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.


  1. Wow, I can't get over how BIG the name line is on the back of that card. I wonder if that's the biggest back-of-the-card name line ever?

  2. Small name and no cartoon. Wonder why there was no cartoon? I kind of miss the cartoon.

  3. Night owl - An upcoming blog entry will feature Ken Rowe, whose name is just as big if not bigger.

    Mmayes - Perhaps there was a cartoon that was axed late because it was too offensive. The world may never know.

  4. i think they just got lazy in the last series with the cartoons, i noticed a lot of the cards in the late series had huge names and no cartoon on them.