Monday, March 11, 2013

#512 - Joe Lahoud

In a revival of the non-Traded traded card, Joe Lahoud gives one of those “gazing afar” shots that are popular on these cards since they didn’t require too much work by the artist. Joe almost looks like he’s at Dan Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium but I doubt that since he was a lifelong AL guy. He sure does give Darrell Porter a run for the most chest hair though. ’73 wasn’t Joe’s best year. After making some inroads playing time-wise in ’72 he anticipated a clear path to starting time in ’73 after his disgruntled platoon mate Billy Conigliaro went to Oakland. But Joe had a tough start to the season at the plate and even after he parked two (one a grand slam) against Chicago in mid-June to extend the club’s first place lead, he was still hitting only .156. Joe had always maintained that he could hit better with more looks and in his defense by about halfway through the season he’d only had 72 at bats. He would double those the rest of the way and up his average during that time by 50 points. Still, it wasn’t enough to let him get a regular gig and after the season ended he was on the road again in another big trade.

Joe Lahoud (pronounced LA-hoo) grew up in Danbury, CT, and was a big kid, closing in on 200 pounds while still in high school. While there he captained his soccer, hoops, and baseball teams. Upon graduating he went to nearby University of New Haven, where he continued in those two latter sports and where multiple sources list his time there as being from ’63 to ’65. But that doesn’t seem right since he would have just turned 16 when he graduated high school. My guess is he graduated in ’64 which would align his ’66 signing about right time-wise. Apparently he was booted from his college team his first year after he got all pissy about not starting the second game of a double header and his coach there was a bit of a legend. But Joe made it back the next year, was scouted by Boston, and was then signed by the Sox just prior to the ’66 season. He had a decent enough start in A ball that year, hitting .261 with a little power. He ramped things up at that level in ’67 when he hit .287 with 16 dingers and 62 RBI’s in 310 at bats. He also put up a .406 OBA that season.

In ’68 there were two big questions for the AL champion Red Sox: could Jim Lonborg repeat his Cy Young season after an off-season skiing injury; and could Tony Conigliaro return from the horrible beaning he took in ’67? Unfortunately for Boston the answer to both was “no.” So when Lahoud had a pretty awesome spring on top of his ’67 season, it was he who was initially named Tony C’s replacement in the outfield. But it turned out the Sox already had an able replacement in Ken Harrelson and that, coupled with Joe’s light average, made his status in Boston short-lived. He actually spent the bulk of the season in Triple A where he hit .273 with a .401 OBA. In ’69 Harrelson left, Tony C came back, and Joe was the fourth outfielder behind three guys who rarely sat. He did have a three-homer game that year that was probably a rare bright spot. In ’70 Billy Conigliaro joined the fold and Joe got pushed back a spot so that most of his season was spent in Triple A where he put up nice numbers: a .300 average with 17 homers, 93 RBI’s, 19 stolen bases, and a .441 OBA. That got him back up for good and in ’71 he and Billy C pretty much jostled for the third outfield spot which didn’t make either of them too happy. At this point Billy had put up the better numbers but he was convinced there was a conspiracy by other Sox outfielders to get his brother out of town so when the big trade happened after the season they were both included with Lonborg, Ken Brett, Don Pavletich, and George Scott in the move to Milwaukee for Tommy Harper, Marty Pattin, and Lew Krausse.

After the trade of Tommy Harper to Boston the Brewers really didn’t have a third baseman on the roster and so George Scott, expected to play first, had to begin the season there. That meant Johnny Briggs had to play first and that Lahoud and Conigliaro each got starting outfield time. Joe had a hot hand to start the season and was hitting .321 when at the end of April he and Bobby Heise collided with each other in a game against Oakland that gave Joe a huge head wound that required 28 stitches. He came back too soon, was hesitant at the plate, and missed more time during the season because of intense headaches. Still, he got his most time until then in the field, and he generally reported his best offensive numbers. After his disappointing ’73 he was included in big trade number two: he, Ollie Brown, Skip Lockwood, and Ellie Rodriguez went to California for Steve Barber, Ken Berry, Clyde Wright, Art Kusnyer, and cash. For the Angels Joe had a pretty good season. Still splitting time in the outfield, now with Bobby Valentine, he hit .271 with 13 homers, 44 RBI’s, and a .367 OBA in 325 at bats. That played out to what Joe had told everybody he could do in a full year and he was excited for ’75. But new outfielder Dave Collins pushed him back to the fourth guy/DH role and Joe hit only .214, though he at least matched his past season power-wise with six homers and 33 RBI’s in less than 200 at bats. Plus his OBA was higher. In ’76 a poor offensive start got him sold to Texas where he finished out the year as a DH. In ’77 he signed with Kansas City and after having a huge Triple A season for half a year - .300/19/69/.440 OBA - for the next season-plus he did outfield reserve duty and some pinch hitting. He retired after being released during ’78 and finished with a .223 average with 65 homers and 218 RBI’s. In the minors he hit .290 with an OBA well over .400. In the post-season he had two walks and two runs in three plate appearances.

After playing Lahoud began his own business, becoming an expert at facilities management. After selling the business, he was an independent consultant before hooking up with Pitney Bowes in 2000. Since 2005 he has been a director with a company called Document Technologies, Inc.

Topps has a tough time with Joe’s star bullets. I’d have been real interested in his college stats and maybe something of his background. He is one of the few Lebanese-named guys to play the game.

I like when the short names are involved in these exercises:

1. Lahoud and Dave May ’72 to ’73 Brewers;
2. May and Toby Harrah ’77 Rangers.

1 comment:

  1. It is quite an odd shot. If you want to see some more of these "nostril shots," check out this post: