Thursday, October 3, 2013

#599 - 1974 Rookie Pitchers

Now we get to a card with more than one unrecognizable name on it. But though this card may not do as well as the prior ones in showcasing future MLB career longevity winners, it does have something all its own to offer and that is the final “Washington Nat’l” card of the set. There is apparently a third rendition of this card – the large-type version of which I am pretty sure I am without and will most likely remain.

Ron Diorio was a high school basketball star in Waterbury, CT, and moved gradually into pitching after beginning his time as a catcher. He then attended Central Connecticut State before transferring to New Haven College where he continued to play both sports. In hoops there he was a center and averaged 8.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg. His pitching line was better as he went 24-3 with a 1.57 ERA and 262 strikeouts in 235 innings. He was briefly a teammate of Joe Lahoud and was an All-American his senior year of ’69 when he was also drafted by the Phillies. For them he would do almost exclusively pen work as he moved up the chain. In ’69 he went a combined 7-11 with six saves and three complete game starts with a 2.57 ERA split between Rookie and A ball. In ’70 he went 1-3 with three saves and a 1.84 ERA at the higher level. ’71 was a combined 6-2, 2.38 with nine saves split between A and Double A. The next year was 8-4, 3.03 with eight saves at the higher level and ’73 may have been his best season with a 5-1, 1.71 ERA, eleven saves year at Triple A before he was called up in early August. He did nice relief work in Philly, getting a save and posting a 2.33 ERA in his 19 innings. After pitching winter ball he threw a couple games early in ’74 before being sent down to Double A where he went 3-3, 2.67 with four saves through June. He was then promoted to Triple A but his first game his dad passed away. Ron’s family was close and his numbers showed the effect as he went 1-0 with a 5.27 ERA the rest of the way and was then released. In ’75 he hooked up with the Montreal organization for whom at Triple A he went 2-5, 2.44 with three saves. Then it was on to the Yankees where in ’76 he was 3-3, 1.55 with seven saves in Double A and in ’77 6-4. 4.59 with eight saves in Triple A. Released again, he would spend ’78 pitching in Mexico where he went 1-2 with a 3.13 ERA. Ron finished with a record of 42-36 with a 2.86 ERA and 62 saves in the minors and a 3.15 ERA on no decisions in 25 games up top. He had become involved in real estate back in CT in off-seasons while he played and then took a job as Waterbury’s Fair Housing Officer when he was done, which he continued to do through ’86. That year he took a job with the Nocera Company, rose to partner in ’96 and still resides professionally. He also refs local hoops games. Just about all the background comes from his SABR bio.

Like Ron Diorio, Dave Freisleben (pronounced freeze-le-ben with the accent on the first syllable) played both hoops and baseball in high school, but Dave did it a few notches south, in Pasadena, Texas. Grabbed by the Padres out of high school in ’71 he moved fast through the system and that summer went 7-3 with a 2.97 ERA and four shutouts in his 13 A ball starts. He then went 17-9, 2.32 in Double A in ’72 and in Triple A the next year 16-8 with a 2.82 ERA. In ’74 he went 2-1 in his first three starts before moving up to San Diego in late April. Again he went out strong, winning his first three starts and throwing a shutout in his sixth game. By mid-June he was 6-2 and he still had a winning record by late August. Earlier that month he threw 13 shutout innings at Cincinnati but didn’t get the decision. Later that month he worked into the 12th inning of a loss. But he fell prey to the team’s lack of hitting, losing nine in a row and finished 9-14 with a 3.66 ERA. ’75 was a tough sophomore season as he went 5-14 with a 4.28 ERA. Part of Dave’s problem was control and over his MLB run his walks would match his strikeouts. Part of it, too, at least according to Padres management, was his waistline. Dave began ’76 back in Triple A and returned to San Diego in late May where he had a nice bounce when he posted his best numbers with a 10-13, 3.51 year. But then ’77 started ugly as he went 0-4 in April with an elevated ERA. He returned to Triple A where he went 4-4, 3.94 until he returned in late June. From July through year-end he improved to 6-4, 3.87 as a swing guy and went 7-9, 4.61 on the year. By then Dave was apparently suffering from recurring injuries and his ’78 was pretty nasty: after an 0-3, 6.08 start as a little-used spot guy he went to Cleveland in June for pitcher Bill Laxton. He did just as bad in the AL, going 1-4, 7.11 in ten starts for the Tribe who placed him on waivers after the season. He was picked up by Toronto and in ’79 went 2-3 with three saves and a 4.95 ERA as a long guy before he was released, ending his playing time. Dave finished 34-60 with a 4.30 ERA – also his strike and walk total – 17 complete games, six shutouts, and four saves. In the minors he was 48-28 with a 2.95 ERA and 13 shutouts. After playing Dave got a degree in law enforcement at San Jacinto college and became a police officer back in Pasadena. He then became a golf pro and currently appears to run a fishing service out of San Leon, according to his Facebook page.

Frank Riccelli grew up near Syracuse where he was a good enough pitcher – three-time all-state – to be picked by the Giants as a first rounder in the ’71 draft. Like Dave Freisleben he moved quickly and that summer he went 7-3 with a 2.56 ERA as a starter in Rookie ball. He had heat that year and struck out 116 batters in his 88 innings. He continued throwing hard in ’72 in Double A, going 9-9, 3.18 with 183 K’s in 164 innings. His first couple seasons in Triple A were a bit tougher and the K’s came way down. In ’73 he went 10-11 with a 4.25 ERA and in ’74 fell to 3-7, 6.16 in far less innings so he may have been injured. But in ’75 he returned to Double A, putting up a 14-6, 3.26 year before in ’75 returning to the higher level. He still could not match his success in Triple A and over the next two seasons he went a combined 17-20 with a 5.64 ERA around a few brief innings in San Francisco in ’76 during which he went 1-1 with a high ERA. Immediately after the latter season he was sold to St. Louis where he threw considerably better, going a combined 12-10, 2.86 between two Triple A teams.  That second team was a Houston affiliate and in ’78 Frank got a couple innings up top before spending all of ’79 with the Astros. That year he went 2-2 with a 4.09 ERA as a seldom-used spot guy and he had a big day at the plate when he knocked in three runs against Cincinnati in a game. After being released during spring training of ’80 – he had his second Topps card that year, a big gap with six years – he appears to have taken the year off before attempting a few comebacks over the next three years with affiliates close to his home base of Buffalo (Pittsburgh) and Syracuse (Toronto), none of which lasted too long. Frank was done after the ’83 season with a record of 3-3 with a 4.39 ERA up top and 72-68 with a 4.17 ERA in the minors. He has been tough to track since then but seemed happy and healthy in 2012 when he was inducted into the Christian Brothers hall of fame.

Greg Shanahan was born and raised in Eureka, California and after graduating high school attended UC-Santa Barbara and then nearby Humboldt State University where he played with Dane Iorg and from which he was drafted by the Dodgers in ’70. In A ball that summer he went 5-5 with a 3.66 ERA while striking out a batter an inning. At the same level in ’71 he went 8-10, 4.01 while leading his league with 182 K’s (in 164 innings). He split ’72 between A and Double A, going a combined 10-8, 3.12 with 187 K’s in 171 innings. In ’73 he went 12-12, 4.18 in Triple A while again leading his league in K’s before he got his September debut in LA. He struck out the first batter he faced, Willie McCovey, and in 16 innings posted a 3.45 ERA with a save. He then spent nearly all of the next two seasons in Triple A where his combined numbers were messy at 13-24, 4.64, though he again threw pretty well in his few innings in ’74 up top. Greg was released in spring training of ’76 and spent that year pitching in Mexico before returning to The States in ’77 when he went 11-11 with a 2.54 ERA for Kansas City’s Triple A franchise. That was his final season and Greg put up a 3.57 ERA and a save in his eleven MLB games and went 62-70 with a 3.81 ERA in the minors. In off-seasons he’d returned to the Eureka area to work in insurance and in ’78 he got his license and shortly thereafter opened his own shop, which he still has. In ’96 he established the Humboldt Crabs, an entry in a Far West summer league for college and post-college players and was its GM through 2008.

So like on all the other cards although it says Washington on the front the back continued to denote the team the San Diego Padres, which would of course be the correct designation. Here we are a bit more challenged in terms of MLB service as these guys combined for seven years and no awards. At least the hook-ups should be challenging. Here we go with those:

1. Ron Diorio and Mike Schmidt ’73 to ’74 Phillies;
2. Schmidt and Dick Allen ’75 to ’76 Phillies;
3. Allen and Jim Tyrone ’77 A’s.

Now around the card:

1. Ron Diorio and Mike Schmidt ’73 to ’74 Phillies;
2. Schmidt and Bobby Tolan ’76 Phillies;
3. Tolan and Dave Freisleben ’74 to ’75 Padres;
4. Freisleben and Derrell Thomas ’74 Padres;
5. Thomas and Frank Riccelli ’76 Giants;
6. Riccelli and Von Joshua ’76 Giants;
7. Joshua and Greg Shanahan ’73 to ’74 Dodgers.

That wasn’t too bad.

1 comment:

  1. The large-type is very distinctive from the small-type. You'll know it when you see it.