Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#432 - Chris Arnold

This guy had an interesting history in baseball a couple ways. First, regarding his baseball card history. Chris Arnold had a Topps card every year from ’72 to ’74 during which the prior seasons (’71-’73) he had a grand total of 151 MLB at bats. He was then shut out in ’75 and ’76 when for the similar time (’74-’75) he had 215 at bats. Topps revived him in ’77 after 69 at bats and then, to top it off, he had a Japanese card in ’79. Position-wise he was about as irregular as you get: by majority of innings he was a third baseman (’72); a catcher (’73); a second baseman (’74); an outfielder (’75); and a second baseman again (’76). Chris was a walking advertisement for versatility. In ’73 he would have his best moment up top, a grand slam that helped bring the Giants back from a 7-1 deficit to win a game against Pittsburgh. That day helped to contribute to a nice little year for him which included a .381 OBA and 13 RBI’s on only 54 at bats. Here he poses at Candlestick in a shot that almost perfectly mimics the one he’ll have on his ’77 card. At least that was one thing that didn’t change.

Chris Arnold grew up in southern California and played third base in high school. Upon graduating in ’65 he was drafted and signed by the Giants and began in Rookie ball that summer as a shortstop. That would remain his primary position the next few years in A ball. His error totals were awfully high but his average climbed steadily at that level through mid-’68 when he began doing his military turn as a submariner in the Navy. That caused him to miss all of ’69 and a significant chunk of ’70 as well. When he returned that summer, though, he got promoted to Double A and had a short tour in Triple A and also got moved back to third. In ’71 he got moved again – this time to second – put up some good defensive and excellent offensive numbers and got his first look up top. ’72 was all Giants but not too much playing time with Al Gallagher and Dave Kingman ahead of him. After a brief tour back in Triple A in ’73 he returned to San Francisco for a short but productive season.

In ’74 Tito Fuentes missed a bunch of time so Arnold picked up his most time in the field and at the plate with 174 at bats. He hit .241 with 26 RBI’s and the following season got most of his work up top in late innings. He also hit .339 back in Triple A and returned to San Francisco for all of ’76, where he hit .217 in 69 at bats. In ’77 he would spend his whole year back in Triple A where he hit .302 with 35 doubles and 90 RBI’s as an outfielder. While somebody would take interest in those stats and sign Chris, it wouldn’t be the Giants, and so his career in the States ended. He hit .237 with 51 RBI’s up top and .293 in the minors. Defensively he played every position in San Francisco but pitcher and center field, though he did pitch a bit in the minors.

In ’78 Arnold went to Japan, where he played for the Kintetsu Buffaloes. Joe Lis, Charlie Manuel, and Bobby Mitchell were the other US guys that played on his team. In ’78 he hit .274 with 15 homers and 72 RBI’s. In ’79 he had at least 15 homers as well and by the time he was done after the ’80 season he had 43 homers and a .274 average. He then returned to the States. I have read in various places that he is a sports agent based in Denver but that all seems cut and pasted from the same source. There has been a Chris Arnold actively representing players from the early Eighties to the mid-2000’s – the Dodger first baseman Mike Marshall and Angel outfielder Garret Anderson were clients – but I cannot tell if it’s the same guy.

Topps seems to have a tough time finding star bullets for Chris, so they get a little masochistic with that first one. The second one was a big deal because those happened in only 42 games. The cartoon is a stretch also.

This one is obviously all-NL:

1. Arnold and Garry Maddox ’72 to ’74 Giants;
2. Maddox and Gene Garber ’75 to ’78 Phillies.

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