Thursday, July 25, 2013

#567 - Boston Red Sox/Red Sox Team Records (Part 2)

Here is the requisite checklist card. Two features of these names bear notice. One is the amount of “o”’s ending the given names: Bernardo, Rico, Orlando, and Rogelio (the best I think). Two is there are some awfully long surnames on this team: Yastrzemski; Petrocelli; Aparicio. Topps had to minimize the signatures to make them all fit. It is a normally representative group with just two guys who didn’t play on the ’73 team – Carbo and Rick Wise, who came over in separate trades from St. Louis. I like Petrocelli’s signature the best though Cepeda’s deserves mention since I am pretty sure he invented a couple letters in his. On with the bios.

Dick Radatz grew up in the suburbs of Detroit where he was a big deal in his high school’s big three sports, including posting a 0.18 ERA his senior year that would have got him signed by Baltimore if the money was right. Instead he went to Michigan State on a hoops/baseball scholarship, concentrating on the second sport his last three years. While there he went a combined 17-4 and his senior year won ten games with a 1.12 ERA. He received a degree in education and signed with Boston upon graduating in ’59. Dick was a big guy who threw heat from anywhere between a three-quarter and sidearm motion and his first summer went 4-6 with a 3.04 ERA and about a strikeout an inning in B ball. In ’60 he went 9-4 at that level with 133 K’s in 107 innings to get promoted to Triple A where he went 3-0 in his eight starts. He remained in Triple A in ’61 where, after hurting his arm he was asked by his manager – Johnny Pesky – to be a reliever. Initially Dick balked but he did a great job, going 5-6 with a 2.28 ERA and over a K an inning. In ’62 he went to Boston where he had an excellent rookie year, going 9-6 with a 2.28 ERA while leading the AL with 62 games and 24 saves to win Fireman of the Year. He bettered that mark in ’63 with a 15-6/1.97/25 year that got him an All-Star nod in which he struck out five straight NL stars. In ’64 Dick went 16-9/2.29/29, leading both leagues in saves, and setting a record with his 79 games. Those first three seasons he put up a total of 487 K’s in only 414 innings and in ’64 set another record by striking out 181 guys in relief. Through that time Dick was still throwing almost exclusively his big fastball that clocked around 95 MPH. Prior to the ’65 season Ted Williams suggested Dick learn an off speed pitch and his attempts at mastering the pitch pretty much coincided with a quick spiral down. He had a 9-11/3.91/22 season in ’65 and after starting the ’66 season going 0-2 with four saves and a 4.74 ERA his first 16 games he was sent to Cleveland for Don McMahon and Lee Stange, two other pitchers. Things didn’t get much better with the Tribe – 0-3 with a 4.61 ERA and ten saves in 39 games and shortly into the ’67 season he was traded to the Cubs. In Chicago the unraveling continued as he went 1-0 with a 6.56 ERA and only five saves up top and did even worse in the minors. He was picked up by Detroit after being put on waivers to start the ’68 season and did OK, going 6-7 with a 2.78 ERA with 13 starts among his 24 games in Triple A. When he was pulled back up in ’69 he did not do too badly with a 2-2 record and 3.38 ERA his first eleven games but he got sent to Montreal anyway where for a team with porous defense he went 0-4 with a 5.71 ERA and three saves in his last season. Dick finished with a record of 52-43 with 122 saves in his 381 games and 745 K’s in 694 innings. While playing he was a high school PE teacher in off-seasons and after doing that a little bit full time after his playing career ended, he worked as a marketing rep for some chemical companies around Detroit. In ’85 he relocated to the Boston area where for years he had a regular talk radio gig on WEEI and founded a company called National Pastime Legends which represented former professional athletes on the talking circuit. In 2003 he returned to baseball as pitching coach for the independent North Shore Spirit. He was set to return to that role when in March 2005 he fell down some concrete steps in his home and passed away after hitting his head. He was 67.

Cy Young grew up on a farm in rural Ohio and by the time he was 17 he was out of school and playing local ball. In 1890 when he was 23 he signed with the local Canton team, which was roughly an A level team, and went 15-15 before being sold late in the season to the Cleveland Spiders. He went 9-7 the rest of the way and then a combined 233-128 the next eight seasons which included three in which he won at least 30 games. His best year during that run was 1892, during which he went 36-12 with a 1.93 ERA in the last year of the 55-foot distance between the mound and home plate. In ’99 he moved to the St. Louis Perfectos – both teams were owned by the same group – and won 26 games his first year before fading to 19-19 the second. The next year the AL was founded and the new Boston club went after Cy hard, even though many thought he was washed up at 33. They got him and it turned out to be a good play because Cy won the AL Triple Crown that year, going 33-10 with a 1.62 ERA and 158 strikeouts. Cy had been putting on weight by then and his fastball had lost a bunch of its speed so he became a control artist and would post some sick walk totals, including giving up only 37 in his 371 innings in ’01. He led the AL in wins each of the next two seasons, went 2-1 in the ’03 Series, and then won 26 in ’04. In ’05 he went 18-19 for his first losing record ever, despite putting up a 1.82 ERA. After going 13-21 the next year he was thought through at age 39. But he rallied to win 21 each of the next two seasons in Boston and then won 21 after a trade in ’09 to the Indians. In both ’10 and ’11, his final season, he slowed down considerably, going a combined 14-19 for Cleveland and the Boston Rustlers. He claimed it was more because of his weight than his arm and that hitters just bunted him to death. But he was done with that amazing 511-316 record with a 2.62 ERA and a record 815 games started, 749 complete games, and 7,356 innings. He also had 76 shutouts, 17 saves, 2,803 strikeouts, and just 1,217 walks. Including a series in ’92 he went 2-3 with a 2.36 ERA in seven post-season games. He’d managed the Sox to open the ’07 season after Chick Stahl killed himself and went 3-3. He pitched and coached a bit for a B team in Canton in ’12 and then managed the Cleveland entry in the Federal League in ’13. Thereafter he moved back to his farm in Ohio full-time, being a gentleman farmer until ’34 when his wife passed away. He was very grief-stricken since she was his only family – a daughter had passed away as an infant in ’07 – and then settled in with a couple that managed a grocery store where Cy also worked as a cleark. He was still living with them in ’37, when he was admitted to the Hall, and in ’55 when he passed away from heart disease at 88.

Smokey Joe Wood had an itinerant youth, his dad being a restless soul who graduated from Penn. At one point Joe went out west from Kansas in a covered wagon. He eventually finished school in Colorado and then played some local ball in Kansas before signing with Cedar Rapids of the Three I League in ’07. He was then traded to Hutchinson, a C team, and went 18-11 with lots of K’s. In ’08 he was sold to Kansas City, a Double A team, and only went 7-12, but with a 2.28 ERA and less than a base runner an inning. He was sold late in the season to Boston, going 1-1 with a shutout in his two starts. In ’09 he broke his foot, missing two months and in ’10 his ankle, missing a month, but around the injuries he pitched well, going a combined 23-20 with a 1.91 ERA. He got healthy in ’11 and had a big season, going 23-17 with a 2.02 ERA and five shutouts. He topped that big in ’12 when he went 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA, 35 complete games, 258 K’s, and ten shutouts. In the Series that year he went 3-1 with a fat 4.50 ERA and 21 strikeouts in his 22 innings to win a ring. But the injuries returned: in ’13 he missed over half the season with a broken hand and in ’14 more than two months with appendicitis. He still threw well, going a combined 21-8 with a 2.43 ERA. In ’15 he experienced his first serious bout of arm touble but held it together to go 15-5 with an AL-leading 1.49 ERA. In ’16 the Sox got wary of Joe’s arm and tried to cut his salary. Joe held out for the whole year, teaching PE in PA. Prior to the ’17 season he was sold to Cleveland but his arm was a mess and he threw only 15 innings that year while he underwent rehab and worked on his hitting. The plan was to come back as an outfielder which he did the following year, hitting .296 with 66 RBI’s. He settled in as the Tribe’s fourth outfielder the next few seasons, peaking with a .366 average with 60 RBI’s on only 194 at bats in ’21. The prior year he won another ring, hitting .200 in his four games. In ’22 he returned to a starting job and had a .297/8/92 season and then retired at 32. Joe finished with a record of 117-57 with a 2.03 ERA, 121 complete games, 28 shutouts, and ten saves. He hit .283 with 23 homers and 325 RBI’s, doing significantly better after he stopped pitching. In ’23 he became freshman baseball coach at Yale and the next year moved to varsity, which he coached through ’42, going 283-228-1. In ’43 he went out to California where he ran a golf range with his brother for at least seven years. He returned to CT where he worked a bit before retiring and where he passed away in ’85 at 95.

Red Ruffing grew up in Illinois where his dad was a – guess what – miner as was Red by the time he was 15. His dad had broken his back in the mines and moved to the admin side; a cousin got killed in the mines; and Red himself lost four toes from his left foot in a mining accident. Fun work. That foot injury propelled Red to concentrate on pitching after being a pitcher/outfielder for local community and company teams. In ’23 when he was 18 he signed with the Danville Three I team and went 12-16 with a 3.95 ERA for what was roughly a B level league. In ’24 he got sold to Boston and he moved back and forth between the Sox and its D team with a pretty spotty record at both levels. But in ’25 he was put in the rotation for good and began his long career up top. That career was sort of bi-polar and the Sox got the bad end. Over the ensuing five-plus seasons Red went a combined 39-96 with a 4.61 ERA for an admittedly bad team though he didn’t help things too much. Those 25 losses led MLB in ’28 – as did his 25 complete games – and he followed that up with a 29-loss season in ’29. His ERA was a tad off from league average. After beginning the ’30 season 0-3 he got sent to the Yankees for Cedric Durst and $50,000 and immediately turned his career around, going 15-5 the rest of the season with a better than league average ERA. He remained in the NY rotation through ’42 and during that time had only one losing record. He went 18-7 in ’32, his first Series year. In ’34 he was an All-Star for the first time, going 19-11. In ’36 he had the first of four successive 20-win seasons. In ’43 he left for the service which he did stateside due to his foot and he returned mid-season to go 7-3 with a 2.89 ERA. In ’46 he did spot work and was 5-1 with a 1.77 ERA when his knee got shattered on a comebacker and he missed the rest of the season. He was released after posting a 231-124 record for the Yankees with a 3.47 ERA, significantly better than his peers. He signed with the White Sox for ’47, didn’t do so well at 42, and retired. He finished with a 273-225 record, 3.80 ERA, 335 complete games, 45 shutouts, and 16 saves. In the post-season he was 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA in ten games, eight of them complete ones, and won six rings. He made six All-Star teams and could always hit, posting a career .269 average with 36 homers and 273 RBI’s. He remained in the Chicago system after he retired, initially as a scout and then minor league manager, posting a near-.600 percentage in ’49 and ’50. That second year he had moved to the Cleveland system. He coached up top in ‘51 and then worked as a scout and admin guy through ’61 before becoming the Mets first pitching coach in ’62. That experience got him to retire for a few years before returning in ’69 as a pitching coach in the Minnesota system. He then retired again and a few years later had a stroke that made him wheelchair-bound the rest of his life. He’d been inducted to the Hall in ’67 and pretty much the rest of his life after the stroke would build his year around attending its induction ceremony each year. He passed away in ’86 when he was 81.

Mel Parnell was born in Louisiana where his dad was a conductor on the railroad run to Chicago and Mel was a first baseman in high school. He would throw batting practice to his team before any game in which they would face a lefty and get an occasional start. On one of those he threw a shutout with 17 K’s in a game that happened to be attended by a Boston scout. Signed after his senior year of ’41 he threw a bit that summer in D ball. He moved up to C ball in ’42 and went 16-9 with a 1.59 ERA before missing the next three seasons to WW II. He pitched a season in A ball upon returning in ’46 and went 13-4 with a 1.30 ERA. In ’47 he was pulled up to Boston where he had a tough rookie year but he then refined his slider to be one of the most effective lefthanders ever at Fenway. In ’48 he went 15-8 and then had his best season in ’49 when he went 25-7 with a 2.77 ERA and 27 complete games. His win, ERA, and complete game numbers led the AL. He won 18 each of the next two seasons and had a .500 season in ’52 as the Sox’ fortunes ebbed, mostly because of aging and Ted Williams serving time in Korea. In ’53 Mel went 21-8 with a 3.06 ERA in his last good season. He hurt his arm in ’54 and over the next three seasons went a combined 12-16 though he did throw a no-hitter against Chicago in ’56, his final year. He finished with a 123-75 record, with 113 complete games, 20 shutouts, ten saves, and a 3.50 ERA. Not a bad hitter, he hit .198 with 50 RBI’s during his career, which happened to coincide with a period of Yankees dominance so he was shut out of any post-season action. He coached a bit in the Boston system before managing Tulane’s baseball team in ’57-’58 and then back in the minors in ’59 and from ’61 to ’63, compiling a 268-304 record. He then did some broadcasting for Boston (’64-’68) and the White Sox (’69). He appears to have then returned to New Orleans where he was involved in several businesses. He had a stroke in ’84 and then had a tumor removed from his heart in ’99 after which he retired. He was then stricken with lymphoma but rallied until he passed away from pneumonia in 2012 when he was 89.

Hubert “Dutch” Leonard was another future Sox born in Ohio, but he relocated to California as a kid so his dad could get work as a carpenter. He pitched in high school in Fresno and then went to nearby St. Mary’s College which was a bit of a baseball factory back then and would also produce future teammates Harry Hooper and Duffy Lewis. He was signed after his freshman year of 1911 by the Athletics for whom he never pitched and then was sold to Boston prior to the ’12 season. Optioned to A ball that spring, he went 22-9 with a 2.50 ERA and in ’13 moved up to Boston. He would be an often-used swing guy the next few seasons and his rookie year went 14-17 with a 2.39 ERA. In ’14 he broke his wrist in early September but before that went 19-5 with a record ERA of 0.96. The next two seasons he put up ERA’s of 2.36 while helping to take Boston to the Series, going 15-7 and 18-12 and winning a game in the post-season each year. That first year he was suspended for two months after he accused the Sox owner of mistreating players and in ’16 he threw a no-hitter. In ’17 his record fell to 16-17 but so did his ERA, to 2.17. In ’18 he started the season 8-6 with a 2.72 ERA before he left for WW I, during which he played ball for a war-supply company team. Following the season he went to the Yankees in a big trade but, as he did in Boston, he held out for a higher salary and NY didn’t back down. The following May, still unsigned, he was sold to Detroit for $10,000.  He did pretty well once he started pitching in June, going 14-13 with a 2.77 ERA before hurting his arm the next year and going a combined 21-30 the next two seasons with an inflated 4.00 ERA. After again holding out prior to the ’22 season he returned to Fresno where he played in a local independent league, going 23-11 in two seasons. He’d been suspended from MLB for jumping to that league and it wasn’t until late in ’24 that he was allowed back. He went 3-2 with a 4.56 ERA the rest of the way while pitching for new manager Ty Cobb, who wasn’t a big fan of Dutch’s. In ’25 he hurt his arm early in the season but Cobb insisted he pitch anyway and though he went 11-4, his ERA remained high. That experience pretty much killed his arm and after he was traded to the PCL the following winter he retired. Dutch finished with a record of 139-113 with a 2.76 ERA, 152 complete games, 33 shutouts, and 13 saves. In his two Series wins he went 2-0 in two complete games with a 1.00 ERA. He was a smart business guy and while playing invested in land near Fresno that he turned into a grape ranch. That ranch made him quite rich and he stayed away from baseball after his retirement except for one incident. It was he who in ’26 accused Tris Speaker, Joe Wood, and Ty Cobb of fixing a game in 1919 on which the three bet. He’d presented some evidence but never backed it up and while both Speaker and Cobb had to resign from their teams they were quickly reinstated with new clubs and the charges were dismissed. Dutch had a heart attack in ’42 and passed away ten years later at age 60, leaving millions to his heirs.

Just about all the guys on both the Sox posts have SABR bios.

Let’s see how Topps does representation-wise for the ’73 team. Center fielder Reggie Smith has a card with his new team, St. Louis. That leaves John Kennedy, the back-up infielder, as the only guy missing with more than 100 at bats. John was in his final season in ’73 and had also played for the Yankees and the Pilots/Brewers. He hit .181 with 16 RBI’s in his 155 at bats in ’73 and may be the third guy from the right in the back row of the team card. Topps doesn’t do as well with the pitchers. Marty Pattin has a card with the Brewers and Sonny Siebert with the Cardinals but there are a few other guys with decisions who are missing. Bob Veale went 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA and eleven saves in his penultimate season. Bob had one of the most amazing records I can think of in ’71 when he went 6-0 despite having an ERA of 6.99 (he was a much better pitcher than that ERA during his career). Craig Skok, who would pitch a bunch more for Atlanta at the end of the decade, was 0-1 with a save and a 6.28 ERA his rookie year. Ray Culp was in the final year of his flame out after being a cog in the Sox staff a bunch of years and went 2-6 with a 4.47 ERA. And Lynn McGlothen went 1-2 with an 8.22 ERA in his sophomore season. I am almost positive that Veale is the guy in the back row with the red windbreaker and McGlothen is down right next to Reggie Smith. Culp and Skok, who knows? So the Sox miss Kennedy’s at bats and a combined record of 5-12 and 12 saves from the mound. Middle of the pack would be my guess.

The ’73 Sox, as mentioned, pretty much stayed put so that may elongate this exercise. But we do have Mr. Veale:

1. Bob Veale on the ’73 Red Sox;
2. Veale and Jackie Hernandez ’71 to ’72 Pirates.

Friday, July 12, 2013

#567 - Boston Red Sox/Red Sox Team Records

I always thought this team photo was a little off. First we have Yaz floating up there in a bubble like a religious icon and then we get that odd blue background that looks like it may have been added in after the photo was developed. Like the Cubbies, I would have thought Fenway – and the Green Monster specifically – would have made a great backdrop for the team card. But I guess the photographer thought otherwise. My guess is that the team is pretty well represented in the photo but it’s kind of hard to tell since it’s a bit blurry.

The ’72 Red Sox lost out on the AL East title by only half a game to Detroit and its quickly-aging line-up. So hopes were pretty elevated in ’73 as the Sox came back with a line-up that was the same except for the addition of Orlando Cepeda to handle the new job of designated hitter. Orlando did a bang-up job pretty much from Day 1 and the Sox began the season 4-0. But they then lost six straight and were a .500 club through the first few months, mostly due to ineffective pitching and an injury to second baseman Doug Griffin. But nobody was running away with the division and though they were in fifth place to start July they were only six back. But a 10-3 run to kick off the month got them briefly into second place. Luis Tiant was building up a nice comeback season; the Sox moved Bill Lee from the pen to the rotation; and that big brawl with the Yankees sort of energized things. But at the same time the Orioles were taking off as well and some late-summer internal strife had both Reggie Smith and Rico Petrocelli asking to be traded. So in the end the Sox put up their second-straight second-place finish – though they finished eight back this time – with a pretty good record. But it wasn’t enough to let manger Eddie Kasko keep his job and Reggie would get his wish, getting sent to St. Louis in the first trade that would compile the team that would go to the Series in a couple years.

This is a big, big post so again it will be split into two.

Roger “Doc” Cramer was born and grew up near Atlantic City, NJ. After playing ball in high school, he worked as a carpenter and continued to play in the area for a semi-pro team put together by his family when he was spotted by an Athletics player in a local tournament in ’29 when he was 23. Signed on the player’s recommendation by Connie Mack, Doc hit .404 that summer in D ball and went 2-2 on the mound. That was it for his time as a pitcher and in ’30 he got off to a .347 start in Double A before being called up to Philly in September for a couple games. The next couple years he was an outfield reserve for the pennant winners, hitting .232 and .260 as his workload increased a bit. He went one for two with a couple RBI’s in the Series that second season. In ’32 Doc worked his way into the line-up and by the end of the season he had replaced the aging Bing Miller as center fielder. He hit .336 that year and settled into that role as over the next three seasons he led the AL in at bats each year. He put up his big power year in ’33 with a .295/8/75 season while scoring 109 runs. But Doc was primarily a singles guy and the next two seasons he hit .311 and .332 as the team got progressively worse as Connie Mack had to jettison the team’s stars during the Depression. In ’36 it was Doc’s turn to split and he went to Boston where he took over center as well, averaging .302 and 100 runs scored during his five seasons there. Twice he led the AL in at bats and once in hits while being named an All-Star four consecutive seasons.  In ’41 Dom DiMaggio was the new kid in camp and Doc never got along too well with Joe Cronin, Boston’s manager, so he was sent to Washington for Gee Walker. After a discounted .273 season in DC in ’41 he went to Detroit where for the war years he would again be the regular guy in center. Those four seasons Doc averaged .283/2/46 years and in ’45 he returned to the Series, leading the winners with a .379 average. He then took on a reserve role the next two years before finishing up top as a player/coach in ’48 at age 42. After a season each back in the minors playing (.274) and coaching Doc was done. He hit .296 with 2,705 hits and only 345 K’s in his 9,140 at bats, made five All-Star teams, and hit .387 with six RBI’s in nine Series games. He is currently 64th all-time in hits and 26th in singles. Defensively he is fifth all-time in games, putouts, and assists in center field. From ’51 to ’53 Doc was the White Sox hitting coach. He then returned to the Jersey shore where he took up his off-season work as carpenter full-time. He passed away there in 1990 at 85.

Ted Williams certainly needs no introduction so this will be short. Ted grew up in San Diego, where he was the state’s Mr. Baseball his junior year. That summer of ’36 he was signed by the San Diego PCL team and hit .271 in his 42 games before returning to school to graduate. He returned the next spring to hit .291 with 23 homers and was signed by Boston in exchange for some players and cash. In ’38 Ted got sent to Double A Minneapolis where his .366/43/145 season won him his league’s triple crown. It was then all Boston as he put up an amazing .327/31/145 rookie year and never looked back. His first four seasons he led the AL in runs and OBA three times; and homers, average, RBI’s, and total bases twice. He had that huge .406/37/120 year – with a .553 OBA! - in ’41 and followed that up with another Triple Crown season of .356/36/137 in ’42 before he enlisted to fly planes in the Pacific in WW II. He returned to win MVP in ’46, another Triple Crown season in ’47, and a ’49 in which he missed doing the trifecta by less than a percentage point on his average in what may have been his biggest season (.343/43/159) and second MVP year. In ’50 he got hurt in the All-Star game and he missed nearly all of ’52 and ’53 to fly planes again, this time in Korea. He stuck with the Sox through the ’60 season, hitting a homer in his final at bat. His numbers are phenomenal: .344 with 512 homers, 1,798 runs, 1,839 RBI’s, and a record-.482 OBA in about 15 full seasons. He was an All-Star 17 times, led the AL in runs four times; doubles twice; homers and RBI’s four times; average six times; walks eight times, and OBA twelve times. About the only blight was his .200 average in the ’46 Series, his only post-season work. Ted retired to Florida to fish and talk baseball in ’61 until talked back into baseball to manage the Senators/Rangers from ’69 to ’72. His first year he won AL Manager of the Year as he took the Nats to the team’s first winning record. He finished 273-364 in that role and thereafter did some informal coaching, some rep work for Sears, lots of fishing, and did the autograph tours. He amped that up in the Nineties when his son John Henry was his manager. Things got a little ugly around then with various members of Ted’s family claiming various rights to him and – after he passed away in 2002 – his name and body. Ted was 83 when he passed away that year and was inducted into the Hall in ’66.

Like Doc Cramer and Ted Williams, Tris Speaker was both a pitcher and outfielder while growing up in Texas. He also rode in rodeos and it was doing that that got his right arm broken twice and pretty much forced him to be a lefty both batting and throwing. After graduating high school in 1905 he enrolled at what is now Texas Wesleyan University where he played a year and then did the big self-push to local baseball teams and got himself signed to a local D ball one. Though he bombed as a pitcher – 2-7 in his eleven games – he did hit .268 in his half season and in C ball in ’07 he hit .314 and stole over 30 bases. Those numbers got him signed by Boston who used to do spring training in Little Rock. That town had a Single A team and in lieu of paying their rent that year, the Sox gave the team Speaker with a $500 option to buy him back. That they did after Tris hit .350 and got pulled up for good later that year. Tris didn’t start terribly well at the plate but his fielding was pretty exemplary, partly from workouts with teammate Cy Young. In ’09 he took over center field and for the next seven seasons he averaged .342 with 34 doubles, 15 triples, 74 RBI’s, and 38 stolen bases a year. The year with all the hits he put up a .383/53/12/90/52 season to win AL MVP and also led the league with his ten home runs and .464 OBA. A masterful defender, Tris would play a very shallow center, cutting off lots of potential hits and putting up some big DP numbers for an outfielder, including two unassisted ones. Dogged by rumors he was in the Klan (also suggested by Tris in an interview), some fractious clubhouse relationships (including with new star Babe Ruth), and a holdout, Tris was sent to Cleveland after the ’15 season for Sam Jones, Fred Thomas, and cash. In his eleven seasons with the Tribe, Tris stepped up most of his numbers, posting average seasons of .354/44/10/81/14 while also managing the team every year from ’19 to ’26, going 617-520 during that time and bringing home a Series title in ’20. After the ’26 season Tris and Ty Cobb were accused of throwing a game several years earlier by a former teammate and each was basically forced from his team by the league (the accusation was proven unfounded). Speaker was signed immediately by the Senators for whom he hit .327 and then finished out his career in ’28 with the A’s, joined there ironically by Cobb. Tris finished his career with a .345 average with a record 792 doubles, 222 triples, 436 stolen bases, 3,514 hits, a .428 OBA, and 1,531 RBI’s. He hit .306 with a .398 OBA in 20 Series games, winning three rings. He struck out less than 400 times and defensively is first all-time for assists and double plays for an outfielder, and second in putouts. He was admitted to the Hall in ’37. In ’29 and ’30 he managed and played – he hit nearly .400 – in the minors and also managed in ’33 for a team of which he was a partial owner. Baseball-wise he announced for both Chicago teams in ’31 and ’32 and for Cleveland from ’35 to ’46. He then coached for the team on a part-time basis from ’47 to ’58. Away from baseball he had his own wholesale liquor company and was a sales rep for a steel company. In ’58 he had a heart attack after a fishing trip back in Texas that proved fatal. He was 70.

Johnny Pesky (nee Paveskovich) grew up in Portland, Oregon, where after high school he continued playing ball for company teams, one of which happened to be owned by Boston owner Tom Yawkey. Johnny was signed by the Sox in ’40 when he was 21 and both that summer and the next he hit .325 in B ball and Double A, respectively. His defense at shortstop was pretty impressive as well and in ’42 he was named starting shortstop and set a record by pounding out 205 hits his rookie season. With that went 105 runs and a .331 average that had him finish third in the AL MVP race. He then departed the next three years for WW II duty and returned in ’46 to hit .335 with 208 hits, 43 doubles, and only 29 K’s in his only All-Star year. In ’47 he again led the AL in hits with 207 while hitting .324. In ’48 Vern Stephens and Billy Goodman arrived and Johnny moved to third base where his average fell to .281 but he scored 124 runs, his season’s best. He rallied to hit over .300 the next three seasons while also averaging over 100 runs scored. In ’50 he recorded his highest OBA at .437 and in ’51 returned to shortstop. In ’52 a poor start to his season got him sent to Detroit in a big trade with Walt Dropo and Fred Hatfield (among others) for Hoot Evers, George Kell, Johnny Lipon, and Dizzy Trout. With the Tigers his average bounced a bunch but he still hit only .225 for the season, and while he revived a lot more in ’53 with a .292 average while playing second, he was only getting in about half the games and he finished things up with Detroit and the Nats the following year. Johnny ended things with a .307 average with a .394 OBA and only 218 strikeouts in over 4,700 at bats. In his one Series in ’46 he hit .233 in seven games. He stayed close to ball thereafter: as a player/coach in the Yankees system ( he hit .343 in ’55); a minor league manager for Detroit (’56-’60), Boston (’61-’62 and ’90), and Pittsburgh (’68); an MLB coach for the Pirates (’65-’67) and Boston (’75-’84); and Boston manager (’63-’64 and ’80). His record in the minors was an excellent 664-583 and in Boston 147-179. After ’85 he held various admin and part-time coaching roles with the Sox until he was quite old, leaving the bench in 2005. He passed away last year at 92.

Earl Webb’s dad was a coal miner as was Earl by the time he was finished with school, which occurred any time between when he was eleven and 17, depending on the source. He played local and company ball in his late teens, primarily as a pitcher, and drew notice from several area pro teams but was too intimidated by what he viewed as big cities to go play for them. He got over that in ’21 when he was 23 and went 12-8 in D ball while hitting .282 while also playing outfield. In ’22 he went 8-6 with a high ERA but pitched well in an exhibition game against the Giants, who signed him the next year. He then spent two seasons on their A team where his pitching floundered – a combined 17-33 – but for whom he hit a combined .335 before a late ’24 sale to Double A Toledo - .333 – and a brief NY stint for a couple games, though he didn’t play. He remained in Toledo in ’25 where he was now exclusively a fielder and hit .329 with eleven homers and after the season was sent back to NY for Hack Wilson (?!!) in August. He got only a couple at bats before he was sent to Louisville, another Double A team, after the season. He hit .333 with 18 homers through August when he was sent to the Cubs. For Chicago in ’27 Earl had a pretty good rookie year at 29, hitting .301 with 14 homers while playing right field. He was pretty inept as an outfielder (by his own admittance) and the next year was moved to a reserve role, hitting .250 before being moved to the PCL in ’29. That year he hit .357 with 56 doubles and 37 homers in the league’s extended season (188 games) and after it he was taken by Cincinnati in the Rule 5 draft. He then went to Washington and then Boston before the ’30 season opened. Moving up to the Sox he had a .323/16/66 year with 30 doubles before he exploded in ’31 with his record-setting doubles amount in a .333/14/103 year. In ’32 he didn’t come close in the power department to his record year and mid-season he was sent to Detroit for Dale Alexander and Roy Johnson and finished the year with .285/8/78 numbers with 28 doubles. His last MLB season was a ’33 split between Detroit and the Nats. Earl finished with a .306 average with a relatively ordinary 155 doubles in his 2,161 at bats. He also had 333 RBI’s and a .381 OBA. He spent the next four seasons in the minors, hitting well above .300 the first three and then left ball for a full-time gig in mining, both as a foreman and as manager of his company’s baseball team. He passed away from coronary thrombosis in ’65 when he was 67.

Chick Stahl was born and raised in Indiana in a huge family. He played ball in school and thereafter for lots of semi-pro teams while working a bit for his dad’s carpentry business. He was signed by Roanoke, a B team, in 1895 when he was 22 and for whom he went 8-11 with a 3.16 ERA on the mound and hit .311 while also playing center field. He was purchased by Buffalo, an A team, in ’96, gave up pitching, and hit .340 with 23 triples. He was signed by the Boston NL franchise, the Beaneaters, and put up a big rookie year in ’97, hitting .354 with 13 triples, four homers, and 97 RBI’s. His sophomore year was a bit of a discount with a .308/8/3/52 season, but he bounced back the next two seasons to average .320/17/6/67 with 30 steals. In ’01 his manager Jimmy Collins moved over to the new Boston AL team and Chick joined him and the next two seasons averaged .313/14/4/65 while still playing an excellent center field. Between those two years a woman he did not know pulled a gun on him and threatened to shoot him and then went away in a well-publicized trial. In ’03 Chick had a pretty much lost season as he broke his leg sliding and missed about half the year. He returned in time to play in the Series, though, and hit .303 with three triples in beating Pittsburgh in eight games. He returned with three healthy seasons from ’04 to ’06, getting all those triples the first year, and taking over as manager midway through ’06. But in ’07 he resigned as manager because he did not like cutting people during spring training and in late March he overdosed on carbolic acid, which killed him pretty much immediately. Only 34, it was always believed the death was a suicide and many reasons were posited: overall depression; the sting of being a losing manager – he was 14-26 in ’06; an affair with a married woman; and finally an affair with a guy friend who’d killed himself in the same manner a few weeks earlier and asked to be buried next to Chick. Pretty sad story.

Jimmy Foxx is covered on the Oakland page. The pitchers will get covered on the next post.

Monday, July 1, 2013

#566 - Jackie Hernandez

In yet another final card, Jackie Hernandez shows us his “ready” stance at what may be Shea. Jackie is sporting the Clemente patch on his left arm and a smallish afro. He didn’t play too much in ’73, his final season in the majors. Shortstop was very transitional for Pittsburgh in ’73 as it was Gene Alley’s final season also, and help at the position had to come from Dal Maxvill, in a brief hiatus from Oakland, and Rennie Stennett, who slid over from second. Only Maxvill would assume that role in ’74 as Frank Taveras and Mario Mendoza took over the position in their rookie seasons while Jackie languished in the minors after being traded to the Phillies for recent subject Mike Ryan in January. In fact, by all rights, Jackie should be airbrushed as Topps had plenty of notice about the trade. But maybe it’s better to keep Jackie in the uniform in which he attained his highest profile. It sure would have been nice if he went out on a sunny day though.

Jacinto Hernandez was another Cuban ballplayer discovered while playing for one of the national teams, though he wasn’t signed until after the revolution, by the Indians in ’61 when Jackie was 20. A catcher down there, he continued in that role that summer in D ball, where he hit .274 with a little power. But Jackie was a pretty little guy and after leading his league in errors at catcher it was decided to morph him into a shortstop and the next few seasons he would put in time at both positions. He hit .221 in B ball in ’62 and then .235 with ten homers and 23 stolen bases in Double A in ’63 and upped his numbers to .260 with 27 steals at the same level in ’64. In ’65 he moved up to Triple A but shortly into the season was released by the Tribe and on the same day picked up by California. Jackie hit .229 combined and also moved exclusively to shortstop that season while recording 24 stolen bases. He made his debut for the Angels that September and remained on the roster as a little-used backup for ’66, playing more at third than at second or shortstop. After that season he was involved in a big deal trade that sent him and Dean Chance to Minnesota for Don Mincher, Pete Cimino, and Jimmie Hall.

With the Twins, Hernandez spent nearly all of ’67 at Triple A Denver where he hit .269 with 18 stolen bases in 427 at bats. While his average was steadily improving, he continued his habit of putting up an awful lot of strikeouts for a slap hitter, and not taking too many walks, leading to a pretty poor OBA. He also put up a few too many errors at shortstop. Still he did put in a little time backing up Zoilo Versalles in Minnesota. In ’68 Zoilo was sent to LA and Jackie was given the job to start the season. He started for a bit over a month but after not providing too much offense, gave way to Cesar Tovar as starter and became a late inning guy through about mid-July when he was sent back to Denver. There he was able to hit .287 with 13 steals in just 181 at bats before returning to the Twins in September with an average that continued to slip. That October he was taken by Kansas City in the expansion draft. For the Royals he again claimed the starting shortstop job in training camp and this time he was able to hold onto it. Jackie had by far his biggest and busiest season up top as he stole 17 bases but also struck out over 100 times. Defensively it went like that also as he finished second among AL shortstops in putouts but also led the league in errors. In ’70 he again began the season as the starter but though his hitting improved a bit, some erratic defense led to him soon splitting time at short with Rich Severson, Tommy Matchick, and Bobby Floyd. After the season he was involved in another big trade, going to Pittsburgh with rookie pitcher Bob Johnson for Bruce Dal Canton, Jerry May, and Freddie Patek, Jackie’s successor at shortstop.

While KC had been fishing around for an everyday shortstop its first couple seasons, the Pirates had one in Gene Alley, so Hernandez was acquired to be an infield back-up. But that first year of ’71 Alley was injured at two opportune times for Jackie: the beginning and the end of the season. So Jackie started the first eleven games of the season and became a fan favorite by hitting over .350 during that span. He then got some starts during the September stretch and then all of them during the post-season, winning a ring. It was his most productive season RBI-wise and he fielded the final out in the Series win. ’72 was a pretty big discount for Jackie, both offensively and post-season-wise, as he got no time in the NL playoffs. After his ’73 season he went to Philly before returning to Pittsburgh as a free agent and playing his final stateside season in Triple A, where he hit .199 in 331 at bats. The next two seasons he played ball in Mexico and was then done. He finished with the stats on the card back up top and hit .244 with over 125 stolen bases in the minors. In the post-season he hit .226 with a couple RBI’s in eleven games.

Hernandez, who’d played winter ball in Venezuela and Puerto Rico throughout his career, continued doing so through ’78. Earlier he’d settled in Miami and after baseball he drove trucks and cabs a bunch of years in the area. In the mid-Eighties he also began a baseball school in the area with Paul Casanova, the former catcher and fellow Cuban. In ’96 he returned to baseball professionally by coaching for various independent teams: Duluth-Superior (’96-’98); Waterbury (’99-2000); New Jersey Jackals (2001-’02); and the St. Paul Saints (‘03-’06).  He was then named manager of the Charlotte County Redfish, a new team in the new South Coast League. But after a 5-20 start to the season he was moved up to league management and replaced as manager by Cecil Fielder. But the league folded after a year and from what I can tell Jackie returned to Miami and his baseball school.

Jackie has a busy signature and gets some sort of generalized star bullets. I hope he didn’t bunt that way for real or he was going to get his fingers broken.

These guys get linked by a trading partner of Jackie’s:

1. Hernandez and Bob Johnson ’70 Royals;
2. Johnson and Milt Wilcox ’74 Indians.