Saturday, August 13, 2011

#224 - Roger Metzger

This is the first time we have had two action shots in a row in a mighty long spell. Here Roger Metzger looks like he is taking a sign from the dugout before he steps in. That's Dave Rader behind the plate and I assume a ballboy in the background. It's a busy sunny day at Candlestick which leads me to believe it is early in the season when these two teams were in contention.  Roger wasn't much of a hitter but he was fast, and in '73 he led MLB in triples for the second time in three years, picked up a Gold Glove, and was named team MVP. Roger has a mouth full of something which I assume is chaw. If so he is the first guy in the set noticeably displaying chewing tobacco. And boy is he skinny. I went about 5'11" and 150 when I played which would be smaller than Roger here. That must have been nasty.

Roger Metzger played ball growing up in Fredericksburg Texas and then attended St. Edward's University in Austin where he was an All-American shortstop his senior year. There he got a degree in math which he would later use. He was drafted by the Cubs as a first rounder in '69 and finished out the year at Triple A Tacoma, helping that team to the league title. After a full season at Tacoma in '70 during which he pulled his average up over 30 points, he got into a game up top for Chicago. After the season he went to Houston for utility infielder Hector Torres.

Metzger was immediately named the starting shortstop for the Astros, pushing incumbent Denis Menke to the infield corners. Roger would be a classic good-field no-hit guy, turning very acrobatic double plays. In his rookie year he would hit .235 and lead the NL in triples, securing a place on Baseball Digest's rookie all-star team (Chris Speier was on the Topps one). He then put up the most at bats of his career in '72 before having perhaps his best all-around season in '73. He would continue as the Houston starter the next three seasons. In '77 Roger would still get the bulk of playing time at short but Alex Gonzales, a better-hitting rookie, put in a bunch of time and the club had hot - or so they thought - Mike Fischlin in the wings. In mid-78 Roger was sold to the Giants.

For San Francisco over the next season-and-a-half Metzger would post his highest averages, hitting in the mid-.250's while continuing to play excellent defense. He would finish up '78 as the primary guy and then in '79 split time with Johnny LeMaster. Then in the '79 off-season Roger had a horrible accident at home, slicing off parts of four fingers while building a treehouse for his sons. He came to camp anyway and hit over .300 that spring. But when the '80 season got underway he really couldn't establish a groove and after his release that August he retired. Roger hit .231 for his career, with 71 triples, 453 runs scored, and two fielding titles.

Metzger would finish out '80 as a coach for the Giants and then return to Texas where he ran a store with his wife for a bunch of years and also taught math at a local high school. He then moved on and became head of procurement for the Brenham State School, a position he still holds.

Lots of props for Roger's defense in the star bullets and the cartoon. He is one of the few guys in this set who used his degree after playing, although there have been some other good ones, Mike Marshall and Garry Maddox two of the most productive.

This one will have to be all-NL:

1. Metzger and Vic Harris '78 Giants;
2. Harris and Jeff Burroughs '72 to '73 Rangers.

Or not.

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