Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bobby Knoop (#271)

Here is Angels’ 2nd baseman Bobby Knoop, at 78 the oldest living player from 1966-70 that I haven’t blogged about yet. (Back in the Sixties, my brother and I thought his name was pronounced NEWP, but it is Kuh-NOP.)

Knoop was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1956, and after 8 long years in the minors, the Angels acquired him in the Rule 5 draft after the 1963 season. (Hmm… the record shows he played for the Angels’ AAA team in Hawaii in ’62 and ’63. Maybe he was on loan, and the Angels liked him so much that they acquired him outright.) 

Like all other Rule 5 picks, he needed to stay on the major-league roster the following year. Unlike so many, he was a real contributor, playing in all 162 games (starting 156) as a rookie in 1964.

Bobby was a mainstay during his 5 full seasons with the Angels. He played in 162, 162, 161, 159, and 152 games over that span, always accumulating more than 500 plate appearances. In 1966 he made his only All-Star team, and led the AL with 11 triples. However, he hit higher than .249 only once.

After starting 23 of the first 24 games in 1969, he was traded in mid-May to the White Sox for 2nd baseman Sandy Alomar and pitcher Bob Priddy. Knoop started 100 and 117 games in his 2 seasons with Chicago.

With the Sox having acquired 2nd baseman Mike Andrews from Boston in December 1970, Knoop was traded to the Royals during spring training 1971 for infielder Luis Alcaraz.

Bobby was the backup infielder for KC in 1971, but started 41 games at 2nd base, mostly after Cookie Rojas was lost for the season in late-August. In 1972 he only started 22 times, his final game coming on September 20th.

 He was released after the 1972 season, ending his 9-year career.

 He was a coach for the White Sox, Angels, and Blue Jays for 21 seasons (1977-2000).

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ray Sadecki (#494)

Ray Sadecki was a starting pitcher for the Cardinals and Giants in the 1960s. He later played for the Mets and several other teams.

Ray was signed by the Cardinals in 1958 and made his big-league debut with St. Louis in May 1960. At age 19, he was the team’s #3 starter behind Larry Jackson and Ernie Broglio.

In 1961 he led the staff in starts and innings pitched, shared the wins lead with Jackson, and was 2nd in strikeouts to Bob Gibson.

1962 was a down year. By the end of July Ray’s record was 6-8, and he was sent to the minors for the remainder of the season.

Ray was back in 1963, joining Gibson (18 wins), Broglio (18), and a rejuvenated Curt Simmons (14) in the rotation. (Jackson had been traded to the Cubs in the off-season.) He compiled a 10-10 record as the #4 starter.

1964 ended with the Cardinals winning the World Series. Along the way Sadecki won 20 games, just slightly ahead of Gibby’s 19 and Simmons’ 18 wins.

In 1965 the Cards’ rotation was reduced from the “Big 3” to the “Big 1” (Gibson), as both Sadecki and Simmons lost 15 games. The following May, Sadecki was traded to the Giants for slugger Orlando Cepeda.

Over the next 3 ½ seasons, Ray manned the #4 spot in the rotation, behind Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, and Bob Bolin (and later Mike McCormick). He was 32-39 in his time with the Giants, never matching his success with the Cardinals, but he did win 12 games twice and piled up a lot of innings for the Giants.

Ray was traded to the Mets after the 1969 season with outfield prospect Dave Marshall for journeyman outfielder Jim Gosger and utility infielder Bob Heise. [WOW! What a sad state of affairs!] 

After 5 uneventful season with the Mets (used as a starter and reliever), he was traded back to the Cardinals for Joe Torre. After 2 months with St Louis, he was flipped to the Braves, and by Labor Day he was with the Royals.

Sadecki pitched 5 games for Kansas City at the end of 1975, and 3 games at the start of 1976 before he was released in early May. The Brewers soon picked him up, and he relieved in 36 games for the remainder of the ’76 season. Released again, Ray was signed by the Mets in March 1977 but was released on May 2nd, ending his 18-year career.

Sadecki passed away from cancer in November 2014 at age 73.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 5/11/1939

Another installment in my "Born on the Same Day" series, featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year.

This is post #11 in the series: Milt Pappas and Frank Quilici - both born on 5/11/1939.

Pappas played 17 seasons, the first 9 with the Orioles. Traded to the Reds after the 1965 season for Frank Robinson, he played 2 1/2 seasons with Cincinnati, 2 with the Braves, and 3 1/2 with the Cubs before retiring after the 1973 season. He made the All-Star team in '62 and '65.

Quilici was a backup 2nd baseman for the Twins from 1965 to 1970, playing in the post-season in his first and last seasons. He also managed the Twins from 1972 to 1975.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Mike Epstein (#358)

Mike Epstein was a slugging 1st-sacker for the Senators in the late-1960s. This is his first solo card, after appearing on an Orioles Rookies card in the 1967 set.

Prior to being signed by the Orioles in 1964, Epstein was a member of the US Olympic baseball team that won the gold medal that year.

Missing from the back of his card is his time playing for the Orioles’ Florida State Instructional League (rookie ball) team for 3 seasons from 1964-66. He played most of 1965 in class A ball and most of 1966 in AAA ball, and clubbed 30 and 29 homers respectively, along with topping 100 RBI in both seasons.

He made his major-league debut in September 1966, but realizing he was stuck behind Boog Powell at first base, he demanded a trade. After cooling his heels on the O’s bench for 2 months of 1967, he was traded to the Senators in late-May (along with pitcher Frank Bertaina) for pitcher Pete Richert. In his first at-bat against his old team, Epstein hit a grand slam.

Mike was the Nats’ regular 1st baseman for 3 seasons, starting 107, 115, and 118 games from 1968-70. (Left fielder Frank Howard started most of the remaining games at 1B.) however, his numbers were down from his minor-league stats. His best season was 1969 – reaching 30 HR and 85 RBI.

In May 1971, he and pitcher Darold Knowles were shipped to the Athletics for pitcher Paul Linblad, 1st baseman Don Mincher, and backup catcher Frank Fernandez.

Following the 1972 season, he moved on to the Texas Rangers, but after only 27 games with Texas, he was flipped to the Angels in a 5-player deal. He was the Angels’ 1st baseman for the remainder of the ’73 season.

Epstein started 18 of the first 21 games in 1974, but he and his .161 batting average were released when the calendar hit May.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Born on the Same Day - 1/17/1915

Today I'm starting a new series called "Born on the Same Day", featuring players who were born on the same day (!) and year. The scope of this exercise is those players (or managers) who have cards in the 1965-1970 sets (because that's what I dooze). Ideally, I should also have their cards.

In researching this, I found 51 pairs and 2 trios. In a few pairs both are stars, some pairs have 1 star, and other pairs are just 2 guys named Joe. In a few cases, these players were also teammates. 

I am going to post these in chronological order, and distribute them across my 1966-1970 blogs depending on which cards I have for who. 

So with chronology in mind, first up is the only pair of managers: Mayo Smith and Luman Harris, both born on 1/17/1915.

Lum Harris played for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1941 to 1946, except for the 1945 season while he was in military service. Coincidentally, Mayo Smith's only MLB season was in 1945... for the Athletics. So they missed each other by a year.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Rich Rollins (#243)

This is Rich Rollins’ final card as a Twin. After the 1968 season he joined the expansion Seattle Pilots.

Rollins was signed by the old Washington Senators in 1960. Midway through the 1961 season, he made his major-league debut for the team, in their first season as the Minnesota Twins.

In 1962, Rich hit .298, collected 96 RBI, and made his only All-Star team, as he started 158 of the team’s 163 games at the hot corner (every game except the 5 from 9/13 to 9/18).

The Twins had some iron-men that season: 
Bernie Allen – 158 starts at 2B 
Rich Rollins – 158 starts at 3B 
Zoilo Versalles – 157 starts at SS 
Harmon Killebrew – 150 starts in LF, 2 at 1B 
Lenny Green – 147 starts in CF, 4 in LF 
Earl Battey – 143 starts at C 
Vic Power – 141 starts at 1B 
Bob Allison – 139 starts in RF 

Rich was the Twins’ everyday 3rd-sacker for the next 2 years, starting 132 and 146 games there. In 1964 he led the AL with 10 triples.

In 1965 his starts were down to 110 (plus 12 starts at 2nd base). The decrease was due to Killebrew having moved in from left field beginning in 1965. Although Killer primarily played 1st base, he started 40 games at 3rd in an effort to keep Don Mincher’s bat in the lineup. Rollins’ days as an every-day player ended after 1965.

Killebrew started 103 games at 3B, to Rollins’ 59 games in 1966. Still, Rich appeared in another 30 games as a pinch-hitter and defensive replacement.

With Mincher shipped off to the Angels after the 1966 season in exchange for Dean Chance, Killebrew took up full-time residence at 1st base. Rollins benefited with 90 starts at 3rd base, while jack-of-all-trades Cesar Tovar started 56 games there.

Rollins’ final season in Minnesota (1968) saw him relegated to the bench for all but 44 games, as Tovar became the primary 3rd baseman, and utility types like Frank Quilici and Ron Clark also getting some playing time.

After the ’68 season, Rich was selected by the Pilots, and began the season as the starting 3rd baseman. He started 39 of the first 62 games there, then took a seat on the bench for the rest of the season. The team used a fleet of utility players there (Gus Gil, John Kennedy, Ron Clark) before settling on Tommy Harper for the final 2 months of the season.

After playing only 14 games with the Brewers, Rollins was released in mid-May 1970. He was picked up on the same day by the Indians, and played 42 games (all but 4 as a pinch-hitter) over the remainder of his final season.

He played in 1002 games over his 10-year career.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

1968 Custom Cards

A few years ago, John Hogan at the "Cards That Never Were" blog made a batch of custom baseball and football cards for me at my request.  I noticed that John did not include these images on his own blog, so I am posting them here so they can be appreciated by all. These are cards where the player was either missing, traded during the season, or just to upgrade a player from a Rookie Stars card to a solo card.

You may have already seen the 1967, 1968, and 1971 football cards or the 1966 and 1967 baseball cards he made for me on the blogs for those sets. He also created some baseball cards in the '68 and '69 style.

Key rookies without cards:

Del Unser made his major-league debut at the start of the 1968 season, winning the starting center field job. He was selected to the Topps All-Rookie team.

Sparky Lyle joined the Red Sox in July 1967 and was with the team for the remainder of the season, yet he did not have a card until 1969.

Bobby Cox' MLB playing career lasted 2 seasons. He was the Yankees' 3rd baseman as a rookie in 1968, and shared the job in 1969. He went on to a long career as the Braves' manager.

Hector Torres debuted in 1968 as the Astros' starting shortstop, his only season as a regular. He played for several teams over the next 9 seasons.

Clyde Wright was one of several young pitchers on the Angels' staff in 1968 (along with Rickey Clark, Tom Burgmeier, and Marty Pattin) who did not have cards in the 1968 set (or in previous years).

Marty Pattin and Tom Burgmeier both made their MLB debut in 1968, with significant playing time. They were both selected by expansion teams after the season.


Although not requested by me, here are some other 1968 creations John has featured on his blog:

Earl Weaver took over the Orioles' managerial post in mid-July 1968 after Hank Bauer was fired.

The White Sox' shortstop from 1930-1950, Luke Appling filled in as interim manager for the Athletics' last 40 games of the 1967 season. He did not return in 1968.

Satchel Paige pitched in the Negro Leagues from 1927-47, then pitched 52 games for the Indians (1948-49) and 126 games for the St. Louis Browns (1951-53). He also pitched 1 game for the Athletics in 1965 (at age 58). I have a recollection that he also pitched for the Braves in '67 or '68, but the record does not confirm that. 

Bill Virdon was the Pirates' center fielder from 1956-65. After retiring, he became a coach for the Pirates, and was reactivated for 6 games during the 1968 season.

Lenny Green played for several teams from 1959-66, and finished up his career with the Tigers in 1967 and 1968. He began both of those seasons in the minors, affecting his inclusion in those 2 sets.

Alan Foster pitched a few games for the Dodgers in '67 and '68, then pitched for the Dodgers and others from 1969-76.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Max Alvis (#340)

Max Alvis was the Indians’ regular 3rd baseman from 1963 to 1968, then shared the job with utilityman Lou Klimchock in 1969.

I was going to start off this post saying "With the steep decline in Leon Wagner’s and Rocky Colavito’s home run totals in 1967, Alvis became the lead slugger for the Tribe." Today I see that this was only for 1967, as the next year Max also caught the disease. After averaging 20 homers per season from ‘63 to ‘67, he hit only 8 in 1968, and 1 in limited duty in 1969.

Alvis was signed by Cleveland in 1958, and made his major-league debut in September 1962 by starting 12 of the final 16 games at third base.

Max was installed as the team’s regular 3rd baseman at the start of 1963, replacing the veteran Bubba Phillips. Max started 158 games as a rookie and hit 22 homers.

He was a steady performer for his first 5 full seasons, hitting between 17 and 22 home runs, and made 2 All-Star teams during that time. He missed 6 weeks in 1964 with spinal meningitis, but still hit 18 homers in only 380 at-bats.

He returned to full-time status in 1965, and played 155+ games in each of the next 3 seasons. As mentioned at the top, he lead the Indians in 1967 with 21 homers, and made his 2nd All-Star team.

In 1968, Alvis’ homers (8) and batting average (.223) fell off drastically, and was out of the starting lineup for much of July. Max only started 51 games in 1969 (mostly in May and June), as the team used Klimchock and several others to fill in.

Three days before the 1970 season, Alvis and outfielder Russ Snyder were traded to the Brewers for 2nd baseman Frank Coggins and outfielder Roy Foster. Alvis started 16 of the first 18 games at the hot corner, but was then replaced by Tommy Harper and only saw spot duty for the rest of the season. He was released after the season.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jerry May (#598)

Ladies and Gentlemen, the last card in the 1968 set: #598 Jerry May! He had just completed his first season as the Pirates #1 catcher. Unfortunately for him, he would only hold that job for one more season, as Manny Sanguillen would take over the post in 1969. Jerry moved on to the Royals for 1971.

May was originally a pitcher and outfielder, and was signed by the Pirates in 1961. He was converted to catcher, and played in the minors for the next 5 seasons. (He also played some outfield in his first pro season.)

Although he made his big-league debut in September 1964, and played a few games in 1965, May didn’t stick with the Bucs until the start of the 1966 season. That year, he was the team’s 3rd-string catcher behind Jim Pagliaroni and Jesse Gonder.

In 1967, May took over the starting role in game #10, and started 61 of the next 77 games behind the plate, with Pagliaroni as the main backup. Jerry missed all the games from 7/20 – 8/9, and with Gonder having shipped out in mid-June, the catching chores were handled by the veteran Pag and rookie call-up Manny Sanguillen during May’s absence. When May returned to the lineup on August 10th, he started most of the remaining games, with Sanguillen getting 12 starts.

Manny spent all of 1968 in the minors getting the proverbial “seasoning”, so Jerry started 128 games in his final season as a regular. Pagliaroni had been dealt to Oakland in the off-season, so Chris Cannizzaro and Carl Taylor filled in behind May.

In 1969 Jerry made only 50 starts, as Sanguillen won the starting job in April. He found even less playing time in 1970, and after the season was traded to the Royals (with shortstop Freddie Patek and pitcher Bruce Dal Canton) for pitcher Bob Johnson, shortstop Jackie Hernandez, and catcher Jim Campanis.

May split the catching chores in 1971 with ex-Angels’ outfielder Ed Kirkpatrick, and was Ed’s backup in 1972. Jerry started the first 6 games in 1973, but soon lost out to the tandem of Fran Healy and ex-Pirates teammate Carl Taylor.

In mid-May he moved on to the Mets, who released him 2 months later after having played in only 4 games. The Pirates picked him up 3 weeks later and assigned him to their AAA team for the rest of the season. In January 1974 the Twins purchased his contract, but Jerry never played after 1973.

May died in a farming accident in June 1996 at age 52.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mark Belanger (#118)

Here is Mark Belanger’s first card all to himself. (He appeared on a high-numbered Orioles Rookie Stars card in 1967.)

Topps has his position as 2B-SS because that was his position during his rookie year of 1967, when he played 69 games as a backup for 2nd baseman Dave Johnson and shortstop Luis Aparicio. Once Aparicio was traded back to the White Sox in November 1967, Belanger was the team’s regular shortstop from opening day 1968 until giving way to Kiko Garcia in 1979.

Mark was signed by Baltimore in 1962, and played in the minors from 1962-66 (missing the ’63 season to military service). He played a few games with the Orioles in ’65 and ’66, then made the team for good at the start of the 1967 season.

Belanger took over the shortstop reins in 1968, winning 8 Gold Gloves in the 10 years between 1969 and 1978. He made the All-Star team in 1976, and played in the post season 6 times (’69, ’70, ’71, ’73, ’74, ’79). Always a light stick (only 20 homers in an 18-year career), he hit a home run in his first post-season series (the ’69 ALCS vs. the Twins).

After sharing the job with Garcia in ’79 and ’80, and with Len Sakata in 1981, Belanger was granted free agency in the off-season. He signed with the Dodgers and played his final season (1982) as a backup in LA. He played 44 games at shortstop, including only 12 starts behind long-time regular Bill Russell.

Mark retired with the highest fielding percentage (.977) of any AL shortstop. After his playing career, he worked for the players’ union.

Belanger passed away in October 1998 at the age of 54.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jim McGlothlin (#493)

Jim McGlothlin pitched for the Angels, Reds, and White Sox for 9 seasons from 1965-1973.

McGlothlin was signed by the Los Angeles Angels in 1962. After 3 season in the minors (with excellent seasons in 1963 (13-5, 165 Ks) and 1965 (14-8, 180 Ks)), Jim made his MLB debut with 3 starts in September 1965.

He began the 1966 season with the Angels, but with a 3-1 record in 19 games, he was sent down in July for the remainder of the season.

Jim returned to the Angels to start the 1967 season and was among the team’s top 3 starters (with George Brunet and Rickey Clark), posting a 12-8 record while leading the league with 6 shutouts. He also made his only All-Star team that year (the game was played in the Angels’ park).

McGlothlin was near the top of the Angels’ rotation for 2 more seasons, with Brunet, Clark, and Sammy Ellis, who was acquired from the Reds prior to 1968. (For years thought the Angels had traded McGlothlin to the Reds for Ellis.) 

After the 1969 season, Jim was traded to the Reds (along with pitchers Pedro Borbon and Vern Geishert) for outfielder Alex Johnson and infielder Chico Ruiz.

In 1970, McGlothlin won 14 games as the #3 starter behind Gary Nolan (18 wins) and Jim Merritt (20 wins). He also started 1 game in the 1970 World Series.

Like the Reds’ team in general, Jim’s production slipped in 1971, compiling a 8-12 record.

In 1972 he went 9-8, and moved farther down the rotation ladder that season, while also relieving in several games. The Reds went to the World Series that year, and Jim pitched in 2 post-season games.

McGlothlin played most of 1973 with the Reds, but was traded to the White Sox for pitcher Steve Kealey in late August. The White Sox released him in March 1974.

He was stricken with cancer during the spring of 1975, and died in December 1975 at age 32.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Wilbur Wood (#585)

Wilbur Wood pitched for 17 seasons (1961-1978), mostly with the White Sox. I learned today that he originally played for the Red Sox in the early 1960s.

Wood was signed by Boston in 1960, and played in their farm system from 1961-63. He also played a few games with the Sox in ’61 and ’62.

Wilbur began the 1963 season with the Sox’ AAA team in Seattle, but was recalled in early June and pitched in 25 games over the final 2/3 of the season.

Wood opened the ’64 season in Boston, but was sent back to Seattle in mid-May, where he remained until the Pirates purchased his contract in September. He made a few appearances with the Bucs in the season’s final weeks.

1965 was his last season with Pittsburgh. He pitched in 35 games (all but 1 in relief) but only compiled a 1-1 record. After little success in 1965, Wood spent the entire ’66 season with the Pirates’ AAA team, compiling a 14-8 record in 31 games as a starter. For his efforts, he was traded to the White Sox after the season for pitcher Juan Pizarro.

Upon joining the Chisox, their resident knuckleball guru Hoyt Wilhelm convinced Wilbur to throw only the knuckleball, and Wood’s career took off. He was a reliever during his first 4 seasons with Chicago (leading the league in games in ’68, ’69, and ’70, and notching double-digit saves in those 3 years.

Beginning in 1971 he joined the starting rotation. Wood won 20 or more games for 4 straight seasons, and led the AL with 24 wins in both ’72 and ’73. He also pitched more than 300 innings in each of those 4 seasons, topping out at 376 innings in 1972. Wilbur made the All-Star team in 3 of those 4 seasons, and finished in the top 3 in Cy Young voting in ’71 and ’72.

Wood was still a workhorse in 1975 (pitching 291 innings), but slipped to a 16-20 record. He missed much of the 1976 season after a line drive broke one of his knees. Wilbur returned for 2 more seasons, but without his earlier effectiveness. His final game was in August 1978.

Wood was granted free agency after the 1978 season, but had no takers.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Dave Ricketts (#46)

Wait... is this guy a major-league ballplayer, or a high school science teacher?

This is my first Dave Ricketts card. His rookie card (1967) was in the high-number series, so I didn’t get that until decades later. Dave had cards every year from 1967-70, and appears very scholarly on each card (see below).

Dave Ricketts was signed by the Cardinals in 1957, and played 8 seasons in the minors (missing the ’58 and ’59 seasons while in military service). He debuted with 3 games in late-September 1963, and also played in 11 games for the Cards scattered over the 1965 season.

Ricketts made the Cardinals on a full-time basis in 1967. He was one of Tim McCarver’s backup catchers for 3 seasons, and as such, he rarely played outside of some pinch-hitting appearances. Dave started 16 games in 1967, but only 1 game in 1968. (The newly-acquired Johnny Edwards was the 2nd string backstop that year.) However, Ricketts did get 3 at-bats in the 1967 World Series and 1 at-bat in the ’68 Fall Classic.

In 1969 Edwards had moved on, but the Cardinals traded for long-time Braves’ catcher Joe Torre before the season. Torre primarily played 1st base, but also made 16 starts behind the dish when McCarver needed a rest, leaving only 7 starts for Dave.

After the 1969 season, Ricketts and pitcher Dave Giusti were traded to the Pirates for backup catcher Carl Taylor. (?!?) He filled the same role for the Pirates: a seldom-used 3rd string catcher behind Manny Sanguillen and Jerry May (14 games, 12 at-bats, no starts).

Dave was released after the season, then was a bullpen coach for many years (Pirates 1971-73, Cardinals (1974-91). He was activated by the Pirates for a few weeks in 1971 but did not play.

Dave’s older brother Dick pitched for the Cardinals in 1959.

Dave Ricketts passed away from cancer in 2008 at age 73.