Friday, February 27, 2009

#555 Jack Baldschun

baldschun by you.
Here's a guy that never seems to take much of the heat for being on the wrong side of a lopsided trade. Sure, Milt Pappas was the centerpiece of the deal that sent Frank Robinson to the Orioles, but the Reds were pretty smitten with Jack Baldschun as well. Why was he considered key to the deal, and how did he disappoint the Reds? That will have to wait for...

Fun facts about Jack Baldschun:

-Signed with the Senators in 1960 after matriculating from Miami University of Ohio.

-Claimed by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft, utilized a good screwball to lead the National League with 65 games pitched in his rookie season, including appearances in eight straight at one point. The Phils were brutal (47-107), and he was the only member of the staff to post a winning record (5-3) with more than three decisions. With a 3.88 ERA, he joined fellow reliever Don Ferrarese (3.76) as the only moundsmen in the city of Brotherly Love to finish better than 4.00.

-Had back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins and saves in 1962 (12-7, 13 SV, 2.96 ERA) and 1963 (11-7, 16 SV, 2.30 ERA).

-Won both ends of an April 14, 1963 doubleheader, pitching a total of 2 and 1/3 scoreless innings of relief against the Cardinals.

-Saved a career-high 21 games with a solid 3.12 ERA in 1964, but lost four games during a disastrous September in which the Phillies blew a comfortable first-place margin.

-Appeared in at least 65 games in each of his five seasons in Philadelphia.

-In two seasons with the Reds (1966-1967), appeared in only 51 games, accumulating a 5.25 ERA.

-Yielded four home runs to Willie Stargell in his career; no other batter touched Baldschun for more than two.

-Went 7-2 in 61 games for the Padres in 1969, despite a lofty 4.79 ERA. After 12 rocky games in 1970, San Diego released him and he called it quits at age 33.

-Went from baseball to carpentry, joining his brother's business. He later became a lumber salesman, and is currently retired and living in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
baldschunb by you.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

#549 Cubs Rookie Stars: Roberto Pena and Glenn Beckert

Roberto Pena and Glenn Beckert by you.
While Roberto Pena looks like a mean dude, he's got nothing on the mysterious Glenn Beckert, who is cloaked in shadows even on a sunny Spring day. Together...they fight crime.

Fun facts about Roberto Pena:

-A shortstop from the Dominican Republic, he signed with the Pirates in 1960.

-After five seasons in the Pittsburgh system, he was sent to the Cubs, where he made his major league debut in 1965 at age 28.

-Went 3-for-6 with a double, a home run (off of Bob Gibson!) and 3 RBI in his first big league game, an Opening Day tilt with the Cardinals that was called after eleven innings due to darkness with the teams tied at 10. Unfortunately, the rookie also committed three errors in seven chances.

-Hit only 13 career home runs, and only touched up one pitcher for two moon shots: Steve Carlton.

-Had a breakthrough year in 1968, playing 138 games and hitting a personal best .260, though he showed little power or patience.

-On May 30, 1970, hit an inside-the-park grand slam to help his new team, the Brewers, beat the Tigers by a score of 9-7.

-At the end of the 1970 season, Pena had a career-high 20 doubles and 45 RBI, and led American League shortstops with a .979 fielding percentage.

-Only played one more season after his solid 1970 effort, batting .237 with the Brewers in 1971.

-Unfortunately, Roberto died at age 45 of an accidental alcohol overdose.

Fun facts about Glenn Beckert:

-Pittsburgher Glenn Beckert was originally signed by the Red Sox in 1962 out of Alleghany College. He is the only "Gator" position player to ever reach the major leagues.

-Switched from shortstop to second base in the minors following the tragic death of Cubs 2B Ken Hubbs. Soon earned the nickname Bruno (as in WWWF wrestler Bruno Sammartino) for his willingness to knock over teammates in pursuit of pop-ups.

-Won the Cubs' second base job in 1965 and held onto it for nine years, playing alongside keystone partner Don Kessinger for much of the time. Led the National League in assists as a rookie.

-After hitting only .239 in his first season, Glenn hit .280 or better for six straight seasons, peaking at .342 in 1971 (third in the N.L.).

-Was the hardest batter in the league to strike out in five different seasons, and whiffed only 20 times in 1968.

-Speaking of 1968, that year Beckert led the Senior Circuit in runs with 98, making him the first league leader since the Dead-Ball Era to fall below 100. He also won his only Gold Glove in a career in which he was overshadowed by contemporaries Bill Mazeroski and Joe Morgan.

-Made four consecutive All-Star teams, 1969-1972.

-On June 3, 1971, hit an RBI single to drive in Ken Holtzman with the only run in the latter's 1-0 no-hit victory vs. the Reds.

-Various leg injuries shortened his career, which drew to a close with the Padres in early 1975.

-He later worked for the Chicago Board of Trade before returning home to Pittsburgh.
Roberto Pena and Glenn Beckert (back) by you.

Monday, February 23, 2009

#548 Dick Stigman

Dick Stigman by you.
I received my first copy of Dick Stigman's card from Max, but I subsequently received this very fetching slabbed and graded PSA 8 (Near Mint - Mint) card from a reader whose name I stupidly forgot. I even deleted the email! This is not one of my prouder moments as a blogger. But to the faithful and generous reader who sent this card, if you could send me an email as a reminder, I'll gladly give you a special mention in my next post!

Fun facts about Dick Stigman:

-Hails from Nimrod, MN. Keep your jokes to yourself.

-Signed with the Indians in 1954, and endured six minor league seasons (including three with double-digit losses) before debuting in Cleveland in 1960.

-His patience paid off, as he made the American League All-Star team as a rookie swingman. He had gone 4-4 with 3 complete games, 6 saves, and a 3.80 ERA in the first half of the season before fading later. He was also named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team.

-After suffering from arm injuries in 1961, Dick was traded to the hometown Twins along with Vic Power for Pedro Ramos. The pitcher paid immediate dividends, going 12-5 with a 3.66 ERA in 40 games and completing 6 of his 15 starts in 1962.

-The following year was the best all-around effort of Stigman's career. He both won and lost 15 games, completed 15 as well, compiled a personal-best 3.25 ERA, and placed third in the A.L. with 193 strikeouts.

-Made the most of his five career shutouts. They included a three-hitter and a ten-inning four-hitter. He also two-hit the Senators on May 29, 1963, and might have had a shutout if not for a throwing error by Earl Battey that led to Washington's lone run.

-After a tough 6-15, 4.03 performance in 1964, he spent most of the Twins' championship 1965 campaign in the bullpen. Despite a middling 4.37 ERA, he did hold righty batters to a .218 average. He did not pitch in the World Series, as the Dodgers' wealth of switch hitters weren't conducive to the matchup game.

-Set a record with ten straight no-decision starts between 1965 and 1966.

-His final year in the major leagues was 1966, as he struggled on the Red Sox staff (5.44 ERA).

-Yielded a whopping nine home runs to Rocky Colavito; no other batter hit more than four off of Stigman.

Dick Stigman (back) by you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

#546 Indians Rookie Stars: Bill Davis, Mike Hedlund, Floyd Weaver, and Ray Barker

Indians Rookie Stars by you.
That's right, four rookies for the price of two! The layout here reminds me of the old Sesame Street feature, "One of These Things Is Not Like the Others". One of these things is sans hat. Then again, one of these things has trees in the background instead of plain blue. This is going nowhere fast, so let's jump to...

Fun facts about Bill Davis:

-Signed by the Indians in 1964 out of the University of Minnesota, and made it to the majors the following year on the strength of a monster season (.311, 33 HR, 106 RBI).

-Played only 64 games in three big league seasons (1965-1966 with the Indians, 1969 with the Padres), hitting .181 with 1 home run and 5 RBI.

-His only career home run was a tenth-inning game-ending two-run shot off of Jack Sanford of the Angels on September 9, 1966.

Fun facts about Mike Hedlund:

-Signed with the Indians as a bonus baby at age 18 in 1964, and pitched briefly for the big league club in 1965 and 1968.

-Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the expansion season of 1969, and earned his first major league win on April 22 of that year, two-hitting the Pilots over seven innings. Finished the year 3-6 with a 3.24 ERA.

-Had a career year at age 24 in 1971, going 15-8 with a 2.71 ERA (fourth in the A.L.) and 7 complete games.

-Battled arm trouble throughout his career, and was finished a year after his 15-win season. In parts of six big league seasons, went 25-24 with a 3.54 ERA.

-Was once traded for a pitcher named Ozzie Osborn. True story.

-Held Tony Conigliaro to 2-of-12 batting (.167).

Fun facts about Floyd Weaver:

-Signed by Cleveland in 1961 for a $65,000 bonus on the heels of a 21-strikeout performance in the National Junior College Tournament.

-Won his major league debut, striking out eight Angels in five innings on September 30, 1962. It was his only game with the Tribe that year.

-Got lost in the shuffle in an Indians organization that was chock full of strong arms, re-emerging in 1965 as a reliever. Got hit hard (5.43 ERA in 32 games), and returned to the minors.

-Rose from the ashes once more in 1970, as a 29-year-old reliever for the White Sox. Rang up a 4.38 ERA in 31 games. Pitched 21 games for the Brewers in 1971 to bring his career to a close.

-Later spent several years working as an x-ray technician. Also became a deacon for East Paris Baptist Church.

-Passed away on November 17, 2008 at age 67.

Fun facts about Ray Barker:

-A bit of an odd choice, as he was 28 in 1964, having originally been signed in 1955 by the Orioles.

-Hit over .300 in three different seasons in the minor leagues and drove in 101 runs at AAA Vancouver in 1960.

-Early in 1965, the Indians traded Ray to the Yankees for Pedro Gonzalez. Barker provided pop off the bench and while filling in for the hobbled Roger Maris. Hit .254 with 7 home runs in 205 at-bats for the Bombers.

-Tied a major league record with two consecutive pinch-hit home runs on June 20 and June 22, 1965.

-Played 78 games with the Yankees in 1966 and 1967, and that was all she wrote.

-Barker still lives in his hometown of Martinsburg, WV, and just last month was honored by having his picture hung among the Hometown Heroes display at his local Applebee's Restaurant.
Indians Rookie Stars (back) by you.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

#541 White Sox Rookie Stars: Greg Bollo and Bob Locker

White Sox Rookie Pitchers by you.
From the Department of Redundancy Department, Greg Bollo is a young 22-year-old, according to the card back. According to the card front, he has a gigantic hat, which may block your view of the bunting on the stadium facade in the background. As for Bob Locker, I swear he doesn't have a rare skin condition; that pink bubble on his cheek is a printing irregularity.

Fun facts about Greg Bollo:

-A product of Western Michigan University. Another WMU pitcher was Jim Bouton, who also has a connection to Bob Locker.

-Went 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 98 innings for the Class A Clinton C-Sox in 1964. It was doubly impressive considering that it was his first professional season!

-In just his second year of pro ball, the 21-year-old pitched 15 games in relief for Chicago as a result of the bonus baby rules, compiling a 3.57 ERA and allowing less than a base runner per inning.

-Made his big league debut on May 9, 1965, tossing two perfect innings in a 6-1 win over the Twins.

-Started his only major league game on October 2, 1966. Gave up one run in four innings and took the loss, as the Yankees triumphed 2-0. It would be his first career loss, in his final career game.

-Pitched in the White Sox farm system for four more years after his brief time in the majors, hanging it up after the 1970 season.

Fun facts about Bob Locker:

-Graduated from Iowa State University in 1960 with a B.S. in geology.

-In 1961, a year after being signed by the White Sox, he led the Three-I League with 215 strikeouts while going 15-12, 2.57.

-Missed all of 1962 and 1963 due to military service.

-In his rookie year of 1965, the 27-year-old sinkerballing reliever ran off a 10-game scoreless streak and finished with a 3.15 ERA.

-Was one of the most-used pitchers in Chicago, including a league-leading 77 appearances in 1967. Had six seasons of double-digit saves, including four straight from 1966 through 1969. His 20 saves in 1967 were second in the American League behind Minnie Rojas of the Angels (his 2.09 ERA that year was pretty good, too).

-A midseason trade in 1969 brought him to the pitiful Seattle Pilots, but allowed him to turn things around on an individual level. His 6.55 ERA with the White Sox dropped to 2.18 with the Pilots.

-Won a World Series with Oakland in 1972, pitching a single scoreless one-third of an inning in the Fall Classic.

-Won 10 games in relief for the Cubs in 1973 and saved 18 more, posting a 2.54 ERA.

-Posted a better than league-average ERA in each of his first nine seasons; a year removed from elbow surgery, his 4.96 mark with the Cubs in his farewell season (1975) broke the streak. He finished with a 2.75 career ERA and attributed his success to his faithful consumption of honey.

-Post-baseball, Bob became a real estate broker in California.
White Sox Rookie Pitchers (back) by you.

Friday, February 20, 2009

#538 Chuck Dressen

Chuck Dressen by you.
And here's installment number two in our series of Hand Cupped to Mouth Managerial Poses. Sheez, Chuck Dressen looks even older than his 65 years, doesn't he? That seems to be a trend with Tiger managers, if you include Sparky Anderson and Jim Leyland. To be fair, Chuck is one of the few men featured in this set to be born in the 19th Century, having come into this world in September of 1898. (Casey Stengel, born in 1890, has him beat. But that's a story for another day.)

Fun facts about Chuck Dressen:

-Was a two-sport pro athlete, playing quarterback for George Halas in the NFL and its predecessor, the APFA before turning to baseball full-time. Incidentally, Halas played a dozen games for the Yankees in 1919.

-Played for the Reds from 1925-1931 and the Giants in 1933. Was Cincinnati's starting third baseman for four seasons and hit .272 with 123 doubles for his career.

-Managed the Reds from 1934-1937, finishing no higher than fifth in any season.

-Coached for the Dodgers (1939-1946) and Yankees (1947-1948) before returning to managing, winning 222 games in 1949-1950 with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.

-Returned to Brooklyn as manager in 1951, just in time to lose the pennant in heartbreaking fashion. When the Dodgers completed a sweep of the Giants on August 10 to increase their lead to a seemingly insurmountable 12 and one-half games, Dressen celebrated in the clubhouse, singing "The Giants is dead!" to the tune of "Roll Out the Barrel". He sang loud enough for the New York team to hear him in the adjoining clubhouse. Of course, the Gothams came back to tie the Dodgers in the standings and force a playoff. Chuck bore a great deal of blame for choosing Ralph Branca to pitch to Bobby Thomson, who hit "The Shot Heard 'Round the World", a pennant-winning home run for New York. But the manager was relying on the testimony of bullpen coach Clyde Sukeforth, who reported that Carl Erskine was bouncing his curveball in warmups. Sukeforth was the scapegoat, losing his job at the end of the year.

-Dressen's Dodgers rebounded to win two straight pennants with 96 and 105 wins, respectively. In both seasons they ran into the Yankees juggernaut in the World Series, falling to the Bronx Bombers in seven games in 1952 and six games in 1953.

-Following the successes of 1953, Chuck overplayed his hand by bucking team policy and publicly demanding a three-year contract instead of a simple one-year renewal. Owner Walter O'Malley quickly fired him, choosing AAA manager Walter Alston as his replacement. Alston would win seven National League pennants and four World Series in 23 years with the Dodgers...and did it all on 23 one-year contracts.

-He struggled in subsequent managerial opportunities in Washington (116-212 from 1957-1959) and Milwaukee (159-124 from 1960-1961 - the Braves were in fourth place when he was fired).

-The Tigers, stuck at 26-34, hired Dressen midway through 1963. He rallied them to a .500 record with a 55-47 run. He got the team over the hump with 85 wins in 1964, but missed the first few months of 1965 after suffering a heart attack. He made it back to the helm for the final 120 games, and Detroit finished with 89 victories. Sadly, another heart attack sidelined him just 26 games into the 1966 campaign. During his recovery, he developed a kidney infection that claimed his life on August 10, 1966. He was 67 years old.

-Chuck's major league managerial record was 1,037-993. His best-known quote was, "Just hold them, boys, until I think of something".
Chuck Dressen (back) by you.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

#529 Jerry Fosnow

Jerry Fosnow by you.
The first thing that jumps out at me when I look at this card of Jerry Fosnow is the great Twins logo patch on his left sleeve. There's also a fairly clear view of the field and stands behind him; does anyone know which stadium that is?

Fun facts about Jerry Fosnow:

-His birthday is September 21. Some notable baseball players born on that day include Cecil Fielder and Sam McDowell.

-A proud Ohioan, Jerry signed with the Indians in 1959 and went 15-4 with a 3.42 ERA for the Selma Cloverleafs in Class D ball in his first pro season. He tossed a no-hitter for the club.

-After pitching in only seven games in 1961, he was acquired by the Twins in an "unknown transaction". Ooooooo!

-Was called up by the Twins in 1964 and had a rough go of it, allowing 13 runs and 21 baserunners in 10 and two-thirds innings (10.97 ERA).

-Got a second look in 1965 and had an easier go of it, with a 3-3 record and two saves in 29 relief appearances. His 4.44 ERA was still below-standard, though, and he returned to the minor leagues for good in July.

-Earned his first career win on Opening Day, 1965. Jim Kaat had held the Yankees at bay for nine innings, and gave way to Jerry in the 10th with the score even at 4-4. The youngster pitched two scoreless innings, striking out Roger Maris with two runners in scoring position to end the tenth. In the bottom of the eleventh, Cesar Tovar's RBI single made him a winner.

-Fosnow's first career save also came against New York, nine days later. He scattered a hit and four walks in two scoreless innings to nail down a 7-2 duke for Minnesota. Again, he stymied Maris, who flew out to center field with the bases loaded to end the game.

-He continued pitching in the minors for two and one-half years after the Twins demoted him in 1965. His last hurrah was with the 1967 Spokane Indians; a 2.51 ERA in 40 games that year wasn't enough to crack the Dodgers' big league roster.

-As of 2002, he was a retired salesman living on the grounds of the DeBary Country Club in Florida.
Jerry Fosnow (back) by you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

#523 Mike Brumley

Mike Brumley by you.
Now is probably a good time to remind you that I'm still in the midst of posting the results of a big trade with Max. As you can see, he really gave me a boost with the high-numbered series! Today we have another photo taken in Yankee Stadium. The subject is catcher Mike Brumley, who is apparently pretending that he is a train conductor. That's the best explanation I can muster as to why his hat is sitting so high on top of his head, anyway.

Fun facts about Mike Brumley:

-His full name is actually Tony Mike Brumley. I couldn't determine whether it is short for "Anthony Michael", which is his son's full name. (More on the younger Mike later.)

-Was the first major leaguer to come out of Granite, OK, beating out pitcher John Gelnar by four months. They are the only two sons of Granite to ever play in the MLB.

-Despite wielding a solid bat in the minors, spent seven years riding the buses after being signed by the Dodgers in 1957. He topped the .280 mark four times in that span, peaking at .305 in 1958.

-After being purchased by the Senators prior to the 1964 campaign, Mike caught 132 games in his rookie season and hit .244 with 19 doubles and 35 RBI. He was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team, although as you can see, his card did not have the Rookie Cup logo.

-Hit only five home runs in his career, but made them count. Two were two-run shots, another two were three-run jobs, and only one came with the bases empty. Two of his longballs came in one game, a 10-7 win over the Twins on July 27, 1965.

-He slumped to .208 in 1965 and saw his playing time halved. Cups of coffee at the beginning and end of 1966 bookended a season spent primarily in the minors. He was only 2-for-18 in what proved to be his final crack at big league ball.

-His final career hit was a single off of Jim Palmer on April 19, 1966.

-Mike found his way into the Houston organization, where he finished up his playing career close to home with AAA Oklahoma City in 1969-1970.

-Mike's son, also named Mike, was a journeyman utility player (primarily a shortstop) who played in the majors between 1987 and 1995. He hit .206 in 295 games for the Cubs, Tigers, Mariners, Red Sox, Astros, and Athletics.
Mike Brumley (back) by you.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

#518 Ken Rowe

Ken Rowe by you.
Okay, we're back to our regularly scheduled blogging, with some catching up to do. First up is journeyman Ken Rowe, who is sporting an impressive flattop. You could rest a grocery bag on that head. The less said about the warmup-jacket-under-jersey look, the better. It's also worth noting that much like Vern Law, Ken's card back features an oversized name in lieu of cartoon. Apparently Topps was getting a little lazy, as they didn't even include any text about the righthander.

Fun facts about Ken Rowe:

-A native of Ferndale, MI, Ken signed with the Tigers in 1953.

-Spent a decade in the minor leagues before making his major league debut, including spending most of 1956 and all of 1957 in military service.

-Was a durable reliever, appearing in 70 games for AAA Spokane in 1962 (9-9, 3.44) and setting a record with 88 games pitched for Spokane in 1964 (16-11, 1.77).

-As a 29-year-old rookie with the Dodgers in 1963, fashioned a 2.93 ERA in 27 and two-thirds innings out of the bullpen.

-Earned his first major league win with three scoreless innings in relief of Larry Sherry on September 26, 1963. Rowe entered in the sixth with L.A. down 4-1 and held the Mets at bay as the Dodgers rallied for a 5-4 victory.

-At the end of his record-breaking minor-league season in 1964, Ken was purchased by the Orioles and had a rough go of it in 4 and two-thirds innings, but rebounded with a 3.38 ERA in six relief appearances in early 1965. Was optioned to Rochester in May, ending his major league career.

-Had his only big league hit in his final at-bat, singling off of Earl Wilson to drive in a run in the Orioles' 7-5 loss to Boston on April 24, 1965. He was 1-for-6 in his career.

-After four seasons in the Orioles organization, retired and began a long coaching career; he managed in the O's chain from 1968 to 1971.

-After a few years away from baseball, Rowe rejoined the Baltimore organization as a pitching instructor in 1975, and has been at it ever since. Went from the Orioles to the Phillies back to the Orioles (including a stint as the major league pitching coach in 1985-1986) to the Yankees to the Indians, where he's found a home for the past 18 years. He's been the pitching coach of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the short-season A New York-Penn League since 2006.
Ken Rowe (back) by you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

#515 Vern Law

Vern Law by you.
First, a bit of housekeeping. As you may know if you read my Orioles blog, I will be flying out to San Diego tomorrow to visit friends. I will be back late Monday, so there won't be any new posts between now and then. But I've got a bonus extracirricular post or two planned upon my return, and I look forward to reading any comments that you might offer while I'm away!

Oops, I'm going out of order a bit. I'd already written up the Angels Rookie Stars entry yesterday, and didn't realize until I checked my trade list that I skipped Vern Law! He doesn't seem to mind, though. He's just happy to have the chance to pitch in front of a dozen people, not to mention thousands of yellow seats. Lots of interesting material about Vern, so let's keep moving...

Fun facts about Vern Law:

-A native of Meridian, Idaho, he's actually only the second-winningest pitcher to hail from the state. One of his contemporaries, Nampa-born Larry Jackson, beats him out by a margin of 194-162.

-He was among the first Mormons to play major league ball, and was nicknamed "Deacon" or "Preacher" due to his status as an ordained priest in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

-Broke into the majors in 1950 at age 20, but lost the 1952 and 1953 seasons to military service.

-Was co-National League Player of the Month in August 1959 (4-0, 1.94) with Willie McCovey, and shared the honors again in June 1965 (6-1, 0.87) with teammate Willie Stargell.

-Had his true breakout season in 1959, going 18-9 with 20 complete games and a 2.98 ERA.

-Posted very similar numbers in 1960: 20-9, NL-leading 18 complete games, 3.08 ERA. Perhaps the Pirates' championship run put him over the top, as he was an All-Star for the only time in his career and took home Cy Young honors.

-Started three games for the Bucs in the 1960 World Series, beating the Yankees twice without a defeat and fashioning a 3.44 ERA.

-Struggled with injuries from 1961-1963, and nearly retired. Came back in 1964 to start 29 games, going 12-13 with a decent 3.61 ERA.

-Won Comeback Player of the Year honors in 1965, which would prove to be his last hurrah (injuries again hampered him in his final two seasons, 1966-1967). That year he led the Pirates with 17 wins against 9 losses, and his career-best 2.15 ERA was third in the league behind Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal.

-Coached with the Pirates (1968-1969), Brigham Young University (1969-1979), and Seibu Lions (1979-1981). Briefly managed the White Sox' AA Denver team in 1984. Currently coaches pitchers at Provo High School in Utah.

-Vern's son Vance was a utility infielder in the major leagues from 1980-1991, hitting .256 for his career. Longtime Pirates Willie Stargell and Manny Sanguillen played alongside both Vern and Vance at various points in their careers. Vance did his father proud by pitching eight innings in his career with a 3.38 cumulative ERA. He has been head coach at BYU since 2000.
Vern Law (back) by you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

#517 Angels Rookie Stars: Paul Schaal and Jack Warner

Paul Schaal and Jack Warner by you.
So Rookiepalooza resumes here at The Great 1965 Topps Project, with a pair of Halos. After a couple of interesting backgrounds in our recent Rookie Stars cards, there's nothing here but the wild blue yonder. I suppose that's fitting for the Angels. It seems unusual that you can see so much of Jack Warner's hat bill. I guess he's pulled his cap down low or something. Paul Schaal looks like he got caught saying "cheese".

Fun facts about Paul Schaal:

-As the B-R Bullpen helpfully points out, he is a member of the Baseball List of Rhyming Names, alongside such luminaries as Don Hahn, Larry Sherry, Lu Blue, Still Bill Hill, Mark Clark, and my personal favorite Greg Legg.

-Had a reputation as a good defensive third baseman and a patient hitter; despite a career average of .244, he walked more than he struck out (516 to 466) and compiled a respectable .341 on-base percentage.

-His first big-league hit came on September 4, 1964. It was a single against Orioles pitcher and future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.

-On August 2, 1966, he entered a game against the Yankees as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. He struck out, but remained in the game at third base and hit a game-winning inside-the-park home run in the 11th!

-Had his 1968 season cut short when he was beaned by Boston pitcher Jose Santiago on June 13. He would make two pinch-hitting appearances in August, but did not play again otherwise. The damage included a fractured skull, eye damage, and a punctured eardrum. Check out the mildly insensitive cartoon on the back of Paul's 1970 Topps card here!

-Was drafted by the Kansas City Royals prior to their inaugural 1969 season and went on to be their primary third baseman for four and one-half years.

-Had a career year in 1971, playing all 161 games for K.C. and hitting .274 with personal bests in runs (80), doubles (31, trailing only Reggie Smith's 33 for best in the AL), home runs (11), RBI (63), walks (103), and slugging percentage (.412).

-In 1974, the Royals traded Schaal back to the Angels to create an opening at third base for a rookie named George Brett. Paul called it a career at the end of the year.

-After baseball, Paul became a chiropractor in Overland Park, Kansas.

Fun facts about Jack Warner:

-Is one of three major league players born in Monrovia, CA. Has all seven home runs hit by Monrovia natives.

-Signed with the Angels during their first year of existence. According to Warner, "They didn't even have a minor league farm system set up yet, and there was no place to send me." He worked out with the team in Los Angeles during homestands, and looked so good in the batting cage that they developed him as an outfielder rather than a pitcher.

-Turned heads with 75 home runs in his first three minor league seasons (1962-1964), including 37 longballs in 131 games at Tri-City in 1964.

-Opened the 1966 season with the Angels, and created a major buzz with a .345 average, 5 home runs, and 13 RBI in his first 15 games. However, he soon lost his stroke, and was hitting .211 with 7 HR and 16 RBI through 45 games. He played his last major league game on July 27.

-A 1967 trade to the Athletics did not snap Jackie out of his funk. From his demotion in 1966 through his final professional season in 1969, he did not hit above .224 at any stop, and failed to get on base at even a .300 clip. His top home run output in that span was 16.

-There are various claims around the Internet that Warner's struggles were linked to injuries. I found differing reports of a shoulder injury and/or a gash on the hand from collisions with an outfield fence in 1966, as well as a subsequent elbow surgery. As always, feel free to supplement my crack research in the comments.
Paul Schaal and Jack Warner (back) by you.

Monday, February 09, 2009

#514 Joe Azcue

Joe Azcue by you.
I hope Joe Azcue realizes how fortunate he was to have played in the pre-ESPN era. Sure, Joe "Nobody" Azcue might have seemed mildly clever and chuckle-worthy the first few times it spewed forth from Chris Berman's lips, but I bet it would have gotten old in a hurry...just like the several thousand cheesy nicknames that the comb-over-sporting, production assistant-cursing hack actually has coined over the past three decades. But I digress.

Fun facts about Joe Azcue:

-Was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba; my crude Spanish skills tell me that the city name roughly translates to "One Hundred Fires".

-His actual nickname was "The Immortal Azcue". As monikers go, that's a pretty good one to have.

-Finally found a home with the Indians, his fourth organization (following Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Kansas City). He played in Cleveland for the bulk of his career: 1963-1969.

-His first season with the Tribe may have been his best. In 91 games, he hit .284 with 16 doubles, 14 home runs, and 46 RBI, all career highs.

-Won the Golden Tomahawk award as Cleveland's most underrated player of 1966. Upon receiving the honor, he quipped: "Thank you. The only thing I can say is that I'm still underrated."

-Caught two no-hitters in his career. The pitchers were Sonny Siebert (June 10, 1966) and Clyde Wright (July 3, 1970).

-Was an All-Star in 1968, when he hit .280 in The Year of the Pitcher.

-There was at least one game in 1968 that Joe would probably like to forget. On July 30, he hit a liner that was snared by Washington shortstop Ron Hansen. Hansen stepped on second base to force Dave Nelson, then tagged out Russ Snyder as the latter slid into third base. It was the first unassisted triple play since 1927, and the last triple play of any kind in Senators history. On the plus side, Azcue's Indians won 10-1.

-Embroiled in a contract dispute with Angels general manager Dick Walsh, Joe sat out the entire 1971 season. Instead of squatting behind the plate, he spent the summer as a laborer, shoveling, pouring concrete, and so forth.

-Hit three career home runs off of 283-game winner Jim Kaat. Of course, Kaat also whiffed him 11 times in 86 at-bats, so it all evens out somewhere.
Joe Azcue (back) by you.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

#509 Red Sox Rookie Stars: Bob Guindon and Gerry Vezendy

Bob Guindon, Gerry Vezendy by you.
Back-to-back rookie stars this weekend. However, this one stretches the limits of the word "stars". Bobby Guindon certainly looks sharp with his collared zip-up undershirt, and Gerry Vezendy appears to be standing in front of a hangar of some sort. Both of these guys were tough to locate in cyberspace, but we'll see where this entry goes.

Fun facts about Bob Guindon:

-Was a local boy, hailing from Brookline, Massachusetts. Signed with the Red Sox as a teenager in 1961 for a whopping $125,000 bonus.

-Showed good power in the minor leagues, hitting 76 home runs in three full seasons before getting a September 1964 cup of coffee in Boston.

-Had only one hit in eight at-bats with the Sox: a seventh-inning double off of Joe Sparma in the former's final game.

-In 1966, he injured his hand in an offseason accident that hampered his hitting ability, and tried to make a comeback as a pitcher. Threw a no-hitter at AA Pittsfield in 1967, but never did make it back to Beantown.

Fun facts about Gerry Vezendy:

-Was a product of the University of Maryland, whose most prominent baseball alumnus was Yankee outfielder Charlie "King Kong" Keller. Set a record at UMD for strikeouts per nine innings and led the Atlantic Coast Conference in that category three straight years.

-Didn't make the cut with the Red Sox in the Spring of 1965, and was optioned to AAA Toronto. Boston cut him later that summer, and the Cardinals picked him up. He never did make it to the majors.

-Passed away in 2004 at age 61.
Bob Guindon, Gerry Vezendy (back) by you.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

#398 Reds Rookie Stars: Dan Neville and Art Shamsky

Reds Rookies by you.
Hmm, we haven't done a multi-rookie card in a bit. With Dan Neville's flat-billed cap, he might fit in pretty well with some of today's players. As for Art Shamsky, I like the minor league or Spring Training style outfield fence behind him. If anyone can identify any of the signs on that wall, you win a hearty handshake.

Fun facts about Dan Neville:

-I'm at a loss! Dan never threw a pitch in the major leagues, despite his 14 wins in 1964 for the champion San Diego Padres of the hitter-favoring Pacific Coast League. Does anyone have a lead on Dan Neville?

Fun facts about Art Shamsky:

-As an 18-year-old, Art roomed with Pete Rose with the 1960 Geneva Redlegs. He hit a home run in his first professional at-bat and made the All-Star team.

-His 21 home runs placed second on the 1966 Reds, trailing only Deron Johnson (24). He accomplished it in just 272 at-bats.

-On August 12, 1966, Art became the first player in Reds history to hit two extra-inning home runs in one game, going deep in the 10th and 11th to extend the game further. He entered the game in the eighth during a double switch, hitting a home run in the bottom of that inning. All told, he had three big flies, and is believed to be the only substitute to ever homer three times in a single game. Shamsky went deep in his next at-bat two days later, another pinch hit job; he tied the major league record with home runs in four consecutive at-bats.

-Was a valuable contributor to the 1969 Mets, hitting .300 with 14 home runs in part-time duty. He turned in a 7-for-13 performance in the NLCS that year for the World Champs.

-Got a career-high 403 at-bats in 1970, batting .293 with 11 home runs, 49 RBI, and 19 doubles.

-A balky back curtailed his productivity and caused his retirement in 1972.

-His post-playing career has included stints as a real estate consultant, a broadcaster for the Mets (1980-81), and the owner of a New York restaurant named "Legends".

-Was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.

-In 2007, Shamsky managed the Modi'in Miracle of the Israel Baseball League. The entire league folded after the inaugural season due to insufficient funds.

-Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show", has a pit bull named Shamsky.
Reds Rookies (back) by you.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

#347 Roy Face

FACE by you.
Here's veteran forkballer Roy Face showing off his farmer's tan. You can also see his jersey number (26) written on the strap of his glove. Pretty neat, huh? I think the Pirates really dropped the ball by not having a giveaway day to honor him. They could have passed out paper masks with his likeness at the gate, so that everyone could put on their Roy Face.

Okay, on with...

Fun facts about Roy Face:

-Signed by the Phillies in 1949, but drafted away from them by Branch Rickey of the Dodgers in 1950. Two years later, Rickey was with the Pirates and drafted Face again, and he made his major league debut the following April.

-Had his first 20-save season at age 30 in 1958; from that point forward, evolved into one of the first true closers.

-Went 18-1 with 10 saves and a 2.70 ERA in 1959, setting records for wins by a reliever and winning percentage in a minimum of 15 decisions (.947). Earned his first of three consecutive All-Star selections. Won his first 17 decisions after winning five straight to close out the previous year.

-With 24 saves in 1960, became the first pitcher ever to post 20 or more saves in two different seasons.

-Saved three of Pittsburgh's four wins in the thrilling 1960 World Series, despite allowing six Yankee runs in ten and two-thirds innings. He was the first pitcher to ever save three games in the Fall Classic.

-Topped all National League pitchers in saves in three seasons: 1958 (20), 1961 (17), and 1962 (28). Also posted a personal-best 1.88 ERA in 1962.

-Set several records that have since been broken, including total saves (MLB), games and innings pitched (NL). His 96 wins in relief are still a National League record.

-No other pitcher in Pirates history has surpassed his 802 appearances and 188 saves for the franchise.

-Worked as a carpenter after retiring, and currently lives in North Versailles, PA.
FACEB by you.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

#315 Frank Malzone

Frank Malzone by you.
Hey, we've got back-to-back Red Sox stars this week. When I'm just posting these cards in the order I receive them, it's interesting to see what sort of patterns emerge. As for this card, Frank Malzone is a giant, lording over his tiny Boston teammates out on the horizon. Flee, flee from the Mighty Malzone!

Fun Facts about Frank Malzone:

-Missed the 1952 and 1953 seasons due to military service.

-Debuted as a pinch runner against the Yankees. Got his first two starts in a doubleheader against the Orioles on September 20, 1955, and went a combined 6-for-10 with a double!

-Was an All-Star in 1957, his first full year: .292, 15 HR (the first of eight straight years in double digits), and a career-high 103 RBI.

-Despite his superior numbers to fellow '57 rookie Tony Kubek, Malzone received only one Rookie of the Year vote. Kubek received the other 23, because the BBWAA changed the eligibility rules in midseason and declared Frank ineligible. Seems totally fair, doesn't it?

-Was a eight-time All-Star in total: 1957-1960 (twice each in 1959 and 1960) and 1963-1964.

-In 1958, Frank became the first third baseman to lead the league in games played, putouts, assists, double plays, and fielding percentage.

-Tied an American League record by leading the junior circuit in double plays for five straight seasons (1957-1961).

-Won three consecutive Gold Gloves (1957-1959), until that Brooks Robinson guy came along and spoiled his fun.

-Was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995.

-After spending time as a scout and front-office assistant to Dan Duquette, Frank currently works as a consultant for the BoSox.

Frank Malzone (back) by you.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

#295 Dick Radatz

Dick Radatz by you.
It's not hard to see why Dick Radatz was dubbed "the Monster" by Mickey Mantle. He looks every bit of his listed 6'5" and 235 pounds in this photo, and I'd probably be ducking out of the batters' box before he was into his windup! There's a reason that I was a sub-Mendoza hitter in Little League.

Fun Facts about Dick Radatz:

-Played basketball and baseball at Michigan State University. One of his teammates on the diamond was fellow future relief ace Ron Perranoski.

-A great quote from sportswriter Jim Murray sums him up well: "Dick Radatz brings one weapon - a fastball. It's like saying all a country brings to war is an atom bomb."

-Won the Fireman of the Year award as a rookie with the 1962 Red Sox on the strength of a 9-6, 24-save, 2.24 ERA performance.

-Became the first pitcher in major league history to save 20 games in back-to-back seasons with an even more impressive 1963 campaign (15-6, 25 SV, 1.97 ERA). Finished fifth in MVP voting while playing for a seventh-place Boston club.

-Turned heads with five strikeouts in two innings in the 1963 All-Star Game. His victims were Willie Mays, Dick Groat, Duke Snider, Willie McCovey, and Julian Javier.

-Turned in a career-long 33-inning scoreless streak between May 13 and June 14, 1963.

-Won a second Fireman of the Year award in 1964, winning 16 games in relief and saving 29
while striking out 181 in 157 innings, a record total for a reliever. His ERA was a scant 2.29.

-Beginning in 1965, shoulder and elbow injuries curtailed Radatz's effectiveness. He won nine games and saved 22 that season (with a mediocre 3.91 ERA), but won three and saved 22 total over the final three seasons of his career.

-Played for five teams in his last three seasons (1966-1967 and 1969): Red Sox, Indians, Cubs, Tigers, and Expos.

-Was selected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1997.

-Sadly, he fell down the stairs of his home in 2005 and died from the resulting injuries at age 68.
Dick Radatz (back) by you.

Monday, February 02, 2009

#190 Bill White

Bill White by you.

Whoa, check out the stinkeye from Bill White! I'm not sure whether opposing pitchers ever addressed him. But if they did, they would have been wise to call him "sir". Or possibly "Mr. White".

Fun facts about Bill White:

-The only product of Hiram College (in Hiram, Ohio...go Terriers!) to play major league baseball.

-In 1953, he became the second-ever black player in the Carolina League, following Percy Miller, Jr.

-Hit a home run for the Giants in his first career at-bat: May 7, 1956.

-Lost almost two full seasons to military service, missing all of 1957 and playing 26 games in 1958.

-Hit for the cycle vs. the Pirates on August 14, 1960.

-Tied Ty Cobb's record for hits in consecutive doubleheaders by going 14-for-18 in back-to-back twinbills on July 17-18, 1961. White's Cardinals swept all four games from the Cubs. Less than two weeks prior, he hit three home runs in a single game against the Dodgers.

-Was named to eight All-Star teams and played in six Midsummer Classics. In 1963, he was part of an all-Cardinal starting infield at the All-Star Game, along with 2B Julian Javier, SS Dick Groat, and 3B Ken Boyer.

-From 1962 through 1964, he hit over .300 with 20-plus home runs and at least 100 RBI each season. Even though he was known as a line drive hitter, he had seven seasons of 20 or more dingers and 202 total in 13 seasons.

-If I were hard-pressed, I would name 1963 as his career year. He had career highs in runs (106), hits (200), home runs (27), RBI (109), and slugging (.491) while playing all 162 games.

-His only postseason series was the 1964 World Series. Though he hit just .111 (3-for-27) with 2 RBI in seven games against the Yankees, the Cardinals emerged victorious.

-Won seven consecutive Gold Gloves (1960-1966).

-Following his playing career, spent nearly two decades in the Yankee broadcast booth (1971-1988). Went on to become the first black president of the National League, serving from 1989-1994.
Bill White (back) by you.