Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#566 Yankees Rookies: Gil Blanco, Art Lopez, and Ross Moschitto

#566 Yankees Rookies: Gil Blanco, Art Lopez, and Ross Moschitto
We've seen two-player rookie cards and four-player rookie cards in this set already, but this is the first three-player rookie card that I've posted. I don't know about you, but none of these guys rings a bell with me. This is right about the time that the Yankee dynasty crumbled, as the team spent the next decade serving as an also-ran in the American League before a late 1970s renaissance. There's no doubt that failures in developing talented young players had something to do with that decline.

Fun facts about Gil Blanco:

-Born in Phoenix, AZ, Gil signed with the Yankees as a teen in 1964.

-In his first pro season, he won 12 games with a 2.31 ERA at class A Fort Lauderdale and surrendered just two home runs in 144 innings (0.1 HR/9 IP).

-As a bonus baby, he was placed on the major league roster at age 19 in 1965. Though used sparingly, the 6'5" southpaw held his own, stringing together seven scoreless relief appearances (eight innings total) to begin his career. He would end the year with a 3.98 ERA in 20.1 innings.

-Should you doubt that New York was handling the youngster with kid gloves, consider this: in each of his 16 relief appearances, he entered the game with the Yanks down by two runs or more. He was a textbook mop-up man. He was given a spot start on May 31 in the second half of a doubleheader, but didn't make it out of the first inning.

-Despite his low status in the pecking order of the staff, Gil did earn his first win with two shutout innings to finish a game against the Senators on July 17. He entered with his team trailing 4-1 and held off the Sens until the bottom of the ninth, when a four-run Yankee rally sent the Bronx fans home happy.

-Began the following season in the minors, but was traded to the Athletics in a five-player swap in midseason. Joined the A's in late July and went 2-4 with a 4.70 ERA.

-Had a game to remember on September 4, 1966. Earned the win by scattering nine walks in seven innings, managing to give up only one earned run in a 7-2 triumph over the Red Sox. It helped that he himself had as many hits (two) as he allowed; his pair of run-scoring singles constituted his only career hits and RBI. He also induced a triple-play grounder from Tony Conigliaro in the first inning!

-He never pitched in the majors after his 21st birthday. He bounced around the minor leagues in the A's, Astros, and Expos farm systems until 1971.

-In two big league seasons, he was 3-5 with a 4.45 ERA.

-There have been six major leaguers with the last name "Blanco". Gil was the first.

Fun facts about Art Lopez:

-Art hails from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico but grew up in New York.

-He served in the Navy during the Korean War (1954-1958).

-After his service ended, he worked in a bank. In 1961, the Yankees signed the 24-year-old after a successful tryout.

-After hitting well over .300 in his minor league travels over four seasons, Lopez made the big league club in April 1965. His first hit was a pinch single against reigning Cy Young winner Dean Chance.

-He struggled in two stints with New York in 1965, squeezing out seven singles in 49 at-bats and failing to drive in a run.

-After spending 1966 in the minors, Art went east...Far East, that is. He played six seasons (1968-1973) in Japan, hitting a robust .290 with 116 home runs. He was an All-Star in 1968, and saw action in the 1970 Japan Series for the Lotte Orions.

Fun facts about Ross Moschitto:

-Ross is a native of Fresno, CA. He signed with the Yankees as a 19-year-old in 1964.

-Hit .293 with 20 home runs in rookie ball in his first pro season and was named Appalachian League Player of the Year.

-As a bonus baby, spent all of 1965 on the major league roster but struggled in his irregular playing time (28 plate appearances in 96 games!), hitting .185 with a single home run.

-At one point Ross appeared in 13 consecutive games without collecting a single plate appearance; his chief duty was to give a late-inning breather to the aging Mickey Mantle.

-Waited two-plus months for his first career hit, and then got his second base knock in his very next at-bat.

-Hit his first (and only) career home run against 215-game winner Jim Perry.

-After missing all of the 1966 season, Moschitto played only 14 games for the Yankees in 1967, collecting a single hit in nine at-bats.

-He hung around in the New York farm system for two miserable years before calling it quits at in 1969. He hit .167 with a home run and three RBI in his two abbreviated seasons in the bigs.
#566 Yankees Rookies: Gil Blanco, Art Lopez, and Ross Moschitto (back)


  1. Jack Reed, Tommy Tresh, Ross Moschitto, Roger Repoz.... all were supposed to be the 'Next Mickey Mantle'.

  2. Bob - Yeah, no pressure. I found a quote from Moschitto talking about his HR off of Jim Perry. He points out that it was in a late-game blowout situation and he just pounced on a high pitch, and yet the media was making breathless declarations about how he "hit 'em where DiMaggio never did"!

  3. dad worked for yanks on ground crew when i was 11 i broke my arm and gil blanco called me down to the bullpen and signed my cast so i remember him well and the other 2.