Monday, March 14, 2011

#507 Sammy Ellis

#507 Sammy Ellis
Geez, I realize Sammy Ellis was one of the junior members of the Reds, but they could have at least found him a cap that fit!

In other news, this card wraps up my super-late recap of the multi-card trade with Kris Shepard. Thanks again, Chris!

Fun facts about Sammy Ellis:

-A native of Youngstown, OH, Sammy signed with the Reds in 1961 after a brief time at Mississippi State University.

-He had a sterling 34-19 record in his first three seasons in the minors.

-Had a few brief stints in Cincinnati in 1962. He was 21 years old when he won his first game on April 24, a 7-3 decision over the Mets. He allowed only 1 hit in 5 innings, but walked 11!

-In his true rookie season of 1964, he served as the Reds' bullpen ace (10-3, 2.57 ERA). He was the club leader in appearances (52), saves (14), strikeouts per nine innings (9.2), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.46).

-A move to the rotation in 1965 was an instant success, as Sammy went 22-10 with a 3.79 ERA. He was Cincy's wins leader and also paced the team with 15 complete games en route to an All Star selection.

-Outdueled Sandy Koufax on July 28, 1965, allowing four hits in a complete game victory over the Dodgers. Ellis permitted a single run and struck out 12, one off of his personal best.

-His good fortune ran out the following year, with a 12-19 record that was closely tied to a sky-high 5.29 ERA. The righthander also gave up 35 home runs, the most in the league.

-Arm problems crept in in subsequent years, and Ellis was out of the major leagues by 1969 and finished as a pro pitcher two years after that. He put in a season each with the Angels and White Sox and finished 63-58 with a 4.15 ERA in parts of 7 seasons.

-How did Sammy fare against Hall of Famers? Pretty good vs. Roberto Clemente (.216/.259/.431, 12K in 51 AB). Not so good against Hank Aaron (.421/.439/.974, 7 HR in 38 AB).

-He has been a pitching instructor for several organizations, and served at various times on the major league staffs of the Yankees, White Sox, Cubs, Mariners, Red Sox, and Orioles.
#507 Sammy Ellis (back)


  1. Seems as though the established big leaguers in this set have photos taken in spring training, while the rookies had their pictures taken during the season, like this one in the Polo Grounds.

  2. The 1965 set uses Shea Stadium in many NL cards. But the Polo Grounds show up in a significant number too. The photo would had most likely been taken in 1962. The polo grounds is also in the background of Ellis' 1969 card which must have been from the same photo shoot. Way to be current Topps!; using a seven year old photo.

  3. I was really expecting to see "flamethrower" or "fireballer" somewhere on the back...

  4. sjhax56 - Yeah, that often seems to be the case. I think Topps had HQ in New York, so they just grabbed new players as they passed through to face the Mets and Yankees.

    Anon - From what I've seen and heard, 1969 was one of the major mailed-in sets by Topps.

    Doug - I love those old-fashioned terms. Also a fan of "hurler" and "flycatcher".

  5. Kevin, don't forget "rhubarb" and "donnybrook"!

  6. Jim - "Pier-Six brawl" is in a similar vein. Do you ever wonder how that particular pier got such a bad rep?