Monday, July 2, 2012

#392 - Dick Green

Dick Green keeps us in the AL and brings back the action shot. Here he turns the pivot as Ben Oglivie of Boston slides in a tad late. By the time this card came out Dick had retired – again – and then un-retired because new Oakland manager Al Dark talked him into playing again. Good thing, too, because Dick’s glove did some Series magic against the Dodgers. But back in ’73 things were both good and bad for Dick. Pretty much healed from his ’72 back injury that cost him almost the whole season, he was again the regular second baseman. At least until he was benched early in the season. And not all the time even when he wasn’t. ’73 was the year Charlie O turned second into Bizzaro World when on the road he had a pinch hitter hit for Dick his first at bat, before he hit the field. Then, depending on the situation, he’d get pinched for on his next at bat. That went on for a little bit, frustrating Dick and manager Dick Williams, and kept Green’s at bats pretty low. Add that to a thriving moving business back in Rapid City and no wonder he wanted to retire. But there were some good moments also. After the benching and once in the regular line-up and allowed to hit, Dick pulled his average up to one of his best for a full season. Plus he had a big grand slam against the Angels during the playoff run. And then another Series championship. Tough call I guess.

Dick Green was born in Iowa and by the time he hit high school relocated to South Dakota, where he was a star in the big three sports. After some summer ball following his senior year he was signed by Kansas City and went to D ball where he didn’t hit too well but led league shortstops in fielding. I have read from at least one source that he played for the Yankees in the minors but I have found no evidence of that (maybe winter ball?). In ’61 he picked up his offense nicely when he moved to B ball and third base and hit .273 with 64 RBI’s. He then had a nice run in Double A in '62 but missed a bunch of the season for military duty. Then in ’63 after a nice spring he went down to Triple A to work on a new position – second base – since Ed Charles was becoming established up top at third. After a decent season power-wise – 15 homers and 65 RBI’s – and a pretty good job in the fielding transition he came up in September for good.

In ’63 KC had an infield that could hit but not much in the way of pitching or outfielders. Green put in more time at shortstop than second in his short stay that Fall. In ’64 incumbent second baseman Jerry Lumpe was traded to Detroit and Dick got the starting job and hit much better than expected. In ’65 he got a new DP partner in Bert Campaneris and did another nice job in the field though his strikeouts ratcheted up and his average went south by 30 points. He had hurt his leg that season which hampered his stroke although he did peak career-wise with 15 homers. After his average revived a bit in ’66 and he led the team in RBI’s, ’67 would get weird. Dick put in as much time at third base as at second as between military duty, injuries, and the transition from Charles to Sal Bando at third base made the infield a mess most of the season. That, plus an average that tanked to below .200 had him out of sorts. His high point that season was a couple three-run homers against Detroit that August. Then in ’68 while he pulled his average up he basically split starting time at second with John Donaldson and Ted Kubiak. But expansion helped as Donaldson went to Seattle, Dick re-claimed second, and he put together his best offensive season. He was being recognized for his defensive prowess and the team was rapidly improving. Oakland would continue doing so in ’70 but Dick wouldn’t as he more than failed to post a good follow-up season and crashed and burned at the plate with a season even worse than his ’67. After that year he retired for the first time but Dick Williams coaxed him back and his ’71 was much better and his boys made the playoffs for the first time in many years. Then came the back injury from which he returned just in time for the post-season. After retirement number two he came back in ’74, missed six weeks with a broken heel, returned to the Series, and set a couple fielding records for DP’s in a game – three – and in a five-game Series – six. By then a new kid named Phil Garner was ready to take over at second and Dick retired, this time for good. He put up a .240 average and hit .155 in 36 post-season games. Defensively he resdies in the top 100 for putouts, double plays, and fielding percentage at second base.

After playing Green returned to South Dakota and the moving business full-time. He did that for over 20 years and then sold his interest to his partner in ’97. He continues to reside there.

We get the defensive props for Dick in the star bullets. I do not believe he ever turned the horse hobby into a professional gig but in that part of the country I sure hope they had long coats.

June is over so it’s time to finish up music news for that month. On June 29, 1973 the first rendition of Deep Purple officially came to an end as vocalist Ian Gillan and guitarist Roger Glover split the band. On the 30th we get two new Number Ones. In the US George Harrison’s “Give Me Love” replaces former band-mate Paul McCartney’s “Band on the Run.” In the UK Slade’s new chart topper is “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me.” Their songs all sounded pretty much the same to me. In ’74 the charts also showed two new Number Ones on the 29th. “Sundown” by mellow Canadian guy Gordon Lightfoot took over the top spot in the States. In the UK it was “She” by Charles Axnavour, another song I never heard of until researching this blog. Think of something along the lines of the elder Julio Iglesias.

A guy mentioned above helps in the hook-up:

1. Green and Ted Kubiak ’67 to ’69 and ’72 to ’74 A’s;
2. Kubiak and Dave May ’70 to ’71 Brewers;
3. May and Billy Champion ’73 to ’76 Brewers.

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