Saturday, January 03, 2009

#212 Ron Brand

brand by you.
If Ron Brand's jersey piping looks a little black-and-gold, your eyes are not deceiving you. He was a Pirate before Houston nabbed him in the November 1964 Rule V draft. So it's another case of Topps sleight-of-hand.

Los Angeleno Ron Brand was signed by the Pirates after starring in baseball and football in high school. He paid his dues in the Pittsburgh system, waiting until his sixth professional season (1963) to get the call to the majors. In 66 at-bats he hit .288 and reached base at a .390 clip, but when 1964 rolled around, he was stuck back in the minors. Opportunity knocked that very offseason, when the Astros drafted Ron.

Brand made an early impact with his new team, tripling for the first hit by the home club in the exhibition opener at the new Astrodome. A triple might seem like a rare occurrence for a catcher, but he was quick enough to steal ten bases in 1965. Later in his career he would bat leadoff, something an Astros catcher would not do again until Craig Biggio came along in the early 1990s. In his first year in Houston, Ron played a career-high 117 games, which allowed him to post a personal-best 37 RBI. He also hit the final two home runs of his career; he'd go 0-for-six seasons after that. He settled into a part-time role for the rest of his Astros tenure (1966-1968), and proved valuable in unconventional ways. When the club acquired famed playboy pitcher Bo Belinsky prior to the 1967 season, they assigned Brand, a practicing Mormon, to be his roommate!

Ron spent the final three seasons of his career north of the border after the Expos tabbed him in the 1968 Expansion Draft. He topped 100 games once more (1969), reaching a high-water mark with 12 doubles that season and batting .258. In all, he batted .239 in 568 games spanning eight seasons.

Fun fact: Ron played a crucial role in Houston's first win as the Astros (they were of course known as the Colt .45s from 1962-1964). On April 14, 1965, Brand batted in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded and the Mets leading 2-1. According to this site, he bunted (a squeeze?) and the ball hugged the line, refusing to roll foul! His two-run single gave the Astros a 3-2 lead in a game that they would win, 7-6 in eleven innings.
brandb by you.

No comments:

Post a Comment