Wednesday, January 25, 2012

#319 - Randy Hundley

The first thing that struck me while checking out the cards on this post is that the Randy of the regular card looks years younger - and tanner - than the Randy of the Traded card. That leads me to believe that this card photo was taken well before the '73 season, maybe around the same time Ron Santo's was. This Randy sure looks fit at Candlestick. He would have had to be. If this card is from the late Sixties, he would have been in the midst of a four-year run where he AVERAGED 152 games behind the plate. But Randy wasn't indestructible and by '73 his knees were toast. While he was an icon in Chicago, he just couldn't play that well any more. But the Twins needed someone to help corral their young pitching staff and the Cubs needed a catcher who could put up some innings, hence the trade. The Traded card is a bit glossy but I think the logo is done pretty well. It also looks like the photo is taken at Shea.

Randy Hundley came out of Virginia where he must have been a big deal because in 1960 he was signed by the Giants for about $110,000. Somehow avoiding the bonus baby rules, Randy went to D ball that year where he hit OK but fielded way better. That would be the theme the next couple years in C ball as well. Then in '63 he moved up to Double A and his offense took off as he hit .325 with 23 homers and 81 RBI's, all numbers up hugely from his norm. In '64 and '65 he settled into Triple A as his stats floated down to where they'd been. Both seasons he got very brief looks up top. But Tom Haller had a stranglehold on the catcher position and after the '65 season Randy and pitcher Bill Hands were traded to the Cubs for Lindy McDaniel and Don Landrum.

Chicago manager Leo Durocher, who engineered most of his trades, was the guy who got Hundley and he immediately made him a starter. Randy didn't disappoint, setting rookie records for games caught and home runs by a catcher. He also led the NL in assists and picked off 50 guys. All those numbers got him fourth place in NL ROY voting and a spot on the Topps team. In '67 he boosted his average 30 points and won a Gold Glove while making only four errors behind the plate, then a record. In '68 his average tanked but he set another record by catching in 160 games. Then in '69 he ramped things up early in the season as the Cubbies led the division, by keeping his average above .300 through mid-July. That helped him get his first All-Star nod but then his average dipped as his guys fell out of first. But that was just the prelude. In '70 Randly missed about half the season due first to bone chips in his hand and then a knee injury. Early in the '71 season he re-injured the knee so badly it required an operation that killed pretty much the entire season. He was able to return to the starting gig for the '72 and '73 seasons but with his knees now shot his average was embedded in the .220's and he was forced to make throwing adjustments that compromised his assist and pick-off totals.

In Minnesota Hundley only got into a few games during '74 and was released after the season. He was picked up by San Diego to back up Fred Kendall for '75 and then sold to the Cubs prior to the '76 season when he only got a few at bats. In '77 he was brought back as a bullpen coach, got into a game, and was released as a player. Randy ended his career with a .236 average, 82 homers, and 381 RBI's. He ranks in the top 100 in lifetime putouts and fielding percentage for catchers.

After coaching in '77 and '78 Hundley managed for three seasons in the Cubs system, posting a record of 193-213. Shortly thereafter he basically invented the fantasy baseball camp. He is still at it, running one back in the Cubbies' fold.

All of Randy's bullets and the cartoon focus on his four big seasons. He's got some first name. I guess you didn't take that one public unless you bashed a bunch of dingers. Like Mr. Fielder, Randy had a son that played. Todd Hundley also caught and had some pretty big seasons for the Mets in the Nineties.

The Traded card back gives us the normal expectations summary. Alas, it was not to be.

This hook-up gets a big help from a league-shifting Hall of Famer:

1. Hundley and Fergie Jenkins '66 to '73 Cubs;
2. Jenkins and Toby Harrah '74 to '75 Rangers;
3. Harrah and Jim Merritt '73 to '75 Rangers.

1 comment:

  1. The regular card was likely taken in 1973. That was the first year the Cubs wore the solid V-Neck collar Uni's on the road.