Thursday, December 31, 2009

#593 Tigers Rookies: Jackie Moore and John Sullivan

#593 Tigers Rookies: Jackie Moore and John Sullivan

Now that you've probably forgotten where I started, it's time to conclude my haul from the trade with Steve. Thanks once again, Steve! Today we have two rookie catchers who had brief and lackluster major league careers but went on to bigger things as coaches and managers. How 'bout that?

Fun facts about Jackie Moore:

-Originally from Jay, FL, Jackie was signed by the Tigers as a teenager in 1957.

-He toiled in the minor leagues for 11 seasons, hitting .250 overall.

-His only major league experience came in 1965, when he played 21 games for Detroit and hit an anemic .094 (5-for-53).

-After Boston released him in early 1968, he embarked on a long career as a coach and manager, starting with two seasons at the helm of Jamestown, the Red Sox' New York-Penn League affiliate.

-Coached at the major league level with the Brewers, Rangers, Blue Jays, Athletics, Expos, Reds, Rockies, and Astros.

-Managed the A's from 1984-1986, compiling a 163-190 record. Oakland was in third place in the A. L. West at 29-44 in June 1986 when he was fired and replaced by Tony LaRussa.

-Was the skipper of Houston's Round Rock Express farm club for the first eight seasons of their existence (2000-2007). The team began as a AA affiliate and later moved to the AAA Pacific Coast League.

-Spent 2008 serving as manager Cecil Cooper's bench coach with the Astros. Jackie was Moore's first manager in pro baseball on the 1968 Jamestown team.

-Is currently in his fifth stint with the Rangers, now employed as their bench coach.

Fun facts about John Sullivan:

-Based out of Somerville, NJ, John signed with the Tigers after graduating from high school in 1959.

-Hit .322 in his first pro season (class D Erie) but could not maintain his momentum in subsequent seasons.

-Was first called up to Detroit in 1963, but was hitless in five MLB games spanning that season and the next.

-Started for the Tigers on Opening Day, 1965 and bashed a two-run homer against Wes Stock for his first big-league hit. John drove in a career-best three runs in the 6-2 win over the A's.

-Played sparingly for the rest of the season but hit a personal-best .267 with a .340 on-base percentage in 34 games.

-Hit .328 at AAA Vancouver in 1966 and served as the Mets' backup catcher the following season. Hit only .218 in New York, however.

-Finished his big league career with a dozen games in Philadelphia in 1968; he would continue playing in the minors through 1971.

-In parts of five seasons, John hit .228 with two home runs and 18 RBI.

-Managed in the Royals farm system from 1973-1978, winning four league championships in six years. The last of those championship clubs was the 1978 Omaha Royals, who topped a weak American Association Western division at 66-69 before toppling the East champion Indianapolis Indians in the postseason!

-Coached in the majors for fifteen years with the Royals, Braves, and Blue Jays (1979-1993). Served as bullpen coach for three Toronto managers and held the position during their World Series wins in 1992-1993.

#593 Tigers Rookies: Jackie Moore and John Sullivan (back)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#566 Yankees Rookies: Gil Blanco, Art Lopez, and Ross Moschitto

#566 Yankees Rookies: Gil Blanco, Art Lopez, and Ross Moschitto
We've seen two-player rookie cards and four-player rookie cards in this set already, but this is the first three-player rookie card that I've posted. I don't know about you, but none of these guys rings a bell with me. This is right about the time that the Yankee dynasty crumbled, as the team spent the next decade serving as an also-ran in the American League before a late 1970s renaissance. There's no doubt that failures in developing talented young players had something to do with that decline.

Fun facts about Gil Blanco:

-Born in Phoenix, AZ, Gil signed with the Yankees as a teen in 1964.

-In his first pro season, he won 12 games with a 2.31 ERA at class A Fort Lauderdale and surrendered just two home runs in 144 innings (0.1 HR/9 IP).

-As a bonus baby, he was placed on the major league roster at age 19 in 1965. Though used sparingly, the 6'5" southpaw held his own, stringing together seven scoreless relief appearances (eight innings total) to begin his career. He would end the year with a 3.98 ERA in 20.1 innings.

-Should you doubt that New York was handling the youngster with kid gloves, consider this: in each of his 16 relief appearances, he entered the game with the Yanks down by two runs or more. He was a textbook mop-up man. He was given a spot start on May 31 in the second half of a doubleheader, but didn't make it out of the first inning.

-Despite his low status in the pecking order of the staff, Gil did earn his first win with two shutout innings to finish a game against the Senators on July 17. He entered with his team trailing 4-1 and held off the Sens until the bottom of the ninth, when a four-run Yankee rally sent the Bronx fans home happy.

-Began the following season in the minors, but was traded to the Athletics in a five-player swap in midseason. Joined the A's in late July and went 2-4 with a 4.70 ERA.

-Had a game to remember on September 4, 1966. Earned the win by scattering nine walks in seven innings, managing to give up only one earned run in a 7-2 triumph over the Red Sox. It helped that he himself had as many hits (two) as he allowed; his pair of run-scoring singles constituted his only career hits and RBI. He also induced a triple-play grounder from Tony Conigliaro in the first inning!

-He never pitched in the majors after his 21st birthday. He bounced around the minor leagues in the A's, Astros, and Expos farm systems until 1971.

-In two big league seasons, he was 3-5 with a 4.45 ERA.

-There have been six major leaguers with the last name "Blanco". Gil was the first.

Fun facts about Art Lopez:

-Art hails from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico but grew up in New York.

-He served in the Navy during the Korean War (1954-1958).

-After his service ended, he worked in a bank. In 1961, the Yankees signed the 24-year-old after a successful tryout.

-After hitting well over .300 in his minor league travels over four seasons, Lopez made the big league club in April 1965. His first hit was a pinch single against reigning Cy Young winner Dean Chance.

-He struggled in two stints with New York in 1965, squeezing out seven singles in 49 at-bats and failing to drive in a run.

-After spending 1966 in the minors, Art went east...Far East, that is. He played six seasons (1968-1973) in Japan, hitting a robust .290 with 116 home runs. He was an All-Star in 1968, and saw action in the 1970 Japan Series for the Lotte Orions.

Fun facts about Ross Moschitto:

-Ross is a native of Fresno, CA. He signed with the Yankees as a 19-year-old in 1964.

-Hit .293 with 20 home runs in rookie ball in his first pro season and was named Appalachian League Player of the Year.

-As a bonus baby, spent all of 1965 on the major league roster but struggled in his irregular playing time (28 plate appearances in 96 games!), hitting .185 with a single home run.

-At one point Ross appeared in 13 consecutive games without collecting a single plate appearance; his chief duty was to give a late-inning breather to the aging Mickey Mantle.

-Waited two-plus months for his first career hit, and then got his second base knock in his very next at-bat.

-Hit his first (and only) career home run against 215-game winner Jim Perry.

-After missing all of the 1966 season, Moschitto played only 14 games for the Yankees in 1967, collecting a single hit in nine at-bats.

-He hung around in the New York farm system for two miserable years before calling it quits at in 1969. He hit .167 with a home run and three RBI in his two abbreviated seasons in the bigs.
#566 Yankees Rookies: Gil Blanco, Art Lopez, and Ross Moschitto (back)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

#558 Tommie Sisk

#558 Tommie Sisk
Have you ever wondered what causes some Toms to go by "Tommie" and others to go by "Tommy"? Or "Willie" vs. "Willy"? Maybe even "Johnnie" vs. "Johnny"? No? Just me, then? Alright.

Fun facts about Tommie Sisk:

-Hailing from Ardmore, OK, Tommie signed with the Pirates out of high school in 1960.

-Was pitching in AAA by his second pro season, and had a five-game look with Pittsburgh a year later at age 20.

-In 1963, Sisk spent his first full season in the majors. Pitching mostly out of the bullpen, he fashioned a strong 2.92 ERA and 1.20 WHIP (both career bests) while leading the team with 57 appearances.

-After a disastrous sophomore effort (6.16 ERA), Tommie recovered in 1965. He started a dozen games and relieved in 26 more, going 7-3 with a 3.40 ERA.

-Tossed his first career shutout on September 20, 1965, two-hitting the Mets. The only New Yorker to reach second base was Johnny Lewis, who tripled with one out in the ninth inning but was thrown out trying for an inside-the-park home run!

-Despite a 4.14 ERA in 1966, Sisk received enough support to boast a 10-5 record.

-1967 was a career year for Tommie. Starting 31 games for the Pirates, he turned in a fine 3.34 ERA and ranked tenth in the National League with 11 complete games. Still, he had only a 13-13 won-lost total to show for it. A large part of his success can be attributed to his ability to keep the ball in the park - he allowed just six home runs in 207.2 innings!

-The majority of his final season in Pittsburgh was spent back in the bullpen (3.28 ERA).

-In 1969 he was traded to the expansion Padres club, and his performance and his win percentage suffered (2-13, 4.78 ERA, six saves). However, he collected the first save in team history by preserving Johnny Podres' 2-0 victory on April 9.

-Sisk got off to a bad start with the White Sox in 1970 and was traded to Cleveland on June 15. The Indians kept him at AAA Wichita for the remainder of the season. He tried his luck with the Expos the following year, but performed poorly in eight games at AAA Winnipeg before bringing his career to a close at age 29. In parts of nine big league seasons he was 40-49 with a 3.92 ERA and ten saves.
#558 Tommie Sisk (back)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

#539 Herm Starrette

#539 Herm Starrette
Okay, Herm's out of order because I wrote up the last post before checking my list. He's been patiently waiting with his asymmetrical undersleeves. Seriously, was the sleeve on his pitching arm longer than the one on his glove arm, or is there just slippage on the latter? You tell me.

Fun facts about Herm Starrette:

-A native of Statesville, NC, Herm pitched at Lenoir-Rhyne College before signing with the Orioles in 1958.

-Won 58 games in five full minor league seasons before making the jump from A to AAA in 1963.

-Made his major league debut on July 1, 1963 and pitched well in relief for the O's, compiling a 3.46 ERA in 26 innings.

-He was the first man born in Statesville to pitch in the majors.

-Entered in a mop-up role on August 15, 1963 with the Twins leading Baltimore 13-1. He loaded the bases and then stranded all three runners by striking out the side.

-Earned his only major league win on June 28, 1964 with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief at Washington.

-Appeared in only nine games for the Orioles in 1964-1965, despite allowing just three earned runs in 20 innings.

-In the midst of his fourth season at AAA Rochester in 1966, the 27-year-old Starrette retired, leaving him with a 1-1 record and a 2.54 ERA in 27 MLB games spanning three seasons.

-Surrendered only one home run in 46 innings in the bigs. The batter was Yankee catcher Elston Howard.

-Spent another 35 years in pro baseball as a major league coach, minor league instructor, instruction coordinator, and farm system director. He worked with the Orioles, Giants, Phillies (he was the pitching coach for the 1980 World Champions), Brewers, Cubs, Expos, and Red Sox.
#539 Herm Starrette (back)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

#544 Howie Reed

#544 Howie Reed
I'm going to go back to the "show and tell" approach and post a scan of another Howie Reed card in my collection. This one is card number 398 from the 1971 Topps set, and it depicts Howie as an Expo. It's also the last card made of him during his career.
Howie Reed 1971 Topps

Fun facts about Howie Reed:

-Born in Dallas, Howie was an All-American at the University of Texas before signing with the Athletics in 1957.

-Debuted with Kansas City in his second pro season; his first career win was a complete game 2-1 decision over the White Sox on September 27, 1958.

-After appearing in just ten games with the A's over three seasons, he was dealt to the Dodgers. His new club kept him in the minors for three full years, a span that included a league-leading 19 wins for AAA Spokane in 1963.

-Pitched effectively upon his return to the majors in 1964, compiling a 3.20 ERA in 26 games (19 of those coming in relief).

-Used primarily out of the bullpen, Howie contributed to L.A.'s World Championship run in 1965 with a 7-5 record and a 3.12 ERA. He appeared in two World Series games but was hit hard by the Twins.

-Bounced from the Dodgers to the Angels to the Astros within a two-year span before settling with the brand-new Expos club in 1969.

-Tossed the only shutout of his career on August 3, 1969. It was an exciting affair in which Reed and Astros starter Larry Dierker matched zeroes until the bottom of the ninth inning. Expos left fielder Mack Jones drove in the winning run with a one-out fielder's choice to short to send the Quebecois home happy!

-Spent the final three seasons of his career in Montreal, twice earning six wins and pitching to a cumulative 4.11 ERA.

-1971 was his final year in the major leagues; in parts of ten seasons he was 26-29 with a 3.72 ERA.

-Reed returned to Texas, where he owned and operated a farm. He was only 47 when he passed away in late 1984 after fighting a losing battle with cancer.
#544 Howie Reed (back)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

#522 Hank Aguirre

#522 Hank Aguirre
What jumps out at me about this card? I love the large "TV number" on Hank Aguirre's right sleeve. A quick glance and you can see that his uniform number was 37. Without action photos to show the number on a player's back, you didn't see a lot of uni numbers in the 1965 Topps set. Also, that's one well-worn glove on Hank's hand. It looks like it's been kicking around since Ty Cobb's prime.

Fun facts about Hank Aguirre:

-The son of a Mexican immigrant, Hank was born in Azusa, CA. He pitched in nine games in 1951 for Duluth of the independent Northern League before his contract was sold to the Indians.

-He debuted with Cleveland at age 24 late in the 1955 season and pitched well in four games, including a shutout on September 24. In that game he allowed just three hits to the Tigers but also scattered ten walks!

-After two more partial seasons with the Tribe, Hank was traded to Detroit before the 1958 campaign. The Tigers used him primarily as a reliever, and he contributed a solid 3.75 ERA and five saves in his first season with them.

-He spent most of 1959 in the minors but was a valuable bullpen piece in Motown in 1960-1961 (combined 9-7, 3.00 ERA, 18 SV).

-Stepping into the rotation in the middle of the 1962 season, Aguirre became an All-Star for the first (and only) time in his career. He went a personal-best 16-8, completed 11 games, and led the American League with a 2.21 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

-He remained a presence in the Tigers rotation for three more seasons, including a pair of 14-win campaigns and a career-high 14 complete games in 1963.

-After stumbling through a 3-9 effort and a demotion to the bullpen in 1966, Hank readjusted to life as a reliever with a 2.40 ERA in 1967.

-Aguirre's decade in Detroit came to a close in 1968, as he was traded to the Dodgers. The 37-year-old lefty allowed just three runs in 39.1 innings (0.69 ERA), but was let go by L.A. He finished his career with a solid year and a half for the Cubs.

-In parts of 16 seasons he won 75 games, lost 72, saved 33, and had a 3.24 ERA.

-Hank focused his latter-day efforts on creating jobs for Hispanic auto workers in Detroit. He died of prostate cancer in 1994 at age 62.
#522 Hank Aguirre (back)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#491 Tracy Stallard

#491 Tracy Stallard
So, any guesses as to Tracy Stallard's favorite song? My money is on Johnny Cash's classic "A Boy Named Sue".

Fun facts about Tracy Stallard:

-A native of Coeburn, VA, Tracy signed with the Red Sox in 1956.

-He reached the majors in 1960, his fifth professional season, and turned in four scoreless relief appearances.

-Famously surrendered Roger Maris' record-breaking 61st home run on October 1, 1961 - the final day of the season. Though Stallard has denied grooving the 2-0 fastball that Maris hit, he has said that he's glad he was the one to give it up: "Otherwise, I would never have been thought of again."

-That fateful home run capped a rocky rookie season (2-7, 4.88 ERA) that was his only full campaign in Boston. After appearing in a single game in 1962, he was traded to the still-new (and still-terrible) Mets.

-Stallard continued to scuffle in his first season in New York, going 9-17 with a 4.71 ERA. It was the farewell year for the Polo Grounds ballpark, and manager Casey Stengel told his young hurler: "At the end of the season they're gonna tear this joint down. The way you're pitching, that right-field section will be gone already."

-Thing started coming together for Tracy in 1964; if only the same could be said for his team. Despite a solid 3.79 ERA in 225.2 innings and 11 complete games, he won only ten games while leading the National League with 20 losses. Seven of his losses came in starts in which he allowed one or two earned runs, and he received no-decisions in three other such games. He was also on the losing end of Jim Bunning's perfect game, but pitched poorly that day anyhow (six earned runs allowed in 5.2 innings).

-Paroled by a December trade to the Cardinals, Stallard was even better in 1965. He set personal bests in won-lost record (11-8), ERA (3.38), and hits per nine innings (8.0).

-He seemed to fall apart in 1966, racking up a 5.68 ERA and losing his spot in the St. Louis rotation. A midseason demotion signalled the end of his major league career; despite pitching effectively at various minor league and Mexican League stops through 1973, no big league club ever took a flier on him. In parts of seven MLB seasons, he was 30-57 with a 4.17 ERA.

-It's a good thing that he had his pitching to fall back on; Tracy is reportedly the only player in major league history to collect at least 200 career plate appearances while failing to draw a single walk! He batted .110 with a .113 on-base percentage (owing to a single hit-by-pitch) in 258 trips to the plate, and his career strikeout-to-walk ratio was 88-0.

-After his playing days ended, Stallard worked in the coal and construction businesses.
#491 Tracy Stallard (back)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

#472 Don Pavletich

#472 Don Pavletich
Well, what do we have here? It looks like a gen-yoo-wine error card. You will notice that Don Pavletich is listed as a pitcher, but is pictured holding a bat. Likewise, the card back features a full line of batting stats. That's because Don was actually a first baseman/catcher. Whoops!

Fun facts about Don Pavletich:

-Don was born in Milwaukee, WI, and signed with Cincinnati as a bonus baby in 1956.

-He missed most of 1957-1958 while in military service. He debuted in the majors in 1957, but his early MLB record consisted of single games played in 1957 and 1959.

-After batting .295 with 22 home runs at Triple-A Indianapolis in 1961, he got the call to the bigs in 1962 but played sparingly.

-Was unimpressive in part-time duty in 1963, but started to show something in 1964, hitting five home runs in just 34 games.

-Kept his momentum rolling with a .319 average, .394 on-base percentage, eight homers, and 32 RBI the following year.

-1966 brought career highs in home runs (12) and RBI (38) to go with a .294 average.

-Don's only career grand slam was a pinch-hit walkoff shot on June 11, 1967 to top the Astros in the second game of a doubleheader. He also took Mike Cuellar deep in the first game of the twinbill.

-In the final four seasons of his major league career, he played for three teams (Reds, White Sox, and Red Sox).

-Don's final career home run came against Hall of Famer Jim Palmer.

-Was traded to his hometown Brewers after the 1971 season, but they effectively ended his career by releasing him the following spring. In parts of twelve seasons, he hit .254 with 46 homers and 193 RBI.
#472 Don Pavletich (back)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

#456 Bill Henry

#456 Bill Henry
I actually know a guy named Bill Henry. No relation. True story. Not interesting, but true.

Fun facts about Bill Henry:

-A native of Alice, TX, Bill attended the University of Houston and pitched in the independent minor leagues from 1948-1952 before being signed by the Red Sox.

-When he debuted in Boston, he became the first UH Cougar to play in the majors.

-Henry spent parts of four seasons in Beantown, going 15-20 with a 3.80 ERA in 75 games (42 starts).

-Returned to the minors for all of 1956 and 1957 before reemerging with the Cubs as a reliever; would start only two games during the rest of his career. He was rejuvenated in Chicago, posting ERAs of 2.88 and 2.68 and WHIPs of 0.98 and 1.02. In 1959, he led the National League with 65 games pitched and notched nine wins and a dozen saves.

-The Cubs traded Bill and two other players to the Reds for Frank Thomas. In 1960, the lefty was an All-Star in his first season in Cincy. He had a career-high 17 saves, ranking third in the N.L. in that category; it was part of a five-year run in which he ranked seventh or better in saves.

-He excelled again in 1961, putting up a 2.19 ERA and 16 saves for the N.L. champs. However, in his only taste of postseason play, he was hit hard in the decisive fifth game of the World Series.

-Bill rebounded from two straight subpar seasons to put up an absurdly low ERA (0.87) and WHIP (0.83) in 52.1 innings in 1964.

-Pitched until he was 41, spending the tail end of his career with the Giants, Pirates, and Astros. Overall, he was 46-50 with a 3.26 ERA and 90 saves in parts of 16 seasons.

-Held Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to one hit in 17 career at-bats (.118 OPS).

-Oddly enough, he discovered in 2007 that he had been a victim of identity theft when a Florida resident who had taken his name died and a SABR researcher put the pieces together. Bill is still alive and well in Deer Park, TX.
#456 Bill Henry (back)

Monday, December 07, 2009

#379 San Francisco Giants Team

#379 San Francisco Giants Team Card
I don't know if you can see it, but there's a bright yellow line on the left border of this card. I guess that's a printing irregularity. Have you seen anything like it before?

Anyhow, the San Francisco Giants probably wish that division play had been in place in 1964. It's tough to win 90 games and finish fourth, as manager Alvin Dark's charges did. They spent 53 days in first place but were not on top from late July onward. The glow was still on the club seven years after their move west from New York, as 1,504,364 rooters helped them finish third in the National League in attendance.

The Giants were a patient and powerful team on offense, leading the N.L. in home runs and walks. Having MVP Willie Mays helped, as he clubbed 47 home runs, drove in 111, and reached base at a .383 clip. Other heavy hitters included corner infielders Orlando Cepeda and Jim Ray Hart, who each went deep 31 times; Cepeda also hit a team-best .304. Mays and Cepeda were All-Stars.

Pitching-wise, San Francisco finished third in ERA at 3.19. Juan Marichal was the ace, with a 21-8, 2.48 ERA, 22 complete game season. Oddly enough, Gaylord Perry was the only other pitcher to start more than ten games and post a winning record (12-11, 2.75). Marichal was the lone Giant pitcher in the Midsummer Classic.

The Giants would be in contention for the rest of the decade with negligible results, notching five consecutive second-place finishes from 1965-1969. They won the N.L. West in 1971, but bowed to the Pirates in the NLCS in four games. They wouldn't reach the World Series again until 1989, and still haven't won it all since 1954.
#379 San Francisco Giants Team Card (back)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

#232 Steve Blass

#232 Steve Blass
Here is the second of two slabbed and graded cards that I own for this set. Steve actually traded me a loose version of this Steve Blass card, but I later acquired this slabbed copy in a separate trade with reader Michael Flaherty. I was then working out a trade with Kris Shepard, who needed the Blass, so I flipped the loose one to him. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Fun facts about Steve Blass:

-Steve grew up in Canaan, CT and was a stud pitcher in high school; the Pirates signed him in 1960.

-Won 42 games in three full minor league seasons (1961-1963) to earn a promotion to Pittsburgh in 1964. This string included a 17-3, 1.97 ERA performance at Class B Kinston in 1962; he would be inducted into the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997.

-Had a decent rookie season, going 5-8 with a 4.04 ERA while shuttling between the bullpen and rotation.

-After spending all of 1965 in the minors, Steve returned in 1966 and put together two more solid but unspectacular seasons before breaking out in 1968: he went 18-6 to lead the N.L. in winning percentage (.750) with a career-best 2.12 ERA. He also reached personal highs with 12 complete games and seven shutouts.

-After falling back to 16-10, 4.46 and 10-12, 3.52 in the next two seasons, Blass had a very memorable year in 1971. He went 15-8 with a 2.49 ERA and a league-leading five shutouts for the National League Champion Pirates.

-He dominated the Orioles in the World Series, earning two complete-game wins, including the decisive seventh game. In eighteen innings, he allowed just two runs on seven total hits. Of course, Roberto Clemente hit .414 and slugged .759 to wrest away the MVP honors.

-Steve was even better in 1972, going to his only All-Star Game and finishing second behind only Steve Carlton for Cy Young honors. His record was 19-8 with a 2.49 ERA. However, his strikeout-to-walk ratio dropped to career-worst 1.39, which probably went unnoticed at the time but was a troubling sign of things to come.

-Blass inexplicably fell apart at age 31, going 3-9 with a 9.85 ERA a year after being voted second-best pitcher in the league. His control abandoned him; he hit an N.L.-high 12 batters in just 88 innings, and walked 84 batters while striking out only 27. He spent all but one game of the 1974 season in AAA, trying to regain his form. He was even worse, issuing 103 free passes in 61 innings. When things looked no better the following spring, he retired. In nine seasons (plus one game in 1974), Steve was 103-76 with a 3.63 ERA and 57 complete games.

-He has been a radio announcer for Pirates games since 1986.

-Though the term "Steve Blass Disease" has become part of the baseball vernacular, used to describe physically healthy pitchers who inexplicably lose their pitching mechanics, Steve has had success in at least one other sport. Last September, he shot two holes-in-one in a single round of golf!
#232 Steve Blass (back)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

#210 Jim Fregosi

#210 Jim Fregosi
One idea that I've kicked around for this blog but never followed through was to post scans of other cards of the featured players. As my collection (particularly the vintage part of it) grows, it would be neat to show these players on different teams. You could see them when they were fresh-faced rookies or grizzled veterans or even as managers decades later. For instance, here's a 1992 Topps card depicting Jim Fregosi as the skipper of the Phillies.
Jim Fregosi 1992 Topps #669

Fun facts about Jim Fregosi:

-The San Franciscan signed with the Red Sox right out of high school in 1960, but was claimed by the Angels in the expansion draft the following draft.

-After debuting with the Halos in late 1961, the youngster worked his way into the everyday lineup midway through the following season, batting .291 in 58 games.

-Jim broke out in 1963 (.287 with 50 extra-base hits), but may have been at his best the next year (.833 OPS, 18 HR, 72 RBI), when he made the first of six All-Star teams.

-Hit for the cycle twice: July 28, 1964 (the first cycle in Angels history and the only one at Dodger Stadium until Orlando Hudson in 2009) and May 20, 1968.

-Other accolades for Fregosi included a Gold Glove in 1967, a league-leading 13 triples in 1968, and career highs of 33 doubles, 22 home runs, and 82 RBI in 1970.

-After a tumor in his foot abbreviated his 1971 season, the Angels bit the bullet and traded their all-time leader in practically every offensive category. They received four players from the Mets, including a wild young pitcher named Nolan Ryan. You may have heard about this trade.

-Injuries hampered Jim's playing career throughout the 1970s. After averaging 156 games a year from 1963-1970, he failed to top 107 in any season for the rest of his career. He spent only a year and a half with the Mets, but became a valuable part-time player for the Rangers for parts of five seasons.

-He ended his career with a brief stint with the Pirates, who granted him his release in 1978 when the Angels expressed interest in hiring him as their manager. In parts of 18 seasons, he hit .265 with 264 doubles, 78 triples, 151 home runs, and 706 RBI.

-Fregosi was indeed hired to helm the Halos at age 36, and led the club to an A. L. West title in his first full year before they bowed to a strong Baltimore team in the ALCS. He skippered the Angels until mid-1981, and later managed the White Sox (1986-1988), Phillies (1991-1996), and Blue Jays (1999-2000). The 1993 Phils went to the World Series, where they fell in six games to the defending champion Toronto club. Overall, he won 1,028 games and lost 1,095.

-Jim is currently a Special Assistant to Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren.
#210 Jim Fregosi (back)