Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Chuck Hartenstein (#13)

Chuck Hartenstein (nicknamed “Twiggy” because his slender build was similar to the British model of that era) was strictly a relief pitcher in the majors (mostly for the Cubs and Pirates).

After leading his Texas Longhorns team to the College World Series in 1962 and 1963, Hartenstein was signed by the Cubs in 1964, and was a starting pitcher in their farm system in ’64 and ’65. In 1965 he posted a 12-7 record in double-A, and was called up to the Cubs in September. His only major-league appearance that season was as a pinch-runner on 9/11.

Chuck returned to the minors for 1966 and was converted to a reliever. He also appeared in 5 games for the Cubs during a September call-up.

Hartenstein began the 1967 season in the minors, but was called up in early June, and pitched 73 innings over 45 games, while leading the Cubs ‘pen with 10 saves. He was one of the few rookies in 1967 that did not appear in the 1967 Topps set.

In April 1968, Phil Regan was acquired from the Dodgers to be the Cubs’ closer, and Hartenstein was pushed down to the #4 man in the bullpen, pitching only 35 innings, while also appearing in 20 games for triple-A Tacoma.

After the ’68 season, Chuck was traded to the Pirates with infielder Ron Campbell for reserve outfielder Manny Jimenez (Wow, what a fall from his 1967 season!) At least he stayed out of the minors in 1969, the first of 2 seasons that would occur during his 1964-77 professional career. Hartenstein led the Pirates’ with 10 saves in 1969, pitching 95 innings.

Just like in Chicago, Chuck followed up a good season with a not-so-good season. By mid-June 1970, he was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals, who traded him to the Red Sox 3 weeks later. He also spent time in the Sox’ farm system that season.

After the 1970 season, he was purchased by the White Sox, but was banished to the minor leagues from 1971-76, hopping from the White Sox to the Giants, to the Padres to the Blue Jays.

Hartenstein resurfaced with the Blue Jays in 1977, appearing in 13 games from April thru late-July. His final game was a ninth-inning mop-up appearance in a 14-0 loss to the Rangers on 7/26.

Hartenstein coached for the Indians in 1979 and the Brewers from 1987-89.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Willie Stargell (#86)

Here is Pirates' OF-1B Willie Stargell, who came to be known as "Pops" later in his career.

Stargell was signed by the Pirates late in 1958. He played in the minors for 4 seasons (1959-62), and made his big-league debut with the Pirates in September 1962.

Willie stuck with the Pirates at the start of the 1963 season. He shared the left field job with veterans Jerry Lynch and Bob Skinner, and also started a dozen or so games at first base and right field, when regulars Donn Clendenon and Roberto Clemente got some time off.

Stargell started 105 games in his 2nd season, splitting them fairly evenly between 1st base and left field. He made his first of 7 all-star games, and began a streak of 13 years with 20 or more home runs.

The next few seasons were not “Stargell-like”, but he put up numbers that most players would strive for. Willie was the Pirates’ regular left fielder from 1965 to 1974, except for playing mostly 1st base in 1972.

In 1971, he collected a career-high 125 RBI, and led the NL with 48 home runs. The Pirates also won the World Series that year, although it was still “Clemente’s team”.

In 1973 Willie led the league in doubles (43), homers (44), and RBI (119). He was the MVP runner-up in both ’71 and ’73. After years as the left fielder, Stargell switched to 1st base beginning in 1975, and never returned to the outfield.

His stats drifted downward from 1974 through 1977, but he had another monster season in 1979, clubbing 32 homers and leading the Pirates to their 2nd World Series championship of the decade. He also won the NL MVP award in 1979. Willie played in the post-season in ’70, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75, but was at his best in the 1979 post-season, hitting 2 homers in the NLCS and 3 in the World Series, while batting over .400 for the post-season.

That would be it for Willie’s glory days, as he became a part-time player from 1980-1982. He retired after the 1982 season, with 475 home runs and 1540 RBI in 21 seasons.

He later coached for the Braves, then worked in the Pirates’ front office. Willie was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988.

Stargell passed away at age 61 on April 9, 2001, which was also opening day for PNC Park, the Pirates new ballpark. A statue of Stargell was unveiled that same day at the park.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rich Reese (#111)

Rich Reese played 866 games in a 10-year career spanning 1964-73, all with the Twins, except for 59 games with the Tigers in 1973.

Reese was signed by the Tigers in 1962. After his first season, the Twins selected him in the minor-league draft. Reese played in the minors through the 1966 season, mostly as a 1st baseman, although in most of his 1966 games he was an outfielder. Rich played several games with the Twins in ’64, ’65, and ’66, then made the Twins roster at the start of the 1967 season.

He played 95 games in his rookie season, mostly as a pinch-hitter and occasional defensive replacement at 1st base (only starting 4 games).

In 1968, Harmon Killebrew started 77 of the first 80 games at 1st base, then was out of the lineup from July 8th until mid-September. Reese filled in during this time, and ended up starting 64 games at 1st base.

Rich became the primary 1st baseman in 1969, making 95 starts to Killebrew’s 66. (Harmon played most of his games at 3rd base, since the previous 3rd-sacker (Rich Rollins) was drafted by the Seattle Pilots.) Reese’s playing time increased in 1970, as he started 127 games. He also appeared in the ALCS in ’69 and ’70.

His playing time decreased beginning in 1971, as Killebrew began playing more at 1st base, with Reese clearly the backup by 1972, making only 26 starts.

After the ’72 season, Reese was sold back to the Tigers, where he was the backup at 1st base and left field. After his mid-August release, he was re-signed by the Twins, and finished out the 1973 season with them before retiring.

Reese struck out 270 times in 2,020 career at-bats, but two are part of major-league history. On May 8, 1968 he fanned, completing Catfish Hunter’s perfect game. On September 27, 1973 Reese was Nolan Ryan’s 383rd strikeout victim, enabling Ryan to break Sandy Koufax’ single-season record.

On the plus side for Reese, he had a pinch-hit grand slam in August 1969 against the Orioles, breaking Dave McNally’s 17-game winning streak.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Bill Singer (#249)

Here’s Bill Singer’s first solo card.  He previously appeared on Dodgers Rookies cards in 1966 (with Don Sutton) and 1967.

Singer was a hard-throwing right-hander who, as a rookie in 1967, filled the starting rotation slot vacated by the retired Sandy Koufax.  He joined veteran starters Don Drysdale and Claude Osteen, and 2nd-year man Don Sutton.

Singer was signed by the Dodgers in late 1961, and pitched in their farm system from 1962 through 1966, the last 3 seasons at triple-A Spokane.  In his final minor-league season (’66) he was 13-11, but most impressively, struck out 217 batters.  Bill made a few appearances with the Dodgers during September call-ups in ’64, ’65, and ’66.

As a rookie in 1967, he posted a 12-8 record and a 2.64 ERA, with 169 strikeouts and only 61 walks in 204 innings. The next year, his record slipped to 13-17, but his strikeout total soared to 227.

1969 was his best season with the Dodgers, as he posted a 20-12 record, along with a 2.34 ERA and 247 strikeouts.  He also made his first of two all-star teams. Singer only pitched 16 games in an injury-filled 1970 season, but one of them was a no-hitter against the Phillies on July 20th.

Although he was the Dodgers’ opening-day starter in 1971, he had sub-par seasons in ’71 and ’72, then was part of a 5-for-2 trade with the Angels after the ’72 season. Singer, outfielder Frank Robinson, infielders Billy Grabarkiewitz and Bobby Valentine, and pitcher Mike Strahler went to the Angels in exchange for pitcher Andy Messersmith and 3rd baseman Ken McMullen. (McMullen started his career with the Dodgers, but went to the Senators in the Frank Howard trade.)

In 1973 he had his best season since 1969, compiling a 20-14 record, with 241 strikeouts, and a 3.22 ERA.  He also made his 2nd all-star team.

Injuries cropped up again, and he won only 7 games in each of the next 2 seasons.  After the 1975 season, he was traded to the Rangers for 1st baseman Jim Spencer.  The following June, he moved on to the Twins in exchange for pitcher Bert Blyleven.

Singer was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the expansion draft following the 1976 season, and was the Jays’ opening day starter in their inaugural 1977 season.  His performance that year was limited by injuries, and he also missed the entire 1978 season. Toronto released him in December 1978.

After his playing career, he worked as a scout for the Marlins, Pirates, and Dodgers.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Phil Niekro (#257)

Phil Niekro was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958. Phil played 4 seasons in the minors (1959-62), as a reliever, then missed the 1963 season while in military service. He made the Braves’ team to begin the 1964 season, but after 10 relief appearances, he was sent down to triple-A Denver in mid-May for the remainder of the season. During that time, he became primarily a starting pitcher.

Niekro returned to the Braves for all of 1965, although he was back in the bullpen for all but 1 of his 41 games. In 1966, Phil appeared in 28 games (all in relief), but spent all of June and July in the minors.

"Knucksie" started the 1967 season in the bullpen, but joined the starting rotation on June 13th, where he would remain for the next 16 seasons. Niekro led the NL with a 1.87 ERA in 1967, and would win in double figures for the next 20 seasons (except the strike-shortened 1981 season). He led the NL in strikeouts in 1977 (262), and wins in 1974 (20) and 1979 (21). He also won 23 games in 1969.

After compiling a record of 11-10 in 201 innings in 1983, the Braves released Niekro. He was quickly signed by the Yankees, winning 16 games in each of his 2 seasons with New York. Phil was released by the Yankees during spring training in 1986, but played for the Indians for the next year and a half. Niekro was traded to the Blue Jays in August 1987, then was released at month’s end. He re-signed with the Braves for the final week of the season, then retired.

Phil pitched in 864 games during his 24-year career. His 318 career wins are the most by a knuckleball pitcher. (As kids, he and his brother Joe learned to throw a knuckleball pitch from their father.)

Niekro was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1997. His #35 (which he wore for his entire career) was retired by the Braves in 1984, 3 seasons before his retirement.

Among his other post-retirement activities, he coached a women’s professional baseball team.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bob Gibson (#100)

Last week, I was surprised to realize that I hadn’t featured Willie McCovey on any of my blogs so far. This was corrected immediately with a post to the 1967 blog. Later, I took a mental cross-country trip (NYM-Phil-Pitt-ChiC-StL-Atl-Cinn-Hou-SF-LA) and a 2nd lap (Bos-NYY-Balt-Wash-Clev-Det-ChiW-Minn-KC/Oak-Cal) to see if I could think of any superstars that I missed on my blogs. 

This exercise netted Bob Gibson, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, and Johnny Bench, and some lesser stars like Jim Hunter, Tony Oliva, Phil Niekro, Billy Williams, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Boog Powell, Bill Mazeroski, and Willie Stargell. So, I’ve got my work cut out for me over the next few weeks… 

First up is Bob Gibson, the lead dog during 1968’s “The Year of the Pitcher”. Gibby followed up a 3-complete-game (and a 1.00 ERA) 1967 World Series performance with a 1968 season where he led the NL with 13 shutouts, 268 K's, and a 1.12 ERA. (That’s ONE point ONE TWO!)

He also compiled a 22-9 record, and won both the Cy Young and MVP awards. Gibson pitched another 3 complete games in the World Series, but unlike the previous season, he was 2-1 in those games. Bob's post-season ERA was a miniscule 1.67. Oh… he also set a record by striking out 17 Tigers in game #1.

Gibson was signed by the Cardinals in 1957, and made his major-league debut in April 1959, although he spent a good deal of time in the minors during both 1959 and 1960. He also played basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters during these early years.

Bob made the majors to stay in 1961, and spent his entire career (1959-75) with the Cardinals. He had double-digit wins every season from 1961 to 1974, and won 20 or more games in ’65, ’66, ’68, ’69, and ’70 (missing 2 months with a broken leg in 1967). His 23 wins led the NL in 1970.

Hoot’s “ace of staff” days were from 1963 to 1972, although Curt Simmons managed to keep up with him in ’63 and ’64. Besides his World Series performances in ’67 and ’68, Bob also won 2 of his 3 starts in the 1964 Series against the Yankees.

Gibson ended his career with a down year in 1975, when he was 3-10 in only 109 innings.

He was a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer in 1981.

After his playing career, Bob was the pitching coach for the Mets and the Braves in the early 1980s, while former teammate Joe Torre managed those teams.

This is my original card from 1968, and is well-scuffed from all the "playing time" it got. This is the last of the 1968 "hero cards" that I listed in the first such post

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bud Harrelson (#132)

When I was collecting cards back in the late 1960s, I would keep them sorted by team, with each team rubber-banded and stacked in either my "NL box" or "AL box". The boxes were the actual boxes they were sold in (see photo below). The guy at the corner store where we bought our cards would let us take the box if we bought the last pack in the box. 

Anyway, I probably had four or five boxes for each year. Two boxes (NL, AL) would be used to store my singles, then the rest would hold my duplicates. Since the boxes held 3 stacks of cards, the 3rd box would be for doubles (2 stacks) and triples. The 4th box would be for my 4's, 5's, and 6's, and so on. 

Where am I going with this? I remember that for the 1968 set, I had more Bud Harrelson cards (8 or 9) than any other card. That 5th box was mostly for Bud.

Bud Harrelson was entering his 2nd season as the Mets' regular shortstop in 1968. In another year he, along with other newcomers Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Donn Clendenon, Tommie Agee, and Ed Charles would push the team all the way to World Series victory.

The switch-hitting Harrelson was signed by the Mets in 1963, and played 4 seasons (1963-66) in the minors. He was called up in September 1965, and again in late August 1966. Bud started most of the games at shortstop during September 1966, replacing incumbent veterans Roy McMillan and Eddie Bressoud. After the season, McMillan was released and Bressoud was traded, paving the way for Harrelson to be the everyday shortstop in 1967.

Except for missing most of the 1975 season, Harrelson was the Mets' regular shortstop for the next decade, until Doug Flynn took over on July 1977. Bud was also an all-star in 1970 and 1971, and played in the 1969 and 1973 World Series.

In March 1978 he was traded to the Phillies, where he played two seasons as a backup middle infielder, and finished his career with the Rangers in 1980.

After his playing career, Bud managed in the Mets's farm system in '84 and '85, then managed the Mets from 1990-91. He also managed the independent Long Island Ducks in 2000.

Harrelson's SABR bio

Here's one of the 1968 Topps' boxes (eBay photo):

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Back on Topps' Radar: Tony LaRussa

Wow, I haven’t had a “Back on Topps’ Radar” post since 9/24/2011!

Tony LaRussa (#571) returns to a Topps set for the first time since his (full) rookie card in the 1964 set. He was a utility infielder for the Oakland Athletics in the late 1960s/early 1970s, but (obviously) had a much more successful career as a manager.

LaRussa was signed by the Kansas City Athletics in 1962, and played in their minor-league system every season from 1962 to 1971 (except for 1963, when he inexplicably spent the entire season with the big club, although only playing in 34 games, mostly as a pinch-hitter).

Tony played a few games with Oakland in 1968 and 1969, but got the most big-league playing time in 1970, when he appeared in 52 games, including 28 starts at 2nd base while filling in for Dick Green. He was up and down in 1971, then in mid-August, the A’s sold him to the Braves, where he finished out the season in the majors.

After 1971, LaRussa played only in the minors (save for 1 game with the Cubs in April 1973), as he bounced around with the Braves, Cubs, Pirates, White Sox, and Cardinals, retiring after the 1977 season.

(Rumor has it that velcro was invented after the president of 3-M saw this baseball card!)

Tony earned a law degree immediately after his playing career was over, and also joined the White Sox as a minor-league manager. He assumed the Sox’ managerial position in 1979 when Don Kessinger was fired after 108 games. The White Sox won the AL West in 1983, but lost to the Orioles. LaRussa continued as manager until he was fired in mid-1986.

A few weeks later, he was hired by the Athletics, and managed them through the 1995 season. From 1988 to 1991 he won 3 AL pennants and the 1989 World Series.

His longest tenure as manager was with the Cardinals (1996-2011). The Cards won the NL pennant in 2004, and the World Series in 2006 and 2011, after which, LaRussa retired from managing.

LaRussa finished with 2,728 wins as a manager, behind only old-timers Connie Mack and John McGraw.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Manny Sanguillen (#251)

This is Manny Sanguillen's rookie card. He rated a whole card to himself, by virtue of a second-half call-up in 1967. (Hey Topps, where was Reggie Jackson's 1968 card?)

Manny had a card in 1968, but not major-league playing time. He spent the entire season in the minors, then returned in 1969 as the starting catcher.

Sanguillen was signed by the Pirates in late 1964, then played 2 seasons in A ball before jumping up to triple-A for 1967.

When Pirates' regular catcher Jerry May went down with an injury in late July, Sanguillen was called up and started 14 of the next 24 games behind the plate, alternating with aging veteran Jim Pagliaroni. When May returned in mid-August, Pags was shelved for the remainder of the season, with Sanguillen backing up May.

Manny spent the entire 1968 season back in triple-A "getting his playing time", while journeymen types like Chris Cannizzaro and Gary Kolb were retained as May's backups.

Sanguillen returned in 1969, splitting the catching assignments with May for awhile, but by late-May Manny had taken over, ending up with 107 starts to Jerry's 50 starts. Except for the first half of 1973 (when Manny started 53 of the first 54 games in right field, in an attempt to replace the late Roberto Clemente), Sanguillen was the Pirates' regular catcher until September 1976, when he gave way to Duffy Dyer and Ed Ott.

Manny was an all-star in '71, '72, and '75, and hit a career-high 12 home runs in 1973. He also collected 11 hits in the 1971 World Series, good for a .379 batting average.

After the 1976 season, he was traded to the Athletics for manager (yes, manager) Chuck Tanner. Manny returned to Pittsburgh after only one season in Oakland, with the Pirates using him as a pinch-hitter and occasional backup first baseman for the next 3 seasons.

Traded to the Indians after the 1980 season, he was released in spring training the following year. Manny sat out the 1981 season, then played in the Mexican League in 1982.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rusty Staub (#300)

Continuing with the "hero numbers", today we have #300....Rusty Staub?!?

If I was compiling a list of "hero status" players from the late 1960s (and here's 58 names to get you started), I'm not sure Rusty Staub would be in my top 50, let alone the top 5. Yes, he was a good player, and one of the best 2 or 3 on the Astros at that time, but in the top 5 (for #100, 200, 300, 400 ,500)?

Here we see Rusty in Topps' patented 1968-69 Astros' regalia. (They forgot to airbrush-out the reflection of the Astros' logo on the helmet bill!) Staub is entering his final year in Houston, as he would become the Montreal Expos' "Le Grand Orange" in 1969.

Staub was signed by the Houston Colt .45s in 1961 (before they even fielded a major-league team). He spent the 1962 season as a 1st baseman in class-B. Rusty made his big-league debut in April 1963 at age 19, starting 2/3 of his games at 1B and 1/3 in right field.

He was the starting 1st baseman for the first half of 1964, but lost the job to Walt Bond in early July. Rusty was the team's regular right fielder from 1965-67, then moved in to 1st base for the 1968 season.

In January 1969, he was traded to the expansion Expos for outfielder Jesus Alou and 1st baseman Donn Clendenon. When Clendenon refused to report (having had enough of manager Harry Walker while both were with the Pirates), the Expos sent pitchers Jack Billingham and Skip Guinn. Staub was an immediate hit in Montreal (see comment #5 here). Dubbed "Le Grand Orange", he was one of the Expos' bright spots in their early years. In his 3 seasons with the Expos, he averaged 160 games played as the team's right fielder, and made the all-star team each year.

Staub played right field for the Mets from 1972-75, then 3 1/2 seasons with the Tigers (as the right fielder in 1976, then the DH for the other years).

In July '79, he returned to Montreal for the remainder of the season. After one season (1980) with the Rangers, Staub spent the rest of his career (1981-85) with the Mets, mostly as a pinch-hitter.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Orlando Cepeda (#200)

Card #200 in the 1968 set is Orlando Cepeda. Good choice! Cepeda was the 1967 NL MVP, led the league with 111 RBI, bashed 25 homers, and bat .325 during the season (although only .103 in the World Series).

Orlando was signed by the New York Giants in 1955. After 3 seasons in the minors, Cepeda began the 1958 season with San Francisco, and started 147 games at first base, en route to winning the Rookie of the Year award (only the 2nd player to win unanimously).

In late-July 1959, the Giants called up rookie Willie McCovey, moving Cepeda to left field for the rest of the season. Cepeda played most of 1960 in left field, but when McCovey spent the 2nd half of the season in the minors and on the Giants' bench, Orlando reclaimed the 1st base job.

He split the 1961 season between 1B and LF, and led the NL in home rums (46) and RBI (142). Cepeda returned to his old 1st base job for the 1962-64 seasons, but missed most of the 1965 season with a knee injury.

Orlando was traded to the Giants in May 1966 for pitcher Ray Sadecki. He spent 3 seasons in St. Louis (including his MVP season in '67 and World Series appearances in '67 and '68).

During spring training 1969, he was traded to the Braves for catcher Joe Torre. He had another big power season in 1970 (34, 111), then was traded to the Athletics in July 1972 for pitcher Denny McLain.

Cepeda only played 3 games with the A's when a knee injury ended his season. Released after the season, he hooked on with the Red Sox when the AL instituted the DH before the 1973 season. He DH'ed in 142 games, but never played the field or pinch-hit that season.

He was released after the 1973 season, and spent most of 1974 playing in Mexico, until the Royals signed him for the final two months of the season.

Cepeda was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999 by the Veterans Committee.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Frank Robinson (#500)

Continuing the mini-series on "cards ending with "00", here is #500 Frank Robinson.

I have to take issue with Topps' selection of Robinson. Wasn't #500 the ultimate "hero number" back in the day? ( In 1969, Mickey Mantle's final card was #500.)

Prior to the 1966 season, Robinson came over to the Orioles in a big trade with Cincinnati. In his first season with the O's, he won the Triple Crown, the AL MVP, and the World Series MVP.

Still, that was 2 years ago, and since then Carl Yastrzemski won the 1967 Triple Crown and played in the World Series, and several members of the world champion Cardinals (Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda) had monster years. Was Topps making amends for "only" giving Robby #100 in the 1967 set?

Robinson was signed by the Reds in 1953, and after 3 seasons in the minors, he spent 10 full seasons as a regular with Cincinnati.  He was the Rookie of the Year in 1956, and the NL MVP in 1961.

He played in 4 World Series during his six seasons with Baltimore. In 1972 he began bouncing around to several teams as his playing career wound down: Dodgers ('72), Angels ('73, '74), and Indians ('74-'76).

He also managed the Indians (1975-77), Giants (1981-84), Orioles (1988-91), and the Expos/Nationals (2002-06).  In 16 seasons as manager, his teams finished as high as 2nd place twice.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Mike McCormick (#400)

Now that we've finished with the Topps All-Rookie Team, let's check out the stars with '00' card numbers. Topps made a curious selection for some of their superstars (some folks refer to them as "hero cards"). 

#100 - Bob Gibson - of the world champion Cardinals 
#200 - Orlando Cepeda - see Bob Gibson 
#300 - Rusty Staub - huh? 
#400 - Mike McCormick - see below 
#500 - Frank Robinson - yeah, Robby won the triple crown in 1966, but what about the 1967 triple crown winner, who also won the AL MVP with 98% of the vote? 

Carl Yastrzemski was relegated to #250, while veterans Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were #50 and #280 respectively.

In December 1966, Mike McCormick was traded by the Washington Senators to the Giants for pitcher Bob Priddy and outfielder Cap Peterson. Because Priddy and McCormick's 1967 cards were in the first series, they were still shown as members of their former teams, although some versions of their cards include a traded note on the back.

What did Mike do after escaping the DC Zoo? He led the NL with 22 wins in 1967, and was named the NL Cy Young Award winner, getting 18 of the 20 first place votes. The Sporting News also named him the NL Comeback Player of the Year.

McCormick was signed by the New York Giants in 1956, after posting a 49-4 record in American Legion ball, and as a "bonus baby", went straight to the parent club. He made his major-league debut at age 17 on September 3rd, and pitched 6 innings over 3 games that year. In 1957, he appeared in 24 games, working mostly in relief.

When the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958, Mike joined the starting rotation, and won in double-digits for the next 4 seasons. He led the NL with a 2.70 ERA in 1960, and made the all-star team in '60 and '61.

After a down year in 1962, McCormick was traded to the Orioles with reliever Stu Miller and catcher John Orsino for pitchers Jack Fisher and Billy Hoeft, and catcher Jimmie Coker.

After 2 uneventful seasons with the Orioles (including spending much of 1964 in triple-A, his first taste of the minor leagues), Mike was dumped on the Senators for a minor-league pitcher and cash. He played in 40-plus games in each of his 2 seasons with the Senators, starting 50% in '65 an 75% in '66.

Returning to the National League in 1967 worked wonders for McCormick. He, Juan Marichal, and Gaylord Perry formed the big 3 in the Giants' rotation until Mike's July 1970 trade to the Yankees.

1971 was a traveling year for him: released by the Yankees in March, signed by the Royals in April, then released again on June 2nd. His final big-league game was on May 22, 1971.

Mike was signed by the Giants the following spring, but spent the 1972-73 seasons in the minors, before retiring.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dick Hughes (#253)

Today I’m featuring the last of the 1967 Topps All-Rookie selections. Normally, 10 players were selected (including 1 left and 1 right handed pitcher). In the 1968 set, Topps not only left the cool trophy off 3 of the cards, but they decided that Dick Hughes would share the right-handed pitcher slot with Tom Seaver. (Imagine!)

Hughes was signed by the Cardinals in 1958, but was a late-bloomer, pitching 9 seasons in the minors before reaching the majors in September 1966 at age 28.

He had a phenomenal rookie season for the World Champion Cardinals in 1967, compiling a 16-6 record in 37 games (including 27 starts), while leading the staff in wins and innings pitched. (Bob Gibson missed a month of the season with a broken leg.) Dick finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting to Seaver.

Hughes spent most of the 1968 season in the bullpen, starting just 5 of his 25 games, and finishing at 2-2 in only 63 innings of work. What a difference a year makes! In the 1967 World Series, Dick started 2 games. In ’68, he pitched 1/3 of an inning in relief against the Tigers.

I’m guessing he had arm troubles, because he spent the 1969 season playing in the single-A Florida State League, then was out of baseball at the ripe old age of 31.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rich Nye (#339)

For some unknown reason, three of the players on the 1967 Topps all-rookie team do not have trophies on their card. I have previously posted the card for outfielder Rick Monday, leaving only pitchers Rich Nye and Dick Hughes to complete the subset.

Rich Nye was the lefthanded pitcher chosen for the 1967 Topps all-rookie team. Nye pitched from 1966-70, although his primary years were 1967-69 for the Cubs.

Rich was drafted by the Astros in 1965, but did not sign. He was signed by the Cubs in 1966, while pitching for UC Berkeley. Nye pitched for the Cubs' rookie and class-A teams that summer, then joined the big club in September.

After 2 relief appearances in 1967, Nye joined the starting rotation on April 30th, after other starters went by the wayside. He finished his rookie season with 13 wins and 119 strikeouts in 205 innings. All three of those numbers placed him 2nd on the staff, behind sophomore Fergie Jenkins. Topps apparently took notice (despite the missing trophy).

Nye slipped to 7-12 in 1968, and dropped to #5 in the rotation, behind Jenkins, Bill Hands, Ken Holtzman, and Joe Niekro. 1969 was worse yet, as he was relegated to the bullpen, making only 5 starts among his 34 appearances.

After the season, he was traded to the Cardinals for outfielder Boots Day. (Philly trivia: As a Montreal Expo in 1971, Boots was the first batter in Veterans Stadium history.) After 6 relief appearances (totaling 8 innings), Rich was sold to the Expos on May 15th, where he made 6 starts and 2 relief appearances. He was also used as a pinch-runner twice, and spent time with the Expos' AAA team in Winnipeg.

He played for three AAA teams (Expos, Indians, Pirates) in 1971, before his career was ended by a torn rotator cuff.

After his playing career, Nye began working as a civil engineer, before becoming a veterinarian.

A Rich Nye story here


Monday, February 11, 2013

Reggie Smith (#61)

Since I posted Walt Williams' card some time ago, I'm skipping ahead to center fielder Reggie Smith.

Reggie Smith was the starting center fielder for the AL champion Red Sox during his rookie season. His rookie card appears in the 1967 set. My guess is that it's the 3rd most valuable rookie card (after Tom Seaver and Rod Carew) because unlike most Rookie Stars cards that include a hit and a miss (or 2 misses), it portrays 2 starting position players for the AL champs.

Smith was signed by the Twins in June 1963, and played 65 games as a shortstop for their rookie-level team. After the season he was selected by the Red Sox in the first-year player draft.

Reggie played 3 seasons in Boston's farm system, as an outfielder for 430 games, but also saw time at 3rd base (66 games) and 2nd base (37 games). He made his debut with the Red Sox in September 1966, playing in 6 games.

Smith began the 1967 season as the starting 2nd baseman, but after 6 games he was moved to center field (replacing Jose Tartabull) and went on to start 139 games in Center that season. Reggie finished 2nd to Rod Carew in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, and was 6-for-24 with 2 homers in the '67 World Series.

Reggie was a starting outfielder for the Sox from 1967 through 1973, usually the center fielder, except for the first half of 1971 (Smith played right, with Billy Conigliaro in center) and all of 1972, when he was the regular right fielder (with Tommy Harper in center). He also made the '69 and '72 all-star teams, and led the AL in doubles in '68 and '71.

After the 1973 season, Reggie was traded to the Cardinals (with pitcher Ken Tatum) for pitcher Rick Wise and outfielder Bernie Carbo. His stay in St. Louis lasted 2 1/2 seasons. In '74 he was the right fielder, and in '75 split his time between RF and 1st base. Smith made the NL all-star team in both his full seasons with the Cards.

He was traded to the Dodgers in June 1976 for catcher Joe Ferguson. Smith was with the Dodgers for 5 1/2 seasons, making the all-star team 3 more times (for a total of 7 appearances).

His final major-league season was spent with the Giants in 1982 as their first baseman.

Smith played 2 more seasons in Japan before retiring.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bobby Etheridge (#126)

Third baseman Bobby Etheridge joins his Giants' teammate Dick Dietz on the 1967 Topps All-Rookie team.

Etheridge was signed by the Giants in 1964, and played in their farm system from 1964-68. He joined the Giants in mid-July 1967, and played 40 games in his rookie season, mostly in July and August. (In late August, Jim Ray Hart moved back in to 3rd base from left field, and Etheridge rarely played in September.) Somehow, Bobby got the all-rookie nod, over other rookie 3rd basemen like Aurelio Rodriguez and Sal Bando.

Bobby was back in the minors for all of 1968, then returned to the Giants for the entire 1969 season, this time playing in 56 games (with 34 starts at 3B).

That was it for Etheridge, both as a Giant and as a major-league player. After the season, he was traded to the Padres along with pitcher Ron Herbel and catcher Bob Barton for pitcher Frank Reberger.

Bobby played in the minors though the 1973 season, with the Padres', Cardinals', and Mets' organizations.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tim Cullen (#209)

Moving around the horn, we come to Tim Cullen, the Topps all-rookie shortstop in 1967.

Cullen was signed by the Red Sox in 1964 out of Santa Clara University, and reported directly to triple-A Seattle. After his first season (as a 3rd baseman), he was drafted by the Senators, and played another season and a half in triple-A (now as a shortstop), before he was called up in early August 1966. Tim played 18 games with the Sens over the rest of the season.

Tim made the Senators at the start of 1967, and was a spot-starter at 2B and 3B early in the season. On July 5th, he wrested the starting shortstop job away from light-hitting Ed Brinkman, and started 62 of the final 84 games there.

That was good enough to snag the Topps All-Rookie post, but prior to the 1968 season, Cullen was traded to the White Sox (with pitchers Bob Priddy and Buster Narum) for shortstop Ron Hansen and pitchers Dennis Higgins and Steve Jones.

Chicago had also re-acquired shortstop Luis Aparicio from the Orioles in the off-season, so Cullen was installed at 2nd base. Tim held a regular job from day 1 until mid-June, then was relegated to the bench in favor of Sandy Alomar.

By early August, Cullen was returned to Washington in exchange for Hansen. (Cullen and Hansen are the only 2 players to ever be traded for each other twice in the same season.) For the remainder of 1968, and for 2 more seasons, Tim shared the starting 2nd base job with Bernie Allen.

In 1971, he split his starts between 2nd base and shortstop, as the Senators were easing rookies Lenny Randle (2B) and Toby Harrah (ss) into the starting lineup. Cullen followed the team to Texas in 1972, but was released by the Rangers in spring training.

A month later, the Athletics picked him up, and he began his final season in triple-A, before the A's recalled him in late June. Tim and ex-Indians' shortstop Larry Brown split the 2nd base job for the bulk of the season, as veteran A's 2nd-sacker Dick Green missed most of the '72 season.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rod Carew (#80)

I've already posted 1st baseman Lee May's all-rookie card, so let's skip ahead to 2nd base.

Rod Carew checks in as the 2nd baseman on Topps' 1967 All-Rookie team (which makes sense, since he was the AL Rookie of the Year). This was my first Carew card, as to this day Rod's 1967 rookie card is one of 4 cards I need to complete that set.

Carew was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1945, but grew up in New York City. He was signed by the Twins in 1964, and played a half-season in rookie ball in '64, then 2 seasons in class-A ball before making his major-league debut at the start of the 1967 season. (Carew hit .303 in his 1st season in class A. I wonder why the Twins didn't promote him to double A for 1966. Maybe it was his 28 errors at 2nd base?)

Rod assumed the starting 2nd base job on opening day 1967, and started 131 games there (missing 17 consecutive games in mid-August). Carew was a slam-dunk for Rookie of the Year, getting 19 of the possible 20 votes (Red Sox' center fielder Reggie Smith received 1 vote). He also made his first of 18 consecutive all-star teams.

Carew played his first 12 seasons with the Twins. During that time, he led the AL in batting 7 times, and hit over .330 in 2 other seasons.

He switched to 1st base in 1976, and continued his torrid hitting. Rod was the AL MVP in 1977, while leading the league in runs, hits, triples, batting average, on-base percentage, and OPS. He also collected 100 walks that season.

In February 1979, Carew was traded to the Angels for pitchers Paul Hartzell and Brad Havens, catcher Dave Engle, and outfielder Ken Landreaux. His league-leading days were over, although he hit over .300 in his first 5 seasons in California, including .339 in 1983.

Injuries limited him to 93 games in 1984, although he hit .295 that season. Carew's final season was 1985, the only year he didn't make the all-star team.

Rod appeared in the post-season 4 times: '69 and '70 with the Twins, and '79 and '82 with the Angels.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1991, with 90% of the vote.