Thursday, July 14, 2011

#437 Chico Cardenas

#437 Chico Cardenas
And now we come to the end of another handful of cards provided by Ed. Thanks again, pal! Looking back at Chico Cardenas' uniform vest, those fat black stripes around the armholes seem kind of clunky up against the thin red pinstripes. But what do I know? You may have noticed a little handwritten augmentation on the front of the card. It's funny to imagine that "Good" is supposed to denote the condition of the card.

Fun facts about Chico Cardenas:

-A native of Matanzas, Cuba, Leo "Chico" Cardenas was acquired by the Reds after hitting .316 and slugging .551 for the Tucson Cowboys of the Class C Arizona-Mexico League at age 17 in 1956.

-He debuted with Cincinnati on July 25, 1960, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in a 6-5 win over the Cubs. His leadoff single in the ninth inning sparked the game-winning two-run rally against Don Elston. The Reds made him their starting shortstop, a role he would maintain for nearly a decade.

-Cardenas appeared in just 74 games in 1961, but helped the Reds' pennant drive with a .308 average in 198 at-bats. He doubled once in three pinch-hit at-bats vs. the Yankees in the World Series.

-Though he made the All-Star team for the first of three straight seasons in 1964, it was statistically not one of his stronger seasons: .251 AVG, 32 doubles, 9 home runs, 69 RBI. The following year was his best all-around effort, though. In 1965, he batted .287 with a career-high .355 on-base percentage and socked 25 doubles, 11 triples, 11 home runs, and 57 RBI. He led the N.L. with 25 intentional walks, as he spent much of the year batting eighth in front of the pitcher. Chico also won the Gold Glove at shortstop, as is to be expected for a player nicknamed "Mr. Automatic" for his dependable defense.

-In 1966 his average slipped to .255, but he swatted a career-best 20 home runs. His 81 RBI tied him with Deron Johnson for the team lead.

-In a doubleheader vs. the Cubs on June 5, 1966, Chico went 6-for-8 with 4 home runs, a double, 4 runs scored, and 8 RBI. He was 3-for-4 with a pair of homers in each game, victimizing pitchers Bill Hands and Ernie Broglio twice each.

-Following a trade to the Twins in November 1968, Chico strung together three productive seasons in Minnesota. He was an All-Star for the fifth and final time in 1971, when he hit .264 with 18 homers and 75 RBI.

-An ugly batting line of .223/.272/.283 with the Angels in 1972 signaled the end of his days as a full-timer. He hung around as a reserve infielder for a few years with the Indians and Rangers before retiring in 1975.

-In parts of 16 seasons, Cardenas was a career .257 hitter with 118 home runs and 689 RBI.

-He still lives in Cincinnati, and was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1981.
#437 Chico Cardenas (back)


  1. Sometimes it amazes me... the All-Star players from the past that end up forgotten. This guy was quite a star in his day eh?

    And I like that Reds cap. I keep meaning to say that, but never get around to it.

  2. I never remember hearing Cardenas being called Chico. He was always "Leo" as far as I knew. Chico isn't the most complimentary nickname for a Latin player. Maybe as he got older someone decided that "Boy" wasn't really appropriate.

    It was Cardenas' misfortune to come along before the Big Red Machine and Davey Concepcion, but he was a very good player.

  3. Topps started referring to him as Leo in the 1970s.

    Another thing about those Cincy uniform vests: The player's name was BELOW the number.

  4. Devon - Yeah, you generally hear the same names all the time when people talk about past generations of players.

    Marc - Yeah, baseball hasn't always been a bastion of political correctness. Think about all of the deaf players who were nicknamed "Dummy"!

    Jim - That sounds familiar, but an image search is coming up empty. Rats.

  5. Kevin, I just saw a picture of Johnny Edwards' back about a week before I saw your post, but now I don't remember where that was.

    Here's 2 more:
    You can partially see the number-over-name on Vada Pinson's 1966 baseball card

    and here's a picture of an old-school Joe Nuxhall jersey, along with a current retro jersey.

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