Monday, September 20, 2010

#16 - Browns/Orioles Records

This is the first team photo card. It is also the last '73 playoff team represented by this set. For the team cards, I am doubling them up with the team checklists. Lots of smiles characterize the team picture and just about everybody is recognizable, which is rare. The mustaches of Tommy Davis and Earl Williams stand out, but the most prominent feature is the unibrow of Andy Etchebarren. That thing was amazing - he must have had one of the top ten eyebrows in baseball history. The empty Memorial Stadium looks a bit drab, but the grass is impressive. Maybe it is the grass upon which Tom Hilgendorf is kneeling a few cards back. The Orioles as a team in '73 were nearing the end of a streak which would get them to the playoffs/ World Series six times in nine years from '66 to '74. In '66 and '70 they won the whole ball of wax. The Birds were once again led by a fine pitching staff, though some of the older guys - namely Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally - were near the end of their runs. Excellent defense and some timely power also characterized the team though that last stat was moderated significantly from the team's better days. But the speed brought by new guys Al Bumbry and Rich Coggins did a lot to make up for that. Early in the season the Yankees gave them trouble but a 14-0 run during August pretty much decided things.

1974 was the second and, as far as I know final, year that Topps inserted unnumbered team checklist cards (in '73 they were blue) in packs. Alternatively one could send in for the whole set. The front of the cards, like the '73 ones, was a bunch of signatures from members of the team. On the O's card lots of signatures are by the guys who'd supplied a bunch of the team's recent success, both from the mound and offensively. There are two Hall of Fame guys in Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer. Boog Powell's signature is fittingly the biggest one. The back I will get to below.

The Baltimore Orioles had been the St. Louis Browns since the inception of the American League. They moved to Baltimore in 1954. St. Louis generally performed pretty woefully, almost always finishing in the bottom half of the league (then called the "second division"). Almost all the hitting records come from the Browns days. George Sisler is a Hall-of-Famer. Heine Manusch is another recognizable name. As for the rest of the guys:

Jack Tobin was an outfielder who grew up in St. Louis and then played local and semi-pro ball until discovered while installing telephone lines on poles in 1913 and that year went on to hit about .335 for the independent St. Louis Terriers. The next year that league morphed into the Federal League, a rebel league begun by some major leaguers as a protest to low salaries. Tobin led that league in at bats and with 184 hits in 1915, while also stealing 31 bases. At the end of that year with the folding of the league imminent, he was sold to the Browns, for whom in '16 he had a tough transitional year, hitting .213. So for the '17 season he went to Salt Lake City in the PCL and had a monster long season with 285 hits and a nearly-.500 OBA while hitting .331. Aftter a solid year back in St. Louis in '18 Jack got his mojo going as a starting outfielder and hitting well over .300 each of the next five seasons, peaking in '21 when he led the AL in at bats and triples with 18, while hitting .352 and scoring 132 runs. In '24 his average fell to .299 and in '25 Jack hit .301 as a reserve guy. He then went to Washington and Boston where he hit .310 in his final MLB season. He hit .309 for his career with a .364 OBA. He was a little guy, only 5'8", and almost never struck out, that big year of '21 doing so only 22 times. He played independent ball in '28. was a player-coach in the Browns system in '29. and managed a team in the independent Three I league in '30. He would also coach for the Browns from '44 to '51. Away from pro ball, he would run his own auto dealerships, work for a distillery, and in the early Fifties coach some semi-pro teams, all in the St. Louis area where he would reside until he passed away in '69 at 77.

Harlond Clift was the Brown third baseman from '34 to '43. He grew up in Yakima, Washington, where his folks had a big apple farm. Discovered while playing town ball in '32 he was signed by St. Louis and had a couple decent years in A ball before coming up in '34. In a very good rookie year he would post 100 strikeouts, the only season they would exceed his walks. Harlond would become sort of a prototypical power-hitting third baseman and post pretty fat OBA's. He scored all his runs from the top of the line-up where he was placed to take advantage of his ability to get on base. In '37 he was moved to the heart of the order and the next two years would be his biggest with a .306/29/118 line with 103 runs and a .413 OBA ('37, his All-Star year); and a .290/34/118/119/.423 in '38. The next three seasons he averaged a line of .266/17/85 but maintained an elevated OBA before his power died a bunch in '42 and really crashed the following year, during which he was traded to DC for the stretch run.Harlond would remain with the Nats through '45, missing St. Louis' only pennant season the prior year. He finished with a .272 average with 178 homers and 829 RBI's His lifetime OBA was .390 and he finished in the top 30 for third base assists, putouts, and double plays. In '46 and '47 he played for Yakima, a B league affiliate of Pittsburgh and managed the second year. After a few years of scouting for Detroit he returned to Yakima to run the apple farm he inherited from his parents. But after some tough times he ended up losing the farm, became a widower, and was living alone in a trailer by the early Eighties. He passed away in '92 at 79. His nickname was "Darkie." I'm not touching that one.

George Sisler was always a big deal in baseball, from his Ohio high school to his years at the University of Michigan, where his coach was Branch Rickey. Back then George split his time between pitching and the outfield and he excelled at both at Michigan, where he ran into some trouble - the Pirates claimed they signed him while in high school - and left after his junior season, signed by the Browns, whose manager was Branch Rickey. George moved right to MLB that spring of 1915 and went 4-4 with a 2.83 ERA and also hit .285. In '16 he would come out strong at the plate so that year he moved primarily to first, pitched much less - he would pitch rarely from then on - and hit .305. The next six seasons would be the biggest of George's career as he averaged .377 with nine homers, 84 RBI's, 104 runs, 40 stolen bases, and only 19 strikeouts. The year with all the hits he also led the AL with a .407 average and topped out with 137 runs and 122 RBI's. His MVP season of '22 was his best with that fat average, AL-leading 134 runs, 246 hits, 18 triples, and 51 stolen bases, and a .467 OBA. In '23 George had a nasty sinus infection that impacted his vision and forced him to sit out the season. He returned in '24, also became manager, and posted some very good years through '27, though their averages - .317 with eight homers, 88 RBI's, 90 runs, and 17 stolen bases - were a marked discount to his ones pre-injury. He was sold to DC following the '27 season and then flipped early in '28 to the Braves for whom he continued to hit over .300 through '30, his final MLB season. George finished with a .340 average with 102 homers and 1,178 RBI's, a .379 OBA, and 375 stolen bases. He managed the Browns for three seasons, going 218-241, a pretty good run for that team. George was sold to the Cards after the '30 season and for them put in two years in the minors, one as a manager. He then founded a sporting goods company and became very involved in softball. In '42 he rejoined Rickey and became a coach/scout for the Dodgers ('42-'50) and the Pirates ('51-'73). He was elected to the Hall in '39 and passed away in '73 at 80 in St. Louis.

Roy Bell was a Texas kid all the way, going to Texas A&M after growing up in Bellville.and then playing some local ball. Roy's nickname was Beau, although I do not think he was related to the current NFL linebacker Beau Bell. Beau graduated A&M in '31and then spent the next four years in Galveston, an A league team, where he had a big '34, hitting .337 with 51 doubles, numbers that got him signed by St. Louis. After a half season during which he hit .366 for the Browns' A club, he came up top and hit .250 the remainder of the year. An outfielder, he then exploded in '36 and '37: a .344/11/123 line with a .403 OBA the first year followed by a line of .340/14/117/.391 line in '37. That second year was his All-Star season and he led the AL with his doubles and 218 hits. In '38 he hit 13 homers with 84 RBI's but his average fell to .262. He then had a very discounted '39 during which he was traded to Detroit, a one-year revival for Cleveland in '40, and a final season in '41 for the Tribe as a player/coach. Overall he hit .297 with 165 doubles, 46 homers, and 437 RBI's, He played a year of Double A ball for the Browns in '42 and had a big year in B ball - .346/11/111 - in '47 while managing the team to a 55-99 record. From '51 to '58 he coached his alma mater to a 98-104-1 record and two league championships. He remained at A&M where he worked on the physical plant until he retired before passing away in '77 at age 70.

Heinie Manush was of German extraction out of the deep south, he from Alabama. He grew up in a very competitive family, was a local sports star, and signed with a PCL team in 1920 when he was 18. After barely playing that year he moved to a Candian B team, where he hit well, in '21 and then in '22 to an A team in Omaha where his .376 average got him signed by Detroit.Heinie came up immediately with the Tigers as a starting outfielder, came under the tutelage of fellow southerner Ty Cobb, and became a decent line drive hitter. In '26 it all came home when he had a monster year with an AL-leading .376 and 86 RBI's. But the next year Cobb left the team. Heinie's average fell to .298, and he after the season he was traded to the Browns. In '28 he had his biggest season, along with the big triples number hitting .378 with 108 RBI's, and leading the AL with 241 hits and 47 doubles. After another big year in '29 Heinie was off to a similar start in '30 when he was traded mid-year to DC for his buddy Goose Goslin. Heinie would continue his fine run for the Senators, topping out in runs (121 in '32) and RBI's (116 in '32 as well) and in the Series year of '33 again lead the AL with 221 hits and 17 triples. '34 was his All-Star year but in '35 his numbers faded a bunch and after some trades he was a regular in '36 for the Red Sox and in '37 for Brooklyn. He would then play sparingly up top until he finished things up with Pittsburgh in '39, ending with .330 average with 2,524 hits, 491 doubles, 160 triples, 110 homers, and 1,183 RBI's. In the post-season he hit .111 in five games. Heine would continue to play in the minors a bit and from '40 to '45 would manage there as well, mostly in the Boston system. He would then scout and coach at bit for Pittsburgh, DC, and finally the new Senators, which he did through '62. He was admitted to the Hall in '64 and pass away from cancer in '71 when he was 69.

Ken Williams grew up in Oregon where he quit school after eight grade to work and play local semi-pro ball. He was signed at age 22 to a Canadian independent team and played north in 1913 and '14, hitting relatively well at what were D level franchises. He moved to tThe States and B ball for Spokane in '15 and after hitting .340 the first half of the season joined the Reds outfield as Cincinnati had an affiliation with Spokane then. After hitting .242 in the second half  and barely playing to open the '16 season he spent the balance of that  year and all of '17 in the minors (where he hit .313 in the PCL) before missing all the '18 season to WW I. He was then signed by the Browns during the '19 season, became the starting center fielder, and at age 29 he did well, averaging well over .300 with an over .400 OBA. He hit .307 the next year and in '21 took off as a power guy and over the next five years would average a .339/27/110 line, despite missing time to injury, particularly in '24 and then in '25 when he was horribly beaned. '22 was his biggest year and along with leading the AL in RBI's he also led it with 39 homers, becoming the first guy to put up the 30 homer/30 stolen base duo and the first guy to hit over 30 out while compiling less strikeouts (31) than homers. That '25 beaning impacted Ken's '26 as well and thereafter his power came in a bit though he continued with the good averages. He remained with the Browns through '27 and then went to the Red Sox where he hit .303 in '28 and was having a bang-up start to the '29 season at age 39 - he was hitting .345 - when he collided on a play, broke his skull, and was done as a player up top. Ken finished with a .319 average with 196 homers, 916 RBI's, and a .393 OBA. He returned to Oregon and played a couple years for Portland's PCL team. He then returned to his hometown of Grants Pass, where he worked as a cop and owned a billiards parlor. He passed away in '59 at age 68 from heart disease. All the above guys have SABR bios and all of them rarely struck out.

On the pitching side, McNally, Barber and Stu Miller are the only "new" guys, which I find surprising. Here are backgrounds:

Stu Miller did not play high school ball while growing up in Massachusetts and right after school joined the Navy for a long hitch. When he got out in '49 he tried out for the Cards on a whim and was signed on the spot. After a rough start that year he won 16 in D ball in '50, 13 in B ball in '51, and was 11-5 in Triple A in '52 before being called up to St. Louis. That year he had a great short rookie season, going 6-3 with a 2.05 ERA and two shutouts. But his next few seasons up top were not very good and in ''54 and exclusively in '55 - when he won 17 - he spent time back in Triple A.In the midst of a not great '56 he was traded to the Phillies and after that season to the Giants. After a '57 start in Triple A he moved up for good, threw better in NY that year and posted an NL-leading 2.47 ERA in '58. He put in a couple more years as a spot guy and then in '61 moved to the pen exclusively and had a big year , going 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA and 17 saves. That year was his All-Star one and in the game Stu was famously blown off the mound by a gust of wind. He was also named Fireman of the Year. After 19 saves and some post-season action in '62 he went to the Birds before the '63 season. He pitched very well for them the next five seasons, particularly in '63 when he had a 2.24 ERA, 27 saves, and his AL-leading games total to get his second FOY award; and in '65 when he went 14-7 with a 1.89 ERA and 24 saves. He saw no time in the '66 Series because the starters were so damn good. After another good season in Baltimore he finished out his career with Atlanta in '68. Stu went 105-103 with a 3.24 ERA, 24 complete games, five shutouts, and 153 saves and in the post-season threw shutout ball in two games. After playing he returned to the SF area where he owned a liquor store.

Jack Powell grew up in Illinois, dropped out of school early, and played local ball until 1897 when he was signed by the Cleveland Spiders of the NL where he played alongside Cy Young. That year he won 15 and then 23 in '98 when he led the NL with six shutouts and '99 when he had 40 complete games in the year the Spiders merged with the Cardinals. Young left the team and its fortunes declined a bit as Jack won 36 over the next two years with a higher ERA. In 1902 he jumped to the Browns and that year won 22 before posting a losing record in '03 - though with a better ERA - and then being traded to the Highlanders. In '04 for NY he again won 23 and then late in '05 he returned to the Browns just in time to be part of a bunch of second division teams. Jack would remain in St. Louis through his final season in 1912. most of that time posting losing records and leading the AL with 19 losses in 1911. But during that time he also put up a 1.77 ERA one year and a 2.11 ERA two years. He finished with a record of 245-254 with a 2.97 ERA - a bit of a premium to league average in the deadball era - with 422 complete games, 46 shutouts, and 15 saves. A good hitter, he batted .192 with 124 RBI's. While playing he'd purchased a saloon in the Chicago area which he continued to run after done playing. He passed away in Hillside, Illinois in '44 at age 70.

Urban Shocker is a name with which many old-time Yankee fans are familiar. He played on the 1927 team called Murderer's Row. He was also born and raised in the midwest, he in Ohio, where he played semi-pro ball until he signed in 1912 with a Canadian team as a catcher. After injuring his hand he moved to pitching and in '14 and '15 won 20 and 19 up there in B ball with excellent ERA's. In '16 he moved to a Double A team, won 15, and was signed by the Yankees for whom he went a combined 12-8 the next two years in a spot role. Prior to the '18 season he was traded to the Browns for which he again did spot work before being called into WW I duty in France. He returned to St. Louis during the next season, won 13 in the rotation, and then went on a roll, winning at least 20 each of the next four seasons. His biggest years were '21, when he led the AL in wins, and '22 when he went 24-17 with a 2.97 ERA and led the AL with 149 strikeouts. After a discounted '24, he was traded back to NY where a .500 season his first year was followed by 19 wins in '26 and 18 in '27. By then he'd had a known heart condition which would get him released - that was nice - shortly into the '28 season and from which he would pass away later that year at 38. Shocker went 187-117 with a 3.17 ERA, 200 complete games, 28 shutouts, and 25 saves. In the post-season he went 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in two games in the '26 Series. Another good hitter, Urban hit .209 with 70 RBI's and a .334 OBA during his MLB time.

Fred Glade - nickname "Lucky" - pitched a few years around the turn of the last century. He came from a pretty wealthy family - his dad owned some milling businesses - in Iowa so he played ball sporadically for the nearby Grand Island club. He signed with a C team in Texas in 1898, hit .364 as an outfielder, and went 3-2 on the hill. The next three years he stayed close to home for a couple B teams, winning 13 in '99 and apparently leading his league in strikeouts in 1900. Fred was super fast and had a motion in which he turned his back to the batter, like Luis Tiant. His K totals got him signed by the Cubs in '02 and after just a couple innings for Chicago he spent most of that season and all of '03 in A ball. At least when he played he did; Fred was often running out on his teams to go back to the mills where he was by then a manager and paid a lot more than he was to pitch. At the end of that stint he was drafted by the Browns and in '04 had a nice rookie year, going 18-15 with a 2.27 ERA. But then '05 just sucked for him as he went 6-25 to lead the AL in losses. Two winning seasons in St. Louis followed and then Fred asked to be traded. He went to the Highlanders, threw a few games, and then was done. he finished 52-68 with a 2.62 ERA, 107 complete games, 14 shutouts, and two saves. He returned full-time to the milling business which he took over after his dad died in 1910. That business would become ConAgra Foods in 1971 so when Fred passed away in '34 at age 58, he died a rich man.

Alvin Crowder - the "General" - was from North Carolina. He quit school in fifth grade to work on the family farm and by age 14 was playing company ball while working for RJ Reynolds. In 1919 when he was 20 he enlisted in the Army, traveled the world, and played Army ball where he was discovered in Signed to a PCL team that year he did middling work the next few seasons until '26, when he went 17-4 for an A team and was then sold to the Senators. By then given his nickname for his service work, he had a decent rookie year as a spot guy and then in '27 was traded to the Browns during a not great sophomore year. But '28 went well as The General went 21-5 to lead the AL in win percentage. He followed that with some decent numbers until a mid-season trade - with Heinie Manush for Goose Goslin - took him back to DC. This time with the Nats he would have his best run, winning 18, 26, and 24 games the next three seasons. Off to a crappy start in '34 he went to Detroit where he had a 5-1 stretch run and then pitched well in the Series. In '35 he won 16 and then a Series game. By '36 he had big arm problems and later that year was released, finishing his MLB time with a record of 167-115 with a 4.12 ERA, 150 complete games, 16 shutouts, and 22 saves. He was 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA in his five Series games. After playing his immediate mission was to return a minor league team to the Winston-Salem area, which he did, and was involved in all levels of its administration until he sold it in '39. He then continued in various duties for the team and had stakes in other local businesses, including real estate, grocery stores, and a bowling alley. He passed away in '72 from heart disease. He was 73.

Bobo Newsom pitched for everyone in the first half of the 20th century. A colorful guy, he was born in South Carolina, played baseball in high school and prep school, and signed with a local C team in 1928, when he was 20. He could never remember anyone's name so he called everyone Bobo, hence his nickname. He threw some good ball in the minors, had a few nasty innings up top the next few years for Brooklyn and the Cubs and then in '33 had a huge PCL season, going 30-11. Those numbers got him drafted by the Browns for whom he lost 20 in '34. He then moved to DC - where he won 17 in '36 - to the Red Sox, and back to St. Louis where along with all those walks in '38 he somehow won 20 while posting an ERA of 5.06, which was about league average. That would kick off Bobo's best career run as he won 20 again in '39, despite a mid-season trade to Detroit, and then posted his best season in the Series year of '40, when he went 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA. In '41 the Tigers were killed by losing players to the war and Bobo lost 20 again and thereafter moved around a ton, mostly to poor teams, though he managed to get to the Series again in '47 with the Yankees. He would pitch in four decades up top and his travels took him to St. Louis three times and DC five times. Bobo would pitch through '53, when he was 45, and finish with a record of 211-222 with a 3.98 ERA - a pretty good premium to league average when he pitched - 246 complete games, 31 shutouts, and 21 saves. He and Jack Powell, listed above, are the only two pitchers with greater than 200 wins that have losing records. They both pitched for the Browns which says something about the team. In the post-season Bobo went 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA and a shutout in his five games. Bobo owned and ran a drive-in diner in Florida after he played and passed away there from liver disease in '62 at age 55.

I didn't even know Rube Waddell pitched for the Browns, but here he is. He is the Hall-of-Famer famous for being a bit of a boob by watching airplanes fly overhead or running to watch a fire engine during games. He went 19-14 with that fine ERA his first season with St. Louis. Since this post is so long, Rube will have his bio posted on the Oakland site.

The back of the checklist cards has the team roster per the Topps set. It also has a drawing of a handsome fellow in the upper left holding the smallest baseball I have ever seen. The checklist cards were not numbered as they were an addendum to the regular set. The other added set WAS numbered and we will get to it in a few cards.

Per my first post, I am stealing an idea from another blog, that of tallying up the players represented by the set. The model comes from the '75 blog. Baltimore was such a well-run organization back then that there were very few peripheral players. For the pitchers, every decision is represented by a card, with one player, Orlando Pena, having a card on another team, St. Louis. On the player side, Elrod Hendricks with 101 at bats and Enos Cabell, with 47 are the only guys that got decent playing time missing. Both are in the team shot. Cabell is the fouth guy in from the left in the top row and Hendricks is the smiling guy right below him.

Finally, the degrees of separation exercise gets changed a bit. Let's see how Joe Torre gets linked to the '73 Orioles team (the avenue was hinted at above):

1. Torre and Orlando Pena '73 Cardinals;
2. Pena and the '73 Orioles.

1 comment:

  1. The 1974 Topps set had my favorite team cards. They also did the team checklists right.