For the second half of the Cleveland team card we get the checklist with its abundance of signatures. We have one Hall of Famer in Gaylord Perry. All the position starters are here but only a couple pitchers, one being Dick Tidrow who I am pretty sure is not in the team photo. But another Hall of Famer is: Warren Spahn is in the first row, fourth in from the right. One other observation about that photo, which I’ll return to below concerns the guy next to Chris Chambliss, fourth from the right in the back row. He’s huge! It looks like he’s got thirty pounds on Chambliss who was pushing two bills himself back then. I think it’s Tommy Smith though I could be wrong on that. On to the pitchers.
Don McMahon was covered on the Giants manager card.
Bob Feller, like Hal Trotsy from the last post, was an Iowa farmboy who threw a mean fastball. Signed by the Indians in ’36 he went 5-3 his rookie year with 76 K’s in 62 innings and then went back to Iowa for his senior year. He never played in the minors and the next summer returned to the Tribe to go 9-7, again with over a K an inning. In his first full season of ’38 he won 17 and led the AL for the first of four consecutive seasons – seven if you just count his full ones – in strikeouts with 240. He was also an All-Star for the first of what would be eight seasons. He then went on a three-year run in which he averaged a record of 25-11 with a 2.83 ERA, five shutouts, and 255 K’s, leading the league each seasons in wins as well. In ’40 he won pitching’s Triple Crown. After Pearl Harbor he immediately signed up for the military as a Navy man and spent WW II on a battleship in the Pacific. He got back in time to go 5-3 at the end of the ’45 season and then picked up where he left off before the service, winning a combined 46 games in ’46 and ’47 with a total of 15 shutouts while again also leading the league in strikeouts. In ’48 his ERA popped a bit and his streak of 20-win seasons ended, though he won 19 and led the AL in K’s his final time. He didn’t have a great Series that year, going 0-2 with a 5.02 ERA in his two starts. Over the next four seasons he continued to average over 30 starts a year and went a combined 62-36 as his K totals declined significantly. In ’51 he led the AL with 22 wins. In ’53 and ’54 he was more of a spot starter, going a combined 23-10 those two seasons and he threw just a few starts and pitched more in relief his final two seasons of ’55 and ’56 before he retired. Bob finished with a record of 266-162 with a 3.25 ERA, 279 complete games, 44 shutouts, 21 saves, and 2,581 strikeouts. After retiring as a player Feller, who was a master negotiator, became the first president of the Major League Players Association which he did for a bunch of years. He was elected to the Hall his first shot in ’61. HaHallHe also made lots of appearances on behalf of the Indians and MLB and remained in the Cleveland area the rest of his life. He passed away in 2010 from complications of leukemia. He was 92.
Jim Bagby Sr. came out of Georgia into D ball in 1910 when he was 20. He went 5-11 that first year but the next went 22-16 at the same level and then 3-1 in A ball, both with excellent ERA’s. He then was purchased by Cleveland and though he went 2-1 with a 3.12 ERA his first five games was returned to the minors where he finished 4-6 in A ball. He then improved to eight wins in ’13, 20 in ’14, and 19 in ’15, all at the same level. He returned to the Tribe in ’16 and went 16-17 with a 2.61 ERA. The next year he went 23-13 with a 1.99 ERA. Jim threw a fadeaway and while he normally pitched well over 250 innings back then his best number in strikeouts for a season was 88, as he specialized in ground outs. After winning 17 each of the next two seasons, both with ERA’s under 3.00, he had his big year in the Series season of ’20 when he went 31-12 with 30 complete games and a 2.89 ERA. His wins led the AL and in the Series he went 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA. His win came in the game that Bill Wamsganss made an unassisted triple play. Jim also became the first pitcher to homer in a Series game in that win. He pitched in bunches, once pitching in eleven of his team’s 18 games. His ’20 season may have been a bit much as he then faded pretty quickly, going a combined 18-17 with a 5.24 ERA the next two seasons. He was traded to Pittsburgh for the ’23 season where he finished up top, going 127-89 for his career with a 3.11 ERA, 133 complete games, 16 shutouts, 29 saves, and only 450 K’s in over 1,800 innings. He was a good hitter, batting .218 with 60 RBI’s in the regular season and .333 with that homer and three RBI’s in the post-season. He finished ’23 out in the PCL and continued to pitch in the minors through 1930, when he also managed a bit in the D league. He won 70 games during that time – he went 151-131 in the minors overall – and finished pitching after his year of managing. After baseball he moved back to the Atlanta area where he ran a dry cleaning business for 14 years and then a gas station for a year. During that time his son Jim Jr. had his pitching career, going 97-96 for several AL teams. In ’41 this Jim returned to baseball as an umpire in the minors. In ’42 he suffered a stroke, which ended his umpiring days. He recovered and spent the rest of his professional time managing local department stores until his death from another stroke in ’54. He was 64. He has a SABR biography.
Johnny Allen grew up in a North Carolina orphanage after his dad died and after playing ball at Thomaston High he went to work in a local hotel. He was doing that when in ’28 when he was 23 he cadged a tryout with a Yankee scout who was staying in the hotel. Signed on the spot, he went 12-13 that summer in D and C ball. In ’29 he won 20 in B ball and after a 12-16 record in Double A the next year, he went 21-9 in ’31 at the same level. He had a nasty temper and during his time in the minors was already bitching about not playing up top. In ’32 he got his wish and went 17-4 his rookie year for NY, leading the AL in win percentage. In ’33 he went 15-7 and then in ’34 only 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA as he got on manager Joe McCarthy’s bad side with his outbursts. After going 13-6 in ’35 he was traded to Cleveland where his first year he won 15 straight before losing his final start during a season in which he missed time for an appendectomy. In ’38 a 12-1 start with an ERA below 3.00 had him on the All-Star team but an injury during the game pulled his numbers down to 2-6 with a 6.29 ERA the rest of the way. He went 9-7 the next year in the rotation and then became a swing guy the duration of his career. After going 9-8 with five saves for the Tribe in ’40 he was sold to the Browns for whom he had a crappy first half of the ’41 season and was then put on waivers. The Dodgers picked him up and over the next two seasons Johnny went a combined 18-7 for Brooklyn before going to the Giants mid-’43. He finished his career with NY in ’44 with a record of 142-75 with a 3.75 ERA – considerably better than his peers back then – with 109 complete games, 17 shutouts, and 18 saves. In the post-season he had no decisions and a 6.23 ERA in four games. He spent ’45 pitching in the Carolina League – he went 69-50 in the minors where he also hit .276 for his career there – and had relocated to St. Petersburg, FLA, during his playing career. There he had purchased a commercial building with his ’32 Series share and got into real estate. He also became an umpire in local minor leagues, rising to chief ump in the Carolina League. He retired from umpiring in ’53 to return full-time to real estate until he passed away in ’59 from a heart attack when he was 54. He too has a SABR bio.
Bob Lemon was a baseball star from Long Beach where he was primarily an infielder. He was signed by Cleveland after he graduated in ’38 and hit .307 that summer as an outfielder/third baseman in C ball. In ’39 he split time between shortstop – where he had a tougher time in the field – and the outfield and maintained his .300 average in both C and A ball. He spent most of ’40 and ’41 in A ball where he hit .255 and .301, respectively, while moving back to third. That second year he debuted in Cleveland, getting into a couple late games. In ’48 he had his big power season in Double A, again while playing third, with a .268/21/80 season that got him a couple more late looks with the Tribe. Then it was off to the Navy for WW II where, while posted in Hawaii, he fooled around with pitching a bit. He returned to the States from the Pacific in ’46 and went up to Cleveland for good, getting a few starts in center – he helped save a Bob Feller no-hitter that year – and beginning his mound career by going 4-5 with a 2.49 ERA as a spot guy. Lem would be a big ground ball pitcher, give up a bit too many dingers, but still win a ton of games. He was a lot like Catfish Hunter as a pitcher. After going 11-5 in a swing role in ’47 he broke loose in ’48 with his first 20-win All-Star season. From that year through ’56 Lem would average 21 wins a year, be an All-Star seven consecutive seasons, lead the AL in wins three times, starts three times, innings four times, complete games five times, and shutouts and even strikeouts once each. He got to the Series twice and did a bang-up job in ’48 with a couple wins and a 1.65 ERA against the Dodgers. After winning 20 in ’56 he aged fast, going a combined 6-12 the next two seasons before finishing off ’58 in the PCL. Lem went 207-128 for his career, with a 3.23 ERA, 188 complete games, 31 shutouts, 22 saves and a post-season mark of 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in four starts. He was an understandably good hitter, batting .232 with 37 homers and 147 RBI’s for his career. He was elected to the Hall in ’76. In the meantime he stayed busy in baseball initially as a scout (’59) and coach (’60) for the Tribe. He then moved to coach for the Phillies (’61) before moving to the Angels system, first as a coach in the minors (’62-’63), then as manager at that level (’64-’66), and then as a coach up top (’67-’70). In ’69 he took a break to manage in the new Seattle chain. In ’70 the Royals hired him away to manage which he did through ’72. After a year scouting for KC he managed in the Milwaukee (’74) and Atlanta (’75) chains before hooking up with the Yankees as a coach up top (’76). He then managed the White Sox for a season-plus before being dismissed and returning to NY to manage twice (’78-’79, ’81-’82), leading the Yankees to a Series victory that first season. Between those stints and thereafter he scouted for the Yankees back in his Long Beach base. His managing records were 392-428 in the minors and 430-403 in the majors. A big drinker, Lem was in failing health much of the Nineties and he passed away in 2000 at 79.
George Uhle grew up in Cleveland and when he signed his first pro contract with the Indians in 1919 after he was discovered playing local ball he insisted on a clause that he’d go straight to Cleveland. That he did and that summer he was 10-5 with a 2.91 ERA as a spot guy his rookie year. He had a big sidearm sinker that was his out pitch. The next year his numbers tanked a bit though he did throw three shutout innings in the Series. He then went 133-109 the next eight seasons for Cleveland with a decent ERA, his best years being ’22 when he went 22-16 with an AL-leading five shutouts; ’23 when he went 26-16 and led the league in wins and complete games, with 29; and ’26 when he went 27-11 with a 2.83 ERA and again led the AL in wins and complete games. He slowed down a ton in ’27 and the next year was traded to Detroit, where over the next four-plus seasons he went 44-41 in the rotation with a 3.91 ERA. In ’33 with he moved to the Giants, and after a few games there went 6-1 as a reliever for the Yankees despite a high ERA to finish out the season. He blew up a bit in ’34 in NY, finished out the season in the minors and then began coaching at that level until he was briefly called to pitch for the Tribe again in ’36, his final MLB season. George went 200-166 with a 3.99 ERA, 232 complete games, 21 shutouts, and 25 saves. Another good-hitting pitcher, he batted .289 for his career with nine homers and 187 RBI’s and was frequently called on to pinch hit. He coached in the Cleveland system in ’35 and again in ’38 and ’39 when he also pitched a bit. In ’36 and ’37 he coached in Cleveland. He then coached for the Cubs in ’40 and part of ’41 before going to the Dodgers as a coach (’41-’42) and scout (’42-’43). His last bit was as a coach for the Senators (’44) before he retired from baseball that summer with a bad back. He then became a manufacturing representative for Arrow Aluminum near Cleveland. He passed away in Ohio in ’85 when he was 86.
So in terms of actual numbers, the ’73 Indians are represented pretty well in this set. Two position guys are missing who had over 100 at bats in Leo Cardenas, who’d come over from California for a season to back up Frank Duffy at shortstop; and Ron Lolich, Mickey’s cousin, who was in his final season as an outfielder. Leo hit .215 in 195 at bats and Ron .229 in 140 at bats. The missing pitchers are Ray Lamb, a reliever who went 3-3 with a 4.60 ERA and two saves in his final season; Jerry Johnson, 5-6 with a 6.18 ERA and five saves in his sole season with the Tribe; and Steve Dunning, 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA in four games his last year in Cleveland. So not too many guys, but enough accrued stats – 335 at bats and 19 decisions – to push Cleveland towards the bottom of the list. Some of these guys are in the photo: Cardenas is in the second row, second in from the right; Lolich – I believe – is the third guy from the left in the back row next to Gaylord Perry; and Lamb is the guy with the monster handlebar mustache in the second row between Dave Duncan and Walt Williams.
For the hook-up we go through a Chicago Hit Man:
1. Oscar Gamble was on the ’73 Indians;
2. Gamble and Richie Zisk – managed by Bob Lemon – on the ’77 White Sox;
3. Zisk and Bob Robertson ’73 to ’76 Pirates.