Thursday, September 30, 2010

#381 Al Jackson

Wikipedia told me that Al Jackson was "warmly called" Little Al because of his small frame. I wonder how warm he felt about the whole thing.

Fun facts about Al Jackson:

-Born in Waco, TX, Al signed with the Pirates in 1955 after attending Wiley College in Marshall, TX.

-He had short stints with Pittsburgh in 1959 and 1961. In the latter year, he beat the Reds 11-6 in a complete game effort on September 30 (hey, that's today's date!) for his first big league win.

-Drafted by the Mets, Jackson had the misfortune of spending the entire 1962 season in the Mets' rotation. His 4.40 ERA was the lowest on the squad, and he had 12 complete games as well as the only four shutouts for the entire staff. His record, however, was 8-20, which at least put him four losses behind teammate Roger Craig for the most in the National League.

-He set a career high with 13 wins in 1963 and lowered his ERA to 3.96, but he was still a Met, and therefore he lost 17 games.

-After an 11-16 mark in 1964, Al nearly duplicated his 1962 stat line in 1965 (8-20, 4.34 ERA). This time, he was a mere third in the N.L. in losses, behind another New York teammate (Jack Fisher, 24), and the Cubs' Larry Jackson (21).

-On the plus side, he owned New York's only two wins over Bob Gibson during the first five years of their existence. Both were 1-0 shutouts: the first came on July 27, 1962 and the other was a five-hit gem on October 2, 1964.

-The Mets showed mercy to their long-suffering starter by swapping him to the Cardinals for Ken Boyer the following year. Jackson was excellent in his new digs, finishing sixth in the league with a 2.51 ERA and tenth with a 1.148 WHIP. Naturally, the Cards scored less than three runs per start for him and he lost at least 15 games for a fifth consecutive season, going 13-15 overall.

-Al finally posted a winning record in 1967, as he was moved to the bullpen and had a 9-4 mark. While the Cardinals won the World Series, he did not see action in the postseason.

-He returned to the Mets the following year and stayed for a little over a season before the Reds purchased his contract. He was lit up in Cincinnati and did not catch on with another team after they released him in the spring of 1970. In parts of 10 seasons he was 67-99 with a 3.98 ERA.

-Al spent time as a pitching coach with the Red Sox (1977-1979), Orioles (1989-1991), and Mets (1999-2000).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

#378 Chuck Estrada

#378 Chuck Estrada
As far as I know, Chuck Estrada is no relation to Erik Estrada. If Chuck had pitched in the late 1970s, he probably would have tired of teammates calling him "Ponch".

Fun Facts about Chuck Estrada:

-A native of San Luis Obispo, CA, Chuck signed with the Braves as a teenager in 1956.

-Milwaukee sent him to the Orioles in 1958, and he made his major league debut on April 21, 1960, striking out five Senators in two scoreless innings of relief.

-Baltimore soon moved Estrada to the rotation, and the results were encouraging to say the least. He went 18-11 to tie Jim Perry for the American League lead in wins, also led the loop with seven hits allowed per nine innings, and had a 3.58 ERA. He paced the O's with 12 complete games and 144 strikeouts, though his 101 walks were less auspicious. He was chosen as an All-Star and as The Sporting News' Pitcher of the Year, and finished second to teammate Ron Hansen in Rookie of the Year balloting. He even received eight percent of the A.L. MVP vote!

-There was no sophomore jinx for Chuck, who followed up his rookie effort with a 15-9 record and a 3.69 ERA. He again lead the league with 6.8 H/9 IP, but also topped all A.L. pitchers with 132 walks allowed. Once more he paced Oriole pitchers with 160 strikeouts.

-On June 6, 1961, he struck out a dozen Angels in a two-hit shutout. He also walked six, but who's counting?

-The Birds averaged just 3.38 runs per game in Estrada's 1962 starts, and he led the league in losses. His record tumbled to 9-17 despite a decent 3.83 ERA. He did set a career high with 165 strikeouts, but issued 121 free passes.

-The discovery of a bone spur and chips in his right elbow in early June brought the hurler's 1963 season to a premature end. He threw only 54.2 innings the following year with a 5.27 ERA, and spent all of 1965 at AAA Rochester.

-Chuck's major league career came to an unglamorous end with short and ineffective stints with the Cubs in 1966 and Mets in 1967. In his final pro season, he pitched for the single-A Visalia Mets in 1969 and managed the club for a portion of the year.

-In parts of seven seasons he was 50-44 with a 4.07 ERA.

-Estrada served as pitching coach for the Rangers (1973), Padres (1978-1981), and Indians (1983).
#378 Chuck Estrada (back)

Monday, September 27, 2010

#376 Jim Landis

#376 Jim Landis
Today on "Guess Whose Uniform Jim Landis Is Wearing", contestant Kevin tries to guess whose uniform Jim Landis is wearing! After all, if he had really been photographed with the A's, he wouldn't be hatless and in pinstripes! So Kevin: can you guess whose uniform Jim Landis is wearing?

Kevin: "Um...White Sox?"

Ding! Correct! Congratulations, Kevin, you win...NOTHING! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

Fun facts about Jim Landis:

-Fresno, CA-born Jim signed with the White Sox in 1952 straight out of high school. He received a $2,500 bonus, which he used to buy a new car - a Mercury.

-He lost two years of his career to the service of his country in the Korean War, and debuted with Chicago in 1957. He hit only .212 that year with 16 RBI, but flashed enough skill with the glove to entrench himself as the everyday center fielder by season's end.

-Landis improved greatly in his sophomore season, batting .277 and ranking second on the team to Sherm Lollar with 15 homers and 64 RBI.

-Jim received MVP consideration in 1959, when he hit a career-high 26 doubles, reached base at a .370 clip, and stole 20 bases for the pennant-winning Pale Hose. In World Series play, he hit .292 (7-for-24) and led the team with six runs scored. He also made a dazzling catch to rob Jim Gilliam of a hit in Game Three, but ultimately the Dodgers prevailed in six games.

-From 1960-1964, he won five consecutive Gold Gloves for his superlative play in center field.

-His career year came in 1961, as he reached personal peaks in average (.283), home runs (22), and RBI (85). He wouldn't be rewarded for his performance until the following year, when he received his only All-Star nod despite enduring a much less effective season.

-Jim's offense curtailed over the next few seasons, and he was traded to Kansas City early in 1965. He was then passed around like a hot potato, spending a year with the A's, a year with the Indians, and a final season (1967) with the Astros, Tigers, and Red Sox. When the latter two teams both released him in a span of ten days that August, it spelled the end of his career.

-In parts of 11 seasons, Landis hit .247 with a .344 on-base percentage, 93 home runs, 467 RBI, and 139 steals.

-After baseball, he became a quarter-owner and sales rep for a friend's sign company. Jim and his wife Sandy have been married for more than 50 years and currently live in Napa, CA.

-His son Craig was the Giants' first-round draft pick in 1977. He was a minor-league outfielder for six years with the Giants and Braves, and is now a player agent. His clients include White Sox slugger Paul Konerko, Aaron Rowand, Randy Winn, and Jay Payton.
#376 Jim Landis (back)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

#375 Dave Wickersham

#375 Dave Wickersham

This is not a flattering picture of Dave Wickersham. His complexion looks mottled, and the hands-over-head pose is causing him to draw his chin into his chest, giving the illusion of a double chin. Poor guy.

Fun facts about Dave Wickersham:

-A native of Erie, PA, Dave attended Ohio University and was scouted by Branch Rickey and George Sisler. He signed with the Pirates in 1955.

-After spending five years climbing the ladder in the Pittsburgh farm system, he was drafted by the Athletics prior to the 1960 season. He made his major league debut in September 1960 at age 24, and allowed only one run total in five relief appearances while collecting two saves.

-He struggled in the majors in 1961 due to a back ailment and spent three months back at AA Shreveport, but rebounded in 1962 with an 11-4 record and passable 4.17 ERA. As a starter, he won six of his nine starts with a 3.61 ERA.

-The A's made Dave a full-time starter in 1963, and he tied for the team lead with 12 wins. Although he also lost 15 and posted a so-so 4.09 ERA, he did lead the staff with 237.2 innings.

-That offseason, K.C. traded Wickersham to the Tigers in a five-player deal that netted them Rocky Colavito. The pitcher responded with a career year, going 19-12 with a 3.44 ERA and 11 complete games. He was third in the A.L. (and tops on the team) in victories.

-He missed a chance at his 20th win under unusual circumstances. On October 1, 1964, he made his final start of the year at Yankee Stadium. In the bottom of the seventh, the score was tied 1-1 when errors by first baseman Norm Cash and shortstop Dick McAuliffe put runners on the corners for New York. Phil Linz bunted to Cash and was called safe at first. While Cash argued the call, Wickersham urgently attempted to get umpire Bill Valentine's attention and call timeout so that the runners could not advance further. When Dave grabbed his shoulder, the ump ejected him from the game (the first time the player had ever been run), and Mickey Lolich picked up the win in relief when Detroit ralled for three runs in the ninth. Valentine later regretted his actions, feeling that he had been too impulsive in tossing Wickersham. But the pitcher, a devout Christian, wrote Bill a letter in 2003 to assert his belief that the ump had made the right call and to say that he wished him well.

-He failed to follow up on his success, dropping to 9-14 in 1965 with a 3.78 ERA in sixty less innings. But after being moved into a swing role the next year, he rallied with an 8-3 record and 3.20 ERA.

-Returning to an almost exclusively relief role in 1967, Dave had a career-low 2.74 ERA and allowed 72 hits in 85.1 innings.

-In his final two seasons (1968 with the Pirates and 1969 with the Royals), he split time between the majors and minors. He retired with a 68-57 record, a 3.66 ERA and 18 saves in parts of 10 seasons.

-Wickersham now lives in Shawnee Mission, KS.

#375 Dave Wickersham (back)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

#372 Clay Dalrymple

#372 Clay Dalrymple
The man featured on this card was born Clayton Errol Dalrymple, which is a Dickensian name if ever I've heard one. Actually, a little crack research tells me it's a Scottish least the Dalrymple part.

Fun facts about Clay Dalrymple:

-Clay was born in Chico, CA and attended that city's Calfornia State University satellite campus. He also boxed in college, winning a heavyweight championship with an 11-1 record in his conference. He is the only CSU Chico product to play in the majors.

-He played for the unaffiliated Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League in 1956 and 1958-1959. He became the property of the Braves prior to the 1959 season and spent that spring learning from veteran catchers Del Crandall and Del Rice.

-The Phillies claimed Dalrymple in the Rule 5 draft and he performed well as a 23-year-old rookie, batting .272 in 82 games in 1960 and tossing out 38% of would-be base stealers.

-His pinch single with two outs in the eighth inning spoiled a potential no-hitter for Juan Marichal in the latter's major league debut on July 19, 1960. Incredibly, it was Clay's first career hit against the Giants - he had been 0-for-11 with a walk and three strikeouts prior to that! Six years later, he again stymied a no-hit bid by a future Giants Hall of Famer with an eighth-inning single, leading off the frame with a base knock against Gaylord Perry on July 22, 1966.

-Due to his excellent defense, he became Philadelphia's primary catcher in 1961 and held his spot for seven seasons. He twice led the league in caught-stealing percentage (56% in 1961 and 58% in 1967), was a three-time assists leader, and set National League records (since broken) with nine pickoffs in 1961 and 99 consecutive errorless games spanning 1966-1967.

-Had a career year offensively in 1962 with a .276 average, .393 on-base percentage, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI.

-By the late 1960s, Clay had grown weary of the boos of his hometown crowd. Philly honored his request for a trade by sending him to the Orioles prior to the 1969 season. Earl Weaver retained him as a third catcher throughout the team's dominant three-year run of 1969-1971.

-His only postseason experience came in the 1969 World Series, where he was a perfect 2-for-2 as a pinch hitter, including the only hit Nolan Ryan ever allowed in the Fall Classic. (Win a bar bet with that one!)

-After the 1971 season, the O's attempted to send Dalrymple to AAA Rochester. Between the demotion and his wife Celia's struggle with cancer (she would pass away a year later), Clay chose to retire. He hit .233 with a .322 on-base percentage, 55 home runs, and 237 RBI in 12 seasons.

-In his post-baseball life, Clay cared for his three daughters, worked in plumbing wholesale, and later worked in food distribution until retiring in 1998. He also had a two-year stint as a TV analyst for Orioles games until the newly-retired Brooks Robinson replaced him in 1978. Today he lives in Gold Beach, OR with his fifth wife, Teresa. You can read more about his life in this detailed biography.
#372 Clay Dalrymple (back)

Monday, September 20, 2010

#369 Phil Linz

#369 Phil Linz

I find it amusing and arbitrary that Topps chose to abbreviate "infield" but not "outfield" on the front of this card.

Fun facts about Phil Linz:

-Phil was born in Baltimore, MD and attended Calvert Hall College High School (confusing name, huh?), which is just a few blocks from my house. The Yankees signed him in 1957 for a $4,000 bonus. The hometown Orioles limited their offer to $2,200 because he had poor vision.

-In each of his final two years in the minors he won batting titles, hitting .321 in the Carolina League in 1960 and .349 in the Texas League in 1961.

-He played 71 games as a rookie in 1962, batting .287 for New York with very little power and few walks.

-After receiving just two at-bats in his first eight major league games (his other six appearances were as a pinch runner), Phil replaced Clete Boyer in the fourth inning of a May 23 game against Kansas City after the third baseman was hit by a pitch. Linz belted a two-run homer for his first career hit in the seventh inning and added a go-ahead two-run single the following inning. His four RBI were key in a 13-7 Yanks win; they had trailed 7-2 in the seventh.

-In 1963 he played all three outfield positions as well as second and third base and shortstop. He also had three pinch-hit appearances in the World Series, going 1-for-3 as New York fell to the Dodgers.

-Set career highs in 1964 with 368 at-bats in 112 games, rapping 21 doubles.

-He played all seven games of the 1964 World Series and surprisingly hit two ninth-inning solo home runs: a Game Two shot off of Barney Schultz and a Game Seven clout against Bob Gibson. Still, the Cardinals prevailed.

-An anecdote from that pennant-winning season also cemented Phil's place in baseball lore. On August 20, the Yanks were shut out by the White Sox to put them on the wrong end of a four-game sweep. The infielder played a doleful rendition of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on his harmonica on the back of the bus. Manager Yogi Berra, understandably irritated, told him to stop. Linz didn't hear him and continued playing. Boiling over, Yogi repeated his order, threatening violence if Phil didn't quit playing. Now the player, still unable to make out the request, asked Mickey Mantle what Berra had said. "He said to play it louder," Mickey cracked. Linz complied, and Yogi stormed to the back of the bus, knocking the instrument out of his hands. Though he was fined $250 for his transgression, player and manager smoothed things out quickly. Jim Bouton retold the tale in his 1970 book Ball Four, giving it new life. You can read more about the Harmonica Incident here.

-In 1965 his batting average dipped near the Mendoza line, where it would stay for the rest of his career. He spent his last three seasons with the Phillies and Mets and retired with a .235 career mark in seven seasons. He totaled 11 home runs and 96 RBI.

-Since leaving baseball, Linz has owned a nightclub and a few restaurants, and worked as a title insurance representative in New York.

#369 Phil Linz (back)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

#368 White Sox Rookie Stars: Ken Berry and Joel Gibson

#368 White Sox Rookie Stars: Ken Berry and Joel Gibson
Wow, believe it or not, it's been three months since the last Rookie Stars card was featured on this blog! This may not be one of the more high-profile rookie cards in the set, but I guarantee that you'll learn something interesting about Ken and Joel by the end of this post.*

*=Not a guarantee.

Fun facts about Ken Berry:

-A Kansas Citian by birth, Ken attended Wichita State University before signing with the White Sox in 1961.

-He debuted in Chicago at age 21, receiving cups of coffee in 1962, 1963, and 1964.

-In his first full season in the majors (1965), he became the Sox' starting center fielder. Although he hit only .218, he swatted a career-high 12 home runs.

-Berry made the All-Star team in 1967, likely on the strength of his 20-game hitting streak that stretched from late May through mid-June.

-He was regarded as an excellent defensive center fielder, and won Gold Gloves in 1970 and 1972. He led the American League in fielding percentage four times in a five-year span, twice turning in errorless seasons. Most people take that statistic with a grain of salt, but Ken also performed well in more advanced defensive measures like range factor and total zone runs. He had a strong arm as well, and led the A.L. with 13 outfield assists in 1972.

-Following a November 1970 trade, he spent three seasons with the Angels. In 1972 he hit a personal-best .289 in addition to winning his second Gold Glove.

-Ken finished his career with a year of part-time duty in Milwaukee and a few months in Cleveland, retiring in 1975 with a career batting average of .255 in parts of 14 seasons. He totaled 58 home runs and 343 RBI.

-He founded the Ken Berry League in Topeka, KS, a Little League baseball and softball organization.

-In 1988, Ken served as a baseball consultant on the set of the film Eight Men Out, and had a bit part as a fan.

-Berry has managed in the Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Padres, and Mets organizations, and piloted Chicago's AA Birmingham Barons to the Southern League championship in 1989. That team included future major leaguers such as Robin Ventura, Wilson Alvarez, and Buddy Groom. He's also been a minor league coach for the Mets and Brewers.

Fun facts about Joel Gibson:

-This is going to be a short one, as Joel never did make it to the big leagues.

-Joel was born in Gastonia, NC, and was signed by the Phillies in 1961 after attending Wilmington (NC) College and North Carolina State.

-His best year in the minors was 1962, when he went 12-11 with a 2.91 ERA, 186 strikeouts, and 12 complete games. He split the year between class A Williamsport and AAA Buffalo, and was 7-3 with a 2.54 ERA for Williamsport.

-The following year, Gibson had been touted for the fourth slot in the Phillies' major-league rotation until a one-car accident in January 1963 sidelined him with a compound fracture in his left arm.

-The White Sox acquired him in late 1964 in a trade that sent Rudy May to the Phils, and intended to keep him on the major league roster. Sadly, he suffered a broken bone in his right wrist as a result of a line drive by catcher J.C. Martin.

-Joel pitched in just 22 games over two seasons for their AA Lynchburg and AAA Indianapolis clubs. He balked when Chicago tried to demote him and move him to the bullpen. His career was over in 1966, at which time he was only 26 years old.

-In five minor league seasons Joel was 33-30 with a 3.75 ERA.

-After baseball, Gibson went to work for Piedmont Airlines in North Carolina and also took up golf.
#368 White Sox Rookie Stars: Ken Berry and Joel Gibson (back)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

#367 Leon Wagner

#367 Leon Wagner
This is one of the best photos in the set. Though it closely resembles the pose on Carl Warwick's card, it's zoomed closer, with Leon "Daddy Wags" Wagner's glove seemingly opening to engulf the camera lens. Leon himself is looking skyward with a playful and knowing smirk. For my part, I've never seen a glove with webbing quite like that. It's kind of bizarre, and it seems like balls would be in danger of slipping through the openings.

Fun facts about Leon Wagner:

-A native of Chattanooga, TN, Leon grew up in Detroit and attended Tuskegee University in Alabama before signing with the Giants in 1954.

-After hitting over .300 with excellent power at every minor league stop and taking an 18-month military detour, he debuted with San Francisco in June 1958. In just half a season, the 24-year-old hit .317 with 13 home runs.

-With a logjam in the Giants outfield that included Mays, Cepeda, Felipe Alou and Bill White, Wagner was traded to the Cardinals in 1960. Aside from hitting the first-ever home run at Candlestick Park, his short time with the Redbirds was unremarkable. He played only 39 games for St. Louis before joining the Angels in their inaugural season.

-He blossomed into a star for Los Angeles, leading the club in home runs in each of his three seasons there (28, 37, and 26, respectively). His laid-back attitude made him a good fit on the West Coast, and he owned a clothing store and apartment building in the area. The slogan of his store was "Buy your rags at Daddy Wags".

-Leon had a career year in 1962, batting .268 with 96 runs scored, 37 home runs, and 107 RBI. He played in both All-Star Games that summer (he would also be an All-Star the following year), and was MVP of the second Midsummer Classic with a 3-for-4 performance that included a two-run homer. He was also fourth in A.L. MVP voting.

-Traded to Cleveland, he led the team in homers in 1964 and 1965 (31 and 28, respectively). He also was successful on 26 of 30 stolen base attempts in that span, drove in 100 runs in 1964, and batted a career-high .294 in 1965.

-Wagner declined over the next two and one-half seasons and ultimately was traded to the White Sox, who used him primarily as a pinch hitter. He spent the majority of his final three years in baseball (1969-1971) in the minors, with an 11-game curtain call with the 1969 Giants serving as the final major league experience of his career.

-In parts of 12 seasons, Leon hit .272 with 211 home runs and 669 RBI.

-Leon's post-baseball life was equal parts fascinating and tragic. He sold cars in Honolulu and San Francisco for several years, and even dabbled in acting. His notable roles were in 1974's A Woman Under the Influence and 1976's The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings.

-Unfortunately, Leon reportedly struggled with substance abuse and homelessness later in life, eventually fashioning a crude dwelling from a small electrical shed behind a video store in Los Angeles. He died there at age 69 on January 3, 2004. He was reported to have died of natural causes.
#367 Leon Wagner (back)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#366 Dan Schneider

If you take a peek behind Dan Schneider, you can see the distance from home plate to the outfield fence painted on the wall. Just a nifty little detail.

Fun facts about Dan Schneider:

-Born in Evansville, IL, Dan attended the University of Arizona before signing with the Braves in 1962.

-He was just 20 when he debuted for Milwaukee on May 12, 1963. He tossed a perfect inning in relief of Lew Burdette.

-In a rare start on August 4, 1963, Dan earned his first career win with six innings of scoreless ball against the Mets. He scattered seven hits and a walk, and the Braves won 2-1. The winning run scored on an errant pickoff throw by Roger Craig, who was saddled with his 20th loss.

-As a rookie he went 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA in 30 games, including three starts. He also allowed just two home runs in 43.2 innings.

-In two stints with the Braves in 1964, Schneider failed to replicate his first-year success. He would spend all of the following season in the minors.

-Resurfacing in Atlanta in the summer of 1966, Dan had a better go of it on the surface (3.42 ERA in 14 games). However, he was more lucky than he was good, as he allowed 35 hits in just 26.1 innings with a 1.52 WHIP.

-After beginning his career 0-for-16, the southpaw pitcher hit safely in three straight at-bats and four out of six in July 1966! His first two career hits came off of Hall of Famer Don Drysdale and All-Star Milt Pappas.

-Traded to Houston for the 1967 season, Dan finally had a full season in the majors. He pitched in 54 games out of the Astros bullpen, but was touched up for a 4.96 ERA. As late as June 25 his ERA stood at 1.80, but either he ran out of gas, the hitters caught up to him, or both: he gave up 18 earned runs in 18.2 innings in July and August to send his numbers sky-high.

-After a decent season back in AAA in 1968, the Astros put him on the opening day roster in 1969. He was scored upon in all six of his appearances, which was the final nail in the coffin for his big league career.

-Schneider played minor league ball through the end of the 1970 season and was through as a pro pitcher at age 27. In parts of five major league seasons he was 2-5 with a 4.71 ERA and two saves.

Monday, September 13, 2010

#365 Jim Gentile

#365 Jim Gentile
As an Oriole fan, seeing Diamond Jim in the colors of those dreadful Kansas City Athletics just doesn't seem right.

Fun facts about Jim Gentile:

-Born in San Francisco, Jim signed with Brooklyn right after high school in 1952.

-He hit 208 home runs in seven-plus minor league seasons, but was blocked in the Dodger organization by Gil Hodges. He made it into just 16 games for the big league club in 1957 and 1958.

-The Orioles acquired him prior to the 1960 season. Despite an abysmal spring training, manager Paul Richards showed confidence in the 26-year-old first baseman and took him north. Gentile rewarded the skipper's faith with an All-Star performance (the first of three straight years): .292 average, 21 home runs, and team highs of 98 RBI and a .403 on-base percentage. He received only one vote for A.L. Rookie of the Year, as the electorate was dazzled by teammate Ron Hansen's 22 homers at the more challenging shortstop position.

-His sophomore season was one of the greatest in Baltimore history, and many O's fans have committed the numbers to memory: .302/.423/.646 AVG/OBP/SLG. 46 home runs and a league-best 141 RBI. A record six grand slams (since surpassed by Don Mattingly's seven in 1987 and Travis Hafner's seven in 2006). With his big bat leading the offense, the young Birds remained competitive all year and finished with 95 wins. Of course he was upstaged yet again, as Yankee teammates Roger Maris (61 HR) and Mickey Mantle (54) chased Babe Ruth all year and finished 1-2 in the voting for MVP. Gentile finished a strong third in balloting.

-A note on that league-leading RBI total: At the time, Maris was recognized as the RBI champ with 142. Just recently, statisticians discovered an unearned Yankee run for which an RBI was erroneously awarded to the New York right fielder. Major League Baseball officially recognized Gentile as co-RBI leader this past July, fifty years after the fact. He was invited to an Orioles home game the following week, and in a pregame ceremony GM Andy MacPhail presented him with a $5,000 check - the amount that former O's GM Lee MacPhail (Andy's dad) had once told Jim he had stood to earn as a bonus for the narrowly "missed" RBI crown.

-On May 9, 1961, Jim set a team record with 9 RBI in a 13-5 drubbing of the twins. He hit grand slams in the first and second innings, becoming the third player in MLB history to accomplish this feat in consecutive innings. As with all of his then-record five grand slams that year, Chuck Estrada was the Oriole pitcher who benefited.

-He remained the leading home run hitter for the O's in 1962 (33 HR) and his 24 longballs the following year were one shy of Boog Powell's team lead, but his average plunged over fifty points from the highs of 1961 and he was dealt to the Athletics for Norm Siebern.

-In his only full season in Kansas City, Gentile was a power compliment for Rocky Colavito with the 1964 A's, hitting 28 home runs and knocking in 71. His average stayed in its recent range (.251), but he continued to draw walks (84 BB, .372 OBP).

-He was passed from K.C. to Houston to Cleveland in 1965 and 1966, and saw a drop in playing time and production. He spent the following two years at AAA San Diego before finishing his career in 1969 with Japan's Kintetsu Buffaloes. In parts of nine major league seasons he hit .260 with a .368 on-base percentage, 179 home runs, and 549 RBI.

-Jim tried his hand at managing later in life, helming the unaffiliated Fort Worth Cats in 2001-2002 (he had played minor league ball for a previous incarnation of the Cats) and the also-unaffiliated Mid-Missouri Mavericks in 2004 and 2005. He still lives in California with his wife of 44 years.
#365 Jim Gentile (back)

Friday, September 10, 2010

#364 Galen Cisco

#364 Galen Cisco
Does "Galen Cisco" sound more like a 1970s funk musician, or an Old West gunfighter? I don't know, but what I can tell you is that he's the only Galen in major league history. Surprisingly, there have been 17 other Galens who played minor league ball.

Fun facts about Galen Cisco:

-Born in St. Marys, OH, Galen attended Ohio State University, where he was an All-American and All-Big Ten fullback for the 1957 National Champion Buckeyes. He was also a team captain. Moonlighting as a pitcher, he won 12 of his 14 collegiate decisions.

-He signed with the Red Sox in 1958 and made his major league debut four years later. He struggled mightily (2-4, 6.71 ERA) in 17 games.

-Cisco continued to take his lumps in 1962, walking more batters than he struck out, and Boston waived him in September as his earned run average was again near seven. The Mets claimed him and he pitched marginally better in a brief audition that month.

-Working out of the rotation and the bullpen, Galen saw action in 51 games in 1963. His 7-15 record was an eyesore, but he was just one of six New York pitchers to lose at least 14 games that year. Besides, his 4.34 ERA and 1.27 strikeout-to-walk ratio qualified as significant improvements.

-It seems counter-intuitive, but his best season was the 1964 campaign, in which he posted a 6-19 record. He was fortunate enough to avoid leading the league in losses (teammate Tracy Stallard dropped 20 decisions), and his 3.62 ERA indicated that he deserved much better. He even notched the first two shutouts of his career.

-In the nightcap of a doubleheader on May 31, 1964, the Giants and the host Mets played the longest game (by time) in MLB history, a 23-inning affair that dragged on for 7 hours, 23 minutes. The New York pitching staff was especially taxed, as three pitchers had combined to allow six runs in the first three innings. The Mets rallied for five runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game at six, and the clubs traded zeroes for the next 15 innings! Larry Bearnearth came in for the home team in the eighth and threw seven scoreless frames, despite having pitched the last two innings of the early game. He was replaced in the 15th by Galen Cisco, who had taken a hard loss three days earlier (1 ER in 7 IP). The righthander shut the Giants out for eight innings, but surrendered two runs in his ninth inning of work and was saddled with another heartbreaking loss. The winner was Gaylord Perry, who logged ten scoreless innings one day after blanking the Mets in a two-inning relief stint! in 1984, a 25-inning marathon between the Brewers and White Sox surpassed this incredible game by 43 minutes.

-After another mediocre season as a Met, Cisco spent much of the last five years of his career in the minor leagues, popping up for 11 games with the Red Sox in 1967 and another 15 with the Royals two years later. He finished his career 25-56 with a 4.56 ERA in parts of seven seasons.

-Galen made a name for himself as a major league pitching coach, spending three decades instructing hurlers for the Royals, Expos, Padres, Blue Jays, and Phillies. He was a member of Toronto's coaching staff for their back-to-back World Series wins in 1992 and 1993.

-In 1995, he was inducted into the Ohio State Buckeyes Athletic Hall of Fame.

-For the past 45 years, his hometown of St Marys has presented an annual award in his honor to the most exemplary Little League player.
#364 Galen Cisco (back)

Thursday, September 09, 2010

#363 Bob Johnson

#363 Bob Johnson
I bet you didn't know it was Johnson week here on the ol' blog. Actually, Bob is the last of the five Johnsons we'll see in the 1965 Topps set. We're already acquainted with Alex, Davey, Deron, and Ken. Making some progress now...

Fun facts about Bob Johnson:

-A native of Omaha, NE, Bob played unaffiliated ball with the Pauls Valley (OK) Raiders in 1954 and was acquired by Detroit the following year.

-The Athletics claimed him in the Rule V draft and brought him to the majors in 1960. He hit .205 in 76 games as a 24-year-old rookie.

-The second Senators franchise grabbed him that offseason in the expansion draft, and he claimed their starting shortstop job in the second half of 1961. He acquitted himself well, hitting .295 with 20 extra-base hits in 61 games.

-In 1962, he was a full-time player for the only time in his MLB career. Splitting most of his time between third base and shortstop, he batted .288 with 20 doubles and 12 home runs (placing him second on the Sens in all three categories).

-Traded to the Orioles, Bob was recast as a pinch hitter. Aside from a .295 average in 1963, his overall numbers were nothing special in Baltimore. But he did lead the American League with 15 pinch hits in 45 at-bats in 1964.

-Johnson spent the last four years of his career packing his bags and repacking them, playing for six different clubs (Orioles, Mets, Reds, Braves, Cardinals, A's).

-In 1967, his lone season in New York, he turned in his best effort as a part-timer, batting .348 overall and .382 (13-for-34) as the N.L.'s best pinch hitter while, as always, playing all four infield positions.

-On August 8, 1967, his leadoff home run in the bottom of the 11th inning gave the Mets a 3-2 walkoff win over Atlanta.

-When his 11-year career wrapped up in 1970, he was a .272 hitter with 44 home runs and 330 RBI. Coincidentally, his career average as a pinch hitter was also .272!

-Not only did Bob have more plate appearances against Jim Kaat than he did against anyone else, but he also battered Kaat to the tune of a .425 average (17-for-40), two doubles, one triple, two home runs, and seven RBI. On April 17, 1970, he also hit the final home run of his career off of the 283-game winner, who likely was not sad to see him go!
#363 Bob Johnson (back)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

#362 Don Schwall

#362 Don Schwall
Don Schwall was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I just drove past Wilkes-Barre on my way home from a weekend getaway on Monday afternoon. Small world? Sure it is.

Fun facts about Don Schwall:

-While playing basketball at the University of Oklahoma (he was 6'6"), Don was named to the All-Big Eight team in 1957. He signed with the Red Sox the following year.

-Boston called for the righthander in May of 1961 after he'd won 49 games in three-plus minor league seasons. His 23-6 record with the Class D Alpine Cowboys in 1959 was a standout.

-At age 25, the rookie proved that he was ready for the big leagues by winning his first five starts (5-0, 3 CG, 1 SHO, 1.31 ERA) and beginning his career on a 13-2 run before a late-season slump left his final stat line at a still-impressive 15-7 with a 3.22 ERA and ten complete games. He led the team in wins despite starting only 25 games, made the All-Star Team, and beat out teammate Carl Yastrzemski for American League Rookie of the Year honors.

-He two-hit the Orioles on June 13, 1962 as the Red Sox won 4-0.

-On September 8, 1962, he beat Early Wynn and the White Sox 10-5. In addition to scattering 12 hits and four walks in eight innings, D

-Schwall slumped to 9-15 with a 4.94 ERA in 1962, and was traded to the Pirates with catcher Jim Pagliaroni in the offseason. The Red Sox received Dick Stuart and Jack Lamabe in return.

-The change of scenery seemed to do Don some good, as he walked less than 100 batters for the first time the following year and lowered his ERA to 3.33. But the Pirates weren't great shakes (74-88), and he lost big again with a 6-12 record, including an eight-decision skid to end the year.

-After returning to the minors in 1964, he was moved to the bullpen the following season and boosted his record to 9-6 with four saves and a 2.92 ERA.

-He pitched decently but was used sparingly by the Pirates and Braves in 1966, and was released by Atlanta mid-1967 after appearing in just one game, ending his career at age 31.

-In parts of seven seasons, Schwall was 49-48 with a 3.72 ERA.
#362 Don Schwall (back)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

#359 Ken Johnson

#359 Ken Johnson
Fun facts about Ken Johnson:

-Born in West Palm Beach, FL, Ken signed with the Athletics as a free agent in 1952.

-Ken won 72 games in the minors and served in the military before finally establishing himself as a major leaguer at age 27 in 1960.

-Though he had cups of coffee with the A's in 1958 and 1959, he spent just the one full season (1960) with his original club, going 5-10 with a 4.26 ERA out of the bullpen.

-He appeared in only one postseason game in his career, Game Five of the 1961 World Series. With six runs already in for the Yankees in the second inning, Ken entered the game with two on and one out. He retired both batters he faced and was lifted for a pinch hitter.

-After a season divided amongst the A's, Reds, and AAA Toronto, Johnson was tabbed by the new Houston club. He became a dependable starter for them, leading the National League in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.87-to-1) in 1962 despite a 7-16 record and a middling 3.84 ERA.

-In 1963, he had a career-low 2.65 ERA (tenth-best in the N.L.), but was saddled with an 11-17 record.

-On April 23, 1964, Ken became the first - and to date, only - pitcher to throw a complete-game, nine-inning no-hitter and lose. The Colts and Reds were locked in a scoreless tie in the top of the ninth when the pitcher flubbed a comeback from Pete Rose, allowing him to reach second base. Chico Ruiz's grounder allowed Rose to take third, and he scored the game's lone run when Nellie Fox botched another grounder at second base with two outs.

-The Braves traded for Johnson in May 1965, and he did his best work in Milwaukee and Atlanta. That first year, he won a career-high 16 games with a 3.42 ERA and nine complete games. He followed up with a 14-8, 3.30, 11 CG effort in 1966. For an encore, he posted a 13-8 record and a 2.74 ERA in 1967.

-As he began to slip in his mid-thirties, he journeyed from Atlanta to the Yankees to the Cubs before closing out his career with an ugly handful of games in Montreal in 1970. In parts of 13 seasons he was 91-106 with a 3.46 ERA.

-Among all pitchers with the last name Johnson, Ken is fifth in career wins behind Walter (417), Randy (303), Syl (112), and Si (101).
#359 Ken Johnson (back)

Friday, September 03, 2010

#358 Albie Pearson

#358 Albie Pearson
Albie Pearson was a seriously tiny dude: 5'5", 140 pounds. For a little perspective, CC Sabathia is listed as 6'7" and 290 pounds! He's two Albies!

Fun facts about Albie Pearson:

-Born in Alhambra, CA, Albie signed with the Red Sox in 1953.

-After five years in the Boston chain, he was traded to the Senators and made the big league squad at age 23 in 1958.

-As Washington's everyday center fielder, he led the club with 25 doubles and seven steals (they didn't do much running!) and batted .275 with a .354 on-base percentage. He walked twice as often as he struck out and was named A.L. Rookie of the Year.

-Albie suffered from a sophomore AND junior slump, as he batted only .223 with seven doubles and 14 RBI in 350 trips to the plate for the Senators and Orioles in 1959-1960. The O's even shipped him out to their minor league club in Miami.

-The diminutive outfielder hit only one home run during his stint in Baltimore. It was a two-out, eighth-inning grand slam off of New York's Jim Coates. Unfortunately, it only closed the O's deficit to 12-5 in a game they ultimately lost 15-9 (teammate Billy Klaus hit ANOTHER grand slam in the ninth!).

-Chosen by the Angels in the expansion draft, Pearson got untracked, hitting a team-best .288 with a .420 on-base percentage (thanks to 96 walks). He paced the team with 92 runs and 11 steals.

-After topping the American League with 115 runs scored in 1962, Albie was an All-Star the following year. His average was a personal-best .304 (fourth in the league), he walked 90-plus times for the third straight year, and added 26 doubles.

-Derailed by back spasms, he slumped to .223 in 1964 before rallying for one last hurrah the year after (.278 AVG, .370 OBP, 12-of-13 SB). He made it into just three games before the Angels released him in July of 1966.

-In eight-plus seasons, Albie hit .270 with a .369 on-base percentage, 28 home runs, and 214 RBI. He was 77-for-110 as a base stealer.

-Pearson is an ordained minister who has founded an organization to train fellow pastors and ministers. He and his wife have also founded a youth organization to keep kids drug-free, and in 2002 they dedicated Father's Heart Ranch in Desert Hot Springs, CA. It is an 11-acre home for abused, neglected, and abandoned boys.
#358 Albie Pearson (back)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

#357 Carl Warwick

#357 Carl Warwick
So what do you think? Did Carl Warwick catch this imaginary ball? I hope it was imaginary, anyway. If not, he could be distracted by the click of the photographer's shutter, and then he might get bonked in the head. Nobody wants that.

Fun facts about Carl Warwick:

-A native of Dallas, TX, Carl attended Texas Christian University before signing with the Dodgers in 1957.

-In 1959, he was MVP of the AA Texas League in his second pro season. Warwick hit .331 with a .434 on-base percentage (99 walks!), 129 runs scored, 27 doubles, 35 home runs, and 94 RBI for the Victoria Rosebuds.

-He made his big league debut at age 24 in 1961, but had just two hits in 13 at-bats before being traded to the Cardinals. St. Louis sent him to the minors in the middle of the summer, and he hit .250 in 55 games with them.

-Despite a hot start the following season (.348 in 13 games), the young outfielder was dealt again, this time to the expansion club in Houston. He was one of their top hitters with 17 doubles, 16 homers, and 60 RBI to go with a .260 average.

-Carl's production leveled off in 1963, and he returned to St. Louis in 1964 as a reserve player. He hit .259 with just three home runs in 158 at-bats, and was 11-for-43 (.256) as a pinch hitter.

-The final home run of his career came on May 8, 1964. With two on, two out and the Redbirds trailing the Mets by two, he batted for pitcher Lew Burdette and delivered a game-tying three-run shot off of Jack Fisher. However, New York pulled out a win in the bottom of the ninth.

-Appearing exclusively in a pinch-hit capacity in the 1964 World Series, he went 3-for-4 with a walk, an RBI, and two runs scored as the Cards downed the Yankees in seven games. His pinch single in the sixth inning of Game One drove in the go-ahead run. Another pinch single to lead off the sixth inning of Game Four sparked a rally that culminated with Ken Boyer's go-ahead grand slam.

-1965 was a miserable year for Warwick; he totaled 12 hits in 98 at-bats (.132) for the Cardinals and Orioles.

-The following year Carl's baseball career came to an end. He saw action in 22 games with the Cubs and also logged time with their AA and AAA teams. In parts of six major league seasons he was a .248 hitter with 31 home runs and 149 RBI.

-For his career, Warwick held his own against Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, collecting 9 hits in 27 at-bats (.333) with two doubles, a homer, and five RBI. He struck out only twice in their meetings.
#357 Carl Warwick (back)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

#353 Jerry Lumpe

#353 Jerry Lumpe
Jerry Lumpe thanks his lucky stars that he wasn't Rusty Kuntz or Mickey Klutts.

Fun facts about Jerry Lumpe:

-Born in Lincoln, MO, Jerry signed with the Yankees in 1951.

-He spent five years in the minors before appearing in 20 games for New York at age 23 in 1956.

-After three-plus seasons as a backup infielder for the Yanks, Jerry was traded in May 1959 to the Athletics.

-Lumpe starred as Kansas City's everyday second baseman, batting .271 or better in each of his four full seasons with the club.

-He peaked with a .301 average, a team-best 34 doubles, 10 triples, 10 home runs, and 83 RBI in 1962. He also pieced together a 20-game hit streak that year.

-On August 20, 1963, his two-run homer off of Washington's Don Rudolph gave the A's a walkoff 7-5 win in 14 innings. On the day he went 4-for-6 with a walk.

-He was an All-Star for the first and only time in 1964, the first year following his trade to the Tigers. However, he was already in decline, hitting .256 with reduced power.

-Detroit released Jerry in October 1967, ending his 12-year career. Overall he hit .268 with 47 home runs and 454 RBI, and played solid defense at second base.

-He hit three home runs off of Hall of Famer Jim Bunning. The only pitcher that Lumpe took deep more often was Ralph Terry (four HR), a man he was once traded for.

-In 1971, Lumpe was a member of the A's coaching staff.
#353 Jerry Lumpe (back)