Friday, August 31, 2012

#425 - Pete Broberg

Now this guy sort of had a career path that was an opposite arc of the last post subject’s. Pete Broberg went straight to the bigs from Dartmouth. It seems the Senators/Rangers of the early Seventies were fond back then of having their number one picks – at least the ones that pitched – debut with the big guys and bypass the minors. So Pete was ‘71’s version of David Clyde and while he was more prepared and had a sort of similar career path, he was a bit more successful than Dave. ’73 was certainly not Pete’s season in the sun as his nasty numbers up top got him sent down for the first time. But Topps still loved him since they gave him an honorary card number. Nothing against Pete, whose done just fine since baseball, but he’s about the least deserving of that designation so far in the set.

Pete Broberg came from an athletic heritage. His dad, Gustav, was an All-American hoops player at Dartmouth in the early Forties who then lost an arm at Okinawa during WW II before settling down in Florida as an attorney and respected judge. Pete was a big kid and excelled in basketball and baseball – both in hitting and pitching – in high school and American Legion ball in West Palm Beach. By the time he was a senior just about every one of his outings was a no-hitter and he was drafted in ’68 by Oakland and promised a hefty bonus – reports were anywhere between $150,000 and $175,000 – by Charlie O. But Pete opted for Dartmouth as well as his family didn’t need the bucks and he wanted something to fall back on in case athletics weren’t in his future. Smart boy. He actually intended to play hoops as well but dropped that sport and concentrated on pitching. His freshman stat line was pretty amazing: in six starts covering 45 innings he went 6-0 with only eleven hits, 32 walks, 99 strikeouts, and a 1.60 ERA. That summer he played in Alaska for the Goldpanners. In ’70 he went “about” 6-2 to lead Dartmouth to the CWS where they won a few rounds but then lost to the eventual two finalists – USC and Florida State – and were eliminated. He then spent the ’70 summer in Alaska as well and would finish up north a combined 12-7 with a 2.91 ERA and 182 strikeouts in 155 innings. In ’71 it was back to Dartmouth for his junior year in which he was 5-1 by the regional playoffs and then got nabbed in the first round by the Senators.

Broberg threw heat and only heat when he began his pro career and his June debut for the Nats in ’71 was pretty similar to Clyde’s a couple years later. He put a few guys on base and struck out a bunch. He would shortly later go on a four game win streak and was 5-3 and looking good to kick off his career, but then came six straight losses to finish 5-9 but with a pretty good ERA. In ’72 Pete continued his education returning to Dartmouth to finish his degree and then in the off-season and the spring learning a curve ball to match his heater. The results were mixed as the team moved to Texas and he recorded a bunch more strikeouts but also more losses and a higher ERA. He also led the AL in HBP but he was a big guy so probably didn’t mind or maybe didn’t even receive the wrath that could incur. Then in ’73 he got derailed a bit as he posted very similar numbers to his rookie year except that his walks overmatched his strikeouts and his ERA was over two runs higher. That got him a ticket to Triple A where his numbers were generally pretty good but his walk totals remained pretty high. In ’74 Pete got his K/BB totals more aligned in Triple A but his few games at Texas were pretty disastrous. After that season Texas finally gave up and sent him to Milwaukee for Clyde Wright.

In ’75 the Brewers were pretty terrible but it wasn’t Broberg’s fault. That year he was the team’s top winner as he went 14-16 with a 4.15 ERA in what was arguably his best season. He also grew a pretty awesome mustache that he showcased on his ’76 card but he continued to have issues with his strikeout to walk ratio which again fell on the wrong side of 1.00. That really tumbled in ’76 along with the rest of his stats as he went 1-7 with a 4.97 ERA with 72 walks and only 28 strikeouts in 92 innings. That November he was selected by the Mariners in the expansion draft but before pitching for them was sent to the Cubs the following April for Jim Todd. For Chicago he went to Triple A where his ERA was awfully high but he did get his K and BB totals back in line. He also hit very well at that level. Up top that year it was all relief as a middle guy which again wasn’t too hot and after the season he moved to Oakland for Rodney Scott. For the A’s he re-joined the rotation and went 10-12 with a 4.62 ERA and his best K/BB ratio in years. He then became a free agent and signed with the Dodgers. They offered him a Triple A gig but Pete said he’d had enough of that and walked away. His final record was 41-71 with a 4.56 ERA, 26 complete games, and a save.

Broberg took his LA money and enrolled in Nova University from which he got a law degree and then joined his dad’s practice down in Florida. In ’89 he did a hitch in the Senior League and put up nice numbers. He is and has been a partner at his firm where he specializes in real estate law and as a hobby grows exotic palm trees. His back-up plan seems to have worked pretty well.

Topps lets the big numbers fly in the star bullets. They got all the numbers right except that senior year record in the first bullet. He actually went either 5-1 or 6-1 that season which would make much more sense given that ERA. Regarding that last bullet, estimates at the time were anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000. And, yeah, Pete is and was a surfer dude. Sounds like a pretty nice life down in FLA. Pete gets a few mentions in the "Seasons in Hell" book, the best one being the assessment of him by manager Whitey Herzog at the top of '73 spring training. But I'm not quoting it here so you gotta get the book to see it.

Music news: On this date in ’74 a new Number One is reached in the UK, “Love Me For A Reason” by The Osmonds. In response to the title, I can’t really think of one. Sorry, guys.

These guys were both hot prospects in their young days:

1. Broberg and Robin Yount ’75 to ’76 Brewers;
2. Yount and Ted Simmons ’81 to ’85 Brewers;
3. Simmons and Jim Beauchamp ’70 to ’71 Cardinals.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

#424 - Jim Beauchamp

I believe this is the first time in the set a Mets card has followed that of one of their cross-town – really multi-borough – rivals. Actually Jim Beauchamp shares a lot more with recent post subjects card-wise than in which he is unique. This is his final card like a couple recent subjects; that he had a card at all is a bit surprising – like all the last three post subjects – because by the time this one came out he was done with the Mets and the majors; and like Fred Stanley there were a couple years when he didn’t have a card at all, in his case ’68 and ’70. Jim did have a rookie card for three years in a row – ’64 to ’66 – and on his ’69 card he has about the reddest – redneckest? – pose I’ve ever seen. In this pose at Shea Jim looks a lot older than his 34 years and looks like he might have trouble straightening up. But ’73 wasn’t a bad way to go out. Despite having a pulled leg muscle pretty much all year, he was the Mets’ top rightie pinch hitter and put up 14 RBI’s in only 61 at bats mostly in that role. Plus he finally got some post-season action with a bunch of pinch hitting appearances against Oakland. And after playing wouldn’t turn out so bad for Jim as he almost immediately got into his new career as a manager.

Jim Beauchamp was a four-sport star in high school in Oklahoma – football, basketball, baseball, and track – and was offered a full ride for the first sport to Oklahoma State. But the Cards came calling too with a big bonus – apparently around $50,000 – and so Jim signed with the Birds in ’58. According to baseball-reference Jim did attend Oklahoma State but I have been unable to find any confirming information on that, though his son did attend the school. He definitely got his career rolling that spring in A ball. Then from ’59 to early ’61 he was back home to play Double A in Tulsa. During his time there that last season he hurt his shoulder diving back to first when Jim Bouton attempted to pick him off. But he was promoted early that year to Triple A anyway and only hit .227 the rest of the way after averaging about .262 until then. In ’62 he missed a bunch of time to get the shoulder operated on and in ’63 he returned to Tulsa. The injury and operation had ruined Jim’s shoulder for throwing the ball and forced him to shorten his stroke when hitting. So ironically he changed from being a line-drive guy to a pull-type power guy and in ’63 had a big season offensively, hitting .337 with 31 homers and 105 RBI’s. That got him his debut up top in a game and also helped get him traded to Houston with Chuck Taylor for Carl Warwick. The Colt .45’s bumped Jim to Triple A where he hit .285 with 34 homers and 83 RBI’s but didn't do so hot in his few games up top. Then after a few games with Houston to open ’65 he was traded to the Braves with Ken Johnson for Lee Maye (the one with the extra “e”) and he finished most of the year back in Triple A where he would also spend the bulk of the next two seasons where his offensive numbers subsided a bit – though he did hit .319 with 25 homers and 77 RBI’s in ’66 – and he played mostly first base because of the status of his throwing arm. After the ’67 season he went to Cincinnati with Mack Jones for Deron Johnson and for the Reds he again played mostly in Triple A. While he was in Cincinnati his numbers were very similar to those he would put up in ’73.

’68 was Beauchamp’s last year of minor league time for a bunch of years and while he was with the Reds it was manager Dave Bristol who told him that because of his arm most of his work up top would be as a pinch hitter. And that was the role he played the next few seasons as he back-tracked his career path, going to Houston in ’70 for Dooley Womack – the guy for whom Bouton was traded the prior year – and to St. Louis that June with Leon McFadden for George Culver. In ’71 Jim got a bunch of work at first since things were sort of up in the air there for the Cards and put up the most MLB at bats in his career. Right after that season he came to NY with Harry Parker and Chuck Taylor for Jim Bibby, Art Shamsky, and Rich Folkers. Jim’s first season in NY was marred by a leg injury but it was much like ’71 in that he got a decent amount of field time. He was released by the Mets during spring training of ’74, returned to St. Louis one more time for a run in Triple A, and was done. He finished with a .231 average with 14 homers and 90 RBI’s and went o-fer in his four Series at bats. In the minors he finished with a .275 average with 192 homers and 647 RBI’s.

Beauchamp immediately got into managing after he played, beginning in the Houston chain (’75-’79), and then moving to Cincinnati (’80-’81), Toronto (’82-’84), and Atlanta (’85-’90), compiling a record of 1,101-1,143 in that time. In ’91 he was moved up as Atlanta’s bench coach which he did through ’98, winning a Series ring along the way. He then became the team’s minor league outfield coordinator and spring training instructor which he did through early 2007 when he had to take time off to deal with leukemia. He passed away that December at age 68.

Jim gets a feel-good star bullet and lots of lines for a career that added up to just over a full season. Topps missed his entry point by a year, which is odd since on their own card for him just two years earlier they had his ’58 stats. He had a great signature.

Lots of times you can count on an Alou for this exercise and this one is coming up soon:

1. Beauchamp and Matty Alou ’71 Cardinals;
2. Alou and Roy White ’73 Yankees;
3. White and Fred Stanley ’73 to ’79 Yankees.

I guess I could have by-passed step 2 but Chicken only had 66 at bats in ’73 so I added more meat.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

#423 - Fred Stanley

Aside from having the nickname Chicken, this guy will always be immortalized for me from the description of his van in Sparky Lyle’s “The Bronx Zoo.” It was a very typical mid-Seventies type of ride with plush carpet installed everywhere – even on the ceiling – and had a bar in it that used to be a coffin. Back then those vans seemed so cool but now, looking back, they must have been pretty nasty with that carpet absorbing just about everything that went down back there. But Fred probably needed a fancy ride: by the time this photo was probably taken he was only 25 and had already been in five organizations at various levels. This is Fred’s second card; he had a rookie solo one in ’72 and then didn’t have one in the following set. ’73 was his first year in NY and the day looks gorgeous at Yankee Stadium. Fred played nearly the whole season that year at Triple A Syracuse where he hit .248 with a .371 OBA and only got 66 at bats up top. The Yankees had Gene Michael and Hal Lanier ahead of Fred at shortstop so he didn’t see too much action, but he did make one of those at bats count. He hit the last grand slam at the Stadium before the remodel that closed it for a couple years. Fred wasn’t exactly a slugger, but he was pretty good at doing anything he could to stick around and he’s still in baseball almost 40 years later.

Fred Stanley was born in Idaho and relocated to California when he was a teenager, graduating from Monte Vista High School in ’66. That year the Astros drafted him and he got things going in A ball that summer, hitting .245 for a couple teams. He then missed all of ’67 and a bit of ’68 to the military and only hit .196 in Double A the balance of the latter season. But in ’69 he hit .272 in Double A and .309 in Triple A which got the new Seattle Pilots pretty excited enough to buy him that September and stick him up top. Fred went 3 for 3 in his first game and did some nice work in the field the rest of the way. The next season the team moved to Milwaukee but Fred went to Portland where he hit .268 with a .359 OBA in Triple A. He also got into a couple games up top and scored a run but did nothing else offensively and the following spring got sold to Cleveland. For the Indians Fred got by far his most action through this card up top and put up a .361 OBA while there, but he again spent most of his time in Triple A where he hit .246 with a .386 OBA. The guy did know how to get on base. He then spent all of ’72 in the majors, getting a few at bats with Cleveland before a June trade for pitcher Mike Kilkenny to the Padres for whom he did reserve work the rest of the year. After that season he came to NY for a minor leaguer.

In ’74 the Yankees picked up Jim Mason from Texas and Stanley again spent most of the season in Syracuse where he hit .258 with a .356 OBA. After that year it was all major leagues and in both ’75 and ’76 he would get the most starting time for the Yankees at shortstop. That second year Fred got his first post-season experience and made it count by hitting .333 against the Royals in the AL playoffs. He halved that average in the Series but outside of Thurman Munson, no Yankee hit particularly well against the Reds. In ’77 George Steinbrenner figured the best way to avoid another Series sweep was to have an All-Star at every position so he got Bucky Dent from the White Sox and that season Fred got as much work in the field as he did catching in the bullpen. Then in ’78 NY was beset by injuries, especially up the middle and Fred nearly quadrupled his at bats and even started a few post-season games. In ’79 and ’80 he was able to get some playing time by putting in some games at third as well as short. Then in ’81 he was reunited with Billy Martin – always a fan of plucky infielders – when he was traded for Mike Morgan. For the A’s Fred continued his reserve work and in ’81 posted the AL’s best fielding percentage for a shortstop. But in ’81 and ’82 he only hit .193 and after going unsigned following the second season he retired. Fred finished with a .216 average and hit .225 in 22 post-season games. He is currently ranked 66th in fielding percentage all time for shortstops.

The guys in Oakland were fans of Stanley and so they kept him around as their Director of Instruction (“DI”) from ’83 to ’85. He then moved to Houston as Director of Baseball Operations (“DBO”) from ’86 to ’88. Then it was back to Seattle as their Director of Minor League Instruction (“DMLI”) from ’89 to ’90. Then to complete the career arc from when he played he became a Brewers coach in ’91. From ’92 to ’96 he was Milwaukee’s Director of Player Development (“DPD”) and then their assistant GM (’97 to ’99). He then moved to the Giants organization where he managed in the minors (2000-’04; he was his league’s manager of the year twice and went 245-270); was their DMLI (’05-’08); and in ’08 was named their DPD (those initials came in handy).  He is still at that last gig as of this writing.

Fred was definitely a defensive specialist and gets a schoolboy star bullet also. He ended up doing a pretty substantial military hitch as he was a reserve for six years.

Let’s use a hook-up of someone Billy Martin liked through someone he couldn’t stand:

1. Stanley and Larry Gura ’74 to ’75 Yankees;
2. Gura and Gonzalo Marquez ’73 Cubs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

#422- Gonzalo Marquez

Here we have another final baseball card of a guy who didn’t play too much, at least not in the majors. It is also Gonzalo’s first solo card since he had a rookie one in ’73. Also, like Danny Fife, Gonzalo is lucky to have a card at all since he didn’t get to Chicago until the end of August in a trade for his ’73 card-mate Pat Bourque. Getting traded away from Oakland sure took the drama out of the rest of the season for him as he didn’t get to repeat his prior year’s playoff achievements. Instead after hitting nearly .400 to kick off the season he went 0-fer in May and returned to the minors where he hit quite well until the trade. Then he sort of settled into a short run of seldom-used mediocrity although he did play more that last month-plus of the ’73 season than at any other point up top. So in what must be a September shot at what I guess is Shea he shows off his Oakland mustache and his stance. And believe it or not, his 58 at bats represent the third most – after Billy Williams and Carmen Fanzone – of any Cub at first base with a card in this set.

Gonzalo Marquez was born in Carupano Venezuela and played local ball immediately after graduating high school. In ’65 he was signed by one of Venezuela’s leading franchises, Leones del Caracas – the Caracas Lions – for whom he would play and coach winter ball the next twenty years. In ’66 he was signed by the A’s and then put together three straight Single A seasons during which he posted pretty good averages as a line drive-hitting first baseman. He posted similar numbers in Double A in ’69 and then in ’70 actually put up some pretty decent RBI totals while hitting .341 in Triple A. After that season he hit a ton – about .440 – in the Carribean World Series. But then he sort of disappeared in ’71; that may have been due to visa problems but I’m not too sure since the site that gave that indication is in Spanish. Anyway, he returned in ’72 to post another nice average at that level before getting called up in mid-August to Oakland where he did a fantastic job as a pinch hitter the rest of the way. He continued his streak in spades in the post-season as he contributed the winning hit in a game against Detroit and then hit .600 in the Series against Cincinnati. After a lame run in Chicago to start the ’74 season he returned to Triple A to hit .286 in his last season in the States. He finished his career with a .235 average with ten RBI’s upstairs and a .306 average in the minors. In the post season he hit .625 with two RBI’s in eight pinch at bats.

From ’75 to ’78 Marquez would play summer ball in Mexico as he continued to play winter ball in Venezuela. He also began coaching back home and continued to do both through ’84 when he was killed in a car accident while driving between games. One of the players on the bus behind him was a young kid on the team who Gonzalo took under his wing, Andres Galarraga.

Gonzalo’s star bullets are all about his clutch post-season numbers. His signature is very loopy.

On August 28, 1974 the group Television – another future house band at CBGB’s – and Patti Smith began a five-night gig at Max’s Kansas City in The Village in NYC. It was Smith’s first extended group of shows as a headliner.

Both these guys really only played a considerable amount in ’73:

1. Marquez and Jose Cardenal ’73 to ’74 Cubs;
2. Cardenal and George Mitterwald ’74 to ’77 Cubs;
3. Mitterwald and Danny Fife ’73 Twins.

Monday, August 27, 2012

#421 - Dan Fife

This is Dan Fife’s only card which hasn’t happened too much in this set. ’73 was the only year Dan spent any significant time in the majors and by the end of ’75 he was out of baseball entirely. That he has a card at all is pretty surprising. Traded from the Tigers late in spring training of ’73 he didn’t debut until August and then only got into ten games, which may explain his pensive glance in what appears to be Oakland. He did OK as a late-season call-up after a middling season in Triple A. Baseball-reference has his ERA a tad higher at 4.35 but the set of stats that would prove most predictive is the strikeout to walk ratio. After barely topping 1.00 in the minors it didn’t even approach that number up top. Dan had experienced some arm issues early in the season and they would get worse the next couple years. But Dan wasn’t a one-trick pony and it wouldn’t be long before he was in the profession at which he continues to excel.

Dan Fife was born in Illinois and at a young age relocated to Clarkston, Michigan, where he was a big three-sport star. As a quarterback, point guard, and pitcher he regularly made all-county and all-state teams and his senior year of ’67 was drafted in a late round by Detroit. But he was also offered a multi-sports scholarship to the University of Michigan and that was the path for which he opted. Back then freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity sports but in ’68-’69 Dan got rolling and didn’t look back. As a sophomore he became the starting point guard and over the next three years would average 13 points, five assists, and five rebounds as the hoops floor leader. Also on his hoops team were Tom Lundstedt, who would go on to catch for the Cubs and Twins, and a guy named Rudy Tomjanovich, who would go on to post some serious NBA numbers. Baseball would be tougher because the basketball season would regularly go deep into the baseball one and the Big Ten baseball seasons were relatively short anyway. Dan pitched his sophomore year and then played center field and second base his junior one because he didn’t have time to get his arm in shape. In ’71 Michigan was hurting for pitching so Dan returned to that role even though he got a super late start because of the hoop team’s success that year in the NIT. In baseball both Lundstedt and Elliott Maddox were on his team at Michigan and he played summer ball also which allowed him to raise his profile in that sport a bit. That year he was again drafted by Detroit, this time in the second round. Even though hoops was his first love and he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks he opted for the Tigers and that summer threw peas for his first Class A team. He then moved out west where he continued to throw well at the same level. In ’72 he got bumped up to Double A where he had very good numbers. Then in spring training of ’73 the Twins were looking to unload Jim Perry and his $70,000 salary and so traded him to Detroit for Dan and some cash.

Fife’s experience for the Twins was a downtick to the roll he was on for the Tigers. His shoulder pain would lead to his wildness and in ’74 after posting a double-digit ERA in a couple innings up top he returned to Triple A where he had a pretty sour year in the pen. By then it was known he had rotator cuff issues and in ’75 he was dropped down to Double A. He had some decent numbers when he played – 3-1 as a starter with a 3.86 ERA – but again the walks heavily outnumbered the strikeouts and he spent the majority of the season on the DL. When that year ended so did his career. He finished 3-2 with a 5.43 ERA in the majors and 36-31 with a 3.92 ERA in the minors.

Before ’75 was over Fife got a job as an assistant basketball coach at his alma mater Michigan. He did that for the next three seasons and then returned to Clarkston where for a couple years he fooled around with a golf start-up with some friends. Then in ’81 he coached his old high school’s freshmen hoops team on a volunteer basis, did well, and was then offered the varsity job, which he accepted. So since ’82 he has been coaching basketball at Clarkston High and is widely recognized as the dean of coaches in the state. He has also been the athletic director for a number of years and runs a summer clinic as well.

So Dan’s given name is Danny which is how he is referred to in just about every article I read for this post. He has some pretty good star bullets for his Detroit years in the minors and a nice fat signature. As Dan Fife he definitely has one of the shortest names in the set.

There is a good chunk of music news that needs updating. On August 25, 1973 new Number One’s appeared on both sides of the pond. In the US “Brother Louie” by Stories began a two-week run in the top spot and in the UK Donny Osmond’s “Young Love” started a four-week run. The US gets a big nod on that one. Also on that date the band Faces officially split up, mostly due to Rod Stewart’s success as a solo act. On August 24, 1974 a three-week run at Number One is initiated by Paul Anka’s “(You’re) Having My Baby” to confirm the year as king of syrupy love ballads. On the same date Traffic performs its final live gig in the UK at the National Jazz, Blues, Folk & Rock Festival.

No way around this hook-up except through the ’73 Twins:

1. Fife and Jim Holt ’73 to ’74 Twins;
2. Holt and Ray Fosse ’74 to ’75 A’s.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

#420 - Ray Fosse

Ray Fosse revives the action shot as he appears to be adjusting his facemask before one of those typically overflowing crowds in Texas (thanks Jim). It is fitting that Ray’s photo was taken in the field because in ’73 Ray led the AL in picking off attempted base stealers, which he did at a 56% clip. It was his first season in his new home after his trade from the Indians (boy, that must have felt good), so it was nice he could contribute as a league leader. He did better in that area in the post-season as in the AL Playoffs he threw out four of five. ’73 would also represent the most catching work Ray ever got up top as he was a magnet for odd injuries. If Pete Rose didn’t nail him and wreck his shoulder in that All-Star game, it is very likely that one of the other odd instances that befell him would have done as much damage.

Ray Fosse was born and raised in Marion, Illinois, where his nickname was The Marion Mule because he was tough and adept at playing through injuries. He was a fullback in football and a forward in hoops and in baseball hit nearly .500 during his three-year varsity career. His senior year of ’65 he was Cleveland’s first ever draft pick and that summer got off to a rough pro start, hitting .219 in Double A ball. In ’66 he moved down to A ball where he hit .304 in a full season though with only one homer. In both ’67 and ’68 he would put in some military time so his seasons got truncated but both years he hit well at Triple A Portland and made significant improvements defensively. In ’68 he hit .301 with nine homers in what would be his final season in the minors.

Fosse got a couple short looks in Cleveland in both ’67 and ’68 before in ’69 making the opening roster out of training camp. After the trade of former number one guy Joe Azcue in April, Ray took the number two spot behind Duke Simms and was getting a decent workload when he broke a finger that June and was on the shelf until September, pretty much killing his season. Pitchers loved Ray because besides his playing ability he was very generous in boosting their spirits when they were in a jam. Even Sam McDowell loved him and Sam shook off nearly every sign Ray gave him (mostly because manager Al Dark was really calling them). In ’70 Ray got bumped in front of Simms as the number one guy behind the plate and had a pretty amazing first half: .316 with 16 homers and 45 RBI’s. And he did that despite some idiot at Yankee Stadium throwing a cherry bomb at his head during a game. Then came the All-Star selection and the Pete Rose collision and a .297, 2 homer, 16 RBI second half of the season. The shoulder separation and fracture wasn’t even diagnosed until the next season which probably worsened the damage. Finally, to add injury to injury, he fractured a finger that September for the third time in as many seasons. He did, though, win the first of his two successive Gold Gloves. That winter he played ball in Venezuela and was involved in something much worse than an injury when he had to save a teammate caught in a rip tide on an off day at the beach. Another teammate was killed in the same tide. After his Job-like experiences during the second half of ’70 the shoulder injury was finally diagnosed and he went on to have a very nice '71 season though his power never recovered to its level from the first half of the prior year. Ray was voted starting catcher on the All-Star team but had to miss it because he was – guess what – injured, this time from a brawl initiated by a pitch thrown at his head. After a disappointing offensive year in ’72 he went to Oakland with Jack Heidemann for Dave Duncan and George Hendrick.

1973 would end up being by far Fosse’s best year in Oakland. In ’74 he missed about half the season after getting hurt breaking up the big locker room fight between Reggie Jackson and Billy North. He returned to put up a .333 average in the AL playoffs, though. Then in ’75 he played even less as Gene Tenace took over the primary catching role so Joe Rudi could play first and Claudell Washington could get starting outfield time. Both seasons he also had a tough time behind the plate as his percentage of nailing base runners was pretty far below league average. After the ’75 season he went back to Cleveland in a sale and promptly got hurt when Jim Rice stepped on his throwing hand in April. But this time when Ray returned he did well offensively, upping his average to .301 in nearly as many plate appearances as in the prior two combined seasons. Then in ’77 he split starting time with new acquiree Fred Kendall – Jason’s dad – and hit .265 before being traded to Seattle that September for pitcher Bill Laxton. For the Mariners Ray hit .353 the rest of the way. Prior to the ’78 season he signed as a free agent with the Brewers but that spring went down with a debilitating leg injury after he stepped in a hole running to first. He missed the whole season and then got into only 19 games in ’79 and those were his final games. Ray finished with a .256 average with 61 homers and 324 RBI’s. In the post-season he hit .172 with two homers and seven RBI’s in 22 games. For his career he threw out 40% of attempted base stealers against a league average of 38%.

In 1980 Fosse began working with a media company making instructional videos about baseball. A couple years later he hooked up with Oakland in various admin roles. Then in ’86 he began announcing for the team which he still does on both TV and radio.

Ray’s star bullets are all All-Star stuff. The real estate bit didn’t become a career but probably helped for his first couple gigs in Oakland which were in sales.

To complete this cross-league battery we use lots of hair:

1. Fosse and George Hendrick ’76 Indians;
2. Hendrick and Oscar Gamble ’73 to ’75 Indians;
3. Gamble and Wayne Twitchell ’71 to ’72 Phillies.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

#419 - Wayne Twitchell

The subject of this post was a full foot taller than the subject of the last one so it’s probably pretty good that Wayne and Walt never played together. Mr. Twitchell does look enormous posing at Shea on a dreary day. 1973 was a pretty excellent year for Wayne. After starting the season in the pen Danny Ozark told him to start in a game against Cincinnati in May and he turned in a nice outing, giving up two runs in seven-plus innings. That outing would get him both a regular spot in the rotation and an All-Star nod as Reds manager Sparky Anderson named Wayne to his staff principally because of that game. By late August he had won 13, way more than any previous total for him but when going for number 14 against the Cubs in September he had to run to first to cover the bag and an errant throw made him have to turn the wrong way. Billy Williams tried a head-first slide to beat the tag and his head and Wayne’s knee connected hard, finishing both the knee and Wayne’s season. The injury would also impact the rest of his career.

Wayne Twitchell was an all-city athlete while attending Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon. He was a big kid from a young age and excelled in all big three sports. His dad had played for Oregon State in football as a blocking back and it was Wayne’s plan to follow his dad’s footsteps and take his QB skills there as well as pitch for the school. But during his senior year of ’66 Houston made Wayne the number three pick – between Reggie Jackson and Ken Brett – of that spring’s draft and his dad was concerned that Wayne might develop knee problems if he opted for football as he had. So Wayne went to A ball where he turned in some excellent numbers and got a quick look in Triple A which didn’t go so well. After missing a bunch of the ’67 season to an injury he put up good numbers at both A and Double A levels in ’68 but again in ’69 ran into a wall at the Triple A level. After that season he was sold to the Pilots/Brewers. Back home for the Brewers’ Triple A team Wayne continued to have control issues in ’70 but he got a short look up top anyway, giving up two runs but striking out five batters in under two innings. Then early in the ’71 season he was sent to the Phillies for a minor league outfielder in one of the trades those two clubs seemed to do constantly.

Twitchell’s luck seemed to change when he got to Philly. Although he again posted a high ERA in Triple A to start the ’71 season his control improved substantially and when he got the call late that year he threw shutout ball. That got him a pass to stay up top all the next season as he did OK work for an awful team as a swingman in his rookie year. After his promising ’73 season ended in injury he did extensive rehab but his lateral movement was compromised and his control worsened as in '74 he went 6-9 with a 5.21 ERA. In ’75 his control and his ERA improved a bunch but his record didn’t as he went 5-10. The Phillies were making serious strides back then and in ’76 Wayne lost his rotation spot but pitched well in a lot less innings, going 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. In ’77 he was given some starts but after going 0-5 was sent to Montreal that June with Tim Blackwell for Barry Foote and Dan Warthen. He improved to 6-5 the rest of the way but the ERA stayed high and in ’78 he went 4-12 as it topped 5.00 again. He then split the ’79 season between the Mets and Seattle but by then his knee was toast and when the season ended so did his career. Wayne went 48-65 with a 3.98 ERA, 15 complete games, six shutouts, and two saves up top and did roughly the same in the minors.

Twitchell returned to Portland after his career ended. He had taken classes and graduated from Portland State and spent the rest of his professional days in real estate. He also did a bunch of volunteer coaching at Wilson High. In 2006 he was admitted to Oregon’s athletic hall of fame and in the YouTube video of that induction he seems like an awfully humble and nice guy. He would contract cancer a couple years later from which he would pass away in 2010. He was 62.

Wayne gets a star bullet just like Rich Folkers’ a couple posts back. The broken hand is the injury that made him miss a bunch of games in ’67. 

So I know I’ve over-used this guy recently but he remains the best link:

1. Twitchell and Dick Allen ’75 to ’76 Phillies;
2. Allen and Walt Williams ’72 White Sox.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

#418 - Walt Williams

Just two posts after the big ChiSox team one we get this guy, who played the bulk of his career in Chicago. Plus he is photographed at Yankee Stadium which – were it not for renovations – would have been his new home by the time this card came out. Walt “No Neck” Williams sports some shades and a rarely-seen unhappy demeanor close to the on deck circle. Walt was normally a gung-ho positive guy but playing for the Indians back then put lots of people in a funky mood. ’73 was his only season in Cleveland, though, and it wasn’t a bad one as his average rebounded a bunch and he recorded his personal best in RBI’s. He also broke up former teammate’s Stan Bahnsen’s potential no-hitter with a shot in the ninth inning which must have made Stan real happy about the trade that made Walt an Indian late the prior year. If Walt’s sunglasses are prescription ones they contributed to his not having a card in the ’75 set. More on that below.

Walt Williams was born in Brownwood, Texas, and while growing up would relocate to San Francisco where he was a big three sports star at Galileo High, home a couple decades earlier to the Dimaggio brothers. Always knocked for being small, he would go to City College of San Francisco where he majored in criminology – he wanted to be a cop – and played baseball. After a year there he was signed by Houston and did a number that summer on A ball pitching, hitting .341. Walt was a speedster and batted at the top of the order and he would debut up top the beginning of the ’64 season when he went o-fer in a few at bats and was then plucked off waivers in May by the Cards. For St. Louis he returned to the minors and hit .318 the rest of the way. In ’65 he moved up to Double A Tulsa and hit .330 with 106 runs, 36 stolen bases, and a .375 OBA. When Tulsa moved up to Triple A the next season so did Walt as he produced identical numbers, save for runs (107) and steals (25). After the season he was traded to the White Sox with Don Dennis for catcher Johnny Romano.

The White Sox were a bit more perceptive than the Cards and decided Williams’ numbers the past few seasons warranted a serious look up top and they gave Walt a regular gig in the outfield. He responded with enough hustle – he ran to first base on walks and on one play in the field got an assist on a throw to second from backing up first base after throwing the ball in from the right field corner – to make that year’s Topps rookie team. Though he hit only .240 he had to do so with a recovering broken hand and finished third on the team in average to Ken Berry and Don Buford who both hit .241. But the Sox were good that year and battled for the pennant until the final weekend. In ’68 the team collapsed big, Walt played almost exclusively in right, and after a sophomore jinx start got replaced there by Buddy Bradford and returned to the minors. There he hit .319 with 12 steals in Triple A Hawaii which couldn’t have been all bad. In ’69 he returned to The Show for good, hit .304, and then asked to have his salary doubled, pissing off management. The deal was that he got his wish but was told his playing time would be vastly reduced, which makes no sense to me. The stress of the issues with management and the reduced time contributed to a big drop in his average, but in ’71 under new management he put up probably his best numbers in Chicago. But then in ’72 Walt was the odd man out after Chicago traded for Dick Allen and returned Carlos May to the outfield. Just like in ’70 his numbers came in hard and after that season the Sox, still looking for infield help after trading Luis Aparicio a couple years earlier, sent Walt to the Indians for Eddie Leon.

After his bounce in Cleveland, Williams was traded to the Yankees in a three-team deal in spring training of ’74. He and Rick Sawyer went to NY; Gerry Moses went to Detroit from NY; Ed Farmer went to NY from Detroit; and Jim Perry went to Cleveland from Detroit. But the Yankees had also acquired Lou Piniella from KC and Elliott Maddox from Texas so Walt got precious little time. And when he did play he didn’t hit as his average crumbled to .112 in only 53 at bats. It turned out that his new eyeglass subscription was a tad off and he repaired that by getting new contacts in the off-season. Topps must have figured those numbers were his death knell and didn’t give Walt a card for ’75. But Walt came back, hit .281 as primarily a DH, and made even The Boss happy with his hustle. It was a short-lived comeback, though, as another off-season stockpiling of outfielders led to his release early in ’76. That would end his playing time in the States and he finished with a .270 average.

In ’76 Williams hooked up with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan for whom he hit .288 his first season but then soured on what he considered a lack of aggressive play and came back west after the ’77 season. He then played for three years in Mexico, for Monterrey, Chihuahua, and Juarez, hanging his spikes up after the ’80 season. While playing in the US he had returned to Brownwood and from ’81 to ’87 worked at the city’s community center as a mentor for troubled kids. In ’88 he returned to baseball as a White Sox hitting and outfield instructor. In ’89 he played in the Senior League before returning as a coach, first in the Houston system, and then for the Texas one. From ’92 to ’94 he was a manager in the latter chain and went a combined 187-228. He then returned to Brownwood where since ’95 he has been the city’s director of recreation. He also plays a mean game of golf and a couple times has shot under his age which is pretty impressive given that he’s only 68.

Both of the seasons mentioned in the star bullets Walt was his league’s MVP. If his signature is any indication he was probably a pretty good artist.

Folkers and Williams sounds like another law firm but let’s hook them up through baseball:

1. Williams and Dick Allen ’72 White Sox;
2. Allen and Lou Brock ’70 Cards;
3. Brock and Rich Folkers ’72 to ’74 Cards.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

#417 - Rich Folkers

Back to the regular player cards we get Rich Folkers showing his follow-through in spring training. Rich had been with the Cardinals a bit over a year and his time with them would be the best run of his career. In ’73 seven of his games were starts and he added three saves to his shown totals. He would embark on his best year up top in ’74 when he went 6-2 with a couple saves and a 3.00 ERA, all in relief. Rich had come to St. Louis after the ’71 season after he sort of faded to obscurity after being a high draft pick for the Mets. The trade that got him to the Cards had Chuck Taylor – a recent subject – on the other side. Sadly his next trade, which would send him to San Diego, was not a portent of good things pitching-wise.

Rich Folkers grew up in Iowa where he was a schoolboy pitcher who could throw heat. After graduating high school in ’64 he went to Ellsworth Community College in his home state and in his second year was an all-JUCO selection on a team that included Gary Gentry – another recent subject – and Kurt Bevacqua. In ’67 he went to Parsons College, a Division 2 school, and established a D2 record by fanning 126 batters in the 60 innings he pitched (the school closed in ’73). MLB teams took note of his exploits as he was drafted by the Giants in ’66 and the White Sox in January ’67; both times he declined. After his ’67 season at Parsons the Mets made him a first-round pick and sent Rich to A ball where he continued to strike out a ton of guys. In ’68 he put in a nice season in Double A and began to learn what would be his money pitch: a screwball. After missing all of ’69 to the military he returned in late spring of ’70 to go 4-0 in five Triple A starts and get promoted to NY. Things didn’t go too well there as Rich put a bunch of guys on base and had a high ERA. In ’71 he returned to Triple A where his numbers continued to be not so hot as he worked to master his new pitch. After that season he was traded to the Cards.

For St. Louis Folkers began the ’72 season in Double A to iron out his kinks and did much better in a season split between the rotation and the pen. After filling the same role in a few Triple A games, he returned to the majors and did much better this time in his few innings. He then threw a few excellent relief innings to open ’73 before returning to the top for good. After his markedly better ’74 he was traded to San Diego in a multi-team trade that had Ed Brinkman landing in St. Louis and Nate Colbert in Detroit. For San Diego Rich would get 15 starts, his career high, and win six again, but also lose eleven as his ERA climbed by more than a run. In ’76 it was back to the pen pretty much full time as he went 2-3 and his ERA climbed another run. During spring training of ’77 the Brewers would select Rich off waivers but he would only get into a few innings in Milwaukee before spending most of the year in Triple A Spokane where he went 5-7 with a 4.55 ERA. After that year he was included in the swap of Jim Slaton to Detroit for Ben Oglivie but was released by the Tigers before he pitched. Rich went 19-23 with a 4.11 ERA, five complete games, and seven saves up top and 39-37 in the minors with a 3.39 ERA.

There is a pretty big gap after Folkers finished his pitching career media-wise. At some point he relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, where from ’88 to ’92 he was the pitching coach at Eckerd College. In ’93 he was a coach in the White Sox system before later that year becoming one in the Cardinals one. That affiliation seems to have lasted into the early 2000’s. He has stayed close to baseball since and was interviewed at a Marlins game in 2011 and still resides in St. Petersburg.

Rich gets a good star bullet and a sort of pedestrian one, although that must have been exciting for him at the time. He has a very erect signature. While at Eckerd he taught the screwball to Jim Mecir who would go on to an MLB career as a reliever with that as his out pitch.

With that big team post a bunch of music news got missed and, frankly, a bunch of it deserved to be. In ’73 on August 17, Paul Williams, a founding and former member of the Temptations, shot himself in his car, depressed over a failed business and failing health. On the 18th, the new Number One in the US was “Touch Me In The Morning.” Diana Ross’ newest solo song, In ’74 August 10 brought a new Number One in the States with Roberta Flack’s newest mellow chart-topper, “Feel Like Making Love.” It was vastly different from the Bad Company song of the same name. It would be replaced a week later by “The Night Chicago Died,” a silly story song by one-hit wonder Paper Lace. In the UK on the 17th the new Number One was “When Will I See You Again,” the sweet ballad by The Three Degrees, Barry White’s all-female back-up singing group. The night before, August 16, back in NYC a group begins its forever residency at CBGB’s, the dive punk bar. The Ramones brings its three-chord pile of tunes to that venue where they will play at regular intervals the next twenty years.

Rich could have been a White Sox if he wanted in ’67:

1. Folkers and Lou Brock ’72 to ’74 Cardinals;
2. Brock and Dick Allen ’70 Cardinals;
3. Allen was on the ’73 White Sox.

Monday, August 20, 2012

#416 (cont.) - Chicago White Sox Team Cards

For the second part of this post we get the checklist card with quite a bunch of formal signatures. The whole starting line-up is represented here and between Wilbur Wood and Stan Bahnsen alone, 90 starts, which I find pretty amazing. Now let’s take a look at the pitching record holders.

Contrary to many of the Sox’ offensive leaders, Ed Walsh was a big guy, going about 6’1” and 200 pounds. He was born in rural PA and like lots of other kids back then was working by the time he was a teenager. In factory ball he was an outfielder/pitcher and somehow when he was 18 he enrolled at Fordham although he only lasted there about a week. He returned to play company ball in 1901 and then signed with Meriden, a D league team, in ’02. After going 16-5 in just 22 starts he would go 9-5 in A ball in ’03 and apparently play for other teams in between. After that ’03 season he would be drafted by the ChiSox in the Rule 5 draft and debut for them the next year. Armed with his fastball and curve Ed went a combined 14-6 in ’04 and ’05 as he split time between the rotation and the pen. He would continue that dual role but prior to the ’06 season learn a new pitch: a spitball. After 17 wins in ’06 and 24 with an AL-leading 1.60 ERA in ’07, Ed would explode in ’08, going 40-15-1 with a 1.42 ERA in 49 starts. He also led the AL in shutouts (11), complete games (42), innings (464!), strikeouts (269), and saves (6). In ’09 he got hurt and only won 15 and then in ’10 he went 18-20 while winning another ERA title with a 1.27. He then put up successive 27-win seasons the next two years while both times leading the AL in innings, games, and saves. But then his arm began to break down from all that work and he would go only 13-8 the next five seasons, his final one – ’17 – spent with the Boston Braves. When he was done Ed had a record of 195-126 with a record 1.82 ERA with 250 complete games in 315 starts, 57 shutouts, and 35 saves. In his only Series in ’06 he went 2-0 with a 1.60 ERA in a win against the Cubs. He was a .194 hitter and a very aggressive fielder, totaling 1,207 assists in his 430 games. In ’18 he worked at a munitions factory for WW I duty. He then attempted a couple minor league comebacks from ’19 to ’21 and managed and/or coached all three seasons. In ’22 he gave umpiring in the AL a shot but he quit when he couldn’t be objective. He then returned to the Sox as a coach in ’23 – taking ’26-’28 off to coach at Notre Dame while his sons played there -  through ’33. He then made Meriden, CT his permanent home and there did some WPA work for the Roosevelt administration before becoming an engineer and becoming a superintendent of the city’s water filtration plant. He did that the balance of his working life. He was inducted into the Hall in ’46. He contracted cancer in the late Fifties and passed away in ’59 when he was 78.

Patsy Flaherty grew up outside Pittsburgh where he pitched and played outfield for local teams until he was signed by Youngstown, a Class C team, in 1896. In ’97 he went 19-20 with a 1.89 ERA in Class B. Around then he met Honus Wagner who would be his lifetime friend. After spending ’98 in B ball and ’99 playing for a couple A teams, Honus would get him promoted to Louisville late in the ’99 season where Patsy went 2-3 with a 2.31 ERA in five starts. When the Louisville diaspora happened after the season Patsy joined Honus in going to Pittsburgh but after a couple ineffective games returned to the minors. After a couple middling seasons he went 26-16 in A ball in ’02, got sold to the Sox, and returned to The Show in ’03, going 11-25 with a 3.74 ERA. After a decent start to the ’04 season he was released and signed back with the Pirates for whom he went 19-9 with a 2.05 ERA the rest of the way, winning 20 total. After a downtick in ’05 he returned to A ball in ’06 and went 23-9 after which he was traded to the Boston Beaneaters. He went 24-33 for those guys in two seasons then spent ’09 and most of ’10 in the minors where the latter season he played as much outfield as he pitched and hit .290. He came up again in ’11 and didn’t do too well on the mound but did hit .287 and led the NL in pinch hitting. It would be his final season up top where he went 67-84 lifetime with a 3.10 ERA with 125 complete games. He hit .197 with 70 RBI’s also. He returned to the minors where he played outfield and managed for a bunch of unaffiliated teams (in ’13-’14, ’18-’19, ’25, and ’34). In between he coached at that level and then scouted: for the Cubs (’26-’32); and Detroit (’35- at least ’40). Thereafter his pastime is a mystery. He passed away in Louisiana in ’68 at age 91.

Sandy Consuegra was a Cuban pitcher who played lots of pro ball there and in Mexico before he finally hooked up with Havana, a Washington B franchise, in ’49 when he was 28. After a 6-5 season that year he went 8-2 with a 2.15 ERA to start the ’50 season and moved up to DC later that season. In that year and ’51 he went 7-8 each season as a swing guy with his two pitches, a fastball and a curve. In ’52 he went 6-0 with a 3.05 ERA and five saves out of the pen and then started slowly in ’53 and was sold to the ChiSox in May. For them he went 7-5 with a 2.54 ERA the rest of the way as manager Paul Richards taught him a palmball and a sinker. In ’54 he got 17 starts in his 39 games and went 16-3 to lead the AL in winning percentage while making the All-Star team and coming in second in the AL with a 2.69 ERA. After another good year in ’55 – 6-5 with seven saves and a 2.64 ERA – he had a poor start to the ’56 season and was sold to the Orioles. For them he pitched primarily in the minors while putting up OK numbers in just four games up top. In ’57 he went 7-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 44 relief outings before he was sold to the Giants for whom he finished things in The States in a couple outings. Sandy went 51-32 with a 3.37 ERA with 24 complete games and 26 saves in the majors. In ’58 he gave a short run back in Havana and then worked a farm he purchased as well as managing real estate he had acquired over the years. When Castro took over Sandy lost all his assets and moved to Miami where he had one last comeback attempt in ’61 and then worked in cargo at the local airport and then security. He passed away in Miami at age 85 in 2005.

Vern Kennedy grew up in Mendon, Missouri where he was an excellent athlete and continued that course when he went to Central Missouri Teachers College in 1925. While there he played football, baseball, and ran track. He was all-conference three times in football, which is pretty impressive given he hadn’t played it before enrolling. In track he was all-conference all four years and All-American in ’27 when he won the decathlon at the Penn Relays. HeHeHHHe graduated in ’29 with a degree in education and played a year of local ball while working as a brick loader during which he was discovered by an A’s scout and signed to a minor league contract. He took a while to get rolling but in ’33 and ’34 put in a couple pretty good seasons in A ball, going a combined 32-36 with a 3.31 ERA. Towards the tail-end of the latter season he was sold to the Sox and for them debuted that September. In ’35 he went 11-11 and threw the first-ever no-hitter in Comiskey. The next year he led the AL with his walk total but went 21-9 and was an All-Star in his best season. After winning 14 in ’37 he was traded to Detroit where he was again an All-Star in ’38 as he went 12-9. In ’39 he lost 20 while pitching for the Tigers and the Browns and he would spend the next six seasons putting up generally losing seasons for the Browns, Senators, Indians, Phillies, and Reds. His best year during that span was ’43 when he went 10-7 with a 2.45 ERA for Cleveland. After his release by Cincinnati in spring training of ’46 he was finished up top with a 104-132 record, 126 complete games, and a 4.67 ERA. Vern was a pretty good hitter, posting a .244 average with 61 RBI’s. He then continued to pitch in the minors through ’55 and as late as ’52 put up nice numbers – 11-4 with a 2.23 ERA in Double A – when he was 45. When he was done at that level he was 128-129 with a 3.05 ERA lifetime. He then returned to his hometown where he taught and coached in high school for over ten years before he retired. He was an active participant in the Senior Olympics where he set a bunch of local records. He passed away in Mendon when at age 85 a shed he was dismantling collapsed on him in 1993. Both the Central Missouri football field and track are named in his honor.

Eddie Cicotte was born outside Detroit and played sandlot ball there after high school. In 1905 when he was 21 he hooked up with Class C Augusta where he went 15-9 with a low ERA. Late that summer when he got called up to Detroit the Tigers asked him to bring up an outfielder and he opted for a kid named Ty Cobb. He then returned to the minors where the next two years he won a combined 40 games in A ball. After the ’07 season he was sold to Boston and for the Sox came up for ’08. For Boston Eddie would have generally better-than-average ERA’s but be inconsistent, going a combined 51-43 in his four full seasons with his best year being a 14-5 1.94 season in ’09. After a nasty start to the ’12 season he was sold to Chicago for whom he won nine down the stretch and lowered his ERA by three runs. In ’13 he won 18 with a 1.58 ERA in his first year with his new pitch: a knuckleball. After a couple so-so seasons he won 15 in ’16 with a 1.78 ERA and then turned it on for the Series champs in ’17, going 28-12 with an AL-leading ERA. It was this season – and not 1919 – in which Charlie Comiskey had promised Eddie a big bonus if he won 30 and then had him sit for some late season starts when it seemed that number was in reach. In ’18 he had a complete turnaround, going 12-19 as he lost some time to building bombers at Ford for WW I. Then in ’19 he went 29-7 with a 1.82 ERA as he helped take the Sox back to the Series where he then lost two as one of the players who took gambling money. After a 21-10 season in ’20 he was banned from ball. For his career Eddie went 209-148 with a 2.38 ERA, 249 complete games, and 24 saves. He went 2-3 in Series play with a 2.22 ERA and hit .186 during his career. He then played some ball for some “outlaw” teams a couple years before returning to Detroit and working for Ford which he did until he retired. He then sold strawberries from his farm there through his death in ’69 when he was 84.

Time to see how the Sox do representation-wise in this set. Two guys with significant at bats were traded mid-season and have no cards anywhere in this set. DH/infielder Mike Andrews went to Oakland after hitting .201 in 159 at bats; and former bonus baby outfielder Rick Reichardt went to Kansas City after hitting .275 in his 153 at bats. On the pitching side the only guy missing who had a decision is Eddie Fisher, the old knuckler who went 6-7 with a 4.88 ERA in ’73. So between the over 300 at bats and the 13 decisions the Sox land near the bottom. On the team card Andrews is Number 2 in the third row, Reichardt is Number 46 in the last row and Fisher is the third guy from the right in the last row.

Steve Stone moved around a bit so let’s try him for the hook-up:

1. Steve Stone was on the ’73 White Sox;
2. Stone and Willie Mays ‘71 to ’72 Giants;
3. Mays and Gary Gentry ’72 Mets.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

#416 - Chicago White Sox/White Sox Team Records

This happy bunch is the 1973 version of the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey. My guess is that this photo was taken early in the season when the team had plenty of reasons to smile. Chicago came out of the gate with an 18-6 record behind Pat Kelly’s .400-plus average and Mike Andrews’ .366. Tireless knuckleballer Wilbur Wood was 8-2 during that span and was 13-3 by the end of May. Though the Sox cooled off a tad they were still in first at the end of June. But when former-MVP Dick Allen got hurt the season went the wrong way fast and Oakland and Kansas City were too good to not go at fully-staffed. By the end of the year Andrews was in Oakland, Wood was only a few games over .500, Allen was still hurt, and everyone else except Carlos May had pretty much ho-hum seasons at best. They finished in fifth place with a 77-85 record.

I am going to try something new because these posts can take forever. I’m going to split this team card between two posts. I will start with the hitters and do the pitchers on the next post. Here we go:

Don Buford was pretty tiny at 5’6” but that didn’t stop him from being a two-sport star at USC in football (a two-way guy he led the ’58 team in rushing and interceptions) and baseball (where he teamed with Ron Fairly to win the ’58 CWS and hit .323 in his two seasons). He was signed by the White Sox in ’59, finished his degree, and began his pro career the next year. In college he played everywhere but concentrated on outfield his first couple seasons in the minors when he moved from B to A ball, hitting all over the map but putting up generally excellent OBA’s. In ’62 he played a bunch at third and hit .323 with a .443 OBA in A ball. He followed that up with a .336 and .401 season at Triple A in ’63 that got him named TSN Minor League Player of the Year and also got him to Chicago for a few late games in which he hit .286. The next two seasons he played mostly at second where he hit quite well for a Sox - .262 and .283 – showed off his speed, and again put up relatively good OBA numbers. In ’66 he switched to playing mostly third and stole 51 bases but saw his average drop to .244. After a similar season in ’67 he was traded to Baltimore in the deal that returned Luis Aparicio to Chicago. For the Orioles Don peaked while making his primary home in the outfield. For the next four seasons he averaged .283 while twice putting up OBA numbers above .400 and three seasons scoring exactly 99 runs and was in the playoffs for three years. He was an All-Star in ’71. In ’72 his average tumbled to .206 and he left the States to play ball in Japan, leaving behind a .264 average, .364 OBA, 93 homers, 718 runs, and 418 RBI’s. He hit .256 with five homers, eleven RBI’s, and a .363 OBA in 22 post-season games. He played ball for four years in Japan where over that time he hit .270 with 65 homers and was a three-time all-star. He returned to the US in 77 and worked in retail before returning to baseball. He coached for the Giants (’81-’84), USC (’85-’88), and in the Baltimore system (’89-’91) before managing in the minors a couple season (’92-’93). He then came up to coach for the O’s (’94) before doing various admin roles from ’95 to 2002. He then managed again in the minors (‘2003-’04 and 2006) around a stint as a Nationals coach (2005). He went 260-292 as a manager. Since 2007 he has been a director of the O’s minor leagues. His sons Damon and Don Jr. both played pro ball and this Don has been inducted into both the USC and International League halls of fame.

Nellie Fox grew up in rural PA where from a young age he was playing ball in adult leagues, primarily as a first baseman. In ’44 he got a tryout with Connie Mack’s A’s after his mom wrote Mack a letter and Nellie got a contract. Only 16 his first season he hit over .300 in both D and B ball that summer. He then hit .314 at B ball with 19 triples in ’45 before missing all of the next year in the military. He returned in mid-’47 to a couple games up top and then back to B ball where he hit .281 while spending time at second base. In ’48 it was all second in A ball as he hit .311 and then moved up for good. In ’49 he played semi-regularly as Pete Suder’s backup and though he didn’t hit terribly well, he did fit right in Mack’s line-up with a very low strikeout total – nine in 247 at bats – that would be one of his hallmarks. But after the season he was traded to the ChiSox for catcher Joe Tipton. After a pedestrian season in his new home in ’50 Nellie turned it on the next year to become one of the best players in the league the rest of the decade. He would average 191 hits, 95 runs, and 14 strikeouts as he hit north of .300 the rest of the Fifties. He led the AL in hits four times, won two Gold Gloves – they weren’t introduced until ’57 – and played in nine All-Star games. In ’59 he won AL MVP as the Go-Go Sox made it to the Series. Defensively he did just as well, leading AL second baseman in putouts eight times and assists five times during that period. After another Gold Glove All-Star season in ’60 Nellie began to slow down as the Sox did also. After the ’63 season he was traded to the Colt .45’s partially to make room for Mr. Buford and had a season as the regular guy before playing behind and tutoring new guy Joe Morgan in ’65. He retired after that season with a .288 average with 2,663 hits, a .348 OBA, and only 216 strikeouts, or one every 48 plate appearances. In his only post-season action he hit .394 against LA. Nellie remained in Houston as a coach in ’66 and ’67 and then moved to Washington to do the same gig. He stayed through the team’s initial season in Texas and then returned to PA to run his bowling alley which he did until he passed away in ’75 from lymphoma. He was only 47. In ’97 he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Johnny Mostil was born and raised in Chicago and after some semi-pro local ball got a tryout in 1918 and briefly made the White Sox as a back-up to Eddie Collins at second. The next two seasons he spent in the minors where his average improved by 50 points his second of two seasons in Double A. When he returned to Chicago in ’20 it was as a center fielder and in ’20 he split time with Happy Felsch. When in ’21 Felsch was banned from the game, Johnny took over and put in five good seasons as the regular guy there, averaging well over .300 during that time. In ’25 he led the AL in runs, steals (with 43), and walks (90). In ’26 he hit .328 with 35 steals, again leading the league in the latter category. In spring training of ’27 he had bad teeth, neuritsy or neuralgia (either way he had a nerve issue), and tried to kill himself quite violently using a knife and a razor blade. There has been supposition it was either over his illnesses or because his girlfriend dumped him for a teammate. He missed most of the rest of the season to rehab, returned for a full season in ’28 in which his average fell to .270, and put in a few games in ’29 before he was done. He finished with a .301 average with a .386 OBA and 176 stolen bases. He then returned to the minors where he coached and played for independent teams, hitting well over .300. In ’33 he began managing in the minors which he did through ’42 before losing time to WW II. He returned to manage from ’46 to ’48 and then became a scout, primarily for the ChiSox with spotty returns to manage. He scouted through ’68 and passed away in ’70 at age 74.

Eddie Collins grew up in Tarrytown, NY where in school he played quarterback and shortstop. He continued to do both when he went to Columbia University in 1903 at age 16. While in school he began playing summer pick-up games for which he was paid and was spotted one summer by an A’s scout and signed in ’06. He played a couple games for Philly that summer for which he got busted and kicked off his college team in ’07, though he was allowed to coach. After the season finished he put in a few games for the A’s and a few in the minors, his only time there. By then he was playing second mostly and in “08 he got his career going as he played outfield as well. In ’09 he had his first big year by hitting .347. He stayed in Philly though ’14 where he led the AL in runs three times and stolen bases once while hitting .337 with a .423 OBA. He also made it to the Series while there four times, winning three. In 1914 he hit .344 with 122 runs, 85 RBI’s, 58 stolen bases, and a .452 OBA to win AL MVP. After that season owner and manager Connie Mack, always hurting for cash, sold Eddie to the ChiSox. In Chicago he picked up where he left off, playing excellent defense at second while hitting .331 with a .426 OBA his twelve years there. In ’17 he won another Series and in ’19 he was famously uncorrupted as a member of the Black Sox. He took over managing the team late in the ’24 season and continued through ’26, putting up a record of 174-160 while still playing. After the ’26 season he returned to Philadelphia to hit .336 as a part-timer in ’27 and play sporadically while helping to coach the next three seasons. He finished with a .333 average and .424 OBA on his 3,315 hits. He also had 1,300 RBI’s, scored 1,821 runs, and stole 741 bases. In the post-season he hit .328 in 34 games. Defensively he led the AL in putouts at second seven times (and is second all-time), assists four times (first), and fielding percentage eight times. He continued coaching for Philadelphia in ’31 and ’32 and then moved to the Boston Red Sox as their GM in ’33 which he did through ’47. He was inducted into the initial Hall class in ’39. The one demerit on his record was that he did not take seriously the participation of black players in the majors which greatly contributed to Boston being the last team to have a black player. He was in declining health when he left the GM job and he passed away in ’51 at age 63 from cardiovascular disease.

Floyd Robinson grew up in San Diego and kicked off his career with the independent PCL team located there in ’54 his first summer after high school. He would show good speed and a decent average while playing for the team and its affiliates the next few seasons, topping out in ’55 when he hit .301 with 58 RBI’s in 335 at bats for its B League affiliate. In ’56 San Diego became hooked up with Cleveland so Floyd’s services went with them and he remained with the PCL team the next two seasons, improving to .279 with 27 steals for the ’57 team. He then missed all of the next two seasons to the military and returned to San Diego – now a ChiSox affiliate – to hit .318 with thirteen homers and a .399 OBA in ’60. He got some late games in Chicago that season and then moved into a starting outfield spot his rookie year of ’61. He hit .310 with a .389 OBA that year to make the Topps Rookie team and finish third in AL ROY voting. ’62 was his best season with a .312 average, all those doubles, and 109 RBI’s. He continued to hit well the next two seasons but in ’65 his average fell to .265 and then in ’66 to .237 and he was traded to the Reds following the latter season. His average stayed low in the NL and he also hurt his knee pretty badly that season. After a ’68 split between Boston and Oakland he was done. He finished with a .283 average with a .365 OBA. During the ’64 off-season he began his second career when he purchased a small apartment building back in San Diego. He has since been involved in real estate including an assisted-living senior center he built years ago that is apparently still a community gem.

Shoeless Joe Jackson really didn’t attend too much school while growing up in rural South Carolina and was already working in local mills before he reached double digits. He would also begin playing ball in factory and local leagues for the next ten years until his Greenville team made it into the D leagues in 1908 when he was 20. Joe hit .346 that season and was signed that year by Connie Mack – he signed a lot of these guys – to play in Philadelphia. Joe would have a rough go in Philly in a couple false starts in ’08 and ’09 but would return in ’09 and ’10 to post nice numbers in the minors, hitting above .350 both seasons. In the middle of the second year Mack traded him to Cleveland for whom Joe hit .387 in his few at bats the rest of the way. That average was good enough for him to be made a starter the next year and he turned in an amazing rookie season, hitting .408 with a .468 OBA while picking up 32 assists in the outfield. In ’12 he led the AL in hits with 226 and triples with 26 while hitting .395. In ’13 he led the league in hits and doubles while batting .373. In ’14 his average came in to .338 as he missed some games and in ’15 with his owner worried he would lose Joe to the Federal League he was traded to the White Sox for cash and players. His average tumbled to under .300 as he got adjusted to life in Chicago but he rebounded in ’16 with a .341 with 21 triples. After a dip to .301 in ’17 during the Series year he missed nearly all of ’18 to service work and ball during WW I. He returned in ’19 to hit .351 with 96 RBI’s and then got caught up in the Black Sox scandal. Too bad, because ’20 may have been his best season with a .382 average, 20 triples, and 121 RBI’s. But Joe, along with the seven other guys, was banned for life from MLB. He finished with an amazing .356 average, with 168 triples, 785 RBI’s, and a .423 OBA. In the post-season he hit .345 with eight RBI’s in 14 games. He was forever shut out of the Hall by his banishment. He then played semi-pro ball in the south and ran a liquor store until he passed away in ’51 at age 63.

Zeke Bonura was raised in New Orleans and by the time he was 16 was already a sports legend, but not for baseball. In 1925 he threw javelin in an AAU meet against the ’24 Olympics winner and won. Zeke was a big sports star in high school and then went to Loyola where for two years he played the big three sports and also coached the frosh hoops team for which he played. In ’29 after his sophomore year he signed with the New Orleans Class A team for whom he hit a ton, including 14 triples. In ’30 and ’31 he missed a bunch of games when he returned to school but still hit well over .300. After moving to Dallas at the same level the next two seasons he hit over 20 homers each year with about a .340 average. After the ’33 season he was sold to the White Sox for whom he debuted the next season and put up a .302 average with 27 homers and 110 RBI’s. The next three seasons he averaged about .322 with 17 homers and 110 RBI’s including ’36 when he hit .330 with a .426 OBA along with all those RBI’s. He did not strike out very often and was a pretty complete offensive player. The knock on him was that he was a lackadaisical fielder at first and would only catch balls thrown directly to him for fear of making an error. After the ’37 season he went to the Nats for a much better fielder and hit 22 out with 114 RBI’s for them. In ’39 he went to the Giants where he hit .321 but his RBI total dropped to 85 and in ’40 he hit .270 with only 65 RBI’s split between back in DC and for the Cubs. That was his last year up top and he finished with a .307 average with 119 homers and 704 RBI’s in seven seasons. In ’41 he played Double A ball – he hit .366 – and then enlisted in the service, was released, and then called back a couple days after Pearl Harbor. He spent the rest of WW II in the service where he arranged service games for troops in football, basketball, and baseball. By ’43 he was in Algeria where he would eventually win a medal for setting up fields and games over there. After the war he returned to baseball where he played and managed in the minors, mostly for independent teams. He did that through ’54 and then returned to New Orleans where he bred and raised prize beagles. He passed away in ’87 at age 78.

Luke Appling grew up in North Carolina and then went to that state’s Oglethorpe College where he played ball in 1929 and ’30, leading his team to a 15-0 record the second year. He was already 22 when he was a freshmen but I am not sure why his college years began so late. After his season ended he was signed to the minor league Atlanta Crackers, a Class A team. Luke hit .326 for them but also made 42 errors at shortstop, so the Cubs, who had an initial look at him, passed. The White Sox liked him enough, though, and signed him early enough that he got in some games up top and hit .308. The next year he split time at short and then took over in ’32, both seasons posting pedestrian offensive numbers and a few too many errors. But in ’33 he turned it on, hitting .322 with 85 RBI’s. He would be the Sox' starting shortstop through ’49 – he missed ’44 and almost all of ’45 to the service – and only once hit below .300. His big year was ‘36 when he led the AL with his average and had 111 runs, 204 hits, and 128 RBI’s, all personal highs. He rarely struck out, though he was an ace at fouling the ball off, and got on base a ton, posting an over-.400 OBA nine times. He was a seven-time All-Star and again led the AL in hitting in ’43 with a .328 average. In ’50 he played his last season, primarily as a back-up, and then retired with a .310 average on 2,749 hits, with 1,116 RBI’s and a .399 OBA. He also led AL shortstops in putouts twice, assists seven times, and errors five times. He is sixth all-time in assists and seventh in putouts. After playing he began managing, first in the Sox system (’51-’53, ‘62), and then in independent ball (’54-55, ’58-’59). His managerial record was 530-540 at that level. He also coached up top a bunch: for Detroit (’60); Cleveland (’61); Baltimore (’63); Kansas City (’64 –’67); the White Sox (’70-’71); and Atlanta (’76-’90). He scouted as well for the A’s (’68-’69) and the ChiSox (’72-’75) and even managed for KC as well in ’67 when he went 10-30 as a late-season replacement for Al Dark. It was Luke’s only shot at managing up top. He was elected to the Hall in ’64 and was still coaching for the Braves when he passed away in ’91 at 83.

I'll do the hook-up on the next post.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

#415 - Gary Gentry

So when the Angels were looking to trade Jim Fregosi to the Mets for one of NY’s starting pitchers, this is the guy they initially wanted. Apparently Bobby Winkles, the Arizona State coach, was a consultant of sorts to California a couple years before he came on board as manager and thought his old ace would be the best fit for the team. But the Mets shot that deal down and instead shipped an inconsistent pitcher named Nolan Ryan west for Fregosi, thereby rendering one of the worst all-time deals even more one-sided. Nothing against Gary here, shown in his new home in Atlanta, but post that trade he would put up an MLB total of 12 wins while Ryan would add 295 to his total. The immediate repercussions were just as bad. In ’72 Ryan won 19 in his new home in Anaheim with the first of his three successive 300-plus strikeout seasons while still in NY Gary put up his first losing record anywhere and his highest ERA. Then, to add insult to the injury of a trade he wasn’t even part of, the trade in which he did partake was pretty much as bad as he and Danny Frisella went to the Braves for Felix Millan and George Stone, both of whom would be implemental in bringing the ’73 Mets within a game of the Series title. While Gary pitched well enough when he did pitch, it wasn’t too often as searing pain in his right arm led to surgery during the season for bone chips removal from his elbow. Poor guy. But he always has that ’69 season in his corner.

Gary Gentry grew up in Phoenix where he was primarily a position player in high school. He was also a guard in hoops and an end in football. After finishing high school in ’64 he went to Phoenix Junior College where he began pitching and in his first year took his team to the JUCO Series, which he won with a 15-strikeout game. While at Phoenix he was drafted three times by, successively, Houston (June ’65), Baltimore (January ’66), and San Francisco (June ’66). But his dad wouldn’t let him sign with any of them and so after the ’66 season he graduated and went to Arizona State where in ’67 he was 17-1 with a 1.14 ERA and a college record 229 strikeouts. Again he led his team to its series championship as he won the pivotal CWS game with a 15-inning performance and again with 15 K’s. That June the Mets drafted him and this time he signed for a pretty significant bonus. Finishing the year in Double A he only went 4-4 but put up a 1.59 ERA with nearly a strikeout an inning. Then in ’68 he moved up to Triple A where his fastball, curve, and improving slider took him to 12-8 with a 2.91 ERA. In spring training of ’69 he became the third hot prospect to reach the top in three years after Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman the past two seasons.

Gentry began ’69 with two victories in his first two starts and ultimately had a nice year for the Series champs. His strikeout totals weren’t what they were in college but he was a very self-determined thrower and had excellent poise for a rookie (though many would later attribute that poise to hot-headedness since he could have a nasty temper). He won the division-clincher in September and after a lame start in the playoffs, nabbed the start at the first Series game in Shea Stadium ever. Gary went over six innings for the win in the game Tommie Agee made his two great catches. He also laced a double over Paul Blair’s head to knock in two runs. In ’70 the elbow problems started and Gary won his last game with over a month left to the season. He later claimed that the Mets not taking his elbow injury seriously enough was what later ruined his arm. In ’71 he bounced a bit to put up a season almost identical to his rookie year. Then much of ’72 he was in pain which he pitched through but that contributed to his decline in numbers. After his initial season in Atlanta things only got worse. He didn’t respond terribly well to the ’73 surgery and in ’74 only got into three games – with a 1.35 ERA – before he was shelved for the season and had another operation on his elbow. Then in ’75 he went 1-1 with a 4.95 ERA in seven games before he was released. He hooked up back with the Mets later in the season but in a Double A game snapped a tendon in his arm in his first appearance and that sealed the deal on his career. He finished up top with a 46-49 record with 25 complete games, eight shutouts, two saves, and a 3.56 ERA. In the post-season he went 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his two games and hit .333.

Gentry returned to Arizona after his playing career ended and immersed himself in local real estate. He now manages subsidized housing for seniors in Scottsdale. He has been inducted to the halls of fame at both his colleges.

Most of the star bullets were covered above as was the cartoon. Ernie Banks broke up the first game with two outs in the eighth inning. Roberto Clemente broke up the second game in the sixth inning. I guess if you are going to lose two potential no-no’s it might as well be to Hall of Famers.

We skip a card to hook up two guys with big ears:

1. Gentry and – what the hell – Nolan Ryan ’69 to ’71 Mets;
2. Ryan and Joe Lahoud ’74 to ’76 Angels;
3. Lahoud and Don Money ’73 Brewers.