Friday, April 29, 2011

#151 - Diego Segui

Diego Segui's two cards on this post look like they're taken a couple seconds apart at what appears to be Busch Stadium. I like how they put the pissed-off photo on the Traded card so we can see how well he took the news. Boston certainly wasn't a death sentence, but it was the beginning of the end for Diego's career. '73 was his last good season and during it, Diego would establish the full year club record in saves before the All-Star break. He had twelve by then. Pretty scary. No wonder poor Rick Wise got zero help from the bullpen while there.

Diego Segui took a tough route to the majors. He was born in Cuba where he played high-level ball and then in '58 was signed by the Reds, who brought him north and the promptly dropped him. While things in Cuba weren't out of control yet, they were a bit dicey and rather than try to return, Diego made his way to an independent team for whom he put up not great numbers that season. After it he was sold to the Kansas City A's. The next three years Diego worked his way through the KC system, perfecting his forkball, and having serviceable numbers as both a starter and reliever, but nothing fantastic. In '61 at Triple A Hawaii he went 5-10 with a 4.62 ERA, which didn't exactly demand his elevation. Still, like a lot of KC pitchers he could hit - 18 RBI's one year and a .286 average another - and his ability and willingness to both start and relieve as well as KC having nothing spectacular up top contributed to his coming up to the A's in '62.

Segui's first two years were pretty good as he occupied a swing role and that first year put up six saves. Then in '64 he moved into the rotation but for the next two seasons he fell victim to his own and the A's poor numbers and went a combined 13-28. Before the '66 season he was sold to the Senators and about two-third's in he was traded back to KC, where he spent the rest of the season in Triple A, where his numbers improved, but not by much. In '67 Diego had an excellent start in Triple A, in seven starts, sporting a 1.29 ERA. Those numbers got him back to KC and for the balance of that year and the next, Diego hit his stride as a reliever for the A's. The first year he occupied a set-up role and in '68 he closed a lot more games, again adding six saves. Following '68 he was drafted by the expansion Pilots where he would have his best season, getting into a career-high 66 games and recording 12 saves to go with his 12-6 record. For '70 he went back to Oakland for run number three, essentially for Ted Kubiak. That year he led the AL in ERA, moving into the rotation during the second half of the season. Another year as a starter followed including a post-season start against Baltimore in '71. But just as Oakland was really getting things going in '72, Diego was traded to St. Louis. In the next year and a half he got in 98 games for the Cards as the closest thing those teams had to a closer and in '73 he set the team's saves record with 17 which would be broken a couple years later by his bullpen mate Al Hrabosky.

In '74 Diego threw 108 innings in relief for Boston, but his ERA shot up over a run and his saves total fell to ten. His '75 was not a very good season (2-5 with six saves and a 4.82 ERA), although he did get a bit more post-season action. He was released by the Sox just as the '76 season started and hooked up with Hawaii, the Padres' Triple A club. There he had a pretty good year (11-5 with a 3.18 ERA as a starter). For '77 he was bought by the new Seattle Mariners for whom he would be the starting pitcher in the team's first game, equaling that distinction with the old Pilots. He is the only guy to play for both teams. After a few winless starts he returned to the bullpen and was released at the end of the season. For his career, Diego was 92-111 with a 3.81 ERA, 28 complete games, seven shutouts, and 71 saves. As a hitter up top he had four homers and 24 RBI's and in the post-season was 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in two games.

After his release, Segui pitched for eight seasons in Mexico going a combined 96-61 with a 2.91 ERA and throwing until he was 47. In his first season there in '78 he threw a perfect game. After his Mexican run he eventually worked his way back to the Kansas City area. He was a farmer for a bunch of years and also, according to a Seattle Pilots website, a competitive fisherman. There is a Diego Segui still active in Olathe, Kansas, for the Bass Pro Fishing Shops. I suppose it could be the same guy, although since he'd now be 73, I do not know that he would still be working.

Segui was sort of famous for that forkball. There is an in depth piece about him from the SABR guys here. Like most of these write-ups it is very in depth. It does seem to imply that his '75 appearance in the playoffs was his first, which would be wrong, and it has some decent biographical holes but outside of that it's a good read.

No predictions on this card regarding Diego in Boston. It was a pretty big trade in terms of bodies. Diego nearly played for the Padres. Had he, I am pretty sure he would have been the first guy whose first name was the same as all or part of his team's name. Diego also had a long run in Venezuela winter ball, in addition to his time outlined above. There he went 95-58 with a 2.76 ERA and is in that country's baseball hall of fame. His son, David, would be a big league first baseman for 15 years.

Diego played for the wrong KC team to make this quick, So:

1. Segui and Bob Stinson '77 Mariners;
2. Stinson and John Mayberry '75 to '76 Royals.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

#150 - John Mayberry

Boy, when the photographer of the Royals cards took action shots, he really liked to blur the background, didn't he? I think those are a bunch of fans behind Big John wearing yellow shirts but I can't really tell. This shot is taken at either Yankee Stadium or Comiskey, which is where the other Royals action shots were taken. My nod is Comiskey since NY dugouts had a big vertical cement beam in them and the Yankees typically used the first base dugout. Anyway, it's a pretty good action shot and shows how wide Mayberry's stance was. One commentary from back then said his right foot was halfway out to the mound. '73 was a big year for John as he continued the roll he was on since moving to KC. He led the league with 122 walks - he was the only true home run hitter on the team so he got pitched around a bunch - and OBA with .417. He also ended up being an excellent fielder and the Royals infield for the rest of the decade was one of the league's best. John made the All-Star team in '73 and provided most of the AL offense in the game.

John Mayberry grew up in Michigan and in '66, when he was 16, he was on the Sophomore Champion NABF (National Amateur Baseball Federation) team and in '67 he would be drafted and signed by the Astros for a $40,000 bonus. A big guy, John would show some power in the minors (he topped out at 23 homers and 82 RBI's), but he was much more adept at getting on base and as he bounced back and forth between Triple A and Houston from '69 to '71, he was getting tutored on being a line drive hitter. While he put up real good OBA numbers those years at Oklahoma City - well over .400 - he couldn't stick in Houston and was putting up a few too many strikeouts. After the '71 season, then, he was traded essentially even-up to the Royals for Jim York, a reliever. That trade came on the heels of the big one where Houston basically guaranteed the Reds the pennant the next few seasons. Both are viewed as two of the worst trades in baseball history.

At Kansas City, Big John flourished. Given the first baseman job upon Bob Oliver's trade to California, John showed his stuff as he became one of the AL's premier power guys and really amped up the walks. In '72 he had his first 100-RBI season and got some MVP votes.  In '74 he again was an All-Star but spent a bunch of time on the DL and his RBI totals and average fell. He bounced back in '75, putting up his best offensive numbers - a .291 average with a .416 OBA, 34 homers, 38 doubles, and 106 RBIs - and came in second to Fred Lynn in MVP votes. But the next two years, while the power numbers were respectable - 95 and 82 RBIs - the average plummeted to the .230 level. He did, however, hit for the cycle against the White Sox in '77. But in that year Pete LaCock and Clint Hurdle were pushing for time at first and after the season John was sold to the Blue Jays.

In Toronto, while Mayberry didn't exactly have a resurgence, he did provide the team with great fielding at first and was the team's most consistent hitter, hitting .260 and averaging 24 homers and 75 RBIs over the next four full seasons. His first year he moved his average up to .290 but therefter it fell every season. In '80 he hit 30 homers, setting the Blue Jays record. By '82 he was giving up time to Willie Upshaw and was spending more time at DH. Later that season he was traded to the Yankees where he finished out the year and his career. John finished with a .253 average, a .360 OBA, 255 homers, and 879 RBIs. He also has one of the best career fielding percentages at first base with a .994. In the post-season he hit .200 with 2 homers and six RBIs in nine games.

After his career, Mayberry coached for Toronto and KC and then moved to community affairs work for the Royals. His son, John Jr., is currently trying to break into the Phillies lineup after playing ball at Stanford.

Mayberry was an enthusiastic player and when he first came up to Houston he got to play against Atlanta and had Hank Aaron at first base after a single. He was a big fan and after the pitcher threw over to him to hold Hank on, John yelled back, "Throw that ball back over here. I want the chance to touch his man again!"

The homer was hit during those NABF playoffs. While John was involved in one big trade, he was nearly involved in two more. Following the '71 season, Montreal tried to trade for John even up by dangling Mike Marshall before the Astros. Houston shot them down, apparently preferring Jim York. That really helps secure the infamy of that trade. In '78 before being sold to Toronto, John was almost sent to the Mets for Jerry Koosman. I don't know which side shot that deal down, but given Koosman's '78 for the Twins, that big NY comeback might have ended in the AL playoffs.

This one will be all NL:

1. Mayberry and Jesus Alou '70 to '71 Astros;
2. Alou and Del Unser '75 Mets.
3. Unser and Mac Scarce '73 to '74 Phillies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#149 - Mac Scarce

Mac Scarce looks very tall to me in this photo. He is at Shea. The cards this year with the Shea outfield in the background always throw me off because I'm not used to the foliage beyond the wall. Mac has the warmup jacket thing going on an overcast day. The Phillies lost 91 in '73 so I think a lot of days seemed overcast. Mac felt a little of that weather in '73 when, despite a very good ERA and his twelve saves he had a not so great record. No Florida weather and no run support - no wonder he had to wear that jacket.

Mac Scarce is about the purest reliever we have seen so far on this blog. He grew up in Virginia where by high school he was pretty much a stud at everything, including football, as his team's quarterback. He went to Manatee Junior College in '67. There he was already strictly a reliever and he was teammates with Johnny Grubb. After two years at Manatee, Mac was drafted by the Reds but shot them down. Instead he played summer ball in South Dakota (with John Stearns and Mike Caldwell, among others) and then went to Florida State. There he had two great seasons, going 1-2 with a 1.62 ERA and 12 saves with 49 K's in 33 innings in '69 and 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA, 18 saves, and 60 strikeouts in 36 innings as a senior. He was then nabbed by the Phillies in the '71 draft. At Single A that summer he would pick up where he left off in college. In '72 he was in Triple A where he had a rough start and moved down a level. He then killed them at Double A Reading where he had six saves to go with his four wins and 0.46 ERA.. That got him up top where he had a nice rookie season for a crappy team. He gives props to Steve Carlton for helping him out. '73 was all Phillies as Mac had a pretty good year with his saves and a low ERA, despite a few too many walks and the 1-8 record. '74 wasn't so great and in the middle of a bad season - 3-8 with a 4.99 ERA - Mac was sent to Triple A. While he had some minor injuries during the season, he really messed up his arm during winter ball - probably rotator cuff issues - and that December he was traded with Del Unser and John Stearns to the Mets for Tug McGraw, Don Hahn, and Dave Schneck.

Scarce pitched one game for the Mets in '75 and was then traded to the Reds for Tom Hall. He spent the next three seasons pitching primarily at Indianapolis, the Reds' Triple A club, but wasn't the dominant pitcher he'd been in the past at the minor levels. Over that time he was 8-10 with eight saves and a 3.97 ERA. In '78 he went to the Twins as a free agent, returning to the top for a few games (1-1 with a 3.94 ERA in 17 games) then moving down to Toledo, where he dropped over a run from his ERA. Although he was then traded to the Rangers, he retired before the '79 season. Mac finished with a 6-19 record, 21 saves, and a 3.69 ERA. In the minors he was 18-14 with a 3.03 ERA and 31 saves,

After baseball Scarce worked a while at an electrical supply business and then moved into real estate, starting his own company in 1990. There is an excellent interview with him from the SABR guys here.

Now that's a hell of a name, maybe the best one so far. Florida State won the SEC title in '70 and then lost a heartbreaker to USC (and Dave Kingman) in the CWS in extra innings. Mac pitched over seven innings in relief in that game.

Two short career guys, but we get lucky:

1. Scarce and Ollie Brown '74 Phillies;
2. Brown and Nate Colbert '69 to '72 Padres;
3. Colbert and Hilton '72 to '74 Padres.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#148 - Dave Hilton

We are back to the NL and when I say back, I mean way back. I know the Padres were only five years old at the time, but Dave here looks like he's in a uniform from the '50s. And those glasses are too much. Very Malcolm X. Dave looks very serious here where he appears to be the only life form on some post-apocalyptic field where the grass was struggling. Unfortunately '73 was a struggle for Dave as well. Though he would get his greatest amount of plate time that season, he responded with a sub-.200 average, which wasn't a key to longevity, even for the Padres. He also had one of the team's young stars - though not for long - ahead of him at his preferred position of third base in Dave Roberts. But this Dave was a battler and he returned to the minors in mid-season to work on his game at second, ditched the glasses, and returned the next season to raise his average a bunch. He was never gonna be Joe Morgan, but he did a pretty good job as Dave Hilton.

Dave Hilton grew up in Texas and played ball at Rice University. While at Rice he was a sought-after player but couldn't get drafted out of the school because he was too young. So he did what was a fairly common practice back then and after his first year transferred to a local two-year school since those schools didn't have the same restrictions. He was then the first overall pick by the Padres in the January '71 draft. His first season in Single A produced a pretty light average but he showed decent power while splitting time between shortstop and third base. In '72 he moved to Double A and had a nice year while playing nearly exclusively at the hot corner. He came up to San Diego that September and got in a couple games. He was on a path to be the next Padre third baseman. But that summer San Diego took a big deal kid out of Oregon, Dave Roberts, and that Dave sort of leapfrogged over this Dave and pretty much stepped right into the regular spot. So, while our Dave would have another spanking spring training in '73, that low average and the other Dave's big year would cause this guy to do some traveling between Double A, Triple A, and San Diego. By then he was putting in some time at second and in '74 that would be his primary position in Triple A where he had a very good offensive year (.328 with 22 doubles and 43 RBIs in less than half a season). That year the other Dave cooled off a bunch so for San Diego Hilton played third, boosting his average over 40 points. In '75 after a couple games at San Diego, Hilton got hepatitis which slammed him out of the lineup and after he recovered he went to the minors to rehab, where he had a good season - .298 - back at third base between Double and Triple A. In '76 he was a full-timer at Hawaii where he had another good year (.288 with 16 homers and 77 RBIs). Following that season he was purchased by the new Blue Jays and again spent the '77 season at Triple A, putting up similar power numbers, but with a .237 average.

In '78 Hilton would take his game over to Japan for the Yakult Swallows, where he made an immediate impact. He was the leadoff hitter on the team that won the Japanese Series, batting .317 with 19 homers and 76 RBIs. The following season his average slipped a bunch to around the .260 level and in '80 he was traded or sold to the Hanshin Tigers where he had a poor season. Before the season was over he returned to the States where he managed to hookup with Portland, a Triple A team of Pittsburgh's. He put in another full season there in '81 with decent numbers but was by then 30 and after that season he was released. In '82 he moved down to Mexico City for his final season as a player. For Dave's major league career he hit .213 in what amounted to a full season. In the minors he hit .277 with 87 homers.

Hilton would stay involved in baseball, initially hooking up with the Minnesota organization, for whom he managed in the minors in '84. He also managed at that level for the Braves ('92), and Orioles ('97) and in that role went a combined 162-194. In between he coached in those systems as well as Oakland's and Milwaukee's and made it up top for the Brewers ('87-'88). He has also done scouting both in the States and in Asia. He has also been running his own baseball school for years. I have linked to its website here.

Topps completely dismisses Dave's time at Alexandria (Double A) in '73. '72 was Dave's big year in the minors and I believe he played winter ball in Venezuela. The cartoon is a harbinger of his later move to Asia. He has a SABR bio.

Back to the NL now, there is one guy who makes this happen:

1. Hilton and Dave Roberts - why not - '72 to '75 Padres;
2. Roberts and Johnnie Jeter '72 Padres (Hilton didn't play enough);
3. Jeter and Bart Johnson '73 White Sox.

Monday, April 25, 2011

#147 - Bart Johnson

Bart Johnson had a big kick. Not as big as Juan Marichal's but Bart was 6'5" so even half way up was plenty big. Here he gets it going in Oakland. '73 saw Bart return to the bigs via a journey that took him to another league (Single A), another position (outfielder), and nearly another sport (basketball). But Bart was a guy who appreciated challenges and he would sure get plenty of those.

Bart Johnson is another Cali kid who was a local hoops star and played some baseball. He went to BYU and scored 28 points a game for its freshman team. He was then a first rounder by the White Sox in the June '68 draft and played some Single A ball the rest of the season, going 3-5 with a very good ERA. He remained at that level in '69 and went 16-4 with a 2.15 ERA and got a late call-up to Chicago where he put up pretty good numbers in the rotation but only went 1-3. He would then have a super IL season and also play that winter in Venezuela. Bart would split the '70 season between Double A, Triple A, and Chicago, representative of the turmoil playing for a horrible team. He went 7-4/2.40 at the lower levels and then spent all of '71 with the Sox. He began the season in the rotation. Not afraid to throw at guys, Bart got into it with Mike Epstein after he plunked him (Epstein basically kicked his butt) and Don Buford came after him with a bat after Bart threw one behind Buford's head. Later in the season Bart moved to the bullpen to open a spot in the rotation for Wilbur Wood. He would put up 14 saves in half a season of pen work. So things were looking good for Mr. Johnson. But then came a big one of those challenges.

Before the '72 season Johnson hurt his knee playing hoops. Scheduled to be the closer, he had a couple horrible early appearances and was then sent all the way down to Single A for rehab. While there he also gave playing in the field a shot and actually played more in the outfield than as a pitcher. On the hill he threw super well in very limited appearances. But he felt the Sox were being unresponsive to his needs and following the season he tried out for the Seattle Supersonics. Bart worked out a conditional deal with Seattle but was then able to iron things out with the Sox, though, and in '73 he was back in spring training. He assumed a spot in the bullpen as long reliever and grabbed some spot starts. But the knee was still bugging him and he only got in 22 games. He started the '74 season in Triple A where his numbers weren't too hot - 3-2 but with a 5.33 ERA. But he came back up in July and had probably the best run of his career as he went 10-4 in the rotation with a 2.74 ERA. Hopes were high for '75 but in a spring training game he slipped on the field and destroyed his back, missing the entire season. He came back in '76 and went 9-16 with a 4.73 ERA as a starter and in '77 went 4-5 with two saves and a 4.01 ERA as the long guy. Old problems continued to nag him and in '78 and '79 he pitched in Triple A with not a lot of success. After playing in Mexico in '79 he hung them up. Bart finished with a record of 43-51, 22 complete games, six shutouts, 17 saves, and a 3.94 ERA. He was a pretty good hitter despite having a big strike zone, posting a .215 lifetime average. In the minors he was 31-21/ 2.97 and hit at a .288 clip.

Johnson kept close to the Sox after he played and from '80 to '97 worked as a scout for the team. He also scouted for the Rays from '97 to 2007. There is a pretty in depth interview with him here.

That's a pretty tough first name so I see why he preferred Bart. Another guy on that high school team was Fred Kendall, the Padres catcher. The last bullet showcases Bart's offensive work during his Single A rehab. He also hit .277 in Double A that year.

Back to the AL for a card. No big deal:

1. Johnson and Brian Downing '73 to '77 White Sox;
2, Downing and Ron Fairly '78 Angels.

Friday, April 22, 2011

#146 - Ron Fairly

Now Ron Fairly gets to pose in that weird compound that Ken Singleton was in many posts ago. Ron is smack in the middle of a genuine part of the field however. And he looks calm enough despite what appear to be a bunch of paratroopers milling around in the background. I guess he'd seen it all by then. Ron was about to embark on a pretty good season in '73, posting one of his best averages while putting up a .422 OBA and grabbing his first All-Star nod.

Ron Fairly was a Georgia kid who played at USC where in '58 he was one of the Trojan leaders of the CWS champs. He was signed that year by the Dodgers and put in some brief stops at Single and Triple A levels before getting some outfield time in LA at the end of the season. He stayed up for all of '59 getting enough at bats as a mostly defensive replacement to make the Topps Rookie All-Star team that year. In '60 the outfield was pretty crowded and Ron spent the season at Triple A Spokane where he hit .303 with 27 homers and 100 RBIs, as well as a .418 OBA. In '61 Duke Snider got hurt, allowing Ron to get back in the outfield. Also, due to Gil Hodges aging out, first base was made ready for big Frank Howard. But Ron stole the position by hitting .322 with 48 RBIs in about half a season. He would serve at first the next couple seasons as the transition guy between Hodges and Wes Parker. He was a very good fielder, particularly at covering bunts, and was adept at getting on base. He also knew the rules and during the pennant drive of '63 he saved a win by getting a Joe Adcock homer called back. In '65 Parker came up and Ron moved to the outfield, replacing Tommy Davis. His best position was right field since although he had a good arm, he was notoriously slow. He would be a consistent hitter and in '65 would have a great Series, tagging Twins pitchers for a .379 average with a couple homers and six RBIs. In '67 and '68 Ron's numbers came in as LA sunk fast and after a month-plus in '69 he and Paul Popovich were traded to Montreal for Maury Wills and Manny Mota.

For the Expos, Fairly would have a bit of a resurgence, playing primarily first base again through '71, and his full-season numbers would match his best during his Dodgers days. After Mike Jorgensen arrived in '72 Ron would also play a bunch in the outfield. In '73 Ron moved to the top of the order so his RBI numbers came in a bit. In '74 his numbers and playing time decreased and in '75 he went to the Cards for a couple minor leaguers. For St. Louis he again did the transitional thing as he was helpful in easing Keith Hernandez into the first baseman spot and Ron put up really nice numbers: a .301 average with 13 doubles, seven homers, and 37 RBIs in only 229 at bats. He also had an OBA of .421. In '76 He got less time as Keith established himself and late in the season he was sold to Oakland where he got some time at first and as a pinch hitter. For '77 he was basically sold to the new Toronto Blue Jays and there he set his high with 19 homers while playing first and the outfield along with DH-ing. He also made it into his second All-Star team. He is the only player to be an All-Star from both Canadian teams. For '78 he went to the Angels for Pat Kelly (NOT the one from this blog) where he did his first and DH thing, getting ten homers and 40 RBIs in under half a season. That was it for Ron as his dream to play in four decades didn't pan out. For his career he was a .264 hitter with 215 homers - he is the only player with over 200 homers lifetime without hitting 20 in a single season - and 1,044 RBIs. His OBA was .360 and he was a .300 hitter in the post-season.

Following his playing career Fairly jumped into broadcasting for the Angels ('79 to '86), San Francisco ('87 to '92), and the Mariners ('93 to 2006). He is also doing some color work this season for Seattle as part of a rotating group.

Ron's middle name is Ray but that looks like an L to me in his signature. Those two homers were actually hit in '65 (Ron went o-fer in '59). And his shovel throw was part of his bunt coverage at which he excelled. He also teamed well at Montreal with Rusty Staub defensively which is interesting because they were probably the two slowest guys in the league. When Ron played for the Blue Jays his manager was Roy Hartsfield, who was also his first manager in the minors.

Ron just misses connecting to Alston, for whom he played a bunch of years. Here, though, we hook him up to Dock Ellis. They missed each other by a year.

1. Fairly and Mike Jorgensen '72 to '74 Expos;
2. Jorgensen and Dock Ellis '77 A's and '78 to '79 Rangers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

#145 - Dock Ellis

Dock Ellis gets a "5" card. As much as I liked him as a player, I do believe this honor was unearned in '74 as there were a bunch of guys more deserving. That said, Dock was a colorful guy: there was the LSD no-hitter, the curlers on the bench, the dissing of Steinbrenner, the macing in Cincinnati. I remember he had a daughter with a name about a mile long. He also had his thing with Reggie. In '73 elbow problems plagued Dock and although most of his numbers were quite good, he put up a losing record. His best moment during the season may have been when he threw a changeup by Padre Leron Lee that, according to Willie Stargell, just wrecked Leron's career right then and there. Here he looks mildly perturbed - or confused - at spring training. Hopefully not because he's seeing Jimi Hendrix at the plate again.

Dock Ellis was from LA. While growing up he played against a bunch of future major leaguers: Norm Miller, Bob Watson, Ron Woods, and Bobby Tolan to name a few. He was signed by the Pirates in '64, a few months out of high school. He was immediately successful and in '65 won 14 at Single A. In '66 he won 10 at Double A, but in '67 he had a tough time in Triple A at Columbus. He then worked with Harvey Haddix, the Pirates' roving pitching coach, and got back on track, in '68 moving to the Columbus bullpen and going 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA. Those numbers allowed him to get promoted and he had a fine rookie year, going 6-5 with a 2.50 ERA as both a starter and reliever. When Dock came up his first roommate was Willie Stargell, but Dock would try to talk to Willie all night and Stargell had to get a new roommate by the end of their second week. In '69 Dock moved full time into the rotation, but - due to the rule change - it was a tough year for young pitchers and he was no exception as he went 11-17 and his ERA bumped up a run. But he had his selfless side and that year began working with incarcerated guys. In '70 he refined his slider and while the strikeouts came down so did the ERA and his record returned to the winning side. He also threw his infamous no-hitter in which he later claimed he pitched for a full inning to Jimi Hendrix who was swinging his guitar. In '71 it all came together for Dock as he won 19 on the Series champs. He - and his 14-3 record at the break - was the starter at the All-Star game at which he gave up Reggie's massive homer. '72 was arguably a better season - only 33 walks in 163 innings - but he missed some time after he got maced by a security guard at Riverfront who refused to believe he was a player.  The elbow continued to impair Dock's numbers the next two seasons - though he went 12-9 with a 3.16 ERA in '74 - and in '75 he posted his lowest number of decisions since his rookie year. It was also during that time that the hair curlers became an issue, so big changes were coming.

In '76 Dock, along with Ken Brett and a rookie named Willie Randolph, were traded to the Yankees for Doc Medich. It turned out to be an awfully good trade for NY as Brett would bring the Yanks Carlos May, Willie would be their second baseman for the next decade-plus, and Dock would double his win total, grabbing 17 on the way to winning Comeback Player of the Year. He threw a good game against KC in the playoffs and got bombed by the Reds in the Series. '77 started off pretty good - a 1-1 record and 1.83 ERA in three starts - but in a a famous quote Dock said George Steinbrenner should keep out of the locker room. That sent big George into a tirade and pretty soon Dock was on his way to Oakland for Mike Torrez. Dock matched the horrible A's season by going 1-5 in seven starts with an ERA that approached 10.00. The Rangers bought him that June and in a little over half a season the rest of the way he went 10-6 with a nice 2.90 ERA. Unfortunately for Dock the rest of his career would resemble his '77 Oakland stay rather than his Texas one and after a '78 with the Rangers and a '79 split between Texas, the Mets, and the Pirates Dock was all done. He went 138-119 with a 3.46 ERA, 71 complete games, 14 shutouts, and a save. In the post-season his record was 2-4 with an ERA just above 4.00 in his seven games.

Ellis was a big talker and while at times his mouth got him into trouble during his career, he also used it to advocate for others. After he retired he continued to counsel inmates and after he revealed his own drug usage he became a narcotics councilor as well. In 2008 he passed away at 63 of liver disease.

Obviously back then nobody at Topps knew the whole story of the no-hitter or that second star bullet could have been a lot juicier. Dock WAS a dresser and normally made various Top Ten lists in that department.

I never knew his given name was Dock. Besides winning the Comeback Award, '76 was memorable for Ellis for a couple other reasons. One is that he published his memoir that year, "Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball." It was co-written with Donald Hall, who would become the country's poet laureate which I thought at the time was pretty cool (I could never find a copy of the damn thing though). He also moved to the AL that year. That meant that he finally could face Reggie again. After giving up the All-Star homer in '71 Dock said he would plunk Jackson the next time he faced him. So when he got a start against Baltimore after Reggie finally showed, that's exactly what Dock did, almost five years later. But the main reason that was memorable is that the opposing Baltimore starter was Jim Palmer. According to Jim, it was the only time he threw a ball at someone intentionally, in retaliation for Ellis hitting Jackson. The first batter Palmer faced was Ellie Hendricks, who Palmer wasn't going to hit because he threw to him for a bunch of years. So he hit the next batter instead, Mickey Rivers.

Now for the double hook-up. First for Alston as manager:

1. Ellis and Bill Robinson '75 Pirates;
2. Robinson and Andy Kosco '68 Yankees;
3. Kosco managed by Walt Alston '69 to '70 Dodgers.

Now Alston as a player:

1. Ellis and Ron Kline '68 to '69 Pirates;
2. Kline and Mike McCormick '66 Senators;
3. McCormick and Whitey Lockman '57 Giants;
4. Lockman and Johnny Mize '49 Giants;
5. Mize and Walt Alston '36 Cards.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#144 - Walt Alston/ Dodgers Field Leaders

In a nice segue we move from a guy who was a Dodger fan to one of the most iconic Dodgers of them all, Walter Alston. Walt was close to the tail-end of his Dodger run of 23 years, all of which he did on one-year contracts. In the early '70's Walt wrung some impressive won-loss records out of not great teams. Before the season began he lost three of his vets; Maury Wills and Wes Parker retired, and Jim Lefebvre went to Japan. But he had some pretty good kids come up and he was rewarded in '73 with an almost brand new infield and a new ace in Andy Messersmith that would give him 95 wins. By August the team known as the "Little Blue Bicycle" (in contrast to the Reds' "Big Red Machine") had the best record, the best hitting, and the best pitching in the NL. But in early September both Don Sutton and Messersmith got hurt and the Reds pulled away. But the Dodgers got them in '74.

Walt Alston was a first baseman signed by the Cards in '35 after attending Miami (of Ohio) University where he got a degree in education. While overall he would put up some pretty good minor league hitting numbers - 176 homers and a .295 average - he really couldn't get going at any level above B league ball. Still, in '36, fresh off a C season of hitting 35 out and batting .326 he did get into his only major league game, striking out in his only at bat. Starting in '40 he began managing as well as playing in the St. Louis system which he did through '42. In '44 he was traded to Brooklyn and immediately started managing in their system, hanging up his playing spikes following the '46 season. After six years of exceptionally good seasons at the Triple A level, Walt was named Brooklyn manager for the '54 season. It was a tough start. Many fans and players expected Pee Wee Reese to be given the job and Walt was the receptor of a bunch of frustration as the Giants won the pennant and swept the Series, a win most players and fans felt belonged to Brooklyn. In '55 a couple locker room tirades got his stars to stop bitching and Walt not only got Brooklyn back to the Series, but he won the damn thing after years of frustration. He then went out west with his team and in his 23 years only had three losing seasons, his first in LA after Jackie Robinson retired and Roy Campanella was paralyzed, and in '67 and '68 after Sandy Koufax quit (and the Dodgers sucked those years anyway). Walt would manage through the '76 season, when he retired. He won seven pennants, four Series, and four Manager of the Year awards (it wasn't instituted until '59 so he probably would have won at least one more). His lifetime record was 2,040-1,613. He was voted to the Hall of Fame in '83 a year before he passed away at age 72.

Red Adams was the LA pitching coach. He also had a very brief major league history, getting into a couple games during the '46 season for the Cubs, going 0-1 with an 8.25 ERA. He was signed by Chicago in '39 out of high school in California. He was destined to be a Dodger: his first couple years he played D ball in Bisbee, Arizona, home of the Kim Basinger character in "LA Confidential." He would actually have some good years at the Triple A level and after missing a bit over a year in '43 to the military played at that level for a bunch of years. First he won 21 at Double A in '45. His last few seasons he moved around a bit from Brooklyn to Philly through his last season in '57. His career record in the minors was 193-182 with around a 3.75 ERA. Beginning in '59 he was a scout for the Dodgers and in '69 he took over as pitching coach in LA which he did through the '80 season. He was very successful and got serious props from Tommy John, Geoff Zahn, Mike Marshall, and Don Sutton in his HOF speech. He is still around.

Monty Basgall was made for baseball - his last name misses it by two letters (he also has a great given first name). Monty was born in Kansas and went to Sterling University there from where he was signed by the Dodgers in '42. After a season in the minors he went into the military for WW II. He returned in '46 and resumed playing second base in Double A. Following the '47 season he was traded to Pittsburgh for Vic Barnhart and Jimmy Bloodworth (great names). By late '48 he was playing for the Pirates and in '49 would be their regular second baseman, hitting .218. He lost the job the next year to Danny Murtaugh of all people. He played a bit up top in '51 and that was it for his major league career. Lifetime he hit .215. Back in the minors, he continued playing in the Pittsburgh system, mostly at Triple A through his release after the '55 season. His minor league average was .263 lifetime. Monty then began managing in the Pirates system which he did through '58. From '59 to '72 he scouted for LA, with time out to manage in the minors from '71 to '72. He would finish with a minor league managing record of 312-301. '73 was his first season as a coach, a position he kept through the '86 season. He got a bunch of credit from Tommy Lasorda for developing the Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey infield. He settled in Arizona following the '86 season and passed away there in 2005. He was 82.

Jim "Junior" Gilliam had by far the most established playing career of any of these guys. Junior played five seasons for the Baltimore Elite Giants of the Negro Leagues before being signed by Brookyn in '51. He ripped up the league his two seasons in Montreal and was made the Dodgers' second baseman in '53, winning NL ROY for his 17 triples, 100 walks, and 125 runs scored. He scored over 100 runs each of his first four seasons and in '59 led the league in walks. He was pretty much the definitive unselfish player, playing wherever needed (he put in significant time at third and in the outfield during his career). In '62 when Maury Wills broke the stolen base record, Junior batted behind Wills, took a lot of strikes, and protected the plate, sacrificing his average. He played through '66, all for the Dodgers, and finished with a .265 average and a .360 OBA. Although he had over 1,000 lifetime walks, he only struck out a bit over 400 times so he put the ball in play pretty much all the time. He was a .211 hitter with a .325 OBA in seven Series. When done playing he segued right into a coaching job for LA which he was doing in '78 when he passed away at 49 from a brain hemorrhage. His number 19 was retired shortly thereafter.

Tommy Lasorda doesn't really need a bio, but here's a brief one. From Norristown, PA he was signed by the Phillies in '45, fresh out of high school. After a horrible start to his pitching career - 3-12 in Class D - he went into the military the next two years. Almost right after returning to baseball in '48 he was drafted by the Dodgers in the minor league draft. He would pitch in the Dodger system the next eight seasons, primarily at Montreal. In '54 and '55 he would play briefly for Brooklyn. In '56 he was sold to the A's and got his last shot up top. For his major league career he was 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA. Later in '56 he was traded to the Yankees (whoa!) and in '57 was sold back to the Dodgers. He put in a bunch more time in Montreal (he would total nine years there) until his release in '60. For his minor career he went 136-104 with a 3.60 (more or less) ERA. He scouted and coached in the LA system for awhile and then managed in the Dodger system from '65 to '72, including those powerhouse Triple A teams of the late '60s and early '70s. He coached under Walt Alston from '73 to '76, succeeding him in that last year. He would then manage LA for 21 years, going 1,593-1,439. He won seven division titles, four pennants and two Series, as well as Manager of the Year four times. He then followed Alston into the Hall in '97. Tommy also did a short stint as Dodger GM and coached two Olympic teams, leading the US to victory in 2000, a first for our baseball team. Tommy is all over YouTube for anyone who wants to be entertained by his antics.

Time for the double hookup. Alston's one at bat was as a replacement for Johnny Mize which should help huge. First as manager:

1. Alston managed John Roseboro from '57 to '67;
2. Roseboro and Dick Woodson '69 Twins.

Now as player:

1. Alston and Johnny Mize '36 Cards;
2. Mize and Billy Martin '50 to '53 Yankees;
3. Martin and Harmon Killebrew '61 Twins;
4. Killebrew and Dick Woodson '69 to '70 and '72 to '74 Twins.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#143 - Dick Woodson

This is certainly the worst-centered card of the set thus far. It is also Dick Woodson's final card. That's a pretty elaborate batting cage there. I am pretty sure this is a spring training shot but cannot tell on whose field. There are two Twins in the background but it's much too blurry to make them out. Dick was having a pretty good season in '73 and was 10-5 with a 3.45 ERA in late July when he got a sudden burst of shoulder pain. Three starts and three losses later his season was over so that there's a shadow sneaking up on Dick in his photo is very symbolic.

Dick Woodson was a California kid who went to college somewhere in the state. He was 6'5" and went to school on a hoops scholarship. While there he was asked to try out for the baseball team which he did and made. A terrible hitter, he became a pitcher. While I am in the dark on the school at which he played, I do know that he pitched against Westmont College, another Cali school. It was during that game that a Twins scout saw him strike out the guy he was there to see - Jerry DaVanon - three times and signed Dick on the spot. That was in '65 and he was soon playing Rookie ball. His first couple years were rough. Both starting and relieving he couldn't get his ERA below 5.00. In '67 he was able to have a nice season around his military hitch and was seen by Billy Martin, at the time a Twins coach, who liked what he saw. That was a benefit to Dick because after a not great start at Double A Twins owner Calvin Griffith wanted to cut him. Instead Martin pushed him up to Triple A Denver where he went 2-0 in two starts with a 0.50 ERA. In '69 Billy was the manager and Dick was in the Twins bullpen where he had a pretty good rookie year. He got thumped by Reggie when he threw at him after Reggie hit a couple out off other pitchers. He also got into the playoffs that season although he had a poor series. In '70 Billy was gone and new manager Bill Rigney was not as big a fan. Dick shuttled between Minnesota and Evansville, another Triple A team, and his numbers went a little south. He would spend all of '71 in the minors, and as a starter for Portland, win 16 games.

In '72 Frank Quilici was named Twins manager. He was another Woodson fan and he kept Dick on the Twins roster. It would be his best season as he won 14 while posting a 2.71 ERA. Then came the bi-polar '73 season. It turned out that Dick's rotator cuff was torn, but that wasn't picked up for a season. In '74 Dick was the first player to go to salary arbitration. He had made $15,000 in '73 and wanted $30,000 for '74. The Twins offered $23,000 and Marvin Miller, who had just argued arbitration into being, wanted Dick to be his beta test. Dick won, but Griffith said he would never pay him that much and that May he made good on his word and traded Dick to the Yankees for Mike Pazik and some cash. Dick went 1-2 for NY and spent some time at Syracuse, their top minor team. Dick and his dad were big Dodger fans also and while he played for the Yankees, his dad wouldn't talk to him. In '75 Dick split time between the Rangers and Braves systems but his arm was toast as rotator cuff tears back then were career-killers. He finished 34-32 with a 3.47 ERA, 15 complete games, five shutouts, and a couple saves in the majors. In the post-season he put up an ERA over 10.00 in a few innings work and in the minors he went 40-42 with a 4.20 ERA.

Following baseball, Woodson became a sales rep for various companies. In the early '90s he was a purchasing manager for First American Credco. Shortly thereafter he helped develop, implement, and sell an AUTOCAD design system. That morphed into designing and implementing bar-coding software. He's been retired since 2007 and resides back in California. There is a pretty comprehensive interview of him here. I wish I'd seen this site before I did a bunch of digging. A lot of my info was verified here. The interview has tons of typos but it is entertaining and Dick shares some well-thought perspectives on playing in the '70s.

Yeah, this card's a mess. I've done some serious cropping and the card still looks like crap. Upgrade! The cartoon is a point of reference for a discussion on pitching. Dick's out pitch was his curve and he pitched from the stretch - what they call "no-windup" now - pretty much all the time. The stretch shortens the process of pitching and gives the catcher more time to deal with the base runners. Dick's arbitration filing was really a big deal historically and a few legal papers have been written regarding it, a couple of them viewable online.

This is the third AL guy in a row (so much for my argument about the A's and the Mets having cards close to each other), but these short careers are tough:

1. Woodson and Steve Braun '72 to '74 Twins;
2. Braun and Johnny Briggs '75 Twins;
3. Briggs and Pedro Garcia '73 to '75 Brewers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

#142 - Pedro Garcia

This is the second card in a row that represents the player's first solo card. Like Pat Bourque on the last post, Pedro Garcia had a rookie card in '73. Now this guy's pretty happy and his positive attitude shows in his photo. I am pretty sure it was taken in Oakland, since that's where a bunch of his teammates' photos were shot. Pedro had a pretty bang-up rookie season, co-leading the AL in doubles while providing solid defense and becoming the first guy in franchise history to put in a full season at his position. Unfortunately Pedro's career pretty much peaked his first year. Thereafter it was all more or less a protracted sophomore slump.

Pedro Garcia was discovered playing ball in PR by the Seattle Pilots Latin American scout in '69. He was from a family of nine kids and after signed that season would play Rookie and Single A ball, more at shortstop than at second base. He'd played shortstop growing up but since the Pilots/Brewers had Rick Auerbach ahead of him there, Pedro agreed to the shift and in the minors would spend a bunch of time perfecting his pivot. He was a free swinger and though he displayed some pretty good power for a middle infielder, he also struck out a ton. In '70 he hit north of .300 in A ball and in '71 he jumped all the way to Triple A Evansville. His scouting report that year noted his power and projected him as a big leaguer in a couple years. In '72 he returned to Evansville, boosted his average 50 points and made the league All-Star team.

In '73 Pedro got the second base job during spring training and tightly held onto it, playing 160 games. He and Tim Johnson solidified the middle infield, helping the Brewers improve significantly . He also hit pretty well and his 32 doubles would tie for the league lead (with Sal Bando). He would finish second in '73 AL ROY voting but would not get a spot on either the Topps or Baseball Digest Rookie All-Star teams. He also struck out 119 times that year and while that may have been OK for an up-and-coming infielder whose average and power were expected to increase, it wasn't when in '74 his average sunk below .200. While Pedro's power numbers were up (12 homers and 54 RBIs in over 125 less at bats), he would lose playing time to Johnson, himself pushed over by Robin Yount's addition to the line-up. In '75 Pedro led league second basemen in fielding and his average improved, but not enough to prevent losing more time, now to Kurt Bevacqua and Bob Sheldon. After a .217 start with zero power in '76 Pedro was traded to Detroit even up for Gary Sutherland. For the Tigers he got a little more playing time but his average sunk below .200 again and after the season he was released. He signed as a free agent with the new Toronto Blue Jays and, although he hit ten doubles in 130 at bats, really couldn't get things going and was released in June. He then signed with San Diego and played both second and third for the Padres' Triple A club in Hawaii. There he hit .300 and actually had a decent .371 OBA. In '78 he played a full season at Hawaii, hitting .251. He was released following that season and that was it. For his major league career Pedro hit .220 with 37 homers and 184 RBIs, as well as 89 doubles.

Garcia played winter ball for Criollos de Caguas in PR and his '73-'74 team was the Caribbean Series champ. The team also had Willie Montanez, Mike Schmidt, Felix Millan, and Jay Johnstone, among other major leaguers. Like a bunch of other Latin players there is next to nothing about him since he played.

The best thing about this card is the birthdate which was yesterday. The cartoon is lame but the music theme makes for a good bit of trivia. Pedro is the guy who noticed that one of Oakland's batboys bore a striking resemblance to Hank Aaron. He then nicknamed the kid Hammer after Hank's nickname. Thus was born M.C. Hammer.

Time to dredge up some names, but I've used one of these guys before:

1. Garcia and Dave May '73 to '74 Brewers;
2. May and Claudell Washington '77 Rangers;
3. Washington and Pat Bourque '74 A's.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

#141 - Pat Bourque

Pat Bourque gets his first solo card in Comiskey. There are only a couple candidates for who that might be behind him. He's too dark to be Reggie and Vida was a lefty. That leaves either Blue Moon Odom or Angel Mangual. I'm going with the latter since you can see the beginning of the name on the back of the uniform. If so, that's nice because Angel doesn't have a card in this set. As for Pat, he's pretty happy. He has only been in town less than a month - if I'm correct the photo was taken either September 22 or 23 of '73 - and he's back in Chicago with a winner this time, about to go to his first Series. Better to be on the ride up instead of the ride down.

Pat Borque was a pretty big boy who was drafted out of Holy Cross by the Cubs in '69. In college he was a star linebacker and played first base. His first year in the minors he switched to the outfield but was back at first by year two . He hit pretty well while moving up and had a reputation for displaying some power. In '71 he had 83 RBIs at Double A and his '72 scouting report mentioned his hitting with fair speed but that he needed work on his fielding. In '72 he was MVP of Chicago's Triple A team at Wichita and got pretty much the same scouting review. Both those years he got some late season time with the Cubs. In '73 he began the season in Chicago and by early June was hitting over .300 with 6 homers. He returned to Wichita when things got crowded at first and was back in Chicago by mid-summer. But his average tanked as the Cubs piled up losses and he only hit one more out. Late that August he was sent to Oakland for Gonzalo Marquez. Card-wise that was a pretty ironic trade since the two of them - along with Enos Cabell - shared a rookie card in the '73 set. For Oakland Pat would mostly pinch hit the rest of the way, a role he again played in the postseason (a .333 average and .600 OBA in five plate appearances). In '74 Pat would play first and DH a bit. He was hitting .286 early in the year when he was benched at Finley's behest, pissing off some of his fellow players (even the reserves couldn't stay away from the controversy). By late August, though, he was hitting around .230 and he was sent to the Twins for Jim Holt. In Minnesota he finished the season at first. Following the season, Pat was sent back to Oakland for a guy named Dennis Myers and Dan Ford. Bad trade for Oakland: Pat wouldn't play a game again in the majors while Ford became an All-Star outfielder.

Bourque would still play some baseball, however. Beginning in '75 he went south of the border to play for the Mexico City Diablos Rojos and in his first season he would win the batting title, hitting around .370. He played down there through '78 and after playing would work his way to Arizona. According to a Holy Cross alumni site he works for Waste Management down there. There is a Patrick Bourque who has been running waste management for the city of Flagstaff for a bunch of years, but I cannot tell if it's the same guy. There are some very good instructional videos by Pat on YouTube - I've linked to one here - for what appear to be high school kids that are pretty interesting and insightful. He seems like a nice guy.

I guess Pat was captain of his baseball team although it could have been football as well. I have been unable to get any specifics on his years at Holy Cross but the couple times I've seen them mentioned, he gets props for his football play. He apparently played closer to 220 which would have been pretty big for six feet.

Rico Carty or Orlando Cepeda would be quick ways to link these two but each only got a couple at bats in Oakland so let's go elsewhere:

1. Bourque and Bill North '73 to '74 A's;
1. North and Earl Williams '77 A's;
2. Williams and Darrell Evans '71 to '72 Braves.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

#140 - Darrell Evans

Now here's a fat smile! And that can't possibly be a comfortable pose either. Darrell Evans should be smiling, though. He's about to have his huge '73 season if this is a spring training shot, which I believe it is. And '73 WAS huge for our boy here. He joined Hank Aaron and Davey Johnson as the first trio from the same team to hit 40 or more homers. He was also part of the record-setting infield in the same category (they had 108). He led the league with 124 walks and posted an over .400 OBA, earning his first All-Star slot. Darrell would show a pretty good eye throughout his career even though he was pretty blind - uncorrected he was about 20/80 - and needed contacts just to get out the front door. Here, while doing his best to stay in the frame, he gets to wear sky blue cleats and nobody can say anything because it matches his uniform. And he gets a "10" card.

Darrell Evans was a Cali kid. Born and raised in Pasadena he went to the Pasadena City College where he was a baseball and basketball star. His final season there he was the captain of the state champs in both sports. After being drafted by - and turning down - the Cubs, Yankees, Tigers, and Phillies, Darrell was drafted and signed by the A's in June of '67. He'd shot down all the other guys because the big plan was to play ball at USC. But he instead opted for KC/Oakland and its bonus and that year got off to a pretty good start, hitting over .320, mostly at the Single A level. He then got called into the marines for a six-month hitch. He was about 180 pounds when he went in and 240 when he came out. He started off '68 in Double A but hurt his arm. The Oakland guys got nervous about his physical issues and that winter left Darrell unprotected and he got plucked by the Braves in the Rule 5 draft. He got lucky because over the next two years while moving from Double to Triple A in the Atlanta system he ran into Eddie Matthews who taught him both how to field at third base and how to pull the ball. In '69 he hit .360 with some nice power at the higher level and in '70 he hit .300 with 20 homers and 83 RBIs and did much better in his late season call-up than he did the prior year. A fast start in '71 - .327 with 30 RBI's in just 101 at bats - got him up earlier in the season to be part of the revolving door at third. His timing was pretty good because incumbent Clete Boyer's offense declined every year since his big '67 and the succession of guys brought in to shore things up were either too old (Bob Aspromonte, Zoilo Versalles) or better positioned elsewhere (Earl Williams). So by the end of the season Darrell was the everyday guy.

In '72 Evans posted the best Brave numbers at third since Clete Boyer's '67 and in '73 he upped his performance and his profile considerably  In '74 he again led the league in walks while hitting 25 out and in '75 he topped 100 BB's with 22 homers, both times posting an average around .240.. In '76 Jerry Royster took over third base and Darrell moved to first. He started off horribly that year and in June went to San Francsisco with Marty Perez for Willie Montanez and Craig Robinson.

Evans took Montanez's place at first for San Francisco the rest of the '76 season. While his first day as a Giant he won both games of a double header with home runs, his offensive swoon really didn't abate all year and it would be by far the worst season of his career. In '77 he put some time in the outfield also, but for most of his time as a Giant Darrell played third. From '77 to '82 he averaged about 18 homers and 71 RBIs a full season. Late in '82 he was sitting on the bench at 35 contemplating the end of his career and when he got home that night he and his wife saw a UFO. To that sighting he attributed a career resurgence. It must have worked because in '83 he hit 30 homers and had 83 RBIs while hitting .277, about 25 points higher than his average while a Giant He also got his second All-Star nod that year. After that season he became a free agent.

In '84 Evans signed with Detroit and that year spent most of his time as a DH. While his numbers declined to just under his SF norm, he did get to the post-season and he would hit .300 against KC in the playoffs (although considerably worse in the Series). He was a happy winner and the next season he moved to first base and hit 40 homers with 94 RBI's. He became at the time the oldest player to ever lead a league in home runs at 38. The following two seasons he would average over 30 homers and 90 RBIs. In '87 he got 100 walks, becoming one of a few players to reach that total for three different teams. He played another season for the Tigers before wrapping things up in '89 back in Atlanta. He finished with a .248 average, 414 homers, and 1,354 RBIs. He posted a .361 OBA with over 1,600 walks (he is 12th all-time). He, like Reggie, hit 100 homers for three different teams. While he hit only .214 in the post-season, he got on base at a .365 clip in his 13 games.

After playing Evans did some coaching, including a stint with the Yankees in '90. From the late '90s through 2010 he managed teams off and on in the Golden Baseball League, an independent league in California. His record in that capacity is 421-498.

Bradenton was the A's Rookie League team, which is why the season was so short. Darrell became quite a good fielder, both at third and first.

We get to employ a couple Royals here which is nice because so far there have been so few of them:

1. Evans and Bruce Dal Canton '75 to '76 Braves;
2. Dal Canton and Bob Oliver '71 to '75 Royals;
3. Oliver and Aurelio Monteagudo '70 Royals.

Friday, April 15, 2011

#139 - Aurelio Monteagudo

I knew this would happen: a double card post of a guy about who I cannot find much to say. These are Aurelio Monteagudo's final cards. He didn't pitch an inning in the majors after 1973. At least he's coming off one of his better seasons. After going 6-3 with a save in Triple A, Aurelio finally again saw some MLB action for the Angels after a mid-year trade from the Padres for infielder Ron Clark. Up top he added three saves to his posted numbers And in a bit of randomness I hope does not continue, his post is the second in a row of a player no longer with us. Here he poses in what may be Oakland on a dark and stormy day.

Although the information available on Aurelio is sparse, it seems like he had a pretty dramatic life. His dad, Rene, was a major leaguer from Cuba who went 3-7 in three seasons between 1938 and '45 for the Senators and Phillies. A good hitter, by the early '40s he had moved to the outfield also and in '45 hit over .300 for the Phillies. He had a long minor league career, batting over .300 lifetime and his first two years winning a total of 37 games in Single A ball. Aurelio was born in Cuba in '43 and the Monteagudo family was still living there when Castro took over and they fled to Venezuela. I guess Rene wasn't one of Fidel's favorite ball players.

In '61 Aurelio was signed by the A's and that year went 11-4 in D ball. In '62 he pitched well in B ball but not so great at a couple higher levels. But after a good camp in '63 he moved up to Triple A where his numbers were good enough to get a late call-up and throw a few respectable relief innings in Kansas City. In '64 and '65 he would move back and forth between Triple A and KC, '64 being his major league high in innings when he did spot work, but not too successfully as he posted that fat ERA. While he was a starter in the minors he would do much better as a reliever up top. Those two years he won a total of 21 at the lower level with an ERA of 3.01. He began '66 with KC and was doing pretty well when he was sold to Houston where he again did the back and forth, also again posting fine Triple A numbers. The next three years he moved to the Reds, the White Sox, back to the Reds, and to the Cards, all primarily in Double and Triple A where by now he was relieving as well. While his ERA would move up a bit in '67 - as it did again in '69 - he would generally post good numbers, peaking in '68 when he was a combined 11-7 with a 2.88 ERA.Unfortunately during that span his MLB numbers weren't so great. In the winter of '69/'70 he was drafted from the Cards chain in the minor league draft by the Royals.

In 1970 Monteagudo would follow some more good Triple A work with his best season in the majors that year, finally winning his first game. In '71 he went 12-4 with a 2.60 ERA for the Royals Triple A club, but instead of earning a promotion, he hit the road again, this time via the Rule 5 draft to Milwaukee. He was released by the Brewers during '72 spring training, signed with the Padres, and put in another year-plus of good Triple A work, posting a 2.37 ERA. Then, in '74, despite the Traded card, Aurelio played not at all for Philadelphia nor any of its teams, but instead moved down to Mexico, where he played the next few years. His final work in The States was a brief Triple A trial for California in '83. He finished with a 3-7 record - just like his dad - with a 5.05 ERA and four saves. In the minors he went 102-73 with an ERA in the mid-3.00s. He wasn't a bad hitter and in the minors he posted an average above .200.

As indicated above, Monteagudo pitched in Mexico for eight seasons. There he went 106-85 with a 2.93 ERA and earlier this year had his number retired by one club, Monclova. He also played a bunch of winter ball in Venezuela during his career. His dad died during the '73 season at only 57. Aurelio managed for a season in the Angels system in '82 and then in Mexico in the late Eighties. His record was 185-257 and he was still managing for Saltillo when he passed away in a car crash in 1990. He was 46.

The Traded card looks like it's from an earlier season. I've seen what looks like a giant termite mound behind Aurelio before. It's definitely Arizona and I think it is taken at Sun City - later Diablo Stadium - the Brewers' spring training field in the early '70s.

Aurelio's two good Triple A seasons get star bullet print. It's pretty surprising those numbers didn't get him back to the majors, especially in '72 since the Padres were ALWAYS hurting back then for good pitching. I have done some digging on his Topps history. Aurelio had seven Topps cards, eight including this Traded one. That works out to two-plus cards per win and one per every nine games which has to be some sort of a record.

This was an interesting trade. Monty - that was his nickname - was sort of delayed compensation in a deal that essentially swapped Denny Doyle for Billy Grabarkewitz. In fact, Billy was the only player who actually moved during the '73 season. That last line in the write-up just wasn't to be.

In another bit of tragic trivia, three men named Aurelio have played in the majors. All three of them died in car crashes.

Let's get a Hall of Famer into this exercise:

1. Monteagudo and Nolan Ryan '73 Angels;
2. Ryan and Ken McMullen '72 Angels;
3. McMullen and Ed Brinkman '65 to '70 Senators.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

#138 - Ed Brinkman

Here we have Ed Brinkman,, one of the longest-serving major leaguers in the set (although he's only 32) posing in one of the oldest fields at the time of the set, Comiskey Park. In '73 Ed would add over 30 points to his average and enjoy his only All-Star appearance. Ed has a bat in his hands although it would be more appropriate if he held a glove. Before the Mendoza line came into being there was Ed, toting his .220 average, as a hallmark of batting futility. But he was an awfully good fielder.

Ed Brinkman grew up in Cincinnati and played high school ball there, at a school called Western Hills. His senior year he played shortstop and pitched, batting .460 and winning 15 games. He then attended the University of Cincinnati where he played baseball and was drafted by the Senators - the new ones - in '61 (some sources say he was drafted by the OLD Senators for a big sum fresh out of high school in '59). That year he would play third base at a couple of D-level clubs, hit .314, and get called up to DC for a few late games. In '62 he started off at B-level Raleigh, hit .320, and again got promoted all the way up. Although he only hit .165, the following spring he was given the starting shortstop job, a role he held from '63 to '70, with a couple exceptions. In '67 Ed, like a few other major leaguers, began serving reserve duty in the National Guard. Normally that meant weekends and/or a few weeks to a few months a year he had to report for duty at a designated base. That year he was on a pretty good roll batting average-wise, but missed the time and then was slow coming back and his average ended back in the sub-.200 range. In '68, right around the beginning of the season Martin Luther King was assassinated and most Guardsmen were called in early to quell real or anticipated riots in urban parts of the country. Ed was one of them and on opening day of the '68 season he was ironically stationed at DC Stadium, his home park. It would turn out to be a lost season for Ed. Then in '69 his average popped 50 points and it stayed there in 1970. What happened? Despite the lowering of the mound and a couple other rule changes to favor hitters, what really happened was that Ed's manager those two years was Ted Williams, maybe the best hitting coach ever. Practically everyone on the team in '69 had career offensive seasons and Ed was no exception.

In 1971 Brinkman was part of a big trade that sent him to Detroit with Aurelio Rodriguez and Joe Coleman for Denny McLain, Elliott Maddox, Don Wert, and Norm McRae. Only Maddox would put in any significant time for Washington/Texas and the trade would become a steal for the Tigers. Despite his average sinking to its pre-Ted levels, Ed started rewriting the record books at shortstop. In '71 he played a record 56 straight games without an error at the position. In '72 he topped it, going 72 consecutive games without an error. He also started off that year on a decent hitting tear and got the highest amount of MVP votes on the division-winner. He also won his only Gold Glove. In his only post-season series he hit .250. In '74, his final season as a Tiger, he would have his best power year with 14 homers and 54 RBIs. The following year Ed moved around a lot: he went to San Diego in the trade that brought Nate Colbert to Detroit and was then immediately swapped to St. Louis for pitchers Alan Foster, Rich Folkers, and Sonny Siebert. When the season was barely two month's old he went - back, in a way - to Texas for Willie Davis. Finally, ten days later he was sold to the Yankees. He barely played for any of those guys and he would be cut in spring training of '76 ending his playing career. Ed hit .220 for his time in the majors, but he finished pretty high lifetime in all major defense categories. From '65 to '74 - except the lost '68 - he finished in the top five shortstops fielding percentage-wise.

After playing Ed went into coaching. From '77 to '82 he managed in the Tigers chain, except for '79 and '81 when he coached at the majors level. From '83 to 2000 he worked with the White Sox, first as a coach and the last couple years as a scout. He then retired. As a manager he had a career record of 277-278. He passed away in 2008 either from heart problems or from lung cancer, depending on the source. He was 66.

That's a good star bullet. Ed did play with Pete Rose in high school and reportedly signed for a much higher bonus than Pete, if the latter's biography is to be believed. Don Zimmer also attended that school, although a bit earlier than Pete and Ed. If Ed dropped his last name he could have been on "Green Acres."

Two AL guys should make this easier:

1. Brinkman and Jim Northrup '71 to '74 Tigers;
2. Northrup and Al Bumbry '75 Orioles.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

#137 - Al Bumbry

Here's Al Bumbry, 1973 AL Rookie of the Year, at Yankee Stadium, showing his Felix Millan-like stance. Al made the team in spring training and moved into left field, swapping time with Don Baylor, to replace the recently-departed Don Buford. Al started strongly and never looked back. In mid-season he hit three triples in a week. In September he hit three in a GAME and he would lead the AL that year with eleven, despite less than 400 plate appearances. His .337 average and .398 OBA would get him the ROY award and he would get some playoff action that fall. Does this mean we have the second outfielder on the Topps 1973 Rookie All-Star Team? Nope. Topps dissed Al for a couple other guys, one a teammate. Pretty wiggy stuff. But Al doesn't seem too concerned; there weren't any trophies on the cards anyway. Plus he'd dealt with much more serious stuff before.

Al Bumbry continues the recent theme of being a more-or-less local kid, he from Virginia, who was nabbed by Baltimore in '68. He was drafted out of Virgina State University which he attended on a basketball scholarship. The school didn't even have a baseball team until his senior year; he joined and hit .578 with tons of speed. He was able to get in about 35 games for Stockton, the Orioles team in the California League, when he got drafted again, this time into the Marines. Al pulled an 11-month hitch in Viet Nam, where as a lieutenant he led a platoon, won a Bronze Star, and didn't lose a man in his command. He DID lose almost two years of baseball, however, and returned at 24 to Single A in '71, this time at Aberdeen in South Dakota, where he hit .336. In '72 he moved from Double to Triple A and didn't miss a beat, hitting over .340 in both stops with a total of 19 triples and 32 stolen bases. He brought his hitting with him for his few games up top that year. In '73 he made the O's squad and had his big year.

In '74 Bumbry had a horrible sophomore season, his average dropping by over 100 points. Basically, his opponents wisened up. In '73 Al was a big off-speed gap hitter and in '74 the pitchers threw their off-speed stuff away which Al chased for strikes and the outfielders played deeper to cut off the gaps. But a strong second half - he hit .293 from July on - was succeeded by a winter in which he killed the ball in Venezuela, where he played off-season a bunch of years, and when he returned in '75 he raised his average over 30 points. In '76 Don Baylor went to Oakland in the Reggie trade and Al saw the most action to date in his career. He also saw a bunch of time in center which turned out to be a more natural position for him and though his offensive numbers still didn't approach those of '73 he was becoming one of the league's better fielders. Plus he stole 42 bases. In '77 he took over center full time (Paul Blair had gone to NY) and pushed his average to .317 and his OBA to above .370. In '78 he broke his leg and the season was a wash. He came back strong in '79 and filled a prominent role on the O's first Series team since '71. But after posting a .400 OBA against California in the playoffs his Series run was pretty lame and Baltimore would reprise '71, losing to the Pirates in seven.

In 1980 Bumbry had his best season, hitting .318 with a .392 OBA, scoring 118 runs, and bagging 44 stolen bases. He would be the first Oriole to record 200 hits and get his only All-Star appearance that year. He would remain Baltimore's starting center fielder through the '84 season, hitting around .270 over that time. In '83 he won his only Series. After '84 he left as a free agent for the Padres for whom he played a few games before hanging them up. Al ended up a .281 hitter with 254 stolen bases. Defensively he is in the top 50 for fielding percentage in center and the top 100 for putouts. In the post-season he hit .141 in his 22 games. When he finished he was a top ten guy on a bunch of Orioles career leader categories, including stolen bases for which he was number one.

After playing, Bumbry became a coach: for Boston ('88 to '93), Baltimore ('95 to '97), and Cleveland a couple times. He taught Manny Ramirez how to run the bases. He still does community work for the Orioles and does a bunch of work for Vet fund-raisers.

Al was a small guy at 5'8" and fast, thus the nickname in the cartoon. He called his bat the South Pole and gets some good props for his excellent '72 season. The front of this card is almost exactly the same as his '77 card. In fact it's eerily similar, despite the fact that in '77 he is in a home uniform. It is linked to here.

A step or two more this time:

1. Bumbry and Don Stanhouse '78 to '79 Orioles;
2. Stanhouse and Andre Thornton '76 Expos;
3. Thornton and Rick Reuschel '74 to '76 Cubs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#136 - Rick Reuschel

Another action shot, this one at Wrigley, of a young Rick Reuschel. It's funny, but I don't ever picture this guy as young but he'd be only about 24 in this photo. Rick would have more career resurgences than anyone outside of Tommy John. He was definitely a tribute to determination. That quality was already being tested in '73, only his second season. After a fine rookie year, Rick came out of the box strong in '73 and was 9-4 with a 1.92 ERA through the end of June when the Cubs were on top of the division by seven games. But then came the annual Chicago collapse and Rick went 5-11 the rest of the way. Overall, it was still a decent season and Rick would be a mound mainstay in Chicago - and then elsewhere - for a while.

Like a couple subjects of recent posts, Rick Reuschel was a local kid who grew up in Illinois and attended Western Illinois University out of which he was drafted and signed by the Cubs in '70. He pitched excellently in the minors the next three seasons, starting all the way, and dropping about an earned run as he moved from Single to Triple A. In '72 he got called up to Chicago and had an outstanding rookie season. He was named to Baseball Digest's rookie team (Topps had Dick Tidrow in that position). Beginning in '73 and then moreso thereafter with the departure of Fergie Jenkins, Rick would be Chicago's most consistent winner the next seven seasons. He was a sinker ball and speed change specialist and he would regularly be among the league leaders in fewest homers allowed per nine innings. In '74 the ERA spiked a bit but he still won 13 and in '75, an otherwise tough year (he led the NL with 17 losses), he threw a shutout with his brother Paul, the only brother act to pull that off. '76 would be a big improvement and then in '77 as the Cubbies made a pennant run, Rick had his best season, going 20-10 with a 2.79 ERA. He won 14 in '78, 18 in '79 and 11 in '80, all for not-great teams and all while posting ERA's that had a significant premium to league average. Then in '81 almost right after expressing his desire to be a life-long Cub he was traded to the Yankees for Doug Bird and Mike Griffin. For NY Rick performed well down the stretch, going 4-4 but with a 2.67 ERA. That year he would see his first post-season action.

In '82 Reuschel was diagnosed with "the shoulder of a 70 year old" and while his rotator cuff wasn't torn, it did require an operation. That wrecked his '82 season and in '83 after a not great start for rehab in Triple A for NY he was released. He called some contacts in Chicago and was shortly pitching for the Cubs' Single A team in Quad Cities. While it must have been a bummer being 34 with over 100 major league wins in his pocket, Rick kept a positive attitude and went 3-4 with a 2.42 ERA in 13 starts. That September he was called up and went 1-1 for the Cubs in four starts. In '84 he spent a bunch of time on the DL - shoulder again - and went 5-5 as a starter and sometime reliever. But his ERA bloated to above 5.00 and he was left off the post-season roster. The Cubs then did not sign him for the next season.

In '85 there were no takers for Reuschel's services. His agents went into full offensive and cadged him a tryout with the Pirates. Chuck Tanner and GM Pete Peterson thought he was worth a shot and sent him to Hawaii, their Triple A team. There he went 6-2 with a 2.50 ERA and was free of pain. He was called up to a terrible Pirates team and proceeded to go 14-8 with a 2.27 ERA and won Comeback Player of the Year. In '86 the Pirates were equally bad and Rick's record suffered. In '87 as the Pirates improved substantially due to a couple newcomers named Bonds and Bonilla, Rick was 8-6 with a 2.75 ERA when he was traded to the Giants for their stretch drive. He went 5-3 for SF but then had a pretty poor playoff, going 0-1 in two starts. In '88 he won 19 and led the league in starts at age 39. In '89 the Giants were playoff-bound again and Rick won 17 before again having a poor post-season. He stuck around SF for another year-plus and then hung them up. Overall he went 214-191 with a 3.37 ERA, 102 complete games, 26 shutouts, five saves, and over 2,000 strikeouts. He was named to three All-Star teams, starting the '89 game. He was a very good all-around player, posting 79 RBI's, winning two Gold Gloves, and even getting some pinch running shots despite his size. In the post-season he was 1-4 with a 5.85 ERA in eight games. A farm boy, Rick turned to managing the family farm with his brother after playing.

I have never seen Ricky as a given name before.  His sophomore year at school in '69 he went 10-0 with a 1.29 ERA but I assume his junior year was a bit of a discount to that or I imagine he'd have gone higher than the third round. Between the cartoon and the star bullets, Rick's big league beginnings get a lot of coverage. He started his career going 3-0 and besides his sinker toted a pretty good fastball. He could also throw his slider and slurve at multiple speeds, keeping hitters off-balance. His nickname was "Big Daddy" and despite the 215 pounds listed here, is thought to have been closer to 240 for much of his career.

These guys missed being teammates by a couple seasons:

1. Reuschel and Reggie Jackson '81 Yankees;
2. Jackson and Roy White '77 to '79 Yankees.

Monday, April 11, 2011

#135 - Roy White

Back to the action cards, this one has Roy White at Yankee stadium in either the batter's box or the on deck circle. Roy is smiling, which was pretty rare. Not that he wasn't a nice guy but in over ten years of late '60s and early '70s cards and Yankee yearbooks, I don't think I ever saw a Roy White smile. While Roy wasn't putting up his best numbers in '73 - his average suffered a bit from a bone spur - he did lead the AL in plate appearances as he didn't miss a game; he also led his team in runs scored. I think this is a great shot.

Roy White grew up in Compton in LA and worked his way through high school and Compton Junior College while also playing baseball. That means he was a tough bird. Signed by the Yankees in '61 as a second baseman, he would play exclusively that while working his way up the minors. An excellent fundamental player on offense he got into trouble average-wise when he made the jump from D ball to B ball in his first season and also at Double A in '64 when he tried to park the ball too much and overswung. But in between he hit .309 in A ball in '63 and then had a big '65 in Double A in which he hit .300 with 19 homers. By the end of that season he was up in NY playing the outfield since Bobby Richardson was still the man at second. In his late season trial Roy hit well and then - since Richardson appeared to be sticking around - did some Fall IL work at third base.Then in '66 lots of injuries to the regulars kept Roy in the outfield. While he didn't hit terribly well, neither did anyone else on that team and so he was back for '67. But that year he was moved around a bunch, playing third as well as outfield, and that movement affected his offense as well as his defense so he moved down to Triple A to get more experience at third. There he had a huge season, hitting .343 with a .420 OBA and in '68 Ralph Houk got the message and made Roy his permanent left fielder. He would start there the next 11 years and in '68 Roy's numbers took a huge upswing. They would have done so again in '69 had he not lost time to the military. In that year and in '70 - probably his best offensive year - Roy would make the All-Star team. His defense was superb; during the three seasons from '70 to '72 he made only four errors while playing pretty much every day. In '71 he fielded flawlessly. That year he also set a record for sacrifice flies with 17. In '72 and '73 Roy would be moved around the lineup a bit with the acquisition of power guys Graig Nettles and Jim Ray Hart and his average suffered. But the move to Shea for the '74 and '75 seasons worked well for Roy even though it wrecked some of the other outfielders. His average popped - .275 and .290 - and he performed very well defensively in a horrible outfield in which to play.

In '76 the long NY performance drought ended with the acquisitions of Mickey Rivers, Willie Randolph, and others and Roy would lead the league in runs while earning his first post-season appearances. He had a very nice series against the Royals then sort of collapsed with the rest of his team against the Reds. He was again a starter in '77 but got almost zero time in the post-season that year which irked a bunch of his teammates, even Reggie. In '78 Roy spent some time on the DL and got benched a few times. In the midst of the big Yankee comeback, though, he was again made the regular left fielder and responded well, hitting over .320 the rest of the season with nearly an RBI a game. That year he had a very good post-season and won a game in the Series against LA with a homer. In '79 the Yankees would not renew Roy's contract and after a sub-par partial season he left as a free agent. Instead of signing with another MLB team, Roy went to Japan for three seasons and did well. In 1980 he hit .300 with 29 homers and 106 RBIs, getting to play with Sadahuro Oh in his final season. In '81 he hit 23 dingers and in '82 he hit .296 with 12 homers as a reserve. He then called it quits both in Japan and the US. For his career Roy hit .271 with 160 homers and 758 RBIs. He also stole 233 bases and got on base at a .360 clip. In the post-season he hit .278 with a .387 OBA in 25 games.

After he left Japan, White took a year off and was back in NY as a coach from '83 to '86. He then performed various functions for the team through the late '90s. In '99 he moved to Oakland to coach for a few years, returning to NY to perform various roles in 2004. He also started an organization,, linked to on the name, that raises money to get inner-city kids to college.

Roy is Paris' great uncle which has been a pain for him publicity-wise (just kidding). Roy had a great stance: he used to bat pigeon-toed which I believe he did initially to help keep him from over-swinging. He gets some props here for his switch-hitting and retired as second to Mickey Mantle for a bunch of team switch-hitting records. In "The Bronx Zoo" Sparky called Roy a class act, which was pretty much seconded by everyone he played with.

Yankee and Menke almost rhyme. They hook up via another former NY guy:

1. White and Clete Boyer '66 Yankees;
2. Boyer and Denis Menke '67 Braves.