Tuesday, August 31, 2010

#351 Jim Perry

#351 Jim Perry
So how do you suppose that one brother gets to be named "James" and his younger brother is stuck with "Gaylord"? That hardly seems fair.

Fun facts about Jim Perry:

-A native of Williamston, NC, Jim attended Campbell University and signed with the Indians in 1956.

-He debuted with Cleveland in 1959, posting a 12-10 record in 44 games and completing eight of his 13 starts. His 2.65 ERA would have been third-best in the league, but he fell just short of the innings requirement. However, he did place second in Rookie of the Year voting to Bob Allison.

-His sophomore season was one of his most successful, as he tied for the league lead with 18 wins and four shutouts.

-Though Jim made the All-Star team in 1961, he fell to 10-17 with a 4.71 ERA. He would not get another shot at being a full-time starter until 1969.

-After spending six strong seasons as Minnesota's swingman, Perry was tabbed for 36 starts in 1969. The 33-year-old broke out with a 20-6 record and a 2.82 ERA for the first-ever A.L. West champions. He was third in Cy Young voting and ninth in the MVP race.

-1970 was even better: he led the league with 24 wins (against 12 losses) to go along with a 3.04 ERA and a career-high 13 complete games. He made his second of three All-Star Games and won the Cy Young Award.

-Jim pitched for the Twins for a decade before making a one-year stop in Detroit. In 1974, he was united in Cleveland with brother Gaylord, three years his junior. They were already the only siblings to each win Cy Young Awards, and in their only full season as teammates they combined to win 38 games: 21 for Gaylord (2.51 ERA) and 17 for Jim (2.96 ERA).

-The Perry boys faced one another only once: on July 3, 1973, Jim's Tigers topped Gaylord's Indians 5-4. Each allowed four earned runs and did not complete the game. Jim received no decision, and Gaylord took the loss, having allowed a fifth (unearned) run.

-Jim lost his effectiveness in 1975 and retired after the Athletics released him in August. In 17 seasons he was 215-174 with a 3.45 ERA, 109 complete games, and 32 shutouts.

-His son is pro golfer Chris Perry.
#351 Jim Perry (back)

Monday, August 30, 2010

#349 Larry Miller

#349 Larry Miller
Before I saw this card, the only Larry Miller I knew was the comedian and actor. You may know him from films like The Aristrocrats, 10 Things I Hate About You, or Best in Show. Hopefully this Larry Miller never threatened to gouge a child's eye out with his thumb.

Fun facts about Larry Miller:

-Born in Topeka, KS, Larry stayed local and attended the University of Kansas before signing with the Dodgers in 1959.

-He missed two years (1962-1963) due to military service.

-After beginning the 1964 season 8-0 with a 1.68 ERA at AA Albuquerque, the 27-year-old was summoned to the big leagues in June.

-His best effort that year was a complete game seven-hitter over the Phillies on August 2. He allowed one run, striking out five and walking one.

-Funnily enough, the pitcher started his major-league career 5-for-6 at the plate, with hits in each of his first four at-bats. From that point forward, he was 5-for-33. Still, he goes in the books as a .256 career hitter!

-Miller won only four of his 12 decisions as a rookie with a 4.18 ERA.

-Traded to the Mets in 1965, he went 6-1 at AAA Buffalo but sported a 5.02 ERA as a reliever in the majors.

-His sole win for New York came on June 20, 1965. After coming on in relief of Frank Lary in the sixth inning, he allowed an inherited, game-tying run to score on a sacrifice fly. He then blanked the Dodgers for the rest of the game. The Mets scored the winning run off of Don Drysdale with a Roy McMillan squeeze bunt in the eighth to earn a 3-2 victory.

-Three abysmal games (and one good one) in September 1966 represented the last MLB exposure for Larry. He finished his career 5-14 in parts of three seasons with a 4.71 ERA.

-He stayed active in the minor leagues through the 1969 season, retiring with an overall 3.42 ERA on the farm.
#349 Larry Miller (back)

Friday, August 27, 2010

#345 Floyd Robinson

#345 Floyd Robinson
I don't know what it is, but I enjoy being able to see a player's name on the back of his jersey on older cards. You can also see his jersey number 3 on the sleeve (these were known as "TV numbers", as they were for the benefit of fans watching at home).

Fun facts about Floyd Robinson:

-Born in Prescott, AR, Floyd attended high school in San Diego, after which he signed with the Pacific Coast League's Padres club in 1954.

-The Indians acquired him in 1957, but sent him to the White Sox prior to the 1960 season. He debuted with Chicago that August, hitting .283 in 22 games.

-The 25-year-old became the ChiSox' starting right fielder in 1961 and finished third in A.L. Rookie of the Year voting on the strength of a team-leading .310 average. He also showed some pop with 20 doubles, seven triples, and 11 home runs.

-1962 was a career year for Floyd. He led the league with 45 doubles and paced his team with ten triples, 109 RBI, and a .312 average. He also landed in the top ten of the MVP vote.

-On July 22, 1962, he had the rare distinction of going 6-for-6 in a nine-inning game, a 7-3 victory over Boston. Incredibly, he scored only one run and had one RBI; all six hits were singles.

-Robinson remained productive for the Pale Hose over the next three seasons, batting .282 and averaging 13 homers, 65 RBI, and 69 walks.

-After his average dipped to .237 in 1966 (more troubling was his .325 slugging percentage), he was traded to the Reds for pitcher Jim O'Toole.

-He continued to flounder in his lone season in Cincinnati, and fared no better in 1968 in Oakland and then Boston, and that was all she wrote. In parts of nine seasons, he hit .283 with 36 triples, 67 home runs, and 426 RBI. His on-base percentage was a solid .365.

-Floyd's last home run was a pinch-hit job on April 16, 1968. The two-run clout gave the A's a 4-3 lead over the Yankees in the ninth inning, and they won by that margin.

-His cousin was a fellow major league outfielder of the era, Tommie Reynolds.
#345 Floyd Robinson (back)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

#343 Mike McCormick

If I had to describe Mike McCormick in one word, that word would be "squinty". BONUS FUN FACT! He is just one of three major leaguers by that name. The first was a Scottish native who played third base for the Brooklyn Superbas in 1904, and the second patrolled the outfield for several teams in the 1940s.

Fun facts about Mike McCormick:

-Mike hailed from Pasadena, CA and garnered attention as a 17-year-old American Legion pitcher. He threw four no-hitters, struck out 26 batters in a game, and won 49 games total.

-The Giants (still in New York at the time) signed him in 1956 as a $60,000 bonus baby and he saw action in three big league games before turning 18.

-He was eased into the team's rotation over the span of a few years, and went 11-8 with eight complete games in his second full season.

-In 1959, he managed a rare feat, pitching a no-hitter while allowing a hit. *record scratch* Yes, he completed five hitless innings on June 12 at Philadelphia before surrendering a hit in the sixth frame. However, rain stopped the game before the inning could be completed, and per the rules, the game was official after five innings, with the incomplete sixth being wiped out!

-Mike was an All-Star for the first time at 21, as he led all National League pitchers in 1960 with a 2.70 ERA and completed a career-high 15 games to match his win total. He repeated as an All-Star the following year.

-The mid-Sixties were a forgettable time for the southpaw, as he lost his regular spot in the San Francisco rotation in 1962, was traded to Baltimore the following year and won only six of 21 starts, spent most of 1964 at AAA Rochester, and had to regain his form with a two-year exile to the American League basement (located in Washington, D.C.).

-Returning to the Giants in 1967, all seemed right in Mike's world once more. He won the first National League Cy Young Award (one award had been given across both leagues previously) and finished sixth in MVP voting. His stats, with N.L. ranks in parentheses: 22-10 record (1st), 2.85 ERA (missed top ten by .09), 14 complete games (7th), five shutouts (2nd). He was also chosen as the league's Comeback Player of the Year, though the voters were likely looking at his win total only; he'd had a 3.46 ERA (101 ERA+) for the Senators in 1966, but went 11-14 with crummy run support.

-He must have had a thing for round numbers. He reportedly hit the 500th home run ever struck by a pitcher, and on July 14, 1968, he served up Hank Aaron's 500th career homer!

-After two more decent years on the San Francisco staff (23-23, 3.46 ERA), he got knocked around while toiling for the Giants and Yankees in 1970 and the Royals in 1971. He finished a 16-year major league career with 134 wins, 128 losses, and a 3.73 ERA.

-Mike has been married twice and has three daughters and two sons.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

#342 Bob Rodgers

#342 Bob Rodgers
Those are some pearly whites that Bob (aka Buck) Rodgers is flashing! I hope his dentist had this card framed in his office.

Fun facts about Bob Rodgers:

-A native of Delaware, OH, Bob signed with the Tigers right out of high school in 1956.

-After five years in the Detroit organization, Bob was claimed by the Angels in the 1960 expansion draft. He made his major league debut in September of 1961, hitting .321 in 16 games.

-His first career home run came on September 29, 1961 off of Cleveland's Barry Latman. It was a third-inning grand slam that gave the Angels a 6-4 lead and capped the scoring for both clubs.

-He became Los Angeles' starting catcher in 1962 and hit .258 with 34 doubles (fifth-best in the A.L.), 61 RBI and a league-leading 34 baserunners caught stealing. His 45.9% caught stealing rate was second in the league; he would gun down 43% of would-be thieves for his career. The switch-hitting backstop also set a rookie record with 155 games caught. He was named to the Topps All-Star Rookie team and placed second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Tom Tresh of the Yankees.

-On May 5, 1962, he caught Bo Belinsky's no-hitter against the Orioles and went 1-for-3 at the plate with a double.

-Rodgers remained the Halos' primary catcher for seven years on the strength of his defense. He never approached the offensive production of his rookie year.

-He appeared in only 18 games in 1969, his career coming to a close at age 30 due to wear and tear. In parts of nine seasons he hit .232 with 31 homers and 288 RBI.

-Buck got into coaching as soon as his playing days were over, serving on the staffs of the Twins (1970-1974), Giants (1976), and Brewers (1978-1980). He also managed in the minors for the Angels (1975, 1977) and Expos (1984).

-While coaching the Brewers, he was promoted to interim manager after skipper George Bamberger suffered a heart attack in the spring. Bamberger returned for a portion of the season before stepping down and handing the reins back to Rodgers in September. The following year, Milwaukee went 62-47, including 31-22 in the second half of the strike-shortened season to advance to the divisional playoffs. There they lost a heartbreaking series to the first-half East champion Yankees, three games to two. In 1982, the Brew Crew won the East and the A.L. pennant, but did it without Buck, who was replaced by Harvey Kuenn after a 23-24 start.

-In 1985 he took over the Expos and piloted some competitive clubs, averaging nearly 84 wins over six full seasons as manager. Montreal peaked with a 91-71 record in 1987, good for third place in the N.L. East and four games back of the division champion Cardinals. In 1991, he was fired because of a 20-29 start and succeeded by Tom Runnells. The Angels hired him that August, but he completed just one full season as California's manager. In May 1992, a team bus crashed on the way from New York to Baltimore and he sustained the most serious injuries of the dozen Angels personnel who were impacted - a broken rib, broken knee, and broken elbow. He missed half of the season. In 1993, the Halos lost 91 games, shortening his leash. After another slow start in 1994 (16-24) he was let go, bringing an end to a 13-year managerial career in which he went 784-774, a .503 win percentage.
#342 Bob Rodgers (back)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

#341 Bobby Bolin

#341 Bobby Bolin
Eat your heart out, Bobby Bonilla...real fans know who the true "Bobby Bo" is.

Fun facts about Bobby Bolin:

-Born in Hickory Grove, SC, Bobby signed with the Giants in 1956 at age 17.

-He cut a swath through the minors, winning 57 games in his first four pro seasons.

-Appeared in 37 games as a rookie in 1961, all but one as a reliever. He saved five games and had a respectable 3.19 ERA, though he struggled with his control (6.9 BB/9 IP).

-Received incrementally larger starting assignments in his first four seasons. Went 23-18 with a 3.34 ERA and 13 saves from 1962-1964.

-Starting 13 games and relieving in 32 more, he went a career-best 14-6 with a 2.76 ERA (seventh-best in the N.L.) in 1965.

-1966 was Bobby's lone season as a full-time starter. He completed ten games and his 2.89 ERA placed him in the league's top ten for the second straight year, but he managed just an 11-10 record for the 93-win Giants. Call it hard luck - his game logs show that he received an average of 3.35 runs of support from his offense. Though he failed to complete six innings in ten of 34 starts, many of his no-decisions could have been wins; his ERA was 2.93 in the 14 games in which he did not receive a decision. He basically had to be flawless to win (0.85 ERA in 11 wins).

-Had a pair of one-hit shutouts in his career: August 14, 1964 vs. the Braves and October 1, 1966 at Pittsburgh.

-Despite starting only 19 of his 34 games in 1968, Bolin qualified for the ERA title and finished second to Bob Gibson with a 1.99 mark. His 0.985 WHIP was fourth-best, and he went 10-5.

-After a rough patch in the early 1970s, he finished his career with two good years out of the Boston bullpen in 1972 and 1973. Went out on top with a 2.70 ERA and a team-best 15 saves in his final season.

-In 13 seasons he was 88-75 with a 3.40 ERA, 32 complete games, and 50 saves.
#341 Bobby Bolin (back)

Monday, August 23, 2010

#339 Ryne Duren

#339 Ryne Duren
1950s and 1960s reliever Ryne Duren, or 2000s sitcom character Dwight K. Schrute? You decide.

Fun facts about Ryne Duren:

-Rinold George Duren was a native of Cazenovia, WI. He signed with the St. Louis Browns in 1949 at age 20.

-He finally made his major league debut in 1954, pitching two innings of relief in a blowout loss for the Orioles. He allowed two runs.

-It was 1957 before Duren re-emerged in the majors as a member of the Athletics. He was unimpressive, but found a home with the Yankees the following year.

-Ryne was an All-Star three times in a four-year span (1958-1961). In 1958, the 29-year-old finished second in Rookie of the Year voting while winning six and saving a league-best 20 with a 2.02 ERA out of the Yankee bullpen. He struck out 87 in only 75.2 innings, and factored in the decision of all three World Series games in which he appeared - a loss in Game One, a save in Game Three, and a win in Game Six. His ERA for the Series was 1.93.

-The righthander missed even more bats in 1959, posting a 1.88 ERA and striking out 96 in 76.2 innings (11.3 K/9 IP). He saved only 14, still good for second in the A.L. behind Chicago's Turk Lown.

-Ryne was likely one of the first relief specialists to make a dramatic entrance when called upon. He would hop the short chain-link fence to exit the Yankee Stadium bullpen and slowly stroll to the mound with his warmup jacket over his right arm. He wore thick glasses, and made a big show out of the notion that he couldn't see where the ball was going. Often his warmup pitches would sail over the catcher's head at high speeds and strike the backstop.

-After three straight subpar years with the Yanks and Angels, Ryne regained a bit of his form with back-to-back solid efforts in Philadelphia (6-2, 3.30 ERA in 1963) and Cincinnati (3.09 ERA in 1964).

-He began the 1965 season in Philadelphia, but moved on to the Senators at midseason and fell flat. His career ended when Washington released him in August. In parts of ten big league seasons he was 27-44 with 57 saves and a 3.83 ERA.

-His nephew Steven Duren supposedly played minor league ball in the Reds organization, though I couldn't find any stats for him at Baseball-Reference. One verifiable fact about Steven is that he is better known as Blackie Lawless, guitarist and vocalist for the heavy metal band W.A.S.P.

-Ryne is a recovered alcoholic, and received the Yankee Family Award in 1983 for overcoming his afflication and educating others about alcohol abuse. He collaborated with author Tom Sabellico on the book "I Can See Clearly Now", a memoir that was published in 2003.
#339 Ryne Duren (back)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

#338 Philadelphia Phillies Team

I feel like I've beaten the dead horse that was the Phillies' 1964 season through numerous mentions in other player and team posts, but it was a collapse of historical proportions. Most teams would be encouraged and motivated by a 92-70 season that left them a game shy of the National League pennant, but it never should have come to that for manager Gene Mauch and his troops. 1,425,891 fans made old Connie Mack Stadium the fourth-best-attended facility in the N.L., and they bore witness to a club that had a 6.5 game lead on September 20 and squandered it all in the span of a week on an epic losing streak that ultimately totaled ten games. Ouch.

The Phils were third in the league with 693 runs scored. Right fielder Johnny Callison (the lone All-Star among Philly's bats with a .274 AVG, 31 HR, 104 RBI) and first baseman Dick Allen (.318, 29 HR, 91 RBI, 125 R) did the heavy lifting. The only other starters who batted higher than .251 were left fielder Wes Covington (.280, 13 HR, 58 RBI) and center fielder Tony Gonzalez (.278). Still, the club's .258 average and 130 homers were both good for fourth in the circuit. Their .315 OBP and .391 SLG were third-best.

Like the lineup, Philadelphia's pitching staff was top-heavy, with a 3.38 ERA (fourth in the N.L.) and 632 runs allowed (fifth). The one-two punch of Jim Bunning (19-8, 2.63 ERA) and Chris Short (17-9, 2.20) each received an All-Star nod. 24-year-old Dennis Bennett (12-14, 3.68) was a solid third starter, and Art Mahaffey (12-9, 4.52) and Ray Culp (8-7, 4.13) rounded out the rotation. Bunning and Short wore down while pitching on three and even two days' rest in September, and it seems likely that Mauch's lack of faith in his other pitchers exacerbated the team's collapse. In the bullpen, most of the work was done by Jack Baldschun (6-9, 3.12, 21 saves, 71 G) and Ed Roebuck (5-3, 2.21, 12 SV, 60 G).

The star-crossed 1964 Phillies represented the city's first real chance at a winner since the 1950 "Whiz Kids", who had come out of nowhere to capture the N.L. pennant. In the mid-70s, led by stars like Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, the Phils captured three straight Eastern Division crowns but were turned away in the NLCS each year from 1976-1978. They finally won the franchise's elusive first World Championship in 1980.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#337 Mike Cuellar

#337 Mike Cuellar
If you already knew that Mike Cuellar was once a St. Louis Cardinal, you're either old-school or you've done your homework.

Fun facts about Mike Cuellar:

-Born in Santa Clara, Cuba, Mike served in the Cuban Army under Batista and gained attention after pitching a no-hitter for a military team in 1955.

-The Reds signed him in 1957 and he made his major league debut at age 22 in 1959. He was hit hard in two games and shipped out.

-He spent several years pitching in Mexico and the minor leagues before the Cardinals acquired him and used him in the bullpen with middling results in 1964.

-Cuellar was traded to the Astros in 1965 and soon flourished as a starting pitcher, finishing second in the N.L. with a 2.22 ERA in 1966 and being named to the All-Star team the following year (16-10, 3.03 ERA, career-high 203 strikeouts).

-Houston shipped him to the Orioles for the 1969 season, receiving former Rookie of the Year Curt Blefary in return. The lefty entered a period of dominance, becoming the first Latin American Cy Young Award winner in his first year in the new league (he shared the award with Denny McLain). Cuellar was 23-11 for the Birds with a 2.38 ERA and continued his dominance in the postseason, allowing only four earned runs in 24 innings and earning Baltimore's only win in the five-game World Series.

-Though his ERA jumped to 3.48 in 1970, he led the league with 24 wins (against 8 losses) and 21 complete games. He struggled in his only ALCS start but also hit a grand slam to help his cause. In the World Series, he was shaky early but settled down and slammed the door on the Reds in the Game Five clincher.

-Mike was famously one of four 20-game winners on the 1971 O's. He was an All-Star for the second straight year and again completed 21 games. He notched another complete-game victory in the ALCS but lost both of his starts in the World Series, including a 2-1 heartbreaker in Game Seven.

-He continued to pitch effectively for Baltimore into his late thirties, including one last All-Star campaign in 1974 (22-10, 3.11 ERA, 20 CG). In all, he won 143 and lost 88 for the Orioles with a 3.18 ERA. He completed 133 of his 283 starts. He still ranks in the top five in team history in wins, strikeouts, complete games, and shutouts.

-After finally losing his touch in 1976, he bowed out with two ugly appearances for the Angels the next year. In parts of 15 seasons he was 185-130 with a 3.14 ERA over 2808 innings.

-Cuellar retired to Florida, where he occasionally assisted the Orioles as a pitching instructor. He died last April of stomach cancer at age 72.
#337 Mike Cuellar (back)

Monday, August 16, 2010

#336 Woody Held

#336 Woody Held
I don't mean to be cruel or to speak ill of the departed, but doesn't Woody bear a striking resemblance to Howdy Doody?

Fun facts about Woody Held:

-He was born Woodson George Heldt (he dropped the "t" to avoid confusion over pronunciation) in Sacramento, CA. He actually went by "Woodie", regardless of what Topps says. He was a batboy for the minor-league Sacramento Solons in the 1940s, and signed with the Yankees for a $6,000 bonus in 1951.

-Woodie was trapped in the deep Yankee farm system (he hit 109 HR in seven minor league seasons), receiving only five plate appearances in 1954 and one more in 1957 before a seven-player trade in June 1957 gave him an opportunity to play with the poor-sister Athletics.

-Installed immediately as Kansas City's center fielder, Held hit 20 homers in just 92 games as a rookie.

-He was traded to Cleveland the very next year (in a deal that sent future home run champ Roger Maris to the A's) and moved to shortstop. In 1959 he became the first Indians shortstop to hit 20 homers when he socked a career-high 29 and drove in 71 runs.

-1961 may have been his best season, as he hit .267 with 23 doubles, 23 homers, and 78 RBI.

-Woodie stayed with the Tribe for six and a half seasons, long enough to set a team record for home runs by a shortstop with 85. His record lasted 45 years before Jhonny Peralta surpassed it in 2009.

-His last season as a regular was 1965 with the Senators, when he tied for second on the club with 54 RBI.

-Held spent the last four years of his career as a utility player with the Orioles (where he was a member of the 1966 World Series champs, but did not play in the postseason), Angels, and White Sox. He played every position in the infield and outfield except for first base.

-One of the two home runs he hit as an Oriole was a pinch-hit, three-run homer on May 1, 1967 that allowed the team to overcome a 7-5 eighth-inning deficit and win the game.

-In parts of 14 seasons he hit .240 with 179 home runs and 559 RBI. He passed away on June 11, 2009 after a seven-month fight with brain cancer.
#336 Woody Held (back)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

#334 Vic Roznovsky

#334 Vic Roznovsky
You can't see it here, but in the photo on Vic Roznovsky's 1969 Topps card he has a primitive-looking batting glove. He may have been one of the first to wear one. Or maybe Vic was just a fashion plate.

Fun facts about Vic Roznovsky:

-Born in Shiner, TX, where they make a fine beer, Vic signed with the Pirates in 1958.

-He had gradual climb through the minor leagues, passing through the Pittsburgh and San Francisco organizations before finding a home with the Cubs.

-Made his major league debut with Chicago in 1964, his seventh pro season. He was 25 at the time.

-Hit .197 in 35 games as a rookie, but caught nine of 15 would-be base stealers (60%).

-Played in a career-high 71 games in 1965, hitting .221 with three homers and 15 RBI.

-Hit only four career home runs, but one came against Hall-of-Famer Don Drysdale on May 21, 1965 and provided the eventual margin of victory.

-Drove in four runs on May 26, 1965, with a bases-loaded walk and a three-run homer in an 8-6 win over the Mets.

-Was traded to the Orioles in March of 1966, and was the club's primary backup catcher in their World Championship season.

-Together with Boog Powell, hit back-to-back pinch homers in the ninth inning to tie the August 26, 1966 game with Boston at two apiece. It was the fourth time in history that this had occurred; Baltimore won the game in the 12th inning.

-Spent all of the 1968 season at AAA Rochester and then was traded to the Phillies, where he ended his career in 1969. In parts of five big league seasons, Vic hit .218 with four homers and 38 RBI.
#334 Vic Roznovsky (back)

Friday, August 13, 2010

#332 Ted Abernathy

#332 Ted Abernathy
Sleeveless jerseys always seem like a good idea in theory. The next thing you know, the Cleveland Indians put on long-sleeved undershirts on a chilly spring day and it looks like everyone is in long underwear.

Fun facts about Ted Abernathy:

-Born in Stanley, NC, Ted signed with the Senators at age 19 in 1952.

-He drew attention with 20 wins and 293 strikeouts at Class D Roanoke Rapids in his first pro season.

-After he spent the next two years in the military, Washington skipped the 22-year-old straight to the majors. The results were less than encouraging: 5-9 with a 5.96 ERA in 40 games in 1955. Injuries and ineffectiveness kept him out of the majors entirely from 1958-1963, save for two games in 1960.

-When shoulder surgery left his career in doubt, he reinvented himself as a sidearm and submarine pitcher. He returned in 1963 and had a strong year out of the Cleveland bullpen, going 7-2 with a 2.88 ERA and a team-best 12 saves.

-Three times in a four-year span (1965-1968) Ted led the National League in games pitched, and twice he topped the loop in saves (31 in 1965 with the Cubs and 28 in 1967 with the Reds).

-1967 was the finest year of Abernathy's career, as he allowed just 15 earned runs (including a single home run) in 106.1 innings for a 1.27 ERA. His WHIP was a paltry 0.98.

-Twice he won ten games in relief - in 1968 with Cincinnati and in 1970 with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Royals combined. He notched double-digits saves in each season as well.

-Ted went out on top, retiring at age 39 after putting up a 1.70 ERA for Kansas City in 1972. In parts of 14 seasons he was 63-69 with a 3.46 ERA and 148 saves.

-After baseball, he made a living back in North Carolina working for Summey Building Systems. He later joined his son Todd at the latter's landscaping company.

-Ted suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for several years before passing away in 2004 at age 71.
#332 Ted Abernathy (back)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

#328 Eddie Fisher

#328 Eddie Fisher
This Eddie Fisher is not to be confused with the 1950s and 1960s entertainer who was married to Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, and Connie Stevens. Though I'm sure he tried to convince those ladies at various times that he was their husband, though. It's worth a shot.

Fun facts about Eddie Fisher:

-A native of Shreveport, LA, Eddie graduated from the University of Oklahoma and signed with the Giants in 1958.

-He debuted with San Francisco in his second pro season, but appeared in only 35 major league games in three seasons before being traded to the White Sox.

-His first full season was a success, as he started 12 games for Chicago, relieved in 45 others, and went 9-5 with five saves and a 3.10 ERA in 1962.

-From 1963-1966, he was bullpen-mates with the ageless Hoyt Wilhelm, who helped him to refine his own knuckleball.

-He was an All-Star in 1965, when he led the American League with 82 appearances (all in relief), 60 games finished, and a 0.98 WHIP. He also went 15-7 with 24 saves and a 2.40 ERA. He was tabbed as the Fireman of the Year.

-Fisher led the league in appearances for a second straight year in 1966, when he combined for 67 games pitched for the White Sox and Orioles. Following a midseason trade to Baltimore, he was instrumental in the pennant drive with five wins, 13 saves, and a 2.64 ERA.

-Eddie spent one more year in Baltimore before making a stop in Cleveland (2.85 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) followed by a successful three-plus-year stint with the Angels (21-19, 3.22 ERA, 17 saves).

-In his second appearance in his final season, the 36-year-old got a rare start and an even rarer complete game victory, topping the Rangers 10-5.

-After a return engagement with the Pale Hose, he finished his career in 1973 with the Cardinals. In parts of 15 seasons he was 85-70 with 81 saves and a 3.41 ERA.

-Eddie had a productive second career in finance and business as owner of his own sporting goods store in Oklahoma and president of First Federal Savings and Loan.
#328 Eddie Fisher (back)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

#326 Dwight Siebler

#326 Dwight Siebler
Dwight Siebler is one of four players featured in the 1965 Topps set that had the good taste and sense to be born on August 5, my birthday. The others are Tommie Aaron, Bill Pleis, and Nelson Briles. Good on them.

Fun facts about Dwight Siebler:

-Born in Columbus, NE, Dwight played collegiately at the University of Nebraska before signing with the Phillies in 1958.

-He pitched in the minors for five years before the Twins purchased his contract from Philly in late August of 1963. Two days later, he made his major league debut in relief at age 25.

-Siebler was tabbed to start three days after that initial relief appearance and fashioned a complete-game victory, besting the Senators 10-1. He allowed only three hits.

-Had the only two hits of his career in his second and third games. Both were RBI singles.

-Dwight received only five starts in 1963, but pitched into the eighth inning in four of them, including two complete game wins (the other CG was a four-hit, one-run effort against the Tigers on September 17).

-Despite his early successes, the Twins called on him only 16 times total in 1964 and 1965, with all but one appearance coming in relief.

-Finally avoided the minor leagues for a full season in 1966 and compiled a 3.42 ERA in 23 games, again primarily out of the bullpen.

-Saw action in just two major-league games the following year, bringing his MLB career to a close. He was 4-3 with a 3.45 ERA in parts of five seasons.

-According to this poorly-written Wikipedia biography, he worked with children in Nebraska for several decades after retiring and is an avid bowler with a perfect 300 game to his credit.
#326 Dwight Siebler (back)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

#324 Bobby Locke

#324 Bobby Locke
Here's a different sight in this set: a full-body airbrushing. If you know your 1960s uniforms, the pinstripes and the big red "TV numbers" on the sleeve were worn by the Indians from 1958-1962. Bobby Locke pitched in Cleveland from 1958-1961, and the only team he wore #29 with was the Tribe, so this photo is at least three years old. I call shenanigans, Topps!

Fun facts about Bobby Locke:

-A native of Rowes Run, PA, Bobby signed with the Indians in 1953 at age 19. He sometimes was called Larry, as his birth name was Lawrence Donald Locke.

-Though he won 56 games in his first four years in pro ball, he didn't make it to the majors until 1959, when he was 25. His minor league stats show that he did not play at all in 1957 and 1958.

-He was hit hard in his major league debut, but all was not lost. He received a no-decision and hit his only career home run, a three-run shot off of opposing pitcher Frank Sullivan.

-Pitched in 24 games as a rookie, primarily in relief, going 3-2 with two saves and a 3.13 ERA.

-Tossed the only two shutouts of his career in 1960: a six-hitter against Detroit on June 5 and a four-hitter against Chicago on September 25.

-Between November 27, 1961 and April 28 of the following year he was passed around by four teams: the Indians, the Cubs (whom he never played a game with), the Cardinals, and the Phillies.

-Did not exceed 20 innings pitched in the major leagues in any season between 1962 and 1967; spent all of 1966 in the minors, in fact.

-His MLB career ended ignominiously, as he racked up a 6.44 ERA in 29 games with the Angels in 1968 and blew a save in his final appearance by allowing a game-tying single to Leon Wagner, the only batter he faced. Tom Burgmeier replaced him and eventually allowed his runner to score as the White Sox prevailed 7-6.

-Locke pitched at AAA Hawaii and Syracuse in 1969 before finally hanging up his spikes. In parts of nine major league seasons he was 16-15 with a 4.02 ERA and ten saves (two saves total in each of five separate seasons, oddly enough).

-According to Baseball Library, he worked as a hairdresser.
#324 Bobby Locke (back)

Monday, August 09, 2010

#322 Rick Wise

#322 Rick Wise
Do you think Rick Wise was even shaving yet when this photo was taken? Such a baby face!

Fun facts about Rick Wise:

-Born in Jackson, MI, Rick signed with the Phillies at age 17 in 1963.

-He breezed through 12 games at Class A Bakersfield in his first pro season and debuted with the Phillies in 1964, going 5-3 with a 4.04 ERA in 25 games (eight starts).

-After returning to the minors for more seasoning, he was promoted for good in 1966. He soon became a mainstay in the Philly rotation, winning 48 games with a 3.79 ERA from 1967-1970.

-1971 was a career year for Rick. He went 17-14 for a 95-loss Philadelphia club but deserved better. His ERA was a strong 2.88 and he completed 17 games, including four shutouts. He made the All-Star team for the first time.

-On June 23, 1971, Wise no-hit the Reds and drove in three of his team's four runs with a pair of homers, becoming the first (and only, to date) pitcher to ever go deep twice while pitching a no-hitter. He lost two other no-hit bids in the ninth inning in 1973 and 1975.

-The following February, Rick was famously traded to St. Louis for their discontented ace, Steve Carlton. While the new Cardinal won 32 games with a 3.24 ERA in two seasons with the team and was an All-Star again in 1973, "Lefty" Carlton won 241 games and four Cy Young Awards in a 15-year run with the Phils.

-Was traded to Boston in 1974 for Reggie Smith. After missing most of that season with an arm injury, he rebounded to win a personal-best 19 games in 1975 for the American League champs. He also completed 17 of his 35 starts.

-He won a game each in the 1975 ALCS (2 ER in 7.1 IP) and the 1975 World Series. He was hit hard in a Game 3 start in the Fall Classic, but came back to pitch a scoreless 12th inning in Game 6. He was the pitcher of record when Carlton Fisk hit his famed walkoff home run that barely stayed fair as it cleared the Green Monster.

-After a few more decent years in Beantown (25-16, 3.98 ERA), he made stops in Cleveland (24-29, 4.02 for the mediocre 1978-1979 Indians) and San Diego (10-16, 3.75 from 1980-1982). He finished his career with a lifetime record of 188-181 with 138 complete games and a 3.69 ERA in parts of 18 seasons.

-From 2005 to 2008, Rick served as pitching coach and interim manager for the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League.
#322 Rick Wise (back)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

#319 Ken McMullen

#319 Ken McMullen
I have a kind of goofy affinity for Ken McMullen, because he was my first non-Oriole from the 1967 Topps set. I received him from David in Tribe Cards' 12 Days of Christmas giveaway a few years back. He also looks kind of like current Oriole Ty Wigginton, whose physical appearance amuses me.

Fun facts about Ken McMullen:

-Born in Oxnard, CA, Ken signed with the Dodgers in 1960 out of high school.

-He got a cup of coffee with the Dodgers at age 20 in 1962.

-After three years of sparing play in Los Angeles, Ken was traded to the Senators in a seven-player blockbuster. Frank Howard (to Washington) and Claude Osteen (to L.A.) ended up being the big pieces of that deal.

-Installed as the full-time third baseman with his new team, McMullen blossomed as a power hitter and strong defender. He was the club's second-best producer in 1965 with a .263 average, 18 home runs, and 54 RBI.

-Reached double-digit home runs in seven straight seasons (1965-1971), including 20-homer totals in 1968 and 1971. His best season was 1969 (.272 with 19 HR and a career-high 87 RBI).

-On August 9, 1967, his 20th-inning home run was the game-winning tally for the Senators as they beat Minnesota in the longest game in Twins history to that point.

-Was dealt to the Angels in 1970 and spent his final three years as a regular with them.

-Returned to the Dodgers in 1973 for a three-year stint, mostly as a pinch hitter.

-Finished his career as a part-time designated hitter and corner infielder in Oakland (1976) and Milwaukee (1977). In parts of 16 years, he hit .248 with 156 home runs and 606 RBI.

-Ken walloped a pinch-hit home run in his final career at-bat, on September 14, 1977. The opposing pitcher was Tom House, and the two-run shot extended the Brewers' lead over the Mariners to 8-5.
#319 Ken McMullen (back)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

#318 Matty Alou

#318 Matty Alou
Ah yes, the Alous, the Molinas of the 1960s and 1970s. All three appear in the 1965 Topps set, and Matty is the first that I've posted on the blog.

Fun facts about Matty Alou:

-Born in Bajos de Haina in the Dominican Republic, Matty signed with the Giants in 1957.

-As mentioned above, he was the middle child of three brothers who were all major-league outfielders. His older brother was Felipe, and Jesus was the younger. They were teammates for the 1963 Giants. The family tree also includes cousin Jose Sosa, who pitched for the Astros in the mid-1970s, and nephews Moises Alou (outfielder from 1990-2008) and Mel Rojas (pitcher from 1990-1999)!

-After a cup of coffee with San Francisco in 1961, he made the club as a 22-year-old part-timer the following season and hit .310 in 200 at-bats.

-Matty's offensive output dwindled during his years with the Giants, and he was traded to the Pirates after the 1965 season.

-Paired with famed hitting instructor Harry "the Hat" Walker, Alou was rejuvenated in Pittsburgh. In his first year there he led the league with a .342 average, beating out brother Felipe by .015.

-In all, had four straight top-four finishes in the N.L. batting race, hitting .335 over that span. Swatted an impressive .332 in 1968 when the league hit .243 collectively and made the first of two straight All-Star teams. Paced the Senior Circuit with 41 doubles and 231 hits in 1969.

-He was largely a slap hitter; in his lone full season in St. Louis (1971), he set career highs with seven homers and 74 RBI. The home runs represented 22.5% of his career total, and there was only one other season in which he topped 50 RBI.

-Was a helpful pennant-drive addition for the 1972 A's, hitting .281 in 32 games and following up with a .381 average (8-for-21) and four doubles in the ALCS. He eked out just one hit in 24 World Series at-bats, but Oakland triumphed over the Reds anyway.

-Also spent time with the Yankees and Padres before finishing his career with three seasons in Japan as a Taiheiyo Club Lion. In parts of 15 major league seasons he batted .307 with 31 home runs and 427 RBI.

-In 2007, Matty was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame along with current-day shortstop and Venezuelan native Omar Vizquel.
#318 Matty Alou (back)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

#317 Don McMahon

#317 Don McMahon
Don McMahon should close his mouth before he swallows a fly. Unless that's his aim. I try not to judge other people's hobbies and/or dietary choices.

Fun facts about Don McMahon:

-Hailing from Brooklyn, NY, Don signed with the Boston Braves in 1950.

-A relatively lengthy minor league apprenticeship (5.5 years) and a few years of military service delayed his major league debut until the summer of 1957, by which time he was 27 years old.

-Showing that he was no wet-behind-the-ears rookie, McMahon led the soon-to-be-World-Champion Braves with nine saves, pitching to a 1.54 ERA in 46.2 innings and surrendering no home runs. He added five scoreless innings in three World Series games to stymie the Yankees.

-In all, Don was a Brave for five-plus years, a tenure that included an All-Star selection in 1958 and an N.L. saves title in 1959 (15 SV, 2.57 ERA).

-Became something of a journeyman, logging time with Houston (1962-1963), Cleveland (1964-1966), Boston (1966-1967), the White Sox (1967-1968), Detroit (1968-1969), and San Francisco (1969-1974). Had sub-2.00 earned run averages in five full seasons, relying primarily on his plus fastball.

-Was noted for his durability, never making a trip to the disabled list in 18 seasons, pitching until the age of 44, and appearing in 874 games (all but two as a reliever). His games pitched total was the fourth-highest in history at the time of his retirement.

-Became the Giants' pitching coach in 1972, and retired as a player at the end of that year to become a full-time coach. However, he was reactivated in the second half of 1973 and May-June 1974 due to a lack of quality relievers in the San Fran bullpen. Teaching by example, he went 4-0 with six saves and a 1.93 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 31 appearances in that span!

-For his career he was 90-68 with 153 saves, a 2.96 ERA, 1,0003 strikeouts, and 7.2 hits per nine innings. His H/9 average is still 18th-best all-time.

-Held an impressive roster of Hall of Famers to a .149 batting average (28-for-188). The victims were Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Willie Stargell, Harmon Killebrew, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, Bill Mazeroski, and Stan Musial.

-In addition to coaching for the Giants (1972-1975, 1980-1982), Don also served on the Twins staff from 1976-1978 and the Indians staff from 1983-1985. In 1987, he was working as a scout and instructor for the Dodgers when he suffered a fatal heart attack while throwing batting practice. He was 57 years old.
#317 Don McMahon (back)

Monday, August 02, 2010

#316 Cincinnati Reds Team

#316 Cincinnati Reds Team
Are there any Reds fans out there who can tell me who the husky fellow is in the back row, far left? While we're at it, why are the trainers wearing caps? (Not that I'm complaining. That's a great look.)

1964 was a rollercoaster of a year for the Reds, who overcame the midseason loss of manager Fred Hutchinson (he stepped aside on August 13, worn out by cancer treatments) and erased an 8.5 game deficit in twelve days in September before a final-week swoon left them a game short of the pennant. The Phillies' late-September collapse was touched off by a three-game sweep at the hands of those Reds, who won nine straight from September 20-27 to briefly claim first place. When they lost two of three to the Pirates and suffered a two-game mini-sweep to the Phils, St. Louis squeaked by and earned a trip to the World Series. Interim manager Dick Sisler would be retained for the following season on the basis of the late-season rally anyhow. Cincy placed seventh in the ten-team National League with a total attendance of 862,466 at Crosley Field, but did draw about 4,000 more fans than they had in 1963.

Cincinnati's hitters were in the middle of the pack in the N.L., ranking fifth with 660 runs scored, fourth with 130 homers, and seventh in each of the "average" categories (.249 AVG/.308 OBP/.372 SLG). Of course the cornerstone of the offense was right fielder Frank Robinson, who paced the club in nearly every offensive category (.306/.396/.548, 103 R, 38 2B, 29 HR, 96 RBI). The other power sources on the team were center fielder Vada Pinson (23 HR, 84 RBI) and first baseman Deron Johnson (21 HR, 79 RBI). Only two Reds made the All-Star team, both as reserves: catcher Johnny Edwards (.281 AVG) and shortstop Leo Cardenas (32 2B, 69 RBI).

While there were no Reds pitchers in the Midsummer Classic, it was on the mound that this team excelled. A 3.07 ERA and 54 complete games were each the second-best totals in the league, and Cincy permitted the fewest overall runs (566) and struck out the most hitters (1,122). The rotation was six-deep, led by Jim O'Toole (17-7, 2.66 ERA) and Jim Maloney (15-10, 2.71 ERA, 214 K). Bob Purkey (11-9, 3.04) and Joey Jay (11-11, 3.39) were also dependable. The fifth-and-sixth-best starters were more than serviceable - John Tsitouris (9-13) had a 3.80 ERA that hovered near league-average and was second on the team with 146 strikeouts, and Joe Nuxhall (9-8) kept the club in games with a 4.07 ERA. On the rare occasion that a reliever was needed, the club was in good hands - the top four bullpen arms each had earned run averages below 3.00, and fireman Sammy Ellis won ten games, saved 14, and posted a 2.57 ERA. What an embarrassment of riches!

Cincinnati dabbled in mediocrity for the rest of the decade before steamrolling the opposition in the 1970s. "The Big Red Machine" won six division titles, four N. L. pennants, and two World Series in those ten years. Not too shabby.
#316 Cincinnati Reds Team (back)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

#314 Sterling Slaughter

#314 Sterling Slaughter
Wow, Sterling Slaughter is an excellent name. You've got "Sterling", which denotes something of high quality, and "Slaughter", which is an intimidating and fierce surname. Plus the consonance of the double-s names rolls off of the tongue.

Fun facts about Sterling Slaughter:

-Born in Danville, IL, Sterling attended Arizona State University and was a first-team All-American in 1963.

-He signed with the Cubs in 1963, becoming the first Sun Devil to sign a pro contract. A few years later, fellow ASU players like Sal Bando and Reggie Jackson would follow in his footsteps.

-After winning ten games with a 3.00 ERA at AA Amarillo in his first pro season, he made it to the big leagues with the Cubs in 1964.

-Sterling made a few relief appearances before winning his first career start on May 30, blanking the Braves for seven innings on one hit (and five walks) in a 2-0 victory. He held future Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron hitless in six plate appearances, striking out each man once.

-In his very next start, Slaughter stymied the Braves again, going the distance in a 5-2 win. He allowed only one earned run on six hits and struck out a career-high eight. He also singled off of opposing pitcher Hank Fischer for his first and only career hit.

-Unfortunately he couldn't keep it up and was used sparingly as the season went on, ending up 2-4 with a 5.75 ERA in 20 games (six starts). Supposedly arm troubles hampered his performance.

-Back in the minors in 1965, Slaughter was second in the AA Texas League with 15 wins to go with a 3.00 ERA. He didn't fare as well in the following two seasons between AA and AAA, and his career was over in 1967 at age 25.
#314 Sterling Slaughter (back)