Friday, May 10, 2013
I had a lot of fun in completing my first vintage set completely from scratch, and I'd like to think that the information I acquired in researching these players helped to make me a better baseball fan. As I went along in this process, I made some significant changes in the way I presented the cards I'd acquired. I started off presenting both sides of the various trades in a summary-style post, and didn't offer much detail on the players featured. Later I focused on each new card individually, with full player biographies in multiple-paragraph form. That became a bit tedious and cumbersome, so I switched to the bullet-point presentation that I still use today. As I drew closer to completing the set, I considered re-posting all of the early cards with new bullet-point formats, for consistency's sake. But ultimately, I decided to leave the blog as-is. I think it helps illustrate the changing process that I used to complete and appreciate the 1965 Topps set. I'd also like to announce the pending launch of STILL ANOTHER card blog, because I am a glutton for punishment. This time it's a set I've already completed, and one that dates back to the very onset of my fandom: the 1993 Topps base set. If you've got room on your blogroll for one more set blog, hold on to that link. I'm really looking forward to spending the next few years revisiting the cards that consumed much of my attention 20 years ago. I'm hoping to update over there on a near-daily basis, but we'll see what the future holds. Now then...on with the final card of 1965!
It's fitting in a way that Eddie Bressoud takes us home, since I don't know the first thing about him. In what is likely my very last update to the 1965 Topps blog, I am going to learn about a player who has escaped my attention thus far.
Fun facts about Eddie Bressoud:
-A native Los Angeleno, Eddie signed with the New York Giants as a teenager in 1950.
-He served in the military during the 1953 and 1954 seasons, delaying his big league debut until 1956. In his initial game on June 14, Bressoud had the unenviable task of facing future Cooperstown resident Warren Spahn. The young infielder went hitless in his first three tries, but ultimately notched a single against Spahn in the eighth inning.
-In a half-dozen seasons with the Giants, Eddie averaged only 74 games a year with a below-average batting line of .239/.299/.369. But the Houston club made him their first pick in the October 1961 expansion draft and flipped him to the Red Sox a month later for shortstop Don Buddin. It proved to be a lopsided deal, as Buddin hit .163 in 40 games for the Colts and was out of the majors by season's end; Bressoud, meanwhile, found Boston much to his liking.
-Bressoud rapped 40 doubles for the Sox in 1962, as well as nine triples, 14 home runs, and 68 RBI. His triples and RBI totals would be career highs.
-Eddie reached the 20-homer plateau for the only time in his career in 1963. Highlights included four two-homer games, his only career walk-off shot (June 26 against Pedro Ramos of the Indians), and his first career grand slam (August 22 against Chicago's Taylor Phillips).
-1964 was a career year for Bressoud, as he batted .293/.372/.456 with 41 doubles and made his only All-Star team.
-He declined sharply after that, with an OPS dip of 180 points the next season. Boston traded the shortstop to the Mets for the 1966 campaign, and he lasted one year in New York before finishing his career as a reserve for the World Champion Cardinals squad in 1967. Eddie appeared in two World Series games as a late-inning defensive replacement, a low-key farewell for the 12-year major league veteran.
-His career batting line was .252/.319/.401 with 94 home runs and 365 RBI.
-Following his playing career, Bressoud earned his college degree from UCLA. He also spent two seasons managing in the minors for the Angels, and was a scout for the Halos for a time. Later he taught physical education and coached the baseball team at De Anza College in Cupertino, CA.
-Eddie still lives in San Ramon, CA. He celebrated his 81st birthday a week ago.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Fun facts about Ron Perranoski:
-Ron was born in Paterson, NJ (as Ron Perzanowski) and attended Michigan State University before signing with the Cubs in 1958.
-His cousin, Stan Perzanowski, pitched in 37 games for the White Sox, Rangers, and Twins between 1971 and 1978.
-The Cubs traded him to the Dodgers in April 1960 as part of a three-for-one deal that sent Don Zimmer to Chicago. He debuted with L.A. a year later and was a bullpen fixture from the start, appearing in 53 games with a 7-5 record, six saves, and a 2.65 ERA.
-1963 was Perranoski's standout season, as he posted a 16-3 record in relief with 21 saves and a 1.67 ERA. He paced the National League in winning percentage (.842) and games pitched (69), and finished fourth in MVP balloting. In the Dodgers' World Series sweep over the Yankees, the lefty nailed down a save in Game Two by getting the final two outs in relief of Johnny Podres.
-As you might imagine, the career-long reliever wasn't much of a hitter. In 190 career plate appearances, he had a batting line of .096/.147/.114 with three RBI. However, he did hit a triple on September 4, 1966 off of the Reds' Don Nottebart. I would've liked to have seen him run the bases!
-In all, Ron spent eight years in Los Angeles, posting a 54-41 record, 101 saves, and a 2.56 ERA.
-The Twins acquired the relief ace in November 1967, parting with former A.L. MVP Zoilo Versalles and 20-game winner Jim "Mudcat" Grant and receiving Perranoski, John Roseboro, and Bob Miller.
-Ron led the American League in saves in both the 1969 and 1970 seasons, with 31 and 34 respectively. Though the Twins captured the first two Western Division crowns in A.L. history, they ran into the Baltimore juggernaut in the postseason in each year. The league's top fireman allowed a total of eight runs in seven innings as the Orioles swept Minnesota twice.
-The final three years of Ron's career saw him move from the Twins to the Tigers, then back to the Dodgers briefly, before an eight-game stint with the Angels in 1973 signaled the end of the road. In 13 seasons, he was 79-74 with 179 saves and a 2.79 ERA.
-Perranoski found a home in the Dodgers' organization after retiring as a player. He was the club's minor league pitching coordinator (1973-1980) and big league pitching coach (1981-1994) for more than two decades before joining the rival Giants in 1995. He's been with San Francisco ever since, serving as minor league pitching coordinator, major league bench coach and pitching coach, and finally as a special assistant to general manager Brian Sabean.
Monday, May 06, 2013
Friday, May 03, 2013
Fun Facts about Nick Willhite:
-Nick was born in Tulsa, OK, grew up in Denver, CO, and signed with the Dodgers as an 18-year-old in 1959.
-At Class A Greenville, he threw 230 innings in 1961, going 16-9 with a sparkling 1.80 ERA.
-Willhite debuted with the Dodgers in a big way, tossing a five-hit, six-strikeout shutout against the Cubs on June 16, 1963. It proved to be his only shutout in 29 career starts.
-As a hitter, it was either feast or famine for Nick, who batted .300 (3-for-10) as a rookie and .400 (4-for-10) in 1965. In the other two seasons in which he batted, the southpaw was a combined 0-for-23!
-The Senators purchased Willhite's contract from the Dodgers in October of 1964, but sold him back to L.A. the following May after he allowed 11 runs (five earned) in five relief appearances.
-Although Nick saw regular-season action for Los Angeles in their World Series-winning seasons of 1963 and 1965 and their pennant-winning season of 1966, he never appeared in a postseason game.
-He found himself out of baseball at age 26 after racking up a 5.10 ERA in a 1967 season split between the Angels and Mets. In parts of five big league seasons, he had a 6-12 record and a 4.55 ERA.
-Willhite later went into coaching, instructing pitchers at Brigham Young University as well as stints in the Brewers and Yankees farm systems.
-By the late 1980s, Nick was thrice-divorced and living on the streets of Salt Lake City. He reached out to former teammate Stan Williams, and was able to obtain treatment for drug and alcohol addictions through the Baseball Assistance Team.
-Willhite became an addictions counselor after his own successful rehabilitation. In December of 2008, he died of cancer at age 67 in his son's home in Alpine, Utah.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Fun facts about Pete Richert:
-A native of Floral Park, NY, Pete signed with the Dodgers as a teenager in 1958.
-He debuted with the Dodgers on April 12, 1962, earning the win with 3.1 innings of scoreless relief after starter Stan Williams was chased in the second inning. In Richert's first full inning, he set a big league record with four strikeouts, victimizing Frank Robinson, Gordy Coleman, Wally Post, and Johnny Edwards. Coleman reached base when catcher Johnny Roseboro committed a passed ball on strike three, enabling the rare feat. Overall, the rookie struck out seven and allowed no hits or walks.
-Jockeying for mound time on a staff that boasted Koufax, Drysdale, and Johnny Podres, Pete totaled 194 innings in three seasons in L.A. He posted a middling 4.18 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, then was dealt to the Senators.
-In his two full seasons in Washington, Richert made the only two All-Star teams of his career. In 1965, he led the Senators with a 15-12 record and a 2.60 ERA (fifth-lowest in the American League), and struck out 161 batters in 194 innings. In a career-high 245 innings the following year, he was again the club's best starter with a 14-14 mark and a 3.37 ERA.
-On April 24, 1966, the southpaw struck out seven straight Detroit batters and whiffed 12 overall in six innings. He also took the loss, as Bill Monbouquette tossed a shutout for the Tigers.
-The injury-plagued Orioles acquired Pete in May of 1967, and he put up a 2.99 ERA in 26 games (19 starts) for his new club. Those would be the last 19 starts of his career.
-Richert thrived with the Orioles after switching to relief full-time. In 1969, he he seven wins, a dozen saves, and a 2.20 ERA for the American League champs. He struck out 54 batters in 57.1 innings, and allowed only 56 baserunners. The next season, he was just as good if not better: 7-2, 13 saves, a 1.98 ERA, 66 strikeouts in 54.2 innings, and a 1.10 WHIP.
-Pete was unscored upon in the postseason, appearing in the 1969 ALCS and the 1969, 1970, and 1971 World Series. For whatever reason, he was also barely used, facing just nine batters total and accumulating two innings of work. But he did earn a save in the opener of the 1970 Series, replacing Jim Palmer with two outs in the ninth and the tying run on first base in the form of Pete Rose. The reliever induced a liner to shortstop off the bat of Bobby Tolan, and the stage was set for Baltimore's five-game triumph over the Reds.
-Richert finished his career with a three-year stint in the National League, returning to the Dodgers for 1972-1973 and splitting the 1974 campaign between the Cardinals and Phillies. In 13 major league seasons, he was 80-73 with 51 saves and a 3.19 ERA.
-He spent more than a decade as a minor league pitching coach in the Oakland and San Francisco organizations.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Fun facts about Tom Butters:
-Tom was born in Delaware, OH, and grew up following Lou Boudreau's successful Indians teams. He signed with the Pirates as a 17-year-old in 1957, and attended Ohio Wesleyan University for one semester each year, ultimately graduating with a degree in religion and physical education.
-He didn't reach the majors until 1962, in large part due to control issues; he walked at least 5.3 batters per nine innings in each of his first four years in pro ball.
-Butters made his big league debut on September 8, 1962 with two innings of scoreless relief against the Dodgers. He struck out three batters: opposing pitcher Pete Richert, Ron Fairly, and soon-to-be batting champ Tommy Davis. In four relief appearances that month, the rookie allowed a single run in six innings.
-He spent much of the 1964 season as a low-ranking member of the Pirate bullpen, starting four games and relieving in 24 others. He split the decisions in those four starts, going 2-2 with a solid 2.38 ERA for the year. He still wasn't very precise, striking out 58 and walking 37 in just 64.1 innings.
-While driving through Fayetteville, NC en route to spring training in 1965, Butters' car was struck from the rear by another driver. The collision caused Tom to suffer from severe whiplash, and he dealt with lingering headaches and nausea. He tried to pitch through his maladies, but gave up seven earned runs in nine innings out of the Pittsburgh 'pen and was released in midseason.
-Tom saw the writing on the wall and retired, finishing with a 2-3 record and a 3.10 ERA in parts of four major league seasons.
-He briefly took an admissions job at his alma mater before hiring on at Duke University in the development office. When the head baseball coach died suddenly, Butters was selected for that post at the suggestion of his ex-teammate (and Duke alumnus) Dick Groat. The Blue Devils had an overall record of 43-53-1 in three seasons under the former big leaguer, but were hamstrung by a lack of athletic scholarships.
-Tom's superlative fundraising efforts earned him several promotions, leading to his appointment as athletic director in 1977. His most notable achievement in that role was the 1980 hiring of Mike Krzyzewski as men's basketball coach; 33 years and four national championships later, "Coach K" is still at the school.
-Butters retired from Duke in 1998, and was elected into the university's Sports Hall of Fame a year later. The Schwartz-Butters Athletic Center, the capstone project of Tom's tenure, was dedicated in 2000.
-He still spends most of his time in Durham, NC with Lynn, his wife of more than 50 years. The couple have two children.
(The source for much of this blog post is Rory Costello's SABR biography of Tom Butters, which is rich in detail even though it tends to verge on Duke University boosterism.)
Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Fun facts about Ron Fairly:
-A native of Macon, GA, Ron moved to southern California at a young age and starred at USC before signing with the Dodgers for a $75,000 bonus in 1958.
-His father Carl played minor league ball for 11 seasons, roaming the infield. His best year came at Class B Macon in 1938, the year Ron was born; he batted .302 for the Peaches.
-Though still shy of his 20th birthday, Fairly was promoted to the majors after slugging .528 in only 69 minor-league games. In a 15-game trial with L.A., the youngster hit .283/.350/.415 with a pair of homers.
-A crowded Dodgers outfield and a stint in the Army Reserves slowed Ron's meteoric rise, but he batted .322/.434/.522 as a part-time player in 1961 and found a new home at first base. The following year, he led the club with a .379 on-base percentage.
-Fairly played in four World Series with the Dodgers, winning championships in 1959, 1963, and 1965 and bowing to the Orioles in 1966. In 1965, he started all seven games against the Twins and batted .379 with a .690 slugging percentage. He hit safely in 11 of 29 at-bats, homered twice, and drove in six runs. Perhaps most impressively, he struck out only once.
-A late-20's decline that Fairly attributes to a change in Dodger Stadium groundskeeping (post-Koufax, the team grew the infield grass longer, which slowed down hard ground balls) spurred Los Angeles to trade him to the Expos in June 1969. L. A. reacquired Maury Wills and Manny Mota in the deal.
-Though Ron wasn't happy playing for an expansion team far from home, his performance did rebound in Montreal. His OPS+ was 115 or greater in each of his half-dozen seasons as an Expo, and he was an All-Star for the first time in 1973. That year he had a .298 average and career highs of 17 home runs and a .422 on-base percentage.
-After two seasons split between St. Louis and Oakland, Fairly became the only player ever to appear in All-Star Games as a member of both Canadian teams. He batted .279 and reached base at a .364 clip for the Blue Jays in their inaugural 1977 season, leading the team with 19 home runs.
-He retired after spending 1978 back in southern California with the Angels. In parts of 21 seasons, he hit .266/.360/.408 with a 117 OPS+, 215 home runs, and 1044 RBI.
-Ron spent nearly 30 years broadcasting games for the Angels, Giants, and Mariners before retiring in 2006.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Fun facts about Bob Veale:
-Bob was born in Birmingham, AL and attended Benedictine College in Kansas before signing with the Pirates in 1958.
-Veale was 26 years old when he made the Pirates' Opening Day roster for the first time in 1962. In his second career start (April 22), he earned a complete-game, 4-3 victory against the Mets for his first win.
-1964 was Bob's first full season in the Pittsburgh rotation, and he led the team in practically every pitching category. He was 18-12 with a 2.74 ERA (128 ERA+) and 14 complete games. He also led the National League with 250 strikeouts (edging Bob Gibson on the season's final day), 0.3 HR/9 innings (only 8 in 279.2 innings pitched), and 124 walks allowed. The high strikeout and walk totals and the low home run yield were trends throughout the 6'6" southpaw's career.
-Veale made the first of back-to-back All-Star teams in 1965, when he posted a 17-12 record and a 2.84 ERA. He also established a career high with 276 strikeouts, a total that was dwarfed by Sandy Koufax's otherworldly tally of 382.
-He was a mainstay starter for the Pirates for the seven seasons spanning 1964-1970. During that time, Bob was 103-87 with a 3.01 ERA (115 ERA+).
-The Bucs moved Veale to the bullpen in 1971. The results were gruesome, as his 6-0 record masked a 6.99 ERA. He allowed 36 earned runs in 46.1 innings, and allowed three of the five batters he faced in that year's World Series to reach base.
-He spent the last two seasons and change of his career as a reliever in Boston, retiring after the Red Sox released him in October 1974. In parts of 13 big league seasons, he was 120-95 with a 3.07 ERA.
-Bob is still the Pirates' record-holder with 7.96 strikeouts per 9 innings during his tenure with the club. He is 38th on the all-time MLB list, though several pitchers ahead of him are still active and may drop as they decline.
-Veale spent about a decade after his playing career as a pitching instructor. Among other teams, he worked in the Braves organization.
-He was selected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and still lives in Birmingham.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Fun facts about Don Loun:
-Don was born and raised in Frederick, MD, west of Baltimore. He signed with the Senators as an amateur free agent in 1961, when he was 20 years old.
-Despite spending his first two years in Class D ball with Pensacola, Loun was bumped up to Class A in 1963. Pitching for the Peninsula Senators, he went 11-10 with a 3.32 ERA.
-Don continued his sudden rise in 1964, beginning the season at AA York and finishing it with the Senators. After pitching to a 2.14 ERA in 25 games split between York and AAA Toronto, he got a September promotion to the big leagues.
-The young lefty made his debut on September 23, 1964, and it was a dandy. He five-hit the Red Sox for a 1-0 victory, walking none and striking out a pair. Fellow rookie Pete Charton was the hard-luck loser, undone by a second inning in which he gave up three singles and saw the lone run against him score on a double-play grounder. As of this writing, Loun is one of only 44 pitchers to toss a complete game shutout in their first career game.
-His first strikeout victim was future Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.
-Don's second start was not nearly so auspicious. Facing the Red Sox again on October 3 - this time in Fenway Park - he was pulled for a pinch hitter after allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks in four innings. He was tagged with the loss as Bill Monbouquette scattered seven hits to top Washington 7-0.
-As fate would have it, those were the only two games of Don Loun's major league career. He was left with a lifetime record of 1-1 and a 2.08 ERA.
-Loun did pitch in the minors through the 1969 season, finishing with a career mark of 52-62 and a 3.99 ERA.
Fun facts about Joe McCabe:
-A native of Indianapolis, IN, Joe attended Purdue University before signing with the original Senators franchise in 1960.
-In his first exposure to AAA, he hit .309 and slugged .509 in 59 games for the Vancouver Mounties in 1962.
-McCabe made it to the major leagues with the Twins (who had moved from Washington to Minnesota) in 1964 and spent the first few months of the season on their roster. He debuted on April 18, entering the game for Earl Battey in the fourth inning and hitting a sacrifice fly in his only plate appearance. He was removed for pinch hitter Jimmie Hall in the eighth inning.
-His first multi-hit game was on May 24 against Milt Pappas and the Orioles. That day, Joe went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored, but the O's outlasted the Twins 7-6.
-In his first taste of the majors, McCabe batted .158 (3-for-19) with two RBI in 14 games.
-Joe was traded to the new(er) Senators in October of 1964 for Ken Retzer, another catcher.
-Once again, he started the 1965 season in the big leagues. But once again, he only saw action in 14 games. On the plus side, the backstop did hit his one and only career home run on May 2. It was a solo shot off of Jack Kralick, and gave the Senators a 1-0 lead in a game they pulled out by a 3-2 final.
-McCabe's second (and as it happened, final) big league batting line was .185/.281/.296 with a home run and five RBI.
-He had a cumulative batting average of .174 with a homer and seven RBI over two partial seasons.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Fun facts about Bob Aspromonte:
-Bob was born in Brooklyn, and signed with the hometown Dodgers in 1956.
-His older brother Ken roamed the infield for the Senators, Indians, and four other clubs (1957-1963), batting .249 in 475 career games.
-Bob played one game for the Dodgers in September of 1956 at age 18, then made it back to stay in 1960. His first home run was hit off of Lew Burdette on May 5, 1960.
-He was tabbed as a starting third baseman by the Houston Colt .45s after they took him in the expansion draft. Leading off for the club in their inaugural game on April 10, 1962, he went 3-for-4 with a walk, a steal, and three runs scored in an 11-2 rout of the Cubs. He's in the trivia books for the first base hit and the first run scored in franchise history.
-Bob had a reputation as a skilled defender at the hot corner. In 1962, he had a streak of 57 consecutive errorless games, a record at the time. He led National League third basemen in fielding percentage in 1964 (.973) and 1971 (.965).
-In 1964, Aspromonte batted .280 with career highs of 12 home runs and 69 RBI.
-On June 10, 1968, there was a national day of mourning following the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Aspromonte and teammate Rusty Staub refused to play in that day's scheduled game, and were fined.
-Bob was traded to the Braves after the 1968 season, becoming the last of the original Colt .45s to leave the team. He spent two years in Atlanta and a season with the Mets before retiring in 1971. When he called it quits, he was the last of the Brooklyn Dodgers active in the major leagues.
-In parts of 13 seasons, he batted .252 with 60 home runs and 457 RBI.
-Aspromonte ran a Coors beer distributorship for many years, but is now retired. He still lives in Houston.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Fun facts about Joe Jay:
-A native of Middletown, CT, Joe signed with the Milwaukee Braves for a $40,000 bonus in 1953 after completing high school.
-Due to everyone's favorite obsolete rule (Bonus Baby!), Jay immediately joined the Braves at age 17, making him the first veteran of Little League Baseball to play in the majors. He appeared in three games in 1953 and shut out the Reds in an abbreviated seven-inning game for his first win.
-He pitched in Milwaukee for parts of seven seasons, but never received more than 19 starts in a single year. His best work came in 1958, when he went 7-5 with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP to help the Braves capture their second straight pennant. However, a pulled elbow tendon and a broken ring finger limited the righthander to 96.2 innings. The latter injury sidelined him during the World Series.
-In December 1960, Joe was traded to the Reds along with Juan Pizzaro, with shortstop Roy McMillan coming to the Braves. He took immediately to his new team, topping the National League with a 21-10 record and four shutouts. He put up a 3.53 ERA in 247.1 innings for the first-place Cincinnati club and made his lone All-Star team. He even finished fifth in MVP voting, stealing the one first-place vote that did not go to teammate Franak Robinson.
-Jay delivered the Reds' only win in the 1961 World Series, maneuvering around six walks in a 6-2 complete game effort in Game Two. He was not nearly so fortunate in Game Five, as the Yankees knocked him out of the box after two-thirds of an inning. He was charged with four runs, as New York rolled to a 13-5 Series-clinching victory.
-He was nearly as good in 1962, going 21-14 with a 3.76 ERA in a career-high 273 innings. His fine season made him the first Reds pitcher since Bucky Walters in 1939-1940 to post consecutive 20-win campaigns.
-Shoulder pain and poor run support contributed to a 7-18 record in 1963, though Joe's ERA also jumped to 4.29.
-Jay persevered through aches and pains and occasional squabbles with management to pitch another two and a half seasons in Cincy, but was surprised by a trade back to the Braves in mid-1966. He fell from 6-2 with a 3.91 ERA pre-trade to 0-4 with a 7.89 ERA afterward, and was released in December.
-The Phillies signed Joe to a minor-league deal in 1967, but let him go after four games at Class A Clearwater. He retired with a career record of 99-91 and a 3.77 ERA in parts of 13 seasons.
-Jay was the rare major leaguer who made a clean break from the game. He had built up some considerable business interests during his career, including ownership of taxicab and limousine companies, a carpet cleaning business, two building maintenance firms, and most notably, J&B Drilling, which came to own close to 100 oil wells.
Friday, March 08, 2013
Anyhow, this is a fairly unique photo for the 1965 Topps set, zooming in on Briggs as he seemingly plays catch with an unseen teammate. I'm skeptical as to the presence of an actuall ball in his glove, but I can't say for sure that there's not one in there. Call me a ball agnostic. On second thought...don't. It might lead to some misunderstandings.
Fun facts about John Briggs:
-John was born in Paterson, NJ, and signed with the Phillies as an 18-year-old in 1962. His bonus was a mere $8,000.
-He spent only one season in the minors before getting called up, batting .297 and slugging an even .500 with 21 home runs for Class A Bakersfield in 1963.
-The first two home runs of his career were a leadoff shot (June 21, 1964 against Frank Lary of the Mets) and a walkoff job (May 10, 1965 against Bob Purkey of the Cardinals).
-Briggs spent seven seasons in Philly as a part-timer, seeing action at first base and all three outfield positions. His best overall effort with the Phillies was in 1966, when he batted .282/.380/.490 with 10 home runs in 297 plate appearances.
-John found increased playing time and power after an April 1971 trade to the Brewers. He hit 21 home runs in both the 1971 and 1972 seasons, and set a personal best with 30 doubles in 1974.
-On August 4, 1973, he went 6-for-6 with a pair of doubles in a 9-4 win over the Indians.
-The Twins acquired Briggs in June 1975, but released him the following spring. He played out 1976 in Japan with the Lotte Marines before hanging up his spikes.
-In 12 seasons in the majors, John hit .253 with a .355 on-base percentage and slugged .416. He totaled 139 home runs and 507 RBI.
-Back in New Jersey, Briggs joined the Passaic County Sherriff's Department, retiring as a lieutenant in 2008. He also coached baseball and counseled children in Paterson, and there's a field named for him in West Side Park.
-John still lives in Paterson with his wife Renvy and their two teenage sons, Jalen and Julian.
Monday, March 04, 2013
Fun facts about Jim Lonborg:
-Jim was born in Santa Maria, CA, and signed with the Red Sox in 1963 after earning a biology degree at Stanford University.
-His high school teammate and good friend Mel Queen went on to pitch for the Reds and Angels, and also married Lonborg's sister.
-Jim jumped to the major leagues at age 23 in 1965 and took his lumps, putting up a 9-17 record and a 4.47 ERA.
-Lonborg came of age in Boston's 1967 "Impossible Dream" season, going 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA to tie former teammate Earl Wilson for the American League lead in wins. He also led the loop with 246 strikeouts en route to his lone All-Star berth, a sixth-place finish in MVP voting, and a near-unanimous selection as AL Cy Young Award winner.
-He pitched to a 2.63 ERA in three starts in the 1967 World Series, shutting out the Cardinals in Game Two and outlasting Steve Carlton in Game Five before running out of gas in the decisive Game Seven.
-An offseason skiing accident in the winter of 1967-1968 caused severe ligament damage in Jim's left knee. He tried to rush back from surgery and wound up damaging his rotator cuff while compensating for the knee; he would never be as effective as he had been before these injuries.
-He was sent to Milwaukee in a 10-player deal after the 1971 season. After a solid year with the Brewers (14-12, 2.83 ERA, 107 ERA+), the righty was traded to the Phillies, this time in a seven-man swap. He would remain with Philly throughout the decade, winning 75 games in six-plus seasons and appearing in the NLCS in both 1976 and 1977.
-In parts of 15 seasons, "Lonnie" was 157-137 with a 3.86 ERA. He was selected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002.
-After hanging up his spikes, Jim matriculated from Tufts University Dental School. He has had his own dental practice in Hanover, MA since the mid-1980s.
-According to comedy writer and former baseball announcer Ken Levine, the photo of "Sam Malone" that hung above the bar on the popular sitcom "Cheers" was actually a photo of Lonborg. The character (played by Ted Danson) was a former Red Sox pitcher.
Fun facts about Mike Ryan:
-Haverhill, MA native Mike Ryan grew up as a Red Sox fan, then signed with the team as a teenager in 1960.
-After four years as a light-hitting, defensively-adept catcher in the Boston farm system, Mike got a one-game cup of coffee on October 3, 1964, going 1-for-3 with a two-run single and an intentional walk in a 7-0 Sox victory.
-Though Ryan hit just .159 in 33 games in 1965, he had two home runs at Tiger Stadium on May 2, 1965. It was only his second big league game; there would be 634 more, but never again did he homer twice in a game.
-He was traded to the Phillies prior to the 1968 season. As the team's primary catcher in 1969, Mike hit a career-best 12 home runs and drove in 44, but still had just a .204 batting average.
-Every dog has his day: Mike hit home runs off of Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Tom Seaver in 1969.
-Tim McCarver's arrival in Philadelphia pushed Ryan back to the bench, where he remained through the 1973 season. He was dealt to Pittsburgh in 1974, appeared in only 15 games, and retired at age 32.
-In parts of 11 seasons, Mike batted .193 with 28 home runs and 161 RBI. He also had a .991 fielding percentage and threw out 44% of would-be base stealers.
-Of all position players since 1930, only shortstop Ray Oyler (.175) had a lower batting average with at least 1,000 career at-bats than Ryan.
-He was a minor-league manager in the Pirates (1975-1976) and Phillies (1977-1978) organizations before becoming the Phils' major league bullpen coach in 1980, a position he held until retiring from the game in 1995.
-Mike lives with Suzanne, his wife of more than 40 years, in Wolfeboro, NH.
Fun facts about Bill Schlesinger:
-Bill was born in Cincinnati, OH, the son of a hardware store owner. During his childhood, several Reds players worked for his father in the offseason, including Gus Bell, Johnny Temple, Ted Kluszewski, and Roy McMillan.
-He actually never played organized baseball growing up, as he failed to make the cut both in high school and in college at the University of Cincinnati. However, his father's connections proved valuable, as Red Sox scout Denny Galehouse took a flyer on Schlesinger for a $1,000 signing bonus in 1963.
-Incredibly, Bill not only made the cut with Boston's New York/Penn League team in Wellsville, NY, but was named a league All-Star. His resume included a .341 average, a .624 slugging percentage, 31 doubles, and league-leading totals of 129 runs scored and 37 home runs. He even stole 18 bases.
-The Red Sox invited him to major league camp in 1965, and he went north with the team. He suspects that he was chosen over Jerry Moses because the latter was a more highly-regarded prospect and the team did not want to hinder his development.
-Indeed, the BoSox did not use Schlesinger in a game until May 4, 1965. He pinch hit for pitcher Dave Morehead leading off the sixth inning, and tapped a comebacker to Angels hurler Marcelino Lopez, who threw him out at first base. In his SABR biography, the player offers an amusing retelling of this experience, complete with a wipeout on the dugout steps and a weighted donut that would not come off of his bat.
-He had no way of knowing at the time, but that one inauspicious at-bat was to be Bill's lone major league experience. He was placed on waivers three days later and claimed by the Athletics.
-The outfielder wound up back in Boston's farm system twice more in his career. He also played in the Cubs and Phillies organizations.
-In August of 1969, Bill was to be promoted to the major leagues by the Phillies, but was hit in the face by a Larry Sherry pitch while still at AAA. He couldn't see at all for a few days afterward, and ultimately lost 40% of his vision. He finally retired in the spring of 1971 after the Pirates sent him home from their camp.
-He returned home to Cincinnati and inherited Pleasant Ridge Hardware when his father passed away in 1972.
-Bill ended up playing slow-pitch softball for 25 years, and is in the Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame.
Fun facts about Jerry Moses:
-A native of Yazoo City, MS, Jerry turned down a football scholarship from Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama and signed with the Red Sox for a $50,000 bonus in 1964.
-His father Sammy was a baseball scout for 25 years, working for the Pirates, Angels, and Dodgers.
-Bonus baby rules did force Boston to put Moses on the big league roster for three months in 1965. He had just four pinch-hit appearances all year, but the second of those came on May 25, 1965. That day, the rookie hit a booming home run off of Minnesota's Jim "Mudcat" Grant, who would win 21 games that season.
-After a six-game September cameo in 1968, Jerry shared catching duties in Beantown in 1969. In 53 games he hit .304 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI.
-His only career grand slam was the decisive blow in a 9-4 win over the Indians on April 20, 1969. The young catcher later doubled in an insurance run to give him a career-best 5 RBI on the day.
-He hit .278 with 14 doubles, 3 homers, and 23 RBI in the first half of the 1970 season to earn an All-Star nod. The catcher would finish with career highs of 92 games played, 18 doubles, 6 home runs, and 35 RBI while batting .263.
-The Red Sox traded Moses to the Angels in October of 1970, and he played for seven teams over the final six years of his career. The others were the Indians, Yankees, Tigers, Padres, and White Sox. In between, he was also the property of the Mets for a few months.
-Jerry retired after the White Sox released him in late 1975, looking for more economic security than a backup catcher could get in those days. In parts of nine seasons, he batted .251 with 25 home runs and 109 RBI.
-Though Moses hit only 25 career homers, he victimized two pitchers twice, and both were famous for giving up moon shots: Al Downing (who served up Hank Aaron's 715th in 1974) and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven (who set a single-season record by surrendering 50 HR in 1986).
-These days, Jerry enjoys golfing, coaching, watching the New England Patriots, and spending time with his six grandchildren.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Fun facts about Rene Lachemann:
-A native of Los Angeles, Rene played collegiately at the University of Southern California (that's USC to you) before signing with the Athletics in 1964.
-He was only 20 when he debuted with Kansas City in 1965. His first career hit was a pinch-hit home run against Chicago's Gary Peters on May 13.
-As the primary backup to Billy Bryan, Lachemann hit .227 (the overall team average was just .240) with 9 home runs and 29 RBI in 235 plate appearances.
-On September 8, 1965, he replaced Bert Campaneris behind the plate in the tenth inning of a game against the Angels. That was, of course, the game in which Campy played all nine positions as a stunt. Rene singled twice in a losing cause.
-Rene spent most of 1966 at AA Mobile and had a double in five big league plate appearances that season.
-His only other taste of the big leagues came in 1968, when he batted .150 in a 19-game stint in Oakland.
-In parts of three major league seasons, Rene had a .210 average, 9 home runs, and 33 RBI.
-Continued playing with the Athletics' AAA club through 1972, finishing with a minor league stat line of .250/.316/.415 and 104 home runs in 8 seasons.
-Though he was just 28 at the time, Lachemann went straight into managing when his playing career was through. From 1973 through 1980, he skippered in the Oakland and Seattle organizations, then took over as Mariners manager in midseason 1981 following Maury Wills' termination. He had a 140-180 record when the club fired him in 1983. Next came a single, 94-loss campaign helming the Brewers. Rene spent the subsequent decade coaching for Boston and Oakland before being tabbed as the first manager of the Florida Marlins in 1993. It was more of the same there, as he was relieved of his duties in mid-1996 with a 221-285 overall mark. In the ensuing years, he's coached for the Cardinals, Cubs, Mariners, Athletics, and Rockies.
-His older brother Marcel pitched for the Athletics from 1969-1971, compiling a 3.44 ERA in 102 innings of relief. He has been a pitching coach for several big league teams, and worked on Rene's Marlins staff in 1993 and 1994. Marcel also got a brief tenure as Angels manager, 1994-1996. A third brother, Bill, was a catcher in the Dodgers' farm system in the late 1950s and also had a lengthy career as a coach and minor league skipper.
Fun facts about Johnny Odom:
-Johnny was born in Macon, GA and signed with Kansas City out of high school in 1964.
-The talent-poor A's gave the young pitcher five starts at the end of the 1964 season. In his second-ever appearance, he scattered six walks and two hits in blanking the Orioles 8-0. However, the teenager was knocked out of the box in his other four starts and finished with a 10.06 ERA.
-Odom stuck in the majors for good in 1966, when he went 5-5 with a 2.49 ERA in 14 starts despite walking 53 men and striking out just 47.
-He was an All-Star in both 1968 (16-10, 2.45 ERA, 113 ERA+) and 1969 (15-6, 2.92 ERA, 117 ERA+).
-Johnny was more fleet of foot than most pitchers, and was used as a pinch runner 105 times. He was only 6-for-11 stealing, though, and he made the final out of Game 5 of the 1972 World Series on a reckless dash home from second base. Joe Morgan gunned him out, but the A's won the Series in seven.
-That 1972 season was also Odom's last as an effective pitcher. He went 15-6 with a 2.50 ERA (115 ERA+) for the World Champs and allowed only three runs (two earned) in 25.1 postseason innings.
-From 1973 through the end of his career in 1976, Johnny posted a sorry 10-28 record with a 5.04 ERA for the Athletics, Indians, Braves, and White Sox. He was finished at age 31.
-His last big-league win was July 28, 1976, a 2-1 White Sox victory over the A's. Odom held his former team hitless for five innings, but walked nine and allowed an unearned run on a Jim Essian throwing error. Francisco Barrios cleaned up the mess with four innings of no-hit relief. How many guys can say that their final 'W' in the majors was a no-hitter?
-In a career that spanned 13 seasons, Johnny had a record of 84-85 with a 3.70 ERA.
-Odom was arrested in 1985 for selling cocaine. On December 11, while facing a trial on the drug charges, he had a six-hour standoff with police while holding his then-wife Gayle captive with a shotgun. Ultimately, he spent six weeks in rehab for alcohol addiction and served a 55-day prison sentence. By all accounts, he turned his life around; he later remarried and owned a house-painting service for some time. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2004 and is now retired.
Fun facts about Skip Lockwood:
-Skip (born Claude Edward Lockwood) was born in Roslindale, MA, and lettered in basketball, track, and baseball in high school. He batted .416 and won 22 games as a pitcher in his senior year, convincing the Athletics to meet his demand of a $135,000 signing bonus.
-Due to bonus baby rules, the 18-year-old made Kansas City's big league roster in 1965. The would-be third baseman collected just 41 plate appearances in 42 games, batting a mere .121 with no extra-base hits.
-Lockwood continued to struggle as a hitter and lost some time to service in the Army Reserve. In late 1967, the Athletics converted him to pitching in hopes that they could slip him through the Rule V draft and then continue developing him as an infielder. But the Astros claimed him and let him pitch, and he stuck with it even after being returned to the A's.
-The Seattle Pilots nabbed Skip in the expansion draft and he pitched in six major league games in 1969, sporting a 3.52 ERA in 23 innings.
-He spent parts of the next four seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers (the relocated and rebranded Pilots). In 1971, he had his best year as a starter, going 10-15 with a 3.33 ERA for a 92-loss Brewers club.
-On May 30, 1972, Lockwood one-hit the Yankees in a 3-1 win. He also walked six batters, but a sixth-inning single by Rusty Torres was the only safety that New York managed.
-After one season with the Angels, Skip came to the Mets in 1975 and had some success as a reliever. 1976 saw him go 10-7 with a 2.67 ERA and a team-high 19 saves. He also struck out 108 men in 94.1 innings. It was the first of four straight seasons that he led the Mets in saves.
-Lockwood finished his career with the Red Sox in 1980, as shoulder problems hastened his exit from the game. In parts of 12 seasons as a big league pitcher, he was 57-97 with a 3.55 ERA and 68 saves.
-Though he began his baseball career straight out of high school, Skip continued his education throughout the years. He has a B.S. in speech from Emerson College, a master's degree in business and industrial communication from Fairfield University, and a second master's in finance and economics from MIT. He also did some Ph.D. coursework in sports psychology, but did not complete the degree.
-Lockwood and his wife Kathy have five children. He is currently working as a motivational speaker, and according to his website, he is working on a book about his baseball career.
Fun Facts about Jim (Catfish) Hunter:
-Jim was born in Hertford, NC. After compiling a 26-2 record at Perquimans High School, he signed with the A's in 1964 for a $75,000 bonus.
-His nickname was bestowed upon him by the marketing-conscious Athletics' owner, Charles O. Finley. "Charlie O" concocted a story about the pitcher catching a large catfish as a boy, and the moniker stuck.
-In 1965, he made 20 starts and a dozen relief appearances as a 19-year-old for Kansas City and held his own, going 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA.
-On May 8, 1968, he threw the first perfect game by an American League pitcher in 46 years, blanking the Twins 4-0 while striking out 11. The notoriously stingy Charlie Finley gave his starter a $5,000 bonus on the spot.
-Catfish's many accomplishments included 8 All-Star appearances and the 1974 American League Cy Young Award (25-12, 2.49 ERA, 23 complete games). He was also the last A.L. pitcher to win 20 or more games in 5 consecutive seasons, which he did from 1971 through 1975.
-Hunter was one of the better-hitting pitchers of his time, batting .226 with 6 homers and 51 RBI in 710 career plate appearances. In 1971, he rapped out a .350 average (36-for-103) with a home run and 12 RBI.
-He was a member of five World Series champions, and he particularly excelled in his three Fall Classics with the A's. From 1972-1974, he had a 4-0 record in five Series starts, and even earned a save in the opener of the 1974 championship. In that span, his World Series ERA was 2.19.
-By 1974, Hunter became embroiled in a contract dispute with Finley, who had failed to make agreed-upon payments to a life insurance fund for the player. Arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that Finley had indeed breached the contract, and declared Hunter a free agent. The decision effectively nullified baseball's reserve clause, and after a spirited bidding war, the righthander signed with the Yankees for a then-record five years, $3.75 million.
-Though his Yankee career started phenomenally (23-14, 2.58 ERA, league-leading 30 CG and 1.01 WHIP in 1975), the effects of diabetes and years of heavy workload soon showed, and he retired when his contract expired at the end of the 1979 season. In a 15-year career, he was 224-166 with a 3.26 ERA and 181 complete games.
-Hunter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Athletics retired his #27 in 1991. His plaque in Cooperstown features no insignia on the cap, since he preferred not to choose either one of his teams over the other. He spent his retirement on his farm in Hertford, and was only 53 when he died in 1999 after battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.