Wednesday, January 30, 2013

#492 - Mike Rogodzinski

Hey, it’s a rookie card! Hey, it’s a final card! Baseball careers went like that sometimes but at least Rogo –that was this guy’s nickname – gets immortalized in his Ray Ban’s. Mike gets his shot taken at Candlestick, a place he went o for five in ’73, so it probably wasn’t his favorite place to be. But ’73 was a tough year for him to wrap his arms around. After leading Phillies hitters in spring training with a .345 average and starting ’73 off nicely in Triple A Mike was a May call-up by the Phillies to replace Deron Johnson, who was traded to Oakland. By the end of June he managed to go o for 18 in the games he started but seven for 13 as a pinch hitter. He’d get a bit better hitting from a position the rest of the year but never really caught on. But Greg Luzinski must have enjoyed having him around when Mike was up top. Pronouncing Greg’s surname after giving a shot at Mike’s must have been a piece of cake.

Mike Rogodzinski grew up in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. In high school ball he was a pitcher and an outfielder and was a four-year varsity starter who was going great guns until he was injured his senior year. He still hit .416 though and then went to Southern Illinois to play. His sophomore year of ’68 was a good one as he was all-conference with ten homers and 36 RBI’s. Skip Pitlock, who would have a Topps card in ’75, was the team’s leading pitcher. He also helped take the Salukis to second place in the CWS which they lost to USC and Brent Strom. He then put in another season before being drafted in the second round by the Phillies in ’69. He returned to school for a semester and signed with Philadelphia in January 1970 and then that summer led his Double A league in triples. He also tended to generate some pretty big strikeout totals – 129 that first year. In ’71 at the same level he was an all-star though he missed a bunch of games with a broken thumb. In ’72 he got bumped up to Triple A and a pretty crowded outfield – Oscar Gamble, Joe Lis, Byron Browne, Mike Anderson, and Bill Robinson were other MLB guys sparring for time there – so his playing time shrunk a bit as his K’s ratcheted up. But so did the homers and so after that fast start in ’73 he got pushed upstairs. ’74 didn’t go crazy great for Mike in Philly with only one hit in 15 at bats and his highlight was probably a bases-loaded walk issued to him by Mike Marshall that won a game against the Dodgers. Back in Triple A his average sunk to .238 and his power ebbed a bit as well. ’75 was split between Double and Triple A as he experimented a bit as a catcher but the offensive numbers that year were pretty weak. He got his third and final call-up to Philly where he hit .263 mostly in the pinch. It would be his final season as a player and Mike finished with a .219 average with a couple homers and twelve RBI’s in 114 at bats. In the minors he hit .252 with 64 homers and 271 RBI’s.

Immediately after playing Rogodzinski stuck around the Philadelphia area where he took a gig selling furniture at Nate Ben’s Reliable, a local retail icon. He did that through ’89, which was pretty good timing since the following year the store was busted big for under-reporting its revenues and under-paying its sales taxes. Mike testified for the prosecution and was not involved in the scam but the three Ben family members who owned the place all went to jail and the store filed for bankruptcy a few years later. Since then Mike’s name has come up occasionally in local Phillies events though there is no information out there regarding his professional activities since the late Eighties. He has a Facebook page and appears to still reside in the Philadelphia area.

This is Topps' only stab at giving important info on Mike and the guys do OK, though they could have expounded a bit. Rogo made the all-tournament team in ’68 and later that summer in the Olympics he actually won the whole thing with a game-winning double in the finale.

In 1976 the Phillies submitted as their entry for that year’s baseball centennial Jim Bunning’s perfect game. That game was pitched June 21, 1964 against the Mets in the first game of a double header. It was Bunning’s second no-no as he’d thrown one for Detroit in ’58. It was an impressive game – yeah the Mets back then were terrible, but still – in that Bunning went to three balls on a batter only twice and only four Mets balls made it to the outfield. Tony Taylor turned in the big defensive gem when he speared a hot drive by Jesse Gonder between first and second in the fifth inning. He, Dick Allen, and Johnny Callison provided the offense as Bunning won 6-0 to go 7-3 on the year. He struck out ten.

1973 was the only year Rogo had decent time up top so that’s our starting point:

1. Rogodzinski and Tommy Hutton ’73 to ’75 Phillies;
2. Hutton and John Mayberry ’78 Blue Jays;
3. Mayberry and Roger Nelson ’72 Royals.


  1. In 2003, the Phillies closed Veterans Stadium with a ceremony featuring over 100 players (in uniform) from the 1971-2003 Vet era. Every player who was a regular or a key pitcher was there (except Pete Rose, and guys employed elsewhere by other teams that day.)

    Rogo was the only player there who had not been a Phillies' regular at one time or another.

  2. Since I work near the northern chicago border, I've known of a couple people who know him. One guy who played against Rogo in high school. Says he's very nice guy but hit a few homers against him.