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.