Saturday, December 25, 2010

#74 Senators/Twins Records

Two multi-card posts in a row. This time it's a team set and this team photo is much more representative of the set than the O's one from a few posts back. It's blurry enough that I don't recognize a soul outside of Rod Carew and maybe Bobby Darwin for obvious reasons. 1973 was a typically mediocre year for these guys. Led by Carew, they topped the league in batting average, hits, and doubles, but they were plagued by injuries to The Killer and George Mitterwald. The ascensions of Darwin and Larry Hisle power-wise was nice but each guy also brought high strikeout totals. Also, their pitching was substandard, despite Bert Blyleven's breakout season. They had a couple high-profile draft choices  - Ed Bane and Dan Fife - that went bust and the A's and for a long time the ChiSox and Royals were too talented to beat. It was the type of middle-of-the-road performance that would characterize the team for most of the rest of the decade.

Nothing too special about the checklist. Harmon Killebrew has the best signature and it looks like Jim Holt and Mitterwald learned writing script from the same person. The lack of name pitchers after Blyleven speaks volumes. Bobby Darwin's signature stands out as the most formal. With a signature like that I would have expected him to be on the HMS Beagle.

As expected, a bunch of these records are from the old Senators, a few of whom played together on that '33 pennant winner.

Joe Cronin was a HOF shortsop who played primarily for the Nats and Red Sox. Joe grew up in San Francisco where he was a city tennis champ and baseball star. After some semi-pro ball he was signed by the Pirates in '25, put in some good minor league numbers, and after two false starts for Pittsburgh was sold early in '28 to the Kansas City Blues, a minor league team, for about $500. The Blues turned around and sold him to Washington midway through the '28 season for $7,500. Joe moved right into the lineup during Bucky Harris' last year as player/manager. He amped things up in '29 and then went on a tear, with four straight years of 40+ doubles, five of 100+ RBI's , and four of batting over .300. In '30 he won the precursor to the MVP award with a .346/13/126 season. In '32 he led the AL with 18 triples and in '33 with 45 doubles. That last year he replaced Walter Johnson as manager and won the pennant before losing the Series to the Giants. After another good season he was traded to the Red Sox for Lyn Lary and a lot of cash. He both managed and played in Boston as well. In '35 he posted 95 RBI's but he then missed half of '36 to a broken thumb. He bounced in '37 with a .307/18/110 season and then in '38 led the AL with 51 doubles. After averaging 100 RBI's the next three seasons Joe took himself out of the everyday lineup in '42 to let Johnny Pesky play and then retired as a player during the '45 season after he broke his leg. He managed the Sox through '47, winning the pennant in '46. After that he moved to Boston's front office through '59, when he became the AL president. He kept that position through '73, when he retired. As a player, Joe hit .309 for his career, with over 500 doubles, 170 homers, and over 1,400 RBIs. He played in seven All-Star games, including the first three, and in the post-season hit .318 in his five games. He was elected to the Hall in '56. As a manager he went 1,236-1,055. He passed away in '84 at 77.

Sam Rice built a HOF career out of a horrible story. A farmer in Indiana, he was playing semi-pro ball in 1912 when a tornado killed pretty much his entire family. He left the area, joined the Navy, and in 1914 was signed by the Petersberg Goobers, a C team,  as a pitcher. He was quite good in that role and in the minors would go 20-14 with a 1.72 ERA lifetime. In late 1915 he was signed by Washington and that team converted him into an outfielder after he hurt his arm pitching. He could already hit and he settled into the starting lineup in 1917, hitting .302. The next year he missed nearly all of to return to military duty for WW I. He came back in '19 and re-established himself as a hitting machine, earning the nickname Man-o-War after leading the league in stolen bases. Sam would put up six seasons of over 200 hits, 14 of hitting over .300, and nine of stealing over 20 bases. Although he became a permanent regular late - at age 29 - he was around for all the Nats' pennants (he hit .302 in the post-season). He led the league in hits twice and triples once. He stayed with DC through the '33 season (when he was 43) and finished up with Cleveland the next year. His lifetime stats include a .322 average with 2,987 hits, 498 doubles, 184 triples, and 351 stolen bases. He made it to the Hall in '63. Following his career he returned to farming and during WW II employed a bunch of interned Japanese Americans to take them out of the camps. He passed away in '74 at age 84.

Mickey Vernon is one of very few guys who played in four decades (the Thirties through the Sixties) and had two periods of service with the old Senators, sandwiched around a year plus at Cleveland. He missed two full seasons in his prime to WW II, possibly robbing him of a spot in the Hall. Vernon was an excellent fielder at first base, his sole position when he played. He was tall at 6'2" but awfully thin at only 170 lbs. He was signed by the Nats out of his freshman year at Villanova in '37 and improved his average as he moved up in the minors the next three years, peaking with a .343 in A ball in '39 that got him up to DC later that year. Mickey finished out that season as the starting guy at first but then in '40 got shoved back to Double A, where he hit .283 before returning to DC at the end of the season. He was again the full-time guy at first the next three seasons. Never a big home run producer, Mick averaged a .283/9/83 line over that span before he was inducted into the Navy following the '43 season for WW II. His first year back, in '46, he ramped things up big and led the AL in hitting and doubles, at .353 and 51, respectively. After big discount years in '47 and '48 - he averaged a .254/5/67 line - Mick went to the Indians in '49 where his numbers improved significantly. But then after a poor start in '50 he returned to DC in one of those huge trades those "second division" guys did back then. He hit over .300 the rest of the way then put up a couple decent seasons before another big year in '51 when he again did the double lead thing with 43 doubles and a .337 average. He also scored 101 runs and knocked in 115, both career highs. He remained with Washinton the next two years and then went to Boston in '56, where he had a big year before beginning to wind things down the next season. He went back to Cleveland in '58 and then to the NL for his last two seasons, with the Braves and the Pirates, for whom he also coached (he was good buddies with Danny Murtaugh). He retired with a .286 average - and five seasons of .300 or better - almost 2,500 hits, 490 doubles, over 1,300 RBIs, and seven All-Star appearances. Right after his playing career ended Mickey became the first manager for the NEW Senators from '61 to '63. He then coached back in Pittsburgh ('64) and St. Louis ('65) before managing in the minors for KC/Oakland ('66-'68), Atlanta ('69-'70), and NY ('71). His record as a manager was 135-227 up top and 406-433 in the minors. He then coached in the minor leagues for Kansas City ('72-'74) and LA ('75-'76) before coaching up top for Montreal ('77-'78). He then scouted for the Yankees through '88 when he retired. Mickey passed away in 2008 when he was 90.

Goose Goslin - real name Leon - was signed out of Salem, NJ by the Columbia Comers of the independent Sallie (South Atlantic) League in 1920. Back then, minor league teams would often sign players directly and Goslin was recommended by an umpire. At the time Goose was a pitcher and though he did pretty well in that role off the bat - 6-5 with a 2.44 ERA - his hitting so impressed management that he was moved to the outfield. After another good offensive season in '21 he was sold to the Nats late in that season and did well enough the rest of the way to get a semi-regular spot in '22 and then a permanent outfield one in '23. The nickname came from both his strange fielding style - he flapped his arms when he ran and was always challenged defensively - and the size of his nose. Goose led the league in triples his first full season (with 18), RBIs his second (129), and triples again his third. He led the league in hitting in '28. Like Rice, he played on all three pennant winners even though he was traded to the Browns in '30 for General Crowder and Heinie Manusch in a big deal at the time. He returned to the Nats for '33 and then went to Detroit the following season, just in time to participate in that club's post-season romps. He played out his career in '38 back in DC and finished with a .316 average, over 2,700 hits, 500 doubles, 173 triples, 248 homers, and over 1,600 RBIs. He had 11 seasons with over 100 RBIs. In 32 post-season games he hit .287 with 7 homers and 19 RBIs. He played in one All-Star game - most of his career was before that event began - and was elected to the Hall in '68. Following baseball he went back to Jersey to run a boat rental company and passed away from lung cancer in '71 - he was a big smoker - at age 70. His .379 average was recorded in '28, not '23 as the card says.

Like Goslin, Ron Perranoski is a Jersey boy, Ron from Fair Lawn. He attended Michigan State where he was all Big Ten his senior year of '58 and was in the rotation with Dick Radatz. Ron was signed by the Cubs that year and continued as a starter in B ball that summer, but with limited success. His numbers picked up markedly in Double A in '59 but after that season he was traded to LA - for Don Zimmer - while in military reserve duty in early '60. LA made him a spot guy in Triple A that year and his numbers continued to improve and the following spring he made the LA Opening Day roster. He was an immediate success and that year he pitched his only major league start as the Dodgers put him in the pen and he responded with a 2.65 ERA with six saves. The saves total increased to 19 in '62 and then in '63 Ron had a great season - 16-3 with a 1.67 ERA and 21 saves in 69 games - and was a vital cog for that Series winner. He would regularly post double digits in saves - except for '66 when he was hurt - and play in two more post-seasons with the Dodgers before he was traded to the Twins following the '67 season with Bob Miller and John Roseboro for Zoilo Versalles and Mudcat Grant. For the Twins he continued his fine pitching and in '69 and '70 he would lead the league in saves, with 31 and 34 respectively, briefly holding the AL record. After a poor start in '71 he went to Detroit. He then returned to LA and then California, for whom he pitched briefly in '73 (he had no '74 card). His final stats were a 79-74 record with a 2.79 ERA in 737 games with 179 saves. He was much less successful in the post-season with an ERA of almost 8.00 with a save in ten games in those five years. After finishing as a player he became the LA minor league pitching coordinator ('74-'80) before in '81 becoming LA's very successful pitching coach for 14 seasons. In '95 he moved to San Francisco as its minor league pitching coordinator before moving up to the MLB level to coach ('97-'99) and then to the admin side as an assistant to the GM (2000-present).

Walter Johnson, "The Big Train", pitched his whole career for the Nats. He was born in Kansas and as a kid relocated with his family to California so his dad could work in the oil patch.After playing some local semi-pro ball as a teenager he did the same thing a couple summers in Idaho from where he was signed by Washington in '07. The Senators were pretty terrible back then and though Walter pitched well, it took a while for his record to catch up to his skills (32-48 his first three seasons). But beginning in 1910 he would be a machine, that year going 25-17 with a 1.36 ERA. Over the ten seasons beginning that year, the Train would win over 20 games every season and over 30 twice. He led the AL in that span five times in wins, four times in ERA, four times in shutouts, six times in complete games, five times in innings pitched, and nine times in strikeouts. His personal bests during that period were 36 wins; a 1.14 ERA; 370 innings; 38 complete games, eleven shutouts, and 313 K's. He won pitching's Triple Crown in '13 and '18. In '20 he got hurt, put up a losing record, and took a couple years to get back in form. By then the rest of the team caught up to him skillwise and in '24 Walter led the Nats to a Series title with another Triple Crown season: 23-7 with a 2.72 ERA, six shutouts, and 158 K's. He would win 20 again in '25 to get the Nats another pennant and then finish things up in '27. After 21 years in DC as a player, Walter won 417 games with a 2.17 ERA, 531 complete games, 34 saves, and 110 shutouts. He hit pretty well too with a lifetime .235 average with 255 RBI's. He still had the K record of 3,509 at the time of this set. In the postseason he went 3-3 with a 2.52 ERA, five complete games, and a shutout in his six games. He was elected to the first HOF class in '36. After playing he managed the Nats for four years - and had the highest win percentage of any of their managers - and Cleveland for three and then retired in '35. He passed away from a brain tumor in '46. He was only 59.

Happy Townsend actually was happy and came out of Townsend, Delaware (the town is named for his family). He threw against Washington College for a semi-pro team in 1897 and impressed the team enough that it recruited him and he spent the next two years at the school as the school's top pitcher. In 1900 he played semi-pro ball in Chester, PA where he reportedly went 35-5 while hitting over .400. He was signed by the Phillies in '01 and went 9-6 that season, which would be his only winning one. He then jumped to the Nats - although the Washington University site says he was traded for Ed Delahanty - where he went 22-69 the next four years. The year he lost 26 he also led the league with 19 wild pitches. In '06 he went to Cleveland where he went 3-7 in his final MLB season. He finished with a 34-82 record with a 3.59 ERA, 107 complete games, and five shutouts. He then pitched and coached in the minors through at least '09 and then went back to Philadelphia to live and work. He passed away in '63 at age 84.

Bob Groom came out of the St. Louis area and had the interesting minor league experience of either winning or losing 20 or more games each of his five seasons. On the strength of his '08 season in Portland - he went 29-15 in over 400 innings - he was signed by the Senators. His rookie season he went 7-26, but after a couple seasons that were markedly better - a combined 25-34 - in 1912 he went 24-13 with a 2.62 ERA. After a .500 season in DC in '13 he jumped to the Federal League for its two seasons, for the St. Louis Terriers, for whom he went 24-31. When the league folded he went to the Browns a couple years and then Cleveland. He was a decent pitcher, compiling a 119-150 record with a 3.10 ERA, 157 complete games, 22 shutouts, and 13 saves, but he wound up leading his league in losses three times. After baseball he returned to the St. Louis area where he worked at his family's coal business and also coached for local American Legion leagues. He did finish two years of med school but seems to have done nothing in that direction. He passed away in '48 at age 63.

Emil "Dutch" Leonard, not to be confused with the Boston pitcher of the same name from earlier in the century, was a well-traveled knuckleballer from the '30s to '50s. Born in rural Illinois he initially followed his dad into coal mining. But that got old fast, and a good athlete, he made his way to Chicago where he then worked and played ball for an electric company. He'd picked up the knuckler in HS when he got hurt in a hoops game and lost a lot of speed on his fastball. But his catchers would never call it so he rarely used it in games. Signed to a local B team in '30 he put up not great numbers until '32 when he was having a very good season when the team folded and he couldn't gat to a new one. In '33 he was purchased by the Dodgers, put up a 3.13 ERA in A ball, and then looked good in a few games at the end of the year. In '34 he won 14 and saved five as a spot starter. The next year his ERA stayed the same and he saved eight but his record fell to 2-9 and the next couple seasons he was sent down. There, Dutch ran into Paul Richards - the same guy who'd be a big deal exec by the time of this set - who would be his catcher and wasn't afraid of catching a knuckleball. Finally free to use his pitch, Dutch went a combined 28-11 those two years before getting traded to the Cardinals who then flipped him to Atlanta, then a Southern League team. Prior to the '37 season the Nats took Dutch in the Rule 5 draft. For them he pitched well as a starter, compiling a 118-101 record over the next nine seasons - including 20 wins in '39 - and making three All-Star appearances for a team well below .500 at the time. He went to the Phillies in '47 where he put in two good years and the Cubs in '49. After a poor year in the rotation for Chicago that year, the Cubs moved Dutch to the pen where at age 41 in 1950, he became one of the team's premier relievers. He lasted in Chicago through '53 when he hung them up at 44. He finished with a 191-181 record with a 3.25 ERA, 192 complete games, 30 shutouts, and 45 saves. After his playing career he became a Cubs coach ('54-'56) and then became a youth counselor and coach in Illinois. He passed away in '83 at age 74.

Bobo Newsom I covered on the Orioles team post. Almost all the above guys have SABR bios.

The Twins 1973 team is very well represented in the '74 set. Danny Walton is the only regular player with significant time without a card (he had 96 at bats and four homers as a reserve outfielder). On the pitching side, Jim Kaat was traded to the White Sox during the season and Ken Sanders to Cleveland, so their cards are with their new teams. Including them, 161 of 162 decisions are represented by cards, the lone missing loss going to Jim Strickland, a journeyman. Both missing guys are in the team photo: Walton is to the immediate left of Carew in the third row with that big 'stache; and Strickland is four to the right from Walton.

Since Marshall pitched for Minnesota, this will be quick:

1. Rod Carew '73 Twins;
2. Carew and Mike Marshall '78 Twins.


  1. Brilliant, brilliant post. Rest assured that your work is appreciated. That required a lot of effort. What a great primer on the Washington franchise, plus the cards are in typically perfect shape.

  2. Oops, a typo. Check the post title (#73 - should read #74).

    I know the Senators moved to Minneapolis, but I just can't relate the old team with the newer one in Minn. Thanks for the history! I think the new expansion Senators being created the season after the old team left had something to do with it, and so did the team name. It's easier for me to visualize a continuum when the team keeps its name after a move, i.e. Giants, A's, Dodgers, Braves, etc.