Monday, January 31, 2011

#88 Jack Lamabe

#88 Jack Lamabe
As we jump back to Series 1 for a moment, I'll let you know that the next handful of cards came from Max, one of the recurring characters in this blog's story. They arrived at my door in the spring of 2009, which lets you know just how far behind I'd fallen on posting!

Fun facts about Jack Lamabe:

-Jack was born in Farmingdale, NY and attended the University of Vermont before signing with the Phillies in 1956.

-Before his second pro season, he was granted minor league free agency and signed with the Pirates. He spent five years in their farm system before making the big league club in 1962 at age 24.

-In his first two major league games, the righty combined for eight innings of five-hit, one-run relief. He struck out five, walked two, and earned one save with only one day of rest in between the outings.

-As a rookie, Lamabe was 3-1 with 2 saves and a 2.88 ERA in 46 games as a Pirates reliever.

-The Red Sox acquired Jack along with Dick Stuart in an offseason trade and called upon the reliever 65 times in 1963 with a team-high 151.1 relief innings. He posted a 7-4 record, 6 saves, and a 3.15 ERA.

-His career seemed to run off the rails in 1964-1965, as he combined to go 9-18 with a 6.06 ERA for the BoSox and Astros. He spent a portion of the 1964 season in the Boston rotation and was demoted to the minors in the following season.

-Jack righted himself with a 7-9 record and a 3.93 ERA in a swingman role with the White Sox in 1966. A year later, he pitched for three teams (White Sox, Mets, and Cardinals) and accumulated 5 saves, a 3.20 ERA, and a career-best 1.10 WHIP. He helped the Cardinals in their pennant drive by reeling off 27.1 consecutive scoreless innings from early August through early September. He relieved in three World Series games for the victorious Cardinals.

-Getting the starting nod against the Red Sox on May 30, 1966, he one-hit his former team in an 11-0 laugher. His potential no-hitter was spoiled by a Joe Foy single to lead off the eighth inning.

-He finished his career inauspiciously, putting up a 4.30 ERA in relief for the Cubs in 1968 and spending all of 1969 in AAA. In parts of seven big-league seasons he was 33-41 with 15 saves and a 4.24 ERA.

-Lamabe went on to coach collegiately at Jacksonville University (1974-1978) and Lousiana State University (1979-1983). He was LSU's first full-time baseball coach. The ex-pitcher died in December 2007 at age 71.

#88 Jack Lamabe (back)

Friday, January 28, 2011

#598 Al Downing

#598 Al Downing
Although this is the last card in the set, it is not by a long shot the last card that I have to post. However, it is the last card in the oversized donation made to me by Jamie Whyte. It's taken me months to write up all of the cards that he sent, but it was well worth it. Thanks again, Jamie!

Fun facts about Al Downing:

-A native of Trenton, NJ, Al briefly attended Rider University before signing with the Yankees in 1961.

-In his first pro season, he blew away the competition in Class A Binghamton (9-1, 1.84 ERA) to earn a brief trial in the majors at age 20.

-Arrived in the Bronx on a regular basis in 1963, when he went 13-5 with a 2.56 ERA in 24 games (22 starts). Completed 10 starts, tossed four shutouts, and led the American League with 8.8 strikeouts per 9 innings and only 5.8 hits allowed per 9 innings.

-His greatest performance may have been in the first game of a twinbill on August 25, 1963. He retired the first 20 White Sox batters in order before Tony Kubek booted a Dave Nicholson grounder. Jim Lemon followed with a walk before Downing wriggled out of the threat. The no-hit bid ended with a Ron Hansen single to lead off the eighth, but the Pale Hose couldn't mount any real offense. The Yankee pitcher ended the day with a shutout on two hits, one walk, and 13 strikeouts.

-Al had a second straight 13-win season in 1964 and paced the A.L. with 217 strikeouts. Unfortunately, his 120 walks were also the most in the junior circuit.

-Earned his only All-Star berth in 1967, when he went 14-10 with a 2.63 ERA. Injuries the following season pushed him out of the Yankee rotation.

-After posting a 5-13 record with a 3.52 ERA for the Athletics and the dreadful Brewers in 1970, Downing was named National League Comeback Player of the Year in 1971. That year he was the Dodgers' ace with a 20-9 record and a 2.68 ERA along with a league-high 5 shutouts. He finished third behind the great Fergie Jenkins and Tom Seaver in Cy Young voting.

-Most latter-day fans know Al as the answer to the trivia question "Who allowed Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run?". The pitcher once quipped that if anyone ever asked him the time, he would say "quarter after seven" rather than "seven-fifteen".

-Though he was effective for most of his seven years in Los Angeles, his innings count gradually dwindled and he won only 26 games in total after his outstanding 1971 campaign. In parts of 17 seasons, he was 123-107 with a 3.22 ERA (106 ERA+).

-Downing has also worked in broadcasting, primarily with the Dodgers.
#598 Al Downing (back)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

#594 Joe Gaines

#594 Joe Gaines
I'd suspect that Joe Gaines is wearing an Orioles jersey in this photo. He was traded in June 1964, and I'm guessing Topps wasn't in a hurry to snap his photo in Spring 1965 and squeeze it into the high-number series.

Fun facts about Joe Gaines:

-Bryan, TX native Arnesta Joe Gaines signed with Cincinnati in 1956 at age 19.

-Had a few cups of coffee with the Reds in 1960 and 1961.

-1962 was his first full season in the majors, but Joe received only 60 plate appearances in 64 games. He started only two games, and hit .231 overall.

-The Orioles traded for Gaines that offseason, and he was a valuable part-timer in 1963. He posted a career-high .286 average in 126 at-bats with 6 home runs and 20 RBI.

-On April 14, 1964, his pinch homer off of Chicago's Gary Peters tied the game 3-3 in the seventh inning. The O's tacked on a pair of runs in the eighth to win.

-A mid-1964 trade to Houston allowed Joe to start regularly. He reached personal bests with 8 home runs and 36 RBI while batting .246.

-After slumping to .227 in 1965, he played only 11 games in Houston the following year before being sent to the minors.

-Gaines spent the last three years of his career with various AAA teams. In parts of seven seasons in the majors, he batted .241 with 21 home runs and 95 RBI.

-Loved to face: Claude Osteen (.462/.533/.846). Hated to face: Chris Short (.067/.125/.100).

-Later in life, Joe worked as a clothing salesman.

#594 Joe Gaines (back)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

#592 Frank Bork

#592 Frank Bork
If I had to guess, I'd say that Frank Bork is the Swedish Chef's favorite baseball player. Bork bork bork!

Fun facts about Frank Bork:

-Frank was born in Buffalo and signed with the Pirates in 1960 at age 19.

-He had some outstanding years in the low minors, going 15-4 with a 3.34 ERA at Class D Hobbs and 19-7 with a 2.00 ERA at Class B Kinston.

-He made the Pittsburgh team in the spring of 1964 and debuted with two scoreless innings of relief against the Cubs on April 15.

-On April 26, he was called upon in the ninth inning to preserve a 3-2 lead with two on and two out, but allowed an inherited run to score on a Tim Harkness single. He wriggled out with the game tied at three, and lucked into his first career win via a walkoff single by Roberto Clemente in the bottom of the inning.

-Frank's initial big league save came at the expense of the Cardinals on May 2. He tossed a scoreless ninth inning to preserve a 5-4 lead.

-Bork finished the season with two wins, two losses, two saves, and two holds. In 42 innings over 33 appearances, he had a 4.07 ERA.

-The Pirates returned him to the minors in 1965, and he spent the final three years of his career at AA and AAA.

-Afterwards, he worked as a manufacturer's representative.
#592 Frank Bork (back)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

#591 Bob Skinner

#591 Bob Skinner
It's a shame that baseball fashion has trended toward loose and baggy in the past 20 years. There's something I really dig about the ultra-short sleeves look that Bob Skinner is sporting here. It gives him a blue-collar, rolling-up-the-sleeves image.

Fun facts about Bob Skinner:

-A native of La Jolla, CA, Bob signed with the Pirates as a 19-year-old in 1951.

-As with many players of the era, he spent two years in military service (1952-1953).

-Skinner was the Pirates' regular first baseman as a rookie in 1954. He hit a so-so .249 with 8 home runs and 46 RBI. Suprisingly, only two players on the 101-loss club outhomered him, and he led the team with 9 triples.

-After spending 1955 back in the minors and hitting only .202 in the bigs the following year, the light bulb went off for Bob. He hit .305 in 1957 and paced the Bucs with a .370 on-base percentage and a .468 slugging mark. Only Frank Thomas topped his 13 home runs.

-In 1958, he was an All-Star for the first time (he would repeat the feat in 1960). At .321, he was the leading Pittsburgh batter and fifth-best in the N.L., and he also established career highs of 33 doubles and a team-best 12 steals and 93 runs scored.

-His finest all-around season was 1962, when he belted 20 home runs, drove in 75, and put up averages of .302/.395/.504. At age 30, it was also his last full season as a Pirate and his final season as an everyday player.

-Skinner spent parts of two seasons with the Reds before finishing his career with a three-year stint as a pinch hitter for the Cardinals. He reached base three times in four pinch-hit appearances in the 1964 World Series, collecting an intentional walk, a double, and an RBI single. Although he appeared in three St. Louis losses, the team beat the Yankees in a seven-game thriller.

-He retired after the Cards released him in October 1966. In parts of 12 big league seasons he hit .277 with 103 home runs and 531 RBI.

-Bob won championships as a minor league manager with the 1967 San Diego Padres and 1991 Tucson Toros, the AAA affiliates of the Phillies and Astros, respectively. In mid-1968, the Phils fired Gene Mauch and promoted Skinner to the big leagues. He won only 43% of his games (92-123) and was cashiered the following August. He spent the next 20 years coaching with the major league Padres, the Pirates, the Angels, and the Braves. Currently he is a scout for Houston.

-His son Joel was a catcher for the White Sox, Yankees, and Indians (1983-1991), and served as Cleveland's interim manager in 2002, going 35-41 after replacing Charlie Manuel. He has also managed several Indian farm teams and spent several years on the club's big league coaching staff. The Skinners and the Sislers (George and Dick) are the only two father-son duos to manage in the majors.
#591 Bob Skinner (back)

Monday, January 24, 2011

#582 Bob Schmidt

#582 Bob Schmidt
This is a pretty ho-hum photograph. But I took a spin on eBay and found Bob Schmidt's 1958 Topps issue. I'm a sucker for catcher's gear, and for those green backgrounds. Most of the 1958s in my collection are Orioles, and they primarily feature the more pedestrian yellow and blue backgrounds.

Fun facts about Bob Schmidt:

-Bob was born in St. Louis and signed with the Giants in 1951, when he was 18.

-He had to wait seven years to make his major league debut, due partly to his service in the Korean War (1953-1954).

-Schmidt made up for lost time by being selected to the National League All-Star team as a rookie in 1958. He carried a .265 average with 12 home runs and 32 RBI at the break. Despite a second-half slump, he still finished with a .244 mark and career highs of 14 homers and 54 RBI.

-On June 22, 1958, he caught all 14 innings of the Giants' 5-4 win over the Phillies. He reached base three times on a walk, a single, and a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh inning, and set a record by recording 22 putouts behind the plate.

-Drove in a career-high six runs against the Dodgers on August 31, 1958, including a first-inning grand slam off of Sandy Koufax.

-Achieved a personal best with a .267 average in 110 games in 1960.

-After a rough season with the Giants and Reds, Bob joined the Senators in 1962 and hit 10 home runs in a part-time role.

-The Yankees acquired him in May 1963 and he spent the final four seasons of his career at AAA, save for a 20-game cameo in New York in 1965.

-In parts of seven big-league seasons, Schmidt batted .243 with 39 home runs and 150 RBI.

-In his post-baseball life, Bob was a foreman for a construction company. He currently lives in St. Charles, MO.
#582 Bob Schmidt (back)

Friday, January 21, 2011

#576 Terry Fox

#576 Terry Fox
It just occurred to me that most of the 1965 Topps cards that I own are pretty well-centered. This one, of course, is ridiculously miscut. No biggie.

Fun facts about Terry Fox:

-A Chicago native, Terry began his pro career with the New Iberia (LA) Pelicans of the Evangeline League. He went 21-12 with a 2.95 ERA for the club in 1955, and the Braves subsequently acquired him.

-He won 21 games in relief over two seasons at AAA Sacramento to earn a September callup in 1960. The 25-year-old allowed 4 earned runs in 8.1 innings out of the Milwaukee bullpen.

-Fox joined the Tigers the following season via trade and immediately became a relief ace, allowing only 9 earned runs in 57.1 innings (1.41 ERA) and going 5-2 with a team-leading 12 saves.

-He earned his first career win with four strikeouts in three innings of scoreless relief on April 19, 1961. The Tigers trailed Cleveland 2-1 when Fox replaced Jim Bunning in the seventh inning, and he held down the Tribe as Detroit rallied for four runs in the eighth.

-Terry again paced Detroit pitchers with a career-high 16 saves in 1962. His earned run average was a paltry 1.71.

-Overall, he led the Tigers in saves in four out of his five full seasons with the team, totaling 54 saves in that span.

-Fox seemed to lose his touch at age 30, allowing 7 earned runs (and 3 home runs) in 10 innings before being shipped off to the Phillies in May 1966. His ERA in Philadelphia came down a bit, but was still a mediocre 4.47.

-The Phils sent him down to AAA San Diego in 1967, and he spent his last professional season there.

-In parts of seven MLB seasons, Terry was 29-19 with a 2.99 ERA and 59 saves.

-At last check, he was still making his home in New Iberia, LA.
#576 Terry Fox (back)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

#571 Ozzie Virgil

#571 Ossie Virgil
I believe that the Commish commented on yesterday's post suggesting that this was "Hatless guys with oily hair week" on the blog. Lo and behold, it's another bare-headed wonder! Remember, I'm just posting these cards in the order I received them.

Fun facts about Ozzie Virgil:

-Ozzie was born in Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic. He honed his baseball skills while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps (1950-1952) and signed with the Giants in 1953.

-When he debuted with the Giants late in the 1956 season, he became the first Dominican native to play in the majors. He paved the way for future stars such as Juan Marichal, Sammy Sosa, and Pedro Martinez.

-In 1957, Virgil played in a career-high 96 games, spending time at four positions: third base, shortstop, and the outfield corners. He batted .235 with 4 home runs and 24 RBI.

-He became the first dark-skinned player in Tigers history when he joined the club via trade in 1958. On June 17 of that season, he went 5-for-5 with a double and a run scored in his first-ever game at Detroit's Briggs Stadium.

-Ozzie spent more time in the minors than the majors, totaling 1491 games in parts of 13 minor league seasons with a .285 average.

-He briefly played for the Athletics (11 games in 1961), Orioles (a single game in 1962), and Pirates (39 games in 1965) before finishing his career back with the Giants in 1966. He appeared in a single game with San Francisco in 1969, when he was on the coaching staff.

-In parts of nine big league seasons, Virgil batted .231 with 14 home runs and 73 RBI.

-His son Ozzie Jr. was a catcher for the Phillies, Braves, and Blue Jays (1980-1990). He was a two-time National League All-Star.

-From 1969 through 1988, Virgil coached for the Giants, Expos, Padres, and Mariners. The last 13 years of his time as an MLB coach were all spent under Hall of Fame manager Dick Williams. In 1996, he managed the Giants' Class A Bellingham farm team for 38 games.

-In 2006, his native province opened the Osvaldo Virgil National Airport, offering domestic flights to and from other Dominican cities.
#571 Ossie Virgil (back)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#569 Gino Cimoli

#569 Gino Cimoli
Wow, Gino Cimoli is impeccably coiffed. His pompadour has a pompadour.

Fun facts about Gino Cimoli:

-Gino was born in San Francisco and signed with the Dodgers as a teenager in 1949.

-Despite hitting .292 in the minors, he did not get a crack at the big leagues until 1956. That year, the 26-year-old was used primarily as a defensive replacement in the outfield. He batted only 38 times in 73 games, scraping out four hits and a walk (.111 AVG, .135 OBP).

-1957 saw Gino flourish in a starting role, batting a career-high .293 with 10 home runs and 57 RBI. He was named to his only All-Star team.

-His first two home runs as a Dodger were both notable. On April 16, 1957, he handed future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts a 12-inning complete game loss with a solo shot. On May 6 of that year, he hit his only walkoff homer to give Brooklyn a 14-inning win over the Braves. The latter home run gave young reliever Sandy Koufax his fifth career win.

-After being dealt to the Cardinals, he hit .279 with a personal-best 72 RBI in 1959, his lone season with the club. His 40 doubles were fourth-most in the National League, and he placed eighth with 7 triples.

-Cimoli served as the fourth outfielder for the 1960 Pirates, but started five of the seven World Series games after Bob Skinner hurt his thumb. He filled in admirably, scoring four runs and batting .250 in the Fall Classic. His pinch single in the deciding game sparked a five-run Pittsburgh rally and set the stage for Bill Mazeroski's dramatic home run in the ninth inning.

-He played sparingly for the Pirates and Braves the following year, but found himself back in the starting lineup after being drafted by the Athletics. In 1962, he led the American League with 15 triples. Though the rest of his offensive numbers dipped in 1963, he banged out another 11 triples to place fourth in the league.

-Gino's decline came on abruptly. He saw action in just 42 games in 1964, batting .119 with the A's and Orioles before being demoted to AAA Rochester. The Angels barely used him the next year before releasing him in May. In parts of ten seasons, he hit .265 with 44 home runs and 321 RBI.

-In his post-baseball career, Cimoli became a UPS driver. In 1990, the company honored him for 21 years of service without a single traffic accident. He was light-heartedly referred to as "the Cal Ripken of UPS".

-Today, the 81-year-old still calls San Francisco his home.
#569 Gino Cimoli (back)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

#565 Ernie Broglio

#565 Ernie Broglio
There are many fans who only know of Ernie Broglio because of "Brock for Broglio". Let's try to remedy that, right here and right now!

Fun facts about Ernie Broglio:

-A Berkeley, CA native, Ernie spent parts of three seasons with the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League, and ultimately signed with the Giants in early 1956.

-He had an impressive two-year record of 34-10 at AA and AAA before being traded to the Cardinals in October 1958.

-St. Louis brought him straight to the majors at age 23 in 1959. He struggled a bit, going 7-12 with a 4.72 ERA, but did toss three shutouts. One of these was a two-hit gem against Cincinnati on June 27 in which he retired the final 13 batters consecutively.

-Ernie had a phenomenal sophomore season, going 21-9 with a 2.74 ERA despite starting only 24 of his 52 games. He tied Warren Spahn for the National League lead in wins, and led in adjusted ERA+ (150) and fewest hits per nine innings (6.8). He finished a distant third in Cy Young voting behind winner Vern Law (20-9, 3.08 for the pennant-winning Pirates) and Spahn (21-10, 3.50) and was ninth in MVP voting.

-He won both ends of a double header on July 1, 1960 by permitting no earned runs in 2.1 total innings of relief. He entered the second game with the bases loaded and allowed an inherited runner to score by walking Alvin Dark, but retired the next batter to keep the game tied and benefited from a two-run Cardinals rally in the top of the ninth.

-Other notables in Ernie's 21-win season included a 1-hit, 14-strikeout masterpiece against the Cubs on July 15 and a 12-inning complete game win over the Pirates on August 11.

-After just managing to break even in 1961-1962, Broglio tied for the team lead in wins in 1963 by going 18-8 with a 2.99 ERA. He also reached career highs with five shutouts and 250 innings pitched.

-This is where we come to the trade. Remember that at the time of the deal (June 15, 1964), Ernie was still only 28 years old and had a career mark of 70-55 with a 3.43 ERA. Lou Brock was 25 and in two-plus seasons with the Cubs he had failed to realize his promise: .257/.306/.383 with 20 home runs, 86 RBI, and 50 steals in 327 games. How were the Cubs to know that their new pitcher would wash out of the league in three years, or that Brock would hang around for another 16 and amass over 3,000 hits and 900 steals in a Hall of Fame career?

-Unfortunately, the aforementioned deal (which was actually a three-for-three trade) did turn out poorly for Chicago. Broglio woke up in August with a stiff elbow and required surgery to repair ligament damage. In parts of three seasons he pitched just 59 games for the Cubs, going 7-19 with a 5.40 ERA. After spending the 1967 season in the minors with the Reds, he hung up his spikes.

-In parts of eight big league seasons he was 77-74 with a 3.74 ERA.
#565 Ernie Broglio (back)

Monday, January 17, 2011

#563 Julio Navarro

#563 Julio Navarro
It looks like Julio Navarro missed a spot when he was moussing his hair. Whoops!

Fun facts about Julio Navarro:

-Born on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, Julio signed with the Giants in 1955 at age 19. His signing bonus was a scant $300.

-He struggled with his control in the minors, but showed promise. In 1956, he won the pitching triple crown in the Class D Florida State League, going 24-8 with a 2.16 ERA with the Cocoa Indians. He also showed amazing durability, totaling 246 innings in 22 starts and 27 relief appearances.

-After eight seasons in the Giants organization, Navarro was acquired by the Angels in September 1962 and promoted to the majors for the first time. The 26-year-old had nine relief appearances, compiling a 4.70 ERA but earning a win with 1.1 scoreless innings against the Yankees in his second-ever MLB game.

-Nicknamed "Whiplash" by his teammates, Julio saw action in 57 games for the Halos in 1963, leading the club with 12 saves while going 4-5 with a 2.89 ERA. He kept hitters off-balance with a repertoire that included a sinker, slider, fastball, and screwball. He threw mostly from a sidearm angle, but mixed in an overhand delivery to keep 'em guessing.

-Less than a month into the 1964 season he was traded to the Tigers for Willie Smith. He got off to an awful start with his new club, allowing 14 runs in his first 12.1 innings to earn a demotion to the minors for the next two months. Returning in August, he did a complete 180, putting up a 1.26 ERA in 16 games.

-Julio again spent part of 1965 in AAA, clocking in with a 4.20 ERA in 15 big league games.

-After allowing a walk, a grand slam, and a solo homer to the only three batters he faced in his lone disastrous MLB appearance the following year, Navarro was buried in the minors for four and a half years.

-The Braves finally recalled him in July 1970 and he performed passably with a 4.10 ERA in 26.1 innings. However, he also allowed 7 home runs in 17 games and never returned to the majors. In parts of  six seasons he was 7-9 with 17 saves and a 3.65 ERA.

-His son, Jaime, pitched for four major leagues teams from 1989 through 2000, primarily the Brewers. He was 116-126 with a 4.72 ERA.

-Julio continued pitching in Mexico until 1974. He was also active in the Puerto Rican winter league for 22 seasons, and later scouted for the Cubs (1980-1985) and coached in the minors for the Braves in 1988. He has called Bayamon, P. R. his home for more than four decades.
#563 Julio Navarro (back)

Friday, January 14, 2011

#559 Ed Bailey

#559 Ed Bailey
Considering that this was a high-numbered card, you could say that Topps did good work in quickly grabbing a hatless photo of Ed Bailey and identifying him as a Giant - he was traded from the Braves for Billy O'Dell on February 1, 1965. However, Ed had already been with San Francisco from 1961 through 1963. It seems to me that they could have just as easily recycled an old photo of him. But what do I know?

Fun facts about Ed Bailey:

-Ed was born in Strawberry Plains, TN and briefly attended the University of Tennessee before signing with the Reds in 1950.

-Despite missing all of 1951-1952 due to military service he got a late-season cup of coffee with Cincinnati in 1953. He but struggled offensively in MLB stints in 1954-1955 and was sent back to the minor leagues to hone his skills.

-The 25-year-old returned to the majors in 1956 and claimed the Reds' starting catcher role early in the season. He hit .335 with 14 home runs in his first 58 games to earn the first of five All-Star selections. For the season, he wound up at .300 with a .385 on-base percentage, 28 home runs, and 75 RBI - all career highs. He also led the National League with 23 runners caught stealing, the first of six straight top-five finishes in that category.

-His younger brother Jim pitched in three games for the Reds in 1959, making them a rare sibling battery.

-Bailey was traded to the Giants early in the 1961 season, and was a contributor to their 1962 N.L. pennant. Although he batted .232 that year, his ability to draw walks (.351 OBP) and hit home runs (17 total) made him an above-average hitter.

-From June 26-29, 1962, Ed hit three crucial late-inning homers in a span of four games: a seventh-inning game-tying pinch grand slam, a sixth-inning go-ahead two-run homer, and a walkoff solo shot in the bottom of the 12th.

-He caught Juan Marichal's no-hitter on June 15, 1963.

-Though Ed was nearing the end of his career in 1965, he still factored into a few highlight reels. On July 22, he almost single-handedly beat the Phillies with this stat line: 4-for-4, 2 HR, 8 RBI. His second-inning three-run homer and fifth-inning grand slam accounted for seven of the Cubs' ten runs that day. He also completed his second career unassisted double play in another game that year, making him one of ten catchers to ever achieve that feat.

-He joined the Angels in 1966 but was cut loose in May to finish off his career. In parts of 14 seasons he hit .256 with a .355 on-base percentage, 155 home runs, and 540 RBI.

-Bailey retired to Knoxville, TN, where he served as a city councilman for 13 years and was inducted into the city's Sports Hall of Fame. He passed away at age 75 in 2007 after a bout with throat cancer.
#559 Ed Bailey (back)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

#547 Jake Wood

#547 Jake Wood
The name "Jake Wood" just makes me think of the Blues Brothers, since it's like a mashup of Jake and Elwood. I'm on a mission from God to tell you about Jake Wood. In a bizarre bit of coincidence, Jake Wood is also the name of the British actor who currently voices the Geico Gecko in those endless ubiquitous TV and radio ads.

Fun facts about Jake Wood:

-A native of Elizabeth, NJ, Jake signed with the Tigers in 1957 after attending Delaware State University.

-His younger brother, Richard Wood, was an NFL linebacker for the Jets and Buccaneers (1975-1984).

-Jake spent four years in the minors and hit .300 or better in each season with a good combination of power and speed. He won Detroit's second base job in the spring of 1961 at age 24.

-Wood played all 162 games for the Tigers in his rookie season, and finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting. He batted .258 with 96 runs scored, 17 doubles, 14 triples, 11 home runs, 69 RBI, and 30 steals. He led the American League in triples, but also set a new major league record with 141 strikeouts. The following year, Harmon Killebrew took him off the hook by whiffing 142 times.

-His performance declined across the board in 1962, as he hit .226 in 111 games. Jake struggled with injuries that season and the next, lost his starting job, and never topped 400 plate appearances again.

-On May 8, 1963, he twice hit game-tying home runs against the Yankees in a game that ended 7-6 in favor of the Tigers. As the first batter of the game for the host Tigers, he took Stan Williams deep to knot it at 1-1. Facing Jim Bouton in the bottom of the sixth, he re-tied the game at five with another solo shot. Overall, Jake had seven home runs to lead off a game in his career.

-He did have a few solid years as a part-timer in Detroit. In 1965, he batted .288 in 104 at-bats, including a .360 mark (9-for-25) as a pinch hitter.

-If you're looking for coincidences, Wood's eighth-inning double on April 18, 1965 spoiled Rudy May's no-hit bid in the latter's debut. May, of course, was featured on this very blog three days ago!

-His major league career ended hastily in 1967, as he totaled just 3 hits in 37 at-bats (.081) for the Tigers and Reds. He played out the string in the minors through the 1969 season.

-In parts of seven MLB seasons, Wood hit .250 with 35 home runs and 168 RBI.
#547 Jake Wood (back)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#543 Ed Connolly

Thanks to an incidental fold in the fabric, it looks like Ed Connolly's jersey says "Red Ox". It occurs to me that this would be a good nickname for a husky Midwestern first baseman with red hair.

Fun facts about Ed Connolly:

-Ed was born in Brooklyn, NY, and attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst before signing with the Red Sox in 1961.

-His father, Ed Sr., was a catcher for the Red Sox (1929-1932). He batted .178 in 149 career games.

-Despite underwhelming minor league stats, the younger Connolly made Boston's opening day roster in 1964 and remained on the team throughout the year.

-Ed earned his first career shutout on September 15, 1964, two-hitting the A's while walking five and striking out a dozen in an 8-0 Boston romp. He also singled off of John O'Donoghue for his first career RBI.

-The rest of his rookie year did not go so smoothly. The youngster was 4-11 overall with a 4.91 ERA as he shuttled between the rotation and bullpen. He walked an incredible 64 batters in 80.2 innings, an average of 7.1 per 9 innings pitched, and placed fourth in the league with 11 wild pitches.

-The Sox returned Connolly to the minors in 1965, and he was actually demoted to AA Pittsfield the following year, after which Cleveland selected him in the minor league draft.

-Ed split the 1967 season between the majors and the Indians' AAA Portland club. In 15 big league games he was 2-1 with a 7.48 ERA.

-One of the few bright spots that year was a start on August 8; the southpaw whiffed 11 Baltimore batters in 8 innings as Cleveland bested the Orioles 5-3.

-1967 proved to be Ed's final year in pro baseball. He was 27 when his career ended, and he compiled a 6-12 record and a 5.88 ERA in parts of two major league seasons.

-Ed passed away in 1998 at age 58.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

#542 Lou Klimchock

#542 Lou Klimchock
Lou Klimchock is rocking the cap-under-helmet look. To my knowledge, only slap hitter Juan Pierre is keeping this fashion statement alive in the 21st century.

Fun facts about Lou Klimchock:

-A native of Hostetter, PA, Lou signed with the Athletics in 1957 at age 17.

-He hit a whopping .389 with 25 home runs and a .617 slugging percentage at Class C Pocatello in his first full pro season to earn a September callup from the A's.

-Lou got cups of coffee with Kansas City in 1958, 1959, and 1960 before spending the entire 1961 campaign in part-time duty for the big league club. He hit just .215 with 16 RBI in 57 games.

-Despite his impressive minor league track record (.292 AVG in 15 seasons), Klimchock had trouble gaining a foothold in the majors. He had a reputation as an indifferent fielder, and totaled only 318 games in parts of 12 major league seasons, an average of less than 27 games per year.

-From 1962 through 1966, he went from the Braves to the Senators back to the Braves to the Mets to the Indians.

-In 1969, 29-year-old Klimchock finally saw action in 90 games with Cleveland. Given 279 trips to the plate, he hit .287 (the league average was .247) with 6 homers, 13 doubles, and 26 RBI.

-August 5, 1969 saw Lou go 3-for-3 with a pair of walks, a double, and 3 RBI as the Tribe pasted the A's 10-4.

-Back in a less regular role in 1970, his average plunged to .161. The Indians released him in August, ending his career.

-Overall, Lou batted .232 in the majors with 13 home runs and 69 RBI.

-Today, he is president of the Arizona Major League Alumni, an organization that raises funds to benefit local children and ex-players in need.
#542 Lou Klimchock (back)

Monday, January 10, 2011

#537 Angels Rookie Stars: Marcelino Lopez, Rudy May, and Phil Roof

#537 Angels' Rookie Stars: Marcelino Lopez, Rudy May, and Phil Roof
It's disorienting to see Rudy "The Dude" May without his famous oversized glasses. Also, I wonder if Rudy and Phil were jealous of Marcelino for nabbing the top half of the card all for himself.

Fun facts about Marcelino Lopez:

-A native of Havana, Cuba, Marcelino was barely 16 when the Phillies signed him in 1959.

-His record in the minors was uneven, but the Phils placed him on their major league roster in April 1963. The 19-year-old only totaled six innings in four appearances, but did earn his first win on April 20 by limiting the Cardinals to two runs in five innings.

-Acquired for Vic Power after the 1964 season, Lopez threw 215.1 innings for the Angels as a rookie in 1965. He went 14-13 (putting him one off of Dean Chance's team-leading win total) with a 2.93 ERA. He narrowly lost the Rookie of the Year vote to Baltimore's Curt Blefary, but did make the Topps All-Star Rookie Team.

-Marcelino did not fare so well in his sophomore season. His ERA jumped by a full run and his record was a woeful 7-14. He also led the A.L. with nine hit batsmen.

-However, he did pitch the game of his life on September 23, 1966. Facing the soon-to-be World Champion Orioles, he allowed three hits and two walks while striking out a dozen O's batters. It was the third and final shutout of Lopez's career. Even though a glimpse at the box score indicates that Hank Bauer was resting his starters, that shouldn't take away from a great performance.

-He was traded to the pitching-rich Orioles in June 1967 and appeared in four games for them that year, apparently suffering from a sore arm. The club kept him in the minors for the entire 1968 season and some of the next year as well.

-Lopez served as a long reliever in the Baltimore 'pen for much of 1969, winding up with a 4.41 ERA in 69.1 innings. His performance was uneven, but highlights included a win against his old club on June 10. The Cuban replaced O's starter Tom Phoebus in the fourth inning and held the Angels hitless for the rest of the game, walking a pair and striking out four in five and one-third innings. The Birds had assaulted Halos starter Rudy May (how 'bout that?) and reliever Bob Priddy for 11 runs in the first 3 innings, and Marcelino reaped the benefits.

-He had a much better season in 1970, compiling a 2.08 ERA in 25 games. The southpaw even saw action in Game Two of the World Series, relieving Moe Drabowsky with two on and one out in the seventh inning and the O's clinging to a 6-5 lead. He got Bobby Tolan to foul out to Brooks Robinson and was relieved by Dick Hall, who closed out the inning and finished the game. In his only Fall Classic action, Lopez faced one batter and earned a hold!

-Marcelino finished his big league career with a mediocre season in Milwaukee and a four-game cup of coffee in 1972 with the Indians. In parts of eight seasons he was 31-40 with a 3.62 ERA and a pair of saves.

-Lopez passed away in 2001 in Hialeah, FL. He was 68 years old.

Fun facts about Rudy May:

-Rudy was born in Coffeyville, KS, and signed with the Twins in 1962 at age 18.

-He had the rare distinction of changing organizations three times before his 21st birthday. The White Sox acquired him in the minor league draft in late 1963 and traded him to the Phillies the following October. Two months later, he was dealt to the Angels for Bo Belinsky.

-May debuted with the Halos on April 18, 1965 and immediately attracted notice. He held the Tigers hitless until Jake Wood doubled with one out in the eighth. Wood scored the tying run on a George Smith error, ad May was lifted after nine innings of one-hit, ten-strikeout ball with the game still tied. There would be more growing pains that year; his ERA was a manageable 3.92, but he battled control problems (78 BB/76 K) and posted a 4-9 record.

-Rudy did not re-emerge in the majors until 1969, when he put up a 10-13 record in 43 games (25 starts) with a 3.44 ERA.

-He spent the next four seasons as a full-time starter, peaking in 1972 with a 12-11 mark (his only winning season in California) and a 2.94 ERA with a career-high 169 strikeouts.

-Despite fashioning a 28-inning scoreless streak from April 17-May 9, 1973 was a tough year for him (7-17, 4.38 ERA). Rudy was traded to the Yankees the next May. He pitched effectively for them for parts of three seasons, including a 14-12 season with a 3.06 ERA and personal-best 13 complete games in 1975.

-May was traded to the Orioles in the massive 10-player deal in June 1976 that also brought Tippy Martinez, Rick Dempsey, and Scott McGregor to Baltimore. In a season and a half with the O's, the lefty was 29-21 with a 3.68 ERA.

-He spent the 1978 and 1979 seasons in Montreal. In the latter year, the Expos shifted him to the bullpen with great results (10-3, 2.31 ERA).

-The Yankees reacquired Rudy in 1980, and he had his best all-around season. Despite starting in only 17 of his 31 appearances, he went 15-5 and led the league in ERA (2.46), WHIP (1.04), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.41: 133 K, 39 BB). He also pitched in six postseason games for New York in 1980-1981, most notably an eight-inning complete game 3-2 loss to the Royals in Game Two of the 1980 ALCS.

-Rudy retired in 1983 following a 16-year major league career. He was 152-156 with 12 saves and a 3.46 ERA.

Fun facts about Phil Roof:

-A native of Paducah, KY, Phil signed with the Braves as a teenager in 1959.

-He comes from a big baseball family. Younger brother Gene was an outfielder with the Cardinals and Expos in the early 1980s, and cousin Eddie Haas briefly played outfield for the Cubs and Braves between 1957 and 1960, and managed Atlanta in 1985. Three other brothers played in the minors, as have three nephews!

-Roof spent six seasons in the Milwaukee farm system, appearing in one major league game each in 1961 and 1964.

-In 1965, Phil embarked on a long career as a light-hitting part-time catcher, appearing in 52 games for the Angels and Indians and batting a scant .162 with three RBI. He stuck around for years thanks to a reputation for handling young pitchers well.

-He spent the next four seasons with the Athletics and actually started the majority of the team's games behind the plate. In 1965 he reached career highs in games (127), hits (77), doubles (14), home runs (7), and RBI (44).

-Roof moved on to the Brewers for a season and a half before landing in Minnesota, where he remained for parts of six seasons. In limited play in 1975 (142 plate appearances in 63 games), the veteran had by far his best rates: .302 AVG/.353 OBP/.484 SLG. He also matched his personal-best total of seven home runs.

-On May 30, 1972, he powered the Twins to a 3-2 win over the Royals with the only two-homer game of his career.

-After short cameos with the White Sox and Blue Jays, Phil retired in 1977. He left behind a .215 average with 43 home runs and 210 RBI in a career that spanned 15 big league seasons.

-He managed for 16 seasons in the Twins organization, including 11 years with their AAA affiliates in Portland, Salt Lake City, and Rochester. Overall his record was 1165-1116 at the time of his retirement in 2005.

-Roof also served as a bullpen coach in the majors for the Padres, Mariners, and Cubs.
#537 Angels' Rookie Stars: Marcelino Lopez, Rudy May, and Phil Roof (back)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

#536 Andre Rodgers

#536 Andre Rodgers
Geez, I hope we get a smiling player soon. These guys are starting to depress me.

Fun facts about Andre Rodgers:

-Born in Nassau in the Bahamas, Andre was a skilled cricket player. The Giants signed him in 1954 even though the 19-year-old had never played baseball.

-He took to the game quickly, batting .387 with 28 homers at class C St. Cloud in 1955 and .354 with 43 doubles, 31 homers, 88 RBI and 82 walks three years later at AAA Phoenix. In the latter season, his OPS was a whopping 1.148!

-Rodgers became the first Bahamanian major leaguer when he debuted with the Giants in April 1957. He appeared in only 32 games that year, but made his mark with a two-out, tiebreaking grand slam in the ninth inning of a June 21 game against the Cubs. Chicago rallied in the home half of the inning, but the Giants pulled it out with a pair of runs in the tenth.

-He was on the Giants' big league roster for parts of four seasons, all as a part-time player. Two trades in the 1960-1961 offseason sent him first to the Braves and then to the Cubs, where he received a chance to play regularly.

-In 1962, Andre became Chicago's everyday shortstop when Ernie Banks moved to first base. He achieved career highs with 20 doubles, 8 triples, and a .278 average.

-He hit only .239 in 1964, but his 12 home runs and 46 RBI were both personal bests.

-Following a 1965 trade to the Pirates, Rodgers spent his final three big league seasons as a reserve. In 178 at-bats for Pittsburgh in 1965, he batted .287. As a pinch-hitter that year, he was 7-for-22 (.318).

-Overall, Andre batted .249 in parts of 11 seasons, with 45 home runs and 245 RBI.

-He also had a 49-game stint in 1968 with Japan's Taiyo Whales, struggling to produce (.210/.275/.370).

-Andre passed away in 2004 in his native Nassau at age 70.
#536 Andre Rodgers (back)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

#535 Jack Kralick

#535 Jack Kralick
The best word I can think of to describe the look on Jack Kralick's face is "ominous". Something wicked this way comes.

Fun facts about Jack Kralick:

-Born in Youngstown, OH, Jack attended Michigan State University before signing with the White Sox in 1955.

-Chicago released the minor leaguer in June 1958, but he signed with the Senators at the end of the season.

-Despite never having pitched above A-ball, Kralick made Washington's opening day roster in 1959 at age 23. He was battered in five relief appearances, and spent much of the remainder of the year back in the minors.

-He made a satisfying return to the bigs in 1960, appearing in 35 games (18 starts) and posting an 8-6 record and a 3.04 ERA.

-Kralick and reliever Al Schroll each hit solo home runs in Minnesota's 9-7 victory over the Angels on August 20, 1961. It was only the sixth time that two pitchers have homered for the same team in one game; no one has done it since.

-On August 26, 1962, he retired the first 25 Kansas City batters before walking pinch hitter George Alusik. Jack completed his no-hitter by coaxing foulouts to the right side by each of the last two batters.

-After winning a total of 25 games in two seasons as a full-time starter for the Twins, he was dealt to Cleveland in May 1963 for Jim Perry. The early returns were positive for the Tribe, as their new pitcher was 13-9 with a 2.92 ERA and 10 complete games in 27 starts that season.

-Jack was an All-Star in 1964, owing to an 8-4 mark and a 2.60 ERA at the break. He faltered in the second half, managing a 4-3 record and 4.19 ERA to bring his overall stats to 12-7, 3.21.

-1965 was the beginning of the end for Kralick as a pitcher. He went 5-11 with a 4.92 ERA and lost his regular spot in the rotation. In August, an argument over TV channels with roommate Gary Bell escalated into a vicious fight, and Jack was left with a missing tooth and facial lacerations.

-He retired in 1967 following a car accident that resulted in a cracked rib and double vision. In parts of nine seasons he was 67-65 with a 3.56 ERA. Jack later worked for a school supply company in Watertown, SD.
#535 Jack Kralick (back)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

#532 Hector Lopez

#532 Hector Lopez
I thought for sure this might be the only "Hector" in the set, but Hector Valle appeared on the Dodgers' Rookie Stars card #561. Lopez is still the best Hector in the set, anyhow.

Fun facts about Hector Lopez:

-A native of Colon, Panama, Hector began playing unaffiliated pro baseball while still in high school. The Athletics signed him in early 1952, when he was 22 years old.

-In May 1955, he debuted with Kansas City (becoming only the second Panamanian to play in the majors) and started most frequently at third base, also moving over to second on occasion. He hit .290 with 15 home runs and 68 RBI in 128 games, making him one of the top rookie hitters that year.

-He was an offensive leader for the dreadful A's, leading the club in his sophomore season with 91 runs scored, 27 doubles, and 63 walks. His 18 homers and 69 RBI were second on the team, bested only by Harry Simpson.

-In 1957 he hit a personal-best .294 and crafted a 22-game hit streak. No other player reached that mark in the 13 years that the A's played in K.C.

-On June 26, 1958, Lopez punished Senators pitching to the tune of three home runs and five RBI. His final four-bagger was a game-winning two-run shot in the last of the 12th against Vito Valentinetti.

-He was traded to the Yankees in the midst of the 1959 season and responded with career highs of 22 home runs and 93 RBI.

-Hector spent most of his tenure in the Bronx as a part-time outfielder, but did help the Yanks crush the Reds in five games in the 1961 World Series with seven RBI, five coming in the Game Five clincher via a triple, a bunt, and a three-run homer.

-Lopez was not known for his defensive skill, routinely placing among the league leaders in errors at his position.

-He last played in the majors with the 1966 Yankees, and subsequently spent two years at AAA in the Senators organization. In parts of 12 MLB seasons, he batted .269 with 136 home runs and 591 RBI.

-Washington tabbed Hector to manage their AAA Buffalo team in 1969, making him the first black skipper at the highest level of the minors. He spent just one year in that position, but managed in Venezuela and Panama as well. He was also manager of the rookie-level Gulf Coast Yankees in 1993-1994. Most recently, he helmed his home country's World Baseball Classic team in 2009.

#532 Hector Lopez (back)

Monday, January 03, 2011

#531 Chuck Hiller

#531 Chuck Hiller
Well if it isn't Chuck Hiller, another member of the "30-going-on-50" club. Life must have been harder in those days.

Fun facts about Chuck Hiller:

-Chuck was born in Johnsburg, IL and attended St. Thomas University in St. Paul, MN. He signed with the Indians in 1957.

-The Giants drafted him away from Cleveland after his second pro season. He hit over .300 in each of his three seasons in the San Francisco farm system, including an MVP effort with the Texas League's AA Rio Grande Valley squad in 1960 (.334 AVG, .400 OBP, 47 2B, 74 RBI).

-Hiller made the Giants' roster to start the 1961 season, but the 26-year-old was demoted to AAA in early July with a .228 average. He showed some improvement in a brief return engagement, batting .289 with a .400 on-base mark in 11 games at season's end to boost his overall average to .238.

-Back for good in 1962, Chuck batted .276 in a career-high 161 games. He also set personal bests with 94 runs scored, 22 doubles, 48 RBI, and a .341 OBP. His defense left a little something to be desired, however; he committed a league-high 29 errors at second base and earned the moniker "Iron Hands".

-Though the infielder wasn't known for his power, he slugged .500 in the 1962 World Series as four of his seven hits went for extra bases (3 2B, 1 HR). In Game Four, his seventh-inning grand slam broke a 2-2 tie and boosted the Giants to a 7-3 win. It was the first bases-loaded homer by a National Leaguer in the history of the Fall Classic.

-He delivered the only walk-off home run of his career in the bottom of the ninth on July 26, 1963. The two-run shot off of Roy Face broke a 4-4 tie.

-Hiller lasted barely more than two seasons in San Francisco after his good showing in the Series. The Giants dealt him to the Mets in May 1965 after his offense went south.

-He was a capable sub for the Mets in 1966, batting .280 overall and .348 (16-for-46) as a pinch hitter.

-Chuck played sparingly with New York and Philadelphia in 1967 and saw action in just 11 big league games as a Pirate in 1968, his final pro season. In parts of eight seasons he batted .243 with 20 home runs and 152 RBI.

-He stayed involved in the game as a minor league manager and major league coach for two decades following his retirement, often coaching under Hall of Fame skipper Whitey Herzog. The organizations he worked for included the Mets, Rangers, Royals, Cardinals and Giants. His managerial record was 304-320, which included a 74-66 mark with the 1975 Tidewater Tides in his only season at the AAA level. Hiller passed away in October 2004 at age 70.
#531 Chuck Hiller (back)