#143) had a brief career in the mid-1960s. (Briefer than I realized before checking his past stats for this post. I always assumed he played a role in the Twins' 1965 World Series season.)

Cimino was a high-school basketball star, and once scored 114 points in a game.  From Wikipedia:
A star athlete at Bristol High School...Cimino might be best known for scoring 114 points in a high school basketball game on January 22, 1960. The single-game shooting outburst occurred during a 134–86 win over Palisades High School, in a Lower Bucks County League match. In the game, Cimino made 44 of 79 field goal attempts and 26 of 29 free throw attempts. He scored all 69 of his team's second half points. The 114-point total is still a Pennsylvania state record and is also the fourth highest in any United States boys high school game.

Pete was signed by the Washington Senators (soon to be Minnesota Twins) in 1960, and pitched 6 seasons in the minors, as a starter for 4 seasons, then primarily a reliever in '64 and '65. His major-league debut came on 9/22/1965, as he pitched the last inning in a 5-2 loss to the Orioles. It was his only appearance that season.

Cimino appeared in 35 games (all in relief) for the Twins in 1966, as the #2 reliever behind veteran Al Worthington (14 years his senior). After the season, he was packaged up with 1st baseman Don Mincher and center fielder Jimmie Hall, and sent to the Angels for 1964 Cy Young winner Dean Chance and shortstop Jackie Hernandez.

Pete's time as an Angel was pretty much just 1967, where he was the team's #3 reliever behind ace Minnie Rojas (27 saves) and rookie Bill Kelso (11 saves), and ahead of aging veterans Lou Burdette and Jim Coates.

After only 4 games in 1968, Cimino was sent down to the minors in mid-May, and spent the rest of the season with the Angels' AAA and AA clubs. It was his last pro season.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Final Card: Clarence Jones

This is the first and last card for Clarence Jones (#506). For the second consecutive post, we are saying goodbye to a short-time Cubs' first baseman.

Jones was signed by the Phillies in June 1959. After finishing that season in the Phillies' organization, he was out of baseball in 1960. Clarence returned in 1961, and spent the next 5 seasons in the Dodgers' farm system.

After the 1965 season, he was drafted by the Cubs, and finally made it up to triple-A during the 1966 season.

Jones made his major-league debut in April 1967 with the Cubs. He played in 53 games that year, mostly as a pinch-hitter, but also 2 dozen games in right field and a dozen as Banks' backup at 1st base. He also spent mid-May to mid-July back in the minors.

The following season, he was back in triple-A for most of the season, only playing 5 games with the Cubs in September. After the '68 season he was dealt to the Reds, but spent the 1969 season at triple-A Indianapolis.

Jones then played in Japan from 1970 through 1977.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Final Card: Dick Nen

Here's the last we saw of Dick Nen (#591). It's also the last time most of us thought about Nen, until years later when Robb Nen began pitching for the Marlins in the early 1990s. "I wonder if he...?" (Yes, he is.)

Dick Nen was signed by the Dodgers in 1961 and played 1st base in their farm system from 1961-64, while getting a 7-game cup of coffee with LA in September 1963.

After the 1964 season, Nen was one of FIVE players (along with pitchers Phil Ortega and Pete Richert, 3rd baseman Ken McMullen, and 1960 NL Rookie of the Year Frank Howard) traded to the Senators for pitcher Claude Osteen and infielder John Kennedy.

Dick played 82 games in the minors in 1965, but still managed to start more games at 1st base for Washington than their other 1st basemen (Bob Chance and Joe Cunningham). He shared the 1st base job for the next 2 seasons with Ken Harrelson (1966) and rookie Mike Epstein (1967), but played slightly less than either of them.

Nen was sold to the Cubs on April 3rd, 1968 and became Ernie Banks' backup for that season, starting 15 games at 1st, while giving Banks a late-inning rest in another 3 dozen games. He was sold back to the Senators after the season, and spent the next 4 seasons playing for their AAA team, although he returned to the big club for 6 games in June 1970.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Final Card (the bonus tracks): Pete Mikkelsen

So, I was browsing through my 1968 binder, pulling all the final cards I previously posted, for a "Final Cards Recap" post (like I did with the 1967 set). After 2 or 3 pages, I was thinking "hey, what about this guy...and that guy... and that guy?" 

I ended up with a list of 65 other players whose final card may have also been in the '68 set. After checking the Zistle database, I whittled the list down to 8 players (of which 3 are Cubs) that I missed the first time around. So here they are, the "bonus tracks".

Pete Mikkelsen's final card (#516) was in the 1968 set, despite the fact that he pitched over 150 games from 1969-72 as a member of the Dodgers' bullpen. Thanks, Topps!

Pete was signed by the Yankees in 1958, and played in the minors for 6 seasons, primarily as a reliever, but making many starts during the 1959-61 seasons. In his 9-year major-league career, Mikkelsen played 364 games, starting only 3 (in 1965).

His debut came in April 1964, and he appeared in 50 games, saving 12 as the Yankees' closer in his rookie season. After another season in the Bronx, Pete was traded to the Pirates for pitcher Bob Friend, who had been a key member of Pittsburgh's starting rotation for the past 15 seasons. Mikkelsen lasted just 1 1/2 seasons with the Bucs, and was claimed off waivers by the Cubs on August 4th, 1967.

The following April, he was traded to the Cardinals for pitcher Jack Lamabe. Ok! Moving up from the Cubs to the World Champion Cardinals! Not so fast... Pete pitched 5 games for St. Louis in June, but spent the rest of the season in triple-A.

After the season, he was traded to the Dodgers for a minor-league pitcher. Pete spent his final 4 seasons working out of the Dodgers pen, and it was a productive 4 years. The righthanded Mikkelsen was the team's #2 reliever during his 4-year stay, just behind ace southpaw Jim Brewer.

Why did Topps leave him behind? 1969 is understandable (after spending most of '68 in the minors), but what about the other years? The GarveyCeyRussellLopes blog has done what Topps was unwilling to do.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Final Card: Cal Ermer

Today we have the last of the "final cards" in the 1968 set. In all, there were 42 final cards this year, down from 80 final cards in both the 1966 and 1967 sets. Coincidentally, the last card to be posted is that of the Minnesota Twins' manager (just like on my 1967 blog).

This is the final card for Twins' manager Cal Ermer (#206). Because his major-league playing career consisted of 1 game in 1947, this is also his rookie card.

Ermer played minor-league baseball from 1942 to 1951 (except for missing the 1943-45 seasons while in the Marines). Although mostly in the Washington Senators' system, he also played for the Giants, Tigers, and Philadelphia Athletics' organizations, but never progressed above the class-A level.

His one major-league appearance came on 9/26/1947, playing 2nd base for the Senators against the Philadelphia Athletics.

Cal's managerial career began as a player-manager for various class-B and D teams in the Washington Senators' farm system in '47, '50, and '51. From 1952-57, he managed the Sens' double-A team in Chattanooga.

After a year with the Tigers' AA team in Birmingham, he moved up to triple-A, managing the Pirates' team in Columbus for 2 seasons. In 1961, he managed the Yankees' top farm team in Richmond, where his charges included future major-leaguers like Tom Tresh, Don Lock, Phil Linz, Hal Reniff, Jake Gibbs, and Bill Short.

After coaching for the Orioles, Ermer was hired to manage the Twins' AAA team in Denver in 1965. Two and a half years later, he was promoted to the Twins, following the firing of Sam Mele on June 9, 1967. Cal was replaced after the 1968 season by Billy Martin.

Ever the organizational man, Ermer later managed the Twins' triple-A teams in Tacoma (1974-76) and Toledo (1978-84). After his managing days, he became a scout for the Twins.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Final Card: Eddie Stanky

This is Eddie Stanky's last card (#564). 1968 would be the last year in a 3-year gig as the Sox' manager.

Stanky was born in Philadelphia in 1915 (and became known as "The Brat from Kensington", later shortened to "The Brat"). Eddie played minor-league baseball from 1935-1942, and made his big-league debut in 1943 as the Cubs' regular 2nd baseman. He split the 1944 season between the Cubs and Brooklyn Dodgers, then held down the starting 2nd base job for the Dodgers (1945-47), Boston Braves (1948-49), and New York Giants (1950-51).  In 1945 he led the National League in runs and walks.

After the '51 season, he was traded to the Cardinals, spending 2 seasons there as a player-manager before becoming the full-time manager in 1954 and 1955.

After leaving the Cards' manager post in 1955, he spent one season managing the Giants' AAA team in Minneapolis in 1956, then spent several years in a player-development role for the Cardinals. He resurfaced in 1965 as a minor-league manager for the Mets.

Stanky was hired by the White Sox before the 1966 season, and remained there until his firing after 79 games in 1968. The team finished in 4th place in his first 2 seasons, and were in 8th place (18 1/2 games back) at the time of his firing.  They should have kept him, as the team finished the season 36 games behind the Tigers.

After his firing, he coached college baseball in Alabama, then made a 1-game interim manager appearance for the Texas Rangers in 1977.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Don Wilson (#77)

Like Gary Nolan, Don Wilson was a notable rookie in 1967 that was not included in the 1967 Topps set.

Wilson was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1964, and pitched 3 seasons in the minors, making his big-league debut on September 29, 1966.

Don joined the Astros' starting rotation as a rookie in 1967, compiling a 10-9 record in 31 games. He was a top-4 starter in each of his seasons with the team (1967-74). Early on, Wilson was behind veterans Mike Cuellar, Dave Giusti, and Larry Dierker.

By the end of the 1960s, Cuellar and Giusti were gone, leaving Dierker and Wilson at the top of the rotation. 1971 was Don's best season, going 16-10 with 180 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA in 268 innings. He also made his only all-star appearance that season, pitching 2 innings. [Interesting note: both teams only used 4 pitchers in the '71 all-star game.]

Wilson tragically died in January 1975, at age 29 of carbon monoxide poisoning. The incident occurred at his home, and also claimed the life of his son. This was one of several deaths of current or former Astros players.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Gary Nolan (#196)

This is Gary Nolan's rookie card. I've always wondered why he wasn't included on a Reds Rookies card in the 1967 set. Checking his minor-league stats tonight, I found that he was the Reds' #1 pick in the 1966 draft, and played that season in the class-A Northern League. Ok, Topps probably doesn't rush to include players with only low-level minor-league experience on their cards, I get that.

But, he made the Reds' starting rotation from the beginning of the '67 season, struck out 12 Dodgers in his 2nd big-league game, and by the end of April, had pitched 4 games, striking out 33 while walking only four. Didn't Topps consider bumping someone off a yet-to-be-issued 7th-series "NL Rookies" card in favor of Nolan? What about the dubious Norm Gigon?

Gary finished his rookie season with a 14-8 record over 226 innings, with 206 strikeouts and 62 walks. He came in 3rd in the NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Tom Seaver and Cardinals' pitcher Dick Hughes.

Although he mostly played for the Reds in '68 and '69, he spent some time in the minors (including a stint in single-A in 1968) with arm issues. Nolan was back to full speed in 1970, going 18-7 in 250 innings as the Reds' ace, on a staff that also featured 20-game winner Jim Merritt.

1971 and 1972 were also fine years for Gary, as he again sat on top of the rotation, along with rookies Don Gullett ('71) and Ross Grimsley ('72). In 1972 Nolan compiled a 15-5 record and a 1.99 ERA, although mid-season injuries forced him to miss some time, including the all-star game. He missed almost all of the next 2 seasons with injuries, pitching 2 games for the Reds in '73 and 2 games in the minors in '74.

Gary staged a comeback in 1975, compiling identical 15-9 records in '75 and '76, and pitched in his 3rd and 4th World Series. After getting off to a slow start in 1977, he was traded to the Angels in June. Injuries cropped up again, limiting him to only 5 games with the Angels.

California released him in January 1978, and the next month he was picked up by the Brewers, who also released him a month later, ending his 10 year career.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

AL Batting Leaders (#2, 4, 6)

NL Pitching Leaders? Check! NL Batting Leaders? Check! Now it's time for the AL Batting Leaders. After several seasons buried in the 3rd series, the League Leaders cards are front and center (#1 - #12) in the 1968 (and 1969) set.

1967 was the season of the Yaz. Like Frank Robinson one year earlier, Yastrzemski won the triple crown and led his team to the World Series. Unlike Robby, Yaz' team didn't win, nor did he finish ahead of all others in home runs. Lost in the hype is the fact that Harmon Killebrew was tied for the lead in homers.

Four AL players finished with a .300 or better average.  That doesn't sound like a lot, but the following season, only Yastrzemski would accomplish that, with a .301 average.   Following that, the mound was lowered, 40 minor-league pitchers were given major-league jobs (expansion), and Bob Gibson was asked to go easy on the batters.


As usual, the same 5 or 6 players seem to fill the 9 spots on these leader cards.

Yaz was one-and-done in the late-1960s' home run derby, while Killebrew and Frank Howard would make multiple appearances on these cards.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Off the Grid in '68

After all these years, I know exactly which players do and don't have a card in the 1967 set. I'm a little less sure about the players in the 1968 set. In the course of my travels through these blogs and my card binders over the past few years, I have discovered players that had their own "full" card in 1967 and 1969, but not a 1968 card.

Recently, I compared the list of players in the '67, '68, '69, and '70 sets, and found all the rest who are missing a 1968 card. This post is a place for me to list those names (should Michael Eisner ever approach me about ideas for a 1968 update set!)

Cards in 1967 and 1969, but not 1968:
Jim Beauchamp - OF
Bo Belinsky - P
Bob Chance - 1B
Galen Cisco - P
Pat Corrales - C
Tom Egan - C
Gary Geiger - OF
Jesse Gonder - C
Jim Hannan - P
Chuck Harrison - 1B
Jim Hickman - OF
Jim Hicks - OF (appeared on the Cardinals Rookies card in '69)
John Kennedy - 3B
Fred Newman - P
Dave Nicholson - OF
Joe Nossek - OF
Johnny Podres - P (retired for 1968)
Dick Radatz - P
Tommie Reynolds - OF
George Thomas - OF

Cards in 1967 and 1970, but not '68 or '69:
Jack Baldschun - P
Tito Fuentes - 2B
Bill Heath - C
Marcelino Lopez - P
Jim Stewart - INF
Chris Zachary - P

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dick Hall (#17)

This is the last of Dick Hall's two Phillies' cards. Hall was traded from the Orioles during the winter of 1966-67, and returned to Baltimore after the 1968 season. Surprisingly, Topps was able to produce both of Hall's Phillies cards showing hin in a Phillies uniform, and not some airbrushed or capless travesty, which is how they handled the Turk Farrell and Don Lock cards for the several years they were with the Phillies.

Hall was signed by the Pirates as an outfielder in September 1951. He made his major-league debut in April 1952, but after sticking with the Pirates until mid-May, he was sent down to their class-B team, where he spent much of the '52 and '53 seasons.

He played the entire 1954 season with Pittsburgh, starting 84 games in the outfield. Dick began pitching in 1955, and split that season between the Pirates and their class-A team in Lincoln, Nebraska. After a full season with Pittsburgh in '56, he was in triple-A for most of 1957 and out of baseball altogether in 1958.

Hall returned in 1959 and compiled an 18-5 record in 27 starts for the Pirates' AAA team in Salt Lake City. After the season he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics, and spent one season in their starting rotation before moving on to the Orioles in April 1961.

Hall spent his first season in Baltimore divided evenly between starting and relieving, but the next 5 seasons found him firmly entrenched as a bullpen mainstay for the Birds. He wrapped up his first stint with the O's as a member of the World Series champs in 1966.

After the season he was traded to the Phillies and spent 2 seasons co-closing with Turk Farrell, before returning to the Orioles in 1969, where he pitched in the World Series in each of his last 3 seasons before retiring after the 1971 season.

Hall was an amazing control pitcher!  Since becoming a full-time reliever in 1962, he pitched 780 innings, during which he only issued 61 unintentional walks.

Although a full-time major-leaguer since 1960, Hall did not have a baseball card in the '64, '65, '66, or '69 Topps sets.