Thursday, August 30, 2012

#424 - Jim Beauchamp

I believe this is the first time in the set a Mets card has followed that of one of their cross-town – really multi-borough – rivals. Actually Jim Beauchamp shares a lot more with recent post subjects card-wise than in which he is unique. This is his final card like a couple recent subjects; that he had a card at all is a bit surprising – like all the last three post subjects – because by the time this one came out he was done with the Mets and the majors; and like Fred Stanley there were a couple years when he didn’t have a card at all, in his case ’68 and ’70. Jim did have a rookie card for three years in a row – ’64 to ’66 – and on his ’69 card he has about the reddest – redneckest? – pose I’ve ever seen. In this pose at Shea Jim looks a lot older than his 34 years and looks like he might have trouble straightening up. But ’73 wasn’t a bad way to go out. Despite having a pulled leg muscle pretty much all year, he was the Mets’ top rightie pinch hitter and put up 14 RBI’s in only 61 at bats mostly in that role. Plus he finally got some post-season action with a bunch of pinch hitting appearances against Oakland. And after playing wouldn’t turn out so bad for Jim as he almost immediately got into his new career as a manager.

Jim Beauchamp was a four-sport star in high school in Oklahoma – football, basketball, baseball, and track – and was offered a full ride for the first sport to Oklahoma State. But the Cards came calling too with a big bonus – apparently around $50,000 – and so Jim signed with the Birds in ’58. According to baseball-reference Jim did attend Oklahoma State but I have been unable to find any confirming information on that, though his son did attend the school. He definitely got his career rolling that spring in A ball. Then from ’59 to early ’61 he was back home to play Double A in Tulsa. During his time there that last season he hurt his shoulder diving back to first when Jim Bouton attempted to pick him off. But he was promoted early that year to Triple A anyway and only hit .227 the rest of the way after averaging about .262 until then. In ’62 he missed a bunch of time to get the shoulder operated on and in ’63 he returned to Tulsa. The injury and operation had ruined Jim’s shoulder for throwing the ball and forced him to shorten his stroke when hitting. So ironically he changed from being a line-drive guy to a pull-type power guy and in ’63 had a monster season offensively, hitting .337 with 31 homers and 105 RBI’s. That got him his debut up top in a game and also helped get him traded to Houston with Chuck Taylor for Carl Warwick. The Colt .45’s bumped him to Triple A where he hit .285 with 34 homers and 83 RBI’s but not so hot in his few games up top. Then after a few games with Houston to open ’65 he was traded to the Braves with Ken Johnson for Lee Maye (the one with the extra “e”) and he finished most of the year back in Triple A where he would also spend the bulk of the next two seasons where his offensive numbers subsided a bit – though he did hit .319 with 25 homers and 77 RBI’s in ’66 – and he played mostly first base because of the status of his throwing arm. After the ’67 season he went to Cincinnati with Mack Jones for Deron Johnson and for the Reds he again played mostly in Triple A. While he was in Cincinnati his numbers were very similar to those he would put up in ’73.

’68 was Beauchamp’s last year of minor league time for a bunch of years and while he was with the Reds it was manager Dave Bristol who told him that because of his arm most of his work up top would be as a pinch hitter. And that was the role he played the next few seasons as he back-tracked his career path, going to Houston in ’70 for Dooley Womack – the guy for whom Bouton was traded the prior year – and to St. Louis that June with Leon McFadden for George Culver. In ’71 Jim got a bunch of work at first since things were sort of up in the air there for the Cards and put up the most MLB at bats in his career. Right after that season he came to NY with Harry Parker and Chuck Taylor for Jim Bibby, Art Shamsky, and Rich Folkers. Jim’s first season in NY was marred by a leg injury but it was much like ’71 in that he got a decent amount of field time. He was released by the Mets during spring training of ’74, returned to St. Louis one more time for a run in Triple A, and was done. He finished with a .231 average with 14 homers and 90 RBI’s and went o-fer in his four Series at bats. In the minors he finished with a .275 average with 192 homers and 647 RBI’s.

Beauchamp immediately got into managing after he played, beginning in the Houston chain (’75-’79), and then moving to Cincinnati (’80-’81), Toronto (’82-’84), and Atlanta (’85-’90), compiling a record of 1,101-1,143 in that time. In ’91 he was moved up as Atlanta’s bench coach which he did through ’98, winning a Series ring along the way. He then became the team’s minor league outfield coordinator and spring training instructor which he did through early 2007 when he had to take time off to deal with leukemia. He passed away that December at age 68.

Jim gets a feel-good star bullet and lots of lines for a career that added up to just over a full season. Topps missed his entry point by a year, which is odd since on their own card for him just two years earlier they had his ’58 stats. He had a great signature.

Lots of times you can count on an Alou for this exercise and this one is coming up soon:

1. Beauchamp and Matty Alou ’71 Cardinals;
2. Alou and Roy White ’73 Yankees;
3. White and Fred Stanley ’73 to ’79 Yankees.

I guess I could have by-passed step 2 but Chicken only had 66 at bats in ’73 so I added more meat.

1 comment:

  1. His son, Kash, was a minor league player and manager.