Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Donation from Bob, Part One: 1964 AL RBI Leaders and Charlie Lau

Today's entry was made possible by a very generous donation from reader Bob, who found my card blogs through my NumerOlogy website. (Psst, check it out if you haven't already.) He found my Topps Orioles Needs list in the sidebar and very generously sent me his duplicate Orioles cards from 1957 through 1983, a few hundred in total! Fortunately, there were four 1965 cards in the box he sent, so I'll be writing them up two at a time in the next two entries. Thanks again, Bob!

#5 AL RBI Leaders: Brooks Robinson, Dick Stuart, Mickey Mantle, and Harmon Killebrew
Wow, check out this murderers' row! Three Hall of Famers, plus "Dr. Strangeglove", one of the best nicknames in baseball history. 1964 was of course Brooks Robinson's MVP season, when he led the league in RBI (118) and placed second in batting average (.317) and tenth in home runs (28). It was the first of three straight top-three finishes for Brooks in MVP voting. You can read about my own personal encounter with him right here. As for the Mick, it's nice to finally have a vintage card featuring his likeness; I've really been getting burned out on Topps' flogging of #7 in their modern sets. Harmon Killebrew was in the prime of his career at this time; he had just hit 49 home runs, a high-water mark for him. "Killer" hit 40 home runs in five of his first six full seasons, in fact.
#94 Charlie Lau Check out that withering glare! I would not want to mess with Charlie. He was a reliable backup catcher for parts of eleven seasons, and did his best work with the bat in 1962 during his first stint in Baltimore. That year, Lau hit career peaks in the Triple Crown categories (.294, 6 HR, 37 RBI in 81 games). Most fans know Charlie best for his post-playing career as a hitting coach. His one-handed follow-through technique allowed maximum arm extension, enabling hitters to spray the ball all over the field. He became something of a guru, writing the book How to Hit .300 and working with the Orioles, Athletics, Royals, Yankees, and White Sox over parts of three decades. His most famous students include George Brett, Hal McRae, and Carlton Fisk. Other players (such as Frank Thomas) still use his methods today, nearly twenty-five years after he died of cancer.
Two more 1965 Orioles to come soon!

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