Tuesday, June 19, 2012

#383 - Philadelphia Phillies/Phillies Team Records

Ah, another team card. That means another gigantic post which delayed things a bit. Here we have the 1973 version of the Phillies. The year was certainly no bell-ringer for the team as they were pretty much the only NL East bunch not in the run for the division. The Phillies went 71-91 in ’73, no great shakes, but it was an uptick to ’72 when only Steve Carlton saved them from breaking the Mets record for futility. New outfielder Del Unser got off to a hot start and early in the season was 100 points over his career average. So did Bill Robinson who was beginning to resuscitate his career. And the Phillies had a good young base: Bob Boone, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski, and Larry Bowa were forming a great nucleus for future division-winners. Wayne Twitchell and Dick Ruthven had a lot of potential in the rotation. They beat Atlanta in a 20-inning game and new pitcher Ken Brett hit four homers in four consecutive starts. But a host of injuries – Bill Robinson broke a thumb, Bowa a leg, and Ruthven got mono – arrested any sustained good fortune. Both Bowa and Cesar Tovar asked to be traded, and they again finished in last place. Poor Danny Ozark must have been getting frustrated. But Dave Cash would prove to be an excellent pick-up and the young guys would get rolling in ’74 so it wouldn’t be long before they were contenders.
Regarding commentary on this card, I will say the photo is nice in that every player is pretty clear. But it looks like it was taken in the darkest and most depressing part of the stadium. And the hair invites a comment: just about everyone has a part on the left side but look at that head of hair on top of Ray Rippelmeyer (number 4 in the first row). What a great advertisement for a buzz cut.

On the checklist front we get pretty good representation position-wise. Lots of long signatures and only one – Cash – by a guy not with the team in ’73. These guys all have style. Every signer looks like he really paid attention in penmanship class.

Lots of bios coming so let’s get to it:

Johnny Callison was born in Oklahoma and moved to California as a kid. He was signed by the White Sox in ’57 out of high school. After ripping through a season of C ball that summer he jumped to Triple A where the damage was nearly as high. After another excellent season at that level in ’59 he came up to Chicago for good later that season and put in some time for the AL champs in the outfield, but didn’t hit terribly well. After the season he got sent to the Phillies for Gene Freese. Johnny had a gun for an arm and after moving around all three outfield spots his first few seasons he settled into right field in ’62 where he put up his first big season, hitting .300 with 23 homers, 107 runs, and 83 RBIs, as well as an NL-leading ten triples. He would peak in the big year of ’64 where despite the big fade he hit .274 with 31 homers, 101 runs, and 104 RBI’s to finish second in MVP voting. After peaking the next season with 16 triples and 32 homers, his power numbers shrunk significantly the next four seasons as the best he could muster was 16 homers and 64 RBI’s. After the ’69 season he went to the Cubs for Oscar Gamble and Dick Selma. After a pretty good ’70 his numbers tanked the next season and he went to the Yankees for Jack Aker. His average bounced a bunch in ’72 as he split time in right with Ron Swoboda and Rusty Torres. Then in ’73 NY acquired Matty Alou so Johnny’s time in the field declined significantly as did his average. He was released that August after putting up a lifetime .264 with 226 homers and 840 RBI’s. In fielding he is 22nd all-time for right fielders in putouts and eighth in assists. Johnny’s health declined fast from when he was about 30 on – check out his ’73 card vs his ’70 one – and before he was 50 he suffered from bleeding ulcers and had a heart attack. He also moved around a bunch professionally, selling cars, real estate, and working as a bartender. He eventually got a pacemaker and finally succumbed to lung cancer in 2006 at age 67.

Richie Ashburn was another mid-western kid, he from Nebraska. Signed by the Phillies in ’45 he switched from catcher to outfielder and sandwiched two excellent seasons in A ball – combined average .342 – around a year in the military in ’46. In ’48 he had a great rookie season and finished third in ROY voting to Al Dark and Gene Beardon, who won 20 games. That year he set the model for what would be his career: lots of singles, pretty high average and OBA, and excellent defensive work. In the Whiz Kid season of ’50 he hit .303 with an MLB-leading 14 triples. He would spend twelve seasons in Philly during which he averaged .311 with a .394 OBA and 185 hits while making four All-Star teams. He led the NL in average twice, hits three times, walks three times, and triples twice. After the ’59 season he got sent to the Cubs, ironically for Al Dark and a couple other guys. In Chicago he had another NL-leading season in walks and OBA in ’60 before his playing time decreased a bit the following year. After that season he was sold to the Mets and was that team’s first All-Star selection its initial year, hitting .306. But Richie didn’t dig losing three-quarters of his games so he retired after the season. He finished with a .308 average with 2,574 hits and a .396 OBA. He hit .176 in his four Series games. He is second all time in putouts in center field and seventh in assists. He immediately moved into broadcasting for the Phillies which he did from ’63 to 2007. In 1995 he was elected to the Hall by the Veterans Committee. He had a heart attack after a game against the Mets his last year and shortly thereafter passed away. He was 70.

Granny Hamner was a contemporary of Richie Ashburn’s. He was signed by the Phillies out of Virginia and went straight to the majors at age 17. After some token at bats that summer he returned to the minors and pretty much followed Ashburn’s path – ’45 and ’47 in A ball surrounding a year-plus in the service. He too came up in ’48 and that year played primarily second before settling in as the starting shortstop the next four seasons. A pretty good hitter and fielder, he had some decent power for a middle infielder. In the ’50 Series he hit .429. In ’52 he was an All-Star, a status he maintained the next two seasons even though he switched to second base in ’53 (he became the first player to start at two different positions in the game). In ’53 he put up his biggest power numbers with 21 homers and 92 RBI’s and in ’54 he topped out with a .299 average. Suffering a back injury in ’55 his power went south pretty big that season and in ’58 he busted up his knee which pretty much killed his career as a fielder. Early in ’59 he was sent to Cleveland for whom he barely played the rest of the season. After being released at the end of that year he hooked up with the Yankees and for them he played a bunch of games at third for his home-town team Richmond, their Triple A club. In ’61 he moved to KC where for them he played nearly the whole infield, managed, and pitched – he began fooling around with a knuckle ball in ’56 – for an A league team. In ’62 he continued to manage and exclusively pitched – those two seasons he went a combined 15-8 with a 2.60 ERA in 245 innings – until he was briefly called all the way up to throw a couple innings for the A’s. That ended his time as a player and he finished with a .262 average with 104 homers and 708 RBI’s, along with over 1,500 hits. As a pitcher he was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in 13 innings. He was excellent in the clutch with an over-.300 average with runners in scoring position. He returned to Philly the rest of his career where he was a scout, coach, and manager (’76-’77 and ’88) in their system. He was 240-315 as a manager. He was attending a card show during the ’93 playoff drive in Philadelphia when he passed away from a heart attack. He was 66.

Chuck Klein came out of Indianapolis where he pitched and played the outfield in high school. He then went to work in a steel mill and began playing company ball. Spotted in ’27 he signed with Evansville of the independent Triple I (Indiana/Iowa/Illinois) League for whom he hit .327 in a few games before breaking his ankle. He was then sold to Fort Wayne, a B team affiliated with the Cards, and hit .331 with 26 homers in 359 at bats. The team was then moved to the Philly system and Chuck joined the Phillies the summer of ’28 and hit .360 in 64 games. He then went on a five-year tear that has rarely been matched, averaging .360 with 36 homers, 131 runs, 224 hits, 46 doubles, 138 RBI’s, and a .415 OBA. During that time he led the NL in runs three times; hits, doubles, and RBI’s  twice; homers four times; and even stolen bases once. He won an MVP award, finished second twice, and was a triple crown winner in ’33. But he was one of the only stars on the team and after the ’33 season he was traded to the Cubs in part to raise some cash. Due to a hamstring problem and outside the cozy confines of The Baker Bowl – the rightfield line was only 280 feet – his numbers came in quite a bit. After averaging .297 with 19 homers and 75 RBI’s in a bit over two seasons with the Cubs he returned in ’36 to the Phillies. This time around he hit well over .300 his first couple seasons but his power numbers continued to slide. After a short stop with Pittsburgh in ’39 he came back to Philly for a final round, this time barely cracking .200 and stayed there until he was done in ’44. Chuck finished with a .320 average with 300 homers, over 1,200 RBI’s, a .379 OBA, and 2,076 hits. He was also an excellent fielder and is sixth all-time in assists from right, including a record 44 in ’30. Chuck hit .333 with two RBI’s in the ’35 Series. He coached a bit his last couple years in Philly and then opened a bar near the stadium. His health declined pretty quickly, mostly due to drinking, and he suffered a stroke in ’47 from which he never really recovered. He also had a central nervous system illness and passed away in ’58 from a cerebral hemorrhage at 53. He was elected into the Hall in 1980.

Lefty O’Doul grew up in San Francisco where he pitched and played infield in high school. After he graduated he worked in a slaughterhouse and played company ball. He was signed by the independent San Francisco Seals of the PCL in 1917 and went a combined 8-6 for their A and Double A teams that summer. In ’18 he went 12-8 at the higher level and then served some time in the Navy at the end of WW I. He was picked up by the Yankees and spent all of ’19 and ’20 in NY where he only pitched in five games over the two seasons. He was optioned back to the Seals for ’21 and there went 25-9 with a 2.39 ERA. He then returned to NY, again barely played, and after the season was traded to the Red Sox in a deal that brought NY Joe Dugan. He went 1-1 with a 5.43 ERA in 23 games, including one in which he gave up 13 earned runs. Back in the minors in ’24 and with a hurt shoulder he decided to give up pitching and converted to the outfield. The next four seasons in the PCL he hit about .370 with some significant power. After the ’27 season he was drafted by the Giants and in ’28 for them hit .319 as the left fielder. In ’29 he went to the Phillies and had two excellent seasons: .398 on a record 254 hits with 32 homers, 152 runs, and 122 RBI’s in ’29; and .383 with 22 homers and 97 RBI’s in ’30. Like Chuck Klein he was traded to raise cash and the next two seasons hit .336 and .368 for Brooklyn. He split ’33 between the Dodgers and back with the Giants and then hit .316 for NY before being released – he was 37 – in ’34. That ended his time up top and in his short time as a hitter he hit .349 with 113 homers and a .413 OBA. He returned to the Seals after his release this time as a manager and over the next 23 years for them and other teams compiled a record of 2,094-1,970. After his final season in ’57 he retired to open a lounge restaurant in San Francisco which is still there. He passed away there at age 72 in 1969.

Elmer Flick played a bunch of sports while growing up in Bedford, Ohio. He began playing for the local semi-pro team while in high school and in 1896 signed with Youngstown, a C league team. After hitting .438 in a short season he moved to Dayton of the same league the next year and put up super numbers. He then signed with the Phillies in ’98 where he spent four seasons in the outfield, peaking in 1900 when he hit .367 with an MLB-leading 110 RBI’s. After the ’01 season he joined Nap Lajoie in jumping to the AL but shortly into the season they were banned from playing in PA so they both moved on to Cleveland. By ’04 he was hitting over .300 again and racking up triples and stolen bases, the next four seasons averaging 19 and 38 respectively. He led the AL three times in triples, twice in stolen bases and once in average. Then in ’08 his health declined due to an unspecified ailment and his numbers tanked as he hit about .255 in only 350 at bats the next three years. In ’11 he signed with Toledo, then a Double A team closer to home, hit .326 his first season, .262 his second and then retired. Up top he hit .313 with a .389 OBA, 164 triples, 756 RBI’s, and 330 stolen bases. After baseball he returned to Bedford where he farmed, raised horses, and got involved in all aspects of real estate. He was elected to the Hall in ’63 and passed away in ’71 at age 94.

Sherry Magee came from rural Pennsylvania and was signed by the Phillies after a year of local ball following high school. He went straight to the majors and became an outfield fixture for the next eleven seasons and during that time led the NL in RBI’s three times and runs, hits, doubles , and average once each. His best season was 1910 when he led the NL in runs (110), RBI’s (123), and a .331 average. He was a feisty guy and frequently got into fights with umpires. After the ’14 season he was traded to the Boston Braves where his average slumped the next two-plus years due to injuries. In mid-1917 he went to Cincinnati where he pulled his average up almost 65 points the rest of the year. He again led the NL in RBI’s in ’18 with 76 and was able to stick around in a reserve role the next season and get to his first Series (he went one for two against the Black Sox). He then moved to the minors where he hit .326 over the next seven seasons before retiring at 41. In the majors he hit .291 with 166 triples, 425 doubles, 83 homers, and 1,176 RBI’s. After he finished as a player he ironically returned to baseball as an umpire which he did for two seasons in the minors. In 1929 he caught pneumonia from which he passed away at age 44.

Jim Konstanty was from upstate NY and went to Syracuse where he played ball and earned a degree in physical education in 1939. After graduating he went to work near his hometown as a gym teacher and after a couple years signed with Springfield, an A team in the Eastern League. He went 4-19 as a starter and then late the next year – he continued to teach – moved to Syracuse, a Double A team in the Reds chain. There he picked up a bit during the war years of ’43-’44 – he went 16-18 with a 3.35 ERA - and made it to Cincy later that summer where he went 6-4 with a 2.80 ERA split between the rotation and the pen. In ’45 he enlisted for WW II and when he returned in ’46 he was traded to the Braves. After a quick exit after a couple games in Boston that season Jim was sold to Toronto of the International League, a team that pretty much changed affiliations on an annual basis. Over the next three seasons Jim refined his pitches and learned a new one – the palmball – while going 27-32 with a 3.75 ERA. By ’48 Toronto was in the Philly system and later that season Jim returned to the top to put together two good seasons of relief work. In ’50 it all came together as the Phillies won the pennant and Jim was their bullpen ace, going 16-7 with a 2.66 ERA and a then-record 22 saves, earning an All-Star nod and the NL MVP award. He then started the first Series game against the Yankees and put up good stats – 0-1 with a 2.40 ERA in three games – as Philly was shut out. Then ’51 was a pretty complete tunaround as he went 4-11 and saw his ERA balloon to 4.05. He remained in the Philly pen the next two-plus seasons – except ’53 when he also started a bunch of games – and late in ’54 went to the Yankees for the pennant drive, putting up excellent numbers though they were beat out by Cleveland. He had another nice year in ’55 – 7-2 with a 2.32 ERA and eleven saves – but got shut out of any Series action. He split '56 between NY and the Cards and was then done, going 66-48 with a 3.46 ERA, 14 complete games, two shutouts, and 74 saves. He then became a pitching coach in the Cards chain which he did through ’68 when he left to become athletic director at Hartwick College in NY. He also opened and ran a sporting goods store nearby. He did both until the early Seventies after which he retired. He passed away in ’76 in Oneonta, NY after a battle with cancer. He was 59.

Chick Fraser was born in Chicago in 1873 and played local ball after finishing high school there. In 1894 he went 12-18 with a high ERA for a couple Western League Class A teams and the next year went 26-23 at the same level with a much lower ERA. That season got him sold to Louisville, the old NL team, where for the next three seasons he pitched in the rotation. But he was pretty wild, twice leading the NL in wild pitches, and went a combined 34-63 with a high ERA before being traded to the Cleveland Spiders late in the season. After not improving there too much he was sold to the Phillies before the ’99 season and went on his best run, going 21-12 and 15-9 with an ERA of 3.28 the next two years. In ’01 he jumped to the A’s and went 22-16 but returned to the Phillies the following year. This time – despite throwing a no-hitter in ’03 – his record wasn’t as good, as he went a combined 38-54 the next three years. In ’05 he went to Boston where he lost 21 and in ’06 to Cincinnati where he lost 20, both despite better than league average ERA’s. In ’07 he went to the Cubs where as a spot starter the next two seasons he went 19-14 with a 2.28 ERA and won a Series ring the second year. He was released early in the ’09 season, finishing up top with a record of 175-212 with a 3.67 ERA, 342 complete games, 22 shutouts, and six saves. He hit 219 batters, threw 146 wild pitches, and walked a bunch more guys than he struck out. In ’09 he returned to his farm in Iowa to grow alfalfa and then in ’11 returned to play some minor league ball, first for New Orleans, and the next season for Decatur of the Three I League where he also managed. In ’13 he managed Pittsfield in the Pittsburgh system and then became a scout and sometime coach for the Pirates through 1930. He managed one more season in ’31 and then became a scout for the Dodgers and the Yankees. He was still at it in the late Thirties when he lost a leg to diabetes. He then became sick again with the disease and passed away in 1940 at age 66.

Robin Roberts was another kid from Illinois who would be a star on the Whiz Kids. Robin went to Michigan State on a hoops scholarship after he took a year off at the tail end of WWII. He too got a degree in physical education and excelled in basketball and eventually got pretty good in baseball as well after he moved to pitcher from the outfield. He also played summer ball in Vermont and was spotted there and signed with the Phillies in ’48. After a quick run-through in the minors – 9-1 with a 2.06 ERA in ten Class B games – he moved up to Philadelphia where he went 7-9 the rest of the summer in the rotation. After winning 15 in ’49 he took off the next year and through ’55 he won at least 20 every season, going a combined 138-78 during that time with an ERA around 3.00. He led the NL in starts every year, innings five times, complete games four times, and was an All-Star every season. His best year was ’52 when he went 28-7 with a 2.59 ERA and finished second in MVP voting. In ’56 he was again an All-Star and went 19-18 with an inflated ERA to lead the NL in losses. He did that again the next year when he went 10-22. He came back a bit the next three seasons, winning as much as 17, but then bottomed out in Philly in ’61 when he went 1-10. He was then sold to the Yankees who released him early in ’62 after never using him. By then Robin had been a player rep and was instrumental in bringing in Marvin Miller to advocate for the union so his releases may have been about more than just his pitching. He caught on with the Orioles and for them over three-plus seasons went 42-36 in the rotation with a 3.09 ERA. In mid-’65 he went to Houston where he went 5-2 with a 1.89 ERA the rest of the way. But ’66 wasn’t too hot and after going to the Cubs mid-year he was released. Robin finished with a record of 286-245 with a 3.41 ERA, 305 complete games, 45 shutouts, and 25 saves. He was a control specialist and only walked 900 batters in nearly 4,700 innings. After playing he worked in investment banking for a bunch of years and briefly did some radio work at a Philly station. In ’76, the year he was elected to the Hall, he became baseball coach at the University of South Florida, which he did through ’86. After that he pretty much retired to Florida where he played golf and attended card shows. He passed away there in 2010 at age 83.

Earl Moore went 22-11 for Dayton, a B league team in 1900 with whom he signed after playing local ball in and around Columbus, Ohio, where he grew up. Those numbers got him signed by Cleveland of the new American League in 1901. Earl was one of the team’s best pitchers the next couple years as he put up better than average ERA’s even though he walked more guys than he struck out with his bizarre sidearm delivery. In ’03 he had an excellent year, going 20-8 with an AL-best 1.74 ERA and more than twice as many K’s as walks. In ’04 and ’05 he was a roughly .500 pitcher with still excellent ERA’s but that stopped fast when early the next season he was nailed by a shot back to the mound, injuring his foot. Over the next two seasons he only went 4-8 in 20 games as the rehab was long and painful. Along the way he got traded to the Highlanders. Late in the ’07 season NY sold him to Jersey City, an A league team where he was able to revive things. He put up a 2.19 ERA the rest of that season and went 13-12 with a 2.46 ERA in ’08 before he was sold to the Phillies. For them late that summer Earl went 2-1 in three starts without giving up a run – since he started all his games I don’t know how he got the loss – and then put up two of his best seasons: 18-12 with a 2.10 ERA in ’09 and 22-15 with a 2.58 ERA and an NL-leading six shutouts and 185 strikeouts in ’10. In ’11 and ’12 his record deteriorated a bit though his ERA was still quite good and in ’13 he only got into a few games split between the Phillies and the Cubs. In ’14 he jumped to Buffalo of the Federal League where he went 11-15 his final season. In all Earl went 163-154 with a 2.78 ERA, 230 complete games, and 34 shutouts. He returned to Ohio after playing where he sold oil and real estate and passed away at age 84 in 1961.

Claude Passeau was one of a million kids born to a family in Mississippi. He attended local Millsaps College where he lettered all four years in football, basketball, baseball, and track. During college he also played summer ball in the States and in Mexico under assumed names. He could hum the ball pretty well and was signed by Detroit upon graduating in ’31. The next year he went 10-9 with a 1.92 ERA in a season split between D and B ball. In '33 his ERA popped a bit as he moved up a couple levels but he fixed that the next couple seasons as he went 12-11 with a 2.96 ERA and then 20-11 in A ball in ’35. But Detroit then released him and Pittsburgh picked him up and moved him to the top at the tail end of the season and then traded him to the Phillies. For them Claude would have a tough time in their tiny Baker Bowl and while he put up an NL-average ERA of 4.15 and led the NL in starts, innings, and strikeouts once each, he only went 38-55 during his time there. Early in the ’39 season he went to the Cubs for three guys and it was there Claude blossomed. He perfected his new slider pitch, won 20 his first full season, made four All-Star teams, and went a combined 124-94 over nine seasons with a 2.96 ERA. His crowning moment was a one-hit shutout he threw against Detroit in the ’45 Series. He played with the Cubs through ’47, did a season back in the minors the next year and was done. He finished with a record of 162-150 with a 3.32 ERA, 188 complete games, 26 shutouts, and 21 saves. He went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three Series games. After he finished playing he moved back to Mississippi where he had a business selling farm equipment. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 94.

So on the offensive side Topps does a very good job representing this team. Jose Pagan, the former Pirates infielder who finished things up with this team in ’73 is the only guy with more than a couple at bats without a card. Jose had 80 at bats backing up rookie Schmidt and is in the team photo, number 16 in the first row. Deron Johnson got some at bats before he left for Oakland, with whom he has a card. Deron is in the  fourth row, third from the right. On the pitching side, twelve decisions are missing, which is pretty good also. Ken Brett has a card with the Pirates. Those missing cards are: Bucky Brandon went 2-4 with a couple saves his last season (he would later teach Orel Hershiser how to pitch); Bill Wilson went 1-3 with four saves in what was also his final season; Dick Selma went 1-1 in only eight innings. All three are in the team photo: Brandon and Wilson are the third and fourth guys in the fourth row; Selma is the fifth guy in the second row.

Finally we get to the hookup. Let’s use the traded guy on the checklist card:

1. Greg Luzinski was on the ’73 Phillies;
2. Luzinski and Dave Cash ’74 to ’76 Phillies;
3. Cash and Bob Moose ’71 to ’73 Pirates.

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