Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#459 Frank Kostro

#459 Frank Kostro
It's all in the details when it comes to this card: Yankee Stadium in the background, an unidentified Twins teammate taking practice swings, and the great old Twins logo patch on Frank Kostro's left sleeve.

Fun facts about Frank Kostro:

-A native of Windber, PA, Frank signed with the Tigers in 1956 after attending Forbes High School in Pittsburgh.

-He spent parts of 13 seasons in the minor leagues and hit for average everywhere he went, posting a cumulative mark of .303. This apprenticeship includes six seasons with the Denver Bears, for whom he holds franchise records with 516 total hits and 101 doubles.

-Detroit gave Kostro a look in September 1962. The 24-year-old third baseman hit a pinch double off of Jim Kaat on September 7 for his first career hit.

-He split the 1963 season between the Tigers and Angels, batting .225 with a pair of home runs and 10 RBI in 151 at-bats. In addition to third base, he also played some first base, left field, and right field.

-Frank joined the Twins the following season and it was his most productive effort as a major leaguer: .272 with 3 homers and 12 RBI in 103 at-bats. He added second base to his defensive repertoire.

-He continued to ply his trade as a utility player in Minnesota until 1969, when he appeared in his last two big league games. In parts of seven seasons, he batted .244 with 5 home runs and 37 RBI.

-Frank spent the 1970 season in Japan playing for the Hankyu Braves before retiring.

-Loved to face: Jack Kralick (1.462 OPS, 2 HR in 13 plate appearances), Whitey Ford (5-for-11, .455 AVG), George Brunet (5-for-10). Hated to face: Gary Peters (0-for-10), Jim Bouton (0-for-9), Eddie Fisher (0-for-8).

-Frank has participated in some celebrity golf tournaments and claims that he's frequently been asked if he played baseball with Harmon Killebrew (he did): "...One day I had to ask Harmon if people ever approached him and asked 'Did you play with Frank Kostro?'."

-After his career ended, Kostro got into the insurance business in Colorado. According to this 2008 article, he is also an avid handball player and feels that he realized his life's wish by reaching the major leagues.
#459 Frank Kostro (back)

Monday, November 29, 2010

#458 John Buzhardt

#458 John Buzhardt
There's nothing like a good closeup to ruin the effect of pinstripes. This photo puts the seam where torso and sleeve meet on full display. Of course, pinstripes are best used in moderation. In the 1990s, every team and their mother was shoehorning pinstripes into their uniform designs. The monstrosities that Disney foisted upon the Angels still give me night terrors.

Fun facts about John Buzhardt:

-John was born in Prosperity, SC and signed with Cubs in 1954 out of high school.

-He made his major league debut in September 1958, pitching well in four relief appearances before beating the Dodgers in back-to-back starts. The 21-year-old allowed five hits in each start, twirling a complete game in the first and falling two outs shy of repeating the feat in the second. He finished 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA in six games.

-Batted only .135 (60-for-445) in his career, but singled off of Sandy Koufax for his first big-league hit.

-He pitched a gem on June 21, 1959, allowing only a second-inning walk to Wally Post and a third-inning single to Carl Sawatski and shutting out the Phillies 4-0. With Post erased via a double play, Buzhardt faced only one batter above the minimum.

-In January 1960, he was one of three players traded to the Phillies for Richie Ashburn. He did not pitch badly in his two seasons in Philadelphia (4.18 cumulative ERA), but the club was atrocious. Their total record was 116-202, and John was saddled with an 11-34 mark.

-On July 28, 1961, Buzhardt five-hit the Giants in the second game of a double header and the Phillies won 4-3. On August 20, he gritted out another complete-game win in the second half of a twinbill, beating the Braves 7-4. In between those two games, the Phils set a modern MLB record by losing 23 straight!

-His fortunes changed in November 1961 when he was traded to the White Sox. After a so-so first season with his new club, the righthander combined for 32 wins, 20 losses and a 2.84 ERA from 1963-1965.

-John slipped to 6-11 with a 3.83 ERA in 1966. Curiously, four of his six wins were shutouts.

-After being passed from Chicago to Baltimore to Houston throughout the second half of the 1967 season, he concluded his career with a 4-4 record, a 3.12 ERA, and 5 saves pitching mostly in relief for the Astros in 1968. Overall, he was 71-96 with a 3.66 ERA in parts of 11 seasons.

-Buzhardt returned home to Prosperity and eventually became a foreman for the Kodak Company. He died in June 2008 at age 71, several years after suffering a stroke.
#458 John Buzhardt (back)

Friday, November 26, 2010

#454 Ed Rakow

#454 Ed Rakow
It's been a while since I've mentioned where these cards are coming from, and that's because there have been a ton from one source. It's probably a good time to remind you that Jamie Whyte filled some huge holes in my set. Thanks again, Jamie!

Fun facts about Ed Rakow:

-Pittsburgh native Ed "Rock" Rakow played semipro football for the Bloomfield Rams after high school, but lost his quarterback job to Johnny Unitas, who had just been cut by the Steelers! Ed switched to semipro baseball, and made enough of an impression to sign with the Dodgers in 1957.

-He won 55 games in his first four minor league seasons.

-At age 25, Ed debuted with Los Angeles in 1960. Appearing in nine games (two starts), he allowed 18 earned runs in 22 innings for a 7.36 ERA.

-He was traded to the Athletics on the eve of the 1961 season and pitched in 45 games, primarily in relief. Though his 4.76 ERA was subpar, he did have a few standout games. Most notable was his first complete game, an 8-3 win over the Senators on July 14.

-In 1962, Rakow started a career-high 35 games for Kansas City and led the American League with 17 losses. However, he did top all A's pitchers with 14 wins, 11 complete games, 2 shutouts, and 159 strikeouts. His 4.25 ERA was close to league-average.

-The following year, he continued to show improvement with a 9-10 record (for a K.C. team that was just 73-89 overall) and a 3.92 ERA. His first start of the year was his best, as he two-hit the Twins on April 12.

-A trade to the Tigers in 1964 coincided with a shift back to relief work; Ed posted an 8-9 record and a career-best 3.72 ERA that season.

-After putting up a 6.08 ERA in six games in 1965, he was demoted to the minors, where he would spend most of the next four seasons. He returned to the majors for one last time with the Braves in the second half of 1967, allowing 23 runs in 39.1 innings for a 5.26 ERA.

-In parts of seven big league seasons he was 36-47 with a 4.33 ERA.

-Ed passed away in August of 2000 at age 65 in West Palm Beach, FL.
#454 Ed Rakow (back)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

#449 Mets Rookie Stars: Jerry Hinsley and Gary Kroll

#449 Mets Rookie Stars: Jerry Hinsley and Gary Kroll
Could there be a bigger difference in appearance between these two guys? Jerry Hinsley looks like he's posing for his middle school yearbook photo, and Gary Kroll doesn't look a day over 40.

Fun facts about Jerry Hinsley:

-Jerry was born in Hugo, OK and went to high school in Las Cruces, NM before signing with the Pirates in 1963.

-As noted on the card back, the Mets claimed Jerry in the first-year player draft in December 1963.

-He opened the 1964 season on the major league roster, making his big league debut at age 19 on April 18. He allowed two runs in relief, followed up with back-to-back scoreless appearances, and then allowed multiple runs in five of six games to leave him with an 8.22 ERA. He was sent to AAA at the end of May.

-Hinsley spent the rest of that year and the following three seasons in the minors, resurfacing for a September callup in 1967. He gave up two runs in two relief innings in his first appearance, and salvaged things with three scoreless innings in his next game, which would prove to be his last in the majors.

-His MLB totals, such as they were, included an 0-2 record and a 7.08 ERA.

-He continued pitching in the minors until the 1971 season, finally calling it a career with a 44-61 record and a 3.95 ERA in eight minor league seasons.

-If you're looking for a silver lining in Jerry's brief big league career, he struck out four future Hall of Famers: Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock, and pitchers Juan Marichal and Bob Gibson.

Fun facts about Gary Kroll:

-A native of Culver City, CA, Gary signed with the Phillies in 1959.

-He was an imposing presence on the mound, standing 6'6" and weighing 220 pounds. He pitched two no-hitters in the minors and struck out scores of batters, including 309 in 257 innings in the California League in 1960.

-Kroll debuted with Philadelphia in July 1964, but pitched only two games before being traded to the Mets in the deal that brought Frank Thomas to the Phils.

-In his first start for New York, Gary set a career high with eight strikeouts in six innings, but dropped a 3-2 decision to the Cubs.

-He pitched in 32 games in 1965, going 6-6 with a 4.45 ERA and a save.

-His only career game was a rain-shortened 7-1 win over the Giants on April 18, 1965. Gary pitched seven innings, striking out eight and allowing only four hits.

-Following a January 1966 trade, Kroll made ten relief appearances for the Astros, compiling a 3.80 ERA and striking out 22 in 23.2 innings.

-He did not return to the majors until 1969, when he put up a 4.13 ERA in 19 games for the Indians. He allowed earned runs in only five of those games, including a whopping five runs in one inning in his final appearance on July 12. Unfortunately, that was the final big league game of his career.

-In parts of four seasons, Gary was 6-7 with a 4.24 ERA. He struck out 138 runs in 159.1 innings.

-Like Jerry Hinsley, Kroll continued pitching in the minors until 1971, finishing with a 72-67 record and a 3.61 ERA.

#449 Mets Rookie Stars: Jerry Hinsley and Gary Kroll (back)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#448 Lee Stange

#448 Lee Stange
There's an odd sort of perspective going on in this photo. Does Lee Stange have his glove resting halfway on his left hand, or is that an optical illusion?

Fun facts about Lee Stange:

-A Chicagoan by birth, Lee attended Drake University in Des Moines before signing with the Senators in 1957.

-Pitching for the Class B Wilson Tobs in 1960, Stange was a Carolina League All-Star. He led the league in several statistical categories, going 20-13 with 20 complete games.

-Had a few cups of coffee with the Twins in 1961, earning his first career win with four strikeouts in two scoreless relief innings against the Indians on September 15.

-1963 was a career year for Lee. Starting 20 games and relieving in a dozen more, he went 12-5 with a 2.62 ERA (sixth-best in the A.L.) and seven complete games. He five-hit the Tigers on June 25 for his first major league shutout.

-On September 2, 1964, Stange struck out 10 Senators in a 9-0 win. He tied a major league record by whiffing four batters in the seventh inning. Don Lock, the subject of yesterday's post, led off with a strikeout but reached base on a passed ball.

-Also performed well in multipurpose roles for Cleveland and Boston in 1965-1966, compiling 16 wins against 13 losses with a 3.32 ERA.

-Posted a career-low 2.77 ERA for the American League Champion Red Sox in 1967 while throwing a career-high 181.2 innings. Had only an 8-10 record to show for it. Appeared in relief in Game Three of the World Series, allowing three hits and an unearned run in two innings.

-Lee led Boston with 12 saves in 1968.

-Wrapped up his career in 1970 with the Red Sox and White Sox. In parts of ten seasons he was 62-61 with a 3.56 ERA.

-Stange jumped right into coaching. He served on major league staffs in Boston (1972-1974, 1981-1984), Minnesota (1975), and Oakland (1977-1979). He also had three stints as a minor league pitching instructor for the Red Sox totaling more than a decade and managed the Athletics' AAA Tuscon club in 1976. He is now the pitching coach for the NCAA Division II Florida Tech Panthers.
#448 Lee Stange (back)

Monday, November 22, 2010

#445 Don Lock

#445 Don Lock
Did you notice the schmutz on the front of this card, giving it a mottled look? I have a few cards like that from this set. I suppose they were in one of those photo albums with a cellophane sheet and an adhesive backing, or something else of the sort.

Fun facts about Don Lock:

-A Wichita, KS native, Don stayed in town for college and was a two-time all-conference player for the Wichita State Shockers. He signed with the Yankees in 1958.

-He suffered the fate of many talented players before him, failing to crack the New York roster despite hitting 96 home runs in a three-year span in the minor leagues. One year, he made light of his impending cut from the big league camp in spring training by crossing his name off of his locker and barricading himself inside, firing his bat like a rifle at anyone that came near him.

-After a July 1962 trade to the Senators, Lock finally made his big league debut at age 25. He hit a solo home run against Juan Pizarro in his first game. Despite playing only 71 games that year, he tied for second on the team with a dozen longballs.

-In his sophomore season, Don established himself as Washington's most potent offensive weapon, pacing the club with 27 home runs, 82 RBI and 70 walks. He also played a solid center field.

-In 1964, he again led the Sens with 28 homers, 80 RBI, and 79 walks. Though he batted just .248, his ability to take ball four allowed him to tie for the team lead with a .346 on-base percentage.

-In the mid-sixties, Lock had a few down years and was traded to the Phillies for the 1967 season. Playing in a reduced role, he slugged 14 home runs and drove in 51 in 313 at-bats. Dick Allen was the only Philly batter to out-homer him.

-The end came swiftly for Don; he managed a meager .628 OPS for the Phillies and Red Sox in 1968-1969 and spent all of the 1970 season at AAA Louisville. In parts of eight major league seasons, he'd batted .238 with a .331 on-base percentage, 122 home runs and 373 RBI.

-He hit six walkoff home runs in his career, including four in extra innings. One was a grand slam in the bottom of the 13th. He also hit a pair of game-winning two-run homers to erase 1-0 deficits in the bottom of the ninth: On July 29, 1963, Chuck Hinton got the first Senators hit off of Joe Horlen with one out in the ninth. The Chicago hurler then retired Bobo Osborne before Lock robbed him of a shutout and a win. Three years later, Don again struck gold with two outs in a 1-0 game, this time taking Johnnie Wyatt deep in a pinch hit role.

-Lock spent three more years in the minors as a manager, compiling a 180-234 record with the Winston-Salem Red Sox, Pawtucket Red Sox, and Wilson Pennants from 1971-1973.

-He was inducted into the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974. Nearly four decades later, he still makes his home in Kingman, KS, which as far as I know is not named for disagreeable slugger Dave.
#445 Don Lock (back)

Friday, November 19, 2010

#441 Denver Lemaster

#441 Denver Lemaster
When I was five or six years old, one of my favorite cartoons was Denver the Last Dinosaur. Why did he skateboard and play an electric guitar? Well, it WAS the 1980s. Anyways, to my knowledge Denver "Denny" Lemaster is not a dinosaur or a rock star. But he has probably aged better than that TV show.

Fun facts about Denny Lemaster:

-Born in Corona, CA, Denny signed with the Braves in 1958 for a $60,000 bonus.

-He struggled with wildness in the minors, walking 122 and 126 in back-to-back years. He began the 1962 season with a 10-4 record and a 2.40 ERA at AAA Louisville, and lowered his walk total to 41 in 124 innings to earn a July promotion to the major leagues.

-As a rookie, Lemaster completed 4 of his 12 starts, including a six-hit shutout of the Phillies on September 12. Overall he was 3-4 with a 3.01 ERA.

-In 1963, he had an 11-14 record despite a 3.04 ERA and a team-high 190 strikeouts.

-Though his earned run average jumped to 4.15 in 1964, he went 17-11 to set a personal best in wins, and again paced the Braves with 185 strikeouts.

-Denny was an All-Star in 1967, when he was 7-2 with a 2.82 ERA at the break. He ran out of steam in the second half and finished 9-9 with a 3.34 ERA.

-He pitched a pair of one-hitters in his career: a 1-0 victory over the Reds on September 11, 1964 and a 2-0 decision over the Cardinals on May 24, 1967.

-Was traded to the Astros following the 1967 season and was a dependable starter over the next two years, with a 3.00 ERA and a misleading 23-32 record.

-In 1971, Houston sent Lemaster to the bullpen and he held righthanded batters to a .229 average while running up a 3.45 ERA.

-His final season was 1972, as he struggled with the Expos and was released in July. In parts of 11 seasons he was 90-105 with a 3.58 ERA.
#441 Denver Lemaster

Thursday, November 18, 2010

#440 Tom Tresh

#440 Tom Tresh
Tom Tresh looks like he's wearing a batting glove on his right hand, a rare sight in the 1960s. Either that, or he was just washing the dishes in the Yankee clubhouse.

Fun facts about Tom Tresh:

-A Detroit native, Tom attended Central Michigan University before signing with the Yankees in 1958.

-His father Mike was a catcher for the White Sox and Indians from 1938 through 1949.

-After a September 1961 debut, Tresh was New York's starting shortstop in 1962; he replaced Tony Kubek, who was serving in the military at the time. The newcomer batted .286 with a .359 on-base percentage and slugged 26 doubles and 20 homers. His 93 RBI were the second-highest total on the club. He received the first of two straight All-Star selections, and was the American League's Rookie of the Year.

-Tom made a big contribution to the Yanks' World Series win, batting .321 (9-for-28). His three-run homer off of Jack Sanford in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game Five broke a 2-2 tie and wound up being the game-winning clout.

-When Kubek returned in 1963, Tresh shifted to the outfield and adjusted well. He won a Gold Glove in 1965 while getting most of his starts in center field.

-On June 6, 1965, he went 4-for-5 with three home runs and five RBI in the second game of a doubleheader against the White Sox.

-Though he never matched his .286 rookie-season batting average, Tom remained a valuable offensive player throughout his career due to his power (he hit 20 homers in four of his first five seasons, peaking with 27 in 1966), and drawing plenty of walks (an average of 75 per 162 games in his career).

-After a season and one-half of sub-.200 averages, the Yankees traded him to his hometown Tigers in June of 1969. He hit .224 with 13 home runs in 94 games for Detroit, and was released the following April to bring his career to an end.

-In parts of nine seasons, Tresh hit .245 with a .335 on-base percentage, 153 home runs, and 530 RBI.

-He spent many years working at Central Michigan University as an assistant placement director. He was partially responsible for the invention of the Slide-Rite, a training tool to teach young athletes how to properly slide and dive. Tom suffered a fatal heart attack on October 15, 2008 in his home in Venice, FL. He was 70 years old.

#440 Tom Tresh (back)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

#439 Moe Drabowsky

#439 Moe Drabowsky
You can just sense the mischief in Moe Drabowsky's face in this picture. Something about those eyes...we know what you're up to, Number 25.

Fun facts about Moe Drabowsky:

-Moe was born in Ozanna, Poland and emigrated to Connecticut with his parents at age three. He pitched for Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and signed with the Cubs in 1956 for a $75,000 bonus.

-Reporting right to the major leagues, he pitched like he belonged, completing three of his seven starts with a 2.47 overall ERA.

-1957 would prove to be Drabowsky's only full season as a starter. He won 13 games but lost 15 for a seventh-place Chicago club. His 3.53 ERA was the best on the team, and his 170 strikeouts tied him with teammate Dick Drott for second-best in the National League behind Jack Sanford of the Phillies.

-Arm troubles in 1958 curtailed his effectiveness. In a three-year span from 1960-1962 he played for four teams: the Cubs, Braves, Reds, and Athletics.

-Had a fine season for a crummy A's team in 1963, posting a 3.05 ERA and a deceiving 7-13 record. He received an average of 3.48 runs of offense in his 22 starts, and lost three games in which he pitched into extra innings. That includes a 12-plus inning complete game loss on August 24, 1963!

-Moe signed with the Orioles in 1966 and experienced a career renaissance in the Baltimore bullpen. In his first three seasons with the team, he was 17-9 with a cumulative ERA of 2.14 and a WHIP of 0.958. He also saved 26 games.

-He earned the Birds' first-ever postseason win in Game One of the 1966 World Series. Starter Dave McNally got a quick hook from Hank Bauer after walking the bases loaded with one out in the third inning. Drabowsky walked Jim Gilliam to cut Baltimore's lead to 4-2. But he stranded three base runners and was untouchable for the rest of the game. In six and two-thirds innings, he allowed two walks and a single hit and struck out 11 (a single-game Series record for a reliever), including six whiffs in a row.

-Selected by the Royals in the expansion draft, he led the team with 11 saves in 1969, their inaugural season. He won another 11 - all in relief - and had a 2.94 ERA. The O's reacquired him the following year for the stretch drive, and he later pitched for the Cardinals and White Sox before retiring in 1972. In parts of 17 seasons, he was 88-105 with 55 saves and a 3.71 ERA.

-Moe was one of the legendary characters of the game, famous for his pranks. Highlights include: multiple hot-foots (including one given to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn during the 1970 World Series), calling the opposing bullpen and convincing their relievers to warm up, and terrorizing skittish teammates with snakes. You can read a few stories about the reliever's greatest hits on my other blog.

-After his playing career ended, Drabowsky coached in the minors for the White Sox and Orioles, and was on the major league staffs of the White Sox (1986) and Cubs (1994). He passed away at age 70 in 2006 after a battle with multiple myeloma.

#439 Moe Drabowsky (back)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

#438 Harry Walker

#438 Harry Walker
My best guess is that the uniform that Harry "the Hat" Walker has been artfully airbrushed out of is that of the St. Louis Cardinals. He coached for the club from 1959-1962, and spent the following two seasons managing in their farm system. I couldn't fit it into the Fun Facts, but he got his nickname due to a habit of compulsively adjusting his cap in between pitches during his at-bats. He is also the subject of the oldest card that I currently own, a 1949 Bowman that I picked up at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Baltimore this past August.

Fun facts about Harry Walker:

-Born in Pascagoula, MS, Harry signed with the Phillies in 1937.

-Baseball was the family business: father Ewart "Dixie" Walker pitched for the Senators (1909-1912), uncle Ernie was an outfielder for the Browns (1913-1915), and brother Fred "Dixie" Walker was an outfielder for the Dodgers and four other teams (1931-1949).

-Harry had the misfortune of entering his prime during World War II. He hit .294 with 28 doubles in 1943 to earn an All-Star selection in his first full season at age 26. He then served in the U.S. Army from that November through January 1946.

-He struggled in his first year back, but delivered the game-winning hit in the ninth inning of Game Seven of that year's World Series. Overall, he batted .412 (7-for-17) with four walks and six RBI in the Fall Classic.

-The Cards traded him to the Phillies in May of 1947, and he responded by batting .363 for the year to capture the National League batting title. He also paced the senior circuit with a .436 on-base percentage and 16 triples, and made a return trip to the All-Star Game.

-He played full-time in only one other season after 1947, spending time with the Phillies, Cubs, Reds, and Cardinals. In parts of 11 seasons he hit .296 with 10 home runs and 214 RBI.

-Walker became a manager in the St. Louis farm system in 1951, and led the Rochester Red Wings to postseason appearances in 1952 (league champs), 1953, and 1954. Early in the 1955 season, he was promoted to the majors to replace Eddie Stanky as the Cards' skipper. He was even active for 11 games (hitting 5-for-14, a .357 average), but his minor league success did not translate. The team went 51-67, and he was not retained at the end of the year.

-Accepting a reassignment to the minors, Harry won two more league championships with the Texas League's Houston Buffaloes, and returned to St. Louis as a coach from 1959-1962. He bookended the coaching stint with another couple of years in the minors, at which point he accepted the Pirates' managerial position.

-Pittsburgh had a 10-game improvement to 90-72 in Walker's first season at the helm, and in 1966 they went 92-70 and finished in third place, just three games out of first. However, the Bucs fired him the following year with a 42-42 record in mid-July. He was hired by the Astros the following June, and piloted the team for five seasons. Incidentally, his only winning season in that span was 1972; he was canned on August 25 that year with a 67-54 record. He totaled 630 wins and 604 losses in the majors, a .511 win percentage.

-In the years after his managerial career ended, Harry became the first baseball coach at the University of Alabama and served as a batting tutor for the Cardinals and other major league clubs. He died at age 82 in Birmingham, AL in 1999.
#438 Harry Walker (back)

Friday, November 12, 2010

#436 Don Elston

#436 Don Elston
This is Don Elston's final baseball card. I'll give you a moment to compose yourselves. You can see half of Don's uniform number on his back; he wore #36 with the Cubs. According to Casey Ignarski's well-researched website, other notable Cubbies to wear that number included first baseman Eddie Waitkus and pitcher Robin Roberts.

Fun facts about Don Elston:

-Don was born in Camden, OH and signed with the Cubs in 1947.

-He made his major league debut at age 24, on September 17, 1953. Also playing in his first big league game for the Cubs that day was shortstop Ernie Banks.

-Elston was hit hard in two games in 1953, and did not resurface in the majors until 1957. By that time, he was with the Dodgers. After only one appearance for Brooklyn, he was reacquired by the Cubs. This time, Chicago kept him around for eight seasons.

-After fashioning a 3.56 ERA, a 6-7 record, and 8 saves in 39 games as a rookie, Don became the go-to guy out of the Cubs bullpen. "Everyday Elston" averaged 58 games pitched in his seven full seasons on the North Side, leading the National League in that category in 1958 and 1959.

-He was at his best in 1958, with a 9-8 record, 10 saves and a 2.88 ERA.

-An All-Star selection highlighted Don's 1959 season, when he had a 3.32 record and career highs of 10 wins and 13 saves. He earned the save in the first of that year's two All-Star games, pitching a scoreless ninth and stranding Nellie Fox as the tying run on second base.

-In 1962, he had a personal-best 2.44 ERA on a Cubs staff that had a cumulative mark of 4.54. He also led the team in saves for the fifth and final time.

-After a rough 1964 season (5.30 ERA, 1.87 WHIP), Chicago released Elston and he retired. In parts of nine seasons he was 49-54 with 63 saves and a 3.69 ERA.

-Don was a fast starter, sporting a career record of 29-20 with 42 saves and a 3.11 ERA in the first half. In the second half of seasons he was just 20-34 with 21 saves and a 4.25 ERA.

-He managed the Cubs' California League team, the Lodi Crushers, in 1966. He was let go before season's end with a 59-81 record. He stayed in Chicago after baseball, working in sales and remaining involved in charitable causes. In January 1995, he suffered a fatal heart attack at age 65.
#436 Don Elston (back)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

#434 Dave Morehead

#434 Dave Morehead
Dave Morehead's chest hair is desperately trying to escape over the collar of his jersey. That's impressive and a little unsettling.

Fun facts about Dave Morehead:

-A native of San Diego, Dave signed with the Red Sox as a teenager in 1961.

-He made Boston's Opening Day roster in 1963, just his third pro season. He started his career with a bang by shutting out the Senators on five hits in his debut on April 13, 1963. He struck out ten in that game as well.

-His fourth career game was also memorable; on May 12, 1963, again facing the Senators, the only hit he allowed was a Chuck Hinton solo home run. Despite walking six and striking out three, he earned a 4-1 win.

-Overall, he was 10-13 with a 3.81 ERA in his rookie season.

-Morehead struggled greatly over the next two seasons, combining to win 18 games and lose 33. In 1965, he led the American League with 18 losses; on the plus side, he was also eighth in the league with 163 strikeouts.

-On September 16, 1965, he no-hit the Indians, allowing only a second-inning walk to Rocky Colavito. It was the only Boston no-no from 1963 through 2000.

-Arm injuries limited Dave to 33 major league games from 1966 through 1968. He did throw 3.1 innings of scoreless relief in two games in the 1967 World Series.

-After being drafted by the Royals, he was with the club for their first two seasons, pitching in 49 games (19 starts) with a 4.07 ERA. He was released in the spring of 1971, bringing his career to an early end.

-In eight seasons, Morehead was 40-64 with a 4.15 ERA.

-When he retired, Dave was probably glad that he didn't have to face Brooks Robinson any more. The Hall of Fame third baseman batted .467 (21-for-45) with 7 doubles, 2 home runs, and 12 RBI in their meetings.
#434 Dave Morehead (back)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#433 John Bateman

#433 John Bateman
You can see a hint of John Bateman's Colt .45s uniform peeking out from behind the pennant design on the card. Those were pretty sharp jerseys, I must say.

Fun facts about John Bateman:

-Born in Killeen, TX, John signed with the Colt .45s in 1962.

-After slugging 22 home runs in his first pro season, he was tabbed as Houston's starting catcher at age 22 in 1963. Though he batted just .210, he led the young club with 10 home runs and 59 RBI.

-Bateman had the distinction of catching both the first no-hitter in Colts history (Don Nottebart's gem on May 17, 1963) and the first no-hitter in Expos' history (Bill Stoneman, April 17, 1969).

-His playing time took a big hit during his second and third seasons as his offensive production dipped, but he rebounded in 1966 and reached career highs in average (.279), doubles (24), home runs (17) and RBI (70). He set an Astros record by hitting 16 of those homers as a catcher; incredibly, that mark still stands 45 years later!

-When Houston acquired Johnny Edwards after the 1968 season, they exposed Bateman to the expansion draft. The Expos claimed him with their sixth pick and made him their starter, but he struggled mightily and drove in just 19 runs in 249 plate appearances.

-Though he never did hit for high averages (.234 in three-plus seasons in Montreal), he regained his starting job in 1970 and 1971 and combined for 25 homers and 124 RBI in that span. He also threw out 44% of attempted base stealers in the former year.

-Had a monster day on July 2, 1970: 3-for-5 with 7 RBI, including a first-inning grand slam off of Mike Torrez. He finished a triple short of the cycle as the Expos outslugged the Cardinals 13-10.

-On September 29, 1970, he hit the final home run in Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium.

-Split 1972 between Montreal and the Phillies before calling it a career. In parts of 10 seasons he batted .230 with 81 home runs and 375 RBI.

-During the late 1970s John played for Eddie Feigner's King and His Court softball team, a traveling four-man squad that would take on full nine-and-ten-man teams. He died in 1996 at age 56 of unreported causes.
#433 John Bateman (back)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

#432 Jim Grant

#432 Jim Grant
When I was 11 years old (way back in 1993), the Ted Williams Card Company produced a set of cards featuring prominent players from the 1930s-1970s. I bought some packs, and one of the cards I pulled featured this gentleman and referring to him by his nickname: "Mudcat" Grant. He got the moniker from roommate Larry Doby, who said that Grant was "as ugly as a Mississippi Mudcat". It's a shame that baseball nicknames aren't that mean-spirited any more, huh? Oh, and a late note: I just noticed that the border color is light blue, and not purple like the rest of the Twins in this set. Error card!

Fun facts about Jim Grant:

-Jim grew up in tiny Lacoochee, FL, with eight siblings. His mother raised the children alone after his father died. Jim signed with the Indians in 1954.

-He won 70 games in four minor league seasons and made Cleveland's roster in 1958 at age 22. The rookie led the Tribe with 111 strikeouts and went 10-11 with a 3.84 ERA and 4 saves.

-Grant led his club with a 15-9 record and a 3.86 ERA in 1961.

-His first All-Star selection came in 1963, when he went 13-14 with a 3.69 ERA. The Indian bats were not terribly supportive; a dozen times the team scored two runs or less in his starts, and he went 2-10 in those contests despite a 3.40 ERA.

-After a slow start in 1964 Mudcat was traded to the Twins. He pitched to a 2.82 ERA the rest of the way (26 games) and won 11 games, but was just getting warmed up.

-1965 saw Grant lead Minnesota to the World Series with a 21-7 record and a 3.30 ERA; he was the first black pitcher to win 20 games in American League history. The Sporting News named him Pitcher of the Year. He made a second All-Star squad and paced the A.L. in wins, win percentage, and shutouts (six). He earned complete-game victories in the first and sixth game of the Series, and even belted a three-run homer off of the Dodgers' Howie Reed in the sixth inning of Game Six. He was hit around a bit in the fourth game, but his overall Series stats of 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA are nothing to sneeze at.

-After one more good season in the Twins' rotation (13-13, 3.25 ERA, 10 CG in 1967), he spent several seasons as a well-traveled swingman, putting in time with the Dodgers, Expos, Cardinals, Athletics, and Pirates. In 1970 he led the majors with 80 games pitched for the A's and Pirates, going 8-3 with a 1.86 ERA and 24 saves.

-His final big league appearance came in Game Three of the 1971 ALCS, when he shut out the Orioles for two innings in relief. His last batter faced was Jim Palmer, and he struck of the future Hall of Fame pitcher.

-In 14 seasons Mudcat won 145, lost 119, saved 53, and had a 3.63 ERA.

-After retiring, Grant did some broadcasting for the A's, Dodgers, and Indians, and also worked in Cleveland's front office. He has been active with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the Baseball Assistance Team, and the MLB Alumni Association. Through his website The Black Aces and a book of the same name, he has promoted the 13 black pitchers who have had 20-win seasons in MLB and encouraged links among them.
#432 Jim Grant (back)

Monday, November 08, 2010

#430 Gary Peters

#430 Gary Peters
This photo is taken at an interesting angle. With Gary Peters not looking directly at the camera, and the lens zoomed in far enough that you can't tell whether he's in a goofy pitching pose, it almost looks like it could be candid.

Fun facts about Gary Peters:

-Gary was born in Grove City, PA and briefly attended Grove City College before signing with the White Sox in 1956.

-Though he made his major league debut in 1959, Chicago brought him along slowly. He spent four seasons at AAA and totaled only 12 major league games pitched from 1959 through 1962.

-Finally arriving to the big leagues for good in 1963, 26-year-old Gary declared his intentions with a league-leading 2.33 ERA. His 19-8 record (including an 11-game win streak) was the best on a 94-win White Sox club, and he completed 13 games and allowed only nine home runs in 243 innings. He captured American League Rookie of the Year honors and finished eighth in MVP balloting.

-His first All-Star nod came in 1964, when he went 20-8 to lead the A.L. in wins. His 2.50 ERA was nothing to sneeze at, and he paced the Pale Hose with 205 strikeouts. He also had a seventh-place finish in MVP voting as his team improved to 98 wins.

-In 1966, he collected a second A.L. ERA crown with a miniscule 1.98 mark. His 0.98 WHIP was also the best on the junior circuit, but a combination of injuries (he was limited to 27 starts) and poor run support left his record at a so-so 12-10.

-1967 was the last great season for Gary, as he struck out a career-high 215 batters and compiled a 16-11 record with a 2.28 ERA. His 6.5 hits per 9 innings was the lowest rate in the league, and he was an All-Star for the second time. He retired all nine batters that he faced in the Midsummer Classic, including strikeouts of Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, and Dick Allen.

-In the last five seasons of his career, Peters failed to post an ERA lower than 3.76. He was still solid, though, with the best effort coming for the Red Sox in 1970 (16-11, 4.06 ERA, 10 CG).

-He had a reputation as a skilled hitter, totaling a .222 average with 19 homers and 102 RBI. In 1963 he batted .259 (21-for-81) and slugged .444 with 3 homers and 12 RBI. On May 26, 1968, manager Eddie Stanky actually batted him sixth for his start against the Yankees! Unfortunately Gary went 0-for-2 at the plate and was knocked out of the game in the fourth inning.

-More offensive feats from Peters: he hit home runs in nine consecutive seasons - every year that he was a full-time starter. He was often called upon to pinch hit, and socked four pinch homers in his career - including a walkoff two-run shot in the bottom of the 13th against Kansas City's Wes Stock on July 19, 1964!

-He retired after pitching out of the bullpen for Boston in 1972. In parts of 14 seasons (10 full), he was 124-103 with a 3.25 ERA.
#430 Gary Peters (back)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

#429 Don Demeter

#429 Don Demeter
Maybe it's the angle of the photograph, but Don Demeter's head looks too small for his body here. The rolled-up undersleeves are probably adding to that illusion.

Fun facts about Don Demeter:

-Oklahoma City native Don Demeter signed with the Dodgers out of high school in 1953.

-He broke out in his fourth minor league season with 41 home runs, 128 RBI, and a .384 on-base percentage at AA Fort Worth. He earned a late-season callup to Brooklyn, and homered for his first major league hit.

-In his first full big league season, he hit .256 with 18 homers and 70 RBI for the 1959 Dodgers. The club moved Duke Snider to right field and had Demeter take his place in center.

-Don twice hit three home runs in one game: on April 21, 1959 he had three two-run shots against the Giants, including an inside-the-parker in the third and the game winner in the eleventh; on September 12, 1961 he touched up the Dodgers thrice, including a two-run shot in the first against Sandy Koufax.

-Following a trade to the Phillies in May 1961, he led his new club with 20 home runs and 68 RBI despite playing in only 106 games for Philadelphia.

-1962 was a career year across the board for Don: a .307 average, 29 home runs, and 107 RBI, as well as 85 runs scored and 24 doubles.

-From September 1962 through July 1965, he played 266 consecutive errorless games in the outfield to set a major league record that stood until Darren Lewis broke it in 1993.

-He had another two 20-homer seasons in 1963 and 1964. Before the latter season he was dealt to the Tigers in the trade that sent Jim Bunning to Philly.

-Don finished his career with the Red Sox and Indians in 1967. He was a career .265 hitter with 163 home runs and 563 RBI in parts of 11 seasons.

-Demeter was known for his deep and abiding faith during his playing days, and was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Currently, he is a pastor at a Southern Baptist church in Oklahoma City.
#429 Don Demeter (back)

Friday, November 05, 2010

#428 Bob Shaw

If you noticed the "29" on Bob Shaw's glove, I can confirm that it was his uniform number with the Giants. That's the kind of thing that's up my alley.

Fun facts about Bob Shaw:

-Bob was born in the Bronx and attended St. Lawrence University in New York before signing with the Tigers in 1953.

-He debuted with Detroit in 1957 at age 24, but won just one game for the club before being dealt to the White Sox in midseason the following year.

-Shaw had a career year in 1959, as he led the league in winning percentage (18-6, .750) and posted a 2.69 ERA. He was third in the A.L. in wins and ERA despite starting only 26 games (he relieved in 21 more). He finished third in Cy Young voting, as teammate Early Wynn captured the honors.

-After being tagged with a 4-3 loss in Game Two of the 1959 World Series, he bounced back to shut out the Dodgers over 7.1 innings and outduel Sandy Koufax in a 1-0 Chicago win in Game Five. Ultimately, L.A. prevailed in six.

-Bob could not follow up on his great season, turning in two average years with the White Sox and Athletics. A pre-1962 trade to the Braves seemed to rejuvenate him, as he earned his lone All-Star selection in his first season in Milwaukee (15-9, 2.80 ERA, 12 CG). He also led the National League with only 1.8 walks allowed per nine innings.

-On May 4, 1963, he set a major league record by committing five balks in a single game, including three in the third inning alone!

-Shaw was shifted to the bullpen and led his team in saves in 1963, when he shut the door 13 times for the Braves, and in 1964, when he earned 11 saves for the Giants.

-He did not let another change in roles bother him, as he started 33 games for San Francisco in 1965 and went 16-9 with a personal-best 2.64 ERA. He was the second-best pitcher on a staff that included Juan Marichal (the team ace), a still-learning Gaylord Perry, and Jack Sanford and Warren Spahn as elder statesmen.

-Bob retired after pitching for the Mets and Cubs in 1967. In parts of 11 seasons he was 108-98 with a 3.52 ERA and 32 saves.

-He stuck around as a minor league manager and major league pitching coach for the Dodgers and later coached for the Brewers before embarking on a successful second career in real estate in Florida. He died this past September of liver cancer at age 77.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

#425 Wayne Causey

#425 Wayne Causey
I don't know which Athletics are chilling in the dugout behind Wayne Causey, but I think it's pretty cool that we got that sneak peek.

Fun facts about Wayne Causey:

-Wayne was born in Ruston, LA and signed with the Orioles in 1955 as a bonus baby.

-Due to the rules of the time, he stayed on the major league roster for the entirety of 1955 and 1956. He also spent a bit of time with the O's in 1957. He was not quite ready for prime time, batting .187 with two home runs in 135 games in that span.

-Wayne was sent to the minors for a few years, and by the time he was ready to return Brooks Robinson and Ron Hansen had established themselves on the left side of the Baltimore infield. In 1961, he was traded to the Athletics and hit .276 with 8 homers and 49 RBI in 104 games.

-In 1963, Causey led the A's with 32 doubles and a .280 average.

-1964 was a career year for Wayne, as he led the American League in total times on base with 265. That number included 88 walks, helping him to a .377 on-base percentage. He again paced Kansas City with a .281 average and 31 doubles.

-On September 11, 1964, he went 4-for-5 with three doubles, three runs scored, and three RBI in an 8-0 romp over the Orioles.

-As his production dipped in the mid-1960s (due partially to a dislocated shoulder in 1965), he was dealt to the White Sox to clear the way for Bert Campaneris. In parts of three seasons with Chicago, he hit only .223.

-He had a good eye, as he walked 390 times in his career and only struck out 341 times.

-Wayne's career came to an ignoble end in 1968, as he totaled 22 hits in 148 at-bats (.149) for the White Sox, Angels, and Braves. In parts of 11 major league seasons, he batted .252 with 35 home runs and 285 RBI.

-After doing some scouting work for the Royals, Causey eventually returned home to Ruston and worked at the Ball-Incon Glass Company, climbing the ladder to become plant manager. He is now retired and lives with his wife Patsy.
#425 Wayne Causey (back)

Monday, November 01, 2010

#422 Aubrey Gatewood

#422 Aubrey Gatewood
Aubrey Gatewood is one of only three men in major league history named "Aubrey". The first was Aubrey Epps, a catcher who played a single game for the Pirates in 1935, and the other is Aubrey Huff, the power-hitting first baseman whose home run last night provided the Giants with the winning runs in Game Four of the World Series.

Fun facts about Aubrey Gatewood:

-A native of Little Rock, AR, Aubrey attended Arkansas State University before signing with the Tigers in 1959.

-The Angels claimed him in the expansion draft, and three years later gave him a look in the majors. In his debut on September 11, 1963, he earned the victory with a complete game four-hitter as L.A. beat the Red Sox 4-1.

-He held his own in two more starts and a relief appearance to finish September with a 1.50 ERA, but poor run support kept him from any more wins.

-Gatweood spent the second half of the 1964 season back with the Angels and looked strong in relief but often struggled in starts. He had a 2.24 ERA overall in 60.1 innings.

-The Halos kept Aubrey mostly in the bullpen in 1965, and he was solid again with a 3.42 ERA.In a troubling sign, he walked as many as he struck out (37 each).

-After developing arm troubles, Gatewood learned to throw a knuckleball. But the results were inconsistent, and he languished in the minors for the next four-and-a-half years. During that time he became the property of the Reds, then the Orioles, and finally the Braves.

-Atlanta promoted him to the majors in June of 1970, nearly five years after he'd last thrown a big league pitch. He had two effective relief outings before a disastrous attempt at mop-up work on July 8. With the Braves trailing the Giants 6-0 in the fifth inning, he allowed a runner that he'd inherited from Phil Niekro to score, and a run of his own as well. With two on and two out, he looked to have escaped further damage when he coaxed a ground ball from Willie Mays. But shortstop Sonny Jackson booted it and both runners scored. Willie McCovey received an intentional pass, and Dick Dietz walked to load the bases for Jim Hart. Hart cleared the bases with a triple, and Gatewood was yanked with the Braves in a 13-0 hole. He'd allowed six runs in one-third of an inning, but only one of them was earned. Nonetheless, it was the last game he ever pitched in the majors.

-In parts of four MLB seasons, he was 8-9 with a 2.78 ERA. His complete game in his debut was the only one of his career. He pitched in the minors through the 1971 season.

-Norm Cash was 0-for-7 off of Aubrey in his career. Boog Powell was 2-for-12 with a double, and Luis Aparicio was 1-for-11.
#422 Aubrey Gatewood (back)