Friday, June 24, 2011

#457 Bob Kennedy

#457 Bob Kennedy
Housekeeping Update: This is probably the last update before July 4, as I'm going on a much-anticipated vacation. Enjoy the holiday!

Ah, it's been a while since we've had a truly well-worn card to enjoy. The condition of this card also complements the weary, befuddled expression on Bob Kennedy's face. It's as if he's saying, "What's this 'head coach' malarkey?"

Fun facts about Bob Kennedy:

-Bob signed with his hometown Chicago White Sox in 1937, when he was only 16! Previously he had worked as a vendor at Comiskey Park.

-After a 3-game taste of the majors in 1939, the 19-year-old third baseman played 154 games with the Pale Hose in 1940, making him the first teenager in 40 years to top 150 games in a season. He hit .252 with 74 runs scored and 52 driven in, but slugged only .315.

-During World War II, he served first in Naval Aviation, and later in the Marines.

-In June 1948, Kennedy was traded to the Indians, and hit .301 in limited duty for the duration of the season. There are no specific pinch-hit stats available for that season, but we do know that he hit .395 (17-for-43) as a sub. He appeared in three World Series games, collecting an RBI single in one of his two at-bats as Cleveland won their last championship to date.

-In an expanded role in 1949 and 1950, he hit a cumulative .284 with 50 doubles, 10 triples, 18 home runs, and 111 RBI in 267 games with the Indians.

-He spent most of the 1954 season with the Orioles, who had just moved east from St. Louis. On July 30, his grand slam off of Yankee hurler Allie Reynolds was the first bases-loaded homer for any Oriole.

-Bob also played for the Tigers and Dodgers, and retired in 1957 with a .254 career average, 63 home runs, and 514 RBI in parts of 16 seasons.

-About that "Head Coach" thing: after the Cubs lost 94 games in 1960, owner Phillip K. Wrigley decided to institute a "College of Coaches" in place of a traditional manager. Basically, a small group of coaches from within the organization would rotate in the manager's position with the major league club, ensuring that there was a uniformity of instruction from the minors to the majors. I'm sure you predict a few problems. Players complained that each manager shuffled player roles as he saw fit, and the results were certainly poor: the Cubbies lost 90 games under four coaches in 1961, and plummeted to 103 losses the following year with three men sharing the helm. Kennedy was hired as the man at the top in 1963, but was still saddled with the title of "Head Coach". He oversaw a big improvement to 82-80 that year, though it was still only good for seventh place in the National League. Chicago slipped to 76-86 in 1964, and the Head Coach was cashiered early the next season with a 24-32 record. Leo Durocher was hired prior to the 1966 season, and unequivocably stated in his introductory press conference that his title would be "Manager". So that's that.

-Bob was hired as the Athletics' manager for their first year in Oakland in 1968, and again steered a significant turnaround, from 62-99 to 82-80. Seeking a contract extension at the end of his first season in charge of the A's, he was instead fired by fickle owner Charles O. Finley. He never managed again, but held front office jobs with the Cardinals (Director of Player Development and then Assistant GM), Cubs (GM), Astros (Assistant GM), and Giants (Assistant GM). He passed away in 2005 at the age of 84.

-A pair of his sons played pro ball. Bob Jr. was a seventh-round pick of the Cardinals in 1971, and never reached beyond Class A in five seasons. He later spent a decade scouting for the Mariners, Cubs, and Astros. Terry was also a Cards' draft pick, taken sixth overall in the first round in 1977. He was a catcher for 14 years in the majors with St. Louis, San Diego, Baltimore, and San Francisco. He was a four-time All-Star with a .264 average and 113 career home runs. He has managed in the minors for 11 seasons, and is currently the skipper for San Diego's AAA Tucson club.
#457 Bob Kennedy (back)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#245 Joe Pepitone

#245 Joe Pepitone
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the umpire ruled Joe Pepitone off of the bag whenever he caught the throw. You can't just set up shop smack in the middle of the infield grass, Joe!

Fun facts about Joe Pepitone:

-Joe was a Brooklyn boy who signed with the Yankees out of high school in 1958. He supposedly spent his $20,000 to $25,000 bonus on a Ford Thunderbird and a speed boat.

-After hitting .239 with 7 home runs and 17 RBI as a rookie in 1962, he took over as New York's starting first baseman the following year and made the first of three consecutive All-Star teams. His .271 average and 27 home runs trailed only Elston Howard for the team lead, and he topped all Yankees with 89 RBI. However, "Pepi" went just 2-for-13 (.154) in the World Series and made a crucial error in Game 4 that set up the Series-clinching run for the Dodgers.

-On August 29, 1964, he drove in seven runs via a first-inning grand slam and an eighth-inning three-run homer. The Yankees pounded Boston 10-2.

-Pepitone rebounded in 1964 to swat 28 home runs and a career-high 100 runs as the Yankees captured another pennant. They fell in the World Series again, with their young first baseman again managing a scant .154 average (4-for-26). However, his eighth-inning grand slam in Game 6 did fuel a series-tying Yankee win.

-Joe was recognized three times as the top-fielding first baseman in the American League, winning Gold Gloves in 1965, 1966, and 1969.

-He was famous for his hard-partying ways and vanity. According to Jim Bouton in Ball Four, Pepi had two different toupees: one for everyday wear and a "game piece", the latter to be worn only on the diamond. One of the famous anecdotes in the book had Bouton and Fritz Peterson sneaking into the clubhouse during a game to sprinkle talcum powder in Joe's hair dryer. After the game (a Yankee loss), Joe applied his "everyday" rug and turned on the dryer to straighten his actual hair, and Bouton told it, "he looked like an Italian George Washington". So did Pepi actually wear a rug? You tell me.

-Though he usually did not hit for a high average, his power and the lower offensive standards of his era made Pepitone a valuable player throughout the 1960s. For instance, a .255 average and .290 on-base percentage in 1966 are mitigated when you consider that the Yanks hit .235 with a .299 OBP overall that season. He also hit a personal-and-team-best 31 home runs, and finished with an 118 OPS+ (again, 100 would be league average).

-Between 1970 and 1973, Joe played for the Astros, Cubs, and Braves before heading to Japan. In a dozen big league seasons, he hit .258 with 219 homers and 721 RBI.

-He did not adjust well to Japan. He hit only .167 in 14 games for the Yakult Atoms, blew off games to go to night clubs, and soon jumped the team.

-He briefly served as Yankee hitting coach in 1982, and has spent the last decade and change employed in the club's front office. He is currently in their public relations area.

-Pepitone has run afoul of the law several times in his post-playing days. In 1985, he and two others were arrested in Brooklyn after their car ran a red light. The car contained drugs and paraphrenalia, a pistol, and $6,300 in cash. He wound up serving four months at Rikers Island and was freed for a work-release program when George Steinbrenner offered him a minor-league player development position. In 1992, he was charged with a misdemeanor assault and released on bail. Four years later, he lost control of his car in the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and charged with driving under the influence.
#245 Joe Pepitone (back)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#208 Tommy John

#208 Tommy John
Tommy John's name is synonymous with the elbow ligament replacement surgery that was patented by Dr. Frank Jobe. I realize that Dr. Jobe has benefited financially from his medical breakthrough, but I can't help but wonder whether he's bitter over it. Wouldn't you think they'd call it Frank Jobe surgery?

Fun facts about Tommy John:

-Tommy was born in Terre Haute, IN. He was a star basketball player in high school, but signed with the Indians in 1961 because he thought his career prospects in baseball were better.

-He was only 20 when he debuted with Cleveland in September 1963. The following May 3, he earned his first career win by shutting out the Orioles on three hits.

-A three-team trade sent John to the White Sox in 1965. To reacquire slugger Rocky Colavito, the Tribe gave up John, Tommie Agee, and Johnny Romano. The young southpaw went 14-7 with a 3.09 ERA in his first season in Chicago.

-In all, Tommy won 82 games with a 2.95 ERA in seven seasons with the Pale Hose. He went to his first All-Star Game in 1968, when he posted a 10-5 record and a 1.98 ERA in an injury-shortened season.

-In December 1971, Chicago dealt him to the Dodgers for slugger Dick Allen. He benefited greatly from pitching for a contender, winning 73 percent of his decisions (40-25) in his first three years in L.A. However, his career looked to be over on July 17, 1974. Pitching against the Expos, he allowed the first two batters to reach in the third inning before blowing out the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow while facing Hal Breeden. In a revolutionary procedure, Dr. Frank Jobe replaced the torn UCL with a ligament from John's right forearm. The rest, as they say, is history.

-Following more than a year of rehabilitation (assisted by teammate and physical fitness guru Mike Marshall), Tommy returned to the Dodger rotation in 1976 and went 10-10 with a 3.09 ERA and a league-best 0.3 home runs allowed per nine innings. He was named N.L. Comeback Player of the Year, and went on to pitch in the big leagues for 14 years post-surgery.

-He had his greatest stretch of success from 1977-1980. He won 20, 17, 21, and 22 games in those four seasons, went to three All-Star Games, and had a pair of second-place finishes in Cy Young voting. He also signed a lucrative free-agent deal with the Yankees prior to the 1979 campaign.

-Tommy managed to be on the losing end of three Yankees-Dodgers World Series: 1977-1978 (LA), and 1981 (NY). But he did his part, with a career 6-3 record and a 2.67 ERA in 14 postseason games.

-Throughout the 1980s, he pitched for the Yankees, Angels, Athletics, and Yankees once again. He retired in 1989 after tying the major league record with 26 seasons played. He had a 288-231 record and a 3.34 ERA, and 2,245 strikeouts.

-Since hanging up his spikes, Tommy has broadcast games for the Twins and done some managing and coaching. He was a pitching coach in the Expos organization in 2002-03 and managed the New York-Penn League's Staten Island Yankees in 2004. From 2007-09, he managed the independent Bridgeport Bluefish. He is not currently in the Hall of Fame, having garnered just 31.7% of the vote in 2009, his final year on the ballot.
#208 Tommy John (back)

Monday, June 20, 2011

#20 Jim Bunning

#20 Jim Bunning
I'm chugging towards the finish line, and this is the first card in a batch of five that John Reid sent me back in February. I believe Jim Bunning is the only U.S. Senator in this set.

Fun facts about Jim Bunning:

-A native of Southgate, KY, Jim was a teenager when he signed with the Tigers in 1950. He later completed a bachelor's degree in economics at Xavier University.

-He was 23 when he debuted with Detroit in July 1955. However, he didn't spend a full season in the majors until 1957, his eighth year as a pro.

-Bunning was worth the wait for the Tigers, going 20-8 with a 2.69 ERA in 1957 and leading the American League in wins and innings pitched (267.1). He made the first of seven All-Star teams.

-On July 20, 1958, he no-hit the Red Sox, allowing just two walks while striking out a dozen Boston batters.

-After seven straight seasons of double-digit wins for the Tigers and a couple of strikeout crowns (201 each in 1959 and 1960), Jim was traded to the Phillies prior to the 1964 season.

-The righthander accomplished a rare feat on June 21, 1964, hurling a perfect game against the Mets. He struck out 10 batters in becoming one of the few men to pitch no-hitters in both the American and National Leagues.

-Though he won 19 games in each of his first three seasons with the Phils, Bunning's career year came in 1967, when he was just 17-15 for a mediocre squad. He had a career-best 2.29 ERA and 16 complete games, and was the league leader with 40 starts, 6 shutouts, 302.1 innings pitched, and 253 strikeouts. He finished a distant second in Cy Young voting to the Giants' Mike McCormick, who had a gaudy 22-10 record but inferior peripherals (2.85 ERA, 150 strikeouts).

-Late in his career, Jim had brief stints with the Pirates and Dodgers before returning to the Phillies and retiring in 1971. In parts of 17 seasons, he was 224-184 with 151 complete games, 40 shutouts, and a 3.27 ERA. His 2,855 strikeouts were second only to Walter Johnson at the time, and he currently ranks 17th in batters whiffed. He was the second pitcher (following Cy Young) to ever record 100 wins and 1,000 strikeouts in both the American and National Leagues.

-He managed in the Phillies farm system from 1972-1976, making stops in Reading, Eugene, Toledo, and Oklahoma City. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 as a Veteran's Committee selection, and the Phillies retired his #14 in 2001.

-As mentioned above, Bunning went into a successful career in politics. He represented Kentucky in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987-1999 and went on to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate, finally bidding Congress farewell earlier this year after choosing not to run for reelection.
#20 Jim Bunning (back)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

#344 Wes Parker

#344 Wes Parker
Here's the other card that I obtained through Topps' Million Card Giveaway thingamajig. Using one of my code cards, I unlocked a 1963 Jerry Kindall. First I swapped it for a 1963 Billy O'Dell, and after careful consideration, I traded the O'Dell for Wes Parker here.

Fun facts about Wes Parker:

-Wes was born in Evanston, IL and attended Claremont McKenna College and the University of Southern California before signing with the Dodgers in 1963.

-He hit .315 in his first pro season, and jumped from AA to the Dodgers to begin the 1964 season. As a rookie he hit .257 in 214 at-bats.

-Parker took over at first base for L.A. in 1965 and showed value beyond his .238 average. He walked 75 times to boost his on-base percentage to .334, and scored 80 runs.

-In the 1965 World Series, Wes hit .304 (7-for-23) with 3 walks, a hit-by-pitch, a triple, a homer, and 2 RBI as the Dodgers bested the Twins. His run-scoring single off of Jim Kaat in Game 7 was crucial, as the clincher ended in a 2-0 final.

-Known as a particularly smooth defender, he won six consecutive Gold Gloves at first base (1967-1972).

-Wes had a banner year in 1970, leading the Dodgers with a .319 average and 111 RBI despite totaling only 10 home runs. His league-high 47 doubles were a contributing factor. He finished fifth in MVP voting.

-Parker hit for the cycle on May 7, 1970 in a 7-4 win over the Mets. He drove in three runs, including a game-winning two-run triple off of Jim McAndrew in the tenth inning.

-He was only 33 when he retired in 1972. In 10 seasons he'd hit .267 with an 111 OPS+. He totaled 64 home runs and 470 RBI, and had a .996 fielding percentage.

-After broadcasting Reds games in 1973, he played one more season with the Nankai Hawks in Japan. He batted .301 with 14 home runs and won the Diamond Glove Award.

-Wes also called games for NBC and USA in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and did some acting as well. He had guest spots on shows like The Brady Bunch and MacMillan and Wife. You can see his full filmography here.
#344 Wes Parker (back)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#340 Tony Oliva

#340 Tony Oliva
Okay, one last card from December's "pack" from Randy. You may have noticed that all five of these players were very good at baseball. If you were a kid in 1965 and you got a pack with Tony Oliva, Hoyt Wilhelm, Joe Torre, Norm Cash, and Gil Hodges, you probably would have passed out. Thanks again, pal!

Fun facts about Tony Oliva:

-A native of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Tony signed with the Twins in 1961.

-He made his major league debut in 1962 at age 24. In his first start, on September 14, 1962, he went 2-for-3 with a double, 2 walks, and 3 RBI.

-After short stints in the majors in 1962 and 1963, Tony became the Twins' everyday right fielder in 1964 and captured American League Rookie of the Year honors. He also made the first of eight straight All-Star teams, and led the league with 109 runs scored, 217 hits, 43 doubles (the first of four career doubles crowns), a .323 average, and 374 total bases. In addition, his 9 triples, 32 home runs, and .557 slugging percentage would all prove to be career highs.

-He repeated as batting champ in 1965 with a .321 mark, doubled 40 times, and drove in 98 runs in helping the Twins capture the pennant. He finished second to teammate Zoilo Versalles in MVP voting.

-Oliva won his only Gold Glove in 1966, a year in which he committed 10 errors (the most by any outfielder) but also ranked highly in advanced metrics like range factor, total zone runs, and defensive wins above replacement (WAR). Maybe the voters were ahead of their time, but I suspect that his .307 average and 25 homers had more to do with it.

-In a June 29, 1969 doubleheader at Kansas City, the outfielder collected hits in eight straight at-bats. He went 3-for-4 in the opener, stroking three singles after a flyout in his initial trip to the plate. In the nightcap, he went 5-for-5 with a pair of home runs, a double, and 5 RBI as the Twins romped 12-2 to salvage a split.

-Despite his .440 average (11-for-25) and .840 slugging percentage in the 1969 and 1970 playoffs, the Twins lost all six postseason games over those two seasons to the Orioles.

-Tony's last great season was 1971, when he was the top batter (.337) and slugger (.546) in the league and totaled 22 homers and 81 RBI in only 126 games.

-Knee problems seriously curtailed Oliva's career, and he retired at age 37 in 1976 with 1,917 hits in only 1,676 games. His lifetime average was .304 with 220 home runs and 947 RBI.

-He coached with the Twins from 1976-1978 and 1985-1991. He has been a minor league hitting instructor ever since. The Twins retired his #6 in 1991 and selected him as a charter member for the club's Hall of Fame in 2000. Just last April, they unveiled a statue in his likeness at Target Field.
#340 Tony Oliva (back)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#276 Hoyt Wilhelm

#276 Hoyt Wilhelm
This is a card that I'm particularly excited to have. I wonder if Hoyt Wilhelm ever got tired of posing for photos while exhibiting his knuckleball grip. I mean, it is the pitch that made him famous.

Fun facts about Hoyt Wilhelm:

-Hoyt was born in Huntersville, NC. After graduating from high school, he pitched for Mooresville of the independent North Carolina State League in 1942. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army and served three years in World War II, earning a Purple Heart for being wounded in the Battle of the Bulge.

-In 1946, he returned to Mooresville and won 41 games in two seasons. The Braves acquired him, but lost him in a minor league draft to the Giants a month later.

-Wilhelm was 29 by the time he made the Giants' big league club in 1952, but he came equipped with a great knuckleball. He'd learned the pitch in his youth by emulating former Senators moundsman Dutch Leonard. Hoyt used the knuckler to go 15-3, leading the National League in winning percentage, ERA (2.43), and games pitched (71). He also compiled 11 saves, but finished a distant second to Dodgers reliever Joe Black, who put up comparable numbers but had the added benefit of playing for the pennant winner.

-Far from a skilled hitter (.088/.139/.106 career AVG/OBP/SLG), he hit his first and only career home run in his first at-bat! It came off of Braves pitcher Dick Hoover on April 23, 1952.

-He went to the first of five career All-Star Games in 1953, but had his best year as a Giant in 1954. That season, he went 12-4 with 7 saves and a 2.10 ERA (194 ERA+). He appeared twice in the club's four-game World Series sweep of the Indians, allowing a single hit in two and a third scoreless innings and picking up a save in Game Three.

-After his performance slipped in the ensuing seasons, the Giants traded him to the Cardinals in February 1957. He was then waived twice within a year, going first to Cleveland and then to Baltimore. It's somewhat surprising that the Tribe put him on waivers, as he had a 2.49 ERA in 90.1 innings to that point, but it wound up paying almost instant dividends. On September 20, 1958, he no-hit the Yankees in just the ninth start of his career.

-In 1959, O's manager Paul Richards converted Hoyt to a full-time starter. In 32 games (27 starts), he went 15-11 with 13 complete games and a league-best 2.19 ERA.

-By mid-1960, Wilhelm was back in the bullpen. Over the next three seasons, he won 27 games and saved 40 more for the Orioles with a 2.63 ERA. Prior to the 1963 campaign, he was traded to the White Sox in a six-player deal that brought legendary shortstop Luis Aparicio to Baltimore.

-Though he was 40 when he arrived in Chicago, the cagey veteran (I've always wanted to say that) saved 92 games in six seasons with the team, compiling a 1.92 ERA in 675.2 innings. He seemed to be improving with age.

-As the 1960s lapsed into the 1970s, Hoyt passed through the clubhouses of the Angels, Braves, Cubs, and Dodgers, finally retiring after Los Angeles released him in mid-1972 at age 49. Amazingly, he made his last All-Star team in 1970 as a 47-year-old (6-5, 13 SV, 3.40 ERA). In parts of 21 seasons, he was 143-122 with 227 saves and a 2.52 ERA. His record of 1,070 games pitched stood until Dennis Eckersley broke it in 1998.

-He managed in the low minors for the Braves organization in 1973 and 1975. Wilhelm was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985, which was his eighth year on the ballot. He was 80 when he died of heart failure in Sarasota, FL in 2002.
#276 Hoyt Wilhelm (back)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#200 Joe Torre

#200 Joe Torre
Hey Joe, whaddaya know? For the younger fans out there, let this card serve as proof that Joe Torre didn't lose his good looks with age.

Fun facts about Joe Torre:

-Joe was born in Brooklyn, NY and signed with the Braves as a teenager in 1960. His father Joe Sr. was a New York City police detective as well as a scout for the Braves (1955-1961) and Orioles (1962-1971).

-His brother Frank was a first baseman for the Braves (1956-1960) and Phillies (1962-1963), but the siblings never played on the same team in the majors.

-After a cup of coffee in 1960, Joe took over the Braves' starting catcher job in 1961. He hit .278 with 21 doubles, 10 home runs, and 42 RBI in 113 games and earned a runner-up finish to Billy Williams in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting.

-Was an All-Star for five straight seasons with the Braves, peaking in 1966 with a .315/.382/.560 line, 36 home runs, and 101 RBI. Also won a Gold Glove at catcher in 1965.

-In March 1969, Atlanta traded him to the Cardinals even-up for Orlando Cepeda. The Cards already had Tim McCarver (and eventually Ted Simmons) at catcher, so they primarily used Torre at the corner infield positions, which likely prolonged his career. He added four more All-Star nods to his resume (1970-1973), and won the N.L. MVP in 1971 with league-best totals of 230 hits, 137 RBI, a .363 average, and 352 total bases. He also belted 34 doubles, 8 triples, and 24 homers that year.

-He hit for the cycle on June 27, 1973. He hit an RBI double in the first, solo homer in the third, and leadoff triple in the fourth, but grounded into a double play in the fifth. He led off the eighth inning with a walk, and asked to be pinch-run for with St. Louis already up 11-4 on the Pirates. But manager Red Schoendienst left him in, and he completed the cycle with a two-out RBI single in the ninth.

-He returned to New York in 1975 via a trade to the Mets. He manned third base until June 1977, when he retired as a player shortly after being named the club's manager. In parts of 18 seasons, he batted .297 with 252 home runs and 1,185 RBI.

-Joe's managerial career did not go smoothly, though few truly do. He won only 40.5% of his games as Mets skipper before leaving to take the Braves' post for the 1982 season. Atlanta won the N.L. West in his first season at the helm, but fell in the playoffs to the Cardinals. He was fired after slipping to third place in 1984, and spent several seasons broadcasting Angels games. He got another shot at managing with St. Louis in 1990, but had a losing record (351-354) when the club axed him after a quarter of the 1995 season.

-When George Steinbrenner hired him as the Yankees' manager prior to the 1996 season, the decision was widely ridiculed. But "Clueless Joe", as the headlines called him, seemed to have the right disposition for the job. New York won the World Series in four of his first five seasons on the job after a 15-year "drought", and collected 10 A.L. East pennants and a pair of Wild Cards in his 12 years on the job. He ultimately walked away after the 2007 season, and won two more division crowns in three years as Dodgers manager before retiring at the end of the 2010 season. He finished with 2,326 wins in 29 years, fifth-best all-time. It's widely expected that he will be selected for the Hall of Fame before long. The rest of the top 10 in managerial wins are already in Cooperstown with the exceptions of Tony LaRussa, who is still active, and Bobby Cox, who also just retired.

-Joe is still active in baseball, serving Bud Selig as MLB's executive vice president for baseball operations. He oversees the umpires, disciplinary measures, and more.
#200 Joe Torre (back)

Monday, June 13, 2011

#153 Norm Cash

#153 Norm Cash
Norm Cash appears to be posing in front of his parents' country home. I guess spring training facilities have changed a lot over the last 50 years.

Fun facts about Norm Cash:

-A native of Justiceburg, TX, Norm starred in both football and baseball at Sul Ross State University. He turned down a contract offer from the NFL's Bears and signed with the White Sox in 1955.

-He debuted with Chicago in 1958, seeing action in 13 games in June and July. His first hit was a single off of Hall of Famer Jim Bunning on July 6, 1958.

-Cash was traded twice between end of the 1959 season and the beginning of the following season. First he went to the Indians in a seven-player deal that brought Minnie Minoso back to the White Sox. Then he was dealt from Cleveland to Detroit in early April 1960 for Steve Demeter, who would play only four games with the Tribe.

-Norm practically came out of nowhere in 1961, leading the American League with 193 hits, a .361 average, a .487 on-base percentage, and a 1.148 OPS. He also ranked highly with 119 runs scored, 41 home runs, 132 RBI, and a .662 slugging percentage. He earned the first of four career All-Star nods, and finished fourth in MVP voting behind Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Jim Gentile.

-Though he never again reached the lofty numbers of that 1961 season, Cash topped 20 homers 10 times in an 11-year span, and was league runner-up 3 times (39 in 1962, 30 in 1965, and 32 in 1971).

-He acquitted himself well in the 1968 World Series, batting .385 (10-for-26) with 5 runs scored, a home run, and 5 RBI. He drove in a pair of runs in Game 5 and another pair in Game 6 - both Tigers wins.

-Norm was known for his sense of humor. He and the Tigers were on the other end of Nolan Ryan's second career no-hitter on July 15, 1973. The powerful first baseman struck out twice in his first three at-bats, and he was due up with two outs in the ninth inning. He strode to the plate with a table leg from the clubhouse (mistakenly called a piano leg by Ernie Harwell) instead of a bat. Umpire Ron Luciano told him he couldn't use it, and Cash responded that it didn't matter, because he wouldn't hit him anyway. He grabbed his bat, and popped out to shortstop Rudy Meoli to seal the no-hitter.

-Detroit released him in August 1974, bringing an end to his career. In parts of 17 seasons, he hit .271 with a .374 on-base percentage. He hit 377 home runs and drove in 1,103 runs. Incredibly, he never hit a walkoff home run, though 117 of his longballs gave his team the lead.

-Cash spent time broadcasting games for ABC and for the Tigers, and won two championships with the Detroit Caesars slow-pitch softball team. The club was owned by future Tigers boss Mike Ilitch, and Cash's former teammate Jim Northrup was also a part-time player.

-Not-so-fun fact: Norm was riding in a boat off Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan in October 1986 when he slipped, struck his head, and drowned. He was 51 years old. He was posthumously inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
#153 Norm Cash (back)

Friday, June 10, 2011

#99 Gil Hodges

#99 Gil Hodges
We are zooming right through the backlog of posts, and now we come to Christmas 2010. I filled some 2010 Topps needs for Randy, and asked for a few 1965 Topps in return. To my surprise, he sent a "pack" of 1965 Topps: five cards from my want list and a Boog Powell gold embossed insert, all wrapped in a replica '65 Topps wrapper! The collectors I've come to know online never cease to amaze me. Thanks, Randy!

I'm reasonably sure that this is my first Gil Hodges card; it's certainly my first vintage card of the slugger. He just seems like one of the cooler players of his era, though I tend to be a sucker for hulking slugging first basemen: Jimmie Foxx, Frank Howard, Boog Powell, Ted Kluszewski, you name it.

Fun facts about Gil Hodges:

-Gil was born in Princeton, IN, and starred in track, baseball, football, and basketball at Petersburg High School. He attended St. Joseph's College in Indiana before signing with the Dodgers in 1943.

-He played a single game with Brooklyn in 1943, but missed the next few seasons to serve as an anti-aircraft gunner with the Marines in World War II. He participated in battles at Okinawa and Tinian and received a Bronze Star for his efforts.

-After struggling in 1947 and putting things together in 1948, he truly flourished in 1949. Manager Leo Durocher switched him from catcher to first base, and Gil responded with a .285 average, 23 home runs, 115 RBI, and 94 runs scored in the first of his 8 All-Star seasons. He tied with Duke Snider for the team lead in homers, and trailed only Jackie Robinson's 124 runs batted in. He would top 20 home runs in 11 straight seasons.

-On August 31, 1950, he keyed a 19-3 Dodgers romp over the Braves with 4 home runs and 9 RBI. Each of his longballs came with men on base, and he finished the day 5-for-6 with 5 runs scored.

-In 1954, he set career highs in several categories, batting .304, slugging .579, and belting 42 homers with 130 RBI.

-Hodges was no lumbering giant: he won three straight Gold Gloves at first base, 1957-1959.

-Playing most of his career with the Dodgers afforded Gil the opportunity to play in seven World Series, of which the team won two. In 39 Fall Classic games, he hit .267 (35-for-131) with 5 home runs and 21 RBI. In Game 4 of the 1955 Series, he went 3-for-4 with 3 RBI, and his 2-run homer off of Don Larsen gave Brooklyn a lead it would not relinquish. He drove in the only pair of runs in that year's Game 7 clincher, completing a comeback from a 2-0 Series deficit against the Yankees.

-He spent parts of 16 seasons in Dodger Blue before ending his career with 65 games for the Mets in the 1962 and 1963 seasons. He retired as a player after the Senators traded Jimmy Piersall to acquire him as their manager in May 1963. For his career, he batted .273 with a .359 on-base percentage, 370 home runs, and 1,274 RBI. His 361 homers and 1,254 RBI as a Dodger are second in franchise history to Duke Snider (389 HR and 1,271 RBI).

-In four-plus seasons at the helm in Washington, his clubs never posted a winning record, but did improve by a few games per year. They went from 56-106 in 1963 to 76-85 in 1967. The following year, he returned to the Mets, replacing interim skipper Salty Parker. After guiding the club to a new franchise-best of 73 wins in 1968, he oversaw their transformation into the Amazin' Mets of 1969. They came out of nowhere to win 100 games, roaring from behind to beat out the Cubs for the National League pennant. New York then stunned the heavily-favored Orioles in a five-game World Series with timely hitting, spectacular defensive plays, and superlative pitching from the likes of Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, and Tom Seaver. Hodges was named Manager of the Year. His Mets slipped back to third place in both the 1970 and 1971 seasons.

-He had suffered a heart attack during the 1968 season, and another cardiac episode during spring training in 1972 caused his untimely death at age 47. The Mets retired his number 14 the following year, and inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 1982. He was also inducted into the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, and several locations and facilities both in Brooklyn and in his hometown in Indiana bear his name today.
#99 Gil Hodges (back)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

#205 Warren Spahn

#205 Warren Spahn
Hey, here's a rarity for this set: a card that I outright bought. Last September I was performing in a play at my alma mater, and I went on a stroll through historic downtown Chestertown with my friends. There was a secondhand/gift shop selling all matter of things. I spotted a couple of nine-card binder sheets with 1950s-1970s cards in them selling for ten bucks each. So essentially, I got this card for $1.12! As for this featured card, Spahnie couldn't have been overly thrilled to see his shiny bald head put on display like that. Topps could've been merciful to an aging legend and just airbrushed the Braves logo off of his cap.

Fun facts about Warren Spahn:

-Buffalo, NY native Warren Spahn was a teenager when he signed with the Boston Bees (a.k.a. Braves) in 1940.

-He had a brief and inauspicious taste of the major leagues in April and September 1942, allowing 25 hits and 11 walks in 15.2 innings. He also drew the ire of Boston manager Casey Stengel for refusing to throw at Pee Wee Reese in an exhibition game. As the legendary skipper later said, "You can't say I don't miss 'em when I miss 'em."

-It took Spahn four years to make it back to the big leagues. In between, he earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his heroic service in the U.S. Army during World War II.

-In 1947, Warren was an All-Star in his first full season. That year he went 21-10 for the first of his 13 20-win seasons. He paced the National League with a 2.33 ERA, 7 shutouts, and 289.2 innings pitched. He would be named to 14 All-Star teams in his career.

-You've likely heard the phrase "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" to describe the old Braves' pitching staff. It came into being after the pair won eight games in a ten-game span of the schedule from September 6-18, 1948. Scheduled off days and rainouts helped make the duo's run possible. It was part of a 14-1 stretch that sewed up the National League pennant for Boston. They went on to lose to the Indians in a six-game World Series, with Spahn losing a Game Two start before earning a win with 5.2 innings of one-hit relief in Game Five. He came back the next day to toss two more innings of relief, but allowed a crucial run in the top of the eighth to give the Tribe a 4-1 lead. The Braves rallied for a pair in the bottom half of the inning, but got no closer. For the Series, the lefty allowed 4 runs in 12 innings, striking out 12 and walking 3.

-Some other league-leading feats for Warren included three total ERA titles (with a low of 2.10 in 1953), nine complete game crowns (including seven straight, 1957-1963 - his age 36-42 seasons!), four straight strikeout titles (1949-1952), and four Pitcher of the Year awards from The Sporting News.

-He won his only Cy Young Award in 1957, when he topped the N.L. in wins (21-11) and complete games (18) and sported a team-low 2.69 ERA. He took the loss in Game One of the World Series (3 ER in 5.1 IP), but gutted out a 10-inning, 5-earned-run complete game win in Game Four. His rotation-mate Lew Burdette earned three complete game victories of his own, giving Spahn his only championship.

-Warren twirled a pair of no-hitters. On September 16, 1960 he struck out 15 Phillies and walked 2 to earn his 20th win in style. He got his second no-no on April 28, 1961, shutting down the Giants.

-The 1965 season, which the 44-year-old Spahn split between the Mets and Giants, was his last. In parts of 21 seasons, he went 363-245 with 382 complete games, 63 shutouts, and 29 saves. He struck out 2,583 batters and had a 3.09 ERA. He still ranks sixth all-time in wins, and first among lefthanders.

-He was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1973, and the Braves have retired his #21. There is a statue depicting him in mid-windup on the grounds of Atlanta's Turner Field. He was present for the dedication in 2003, a few months before his death of natural causes at age 82.
#205 Warren Spahn (back)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

#62 Jim Kaat

#62 Jim Kaat
Wait a minute..."Katt"? Yep, this is one of the most glaring errors in the set. I'd be willing to give Topps a pass if "Kitty" wasn't already an All-Star and a three-time Gold Glover when this card was made. Oh well, nobody's perfect.

Fun facts about Jim Kaat:

-Jim was born in Zeeland, MI, and signed with the Senators at age 18 in 1957.

-He debuted in 1959, but was hit around in a handful of appearances. Earned his first career win on April 27, 1960, allowing four runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks in a 5-4 final over the Yankees.

-Kaat earned an All-Star selection in his second full season, going 18-14 with a team-best 3.14 ERA, as well as 16 complete games and a league-high 5 shutouts for the Twins in 1962. He also won the first of 16 Gold Gloves, a record later surpassed by Greg Maddux.

-He was a crucial member of the pennant-winning Minnesota team in 1965, going 18-11 with a 2.83 ERA and an American League-leading 42 starts. He outdueled Sandy Koufax in Game 2 of the World Series, going the distance in a 5-1 victory. However, he was knocked out early in subsequent starts in the fifth and decisive seventh games, taking the loss in each instance. Considering that Koufax pitched shutouts in both of those games, there's probably not much that Kaat could have done anyhow.

-Jim had a career year in 1966, going 25-13 with a 2.75 ERA and leading the A.L. in wins, games started (41), complete games (19), innings (304.2), fewest walks per nine innings (1.6), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.73). He was named the Sporting News A.L. Pitcher of the Year, as only one Cy Young Award was given out at the time and it went to Koufax.

-As play began on Friday, September 1, 1967, the "Impossible Dream" Red Sox were clinging to a half-game lead over the the Twins for the pennant. Kaat, whose record was a mere 9-13 at the time, earned his tenth win that evening with a complete-game effort against Detroit. It was the first of seven straight starts that the southpaw would win. He went 7-0 with a 1.51 ERA in September, but things finished on a sour note. The Twins had taken a one-game lead on Boston entering a season-ending two-game series between the clubs at Fenway. Kaat started the opener on three days' rest, and tossed two scoreless innings before injuring his arm in the third. Ron Kline took the loss in relief, a 6-4 final. Boston prevailed 5-3 in the finale to advance to the World Series.

-The White Sox claimed him off waivers in August 1973, bringing an end to his Twins tenure after 13 years and a team-record 189 wins. Reunited with pitching coach Johnny Sain, the veteran posted back-to-back 20-win seasons in Chicago: 21-13, 2.92 ERA in 1974, 20-14, 3.11 ERA in 1975.

-After a three-year stint with the Phillies, the fortysomething Kaat finished his career as a reliever with the Yankees (1979-1980) and Cardinals (1980-1983). He pitched in relief in each of the first four games of St Louis' World Series win over the Brewers in 1982, allowing one run in two and one-third innings.

-Kaat was the last active member of the original Washington Senators, as well as the last active player whose career began in the 1950s. He and Nolan Ryan are the only two men to play in the major leagues during seven different Presidential administrations - for Kaat, it was Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. In parts of 25 seasons (a record later broken by Tommy John and Ryan), Jim was 283-237 with 18 saves, 130 complete games, a 3.45 ERA, and 2,461 strikeouts.

-Jim seems to be ensconced firmly in the "Hall of Very Good", having earned enough votes to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot for the full 15 years but topping out at 29.6%. He fared better in Veterans Committee votes in 2005 and 2007, but still came up short. He served as Pete Rose's pitching coach for the Reds in 1984-1985, and has spent most of the proceeding 26 years as a TV analyst for the Twins and Yankees. He has also done national broadcasts of both amateur and pro games for NBC, ESPN, CBS, and ABC. He is now calling games for the MLB Network.
#62 Jim Kaat (back)

Monday, June 06, 2011

#10 NL Pitching Leaders: Larry Jackson, Juan Marichal, and Ray Sadecki

#10 NL Wins Leaders: Larry Jackson, Juan Marichal, and Ray Sadecki
We're starting this week with a couple of cards that I got from Ed, the only reader of this blog who has hand-delivered cards to my front door. Talk about service!

For some reason, Topps always used to label the league leaders in wins as "pitching leaders". Seems needlessly vague. In this case, the winningest pitcher in the National League, and in all of the major leagues, was righthanded veteran Larry Jackson of the Cubs. He posted a 24-11 record for a Chicago team that won just 76 games all season, making him responsible for nearly a third of all of their victories. But it wasn't enough to earn him the Cy Young Award; only one trophy was given out for the entire MLB in 1964, and it went to Dean Chance of the Angels. The young Los Angeles pitcher was 20-9 with a 1.65 ERA that was nearly half of Jackson's 3.14 mark. I'm sure it didn't put much of a damper on a career year for the Cubbie ace, whose second-highest win total in a 14-year career was 18. He finished strong in 1964, reeling off 9 straight W's from August 22 through September 27 to boost his record from 14-10 to 23-10 before splitting his final two decisions of the year. He might have had an even better season if he didn't call breezy Wrigley Field home: Larry was 10-6 with a 3.83 ERA at home and 14-5 with a 2.55 mark on the road. A little run support never hurts, either. The Cubbies scored 6 runs or more in 11 of Jackson's starts in 1964, and he had 10 wins and a single no-decision in those games. He also won the games he was expected to, posting an overall 9-0 mark against the young Colt .45s and Mets.

The runner-up in 1964 was another right-hander, but that's where the similarities end. Juan Marichal was 21-8 that year for the Giants, one of six times that he topped 20 wins in a season. He had topped the loop with 25 W's in 1963, and would do it again with 26 in 1968. He posted a sparkling 2.48 ERA and led the league with 22 complete games, yet got no votes for Cy Young. If that happened today, we'd never hear the end of it! He averaged 8.75 innings pitched per start in September and October, going 8 strong innings in the only game he did not finish. (There was also an 8-inning CG road loss.) He only made one start in August, which held down his win total, but came back with that great September/October (6-2, 2.19 ERA). He was a Colt and Dodger killer, winning four apiece against those two clubs.

Cardinals southpaw Ray Sadecki was already in his fifth big league season in 1964 when he went 20-11 with a 3.68 ERA at age 23. He would hang around for 13 more, but never had more than a dozen victories in any subsequent season. He had the dubious honor of leading the N.L. with 18 losses for a second-place Giants squad in 1968, and was a swingman and eventually a full-time reliever as his career progressed. Coincidentally, Ray won exactly four games in every month of the 1964 campaign except for April, when he lost his only start. He did the most damage against the Phillies, with a 4-1 record and a 1.91 ERA in four starts against Gene Mauch's men. Sadecki added a 21st win in Game 1 of the World Series, allowing four Yankee runs in six innings and benefiting from a St. Louis offense that hit Whitey Ford even harder.

The expanded leaderboard on the back gives a full rundown all the way down to seven wins. You'll notice that three Hall of Famers (Jim Bunning, Bob Gibson, and Sandy Koufax) just missed the big 2-0, with Tony Cloninger joining them as an oddball. Every team had at least a single 15-game winner with the exception of (who else?) the Mets, whose top W-man was Al Jackson with his gaudy 11-16 mark. Notably absent is Warren Spahn, who went 6-13 with an ugly 5.29 ERA at age 43. It was his last season with the Braves, and the first since 1946 (when he went 8-5 in 24 gamesin which he failed to post at least 14 victories. But we'll deal more with him later.

#10 NL Wins Leaders: Larry Jackson, Juan Marichal, and Ray Sadecki (back)

Friday, June 03, 2011

#405 John Roseboro

#405 John Roseboro
Let's end Rick Rodriguez Week with Johnny Roseboro. Thanks again, Rick!

Fun facts about John Roseboro:

-John was born in Ashland, OH and signed with the Dodgers out of high school in 1952.

-The Dodgers called him up in June 1957, and he backed up Roy Campanella for the rest of the year. He hit just .145 (10-for-69) as a rookie, but had a walkoff three-run homer off of the Cubs' Turk Lown for his first career longball. The clout came in the tenth inning on July 19, 1957; John had pinch-run for Campanella in the seventh inning and stayed on to catch.

-After an offseason car accident paralyzed Campanella, bringing his career to a tragic and premature end, Roseboro was chosen as the Dodgers' new starting catcher. Living up to the tall order, he made the first of four All-Star teams in 1958. He hit .271 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI, and even led the club with 9 triples!

-He set career highs with 18 homers and 59 RBI in 1961. His home run total led Los Angeles, and only Wally Moon drove in more runs for the team. The catcher also won the first of two Gold Gloves.

-Twice he led the league in caught stealing percentage. In 1959, he threw out 59.5% (17 SB/25 CS). In 1964, he gunned down 60.4% of runners (19 SB/29 CS).

-John caught two of Sandy Koufax's four no-hitters: his 13-strikeout gem against the Mets on June 30, 1962 and a May 11, 1963 rout of the Giants in which Koufax faced one batter over the minimum.

-He struggled in World Series play, batting .157 (11-for-70) in four Fall Classics. However, his three-run homer off of Whitey Ford in Game 1 of the 1963 Series keyed a Dodger victory. It was the only round-tripper that Ford allowed to a lefty batter that season.

-Roseboro is best known for being the victim of Juan Marichal's bat attack on August 22, 1965. I covered the incident in some depth when I featured Marichal about six weeks ago; you can read more here.

-John finished his career in the American League, spending a few seasons with the Twins before retiring as a Washington Senator in 1970. In parts of 14 seasons, he hit .249 with 104 home runs and 548 RBI.

-He coached for the Senators (1971) and Angels (1972-1974), and later served as an instructor in the Dodgers organization. He and his wife Barbara owned a public relations firm in Beverly Hills, and their son Jaime was a minor league outfielder for the Mets and Expos (1986-1992). Late in his life, he suffered from heart trouble, strokes, and prostate cancer, and died at age 69 in August 2002.
#405 John Roseboro (back)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

#402 Joe Amalfitano

#402 Joe Amalfitano
I know I'm the guy who's supposed to provide the facts around here, but I find myself wondering what the inscription "A102" on Joe Amalfitano's bat means. Anyone?

Fun facts about Joe Amalfitano:

-Joe was born in San Pedro, CA and attended Loyola Marymount University before signing with the Giants for a $40,000 bonus in 1954.

-At age 20, he found himself on the big league roster due to the bonus baby rules. He went hitless in five at-bats, but still received a full share of bonus money when New York won the World Series that fall.

-After seeing action in 36 games in 1955, he was finally eligible to be sent to the minors. He hit for high averages over the next four years, and returned to the Giants in 1960.

-Amalfitano played regularly for San Francisco in 1960, seeing time at second and third base. He hit a career-high .277 in 106 games, with a home run and 27 RBI.

-On April 30, 1961, he was indirectly involved in a rare feat. The infielder did not play that day, but teammate Willie Mays borrowed one of his bats and used it to hit four homers and drive in eight runs against the Braves!

-With increased playing time for the Giants in 1961 and Houston in 1962, his offensive production slipped.

-He hit only nine career home runs, but his solo shot off of Roger Craig on May 17, 1963 gave the Giants a 4-3 walkoff victory over the Mets in 11 innings. It capped a day in which he went 3-for-4 with a walk.

-Joey joined the Cubs in 1964 and had his best all-around year. Despite hitting only .241, he drew 40 walks to boost his on-base percentage to .331 and his OPS+ to a near-average 96. (The N.L. averages that year were .254 batting and .311 OBP.) He had career highs of 19 doubles, 6 triples, 4 home runs, and 27 RBI, and led the National League in range factor per nine innings at second base.

-Chicago released him in mid-1967, bringing an end to his playing career. In parts of 10 seasons he batted .244 with 9 homers and 123 RBI.

-Joey is still active in baseball nearly sixty years after his debut with the Giants. He coached for the Cubs, Giants, and Padres in the decade following his retirement, and then managed the Cubs on an interim basis for the last week of the 1979 season. Preston Gomez was hired to the post in the offseason, but Amalfitano replaced him in midseason. He helmed the team through the rest of 1980 and 1981, but was fired after running up a 66-116 record. He spent the following season coaching the Reds, and then was hired as Tommy Lasorda's third base coach for the Dodgers, a post he held from 1983-1998. Since then, he's worked for the Dodgers and Giants in front office and instructional capacities.
#402 Joe Amalfitano (back)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

#329 Hawk Taylor

#329 Hawk Taylor
Does anyone know why they called Robert Dale Taylor "Hawk"? An inquiring mind wants to know.

Fun facts about Hawk Taylor:

-A native of Metropolis, IL, Hawk received a $100,000 signing bonus from the Braves in 1957.

-Forced by bonus baby rules to remain on the major league roster, the 18-year-old appeared in only seven games and received a single at-bat. The following year, he got eight at-bats in four games.

-The young catcher showed power potential in the minors with 23 home runs in 1958 and 17 a couple years later, but continued to languish behind Joe Torre and other Milwaukee starters. He received only 117 plate appearances in parts of 5 seasons with the Braves.

-His first big league homer came on October 1, 1961. With the Braves trailing the Giants 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, Taylor pinch hit for Roy McMillan and tied the game by taking Mike McCormick deep. Milwaukee won it in the tenth with a walkoff single by Al Spangler.

-Hawk was sent to the Mets prior to the 1964 season and hit .240 with 4 homers and 23 RBI as a reserve.

-On June 20, 1964, he replaced injured catcher Chris Cannizzaro in the second inning of a game vs. the Phillies and went wild. His 4-for-5 day included a pair of two-run home runs as New York won 7-3.

-For someone who didn't play regularly, Taylor had his share of memorable home runs. On August 17, 1966, his fourth-inning clout off of Pirates pitcher Bob Veale was the first pinch-hit grand slam in Mets history. It keyed a comeback from a 7-1 deficit as the Mets went on to win 8-7.

-He failed to even hit his weight in 1965 and 1966, but rebounded to post a .281 average in limited duty with the Mets and Angels in 1967.

-With the Royals in 1969, Hawk appeared in 64 games, including a league-high 52 as a pinch hitter. He batted .270 with 3 homers and 21 RBI. Each of his home runs was a three-run shot that gave Kansas City the lead.

-After hitting just .164 with the Royals in 1970, he was traded to the Red Sox, but did not play in the majors after that. In parts of 11 seasons he hit .218 with 16 home runs and 82 RBI.

#329 Hawk Taylor (back)

#22 Charlie Smith

#22 Charlie Smith
I'm back from a short getaway to my family's cottage in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and I'm diving into a four-card package from Rick Rodriguez. Last August, Rick sent me these cards as thanks for allowing him to use some excerpts from this blog on his own site. Always glad to help! Looking at this particular card, it's hard to tell whether the photographer was more interested in capturing Charlie Smith's likeness or a detailed close-up of the 1964 World's Fair patch on his sleeve. It is a great logo, if you ask me. Topps strikes again, by the way; most other sources list the spelling of his first name as "Charley".

Fun facts about Charley Smith:

-Charley was born in Charleston, SC, and signed with the Dodgers at age 19 in 1957.

-In his first look at AAA, he hit .322 with 35 doubles, 20 home runs, and 106 RBI for Spokane in 1960. The Dodgers gave him an 18-game look that September, and he batted .167 (10-for-60) with 5 RBI. Two of those RBI came in his debut on September 8 in a 7-4 win over the Reds.

-Just a month into the 1961 season, Smith was traded to the Phillies, who made him their regular third baseman. Overall, he hit .248 with 11 homers and 50 RBI, earning a spot on the Topps All-Star Rookie team.

-After appearing in only 71 games in parts of three seasons with the White Sox, he was dealt to the Mets in April 1964. He batted .239 with 20 home runs and 58 RBI, leading the New Yorkers in longballs. However, he struck out 101 times and walked just 19 times.

-Charley had a pair of two-homer games in his career. On August 17, 1964, he took Bob Veale and John Gelnar deep to account for four runs in the Mets' 5-0 win over Pittsburgh. Three years later, he again drove in four runs in a 5-0 victory for a New York team; this time it was for the Yankees, and the opposing pitchers were Tommy John and Hoyt Wilhelm of the White Sox.

-Playing regularly for another anemic Mets team in 1965, Smith hit .244 with 16 homers and a team-high 62 RBI.

-He started 100 games at third base for St. Louis in 1966 and hit a personal-best .266 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI.

-To the consternation of Bronx fans, Charley was traded to the Yankees straight-up for a declining Roger Maris in 1967. He carried a paltry .224/.278/.336 batting line in New York that season, scraping across 27 extra-base hits in 425 at-bats.

-After playing sparingly for the Yanks in 1968, he appeared in two games with the Cubs the following season, bringing his career to a close. In parts of 10 seasons, he hit .239 with 69 home runs and 281 RBI.

-Following a knee surgery in 1994, Charley died in hospital care. He was only 57 years old.
#22 Charlie Smith (back)