Wednesday, March 28, 2018

50 Years Ago - 1968 Opening Day Lineups (AL)

Here are the opening day American League lineups from half a century ago. Teams are shown in order of their 1968 finish.

Pitching aces Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich must have been resting up for their big seasons ahead.  1st baseman Norm Cash is missing too.

Tom Phoebus stepped up as a rookie in 1967 to fill the void when 1966 pitching stars Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, and Wally Bunker all went down with injuries, and was rewarded with the Opening Day nod in 1968. Mark Belanger missed the opener, so Dave Johnson slid over to shortstop.  And why is "Clank" in right field, having swapped positions with Frank Robinson? Hiding bad outfielders in right field is a little league ploy!

Just like the Tigers, the Indians are without their #1 pitcher (Sam McDowell) for Opening Day. Everyone else here was a regular in 1968.

1967 ace Jim Lonborg blew out a knee during an off-season skiing trip, so the Opening Day starting nod goes to .... Dick Ellsworth????  What about Gary Bell?  Dalton Jones and Joe Lahoud are filling in for Joe Foy and Ken Harrelson.

Wow!  I'm surprised to realize the Yankees finished as high as 5th place in 1968. Jake Gibbs, Bobby Cox, and Andy Kosco were the regulars at C, 3B, and RF, but not on Opening Day.

Here are the Athletics in their first season in Oakland, and only Bert Campaneris returns from 1967's Opening Day lineup. Nice mix of airbrushing and capless shots, Topps!  I wonder if any geniuses at Topps ever thought to back-load the Athletics' cards to the later series, after they had time to develop their Spring Training photographs?

The Twins were in the hunt until the last week of 1967, but fell off to 7th place in 1968. They seemed to have good pitching and a good everyday lineup (except at shortstop).

Just like the Twins, the White Sox really bombed in 1968.  After finishing in 4th place (3 games back) in 1967, they finished 8th (36 games back) in '68. They acquired Luis Aparicio and Tommy Davis, but lost Tommie Agee and Don Buford. 

This was the Angels' regular lineup for most of the season, with a few exceptions: Paul Schaal missed the 2nd half of the season following a beaning; Vic Davalillo was acquired in mid-season to play center field; right field was a carousel of 5 different starters.

Ahhh... the Senators.  They finished in 10th place in 1968, but the following year Teddy Ballgame would coax them to 4th place, instilling new life in them just in time for their move to Texas! Bernie Allen was the regular 2nd baseman in '68, and right field was shared by Ed Stroud and Cap Peterson, but the rest of these guys were 1st string.

1 comment:

Eric C. Loy said...

Earl Wilson was coming off a 22-win season and got some MVP votes for 1967, so he would have been the ace of the Tigers going into the season.