Friday, November 11, 2011

#274 - Fred Beene

This Yankee Stadium action shot is by far the best card of Fred Beene's career. In '75 he was airbrushed and in '73 he looked positively anorexic which really used to creep me out. You can see all his cards on a site I have linked to here which gives a very detailed accounting of his career and is a source for what follows. Back in '73 Fred is looking to unleash what appears to be a slider, which was pretty much his signature pitch.

Fred Beene was born and raised in Texas and after high school continued playing ball at Sam Houston State which he helped lead to the '63 NAIA championship. He was shortly thereafter signed by the Orioles and in '64 kicked off his career by going 11-5 with a 2.22 ERA in A ball with 102 strikeouts in 77 relief innings. Pretty good for a little guy. Then he would spend the next six seasons posting very good numbers - only once did his ERA exceed 3.00 - at Double and Triple A levels in the O's chain, peaking in '69 with a 15-7 record in the rotation with a 2.98 ERA at Triple A Rochester. But back then the Birds had a famously good rotation up top and Fred couldn't crack the Major League lineup and so late in '70 he was sent to the Padres with Enzo Hernandez, Tom Phoebus, and Al Severinsen for Pat Dobson and Tom Dukes, right after Fred was hurt throwing a slider in winter ball. When the '71 season began Fred was still damaged goods so early that year he was returned to the O's for whom he finished up the season at Triple A where his numbers improved as the season progressed. In early '72 he was sent to the Yankees for a minor leaguer named Dale Spier.

Beene would be slowly worked into the Yankee pitching regimen and would eventually put up very good numbers as a long guy out of the pen. In '72 he had three saves. Then in '73 he went undefeated while posting a great ERA and a save in 91 innings. In '74 he got off to another nice start - a 2.70 ERA with a save and ten strikeouts in ten innings - when he was part of a big trade to the Indians: he, along with Fritz Peterson, Tom Buskey, and Steve Kline for Dick Tidrow, Cecil Upshaw, and Chris Chambliss. While the trade would cement the other Yankees infield corner through a couple championships - Graig Nettles was stolen from Cleveland a year earlier - the trade at the time was hugely unpopular in the Yankee locker room. Fred's ERA would jump to almost 5.00 with Cleveland and after a bunch of time on the DL in '75 he would spend the rest of his career in the minors. In '76 he played for Toledo, Cleveland's Triple A club and then during '77 move to Oklahoma City, the Phillies' top team. In '78 and '79 he would have a combined 22-10 record for them as a spot starter and long guy and then retire. He finished with a record up top of 12-7 with eight saves and a 3.63 ERA. In the minors he went 117-78 with a 3.16 ERA.

After playing Fred was a pitching coach in the Mets' system for the '80 season. He then moved to scouting which he did for the Brewers from '81 to 2001. Since then he has been running a few retail centers back in Texas that specialize in fireworks.

This feels like one of those card backs for which Topps was itching for something to say, judging by the last star bullet. Here's a good one: in '65 Fred pitched in a game that went 27 innings, then the longest game on record. He threw 12 innings, giving up only one run in what would be a 2-1 win. That would make good copy.

Skipping the checklist card, Fred gets hooked up with Paul like this:

1. Beene and Bernie Allen '72 to '73 Yankees;
2. Allen and Paul Casanova '67 to '71 Senators.

Bernie Allen was an infielder who started for the Nats in the mid to late \Sixties and did back-up infield work for the Yankees in the early '70's. He made the Topps rookie team in '62.


  1. Not only is this card an awesome action shot, but it mentions Elmira on the back -- where I was born & raised. So I love this one!

  2. You're so right about his '73 card. When I saw his name as the next card on the checklist, the thought "skinny odd-looking guy" went through my head. That creeped me out when I was five.