And Hal represents Part Two of the Great Houston Kerfluffle. Topps has finally figured out that the team will be called the Astros, and kept the "Houston" text so no one will be confused. No logo, of course. Hal, in addition to his sharp flattop and rugged gaze, was a pretty good reliever. He made the All-Star team in 1963 by winning 11 games and saving 10 others without the benefit of a single start. The following year he led the National League with 23 saves, which actually is impressive for the era. His 2.76 ERA that year was actually his highest between 1963 and 1966.
Hey, another All-Star! Chuck is fresh off of his 1964 season, in which he represented the Senators in the Midsummer Classic. Oddly enough, his performance that year (.274, 11 HR, 53 RBI) wasn't nearly as good as his 1962 campaign (.310, 17 HR, 75 RBI), for which he did not receive an All-Star nod. Here we see another example of the Hide-the-Hat phenomenon. Topps scrambled to cover up any indicators that Hinton had been a Senator; Washington traded him to the Indians on December 1, 1964. Chuck even had ties to the Orioles, having been signed by the team in 1956 as a free agent. Before he ever made his big league debut, the Senators grabbed him in the 1960 Expansion Draft.
Larry is a college boy, having been signed by the Mets after graduating from St. John's University with an English degree. Yep, that's one thing that Larry and I have in common. New York sent him straight to AAA Syracuse, where he went 2-13 with a 6.67 ERA. Still, the Mets were so awful that they promoted him the very next year, and he saw action in 58 games (third-most in the N. L.). He was much improved, sporting a 3.46 ERA. But his major league performance peaked in that first season, and by 1967 he was back in the minors to stay...or was he? In 1971, he made his return to the bigs with the Brewers, tossing three terrible innings. He found new life in baseball as a pitching coach, spending the next quarter-century mentoring pitchers in the Expos and Rockies organizations. Larry passed away on December 31, 1999.
Believe it or not, Al didn't even pitch in the majors in 1964. He'd debuted with the Giants the previous year, struggling in 11 relief appearances. Topps seems to have given him a card in 1965 on the strength of his efforts in AAA Tacoma, where he won 13 games with a 2.83 ERA and led the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts with 220. Unfortunately, Stanek never made it back to the bigs. Maybe his control problems had something to do with it - along with those 220 K's, he also allowed 108 walks. If anyone has more information on the demise of Al's career, let me know. He's last mentioned in The Sporting News archives in 1967, at which time he was still twirling in the minors.
Next time: the last four cards from Fleerfan! (Spoiler: they're the best cards in the group.)