Monday, April 29, 2013

#540 - Bob Robertson



Now this is an action shot. Big Bob Robertson shows a mighty swing in Pittsburgh and if he’s on target the ball is about an inch out of the frame. Poor Bob was in the midst of a long career down-stride which saw a lot of early promise get arrested by injuries. By the time of this photo he had no knees and a messed-up back which constricted both his playoff time and his stats. But he was still capable of launching an occasional dinger like in September when he busted a three-run crack to put the Pirates in first place. They were able to hold onto that status for about a week before the Mets got them. Bob had some mean muttonchops on some of his cards, especially in ’73 but it’s tough to tell if he’s sporting them here. A little too much action for details.

Bob Robertson was born and raised in the college town of Frostburg, Maryland. He went to Mount Savage High School, a pretty appropriate name given some of his stats there. In hoops he scored over 2,000 points in his four seasons and in baseball as a shortstop and sometimes outfielder he hit .568 his senior year. He was signed by the Pirates after graduating in ’64 and because he grew a bunch his senior year was moved to third base. There he had a bit of trouble getting acclimated to his new position – he barely fielded .800 – but hit the ball at a .302 clip in Rookie ball with 13 homers and 63 RBI’s in only 70 games. In ’65 he moved up to A ball where he improved his numbers on both sides, fielding at a .932 average and putting up a .303 average with 32 homers and 98 RBI’s. In ’66 in Double A he won his league’s triple crown with a .287/32/99 season. He finally slowed down a bit in Triple A in ’67 when he hit .256 with 128 strikeouts in only 367 at bats. But he also had 19 homers and 63 RBI’s in his first season of playing some at first base. He came up to Pittsburgh that September and hit a massive homer at the Astrodome to get everyone excited. In ’68 he had a nice spring training but at the end of it he had to be hospitalized for a kidney infection that required surgery and then a follow-up after the infection spread to his other one. Bob missed the whole season and didn’t swing the bat again until winter instructional league ball when he had seven homers and 27 RBI’s in about 40 games. After another good spring camp he beat out fellow rookie Al Oliver for the first base job but after hitting only .180 with 27 strikeouts in his 78 at bats he was sent down to Triple A where he banged out 34 with 76 RBI’s – and a big reduction in K’s – in only 360 at bats.

Robertson returned to The Show in ’70 to again battle it out for first base time with Oliver, who had a nice rookie year. Bob got most of the starts at first while Al added some outfield time to keep him in the lineup. Bob turned in a pretty big year with those homer and RBI totals in less than 400 at bats. He then added a double to his numbers in the playoff loss to the Reds. His ’71 numbers took a slight haircut to his prior season but his post-season was awesome. He hit three out – one on a missed bunt sign – in one game against the Giants and for the playoffs batted .438 with four homers and six RBI’s. He followed that up with two homers and five RBI’s in the Series win against the Orioles, which was celebrated by the iconic photo of Steve Blass leaping into Bob’s arms. Then the bad stuff happened. Bob had missed about thirty games in ’71 because of knee problems. In ’72 Willie Stargell was moved primarily to first – ironically to take pressure off his knees – and Bob put in some outfield time which aggravated his. He also had a prolonged hitting slump and between those two elements his playing time was reduced about a third, his average collapsed, and his power numbers tanked. In ’73 he injured one knee badly at Wrigley and after a ’74 in which his numbers were pretty good in the power department – 16 homers and 48 RBI’s in only 236 at bats – he had operations on both knees. But his mobility was shot and after bouncing to .274 with a .388 OBA in ’75 (but in only 124 at bats) Bob had another knee operation. That killed his ’76 season during which he hit .217 with only two homers in 129 at bats.

The Pirates released Robertson at the end of spring training in ’77. At the time he claimed he was injured – and a back surgery performed shortly thereafter pretty much confirmed that – and he filed a grievance against the Pirates to collect his season’s pay since he claimed he should have been on the DL and not released (he won). In November he signed as a free agent with Seattle where in ’78 he had not bad numbers as a DH with a.230/8/28 season in 174 at bats. But the Mariners released him and after a short tryout with Kansas City he hooked up with the Blue Jays for whom he played a few games in ’79 before retiring. Bob finished with a .242 average with 115 homers and 368 RBI’s. In the post-season he hit .283 with six homers and 12 RBI’s in 21 games.

After playing Robertson had his own advertising agency and also some motivational speech work. He returned to baseball in the early Nineties to coach in the Houston organization (from about 1990 to ’97) before hooking up as a salesman with Bayliner, a Maryland-based power boat manufacturer, which he was doing at the time of a 2011 interview. He also does card gigs and makes appearances on behalf of the Pirates.


Topps rightfully capitalizes on Bob’s ’71 post-season work for the star bullets. His name is really Robert Robertson – no imagination there – and he liked to play guitar. I know he’s way too big but did this guy used to moonlight for The Band? And nothing personal against Bob, but in this set he’s about the least deserving of a “10” card designation of anyone so far.

The only true link has to go through the Angels since Allen just didn’t pitch enough elsewhere:

1. Roberston and Leroy Stanton ’78 Mariners;
2. Stanton and Lloyd Allen ’72 to ’73 Angels.eHHeHYeHJh

Friday, April 26, 2013

#539 - Lloyd Allen



If there was an AL equivalent for what happened to Steve Blass over in the NL this guy’s season was probably it. Now Lloyd here didn’t have nearly the pre-’73 career that Blass did, but his Angels stats – which represented his whole career through ’72 – were 8-15 with a 3.04 ERA. In ’73 he went 0-6 with a 9.42 ERA. What happened? It began in ’72 when a hamstring injury in May took him out for a couple weeks. After going 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA before the injury, Lloyd went 3-6 with a 4.08 the rest of the way. Lloyd was a power pitcher with a big fastball and slider and after the injury he couldn’t push off the mound as well. Then in ’73 he hurt a shoulder after a fight with nearly former teammate Ed Kirkpatrick in a game against KC. After a few nasty relief innings for the Angels early in the season he went to Texas with Jim Spencer for Mike Epstein, Rick Stelmaszek, and Rich Hand. The Rangers were hoping Lloyd could return to his pre-injury days but after the fight it was more problems with the arm and before you knew it Lloyd couldn’t buy a win up top. So that gloomy sky behind him at Yankee Stadium was pretty indicative of Lloyd’s recent baseball past and near future and this would be his final card.

Lloyd Allen grew up in the small town of Selma, California where he was a big Yankees fan and played the big three sports through high school. There he went 36-7 with a 0.78 ERA and 588 strikeouts in 314 innings for his career, all good enough numbers to make him the Angels’ first round pick of the ’68 draft. He got on a good track pretty quickly, that first summer in pro ball going 4-3 in ten starts with a 2.62 ERA with better than a strikeout an inning in Rookie and A ball. In ’69 he went 10-14 but with a 2.77 ERA in instructional, A, and Triple A ball and added his debut in Anaheim that September though he got rocked around a bit. He then spent most of ’70 in Double A where he went 12-8 despite a spike in his ERA to 4.56. In late August he returned to California where he wrapped up his season nicely as a set up and spot guy.

In ’71 Allen moved to both the pen and California full-time and put together a nice season as the year was falling apart for the rest of the team. He recorded 15 saves as the staff closer and seemed to be on the same path in ’72 until the hamstring problem. He finished that year with five saves as his walks topped his K’s and followed that up with his disastrous ’73. In ’74 he worked infrequently the first half of the season – Billy Martin had zero tolerance for faulty pitching – and though he dropped his ERA a ton, it was only to 6.44. In late June he was taken off waivers by the White Sox and for the rest of the season split time between Chicago – where his ERA returned to double digits – and Triple A, where he went 1-3 in the rotation with a 3.41 ERA. Up top for the season he was 0-2 in twenty games with a 7.45 ERA. More poor numbers in Chicago in ’75 meant the bulk of the year was spent in Triple A where he actually threw quite well, going 9-2 with a 3.42 ERA as a starter in a season split between the Chicago and St. Louis after a mid-year sale. In ’76 for the Cards he went 11-6 with a 2.81 ERA again at Tulsa though those numbers did not prompt a call-up but a release. He was picked up by the new Toronto Blue Jays and nearly made it through spring training until his release. He then attempted short comebacks each of the next three seasons with Iowa, back in the White Sox chain. None of them went terribly well and he retired during the ’79 season. Lloyd finished with a record of 8-25 with a 4.69 ERA and 22 saves up top and 52-45 with a 3.66 ERA in the minors. He also hit .200 against MLB pitching.

Allen got involved in the restaurant business away from playing and by 1980 had become a franchise representative for various chains. He has for a bunch of years now been vice president of international franchising for Escape Enterprises, a steak chain.


Lloyd has some pretty good star bullets, but there are better ones. He led his baseball team to league championships all four seasons of his high school career and in one season threw three consecutive no-hitters. According to Bobby Valentine, Bill Buckner was so pissed that Lloyd was drafted ahead of him in ’68 that in a minor league game he vowed to line a pitch off Allen’s head. That he did; pretty painful retribution. I have not been able to dig up any of Lloyd’s football stats but he was inducted into Selma High School’s hall of fame earlier this year.

So Lloyd and Cesar were teammates in ’74 but Lloyd had too few innings on the mound for the Rangers that year. Let’s use a guy who came over from California with him:

1. Allen and Jim Spencer ’69 to ’73 Angels and ’74 Rangers;
2. Spencer and Cesar Tovar ’74 to ’75 Rangers.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

#538 - Cesar Tovar



In one post we get back both an action shot and a Traded card. That seems about right for Cesar Tovar, a guy who once played nine positions in a game. Cesar came to Philadelphia after the ’72 season for Joe Lis, Ken Reynolds, and Ken Sanders. The Phillies had just sent third basemen Don Money and John Vukovich to Milwaukee to clear a path for college guy Mike Schmidt and they then picked up Cesar for insurance in case Mike had trouble with big league pitching. And initially he did, so it was a good thing Tovar was around. But as the season went on Schmidt got more settled at third, Cesar had to have surgery on his knee, didn’t get too much time in the outfield when he returned, and he publicly declared he wanted out of Philly. So did Larry Bowa which was a bit ironic since one of the other reasons the Phillies brought in Cesar was to be an influence on Bowa. But that probably wasn’t what they had in mind.

Cesar Tovar was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where he grew up playing ball, principally at second base. He was signed by Gabe Paul, then working for Cincinnati, while Paul was on a scouting expedition for a friend of Cesar’s named Gus Gil. The Reds wanted Gil and Gil asked them to sign his friend or the deal was off. That Paul did and Cesar got started that summer in D ball where he hit .252. In ’60 he moved up to C ball where he hit significantly better, with ten triples, twelve homers, and a .304 average. Somehow those numbers got him moved back to D ball in ’61 where he put up a 19/78/.338 year while also stealing 88 bases. In ’62 the Reds got it right and moved him up to B ball where he had a 10/78/.329 season with 56 steals. In ’63 he got loaned to the Twins and in Triple A that year he made an impression with an 11/49/.297 season with 41 doubles and 115 runs scored while splitting time between shortstop and the outfield. In ’64 he returned to Cincinnati, stuck in Triple A, added third base to his positions, and had a pretty good year , hitting .275 with 94 runs and 40 stolen bases. When the Twins came calling for a middle infielder, Cesar was their second choice – apparently Tommy Helms was their first – and Minnesota got him for pitcher Gerry Arrigo.

Tovar began ’65 on the Twins roster and did OK, but not good enough to stick, so in a month he was back in Triple A, where he hit .328 with eleven homers and 28 stolen bases the rest of the way. In ’66 he stuck in Minnesota and had a pretty good rookie year, spending most of his time at second while stealing 16 bases. In ’67 and ’68 he had very similar seasons – he had 35 stolen bases the latter year – while splitting time pretty evenly between third base and the outfield. That first year he led the AL in plate appearances even though he had no regular position. In ’68 he did his one position per inning thing in a game against the A’s. That was appropriate since the first guy to pull that off was Bert Campaneris, who played in that game. In ’69 the Twins got Billy Martin as a manager and Cesar quickly became a favorite of the manager with his hustle and versatility. He upped his stolen base total to 45 that year and beginning that season was principally an outfielder. Minnesota went to the playoffs that year and also the next when Cesar led the AL in doubles and triples in what was probably his best season. In ’71 he led the AL in hits. In ’72 a shoulder injury pulled his stats down a bunch. That November he was sent to Philadelphia.

While Larry Bowa’s wish to be traded didn’t happen – good thing for both him and the Phillies – Tovar’s request was honored and he got sold to the Rangers. Reuniting with Martin seemed to do the trick as Cesar had a nice bounce, upping his average to .292 and his RBI total to 58 while again playing around the outfield. But ’75 got a bit tumultuous as injuries and a fast fallout by Martin with management led to Billy’s departure. Cesar’s numbers came in with the rest of the team as his RBI totals halved and his average fell to .258. That season he was primarily a DH for both the Rangers and Oakland to where he was sold in late August for the stretch drive during which he hit .231 the final month. He did mostly pinch hit work for the A’s in ’76 before he went to the Yankees the final month-plus – again reuniting with Martin – where he finished out his career in the same role. Cesar batted .278 for his career with 46 homers and 226 stolen bases and 834 runs. He only K’d about once every 15 at bats and he hit .250 with four runs in eight post-season games.

Tovar had a long winter career in Venezuelan ball during and after his US one. When he was done he was fourth in career games played and hits, second in runs and stolen bases, and third in doubles. He hit .286 for his career there, which as a player lasted through ’85. Immediately after his stateside career ended he played the next three regular seasons in Mexico, hitting well over .300 in each one. When he finished up as a player in Venezuela he continued there as a coach. He was a big smoker and by the early Nineties he had a few health problems as a result. Early in ’94 he contracted pancreatic cancer which killed him later that year. He was 54.


Cesar has a nice clean signature that is very compact, sort of like him. He doesn’t have the parenthetical name thing going but that’s because his mom and pop never married.


The back of the Traded card gives a glimpse of Cesar’s early history with Billy Martin. The two were very similar players though Billy did a bit better in post-season work. According to the book "Seasons in Hell", during his first season with the Rangers, Cesar habitually ran into other players so much while chasing down fly balls that he was told he should wear a cowbwll so his teammates could hear him coming. "More cowbell!"

Gabe Paul could certainly link up these two guys in a hurry but through teammates we have to look elsewhere:

1. Tovar and Del Unser ’73 Phillies;
2. Unser and Steve Mingori ’72 Indians.eHHeHYeHJh

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

#537 - Steve Mingori



Steve Mingori looks kind of lonely showing us the end of his delivery in a shadowy part of the Oakland Coliseum  A more representative shot would be of him midway through his pitch so we could see his specialized three-quarter delivery that he used pretty effectively throughout his career, particularly when it was delivering a screwball. Steve was actually a mighty happy guy around the time of this photo. A lifetime resident of the Kansas City area, he’d recently reached there professionally as well when a June trade brought him to the Royals for journeyman pitcher Mike Jackson. It was a good move for him right off the bat as after a middling start on little use split between Cleveland and Triple A he put up much better numbers on more use in his new home. Back then KC was big on the reliever-by-committee strategy and Steve would do a nice job as both a lefty set-up guy and finisher over the next bunch of seasons.

Steve Mingori was born in Kansas City and grew up in nearby Pittsburg where he was a pitching star at Rockhurst High. After graduating in ’62 he went to Pittsburg State University – then Kansas State College – where he continued to pitch through ’65 when he was signed by the Reds. He went 4-4 that summer with a 3.88 ERA while splitting time between a couple A teams. In ’66 at the same level he went 8-12 in the rotation despite a 2.50 ERA and over a strikeout an inning. From then on it was pretty much all relief as he went 6-5 with a 2.67 ERA in Double A and a 3-1 with a 2.57 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 57 innings. In ’69 he got a rookie card but his numbers turned south around some military time – he also served in ’67 and ’68 – as he went 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA and five saves. Following the season he was traded to Cleveland for Jay Ward.

With the Tribe in ’70 Mingori pitched at every level from Double A to Cleveland, enjoying pretty good success at each one. In Double A he was 6-0 with just eight walks in 63 innings and a 0.83 ERA. In Triple A his ERA rose a bunch but he put up a K an inning. He then debuted up top that August and put up some nice numbers, including a save. In ’71 Steve was having a bang-up season when he went down in August from a freak accident: he was returning to the dugout when an errant throw from an infielder plastered him in the head. His ERA was pretty much the lowest in the league though he didn’t qualify for the title. He had four saves that season and then added ten in ’72 despite his higher ERA. After the off-putting start to his ’73 season he went to Kansas City.

Mingori’s timing in coming to the Royals was pretty much perfect as he got there in conjunction with the team’s significant improvement. The first couple full seasons in ‘[74 and ’75 he specialized in set-up work, putting up a couple saves each year. In both seasons his ERA was well under 3.00. He then moved into closer work in ’76 and had his biggest year, going 5-5 with ten saves and a 2.32 ERA. He got his first post-season work that autumn against the Yankees which would also be the case the next two years. In ’77 he put up four saves and in ’78 seven along with more very good ERA numbers. In ’79 the playoff streak by KC ended as did Steve’s effective relief work as one horrible outing against NY pushed his ERA through the roof and limited his use. His ERA bloated to 5.79 that year and after it he was released. That ended his pitching career and Steve finished with a record of 18-33 with a 3.03 ERA and 42 saves. In the post-season he went 0-0 with a save and a 4.32 ERA in seven games.

After he retired Mingori took a gig in the KC area selling office supplies. That lasted through ’85 when he got back into baseball by coaching in the Toronto system for various franchises. That he did through the mid-Nineties when he then got tired of traveling and opened his own pitching school back in KC. During that time he did some promo work for the Royals and played lots of golf until ’92 when he had to get a neck operation to fix some issues that resulted from his years as a pitcher. By ’04 he was pretty much recovered and he returned to private coaching which he did until he passed away in 2008. He was 64.


Steve has a pretty good card back. He was the Ban Johnson MVP in ’63, which surprised me a bit because I hadn’t known it was a college league. It was while pitching summer ball that he developed his screwball. The cartoon is also interesting because he graduated Pittsburg in ’67 so he must have gone there or elsewhere for an advanced degree. And check out that birthdate. Technically when this card came out Steve was only seven years old.

These two for sure never saw each other during the season. I am hesitant to re-use a guy so quickly but here goes:

1. Mingori and Ed Kirkpatrick ’73 Royals;
2. Kirkpatrick and Duffy Dyer ’75 to ’77 Pirates.eHHeHYeHJh

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

#536 - Duffy Dyer



Duffy Dyer was generally a happy guy, at least on most of his cards. Here he looks less than enamored, possibly because there appear to be a couple of dark-shrouded people coming his way. ’73 wasn’t too hot of a year for Duffy. He’d had the biggest season of his career in ’72 when an injury to Jerry Grote gave Duffy the starting gig behind the plate and he had his biggest offensive season. Grote got hurt again in May, breaking his wrist, and again Duffy stepped in. But a short time later he got plunked in the wrist also and though he didn’t miss any time he did miss his ’72 stats in a big way as his average hovered around .100 the early part of the season. Eventually the Mets went after Jerry May from Kansas City – who would have problems of his own – and then brought up Ron Hodges, who was hitting under .200 in A ball. Duffy would get his average up – if “up” is the appropriate word – to .185 by season’s end but by the time Grote came back full-time Duffy was pretty much done and the poor guy got zero post-season work. I guess he had no shortage of reasons for looking so serious.

Duffy Dyer was born in Ohio and relocated to Arizona as a kid. There he helped take his high school baseball team to a state championship and was all-area as a quarterback. Back then he was principally an outfielder and after graduating in ’63 he went to Arizona State on a baseball scholarship. In his sophomore season of ’65 he hit .338 on a team with Rick Monday and Sal Bando that won the CLS. He was drafted by the Braves but instead returned to ASU for his junior year. That season he switched to catcher, hit .326, and was second team All-American. That time after being drafted as a first rounder by the Mets he signed. He didn’t exactly start off with a bang that summer, hitting .174 in Double A before moving down to A ball where he bounced to .246. In ’67 he stuck in Double A even though he still hit below .200. But he was pretty good with the pitchers and in ’68 he moved up to Triple A and was an all-star with his 16 homers though he only hit .230. He got his first look in NY that September.

In ’69 Dyer made the Mets as the third-string guy behind Grote and JC Martin. He had a great debut that year, belting a three-run homer in a pinch at bat on opening day. The rest of the season he shuttled between NY and Triple A Tidewater – where he hit .313 with 26 RBI’s in 112 at bats - and got into the Series against Baltimore. In ’70 the Mets traded Martin to the Cubs and Duffy became the number two guy behind the plate. Each year he got a little more plate time which was maxed out in ’72 when he also picked off more than half the guys who tried to steal on him. In ’74 he got less time behind the plate but rebounded a bit offensively, batting .211 and putting up more walks than K’s his only season in NY. After that year he went to Pittsburgh for Gene Clines.

For his first couple seasons with the Pirates, Dyer again did his back-up thing, this time behind Manny Sanguillen. His offense was a bit better as he became more discriminating at the plate. Prior to the ’77 season Sanguillen was traded to Oakland and that year Duffy and Ed Ott – who had to have the two shortest names sharing a position – took turns behind the plate. That year competed with ’72 for his best as he put up less RBI’s – 19 – but compensated with a higher average of .241, was perfect with six steals, and way outdid himself in OBA with a .370. In ’78 Ott won the starting job with his better bat and after hitting .211 that season Duffy went to Montreal as a free agent. He hit .243 in ’79 but on not too many at bats as he worked behind Gary Carter. In ’80 he moved on to Detroit for Jerry Manuel where he hit .185 behind Lance Parrish before retiring a couple games into the ’81 season. Duffy finished with a .221 average on 30 homers and got on base at a .500 clip in the post-season (two appearances).

Dyer took a couple years off before he returned to baseball, kicking things off as a Cubs coach in ’83. He then moved to the Minnesota system as an A ball manager for two seasons, winning a title in ’85. The next three seasons he managed in the Milwaukee chain, twice winning titles, before coming up to coach from ’89 to ’95. He then coached for Oakland (’96-’98) before returning to the minors to manage, first for Baltimore (’99-2000), and then for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish (’01-’02). He then returned to the Mets as an advance scout (’03 to ’04) before returning to manage in the Detroit system (’05 to ’06). Since 2007 he has been the minor league catching coordinator for the Padres. His managing record is 697-656.


Duffy had an excellent fielding season in ’72, his only season as a de facto starter. He fielded at a .992 clip and led the NL in double plays and runners picked off. In ’77, when he split time as the starter, he led the NL in fielding with a .996. That hit in September was a big deal as it sent the game into extra innings and was a big win for the Mets. The game featured the “ball off the wall play” that nailed Richie Zisk at home before the Mets won the game in the bottom of the 13th. It was Duffy’s final at bat for the season. He also has a SABR page that gives a pretty funny origin story for his nickname.

These two actually played together at Pittsburgh in ’77 but Tolan only got a few plate appearances that year so let’s make the hook-up more solid:

1. Dyer and Ed Kirkpatrick ’75 to ’77 Pirates;
2. Kirkpatrick and Hal McRae ’73 Royals;
3. McRae and Bobby Tolan ’70 to ’72 Reds.

Monday, April 22, 2013

#535 - Bobby Tolan



Given the palm trees in the background this must be a spring training shot. But from the look on Bobby Tolan’s face it could be taken from last September. Bobby had about the worst year of anyone in this set – given his past achievements – in ’73 this side of Steve Blass. After his pretty huge comeback in ’72 he began ’73 strongly enough and was still north of his ’72 average in early May. But then came a big swoon which may or may not have been instigated by more leg issues and by late June he was down to Mendoza levels. It was also around then that he was moved to right field in a switch with Cesar Geronimo. He then began to lose at bats as he got pinch hit for late in games and did a bit of that himself so new guys Ken Griffey and Ed Armbrister could get some looks. In August he got into a shouting match with the director of player personnel over Bobby’s facial hair and as a result he was banned from the team for a bunch of games. Then in mid-September he was suspended by the team for the rest of the year, thereby missing the post-season. Marvin Miller filed a grievance on his behalf but Bobby was sent packing to the Padres for Clay Kirby. So Bobby had lots of reasons to look the way he does in this photo. Having a glow-in-the-dark air-brushed hat to boot just seals the deal.

Bobby Tolan grew up in LA where he went to Fremont High and was teammates with Bob Watson and Willie Crawford. Signed by the Pirates his senior year he hit .271 as a first baseman that summer in A ball. He was then selected by the Cards that winter in the first year draft who moved Bobby to the outfield and Double A. He had a nice season in ’64, hitting .297 with a .369 OBA with 68 RBI’s and 34 stolen bases. In ’65 he moved to Triple A and the top spot of the order, hitting .290 with 45 stolen bases. He also made his St. Louis debut that September. In ’66 he hit .333 to start the year in Triple A, got some mid-season time in St. Louis, missed some time for military service – as he would the next couple years – and finished the season in Triple A. In ’67 and ’68 he worked around his military time to be the club’s fourth outfielder behind Lou Brock, Roger Maris, and Curt Flood. While he was a bit frustrated for a lack of playing time, he did get to go to two Series and won a ring in ’67. After that second year the Cards were looking for a veteran to replace the retired Maris and they traded Bobby and Wayne Granger to the Reds for Vada Pinson.

Tolan began the ’69 season as the everyday guy in right field and by about midway through he moved to center. The deal worked out quite well for Cincinnati as Bobby hit .305 with 26 stolen bases and got his power groove on with lifetime highs in homers and RBI’s. In ’70 he moved to the top of the order again and finished that year with lifetime highs in average, OBA (.384), and stolen bases, with an NL-leading 57. He returned to the post-season this time as a starter and got on base at about a .385 clip. After that season the Reds put together a barnstorming basketball team – Pete Rose, Lee May, and Wayne Simpson were also on it – of which Bobby was the star. At least he was until he ruptured his Achilles tendon. That injury kept him out of baseball for all of ’71 and was the biggest contributor to the Reds big bust that year. By spring training of ’72 he was mostly healed and he would have an excellent return, hitting .283 with 42 steals and 82 RBI’s to again help lead the Reds to the playoffs. That year he was a big RBI guy as he put up ten in 12 games and also stole five bases. After the misery of ’73 he was traded to San Diego in November with Dave Tomlin for Clay Kirby.

When Tolan got to San Diego he moved to right field since the Padres had young guy Johnny Grubb in center. That first year Bobby was a soothing presence for fellow new Padre Derrell Thomas and though his speed was clearly compromised – indicated by a severe decline in steals and lending more credence to his leg being hurt in ’73 – he had a bit of an offensive recovery, pulling his average up 60 points and hitting more doubles and scoring more runs even though his at bats were lighter by about 100. That happened because in July he had to have knee surgery after messing it up on a catch in foul territory. In ’75 he returned and was moved to left field in a switch with Dave Winfield. That year he made it through the season relatively unscathed and hit .255. He was released after the season and signed with the Phillies. He had returned to first base a bit during the ’75 season and in ’76 he got most of his field time there, splitting time with Dick Allen. He turned in a decent season, hitting .261 with 35 RBI’s in 272 at bats. In ’77 the Phillies picked up Richie Hebner to play first and Bobby, after a few at bats, got released and then signed by Pittsburgh, for whom he pinch hit the rest of the year. In ’78 he went to Japan to play for the Nankai Hawks for a season where he joined Carlos May. He then returned to the States and in ’79 hit .284 for the Puerto Rico team of the short-lived Inter-American League. He then re-signed with San Diego where he finished up the season and his career as a pinch hitter. Bobby finished with a .265 average with 86 homers, 497 RBI’s, and 193 stolen bases. In the post-season he hit .253 with 13 RBI’s and seven stolen bases in 27 games.

Tolan immediately began a coaching career following his playing one, beginning by coaching third base for the Padres in 1980. He moved to first base and hitting coach where he remained through ’83 and then managed two seasons in the minors. In ’86 he moved to the Seattle system as a hitting instructor: in the minors that year and in Seattle in ’87. In ’88 and ’89 he managed in the Baltimore system and then moved on to manage in the Senior Leagues, winning the only title that league ever had. He then shows up sporadically in managing and coaching gigs: in ’99 he managed the Nashua Pride; in 2005 he coached the Bristol Sox and in 2006 managed the Great Falls Sox. In 2008 he reappeared in headlines when his son Robbie, a draftee of the Washington Nationals, was shot in his driveway in Texas after being mistaken for a car thief. There was lots of controversy around the event with the Tolans claiming racial profiling led to an overly aggressive use of force. Robbie’s career ended shortly thereafter and the cop was acquitted but a civil suit is still on. Bobby still does card shows and has begun an eponymous local league that has its own site. As a manager he has gone 309-309.


That first star bullet is interesting because Bobby did not make the MLB All-Star team and was not part of the game roster in 1970. However he was named to The Sporting News NL All-Star team at the end of the season. In ’72 he also won the Hutch Award. Eddie Tolan has been variously listed as Bobby’s cousin or uncle. He won both the 100 and 200 sprints in the ’32 Olympics after setting both high school and college records while going to school in and around Detroit. Initially he wanted to be a doctor but funds were hard to come by for his schooling during the Depression. He won some professional meets in Australia in ’35 and worked for various municipalities until he passed away in ’67 at 59 from a heart ailment. Eddie was described as “bulky” when he was a runner: he topped out at about 135.

These guys missed each other on the Phillies by a few years:

1. Tolan and Mike Schmidt ’76 to ’77 Phillies;
2. Schmidt and Eddie Watt ’74 Phillies.  eHHeHYeHJh

Friday, April 19, 2013

#534 - Eddie Watt

Lots of pensive shots lately. This one shows Eddie Watt at Yankee Stadium, a place he wouldn’t be visiting too much any more since as shown by the second card he was traded to the NL. Eddie was a short-inning closer before there really were short-inning closers. During the Oriole pennant seasons of the late Sixties and early Seventies he pretty much averaged an inning an appearance. That changed a bit in ’73 as his first off-season knee injury – he would have about ten of those, including most well after he played – gave him a lot more innings in less games as he began to mix in more middle relief when the O’s moved other guys into the closer role. Eddie had probably been expecting a trade since early ’71 since nearly every time he was announced at home he got booed because he gave up a homer to Lee May in the ’70 Series. That’s tough: three seasons of that after they won the damn thing anyway. Eddie actually pitched pretty well in post-season play and was awfully solid for a bunch of years. He was originally part of the package that was going to be sent to Atlanta after the ’72 season to get Earl Williams but that deal fell through. So leaving Baltimore for Philly was probably a happy event for Eddie. On his Traded card he looks to be in Baltimore.

Eddie Watt grew up in Iowa where in high school he was an All-American hoops player. He then got a basketball scholarship to Iowa Teacher College (later the University of Northern Iowa) and since freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity he played local semi-pro ball that spring of ’60. He returned to play both sports his sophomore year and nearly pitched his team into the CWS before losing to Oklahoma State. It was during that time he was discovered by the Orioles for whom he shortly thereafter signed. He returned to school and then started things rolling the following spring, going 11-11 in the rotation in D ball. His ERA was 2.19 and he recorded 170 K’s in 160 innings so it was a nice start. In ’63 he moved to A ball where he hurt his arm but still had a decent year, going 10-12 with a 3.14 ERA, still recording strikeouts at a pretty good clip. In ’64 he went 17-2 in a season split between A and Double A ball, with a 2.04 ERA. In ’65 he pitched two no-hitters the first weeks of his Double A season and after going 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA at that level he moved up to Triple A where he went 6-4 with a 3.52 All that time he displayed pretty excellent control.

1966 was a pretty good year for Watt. He finished his degree in education and made the cut for a pretty good team. He began the year as a spot guy, getting 13 starts in his 43 games. But he tended to do much better in relief than in the rotation so by the end of the season he was strictly a pen guy. Though the Orioles won the Series Eddie got no work because the starters finished pretty much all their own games. In ’67 he did a bunch of set-up work and got eight saves despite missing a month with a broken hand. Then during the ’68 season he moved into the closer role and over the next four years he recorded a total of 50 saves and pitched in three Series. In ’72 his load lightened a little because of the knee and his saves fell to seven and then five in ’73. After the trade he did an OK job in the Phillies pen – 1-1 with six saves in 42 games of mostly set-up work – but was released just before the ’75 season began. He then signed with the Cubs and for them had a couple tough up top innings and went 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA and seven saves in Triple A. Then it was on to San Diego for whom he would pitch only in Triple A through ’77, that last year as a player/coach. That essentially ended Eddie’s mound time and he finished with a record of 38-36 up top with a 2.91 ERA and 80 saves. He also went 65-43 in the minors with a 2.89 ERA. He was a pretty good hitter, batting .190 with three homers in the majors and .240 in the minors. In the post-season he went 0-3 with a save in eight games while putting up a 2.53 ERA and striking out eleven guys in that many innings.

Watt dug the coaching gig and from ’78 to ’81 he managed in the San Diego chain, putting together a record of 290-263. He then did minor league pitching coach work for the Phillies (’82-’85); Houston (’86-’89); and Atlanta (’90-2002) after which he retired. He returned to Iowa where he golfs and goes to occasional card shows.


There are Eddie’s no-hitters in ’65. He traveled a bunch as an Oriole. He also did a tour of Japan with the team after the Series win that culminated in the O’s taking down the Japanese series champs.


Topps gets clever with the Traded headline. Eddie was bought by the Phillies for about $70,000, which was a pretty good sum back then. And they were right in that last line. He had morphed from a strikeout guy to a ground-out guy during his first couple O’s seasons.

These guys got the same colors on their cards but they never played together:

1. Watt and Del Unser ’74 Phillies;
2. Unser and Mike Phillips ’75 to ’76 Mets.eHHeHYeHJh

Thursday, April 18, 2013

#533 - Mike Phillips



This card is a rarity of late. It is a rookie card, and a home one at that. Mike Phillips made his Giants debut in ’73 and didn’t look back for nearly ten seasons of reserve infield work in the majors. He was a pretty solid guy in that role and he moved around a bit during his career but always stayed in the NL. In ’73 he came up a couple games into the season to provide depth at third and shortstop. Mike was a pretty versatile guy, playing all over the infield. For a while with the Cards in the late Seventies he even took some work behind the plate in spring training though he never had to go there in the regular season. Here he gazes off at Candlestick with one of a couple potential candidates – Gary Thomasson, Jim Barr? – behind him. It’s not a crazy exciting card but Mike would go on to have a fairly long career on the field in his utilitarian role.

Mike Phillips grew up in Irvine, Texas, where he was enough of a schoolboy baseball star – I couldn’t find any stats – to get drafted in the first round by the Giants in ’69, his senior year of high school. In Rookie ball that summer he didn’t hit so hot but he did better in Fall ball. He upped his average in A ball in ’70 and then moved up the chain the next two years, never hitting particularly well, but showing off his versatility in ’72 by playing second and third in Triple A along with his normal shortstop gig. After a game in Phoenix to start off ’73 he came up to San Francisco.

In 1974 Chris Speier and Tito Fuentes were injured for a bit so Phillips upped his plate and field time considerably and also squeezed some time in the hodgepodge at third base. But his average dipped to .219 in 283 at bats. In ’75 the Giants picked up Derrell Thomas for Fuentes. Thomas was a bit of an infield chameleon himself so after a few games Mike was placed on waivers and picked up by the Mets. That acquisition led to his busiest season since Bud Harrelson missed most of the year due to injuries. Mike improved his average to .256 but unfortunately also led NL shortstops in errors. He then maintained that average in ’76 as he split time at short and got some starts at second and third. He also reduced his error totals significantly and raised his profile a bit when he hit for the cycle against the Cubs. In ’77 his playing time came in a bunch and after hitting .209 through mid-June he was sent to St. Louis for Joel Youngblood. The Cards began employing Mike more as a pinch hitter and he hit .241 the balance of the year for them. In ’78 he subbed primarily at second and did nice work in his pinch role, raisng his average to .268 and showing his best power with 28 RBI’s in 164 at bats. He stuck with the Cards through ’80 but during that time didn’t approach his ’78 stats. After the ’80 season he went to San Diego in a big trade that also sent Terry Kennedy to the Padres and brought ex-A’s Gene Tenace and Rollie Fingers to St. Louis. Mike put in some infield reserve time for San Diego before he was sold that spring to Montreal. He then spent all of ’81 with the Expos before splitting ’82 and ’83 between Montreal and its Triple A franchise, ending his career. He hit .240 up top and .247 in the minors. He got out in his only post-season at bat.

While playing Phillips did off-season work selling radio ads back in Texas, which he continued doing after he finished playing. He then moved to selling ad spots for the Texas Rangers in the late Nineties. In 2002 he moved to the Royals organization and since 2005 he has been the team’s director of group sales.


I didn’t know Topps did the high school all-star teams until I saw this card. I believe Mike is the first guy from this set I have seen mentioned making one of those teams. I have found no information about team rosters so I am unsure as to whether other MLB players were on it.

These guys were teammates:

1. Phillips and Skip Lockwood ’75 to ’77 Mets.eHHeHYeHJh

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

#532 - Skip Lockwood



Skip Lockwood looks concerned at what appears to be Comiskey. He is about the jillionth air-brushed Angel or Brewer in this set and those were all from the result of one trade. Maybe he was uncomfortable about going to a new home. But he was all smiles on his ’75 card so that wasn’t it. Maybe the photo was taken shortly after a tough day on the mound in Milwaukee when he got popped so hard in the chest by a Jim Holt come-backer that one of the “r’s” in Brewers came clear off his uniform. That would have been fun. But ’73 was a pivotal season for Skip. Up until then a starter nearly all the time he began to get some serious work in the pen. And though the results were pretty standard for his time in Milwaukee that move would lead to a revitalized career once he left. And that he did in that monstrous trade with California. None of those guys got an official Traded card. Topps blew that one since kids would have had to buy seven other cards to complete the set.

Skip Lockwood grew up in Norwood, Massachusetts where he played baseball, basketball, and ran track. He played American Legion ball also and in ’63 was named to a national team that played a game at Yankee Stadium. For his high school career he hit .416 and went 22-2 on the mound. He was quite sought after and after his senior year of ’64 was offered a $35,000 contract by Kansas City. A ballsy guy, Skip apparently asked if he could add a “1” to the front of the bonus and the A’s agreed (really?!). So with his record contract he went off to play some A ball and hit .208 with five homers and 29 RBI’s as a third baseman. Then in ’65 – I guess delays were allowed – he had to stay on the KC roster all season because he was a bonus baby. Like most guys in that role he rarely played, hitting .121 in 33 at bats while getting into 42 games as a late inning guy. He did have a perfect fielding record. He returned to A ball in ’66 where the next two seasons he hit .264 and .245 with modest power while at third. Both years he missed a ton of time due to military reserve work. For any number of reasons depending on the source, he took up pitching in ’68 after being taken by the Col .45’s in a Rule 5 draft and then being returned. He went 6-3 that season with a 3.60 ERA as a swing guy in A ball and was then taken by the Pilots in the expansion draft. For Seattle he went 6-2 in still-limited innings in Double A and then made his pitching debut up top late that year. He returned to the minors to kick off the ’70 season, going 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA in five starts. Then it was up to Milwaukee.

With the Brewers Lockwood got rotation time for three-plus seasons before he switched to relief. His ERA was a bit over league average and he paid for that in spades as his record was 28-55 during his time there. The big trade took him to California where for a year he had mediocre stats out of the pen, going 2-5 with a save and a 4.32 ERA. After the season he was traded to the Yankees for Bill Sudakis but then got released at the end of spring training. He returned to Oakland and for the A’s threw Triple A ball, again with a fat ERA, but going 6-2 with ten saves. That July he was purchased by the Mets and after some short work with that team's Triple A club returned to the top where for the rest of the season he went 1-3 with a save, 61 strikeouts in 48 innings, and a 1.49 ERA. Those numbers proved a pretty good indication of the success he would have in the NY pen. In ’76 he went 10-7 with 19 saves, a 2.67 ERA, and 108 K’s in 94 innings. In ’77 he went 4-8 with 20 saves and in ’78 7-13 with 15 saves, both on teams that were truly awful. In ’79 he was going great guns with a 2-5 record, nine saves, and a 1.49 ERA when he hurt his shoulder, pretty much killing his season. His home state Red Sox took a flier on him anyway in the ’80 free agent draft and signed him to a three year deal. But between a poor relationship with manager Don Zimmer that led to minimal mound time, a rib injury, and continued shoulder pain his one season there wasn’t terribly successful: 3-1 with a couple saves but a 5.32 ERA. He was released during ’81 spring training and then attempted a comeback with Montreal’s Triple A club but didn’t fare too much better than with the Sox and retired. Skip finished with a record up top of 57-97 with 16 complete games, five shutouts, 68 saves, and a 3.55 ERA. He also went 29-14 with a 3.76 ERA in the minors where he hit .237 for his career. In the majors he hit .154.

Lockwood got a degree while playing and then a couple graduate degrees including one from MIT. For a while he had his own sports psychology business but he then moved into finance. He has a very detailed SABR biography. He also has his own website, linked to here, which promotes him as a motivational speaker.


Skip’s last star bullet is worded a bit redundantly. He would also coach baseball and golf at Emerson College. He had some funny lines in “Ball Four.” One time after the author Jim Bouton got hit pretty hard during a spring training game and the two were comparing grips Skip asked him “How do you hold your doubles?”

Double hook-up time. One trade makes this easier for Mauch as a manager:

1. Lockwood and Tim Foli ’78 Mets;
2. Foli was managed by Gene Mauch on the ’72 to ’75 Expos.

It gets stretched out for Mauch as a player:

1. Lockwood and Jerry McNertney ’69 to ’70 Pilots/Brewers;
2. McNertney and Gene Stephens ’64 White Sox;
3. Stephens and Gene Mauch ’57 Red Sox.

Jerry McNertney was a back-up catcher for Chicago during the late Sixties who became the first starting catcher of the Pilots/Brewers franchise. Stephens was a reserve outfielder for a bunch of AL teams from the mid-Fifties to the early Sixties.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

#531 - Gene Mauch/Expos Field Leaders



Gene Mauch has the Sparky Anderson old thing going on. In this photo he is about 48 years old. But he has a fat smile on his face and he should as he was about to lead the Expos to their best season for a few years, one in which they would contend until a late-September slump took them out of the running for a division title. He used the NL’s best OBA to run his “small-ball” theme pretty well and if he had one more dependable starter he could have won the whole thing. What he did win was the NL’s Manager of the Year award. The nice thing about the ’73 fade was that it wasn’t his fault. That probably made it a lot easier to bear than that one in ’64.

Gene Mauch was born in Kansas but relocated to California as a kid and played middle infield and pitched while attending Fremont High in LA.. He was signed by the Dodgers in ’43 just out of school and that summer after hitting .322 in B ball put in a few games in Double A. Shortly after starting at Brooklyn and then hitting .283 in Double A he enlisted, spending the balance of that year and all of ’45 in WW II. He returned in ’46 to put in a full season at shortstop in Triple A, hitting .248 with a .359 OBA, but with tons of errors. After the season he was traded to Pittsburgh where he moved to second and after hitting .300 the first half of the season was promoted. He spent the balance of the season hitting .300 in a few games of infield back-up. After a flip back to Brooklyn (with Billy Cox and Preacher Roe) a slow start as a reserve got him to the Cubs on waivers. The rest of that year and the next he got 300 at bats worth of back-up infield work. Prior to the ’50 season he was traded to the Braves where he did a season-plus up top and also hit over .300 in Triple A in ’51 and ’52. In ’53 he went down to Double A as a player/manager and went 84-70 and made the playoffs. He then returned to Chicago where he played for three seasons in the PCL, hitting well each year and topping out with a .348/20/84 season in ’56. Those numbers turned on the Red Sox who purchased Gene for the stretch run – he hit .325 – and then kept him up top for all of ’57 where he split time at second and had his biggest year at that level, hitting .270 with 28 RBI’s in 222 at bats. He was then released as a player and went to Triple A to manage for the Sox and in both ’58 and ’59 took his team to its championship series, winning the whole thing the second year. He turned in some time as a player there also and finished that role after the ’59 season. Gene hit .239 in the majors in just over 300 games and .291 in the minors with a .385 OBA.

Mauch was planning on returning to the Boston organization for the ’60 season but instead got hired into the Philadelphia one as a coach up top and took over the team two games into the season. The first two seasons were pretty tough but by ’62 Gene and management had built a pretty good nucleus around outfielders Johnny Callison and Tony Gonzales and that season he won his first Manager of the Year award. Then with the arrival of Chris Short and Jim Bunning on the mound and rookie slugger Dick Allen in a couple years he had the team in first place with a bit over a week to go in September ’64. But the Phillies famously lost ten straight as Gene opted to go with his two above mound starters almost exclusively; three straight losses wereto the surging Cardinals who went on to win the Series. Still Gene again won Manager of the Year again and kept the Phillies on the plus side of the win column even though the talent got scarcer and there were all sorts of fallouts between him and Allen. He was canned midway through the ’68 season and was then hired to manage the new Expos. Again the going was rough initially and while he never got to a winning record with Montreal he did get them to a respectable place pretty quickly by building around a good core and playing smart fundamental ball. He lasted with Montreal through ’75 and then was hired to run Minnesota. There he kept the team competitive even after Rod Carew’s departure, until he was let go during the ‘80 season. A year later he was following Jim Fregosi in managing the Angels and in ’82 he won his first divsion title. He was released after losing to the Brewers in the playoffs and was then hired back for ’85 when owner Gene Autry realized he acted too hastily. Again within a year Gene had California on the playoff track, winning his second division title. But reprising an old theme, after his team had its his opponent on the ropes, the Angels allowed Boston to recover to win the playoffs. Gene managed the Angels one more season and then, facing health problems, retired from managing. He was a big smoker and would have lung problems the rest of his life. Gene went 1,902-2,037 and he has coached and won the most games without winning a title. He worked for the Angels front office for a bunch of years and passed away from lung cancer in 2005 when he was 79.


Dave Bristol was born in Macon, Georgia, and was also a middle infielder in high school, as well as an all-city basketball guard and halfback. He was signed by Cincinnati in 1951 after a year at Western Carolina University – he would complete a degree there and at UNC in education – and then hit .270 in D ball that summer. In ’52 and ’53 he moved up to C ball where he hit roughly .245 before later the second season he joined the military. He returned in ’55 to hit .247 in B ball and in ’56 moved back to D ball where he hit .274. In '57 he had moved to C ball where he was hitting .333 when he was asked to manage a D club. There he hit .332 while leading the club to a record of 38-59, significantly better than his predecessors. He continued to play through ’61, recording big seasons in C ball in ’59 (.289/13/97) and in D ball in ’60 (.295/15/85) and finished with a .283 average. He remained in the Cincinnati system as a manager through ’65, running up a record of 662-562 during that time and winning league championships in five of those nine seasons. In ’66 he was brought up top to coach and early that season was named manager. As a manager he was a taskmaster and bench jockey who got in trouble for riding the umps. He did a pretty good job putting together the team that would become The Big Red Machine but couldn’t get to the playoffs so was dismissed following the ’69 season. He was hired by Montreal but then jumped ship to manage the Brewers which he did from ’70 through mid-’72. In ’73 he became a coach with Montreal for real, which he did through ’75. He then moved to manage the Braves where in ’77 he was replaced by team owner Ted Turner for a game before the league put a stop to that and Dave returned to finish the season. In ’78 he coached the Giants and then took over managing in ’79 as the team failed to move ahead in its rebuilding. But there he clashed with Jack Clark and got into a fight with John Montefusco and was done after the ’80 season. After a year out of the game he returned to coach for the Phillies (’82-’85, ‘88) and the Reds (’89 and ’93). In between and thereafter he returned to his off-season business of raising horses back in North Carolina. Dave’s record was 657-764 overall up top and he continues to reside in his base state.

Larry Doby was born in South Carolina and relocated to New Jersey when he was a kid after his father died. He spent high school in Patterson where he was all-state in the big three sports and track and he played both semi-pro (with Monte Irvin) and Negro League ball before he finished school (he adopted the surname Walker when he played in the Negro Leagues). After graduating in ’41 he went to Long Island University on a hoops scholarship. He did not finish out the year but did play pro hoops for the Harlem Rens and baseball for the Newark Eagles the following spring, playing second and hitting around .390. He then transferred to Virginia Union University and then in ’43 again played for Newark before being inducted into the military. He played some service ball over the next three seasons while being stationed in the US and the Pacific. He returned to Newark in ’46 and hit .341, which got him noticed by Cleveland owner Bill Veeck. After a winter of pro hoops for the Paterson Crescents he returned to Newark where he was hitting .458 with Negro League-leading totals of 16 doubles and 13 homers when he was signed by Veeck and later that summer became the first black player in the AL. He only got some token time at the plate that first season but returned in ’48 to take over center field and hit .301 before leading Cleveland hitters in the Series with a .318 average. In ’49 he hit .280 while upping his RBI total to 85 and increased everything in ’50 with a .326/25/102 season with an AL-leading .442 OBA. After a knee injury hurt his power a bit in ’51 he returned to put up his three biggest power years, averaging 31 homers and 111 RBI’s through ’54 while hitting about .272. During that time he led the AL in homers twice and runs and RBI’s once. In ’55 he hit .291 with 26 homers but a leg injury helped pull his RBI number down to 75 and after the season he was traded to the White Sox. His first year in Chicago he had a .268/24/102 season but he again injured his leg in ’57 and his numbers slipped to .288/14/79. He was then traded back to Cleveland where he hit .283 with 13 homers and 45 RBI’s in half a season in ’58. He then went to Detroit and back to Chicago for a few games before re-joining Cleveland at their PCL franchise. There a couple games in he broke his ankle and missed the rest of the season. He signed with Toronto of the IL in ’60 but was cut when his ankle didn’t come around. After returning to Paterson to coach and run his club in Newark he went to Japan in ’62 with Don Newcombe to play for Chunichi as the first Americans to play there. That ended his playing career and he finished with a .283 average with 253 homers, 970 RBI’s, and a .386 OBA. He hit .237 in ten post-season games and made seven consecutive All-Star teams. In ’63 he resumed his work in Paterson which he did until he became a scout and minor league hitting coach with the new Expos in ’69. He moved up top to coach from ’71 to ’73 and then returned to Cleveland to coach in ’74. There were rumors that he would become MLB’s first black manager but when the Tribe traded for Frank Robinson that opportunity slipped away and Larry was released as a coach prior to the ’75 season. In ’77 he moved to the White Sox as hitting coach and then replaced Bob Lemon as manager mid-way through the ’78 season. He went 30-57 in that role before again becoming hitting coach in ’79. He then moved on to basketball and from ’80 through ’90 worked for the New Jersey Nets in various community-relationship roles. He then did some admin work for the MLB offices but mostly retired to Montclair, NJ. He was inducted into the Hall in ’98 and passed away in Montclair in 2003 from cancer. He was 79.

Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish had a dad who was nearly a full-blooded Native American and who obviously liked names. Cal grew up in Oklahoma and was signed by the Dodgers as a bonus baby pitcher in ’44 out of high school and therefore began his career right away in the majors. He went 3-10 that summer with a 7.82 ERA and then spent the next two years in the military, grabbing an inning on his return late in ’46. He then got traded – with Gene Mauch – to Pittsburgh where he did a couple seasons in Triple A and won 12 games in ’48. But his control wasn’t great and his ERA was toppy so he was traded to the Cubs and had another mediocre season in ’49 at the same level before going 20-11 with a 3.60 ERA in ’50. That got him back up top but a ’51 season of 4-10 with a 4.45 ERA moved him back down and he spent the next four seasons in the PCL going a combined 56-53 with a 3.55 ERA and much better control. He then got purchased by Cleveland for whom he returned to the top. After a not great ’56 he put together three pretty good seasons: 9-7 with a 2.74 ERA in ’57; 16-8, 2.99 in ’58; and 19-8, 3.63 in ’59. He then went with Billy Martin to the Reds in a trade but went only 4-14. He had another losing season in ’61 with the White Sox before going to Philadelphia where over the next two years he was 24-16 with a 3.66 ERA. After a couple games in ’64 he was done and finished with a record of 92-92 with a 4.01 ERA, 57 complete games, five shutouts, and seven saves. In Philly Cal’s old buddy Gene Mauch was the manager and in ’65 Gene named Cal pitching coach which he did through ’66 before working the next two seasons as a scout for the team. He then re-joined Mauch as a coach for the new Expos which he did through ’75. He then moved on to Milwaukee as its pitching coach (’76-’82) and scout (’83- late Nineties) and then retired. He passed away in Oklahoma in 2010 at age 84 from leukemia.

Jerry Zimmerman was born in Omaha, Nebraska and moved to Oregon as a kid where he excelled as an athlete at Milwaukie High. There he was chased down by every MLB club after hitting .423 for his career – and .621 his senior year of ’52 – as a catcher. The Red Sox won him with a bonus of between $65,000 and $80,000 and he hit .230 that summer in C ball. He upped that to .265 in ’53 but with very little power. In ’54 he hit .302 in D ball, followed by a .275 in B ball in ’55 and a .231 in A ball in ’56. He was very adept at handling difficult pitches and had very low error and passed ball totals. He had one of his better offensive years in ’57 with a .266 Double A year and then hit .250 in Triple A the following year. After starting off ’59 badly he was released and picked up by Baltimore. His average didn’t improve and after the season he was sent to Cincinnati for whom in ’60 he hit .279 in Triple A. He finally made The Show in ’61 when he stepped in as part of a three-man rotation at catcher and had the best average – at only .206 – of any of the guys in that position on the pennant winner. He got some Series time and then was traded to the Twins for whom he spent the next five seasons backing up Earl Battey. He returned to the Series in ’65 and had his best season up top in ’66 when he hit .252 with 15 RBI’s. He took over as a starter in ’67 when Battey got sick and also was the club’s bullpen coach, a role he continued partly in ’68, his last season. He finished with an average of .204 in the majors, .258 in the minors, and went hitless in one at bat in the post-season. While in the minors he had played for Gene Mauch and he rejoined him as an original Expos coach in ’69, staying there through ’75. He then returned to Minnesota with Mauch and coached there through ’80 and in ’78 umped a game during the umpire strike that year. He was then a scout for the Yankees for two years before taking on that role with Baltimore, which he did through ’97. He passed away from a heart attack in ’98 when he was 63.

The double hook-up returns since Gene did some good time in the majors. For him as manager:

1. Mauch managed Mike Marshall on the ’70 to ’73 Expos and the ’78 to ’80 Twins;
2. Marshall and Mickey Stanley ’67 Tigers.

And for him as a player:

1. Mauch and Jim Piersall ’57 Red Sox;
2. Piersall and Jim Perry ’59 to ’61 Twins;
3. Perry and Mickey Stanley ’73 Tigers.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

#530 - Mickey Stanley



Mickey Stanley shows off his go-to pose at Comiskey. Pretty much every card up to this point of his had this stance at various stadiums. But that’s OK because Mickey was a pretty consistent guy who was able to use his defense and his versatility as well as some timely hitting to build a nice career for himself even though most of his outfield mates got more press and generally better offensive stats. He had a pretty good year in ’73, recording his personal best with 17 homers and winning his first Gold Glove in three years. It wasn’t nearly as exciting a season as the prior year when the backbone of the ’68 Series champs grabbed the division title. But it still had its moments, like when he recorded eleven putouts in a game in center, setting a record. His most endearing moment, though, may have come in a loss, a no-hitter by Nolan Ryan after which Mickey said, “Those were the fastest pitches I ever heard.”

After starring in the big three sports in high school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mickey Stanley was signed shortly after he graduated and played a summer of local ball before getting things rolling professionally in ’61. He’d been a pitcher and second baseman in high school but immediately became an outfielder that summer in D ball (where he hit .279 with some power) and C ball (where he hit .223 with none). In ’62 he hit .285 with 18 stolen bases at the higher level and in ’63 he jumped to Double A where he hit .252. He bettered that big in ’64 when he hit .304 after a slow start in Triple A and then had a September debut in Detroit. He returned to Triple A for most of ’65 and had a nice year, hitting .281 with 73 RBI’s. He returned to Detroit late that summer after incumbent center fielder Don Demeter got hurt and got in about a month as the regular guy. He hit over .300 his first couple weeks and then had a cold streak at the plate to finish the year.

Stanley made the cut in ’66 as the fifth outfielder behind Demeter, Al Kaline, Jim Northrup, and Willie Horton. He got some early looks but then broke his hand in May, missing about a month. When he returned Demeter was traded to Boston and Mickey got the lion’s share of work the rest of the way, raising his average about 100 points from before his injury. In ’67 he split time in center with Northrup after he was originally scheduled to go solo but his average compromised his time in the field. In ’68 he had a big bounce – bigger because just about every other hitter’s stats fell – as his average rebounded and he added some decent power. He also won his first Gold Glove, which was pretty extraordinary given what happened during the season. Mickey was the uncontested guy in center except on two occasions: one was when injuries to Kaline and Norm Cash required him to put in some time at first; and two was when after the Tigers clinched manager Mayo Smith had him start some games at shortstop where regular Ray Oyler was not even close to Mendoza levels. This experiment would go on to be a high-profile success in the ’68 Series win when Smith kept Mickey there the whole Series, allowing Kaline to start in the outfield and keep his big bat in the line-up. After that big win Oyler went to the Seattle Pilots in the expansion draft and Mickey spent some time at shortstop in ’69 but after Detroit acquired Tommy Tresh from NY, Mickey returned to his spot in center where he would reside the next five seasons.

In ’69 and ’70 Stanley won two more Gold Gloves in center field. In that first year he hurt his arm at shortstop and his average fell a bit but he recorded his personal high with 70 RBI’s. In ’70 he led Detroit in a bunch of hitting categories as the team put up a losing record for the first time in a bunch of years. In ’71 he recorded his best average though his playing time slipped as new manager Billy Martin moved around the outfield pieces a bunch more. In the ’72 division title year his average fell a bit but he doubled his homers, added a bunch of RBI’s, and hit .333 against Oakland in the AL playoffs. In ’74 he was the starting guy in center until he broke his hand on a pitch and while he sat new guy Ron LeFlore took over his position. Mickey did return to win a game with an over the wall catch of a Rico Petrocelli homer attempt but with the younger LeFlore now entrenched in the line-up his days as a regular were pretty much over. In ’75 he was having a pretty good run as a reserve guy when a – guess what? – broken hand pulled him out of action for a month.  He did up his average by 30 points and kept it there in ’76 as he did back-up work at center and left as well as both infield corners. He continued in those roles the next two years and hit .265 in ’78, his final season. Mickey finished with a .248 average, 117 homers, 500 RBI’s, and lots of assists from center. In the post-season he hit .235 in eleven games.

After retiring Stanley played a year of professional softball in the Detroit area and then settled into a long career as a manufacturer’s representative. He then moved into real estate development in which he partnered with his son. He still resides in Michigan.


That outfield streak in the cartoon happened mostly during the ’68 season when he didn’t have an error all year in center. He also turned that trick in ’66 and ’70.

Since the Bill Bonham post represented the 80% mark of this set it is an appropriate time to review the statuses of the different categories;

Starting with post-season representation, each year from ’59 to ’90 is now represented by at least one member of a team that played in that year’s post-season. My rather subjective inclusion of that Game 2 Series card as a Willie Mays one also adds ’51 and ’54 to the mix. And Dave Winfield’s rookie card adds ’92 and ’95 on the front end. The ’73 post-season has the most representation with 79 participants.

Topps Rookie Teams – we now have the full complement of the ’73 team’s ten guys. The older teams stack up as follows (year and players):

’59 – 3    ’60 – 2    ’61 – 3    ’62 – 1    ’63 – 3    ’64 – 3    ’65 – 5    ’66 – 5
’67 – 6    ’68 – 6    ’69 – 7    ’70 – 5    ’71 – 8    ’72 – 8

Award Winners – the set is up to 23 former or future MVP’s. We are also at 15 Cy Young winners; ten Firemen of the Year; 19 Managers of the Year; 22 Rookie of the Year winners; 24 Comeback Players of the Year; and seven The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year winners.

Milestones - there are 26 Hall of Fame inductees. There are 51 official or non-official Traded cards. There are 39 rookie cards in the set, so far trumped by 49 cards representing the final ones issued for that subject as a player. And 53 players from this set are now deceased.

Odds and Ends – there have been 123 action shots, 301 shots of subjects in away uniforms and 162 in home uniforms. There have been 39 players with parenthetical names, a good indication of the number of Latin guys in the set. The Washington Nat’l card number has been stuck at 14 for a while. And both ugly cards and those of guys who were in Viet Nam are stuck at five each.

This hook-up was alluded to above:

1. Stanley and Tommy Tresh ’69 Tigers;
2. Tresh and Horace Clarke ’65 to ’68 Yankees.