Tuesday, February 7, 2012

#327 - Tom Timmermann

This is Tom Timmermann's last card which means it's the only he one he had without the heavy dark-framed glasses that were omnipresent on all his other cards. So maybe it is fitting that his photo was taken on a dark day at Yankee Stadium. It took a long time for Tom to reach the top: he was 29 his rookie year. He had a streaky '73. After being traded to the Indians by Detroit early in the season he won his first game - ironically against the Tigers - lost a couple, and then went 6-1, eventually finishing with a pretty good record for a pretty poor team, despite an awfully high ERA. There wouldn't be too much of a follow-through, hence the final card thing, but at least the last run would have some drama.

Tom Timmermann grew up in Illinois where he attended and played ball at both a public and Catholic high school. From there he went to Southern Illinois University for a couple years until he was signed by the Tigers in '60. He had a good start that summer in D ball - 3-2 with a 1.61 ERA in nine starts - and in '61 went 15-6 with a 2.70 ERA in C ball for probably his best professional season. After nine wins in A ball the next year he spent a bunch of seasons mostly in the pen, moving between Double and Triple A. After pitching only 50 innings in '66 - he may have been hurt or off in the military - he moved up to Triple A Toledo the next two-and-a-half seasons. '67 and '68 were again mainly bullpen years with a few spot starts. In '69 he returned to the rotation and after a 9-2 start with a 2.41 ERA in eleven starts he made his debut up top that June.

Timmermann had a pretty good rookie year in '69, pitching relief and adding a save to his listed stats. In '70 a rough start got him moved to Triple A for a few games. But he returned strongly and his 27 saves not only led the team and ranked him high in the Fireman race, but also won him Tigers Man of the Year. In '71 new manager Billy Martin didn't like what he saw of Tom in spring training so Tom was moved to set-up guy and Fred Scherman took over the closer role. Then in '72 Billy took a turn on Tom and stuck him in the rotation and the result was pretty good ERA-wise. Tom wouldn't get any playoff action that year against Oakland and early in the '73 season when Martin was looking for a new reliever Tom was dealt to Cleveland with former Met Kevin Collins for Ed Farmer. After his streaky '73 Tom kicked off '74 for Cleveland 1-1 in four games but with an ERA above 5.00. He returned to the minors for some more work but the results there were about the same and he was done. He finished with a 35-35 record up top with a 3.78 ERA, eight complete games, two shutouts, and 35 saves. In the minors he was 75-58 with a 2.99 ERA.

Timmermann is another guy who has pretty much gone radio silent since his playing days. He returned to Illinois where there is a local sports writer - he actually works for the St. Louis Dispatch - with the same name, so perhaps they are related.

Topps seems to be reaching a bit with the second star bullet and the cartoon. Tom's first game was scoreless, but he only pitched a bit over an inning. I think part of the problem was that this was his first card without his extensive minor league statistics so they never had to fill the gap before.

Another double link and Sparky would manage in Detroit, but more than half a decade after Tom left. First for Sparky as manager:

1. Timmermann and Milt Wilcox '73 to '74 Indians;
2. Wilcox was managed by Anderson on the '70 to '71 Reds and the '79 to '85 Tigers.

Now for Sparky as a player:

1. Timmermann and Tony Taylor '71 to '73 Tigers;
2. Taylor and Robin Roberts '60 to '61 Phillies;
3. Roberts and Sparky Anderson '59 Phillies.

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