Thursday, July 29, 2010

#311 Orlando Pena

#311 Orlando Pena
So if Orlando Pena had been given an A-Rod type nickname, it probably would have been O-Pen. Thankfully, he wasn't.

Fun facts about Orlando Pena:

-Orlando is a native of Victoria de las Tunas in Cuba. He pitched for the independent Daytona Beach Islanders in 1955 and was dealt to the Reds the following year.

-He debuted with the Reds in 1958 at age 25 and won his major league debut, striking out three in two scoreless innings of relief. Frank Robinson's two-run homer in the ninth made the victory possible.

-From 1958 through 1962, Pena pitched primarily in the minor leagues, save for a full (and mediocre) 1959 season spent in the Cincinnati bullpen. He re-emerged with the Athletics in 1962 as a starting pitcher, winning 6 of 10 decisions and tossing his first career shutout.

-Though Orlando led the American League with 20 losses in 1963, he was a co-leader for the woeful A's with 12 wins and gave them 217 solid innings (3.69 ERA).

-He hit only .136 in his career with two home runs, the first of which was a grand slam on May 31, 1963 that boosted his lead over the Senators to 8-3. He went the distance that day, picking up a 9-3 win.

-From 1965-1967, the offspeed specialist pitched for three teams (A's, Tigers, Indians) despite returning to the bullpen and largely succeeding in that role (3.59 ERA, 19 saves).

-He seemed finished in the majors after spending 1968-1969 in the minors and beginning 1970 as a 36-year-old batting practice pitcher for the Royals. But Pittsburgh gave him a whirl that summer and he caught on with the Orioles in 1971, seeing action in five big league games in the latter season.

-Once again relegated to the minors by the O's for the entirety of 1972, Orlando made lemons out of lemonade by mowing down the opposition at class A Miami and AAA Rochester. Between the two stops, the 38-year-old went 22-3 with an absurd 1.25 ERA. He was actually better at AAA, going 7-0 with an 0.90 ERA in ten games there.

-Baltimore brought him back to the majors in 1973 and he turned in two-plus years of impressive relief work for the Orioles, Cardinals, and Angels (2.66 ERA in 172.1 innings, 10 wins, 11 saves). He retired at age 41, totaling 56 wins, 77 losses, 40 saves, and a 3.77 ERA in parts of 14 big league seasons. He also won 148 games with a 2.75 ERA in a dozen minor league seasons.

-Orlando spent several years scouting for the Tigers and at last check lived in Hialeah, FL.
#311 Orlando Pena (back)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

#309 Steve Hamilton

#309 Steve Hamilton
So, any idea who the mystery Yankee is in the background of this photo? According to my crack research, Tony Kubek wore #10 and and Mel Stottlemyre was #30. Those are possibilities...

Fun facts about Steve Hamilton:

-Born in Columbia, KY, Steve was a two-sport athlete at Morehead State University. In 1958, he was drafted in the second round by the NBA's Minneapolis Lakers, and also signed a contract with the MLB's Indians.

-He played alongside Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor for two years in Minneapolis, averaging 4.5 points per game in 82 games total.

-Hamilton won a total of 52 minor league games over four years and debuted with Cleveland at age 25 in 1961. The following year he was traded to the Senators.

-Had a decent rookie season (3.77 ERA, 108 ERA+) for Washington, but received little support, as his 3-8 record attests. Was fortunate to be dealt to the Yankees in April 1963.

-Spent the better part of eight seasons alternating between the New York bullpen and rotation, posting a 34-20 record and a 2.78 ERA. Peaked in 1965 with a 3-1 mark and a 1.39 ERA.

-Tossed his only career shutout on August 5, 1966, a five-hit victory over the Indians.

-Late in his career, Steve began throwing a lob pitch that was known as the "folly floater". After Cleveland slugger Tony Horton fouled off the floater during a 1970 game, he urged Hamilton to throw him another. He complied, and Horton fouled out to catcher Thurman Munson. Humiliated, the batter crawled back into the dugout on all fours. You can actually see the video here!

-Hamilton spent a season each with the Giants and Cubs at the end of his career, retiring in 1972 with a 40-31 record and a 3.05 ERA over parts of 12 seasons. He also saved 42 games.

-In 1975, he coached for the Detroit Tigers. He spent the next couple of decades serving as head baseball coach and athletic director at his alma mater, MSU.

-Steve passed away after a battle with cancer in 1997. He was 62 years old.
#309 Steve Hamilton (back)

Monday, July 26, 2010

#307 Barry Latman

#307 Barry Latman
Barry has a somewhat pained expression on his face. I actually like the fact that cards like this exist. It would be boring if all posed card photos featured players smiling brightly. Sometimes a guy just has to grimace, or glower, or just stare off into the distance.

Fun facts about Barry Latman:

-A Los Angeleno by birth, Barry attended the University of Southern California before signing with the White Sox in 1955.

-He debuted with Chicago in September 1957 at age 21 and earned his first career win on the 15th with two innings of scoreless relief against the Senators.

-Spent only the final two months of the 1958 season in the majors but turned heads, allowing four earned runs in 47.2 innings (0.76 ERA). Did not permit a run in his final 18 innings of work, including a three-hit, nine-strikeout shutout of the Athletics in his season finale.

-Was a swingman, never receiving more than 21 starts in a single year but starting in 39% of his total appearances.

-After an 8-5 record and 3.75 ERA in his first full season (1959), Barry was traded to the Indians for pitcher Herb Score.

-Was an All-Star in 1961, setting or tying career highs in wins (13-5 record), shutouts (two), and saves (five).

-Had a rocky three-year stretch from 1962-1964, posting a 21-35 record with a 4.32 ERA for Cleveland and the Angels.

-Actually wound up back in AAA during the 1965 season; despite a 2.84 ERA in 18 relief appearances for the Halos, he allowed baserunners at a career-worst 1.5 per inning rate.

-Finished his career with the Astros, pitching to a strong 2.71 ERA in 1966 before backsliding in his final year in the bigs. In parts of 11 seasons he was 59-68 with 16 saves and a 3.91 ERA.

-If Wikipedia is to be believed, Barry currently lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with his wife Patti.
#307 Barry Latman (back)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

#306 Bubba Phillips

#306 Bubba Phillips
There just haven't been enough Bubbas in MLB history - eight, according to Baseball-Reference. What's worse, the majors have been Bubba-less since Bubba Crosby played his last game with the Yankees in 2006. Simply unacceptable.

Fun facts about Bubba Phillips:

-Born in West Point, MS, Bubba was a Little All-American in baseball and captain of the football team (his position was running back) at Mississippi Southern College, which is now known as the University of Southern Mississippi.

-He began his pro baseball career with the unaffiliated Stroudsburg Poconos before being acquired by the Tigers in 1949.

-He seemed ready for the majors after hitting .291 with 14 homers at AAA Buffalo in 1952, but was delayed by two years of military service. He finally debuted with the Tigers in 1955 at age 27.

-After appearing in 95 games as a rookie, Phillips was traded to the White Sox for pitcher Virgil Trucks. In his first three years in Chicago, he hit .271 in part-time duty.

-Bubba was a contributor to the 1959 American League Champion Pale Hose, hitting .264 with a career-high 27 doubles while starting 86 games at third base and another 17 in the outfield. He appeared in three World Series games, going 3-for-10 with a double.

-A seven-player deal sent him to the Indians for the 1960 season. After a miserable first season with the Tribe (.207 AVG, .249 OBP, .299 SLG), he was rejuvenated in 1961: .264 with 23 doubles and career-highs of 18 homers and 72 RBI. He also swatted the only two grand slams of his career.

-Phillips' power numbers came back down to Earth over the next two years, and he bookended his big league career in 1964 with a 46-game return to Detroit. He caught on with the Milwaukee Braves the following year, but spent the whole season at AAA Atlanta.

-In parts of ten major league seasons, Bubba hit .255 with 62 homers and 356 RBI.

-Despite his relatively low career home run total, Phillips went deep twice in the same game on three occasions!

-He passed away in June 1993 at age 65, and is buried near his home in Mississippi.
#306 Bubba Phillips (back)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

#305 Rico Carty

#305 Rico Carty
Hey, Rookie Trophy! I wonder what Rico did to earn that. Guess you'll have to read the rest of the post...

Fun facts about Rico Carty:

-Born in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic, Rico signed with the Braves in 1959. It's later claimed that the naive youngster was offered contracts by nine or ten different major league teams following his performance at the Pan-Am Games, and signed them all!

-After a two-game cup of coffee in 1963, he became the regular left fielder for Milwaukee the following year. The 24-year-old led the club with a .330 average (Roberto Clemente's .339 was the only better mark in the league) and .554 slugging percentage, drove in 88 runs, and hit 22 homers (third-best on the team, but trailing leader Hank Aaron by just two). Unfortunately, Philadelphia's Dick Allen was just as good as Carty but played thirty more games and won the Rookie of the Year Award going away.

-The Braves used him like a Swiss Army Knife in 1966. He logged 127 games in the outfield but also briefly filled in at first and third base, and even caught 17 games!

-In 1967, Rico batted under .300 for the first time in the majors, tumbling to .255 as he battled tuberculosis. Ultimately, the illness would sideline him for all of 1968.

-He came roaring back in 1969 with a .342 average in 104 games, but that was just the start. 1970 was a career year, as "Beeg Mon" (as he was sometimes called) captured the National League batting crown with a .366 mark and also paced the circuit with an obscene .454 on-base percentage. He also swatted 25 homers and drove in 101 runs, and made his only All-Star appearance.

-On May 31, 1970, Rico led a 9-1 rout of the Phillies with a 4-4 performance that included a walk, three home runs, and six runs driven in.

-A knee injury disappointingly cost Carty the entirety of the 1971 season, and he played only 234 games over the following three seasons. During that time he was moved around from Atlanta to Texas to the Cubs to Oakland to Cleveland.

-His career finally restabilized with the Indians, where the relatively new designated hitter position helped him stay on the field. He batted .303 for the Tribe in three-plus seasons, and led them in RBI in 1976 and 1977.

-At the age of 38, he attained a career-high in homers with 31 and drove in 99 runs for the Blue Jays and A's in 1978.

-Rico closed out his career in Toronto in 1979. In parts of 15 seasons he batted .299 with 204 home runs and 890 RBI.
#305 Rico Carty (back)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#303 Johnny Orsino

#303 Johnny Orsino
Okay, patient readers, I'm back from my own All-Star Break of sorts, a week well-spent at the beach. Here to welcome me back is the "Horse", Johnny Orsino. I'm a fan of the batting cage in the background, as well as the close-up of the old Orioles road jersey. The placket piping and the classic bird on the sleeve really do tie it all together.

Fun facts about Johnny Orsino:

-A native of Teaneck, NJ, Johnny signed with the Giants as a teenager in 1957.

-He showed prodigious power in the minors, reaching 40 extra-base hits in each of his first four seasons.

-Played only 43 games over two seasons (1961-1962) for San Francisco, hitting .275 with four homers.

-Traded to the Orioles in the six-player deal that also landed Stu Miller for the Birds. Announced his presence with home runs in each of his first five at-bats in Spring Training.

-Playing a career-high 116 games in 1963, Orsino cranked out 19 homers and 18 doubles, drove in 56 runs, and batted .272. His 133 OPS+ was third among American League catchers, trailing only All-Stars Earl Battey and Elston Howard.

-Lost playing time over the next two seasons as he slumped to .227 with 17 home runs in 158 contests.

-Was dealt to the Senators after the 1965 season and ended his career with a whimper, collecting just four hits in 15 games over the following two years. Continued playing out the string in the minor leagues through the 1969 campaign.

-In parts of seven big league seasons, he hit .249 with 40 homers and 123 RBI.

-Managed briefly and unsuccessfully in the Indians' farm system, winning 103 games and losing 177 between AA Jersey City and AA Chattanooga in 1977 and 1978. Later in life, he became a golf pro and coached golf at Florida Atlantic University.

-On July 26, 1963, he hit a three-run homer off of a fellow two-sport athlete: White Sox pitcher (and future NBA Hall of Famer) Dave DeBusschere.
#303 Johnny Orsino (back)