Wednesday, September 10, 2008

#14 Len Gabrielson

Len Gabrielson by you.
This is the first of three cards I received in a trade with Max. He was also generous enough to send along some great Orioles cards for my ever-growing collection, which was a pleasant surprise! The next time I go to the post office, I'll be sending some Mets cards his way.

What we have here is Len Gabrielson, a second-generation ballplayer. His father, Len Sr., played just five games for the dreadful 1939 Phillies. His son had a much better go of it, sticking around for parts of nine seasons. Signed by the Braves out of the University of Southern California in 1959, Len would get a brief taste of The Show in 1960, appearing in four games as a twenty-year-old. He'd be back to stay in 1963, which isn't to say that he would stay in Milwaukee. The young outfielder became something of a journeyman, pinballing amongst five teams in four years (1964-1967). He posted a career high by batting .293 in 1965, including a .301 mark after the Cubs shipped him to San Francisco in a five-player deal. Chicago received Harvey Keunn, who we'll be taking a look at in the coming weeks (hint, hint).

But Len's carousel stopped in Los Angeles, where he was a valuable part-timer for the Dodgers for the final four seasons of his career. In 1968, the Year of the Pitcher, Gabrielson lead his team with 10 home runs. It was the lowest team-leading total for the Dodgers in the Los Angeles era (1958 onward). He also batted .270, well above the team's overall average of .230.

Fun Fact: Len's 1968 team-leading home run total of 10 might be pretty low, but he made them count (scroll down to 1968). Three of the ten were hit off of Hall-of-Fame pitchers Juan Marichal, Tom Seaver, and Fergie Jenkins. He also homered off of Nellie Briles, Steve Blass, Milt Pappas, and Larry Jackson, who were no slouches. In fact, the pitchers that Len took deep that year averaged 158 career wins - and that's including Darcy Fast, who was 0-1!

P. S. : Check out the awesome cartoon on the card back. It's the Baseburglar!
Len Gabrielson (back) by you.

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