Sunday, September 27, 2009

#230 Ray Sadecki

#230 Ray Sadecki
From the "Holy crow, am I a dummy" file, I got a sneaking suspicion during the week that I had screwed up the posting order of my cards. You see, when I was fortunate enough to start receiving more 1965 Topps cards than I could keep up with, I began jotting them down on a sheet of paper. In an attempt to become more organized, I later drafted a post on the blog to serve as a "to-do list". I've been working off of that list, but somehow I forgot to add the paper list to the online list. So if you sent me cards between January and April and you've been wondering why in the Sam Hell I haven't written about them, there you go.

Beginning with this post, I'm backtracking to fix that goof-up. First are a pair of cards that Cardboard Junkie Dave sent me as part of his Christmas giveaway (there were also some cool Orioles cards and 1982 Topps set needs in that package). I can't imagine what poor Ray Sadecki did to deserve that Sharpie black eye, but you can bet that he won't do it again!

Fun facts about Ray Sadecki:

-A Kansas Citian (sure, that sounds good) by birth, Ray signed as a bonus baby with the Cardinals in 1958.

-As a 19-year-old rookie in 1960, he went 9-9 with a 3.78 ERA and three-hit the Reds for his first major league win.

-Was even better in his second look at the N.L., going 14-10 with a 3.72 ERA and a career-best 13 complete games. The biggest hole in the youngster's game was a tendency to walk batters (4.5 BB/9 IP in 1960-1961).

-After back-to-back substandard years, Sadecki came on strong for the World Champion Redbirds in 1964: a team-best 20 wins (with 11 losses), a 3.68 ERA, and a Game 1 victory over Whitey Ford in Ford's final World Series game.

-On fifteen separate occasions in his career, he struck out double-digit batters, including a high mark of 13 in two different games.

-Suffered a few indignities in 1966. On July 3, he homered off of Braves pitcher Tony Cloninger, but also surrendered a grand slam to Cloninger, the second hit by the Atlanta hurler in the game. That season, Ray also became the only pitcher to be taken deep twice by walking punchline Bob Uecker!

-Ray pitched his way out of St. Louis with an 8-16 mark in 1965 and early 1966, eventually being swapped to the Giants for Orlando Cepeda. The change of scenery benefitted the southpaw, who posted his two best ERA seasons in 1967 and 1968 (2.78 and 2.91). He went 12-6 and 12-18, respectively, leading the league in losses in the latter season despite his strong effort.

-Spent five years as a valuable swingman for the Mets (1970-1974), posting a 30-24 record with a 3.34 ERA. Allowed one run in four relief appearances in the 1973 World Series, nailing down a save in New York's Game Four win over the A's.

-Racked up frequent flyer miles in his last three seasons in the majors, playing for five different clubs: St. Louis again, Atlanta, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and the Mets once more. In his eighteen-year career, he won 135 games, lost 131, completed 85, hurled 20 shutouts, and pitched to a 3.78 ERA.

-A few highlights since Ray called it a day: he was a coach for the Cubs' A-ball team in Peoria in 1992; a Little League field in his hometown of Kansas City was renovated and named in his honor in 2002; and he was inducted into the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
#230 Ray Sadecki (back)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

#218 Dick Schofield

#218 Dick Schofield
You probably know about Dick "Ducky" Schofield's baseball bloodlines (more on that later), but at a glimpse, he bears a strong resemblance to current pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, who got his start with the Pirates. Here's Gorzo. I'm just throwing that out there.

Fun facts about Dick Schofield:

-Hailing from Springfield, IL, Ducky signed with the Cardinals in 1953 as a bonus baby.

-As if proving both the stupidity of the "bonus baby" rule and his own unpreparedness for the majors at age eighteen, he did not reach the Mendoza line (.200 AVG) until his sixth try at the majors (1958). To be fair, he totaled only 82 plate appearances in 104 games in his first five years.

-Was traded to the Pirates in midseason 1958, and became a valuable utility player for them, logging time at second and third base, shortstop, and the corner outfield spots.

-Had the exact same batting average (.333) in the regular season and the World Series in 1960, though both were small sample sizes.

-Actually started for the Pirates and Giants regularly between 1963 and 1965, and hit above his career norms for the first two seasons (.246 each year) before bottoming out at .207 in 1965.

-Hit only 21 home runs in his career, but that includes three leadoff dingers and one walkoff (the latter coming on May 22, 1959 against Cincinnati). I was surprised to see that he batted first in the order so much.

-Played for seven teams in his final seven seasons in the league (Pirates, Giants, Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers).

-Played in 1,321 games in parts of 19 seasons, hitting .227 with a .317 on-base percentage.

-His son (also Dick Schofield) and grandson (Jayson Werth) combine with Ducky to form a three-generation lineage in major league baseball. All three have played for the Dodgers, and Werth currently has 34 homers this season. That's more than his grandpa had in his whole career, and almost three times as many as his uncle had in any single season!

-Daughter Kim Schofield Werth was once an Olympic hopeful in the 100 meter dash and long jump.

-Schofield now lives in his hometown of Springfield, IL with wife Donna. He serves on the Springfield Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority.
#218 Dick Schofield (back)

Friday, September 18, 2009

#215 Pete Ward

#215 Pete Ward
Check out the big, toothy smile on Pete Ward! Of course, back-to-back 20-homer seasons would put a pretty wide grin on my face, too.

Fun facts about Pete Ward:

-His father, Jim Ward, played in the National Hockey League for 12 years with two Montreal franchises.

-Pete was born in Montreal, and attended college at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR. (He would eventually become the first player from that school to play in the majors.) He signed with the Orioles in 1958.

-Hit .321 over five minor league seasons and led the International League with 34 doubles in 1962 to earn a late-season callup with Baltimore.

-After an offseason trade with the White Sox that involved two future Hall of Famers (Hoyt Wilhelm to Chicago and Luis Aparicio to Baltimore), Pete earned the starting third base job for his new team. He earned a runner-up finish in BBWAA Rookie of the Year voting behind teammate Gary Peters, putting up an impressive stat line of .295 with 34 doubles, 22 home runs, and 84 RBI. The Sporting News split with the baseball writers, tabbing Ward as their top rookie. The young infielder also garnered a ninth-place slot in the MVP voting, as the Pale Hose won 94 games.

-Was just as good in 1964, batting .282 with 23 home runs and 94 RBI. Chicago had another near-miss that year, improving to 98 wins but missing the pennant by a single game. Pete improved to sixth in the MVP balloting.

-Tragedy struck in 1965, as Ward injured his neck in a car accident and his productivity suffered. A back injury the following year further curtailed his playing time and production.

-Returned to play in 146 games in 1967, bouncing between first and third base and the corner outfield positions. He hit just .233 but was otherwise valuable, walking enough to draw a .334 on-base percentage and homering 18 times.

-Had a similar season in 1968, batting .216 but walking a career-high 76 times for a .354 OBP. Went deep 15 times, and drove in 50.

-Was reduced to a part-time role over his final two seasons (though he did hit .370 as a pinch hitter in 1969) and finished his career as a .254 hitter in parts of nine seasons. Hit 98 home runs with 427 RBI.

-Spent eight years as a minor league manager for the Yankees, White Sox, and Pirates, compiling a 562-529 record. Pete also was a coach for the Braves in 1978. He is a member of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
#215 Pete Ward (back)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

#214 Bob Purkey

#214 Bob Purkey
Reason #578 that I'm glad Chris Berman wasn't on the air in the 1960s: Bob "Purkey in the Straw". You read it. You can't un-read it.

Fun facts about Bob Purkey:

-Signed with his hometown team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, in 1948.

-Known for his knuckleball, he was apparently a quick study: he claimed that Branch Rickey spent ten minutes teaching him the pitch, and that he subsequently went out and threw it 96 times in a game that same day.

-Debuted for the Pirates in 1954 and struggled on a series of subpar teams in the Steel City, going 16-29 with a 4.52 ERA in parts of four seasons while splitting time between starting and relieving.

-Traded to Cincinnati in December of 1957, Bob broke out in his first season with his new team, sporting a 17-11 record and 3.60 ERA. He completed 17 of his starts and made his first All-Star team.

-After struggling in 1959, he rebounded with a 1960 season that was uncanny in its similarity to his 1958 effort: again he was 17-11 with a 3.60 ERA, though he completed only 11 games that time.

-Won 16 games in 1961 for the National League Champion Reds with a 3.79 ERA. He pitched in both All-Star Games that summer, allowing one run in four innings and striking out three.

-Took a hard luck loss in the 1961 World Series, going the distance in a 3-2 Yankees victory in Game Three. He allowed single runs in each of the last three innings, including a Roger Maris home run to lead off the ninth that proved to be the difference. Also allowed two unearned runs in two innings of relief in the deciding Game Five.

-Had a monster year in 1962, achieving career highs in every category, including wins (23-5, an NL-best .821 percentage), ERA (2.81), complete games (18), strikeouts (141), and WHIP (1.12). Became a three-time All Star and a third-place finisher in Cy Young balloting behind landslide winner Don Drysdale (25-9, 2.83, 232 K).

-Pitched well in the following two seasons (3.25 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) but without the results (17-19), then was traded to St. Louis and slumped to a 5.79 ERA in 1965. Finished his career back in Pittsburgh the next year, allowing only three runs in 19 and two-thirds innings before being released. In parts of thirteen seasons, Purkey went 129-115 with a 3.79 ERA and 92 complete games.

-In life after baseball, Bob worked as a sportscaster for KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and went on to run his own insurance company for three decades. He passed away in March 2008 at age 78 after suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.
#214 Bob Purkey (back)

Monday, September 14, 2009

#211 Steve Ridzik

#211 Steve Ridzik
This picture doesn't really elicit much of a response from me, except that it makes me realize once again that the Senators uniforms were far superior to the gold-accented, block-lettered, stars-and-stripes hodgepodge that is the Nationals uni set. However, I will take this opportunity to call your attention to the left sidebar on the blog. Under "The Scoreboard", you'll see that I've surged past the 90% mark in my attempt to complete the 1965 Topps set! Just 59 more cards to go, though there's no telling how much longer it will take me to finish posting about all of the cards that you great folks have sent! I'll keep plugging along with a few posts a week as long as you keep reading. Thanks again!

Fun facts about Steve Ridzik:

-Yonkers, NY native Steve signed with the Phillies in 1945, when he was just sixteen! His mother signed the contract with the understanding that he would finish high school, which he did, pitching in minor league ball during the summers of 1945 and 1946.

-After pitching three innings in Philly in 1950, Ridzik had a solid rookie season in 1952. In nine starts and fifteen relief appearances, he went 4-2 with a 3.01 ERA.

-Turned in two more workmanlike seasons with the Phils (9-6, 3.77 ERA in 1953, 4-5, 4.13 ERA in 1954), and pitched sparingly with the Phillies and Reds in 1955.

-Tossed 119 innings for the Giants (1956-1957), highlighted by his only career shutout: on August 25, 1956, he blanked the Cubs on seven hits. In that game, he had two hits of his own and scored twice.

-Spent most of 1958 - and all of 1959 through 1962 - in the minors, going 64-51 in that span.

-Returned to the big leagues at age 34 with the Senators. He'd developed a knuckleball during his hiatus from the majors, and controlled it masterfully in 1965, allowing 96 hits in 112 innings en route to a 2.89 ERA in his second season in D.C.

-Finished his career back in Philadelphia in 1967. In parts of 12 seasons, he went 39-38 with a 3.79 ERA and 11 saves.

-Held Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski to four hits and one RBI in 19 career at-bats (.211 AVG, .634 OPS).

-Worked in Washington, D.C. for a military food distributor for several years until moving to Florida in the late 1980s. There, he partnered with former Senators teammate Chuck Hinton to found the MLB Players Alumni Association.

-Sadly, Steve has passed away recently, succumbing to a decade-long battle with heart disease in January of 2008. He was 78 at the time.
#211 Steve Ridzik (back)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

#206 Willie Horton

#206 Willie Horton
It's really thoughtful of Willie Horton to take his swings with his back to those houses. You wouldn't want to break a window, after all. Incidentally, Willie had one of the more unique superstitions I've ever heard, having worn the same batting helmet for his entire career. He even carried it with him whenever he changed teams, simply having it painted over with the new colors and logo!

Fun facts about Willie Horton:

-Was born in Arno, VA, but grew up in Detroit and signed with the Tigers in 1961.

-Debuted in the majors in 1963 at age 20, hitting a pinch home run against Hall of Famer Robin Roberts in his second career at-bat.

-Was an All-Star in 1965, hitting .273 with 29 HR and 104 RBI in his first season as a full-timer. It was the first of seven straight seasons that Willie hit 17 or more round-trippers.

-During the 12th Street race riot in Detroit in 1967, 43 people were killed and over 2,000 buildings were burned. One of the enduring images was Horton standing atop a car in his Tigers uniform, pleading in vain for the angry mob to cease.

-Hit .285 with a career-best 36 homers in 1968, earning his second All-Star trip. He starred in the World Series win over the Cardinals that fall, hitting .304 with a .448 on-base percentage and three extra-base hits.

-Was a four-time All-Star, with his other two selections coming in 1970 (.305, 17 HR in 96 games) and 1973 (career-high .316, 17 HR).

-Extended his career by taking advantage of the newly-created designated hitter position, serving 753 games as DH between 1973 and 1980. 162 of those games came in 1979, when the 36-year-old won the Comeback Player of the Year award one year after batting .252 for three teams. Playing for the Mariners, Horton rebounded to hit .279 with 29 HR and 106 RBI, his best production in over a decade.

-Retired in 1980 as a career .273 hitter in parts of eighteen seasons with 325 home runs and 1163 RBI.

-Coached for the 1985 Yankees and 1986 White Sox.

-Has been honored for his contributions to the Tigers with a statue at Comerica Park. The club also retired his #23 in 2000, and he currently works for the team as a Special Assistant to team President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski.
#206 Willie Horton (back)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

#203 Dallas Green

#203 Dallas Green
Tonight's topic: Dallas Green was neither from Dallas, nor was he green. Discuss.

Fun facts about Dallas Green:

-Green was Delaware through and through, a native of Newport who pitched for the Blue Hens before signing with the Phillies in 1955. (He was also inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame in 1983).

-Spent five-plus seasons in the minors (including a 17-win campaign in 1957 with class C Salt Lake City) before debuting in the majors in 1960. Three-hit the Dodgers in his third outing for his first career win.

-Was a so-so swingman for the Phils from 1960-1964, highlighted by a 7-5 record and 3.22 ERA in 1963.

-Spent a good chunk of the 1964-1967 seasons in the minors, while squeezing in a few big league appearances in Philadelphia, Washington, and New York (Mets).

-In all, won 20 games and lost 22 with a 4.26 ERA and four saves in parts of eight seasons. He also completed 12 of 46 starts, which isn't too shabby.

-Rose through the ranks of the Phillies organization after hanging up his spikes, managing minor league clubs in Huron and Pulaski in 1968 and 1969 (with an Appalachian League title in the latter season), serving as assistant farm director from 1970-1972, director of player development from 1973-1975, and scouting director from 1975-1979.

-The Phils had become a consistent winner in that time, and Dallas returned to the field to manage the club in 1979. He didn't win many friends with his blunt, abrasive personality, and some say that his 1980 club won the World Series (the first in their 98-year history) on the fuel of their hatred for the skipper. He also piloted the team to the playoffs in strike-shortened 1981, but they lost to the Dodgers and he quit to take the Cubs' GM job.

-Dallas worked his magic in Chicago, building a 1984 Eastern Division champ (a midseason trade for Rick Sutcliffe, who went 16-1 down the stretch, was key). He was named Executive of the Year and promoted to president, but resigned in 1987 after three straight disappointing seasons. However, his legacy included a hard-line stance that led to stadium lights finally being installed in Wrigley Field and a rebuilding project that produced Mark Grace, Rafael Palmeiro, Jamie Moyer, Greg Maddux, and Shawon Dunston. The Cubs won another division crown in 1989 after his departure.

-Green had two subsequent unsuccessful stints as a manager, in 1989 with the Yankees (he was fired in August after calling George Steinbrenner "Manager George") and from 1993-1996 with the Mets (.447 win percentage).

-Has spent much of this decade as a senior advisor to the GM of the Phillies.
#203 Dallas Green (back)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

#191 Phil Regan

#191 Phil Regan
Do you think those are Spring Training dorms behind Phil Regan? Maybe it's the coaches' offices and dining hall. In semi-related news, I traveled to Fort Lauderdale with my father in March of 2007 to see a few Orioles' Grapefruit League games. The second of the two games was against the Mets, and we were seated behind home plate and about a dozen rows back. For the first inning or two, Regan himself was seated directly in front of us, holding a conversation with someone I didn't recognize. I didn't want to interrupt, but another fan did come up and ask for his autograph, which he graciously provided. So there's my brush with the former reliever, coach, and manager.

Fun facts about Phil Regan:

-Phil was originally from Otsego, MI, and signed with the hometown Tigers as a teenager in 1956.

-Debuted in Detroit in 1960, and spent parts of six seasons in Motown as a swingman. He won double-digit games three straight years, peaking with a 15-9 record and 3.86 ERA in 1963.

-Was traded to the Dodgers prior to the 1966 season, and immediately made the Tigers look foolish. He was the N.L. Comeback Player of the Year and an All-Star, going 14-1 in relief and leading the circuit with 21 saves. His 1.62 ERA and 0.93 WHIP were pretty nifty, too! He also tossed one and two-thirds scoreless innings in the Dodgers' four-game World Series loss to the Orioles.

-Los Angeles teammate and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax nicknamed him the "Vulture", after his knack for swooping in from the bullpen and picking up wins.

-After "slumping" to six wins, six saves, and a 2.99 ERA the following season, Regan again led the National League in saves with 25 in 1968. He went 12-5 with a 2.27 ERA for the Dodgers and the Cubs, who acquired him in late April in a four-player swap.

-Phil won another dozen games in 1969 and saved 17 more, but his ERA ballooned to 3.70 as the Cubs collapsed down the stretch and ceded the Eastern Divison crown to the Mets.

-Continued to pitch through the 1972 season with the Cubs and White Sox, finishing his 13-year career with a 96-81 record, a 3.84 ERA, and 92 saves.

-Held Roger Maris to two singles in 26 at-bats (.077 average).

-Spent nearly a decade after his retirement as head coach at Grand Valley State University, going 176-153. Moved on to coach in professional baseball for the Mariners (1983-1986), Dodgers (1987-1993: minors), Indians (1994, 1999), Cubs (1997-1998), and Mets (2009: minors). He was pitching coach for Team USA in the 2000 Summer Olympics.

-He has also been a manager, most notably with the Orioles in 1995. He was a curious choice by owner Peter Angelos, and seemed overmatched in a 71-73 strike-shortened season. Nonetheless, he was the man who got to write Cal Ripken, Jr.'s name on the lineup card for consecutive games 2,130 and 2,131 (the latter of which was fourteen years ago today!). He also managed the AAA Albuquerque Dukes in 1996 and the A-level West Michigan Whitecaps in 2002-2003. He's been a skipper in the Venezuelan Winter League for the past two decades, and won the Caribbean World Series in 1988.
#191 Phil Regan (back)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

#185 Max Alvis

#185 Max Alvis
It's funny how random chance works out. For instance, this is the third Indians card I've posted out of the last five total (and one of the others, Jim Piersall, spent a chunk of his career in Cleveland). The next card in my queue is a future pitching coach for the'll have to wait for him, though.

Fun facts about Max Alvis:

-Hailing from Jasper, TX, Max was an All-Southwest Conference player at the University of Texas before signing with the Indians in 1958.

-He hit well and with increasing power in a four-year minor league stint, compiling a .308 average and peaking with 25 home runs at AAA Salt Lake City in 1962.

-After a late-season callup in 1962, had a strong rookie season in 1963, hitting .273 with 32 doubles, 22 home runs, and 67 RBI. Was named Indians' Man of the Year.

-Though his average dropped slightly (.252) the next year, he was still produced at a good level (18 HR, 53 RBI in 107 games). However, a bout of spinal meningitis interrupted his season and was thought to have impacted his career thereafter.

-Rebounded to play a full season in 1965, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 61. He was also an All-Star for the first time.

-On August 15, 1965, hit a game-tying pinch-hit two-run homer in the ninth inning. Leon Wagner's pinch two-run shot in the eleventh gave the Tribe the win over the Twins and allowed the team to tie the major league record with two pinch HRs in one game.

-Following a subsequent down year, he was both an All-Star and Indians Man of the Year for the second time in 1967: .256 with 21 homers and a career-high 70 RBI.

-Steadily declined for three years, ending his career with a .183 average in 62 games for the 1970 Brewers. In parts of nine seasons, Alvis hit .247 with 111 home runs and 373 RBI.

-Max returned to his hometown of Jasper, where he has worked at the First National Bank for more than three decades. He is currently president of that bank.

-In 2001, he was named one of Cleveland's 100 Greatest Players of all time.
#185 Max Alvis (back)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

#178 Dalton Jones

#178 Dalton Jones
If you look closely, you can see the manufacturer's seal/logo on the barrel of Dalton Jones' bat (this was also the case for our last card). Do you suppose it's a Louisville Slugger?

Fun facts about Dalton Jones:

-Born in McComb, MS, Dalton was highly sought after as a high school athlete. He was enticed to sign with the Red Sox in 1961 for a $60,000 bonus - partially due to the recruiting efforts of the great Ted Williams, who was his childhood hero.

-Debuted with Boston in 1964 at age 20, playing primarily at second base. Over his career, he would prove his value as a utility player, logging significant time at first, second, and third base and also playing a few games in the outfield and at shortstop.

-Hit .270 in 367 at-bats in his sophomore season.

-Helped the Red Sox win the A.L. pennant in 1967 with a league-best 13 pinch hits. His tenth-inning home run on September 18 allowed the Sox to beat the Tigers and draw into a first-place tie with the boys from Motown.

-Drove in a career-high five runs on September 24, 1967 in an 11-7 win over the Orioles.

-Even though the Cardinals outlasted Boston in the World Series, Jones excelled in defeat, hitting .389 (7-for-18) in the Fall Classic.

-Was traded to Detroit after the 1969 season. Despite playing just six seasons in Beantown, he is still the club's all-time leader in pinch hits with 55.

-In his first season with the Tigers, Dalton had an infamous pinch-hitting appearance on July 9. In the bottom of the seventh, he faced Vicente Romo with the bases loaded and deposited a pitch into the right field overhang for a grand slam...but teammate Don Wert had stayed close to first base to see if the towering fly would be caught, and Jones was called out for passing him. Instead of a grand slam, he was credited with a three-run single!

-Wrapped up his major league career by playing for his idol Ted Williams in Texas in 1972. In nine seasons, he was a .235 hitter (.261 as a pinch hitter) with 91 doubles, 41 home runs, and 237 RBI.

-Post-baseball, he worked for Exxon and spent some time in banking and mutual fund and investment sales. He also saw 17 games of action as a player-coach with the Winter Haven Super Sox of the Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1989. He hit .162...not so bad for a guy in his mid-fifties.
#178 Dalton Jones (back)