Tuesday, March 26, 2013

#195 Bob Veale

#195 Bob Veale photo 65veale_zps488ac23e.jpg
Man, I can't believe that I skipped over this card the first time around! Bob Veale's thick specs, even more so than his status as a premier strikeout artist, make his card one of the MVPs of the 1965 Topps set.

Fun facts about Bob Veale:

-Bob was born in Birmingham, AL and attended Benedictine College in Kansas before signing with the Pirates in 1958.

-Veale was 26 years old when he made the Pirates' Opening Day roster for the first time in 1962. In his second career start (April 22), he earned a complete-game, 4-3 victory against the Mets for his first win.

-1964 was Bob's first full season in the Pittsburgh rotation, and he led the team in practically every pitching category. He was 18-12 with a 2.74 ERA (128 ERA+) and 14 complete games. He also led the National League with 250 strikeouts (edging Bob Gibson on the season's final day), 0.3 HR/9 innings (only 8 in 279.2 innings pitched), and 124 walks allowed. The high strikeout and walk totals and the low home run yield were trends throughout the 6'6" southpaw's career.

-Veale made the first of back-to-back All-Star teams in 1965, when he posted a 17-12 record and a 2.84 ERA. He also established a career high with 276 strikeouts, a total that was dwarfed by Sandy Koufax's otherworldly tally of 382.

-He was a mainstay starter for the Pirates for the seven seasons spanning 1964-1970. During that time, Bob was 103-87 with a 3.01 ERA (115 ERA+).

-The Bucs moved Veale to the bullpen in 1971. The results were gruesome, as his 6-0 record masked a 6.99 ERA. He allowed 36 earned runs in 46.1 innings, and allowed three of the five batters he faced in that year's World Series to reach base.

-He spent the last two seasons and change of his career as a reliever in Boston, retiring after the Red Sox released him in October 1974. In parts of 13 big league seasons, he was 120-95 with a 3.07 ERA.

-Bob is still the Pirates' record-holder with 7.96 strikeouts per 9 innings during his tenure with the club. He is 38th on the all-time MLB list, though several pitchers ahead of him are still active and may drop as they decline.

-Veale spent about a decade after his playing career as a pitching instructor. Among other teams, he worked in the Braves organization.

-He was selected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and still lives in Birmingham.
#195 Bob Veale (back) photo vealeb_zps9a0a5c65.jpg

Friday, March 22, 2013

#181 Senators Rookie Stars: Don Loun and Joe McCabe

#181 Senators Rookie Stars: Don Loun and Joe McCabe photo wsrookies_zpsaf500dce.jpg
Ah, here it is. As we keep checking off "lasts" for The Great 1965 Topps Project, we finally reach the last multi-player card in the set. Of course, after recently writing up two consecutive four-player rookie cards, a mere two-player shot should be a piece of cake, right?

Fun facts about Don Loun:

-Don was born and raised in Frederick, MD, west of Baltimore. He signed with the Senators as an amateur free agent in 1961, when he was 20 years old.

-Despite spending his first two years in Class D ball with Pensacola, Loun was bumped up to Class A in 1963. Pitching for the Peninsula Senators, he went 11-10 with a 3.32 ERA.

-Don continued his sudden rise in 1964, beginning the season at AA York and finishing it with the Senators. After pitching to a 2.14 ERA in 25 games split between York and AAA Toronto, he got a September promotion to the big leagues.

-The young lefty made his debut on September 23, 1964, and it was a dandy. He five-hit the Red Sox for a 1-0 victory, walking none and striking out a pair. Fellow rookie Pete Charton was the hard-luck loser, undone by a second inning in which he gave up three singles and saw the lone run against him score on a double-play grounder. As of this writing, Loun is one of only 44 pitchers to toss a complete game shutout in their first career game.

-His first strikeout victim was future Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.

-Don's second start was not nearly so auspicious. Facing the Red Sox again on October 3 - this time in Fenway Park - he was pulled for a pinch hitter after allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks in four innings. He was tagged with the loss as Bill Monbouquette scattered seven hits to top Washington 7-0.

-As fate would have it, those were the only two games of Don Loun's major league career. He was left with a lifetime record of 1-1 and a 2.08 ERA.

-Loun did pitch in the minors through the 1969 season, finishing with a career mark of 52-62 and a 3.99 ERA.

Fun facts about Joe McCabe:

-A native of Indianapolis, IN, Joe attended Purdue University before signing with the original Senators franchise in 1960.

-In his first exposure to AAA, he hit .309 and slugged .509 in 59 games for the Vancouver Mounties in 1962.

-McCabe made it to the major leagues with the Twins (who had moved from Washington to Minnesota) in 1964 and spent the first few months of the season on their roster. He debuted on April 18, entering the game for Earl Battey in the fourth inning and hitting a sacrifice fly in his only plate appearance. He was removed for pinch hitter Jimmie Hall in the eighth inning.

-His first multi-hit game was on May 24 against Milt Pappas and the Orioles. That day, Joe went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored, but the O's outlasted the Twins 7-6.

-In his first taste of the majors, McCabe batted .158 (3-for-19) with two RBI in 14 games.

-Joe was traded to the new(er) Senators in October of 1964 for Ken Retzer, another catcher.

-Once again, he started the 1965 season in the big leagues. But once again, he only saw action in 14 games. On the plus side, the backstop did hit his one and only career home run on May 2. It was a solo shot off of Jack Kralick, and gave the Senators a 1-0 lead in a game they pulled out by a 3-2 final.

-McCabe's second (and as it happened, final) big league batting line was .185/.281/.296 with a home run and five RBI.

-He had a cumulative batting average of .174 with a homer and seven RBI over two partial seasons.
#181 Senators Rookie Stars: Don Loun and Joe McCabe (back) photo wsrookiesb_zpsb17ca112.jpg

Thursday, March 14, 2013

#175 Bob Aspromonte

#175 Bob Aspromonte photo aspromonte_zpsf03bb398.jpg
Hey look, it's Aspro the Astro! Bob Aspromonte is just lucky that Charley Finley didn't own the Houston team, or he probably would have asked him to replace that "p" with a "t". In other news, this is officially the last Astros card I'll be posting for the 1965 set. Thank goodness. If I had to look at one more bare-headed portrait with the drab gray border and logo-less pennant, I think I would've gone mad.

Fun facts about Bob Aspromonte:

-Bob was born in Brooklyn, and signed with the hometown Dodgers in 1956.

-His older brother Ken roamed the infield for the Senators, Indians, and four other clubs (1957-1963), batting .249 in 475 career games.

-Bob played one game for the Dodgers in September of 1956 at age 18, then made it back to stay in 1960. His first home run was hit off of Lew Burdette on May 5, 1960.

-He was tabbed as a starting third baseman by the Houston Colt .45s after they took him in the expansion draft. Leading off for the club in their inaugural game on April 10, 1962, he went 3-for-4 with a walk, a steal, and three runs scored in an 11-2 rout of the Cubs. He's in the trivia books for the first base hit and the first run scored in franchise history.

-Bob had a reputation as a skilled defender at the hot corner. In 1962, he had a streak of 57 consecutive errorless games, a record at the time. He led National League third basemen in fielding percentage in 1964 (.973) and 1971 (.965).

-In 1964, Aspromonte batted .280 with career highs of 12 home runs and 69 RBI.

-On June 10, 1968, there was a national day of mourning following the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Aspromonte and teammate Rusty Staub refused to play in that day's scheduled game, and were fined.

-Bob was traded to the Braves after the 1968 season, becoming the last of the original Colt .45s to leave the team. He spent two years in Atlanta and a season with the Mets before retiring in 1971. When he called it quits, he was the last of the Brooklyn Dodgers active in the major leagues.

-In parts of 13 seasons, he batted .252 with 60 home runs and 457 RBI.

-Aspromonte ran a Coors beer distributorship for many years, but is now retired. He still lives in Houston.
#175 Bob Aspromonte (back) photo aspromonteb_zps6b0d478a.jpg

Monday, March 11, 2013

#174 Joe Jay

#174 Joe Jay photo jay_zpsedf6ec46.jpg
I'm certain of three things in looking at this card: 1) With six letters total, Joe Jay has the shortest name of any player in the 1965 Topps Set; 2) there is no baseball in Joe's right hand, nor in the glove (at least try to hide it!); and 3) if the batter scorches a line drive back to Joe's glove hand, he's still going to have a bruised hand. Get a glove that fits, man.

Fun facts about Joe Jay:

-A native of Middletown, CT, Joe signed with the Milwaukee Braves for a $40,000 bonus in 1953 after completing high school.

-Due to everyone's favorite obsolete rule (Bonus Baby!), Jay immediately joined the Braves at age 17, making him the first veteran of Little League Baseball to play in the majors. He appeared in three games in 1953 and shut out the Reds in an abbreviated seven-inning game for his first win.

-He pitched in Milwaukee for parts of seven seasons, but never received more than 19 starts in a single year. His best work came in 1958, when he went 7-5 with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP to help the Braves capture their second straight pennant. However, a pulled elbow tendon and a broken ring finger limited the righthander to 96.2 innings. The latter injury sidelined him during the World Series.

-In December 1960, Joe was traded to the Reds along with Juan Pizzaro, with shortstop Roy McMillan coming to the Braves. He took immediately to his new team, topping the National League with a 21-10 record and four shutouts. He put up a 3.53 ERA in 247.1 innings for the first-place Cincinnati club and made his lone All-Star team. He even finished fifth in MVP voting, stealing the one first-place vote that did not go to teammate Franak Robinson.

-Jay delivered the Reds' only win in the 1961 World Series, maneuvering around six walks in a 6-2 complete game effort in Game Two. He was not nearly so fortunate in Game Five, as the Yankees knocked him out of the box after two-thirds of an inning. He was charged with four runs, as New York rolled to a 13-5 Series-clinching victory.

-He was nearly as good in 1962, going 21-14 with a 3.76 ERA in a career-high 273 innings. His fine season made him the first Reds pitcher since Bucky Walters in 1939-1940 to post consecutive 20-win campaigns.

-Shoulder pain and poor run support contributed to a 7-18 record in 1963, though Joe's ERA also jumped to 4.29.

-Jay persevered through aches and pains and occasional squabbles with management to pitch another two and a half seasons in Cincy, but was surprised by a trade back to the Braves in mid-1966. He fell from 6-2 with a 3.91 ERA pre-trade to 0-4 with a 7.89 ERA afterward, and was released in December.

-The Phillies signed Joe to a minor-league deal in 1967, but let him go after four games at Class A Clearwater. He retired with a career record of 99-91 and a 3.77 ERA in parts of 13 seasons.

-Jay was the rare major leaguer who made a clean break from the game. He had built up some considerable business interests during his career, including ownership of taxicab and limousine companies, a carpet cleaning business, two building maintenance firms, and most notably, J&B Drilling, which came to own close to 100 oil wells.
#174 Joe Jay (back) photo jayb_zps36da5d27.jpg

Friday, March 08, 2013

#163 John Briggs

#163 John Briggs photo briggs_zps98ea6875.jpg
One of the sad by-products of my own disorganization is that I can't track down the source of this card. If you sent me John Briggs, don't hesitate to let me know, and I will give credit where it is due.

Anyhow, this is a fairly unique photo for the 1965 Topps set, zooming in on Briggs as he seemingly plays catch with an unseen teammate. I'm skeptical as to the presence of an actuall ball in his glove, but I can't say for sure that there's not one in there. Call me a ball agnostic. On second thought...don't. It might lead to some misunderstandings.

Fun facts about John Briggs:

-John was born in Paterson, NJ, and signed with the Phillies as an 18-year-old in 1962. His bonus was a mere $8,000.

-He spent only one season in the minors before getting called up, batting .297 and slugging an even .500 with 21 home runs for Class A Bakersfield in 1963.

-The first two home runs of his career were a leadoff shot (June 21, 1964 against Frank Lary of the Mets) and a walkoff job (May 10, 1965 against Bob Purkey of the Cardinals).

-Briggs spent seven seasons in Philly as a part-timer, seeing action at first base and all three outfield positions. His best overall effort with the Phillies was in 1966, when he batted .282/.380/.490 with 10 home runs in 297 plate appearances.

-John found increased playing time and power after an April 1971 trade to the Brewers. He hit 21 home runs in both the 1971 and 1972 seasons, and set a personal best with 30 doubles in 1974.

-On August 4, 1973, he went 6-for-6 with a pair of doubles in a 9-4 win over the Indians.

-The Twins acquired Briggs in June 1975, but released him the following spring. He played out 1976 in Japan with the Lotte Marines before hanging up his spikes.

-In 12 seasons in the majors, John hit .253 with a .355 on-base percentage and slugged .416. He totaled 139 home runs and 507 RBI.

-Back in New Jersey, Briggs joined the Passaic County Sherriff's Department, retiring as a lieutenant in 2008. He also coached baseball and counseled children in Paterson, and there's a field named for him in West Side Park.

-John still lives in Paterson with his wife Renvy and their two teenage sons, Jalen and Julian.
 photo c11ee261-afbf-4fd5-a1c3-e03213c68ab7_zps12e7a3f9.jpg

Monday, March 04, 2013

#573 Red Sox Rookie Stars: Jim Lonborg, Mike Ryan, Bill Schlesinger, and Jerry Moses

 photo cdf54795-af6b-4bf6-a080-0882874710d4_zps1d549510.jpg
Right. So I had a grand, heartfelt farewell address written for this, the last card to be posted to The Great 1965 Topps Project. Then I actually doubled back to update the Checklist page, and...there are 12 cards that I have in my possession that I've never scanned, written up, and posted to the blog. You'll have me to kick around for at least another month. Whoops! Still, this IS the last pesky high-series rookie card, courtesy of Max. It features one big league mainstay, two role players, and a cup-of-coffee guy. We've done worse with Rookie Stars player selection. So here goes.

Fun facts about Jim Lonborg:

-Jim was born in Santa Maria, CA, and signed with the Red Sox in 1963 after earning a biology degree at Stanford University.

-His high school teammate and good friend Mel Queen went on to pitch for the Reds and Angels, and also married Lonborg's sister.

-Jim jumped to the major leagues at age 23 in 1965 and took his lumps, putting up a 9-17 record and a 4.47 ERA.

-Lonborg came of age in Boston's 1967 "Impossible Dream" season, going 22-9 with a 3.16 ERA to tie former teammate Earl Wilson for the American League lead in wins. He also led the loop with 246 strikeouts en route to his lone All-Star berth, a sixth-place finish in MVP voting, and a near-unanimous selection as AL Cy Young Award winner.

-He pitched to a 2.63 ERA in three starts in the 1967 World Series, shutting out the Cardinals in Game Two and outlasting Steve Carlton in Game Five before running out of gas in the decisive Game Seven.

-An offseason skiing accident in the winter of 1967-1968 caused severe ligament damage in Jim's left knee. He tried to rush back from surgery and wound up damaging his rotator cuff while compensating for the knee; he would never be as effective as he had been before these injuries.

-He was sent to Milwaukee in a 10-player deal after the 1971 season. After a solid year with the Brewers (14-12, 2.83 ERA, 107 ERA+), the righty was traded to the Phillies, this time in a seven-man swap. He would remain with Philly throughout the decade, winning 75 games in six-plus seasons and appearing in the NLCS in both 1976 and 1977.

-In parts of 15 seasons, "Lonnie" was 157-137 with a 3.86 ERA. He was selected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002.

-After hanging up his spikes, Jim matriculated from Tufts University Dental School. He has had his own dental practice in Hanover, MA since the mid-1980s.

-According to comedy writer and former baseball announcer Ken Levine, the photo of "Sam Malone" that hung above the bar on the popular sitcom "Cheers" was actually a photo of Lonborg. The character (played by Ted Danson) was a former Red Sox pitcher.

Fun facts about Mike Ryan:

-Haverhill, MA native Mike Ryan grew up as a Red Sox fan, then signed with the team as a teenager in 1960.

-After four years as a light-hitting, defensively-adept catcher in the Boston farm system, Mike got a one-game cup of coffee on October 3, 1964, going 1-for-3 with a two-run single and an intentional walk in a 7-0 Sox victory.

-Though Ryan hit just .159 in 33 games in 1965, he had two home runs at Tiger Stadium on May 2, 1965. It was only his second big league game; there would be 634 more, but never again did he homer twice in a game.

-He was traded to the Phillies prior to the 1968 season. As the team's primary catcher in 1969, Mike hit a career-best 12 home runs and drove in 44, but still had just a .204 batting average.

-Every dog has his day: Mike hit home runs off of Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Tom Seaver in 1969.

-Tim McCarver's arrival in Philadelphia pushed Ryan back to the bench, where he remained through the 1973 season. He was dealt to Pittsburgh in 1974, appeared in only 15 games, and retired at age 32.

-In parts of 11 seasons, Mike batted .193 with 28 home runs and 161 RBI. He also had a .991 fielding percentage and threw out 44% of would-be base stealers.

-Of all position players since 1930, only shortstop Ray Oyler (.175) had a lower batting average with at least 1,000 career at-bats than Ryan.

-He was a minor-league manager in the Pirates (1975-1976) and Phillies (1977-1978) organizations before becoming the Phils' major league bullpen coach in 1980, a position he held until retiring from the game in 1995.

-Mike lives with Suzanne, his wife of more than 40 years, in Wolfeboro, NH.

Fun facts about Bill Schlesinger:

-Bill was born in Cincinnati, OH, the son of a hardware store owner. During his childhood, several Reds players worked for his father in the offseason, including Gus Bell, Johnny Temple, Ted Kluszewski, and Roy McMillan.

-He actually never played organized baseball growing up, as he failed to make the cut both in high school and in college at the University of Cincinnati. However, his father's connections proved valuable, as Red Sox scout Denny Galehouse took a flyer on Schlesinger for a $1,000 signing bonus in 1963.

-Incredibly, Bill not only made the cut with Boston's New York/Penn League team in Wellsville, NY, but was named a league All-Star. His resume included a .341 average, a .624 slugging percentage, 31 doubles, and league-leading totals of 129 runs scored and 37 home runs. He even stole 18 bases.

-The Red Sox invited him to major league camp in 1965, and he went north with the team. He suspects that he was chosen over Jerry Moses because the latter was a more highly-regarded prospect and the team did not want to hinder his development.

-Indeed, the BoSox did not use Schlesinger in a game until May 4, 1965. He pinch hit for pitcher Dave Morehead leading off the sixth inning, and tapped a comebacker to Angels hurler Marcelino Lopez, who threw him out at first base. In his SABR biography, the player offers an amusing retelling of this experience, complete with a wipeout on the dugout steps and a weighted donut that would not come off of his bat.

-He had no way of knowing at the time, but that one inauspicious at-bat was to be Bill's lone major league experience. He was placed on waivers three days later and claimed by the Athletics.

-The outfielder wound up back in Boston's farm system twice more in his career. He also played in the Cubs and Phillies organizations.

-In August of 1969, Bill was to be promoted to the major leagues by the Phillies, but was hit in the face by a Larry Sherry pitch while still at AAA. He couldn't see at all for a few days afterward, and ultimately lost 40% of his vision. He finally retired in the spring of 1971 after the Pirates sent him home from their camp.

-He returned home to Cincinnati and inherited Pleasant Ridge Hardware when his father passed away in 1972.

-Bill ended up playing slow-pitch softball for 25 years, and is in the Greater Cincinnati Softball Hall of Fame.

Fun facts about Jerry Moses:

-A native of Yazoo City, MS, Jerry turned down a football scholarship from Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama and signed with the Red Sox for a $50,000 bonus in 1964.

-His father Sammy was a baseball scout for 25 years, working for the Pirates, Angels, and Dodgers.

-Bonus baby rules did force Boston to put Moses on the big league roster for three months in 1965. He had just four pinch-hit appearances all year, but the second of those came on May 25, 1965. That day, the rookie hit a booming home run off of Minnesota's Jim "Mudcat" Grant, who would win 21 games that season.

-After a six-game September cameo in 1968, Jerry shared catching duties in Beantown in 1969. In 53 games he hit .304 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI.

-His only career grand slam was the decisive blow in a 9-4 win over the Indians on April 20, 1969. The young catcher later doubled in an insurance run to give him a career-best 5 RBI on the day.

-He hit .278 with 14 doubles, 3 homers, and 23 RBI in the first half of the 1970 season to earn an All-Star nod. The catcher would finish with career highs of 92 games played, 18 doubles, 6 home runs, and 35 RBI while batting .263.

-The Red Sox traded Moses to the Angels in October of 1970, and he played for seven teams over the final six years of his career. The others were the Indians, Yankees, Tigers, Padres, and White Sox. In between, he was also the property of the Mets for a few months.

-Jerry retired after the White Sox released him in late 1975, looking for more economic security than a backup catcher could get in those days. In parts of nine seasons, he batted .251 with 25 home runs and 109 RBI.

-Though Moses hit only 25 career homers, he victimized two pitchers twice, and both were famous for giving up moon shots: Al Downing (who served up Hank Aaron's 715th in 1974) and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven (who set a single-season record by surrendering 50 HR in 1986).

-These days, Jerry enjoys golfing, coaching, watching the New England Patriots, and spending time with his six grandchildren.
#573 Red Sox Rookie Stars: Jim Lonborg, Mike Ryan, Bill Schlesinger, and Gerry Moses (back) photo lonborgrcb_zps86e0cb86.jpg