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.


Jim said...

Interesting find on the Bowa call-up. So that makes him deserving of a 1967 Topps card that never was . . . potential future fodder.

Douglas said...

These two guys were PCL Padres mainstay who didn't translate to the bigs.

When the Phillies were affiliated the PCL Padres, they generally successful on the field going 21 games over .500 in three years. Image the shock with the expansion MLB Padres going 58 games under .500 in their first year.

Jim from Downingtown said...


Yeah, I was surprised to see Bowa (and Denny Doyle) among the call-ups. I had no idea they were in the majors prior to 1970. (I'll have to dig out my 1968 Phillies yearbook to check the 40-man roster for Bowa's number. (Bill White had #10)


The 66-68 Padres seemed like a haven for former big-league players. I guess they were able to run roughshod over other teams' prospects.

Jim from Downingtown said...


This newspaper clipping from 1967 (which I posted in 2009) shows Bowa having #53.

Only 2 catchers on the 40-man roster, and both were over the hill stiffs? (The Paul Owens-led farm system was just getting started in the mid-1960s.)

Jim from Downingtown said...

Of the 14 minor-leaguers recalled by the Phillies in September 1967, only Thoenen would get into a game. (Gary Wagner, Terry Harmon, and Larry Loughlin appeared earlier in the season.)