Sunday, August 30, 2009

#172 Jim Piersall

#172 Jim Piersall
Wow, I took a look at Jimmy Piersall's body of work both on and off the field and it's going to be tough to do him justice. Let's give it a shot!

Fun facts about Jim Piersall:

-Born in Waterbury, CT, Jim signed with the Red Sox in 1948 and received some substantial playing time with the club in 1952 but was optioned to AA Birmingham after getting into fights with teammate Mickey McDermott and Yankee infielder Billy Martin, as well as a separate incident in which he spanked the four-year old son of teammate Vern Stephens.

-The young outfielder was suspended from Birmingham after a series of four ejections. The last of these occurred after he had sprayed home plate with a water pistol to commemorate Milt Bolling's home run. Piersall was the next batter, and struck out. He had then moved up to the grandstand and heckled the umpire. Soon after the suspension, Jim entered treatment at the Westborough State Hospital in Massachusetts for nervous exhaustion (he was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder) and missed the rest of the season.

-Bounced back to spend all of 1953 as a starter for Boston, highlighted by the first 6-hit performance in team history on June 10, 1953.

-Was a two-time All-Star (1954: .285 AVG, 24 doubles; 1956: .293, 91 runs, league-best 40 doubles, 14 home runs, 87 RBI).

-Had a reputation as a smooth and speedy center fielder, earning Gold Gloves in 1958 and 1961 (he also hit .322 in the latter season).

-The 1957 film Fear Strikes Out starred Anthony Perkins as Piersall and concerned his battle with a mental disorder. The player himself was no fan of the movie, feeling that it placed too much blame upon his demanding father and that Perkins "threw a baseball like a girl and danced around in the outfield like a ballerina".

-His behavior continued to be erratic throughout his career. Some incidents were benign: stepping up to bat in a Beatles wig and playing air guitar with his bat, leading his own cheers in the outfield in between plays, and "talking" to Babe Ruth among the center field monuments in Yankee Stadium. Others were more troublesome: he was ejected six times in one season and in an incident in September 1961, he was attacked on the field at Yankee Stadium by two fans and defended himself by punching one and kicking the other.

-On June 23, 1963, he hit his 100th career home run and celebrated by rounding the bases backward (home to third to second to first). He was with the Mets at the time.

-Retired in 1967 as a .272 hitter in parts of 17 seasons, with 104 home runs and 591 RBI.

-Piersall kept busy after he was through playing by working in the A's front office (1972), coaching with the Rangers (1975), and announcing TV and radio games for Texas (1974) and the White Sox (1977-1981). The Pale Hose eventually fired him for his public criticisms of the team, prompting him to pen a book entitled The Truth Hurts. Later, he would also serve as a minor league instructor for the Cubs.
#172 Jim Piersall (back)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

#166 Indians Rookie Stars: George Culver and Tommie Agee

#166 Indians Rookie Stars: George Culver and Tommie Agee
Here's a question for longtime baseball fans: Didn't anyone ever get confused in the days when the Indians and the Reds had the same cap insignia? Sure, Cleveland's wishbone 'C' was red on black while Cincinnati's was red on white, but it all seems a little silly to me.

Fun facts about George Culver:

-Born in Salinas, CA, George signed with the Yankees in 1963 but was drafted to the Indians the following December.

-Won seven games and saved three out of the Cleveland bullpen as a rookie in 1967, compiling a 3.96 ERA.

-Was one of three players traded to the Reds that offseason for Tommy Harper, and started 35 games for his new team (11-16, 3.22 ERA).

-No-hit the Phillies on July 29, 1968, winning 6-1. The sole run against him was scored by Dick Allen, who reached and advanced on errors by Woody Woodward and Tony Perez and subsequently scored on a sacrifice fly.

-Returned to the bullpen full-time after a June 1970 trade from St. Louis to Houston and did some of his best pitching in the Astrodome, going 14-13 with a 2.92 ERA and 12 saves during a two and one-half year tenure with the 'Stros.

-After splitting 1973 between the Dodgers and Phillies (7-5, 3.56 ERA), Culver struggled in Philly the next year and was finished as a major leaguer at age 30. In parts of nine seasons, he was 48-49 with 23 saves and a 3.62 ERA.

-George did pitch in the minors and Japan in 1975 before turning to managing. He suffered through a miserable initial effort with the unaffiliated Bakersfield Outlaws, winning 48 and losing 92 in 1978. One of his pitchers was...George Culver. He didn't help his club's cause on the mound, racking up a 5.57 ERA in 42 innings.

-While coaching in the Phillies organization, Culver made a few more on-field cameos and fared even worse, giving up 11 earned runs in six and one-third innings for the 1981 and 1985 Reading Phillies. He was 41 at the time of his final game.

-His second go-round as a manager was much better. He led the 1986 Reading Phillies to a first-place finish in the AA Eastern League, and the club was a contender again in 1987. He was not so fortunate with the two AAA affiliates he later skippered, the 1988 Maine Phillies and 1993 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

-George is a devoted fund-raiser for his alma mater, Bakersfield Junior College. He was also instrumental in the fund-raising campaign that allowed California State University's Bakersfield campus to start up a baseball team of their own.

Fun facts about Tommie Agee:

-An Alabamian by birth, Tommie attended Grambling State University before signing with the Indians in 1961 for a $60,000 bonus.

-The Tribe called up Agee the following year, when he was only nineteen, but he played just 31 games with them in three seasons before being traded to the White Sox in a three-team trade. The deal allowed Cleveland to reacquire Rocky Colavito from the Athletics, but they gave up Agee and Tommy John.

-1966 was Tommie's first full season in the bigs, and he showed what he could do by winning the American League Rookie of the Year award. He hit .273 with 27 doubles, 22 home runs, 86 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 44 steals. To top it all off, he was an All-Star and a Gold Glover for his work in center field.

-Despite another All-Star selection the next year, he slumped to .234 with 14 homers and 52 RBI. After the season, he was dealt to the Mets in a six-player trade, but the change of scenery did not help. 1968 saw Agee start the season 0-for-34 and bat .217 overall.

-1969 was of course a memorable year for the Mets, and Tommie was a big part of that. He was selected as Comeback Player of the Year: .271, 97 runs, a career-high 26 home runs, and 76 RBI. He carried it into the NLCS, hitting .357 and slugging .857 in the sweep of the Braves. Though he hit just .167 in the World Series, his Game Three performance is still talked about 40 years later. He homered off of Jim Palmer and made two incredible running, sprawling catches to rob Elrod Hendricks and Paul Blair of a possible six RBIs total. The Mets won the game 5-0 and the Series in five games in a stunning upset.

-Agee kept his momentum going in 1970, winning a second Gold Glove and becoming the first African American player to win one in each league. He hit .286, scored a personal-best 107 runs, clubbed 61 extra-base hits, and swiped 31 bases.

-On July 6, 1970, he became the second Met to ever hit for the cycle, driving in four runs in a 10-3 win over the Cardinals.

-Just a few weeks after his cycle, Agee almost single-handedly won a game for the Mets against the Dodgers. In the bottom of the tenth, he bunted Al Weis to second and reached base on an error. After Weis was picked off, Tommie stole second and took third on a wild pitch. L.A. got the second out but walked the bases loaded, at which point he stunned the Dodgers by stealing home for the win!

-His productivity slipped over the next three years and he called it quits at age thirty after hitting .222 for Houston and St. Louis in 1973 and being released by the Dodgers the next Spring. In parts of 12 seasons, he hit .255 with 130 home runs, 433 RBI, and 167 steals.

-After retiring, Agee operated the Outfielder's Lounge near Shea Stadium. He also stayed active by participating in charitable events and children's baseball clinics in New York. He passed away in 2001 after suffering a heart attack at age 58.
#166 Indians Rookie Stars: George Culver and Tommie Agee (back)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

#128 Vic Davalillo

#128 Vic Davalillo

Is it just me, or does Vic Davalillo sound like he should be a guest star on "The Love Boat"? Cruising along with us this week are Telly Savalas, the lovely Charo, and Vic Davalillo! But I digress.

Fun facts about Vic Davalillo:

-Hailing from Cabimas, Venezuela, the diminutive Davalillo was signed by Cincinnati in 1958 as a pitcher. Despite crafting a 3.08 ERA in the minors, he was moved to the outfield in 1962. He would pitch in two games in his major league career, both in 1969, without retiring a single batter.

-His older brother, Pompeyo "Yo-Yo" Davalillo, hit .293 in 19 games as a shortstop for the Senators in 1953, but with negligible power and walks. It was his only big league experience.

-Vic debuted with the Indians in 1963, just a year after converting to the outfield, and hit .292 with 30 extra-base hits in 90 games.

-He won his only Gold Glove in his sophomore season. Patrolling center field, he led all American League outfielders with five double plays. He also hit a career-high 26 doubles.

-1965 was his lone All-Star season, as he hit .301 and stole 26 bases.

-Vic became something of a journeyman when his impatience at the plate and lack of power began to take their toll, but he seemed to find his niche as a pinch hitter with the Cardinals in 1970. That year, he had a record-tying 24 pinch hits in 73 tries (.329).

-Was a valuable member of the 1971 and 1972 Pirates squads, hitting .285 and .318, respectively.

-After failing to hit even .200 in 1973 and 1974, he was out of the major leagues. One highlight during this time was his 5-for-8 performance in Oakland's ALCS win over the Orioles in 1973.

-Vic kept his career going in the Mexican League, where he played from 1974-1977, hitting well over .300 during that span. The Dodgers brought him back to the States for the 1977 stretch drive, and he hit .313 at age 40! In his only at-bat in that year's NLCS, his two-out drag bunt hit sparked a ninth-inning rally to beat the Phillies.

-He remained with Los Angeles as a sporadic pinch hitter into the 1980 season, at which point the 43-year-old Venezuelan finally hung up his spikes...or did he? Wikipedia (I know, I know) claims that he played in his home country's winter league for a whopping 30 seasons (1957-1987), retiring at age 50 as the holder of most of the significant career offensive records! Whether or not that astounding bit of trivia is true, he was a career .279 hitter in parts of 16 major league seasons. Davalillo stole 125 career bases and recorded 95 pinch hits.

#128 Vic Davalillo (back)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

#121 Gene Alley

#121 Gene Alley
In our continuing unofficial inventory of baseball equipment, put down Pirates shortstop Gene Alley as a Spalding man. The other thing that jumps out at me is that Gene has one pair of intense, glassy blue eyes. He could stare daggers through you.

Fun facts about Gene Alley:

-Gene signed with the Pirates right out of Hermitage High School in Richmond, VA in 1959.

-He debuted with Pittsburgh in 1963 and became the full-time starter at shortstop in 1965.

-Really came into his own in 1966, hitting a career-high .299 and also reaching personal bests in runs (88), doubles (28), and triples (10). That year, Alley also combined with second baseman Bill Mazeroski to set a record that still stands by converting 161 double plays. The duo each won Gold Gloves that season.

-Gene won his second straight Gold Glove in 1967, hit .287, and drove in a career-high 55 runs. He was also an All-Star for the first time.

-Despite hitting only .245 the following year, made his second (and final) All-Star squad.

-Never did achieve the offensive production of his early career, but his steady defense up the middle kept him in the Bucs' lineup for a full decade.

-Had just one hit in 27 postseason at-bats, but did earn a World Series ring with the 1971 Pirates.

-Shoulder and knee injuries hampered Gene for years, and he retired in 1973 as a .254 hitter in parts of 11 seasons.

-With just 55 career home runs, he took eight different pitchers deep more than once each. Among them were Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Don Sutton (two HR vs. each).

-Post-baseball, Gene became a sales representative for a printing company. He's now retired and lives with his wife Beth, and golfs for leisure.
#121 Gene Alley (back)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

#117 Wes Stock

#117 Wes Stock
As an Orioles fan, it seemed to me like there were a lot of one-time O's who were pictured with the A's in the 1965 Topps set. Upon closer inspection, there are six (Wes Stock, Jim Gentile, John O'Donoghue, Wayne Causey, Orlando Pena, Moe Drabowsky). There are twenty-two Athletics player cards in all. So yeah, that's a fair ratio.

Fun facts about Wes Stock:

-Wes was born in Longview, WA and attended Washington State University before signing with the Orioles in 1956.

-In his first pro season, he led the class-C Northern League with a .700 winning percentage (14-6) and 182 strikeouts in 181 innings. He proceeded to miss the next two years in military service.

-Split the 1959 and 1960 seasons between AAA and the majors, and was effective in 37 innings in the bigs (2-2, 3 saves, 3.06 ERA).

-Had only one major league start in 321 career appearances; he shut out the Senators for five innings but received a no-decision as the Birds lost 1-0.

-Twice had a perfect record, going 5-0 for the O's in 1961 (3.01 ERA) and 7-0 for them in 1963. In all, he appeared in 100 straight games between losses in that span.

-Picked up wins in both ends of a doubleheader on May 26, 1963 with five total scoreless innings.

-Never surrendered more hits than innings pitched in a full season.

-Career-best season was 1964, in which he went 8-3 with a 2.30 ERA, five saves, and 115 strikeouts in 113 and two-thirds innings for the Orioles and Athletics.

-Retired in 1967 with a 27-13 mark, 22 saves, and 3.60 ERA in parts of nine seasons.

-Became a well-known pitching coach with the Mets organization (1968-1969), as well as in the majors with the A's (1967, 1973-1976, 1984-1986), Brewers (1970-1972), and Mariners (1977-1981). He also spent 1982 and 1983 as a TV announcer for Seattle's games.
#117 Wes Stock (back)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

#116 Cardinals Rookie Stars: Dave Dowling and Bob Tolan

#116 Cardinals Rookie Stars: Dave Dowling and Bob Tolan
Before we jump into the fun facts, here's an extra fun fact that relates to me. Several years ago, I unearthed a child's baseball glove with Bobby Tolan's facsimile signature on it from our basement. I believe it belonged to one of my aunts, but by the time I found it the thing was much too small for my long monkey fingers. Such is life.

Fun facts about Dave Dowling:

-A product of the University of California, native Louisianan Dowling was an All-Star with the Alaskan Goldpanners, a summer collegiate team. In 1963, he went 11-3 with team-records in ERA (0.85), complete games (seven) and strikeouts (217). He would be the first Goldpanner to reach the majors.

-Signed with the Cardinals in 1964.

-21-year-old Dave earned a late promotion to St. Louis in his first pro season after winning 10 games between AA and AAA with a 3.53 ERA.

-In his major league debut, he pitched a scoreless inning of mop-up relief in a 15-5 Redbirds loss.

-The Cubs picked up the southpaw off of waivers in early 1965, and he went 24-15 at AA and AAA combined over the next two seasons.

-Dave pitched his second - and final - major league game on September 22, 1966, scattering ten hits in a 7-2 complete-game victory over the Reds. He was one of only eight pitchers since WWII to go the distance in his only major league start. The most recent was Frank Williams, who tossed a whitewash in his sole start in 1984 and went on to pitch 332 games as a reliever.

-After two more years in the minors, Dowling hung up his spikes at the age of 25.

-Post-baseball, he became a dentist in the state of Washington. He now lives in Glendale, AZ.

Fun facts about Bob Tolan:

-Born in Los Angeles, Bobby signed with the Pirates as a teenager in 1963, but was drafted into the Cardinals organization the following year.

-He debuted with St. Louis in 1965 at age 19 but never did play full-time in his four seasons there. He did appear in two World Series (1967-1968), though.

-The day after the 1968 Fall Classic, the Redbirds dealt Tolan to Cincinnati for fellow outfielder Vada Pinson. Bobby had a breakout year in the Queen's City, batting .305 with 104 runs, 26 steals, and career highs in triples (10), home runs (21) and RBI (93).

-He was even better in 1970, with a .316 average, 112 runs, 34 doubles, and a league-leading 57 steals. He interrupted Lou Brock's string of N.L. stolen base titles (1966-1969, 1971-1974). He carried his success into the postseason, hitting .417 in the NLCS sweep over the Pirates before running into the Orioles in the World Series.

-After missing all of 1971 with a ruptured Achilles tendon, Bobby was the N.L. Comeback Player of the Year the following season (.283, 42 SB, 82 RBI). He drove in six runs and swiped five bags in the Reds' World Series loss to Oakland.

-1973 saw Tolan struggle both on and off the field. He hit only .206 and feuded with team management. After disappearing for a couple games and bucking the rules by growing a beard, he was finally suspended in late September and subsequently traded to the Padres for pitcher Clay Kirby.

-He played the entire 1974 season without a contract, serving as a test case against the reserve clause. The players' union filed a greivance, but the Padres eventually reached an agreement with the outfielder on a two-year deal covering 1974-1975.

-After coming off of the bench for the Phillies, Pirates, and Padres, with a year spent in Japan as a Nankai Hawk in between, Tolan called it a career following the 1979 season. In parts of 13 major league seasons, he hit .265 with 86 homers, 497 RBI and 193 steals.

-Bobby coached for the Padres (1980-1983) and managed in their minor league system (1984-1985), as well as in the Orioles (1988-1989) and White Sox (2006) organizations. He also managed and played for the St. Petersburg Pelicans of the short-lived Senior Professional Baseball Association, batting .320 and leading them to the league's only championship in 1989.

-His son Robbie played in the Nationals organization in 2007, but was shot in the liver late the following year by a police officer in Bellaire, TX. There is an ongoing investigation as to whether the incident was racially motivated.
#116 Cardinals Rookie Stars: Dave Dowling and Bob Tolan (back)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

#109 Walt Bond

#109 Walt Bond
Here's one of the few cards in this set that feature the old Colt .45s hats, as the Houston team was smack in the middle of their transition to the Astros name and uniforms. I'm going to do something different today and remove myself from this post in favor of a pinch hitter. Back in June, I got an email from Jimmy Moore, who recreates past baseball seasons with fantasy games like Diamond Mind Baseball. Walt Bond had captured his attention during a 1965 replay, and he did some research on the player. His blog post about Walt's star-crossed career and tragically short life is such a good read that I'm simply going to refer you to it. Give it a read here, and I'll be back in a day or two with the next card, featuring a pair of Cardinals rookies. Big thanks to Jimmy for his efforts!
#109 Walt Bond (back)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

1975

1975 Topps (5): 228 365 500 616 621

Friday, August 14, 2009

2009

2009 O-Pee-Chee (252): 1 9 13 14 16 17 18 19 24 28 29 30 31 39 45 47 48 49 51 52 55 56 58 60 62 63 66 67 74 75 76 79 80 81 85 86 87 92 95 96 98 100 111 114 116 119 120 125 126 127 128 131 132 133 134 135 137 138 139 145 148 151 154 155 160 167 168 171 172 173 176 177 178 179 180 181 187 188 189 193 195 196 198 201 202 204 205 206 207 211 213 216 221 222 224 225 226 228 229 235 238 247 248 251 255 256 257 259 260 261 262 265 266 268 271 273 274 275 279 280 281 283 286 287 288 294 298 302 306 307 309 310 311 313 314 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 326 327 328 330 331 333 334 335 338 339 343 345 348 350 353 355 360 361 362 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 378 379 380 383 385 393 395 396 397 400 402 408 409 413 414 415 418 422 431 433 434 436 437 438 439 440 442 447 448 451 454 455 456 461 463 465 467 469 472 478 481 484 485 486 490 491 492 493 495 496 498 500 506 509 514 516 520 521 523 530 535 537 541 544 546 549 551 555 556 558 564 570 571 574 576 578 579 582 585 589 592 596 599

#107 Phillies Rookie Stars: Pat Corrales and Costen Shockley

#107 Phillies Rookie Stars: Pat Corrales and Costen Shockley
I was halfway through a post on the Cardinals team card before I got a sneaking sense of deja vu and discovered that I'd already written about that card in April. I have got to pay more attention to what I'm doing. So instead we jump to this fine card, which allowed me to complete my first binder page for the 1965 Topps set - a major milestone!

Fun facts about Pat Corrales:

-Los Angeleno Pat signed with the Phillies in 1959 as a teenager.

-Was a high school teammate of future MLB pitchers Jim Maloney and Dick Ellsworth.

-Made his major league debut in 1964, his sixth pro season; he had hit .300 twice in the minors.

-His 174 at-bats in 1965 were the most of his major league career; he hit .224 but walked 25 times for a .323 on-base percentage. He also set a major league record by reaching base on catcher's interference six times that season (including twice in one game).

-Did well in limited playing time in Cincinnati in 1968-1969, hitting .268 and .264, respectively.

-The last of his four career home runs was a two-run shot to break a scoreless ninth-inning tie in Atlanta on July 10, 1970; Pat's Reds would top the Braves 3-1. The ball that he hit actually glanced off of Hank Aaron's glove and popped over the fence!

-In parts of nine seasons, he hit .216 with 4 homers and 54 RBI.

-Pat is better-known as a coach and manager; he joined the Rangers staff in 1975 and took over as manager in 1978, compiling a 160-164 record through 1980. He was hired by the Phillies in 1982 and guided the club to a second-place finish in the N.L. East. The following year, he was fired even though his team was in first place (they were a mediocre 43-42). Paul Owens took over and guided them to the World Series. Meanwhile, Corrales was hired by the Indians and finished the year helming a last-place squad. Talk about the penthouse to the outhouse! In Cleveland, he coaxed one suprising season out of the Tribe (84-78 in 1986) but was 280-355 overall when he received his pink slip in mid-1987.

-During a melee in 1986, Pat charged at Oakland pitcher Dave Stewart and tried to kick him, but was decked with a strong Stewart right hand.

-Spent seventeen years on Bobby Cox's coaching staff in Atlanta (1990-2006), and was thought to be the heir apparent to Cox. Of course, Bobby's still plugging along! Corrales is now in his second stint as bench coach of the Washington Nationals.

Fun facts about Costen Shockley:

-A Georgetown, DE native, Costen signed with the Phils in 1960.

-Hit at every level of the minor leagues in four seasons (.313 AVG and .512 SLG), culminating with a club-record 36 home runs to go along with 112 RBI for the AAA Arkansas Travelers in 1964.

-Had a brief trial in Philadelphia in July of 1964, hitting a home run in his second game and collecting hits in five of his first six games.

-Returned to the Phils in September; hit .229 in 35 big-league at-bats that year.

-Was traded to the Angels in the offseason along with Rudy May; in return, the Phillies received pitcher Bo Belinsky.

-Hit the first grand slam in Dodger Stadium history on May 4, 1965.

-Struggled with the Halos, hitting .187 with two home runs and 17 RBI in 40 games. When they optioned him to the minors in June, he refused to report and walked away from baseball.

-Costen returned home to Delaware and worked in construction.

-Was inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.

-His brother Joe played shortstop at the University of Delaware; Joe's son Scott was an outfielder for the Blue Hens.
#107 Phillies Rookie Stars: Pat Corrales and Costen Shockley (back)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

#15 Robin Roberts

#15 Robin Roberts
Sit back and get comfortable, because today's post is the first of an entire box full of 1965 Topps that I received from the magnanimous Jamie Whyte. He was willing to part with this cardboard smorgasbord because he is no longer actively collecting. In return, he simply asked for cards "of some particular interest or merit". I did my best to extract a variety of sharp-looking cards from my collection, and sent them off to Jamie, but I assure you that anything I gave him paled in comparison to my half of the trade. So again, I offer my hearty thanks!

Fun facts about Robin Roberts:

-A Springfield, IL native, Robin served in the U.S. Army in World War II, then signed with the Phillies in 1948 out of Michigan State University.

-He went 9-1 with a 2.06 ERA at Class B Wilmington and was promoted to the majors by June of his first pro year, sporting a 3.19 ERA and completing nine of his 20 starts for a bad Philly team.

-After notching 15 W's in his sophomore season, Robin led the very young 1950 Phillies squad to the World Series. He won 20 games for the first of six straight seasons (before he came along, the Phils hadn't had a 20-game winner since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1917!) and pitched amazing ball in the Fall Classic. In Game 2, he lost a 10-inning complete-game heartbreaker to the Yankees, 2-1, and returned in relief in Game 4, pitching a scoreless inning in vain as New York completed the sweep.

-Was the National League's Player of the Year in 1952 (as voted by The Sporting News): 28-7, 2.59 ERA, 30 complete games, 45 walks in 330 innings, 1.02 WHIP.

-For his career, Robin was a seven-time All-Star and led the National League in wins four straight years, complete games five straight years, innings pitched five straight years, strikeouts twice, and shutouts and WHIP once each. He also topped the loop in home runs allowed five times, but allowed such a low number of baserunners that it didn't hurt him badly to say the least!

-The Phillies released Roberts after a dismal 1961 (1-10, 5.85), and the Yankees cut him the following Spring Training. The Orioles took a flyer on the 35-year-old and reaped the benefits: in three and a half seasons, Robin won 42, lost 36, and notched a 3.09 ERA for the Birds. He also served as a veteran influence on a talented young pitching staff.

-Had short stints with the Astros and the Cubs to wrap up his career. In 19 seasons, he was 286-245 with a 3.41 ERA, 2,357 strikeouts, and 305 complete games.

-Was the only pitcher to beat the Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta Braves.

-Among his post-career accolades, he has had his uniform number retired by the Phillies and the Vermont Mountaineers (he had moonlighted as a basketball player, briefly playing for a pro team in VT), and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976.

-Coached the University of South Florida baseball team (1977-1985), guiding the Bulls to their first NCAA postseason tournament in 1982. To this day, he is active with the Baseball Hall of Fame.
#15 Robin Roberts (back)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

#393 Ed Kirkpatrick

#393 Ed Kirkpatrick
This fine card at long last concludes the series of posts concerning my trade with Don. Thanks once again to Don for his help in completing this set; as you can see on the left sidebar, I'm now just 84 cards away from the whole magillah!

Fun facts about Ed Kirkpatrick:

-Born in Spokane, WA, Ed (nicknamed "Spanky") signed with the Angels in 1962 and made his big league debut that September at age 17.

-He had a reputation as a scrapper. Bert Campaneris played all nine positions in one game for the A's on September 8, 1965. Kirkpatrick's Angels were the opponent, and with Campy at catcher in the ninth inning, Ed attempted to score from third. There was a collision as the young Angel was tagged out, and a brawl ensued. When the smoke cleared, Bert had to be hospitalized!

-Ed never really found a permanent spot with the Halos, logging significant time in the minor leagues in five of his seven seasons with the organization.

-In December of 1968, he and Dennis Paepke became the first two players acquired via trade by the Royals (in exchange for the ageless Hoyt Wilhelm).

-In KC's inaugural season, he set a team record that still stands with 11 RBI in a three-game span.

-Hit a career-high 18 home runs and 62 RBI in 1970.

-Was a role player for the Pirates in the mid-1970s, appearing in two straight National League Championship Series (he was 0-for-11 with two walks). He also sparked another memorable brawl in 1975, smacking Reds manager Sparky Anderson after the benches had cleared in midgame.

-Hit three pinch-hit home runs in his career, including a game-winning shot in the top of the 11th on May 25, 1975 against the Padres.

-After splitting 1977 among three teams and playing out the 1978 season in the minors, Ed retired. He hit .238 in parts of 16 major league seasons, with 85 home runs and 424 RBI.

-In 1981, Kirkpatrick was badly injured in a car accident and has been wheelchair-bound ever since. His hometown of Glendora, CA has created the Ed Kirkpatrick Award, which is bestowed annually to a community member for outstanding support of youth athletics.
#393 Ed Kirkpatrick (back)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

#392 Bob Friend

#392 Bob Friend
I'm back from a long weekend in San Diego, and I'm wondering why Bob Friend is pitching right in front of the dugout. Maybe there's a raccoon loose in the bullpen. I am feeling those black stirrups with the yellow stripes, though.

Fun facts about Bob Friend:

-Bob pitched for Purdue University in his hometown of Lafayette, IN before signing with the Pirates.

-He made the Pirates club at age 20 and took a beating in his first four seasons, winning 28 and losing 50 despite a near-average 4.61 ERA. Of course, the Pirates weren't very good in those years.

-Broke out in 1955, going 14-9 in 44 games (20 starts) and leading the National League with a 2.83 ERA. He was the first pitcher to lead the league in earned run average while playing for a last-place club.

-The Bucs finally installed Friend in the rotation full-time the following year and he led the senior circuit in innings pitched over the next two seasons with 314 and one-third (!) and 277, respectively. He completed 36 games in those two years and made his first of three All-Star teams in 1956.

-With the Pirates becoming a contender, Bob tied for the league lead with 22 wins against 14 losses in 1958 and finished third in Cy Young voting.

-In 1960, he struck out a personal-best 183 batters and was very good (18-12, 3.00). However, he struggled in the World Series, losing both of his starts against the Yankees and having the tying runs charged to him in a ninth-inning appearance in the dramatic Game Seven. Of course, without that blown save, Bill Mazeroski would never be in the record books for winning the game in the bottom of the inning!

-Allowed the first of Pete Rose's record 4,256 hits, an eighth-inning triple on April 13, 1963.

-Eight of the top nine home run hitters vs. Friend are in the Hall of Fame. Check them out here.

-Retired after the 1966 season as the only pitcher with less than 200 wins (197) but more than 200 losses (230). As his 3.58 ERA suggests, he doesn't really deserve this ignominy. He also completed one-third of the games he started (163 of 497).

-Was inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame in 1979. Still lives in the Pittsburgh area.
#392 Bob Friend (back)