Thursday, May 27, 2010

#281 Bill Stafford

#281 Bill Stafford
Has there ever been an uglier color combination on a card than the hot pink/yellow abomination that Topps saddled the Yankees and Pirates with in 1965? Well, yes. After all, the 1990s happened. But man, are these cards hard on the eyes.

Fun facts about Bill Stafford:

-A native of Catskill, NY, Bill signed with the Yankees in 1957 as a teenager. His wife later claimed that he chose them over the Dodgers because they offered him a pair of spikes!

-Fashioned a 2.06 ERA at AAA Richmond in 1960, earning himself a callup to the majors just after his 21st birthday.

-Shut out Kansas City in his fourth career start, four-hitting the A's and striking out seven to earn a 1-0 victory.

-Posted identical 14-9 records in his first two full seasons (1961 and 1962), though the former was really a much better year; his 2.68 ERA ranked second in the league behind Dick Donovan.

-Pitched in the World Series in each of his first three years in New York, posting a 2.08 ERA in a pair of starts and a pair of relief appearances. Took a two-hit shutout into the ninth inning against the Giants in Game Three of the 1962 Fall Classic, but settled for a four-hit, 3-2 complete game win.

-Pitching in 45-degree weather in April of 1963, Bill injured his arm. He slumped to a 6.02 ERA, and his career was likely shortened.

-He rebounded to post a 5-0 record, four saves, and a 2.67 ERA in relief the following year.

-After another abbreviated season in 1965, the Yankees dealt Bill to the Athletics. He appeared in only 23 games for K.C. over two seasons, ending his major league career in 1967. He stuck around in AAA for two more years before walking away from the game. In parts of eight seasons he was 43-40 with a 3.52 ERA and nine saves.

-In his career, he held Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew to ten hits in 47 at-bats (.213) with three home runs. A couple of other Cooperstown enshrinees, Luis Aparicio and Nellie Fox, hit .227 and .219 off of Stafford.

-Bill died in 2001 at age 63 due to a heart attack.

#281 Bill Stafford (back)


  1. Has there ever been an uglier color combination on a card...?

    Why yes, the entire 1972 set!

  2. Man, a lot of these guys died young. I wonder if taking greenies (amphetamines) during their playing days had anything to do with it?

    The Yankees seemed to screw up a lot of their prospects in the late fifties/early sixties, which probably helps explain why they collapsed in the mid-sixties.

  3. Jim - Ah. Yes.

    Marc - Well, health and longevity generally improves as time goes on. As far as the Yankees, it's interesting that they ran aground when things like the Rule V draft and bonus babies prevented them from hoarding and buying up talent.