Wednesday, February 26, 2014

#643 - Los Angeles Dodgers/Dodgers Team Records

The final team card of the set highlights the LA Dodgers. It’s a pretty crappy photo and seems amateurish, with blackness encroaching at the sides. And I haven’t been able to find a better copy of this card online so it seems the blurriness was a part of the original shot as well. That’s too bad because these guys deserved more. The Dodgers had finally fixed a long-standing flaw at third base with rookie Ron Cey and the rest of that storied infield began its long time together during the ’73 season as well. The pitching was as solid as ever and the team nicknamed the “Little Blue Bicycle” (in contrast to Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine) hung tough pretty much the whole season, riding an excellent late spring run to get to first place which it held onto for 72 days before pitching injuries derailed that run and the Reds came charging ahead. LA finished with 95 wins, only 3 ½ games back, and had definitely set the foundation for its long successful run that would last through the Eighties. It seems sunny the day of the photo but it’s hard to tell. Some of these guys are recognizable and the team keeps up its habit of having Willie Davis sit among the coaches in what would be his last season in Los Angeles.

On the card back the Dodgers have pretty much the most post-season appearances this side of the Yankees, a team which they faced seven straight times in the Series. No wonder they were so elated in ’55.

Maury Wills played hoops, quarterbacked, and pitched during his time at his DC high school. Signed by Brooklyn after he graduated in ’50, he began his career the following spring in D ball. Maury would hit well in the minors while playing middle infield but since his two favored positions away from the mound were second and short, he wouldn’t be moving to Brooklyn for a while since they were manned by Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese. In ’57 he went to Cincinnati in the minor league draft but LA got him back after the season and then promoted him midway through the ’59 season after he finished his minors run with a .276 average and lots of steals. He did pretty well the rest of the way and in the Series and then the next year became starting shortstop, hitting .295 with 50 stolen bases, which led the NL. He led the league again with 35 in ’61 while hitting .282 and then exploded in his MVP year of ’62 when he hit .299 while leading the NL with ten triples and a new mark of 104 steals (against only 13 picks). He also won his second consecutive Gold Glove that year and made his second of what would be five All-Star teams. He continued to hit awfully well for a shortstop the next few seasons while leading the NL in steals each of the next three years, peaking in ’65 with 94. By ’66 he had to tape his legs because he was 33 and they were getting pretty banged up and that season he stole only 38 bases against 24 pickoffs. So LA sent him to Pittsburgh for two left side guys in Bob Bailey and Gene Michael. It wouldn’t be a great trade for LA and Maury hit .302 and .278 in two seasons of playing mostly third base. In late ’68 he got selected by Montreal in the expansion draft where he returned to short but didn’t hit too well. That changed with a mid-season return to LA with Manny Mota as Maury hit .297 the rest of the way. He posted good averages in ’70 and ’71 before finally giving way to old knees and Bill Russell in ’72, his last season. Maury finished with a .281 average, 2,134 hits, 1,067 runs, and 586 stolen bases. In the post-season he hit .244 in 21 games. After playing he did some commentary work on national television from ’73 to ’77 and managed a few years in Mexico during the winter, winning a championship. After some coaching he was named manager of the Mariners in ’80 but his tenure was very flawed and he only lasted until early in ’81, going 26-56, before settling into a cocaine-induced depression that lasted a few years. The Dodgers would pay for his rehab, get him a community relations gig and then sign him as a coach in ’85. Maury also coached with the Japanese Osaka Braves for four years and with Toronto before returning to LA where he has done lots of spring training and other work since. He didn’t get his first Topps card until ’67.

Babe Herman was born in Buffalo, NY, and relocated to Glendale, CA, in time to be a big star athlete at its high school. In ’21 he signed with a B league team in Canada and hit .330 while playing first. Though he was a challenged fielder he hit well the next few seasons in the minors, putting up averages ranging from .316 to .418 while playing in systems that included Detroit’s and Boston’s. After a ’25 season in the PCL he was traded to Brooklyn prior to the following year and in ’26 had a .319/11/81 rookie year while playing first. After cooling off a bit in ’27 he was deemed to be too much of a defensive liability at first and was moved to the outfield. The next two seasons he put up lines of .340/12/91 with a .390 OBA and then .381/21/113/.436. His big year was ’30 with his .393/35/130/.455 season that set team marks in all Triple Crown categories. His last season in Brooklyn for that run in ’31 he hit .313/18/97 before a trade with Ernie Lombardi to the Reds. With Cincy Babe hit .326 while leading the NL with 19 triples before departing for two seasons with the Cubs where his average slipped just under .300 for a couple seasons. After a quick ’35 stop in Pittsburgh Babe returned to the Reds where he hit .335 to round out that year, put in another as a regular, and then spent a bit of time with Detroit in ’37 before being released. He returned to the minors and by ’39 was back close to home in the PCL, where he played through ’44 and hit well over .300. In ’45 he returned to Brooklyn at age 42 to do some pinch hitting work in his last season. He finished with an MLB average of .324 with 181 homers and almost 1,000 RBI’s and hit over .333 in the minors. He spent over 22 seasons scouting for various teams and managed a year of C ball in the Cubs system, going 64-75 in ’57. He then retired to Glendale where he passed away in ’87 when he was 84.

Wee Willie Keeler was a Brooklyn, NY, kid who had left school to play semi-pro and factory ball by the time he was 16. That was in 1888 and in ’92, after hitting .376 for his semi-pro team, he was signed to an A team in Binghamton where he hit .373 as a shortstop but made lots of errors. He was purchased by the Giants late that season and hit .321 in a handful of at bats in NY but his fielding was still pretty awful. In ’93 he was moved to third but barely played before he broke his leg, missed two months, and was sold to Brooklyn before spending a bunch of the rest of the season back in A ball. Brooklyn then traded Willie to Baltimore where the Orioles got smart, moved him to the outfield, and made him a regular. Willie became part of a pre-20th century dynasty as he hit the crap out of the ball by choking up huge, hitting lots of Baltimore Chops (or Texas Leaguers), and rarely striking out. For the next five seasons he would average 219 hits and 150 runs while hitting .388 and striking out only 38 times! His biggest season was ’97 when he hit .424 with 239 hits (and five K’s) and a .464 OBA. After the ’98 season the team would be split up and Willie returned to Brooklyn where he hit nearly as well, averaging .354 the next four seasons and in ’99 struck out twice in 633 plate appearances. Then after a two-season delay he jumped the NL ship for the Yankees where he continued to plug away at an over .300 level the next four years before his legs gave out during ’07 when he was 35. He remained in NY for two more seasons with the Yankees before finishing things up back with the Giants in a few games in 1910 with a .341 average on 2,932 hits, 495 stolen bases, and only 136 K’s. He also put up a huge .415 OBA. After a season of minor league ball in ’11 he coached with Brooklyn (’12-’13), the Federal League’s Tip Tops (’14), and then scouted for the Braves (’15). Initially successful with his investments, he also bought a gas station that he ran until he got tuberculosis just before WW I. While he was laid up the gas station failed and a bunch of his real estate investments crashed after the war ended. By ’20 he was having heart problems and pretty much living hand to mouth and the following year was bailed out by a fund raiser held by the Dodgers. But his health was going south fast and by late ’22 he had also picked up endocarditis, and he passed away shortly after New Year’s Eve of ’23 when he was 50. He made the Hall in ’39. Willie has a lengthy SABR bio.

Johnny Frederick was born in Denver and by the time he was 19 was playing B ball in Canada as an outfielder. After a couple seasons at that level he hooked up with Salt Lake City of the PCL for whom he played three years before moving on to Hollywood for a couple seasons in the same league. Despite hitting well over .300 with some good power during that time he was unable to hook up with any MLB club until ’29 when he was 27 and the Dodgers purchased him on the recommendation of the Stars owner, though by then he was playing in the Southern Association, an A level league. He had an excellent rookie year, busting for all those doubles and a .328/24/75 stat line with a .372 OBA. He followed that up with a similar line in ’30 - .334/17/76 with 44 doubles and a .383 OBA – but then hurt his leg at the end of the season. That injury would nag him the rest of his MLB career as his doubles power and other offense dipped a bunch and he had to move from his regular center field spot to the corners. In ’32 he set a mark with six pinch hit homers in a season. He would finish with Brooklyn during the ’34 season when he was only 32 and leave behind a .308 average with 200 doubles and a .357 OBA in his six seasons. Then it was back to the PCL where the warm air or the long seasons must have revived him because he again hit well over .300 for six seasons, the last five with Portland, where he also managed his final year of 1940, going 56-122. That ended Johnny’s time in baseball, but not in Oregon. During the earlier part of his playing career, Johnny’s mom, originally from Oregon, relocated there and began buying up some land near Tigard, eventually acquiring over 400 acres. After Johnny finished with baseball he joined her and the family turned her acreage into a river-front park named Avalon which became a big local and tourist destination. Johnny, his mom, and his descendents ran the park for about 30 years until a highway bypass and the expansion of the free National Park System pretty much rendered it obsolete. He then worked a few years with his brother at his butcher shop before retiring. He passed away in Tigard in ’77 when he was 75.

Hi Myers was a farm kid from Ohio who after playing some local ball signed in ’09 with a D league team for whom he hit .304, generating enough interest to get purchased by Brooklyn and get in a few games late that year. But Hi had a habit of tagging up every time he was on base and that frustrated the team so they sent him back to the minors. Over the next five seasons he would get a couple more looks from the Superbas but he spent most of that time in the minors in both A and Double A ball, hitting well at both spots. He made it back to Brooklyn for good the second half of ’14 and staked out the regular spot in center. A hustling slap hitter, he had good triples power and had his best seasons in ’19 with a .307/5/73 line when his RBI total and 14 triples led the NL; and in ’20 with a .304/4/80 line and his triples total led both leagues. He remained in center the next two seasons and left behind a .282 average when traded following the ’22 season to St. Louis for Jack Fournier. He hit .300 his first year as a semi-regular but tailed off pretty quickly with ’25 being his final season. He finished with a .281 average with 100 triples and hit .208 in twelve post-season games. He returned to farming in Ohio full-time after he retired and also had his own car dealership. That was followed by stints as a security guard at a steel mill and as a bank teller. He passed away from a heart attack in ’65 at age 76. He also has a SABR bio.

Duke Snider grew up in Compton, CA, and was a four-sport HS star there when signed by the Dodgers in ’44 at 17. He apparently had a bit of a temper and though he hit pretty well that year in B ball, struck out a bit much and got frustrated enough that he joined the service, which meant he missed all of the next season and half the ’46 one. He returned that year to post some middling offensive stats in Double A but then had two successive good seasons in Triple A and was an excellent center fielder. By the end of the ’48 season he was in Brooklyn and would begin a long run there in the center spot. In his first full season of ’49 Duke put up a .292/23/92 line and pretty much improved from there, peaking during a three-year run from ’53 to ’55 when his line averaged .329/41/131 with 126 runs and a .420 OBA. That last year he led Brooklyn to finally defeat the Yankees in the Series. In ’56 a .292/43/101 line hid what was becoming extensive knee damage and with the move to LA Duke’s time in the field had to be compromised as did most of his power, though in ’59 his line of .308/23/88 was achieved in only 370 at bats for another Series winner. By the early Sixties he was in right field to cut down on his running in the field and only getting in about half the games. He was sold to the Mets for the ’63 season and then to the Giants for ’64 after which he retired with a .295 average, 407 homers, 1,333 RBI’s, 1,259 runs, and a .380 OBA. He made seven All-Star teams and in the post-season hit .286 with eleven homers and 26 RBI’s in 36 games. As a fielder he is in the top 50 in putouts and assists in center. He made the Hall in ’80. In the meantime after he played he managed in the LA chain (’65-’67) and coached for the Dodgers (’68). He then left to take the same position with the new Padres (’69-’71) before managing in their chain (’72), finishing with a record of 246-185 in that role. In ’73 he moved to the Montreal franchise where he coached a bit but was mostly a broadcaster though the ’86 season. He then was a regular attendee at card shows, mostly on the west coast. He passed away there in 2011 at age 84. Duke is another Dodger with an SABR page.

The hook-up will be on the next post.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#642 - Terry Harmon

Next up is Terry Harmon, who looks a little glum at Shea Terry had nine Topps cards during his career and in seven of them – he had a big smile in ’73 and kind of one in ’77 – he was super serious. His at bats and his average declined a bit in ’73 so maybe that explains the expression on his card; but his defense was at its norm high achievement-wise. If he had any forecasting abilities when this photo was shot, his look to the very near future may have caused some concern. In ’74 each of the three positions occupied by Terry were handled by regulars – Dave Cash at second; Larry Bowa at short, and Mike Schmidt at third – who each played in every game in ’74. Poor Terry saw action in only 26 innings that year as a result and he would never get over 100 at bats in a season again. Still, he put in a pretty good run for an infield back-up guy and he would use that acquired profile to leverage a longer run elsewhere once done. He just wasn’t up to putting his TV face on any of his cards yet.

Terry Harmon, like the subject of the last post, was born and raised in Ohio and then attended college there. Unlike Chuck Brinkman, though, Terry has a more fully-bodied bio. A big three sport athlete in his Toledo high school, he went to Ohio University after he graduated in ’62 and his first varsity baseball year in ’64 hit .420 followed by a .378 in ’65, both years leading his team to conference titles. The Phillies then drafted him following his junior year, but on the advice of his college coach Terry held out for more money and that summer hit .322 while playing for a local semi-pro team. He signed shortly thereafter and looked pretty good the next year as he kicked off with a .289 season in A ball while playing shortstop. He remained at that level and position the next year where his average slipped to .241 but his OBA wasn’t too bad at .342 and he snuck in a couple defensive innings in Philly that summer. In ’68 he moved up to Triple A where he added some work at second and raised his average to .257 but missed over two months to a separated shoulder. But he did well enough to get promoted for good – except for a short stint in autumn IL ball in ’69.

By the late Sixties the Phillies had descended to the bottom half of the new NL East division. Dick Allen was still smacking the crap out of the ball but nobody else was and Philadelphia was looking to replace its aging – and troubled – stars with some home grown new blood. Veteran shortstop Bobby Wine had just been sent to Montreal when Harmon was called up to spell new kid Don Money at short and older guy Cookie Rojas at second. Terry turned in some nice D at both positions his rookie year and did OK at the plate for a middle infielder back then. Then in ’70 the infield got younger as Money was moved to third and Rojas was sent to St. Louis to make way for rookies Larry Bowa and Denny Doyle, respectively. Bowa was always an innings hog so Terry’s plate time declined a bunch as he continued to play mostly at short. But the next year between the trade of veteran utility guy Tony Taylor to Detroit and the tendency of Doyle to be a bit less sturdy than his successor – Cash – at second, Terry got a lot more at bats as his primary position moved to second. That season he set a record with 18 chances there in one game. In ’72 he amped things up by adding 80 points to his average and turned in a real nice .372 OBA which may explain that big smile on his ’73 card. After the step back in ’73 offensively and the 15 at bat season the next year he got more work in ’75 when Bowa was hurt for a brief spell, though his average stayed below .200. In ’76 he hit .295 in 61 at bats and in ’77 moved back to filling in at second after Cash left to go to Montreal as a free agent. That was Terry’s final season and he finished with a .233 average. He scored a run as a pinch runner in his only post-season appearance and hit .259 in the minors.

As noted above Harmon remained in front of the camera as a pitch guy for various products, first on the big Philly Prism cable channel and then went national on QVC, where he specialized in selling jewelry. He’s been retired in southern Jersey for a couple years now.

Again we get another batch of star bullets with defensive props. It looks like Terry could have had another one for his excellent college stats. Hunting in central and southern Jersey back in the Seventies must have been a little nasty.

Watergate is all done so all that’s left is the hook-up:

1. Harmon and Dick Allen ’67, 69, and ’75-’76 Phillies;
2. Allen and Chuck Brinkman ’72 to ’74 White Sox.

Winter break is up and so is a team card so the next post won’t be for a bit.

Monday, February 10, 2014

#641 - Chuck Brinkman

Well, this one’s gonna be quick. Due to the apparently permanent demise of Google news searches, there is next to nothing in the websphere or elsewhere about this guy. Yeah, he was a catcher, and yeah, he had a more successful brother play for many more years than he, but that stuff is all obvious. Here Chuck Brinkman demonstrates more than a passing resemblance to brother Ed while taking a cut at Yankee Stadium. ’73 was by far Chuck’s busiest year at the MLB level as prior Number Two guy in Chicago Tom Egan spent the whole year in Triple A before returning to California. Then newbie Brian Downing got hurt on his very first play in Chicago so Chuck elevated his plate time by more than a double over any of his other seasons. Unfortunately that was all he elevated offensively as his average stayed at well below Mendoza levels, though he did – as the card back points out – hit his first and only MLB home run that season. It came off Rudy May in a home game won by the Sox 6-2 (in May no less) and since it scored the third run was the game-winner, appropriately enough for a one-time event. Like Milt Pappas on the last post, this card represents Chuck’s last.

Chuck Brinkman followed his brother Ed as a baseball star at Cincinnati’s Western Hills High School by a year, graduating in ’62. Chuck then moved on to Ohio State where as a senior he was on the all-CWS tournament team as his guys won the Series, the last Big Ten team to do so. That year of ’66 the biggest name on the Ohio State roster was that of Steve Arlin from many posts ago who was that year’s mvp. Chuck was then selected by the ChiSox in that June’s draft and got things going that summer with a light-hitting great defense year in A ball. He hit .260 at that level in ’67 but then fell to .204 the next year. In ’69 he moved up to .237 in a season split between Double A and Triple A. In not one of those seasons did he have exactly a full year, topping out at 339 at bats in ’67 but averaging only 235 at bats the last three seasons. Usually that meant military time but that wasn’t the norm for college graduates so maybe Chuck’s time was just depressed because of his average. That changed in ’70 when he got 415 at bats in Triple A, hitting .231 while topping out in RBI’s with 30. In both ’69 and ’70 he got some late summer looks in Chicago but didn’t show too much at the plate. Still he had a good arm, and a great knack for blocking low pitches, definitely a plus for a staff full of knuckleballers. So from ’71 to ’73 Chuck stayed up all season, never seeing too much plate time but making damn few errors either. In ’74 he had his normal amount of at bats in Chicago before a July sale to Pittsburgh in what would be his final year. He hit .143 for both teams and finished his MLB work with a .172 average. Despite very little field time he threw runners out at a 38% clip, on par with the league. He hit .226 in the minors.

Pretty spare, right? Too bad because that’s it. At least he had some cards to memorialize his baseball time but I can’t find anything for what he did away from it.

Not too surprisingly all of Chuck’s star bullets regard his defense. And then there’s that May homer off May. Sticking to name stuff umpire Joe Brinkman was not related to the brothers. Yeah, that’s filler.

So when your party abandons you like the Republicans did in August of ’74, what’s next?:

8/7/74 – Three senior Republican congessmen meet with President Nixon and advise him that his prospects for now avoiding impeachment are pretty bleak. Nixon apparently agrees because:

8/8/74 – President Nixon, citing a deteriorating support base within Congress, announces his resignation.

For Chuck only the ’73 season really got him significant MLB playing time, so the hook-up has to begin there:

1. Brinkman and Ed Herrmann ’72 to ’74 White Sox;
2. Herrmann and Don Pavletich ’69 White Sox (all catchers!);
3. Pavletich and Milt Pappas ’66 to ’68 Reds.

Friday, February 7, 2014

#640 - Milt Pappas

After a few card hiatus we get back to the final cards with this panoramic action shot of Milt Pappas on the mound at Wrigley Field. Judging by the guys in the bullpen behind him it looks like Milt is facing either Atlanta or Houston, so that the crowd is huge is a big testament to the durability of Chicago fans. I think these panoramic action cards are among the best in the set since there can be lots of interesting background noise but there’s no way I’ll be able to get a handle on the bullpen members in the background. There is also a shot this photo isn’t even from ’73 since other Chicago action shots have been quite dated. If this shot is from ’73 and that warm-up jacket towards the end is a Houston one, then this game is from May 30 and was a loss for Milt. That means it was a sadly typical effort for him that season since his record more than reversed it self from the dynamic one from ’72. Run support was a bit of an issue for the Cubbies in ’73 but Milt too had issues: too many hits, particularly homers, and too few strikeouts led to an unusually elevated ERA his final year in Chicago. Towards the end of spring training in ’74 he was released and the only team that showed any interest was San Diego, pretty ironic after what happened in ’72, which gets covered below. Milt was a loudly opinionated guy, which did not make him friends in management but which could be glossed over when he won but impeded his hooking up with anyone after this season. So a guy who once seemed a shoo-in for the Hall was done at age 34. But he left behind quite a legacy.

Milt Pappas grew up in Detroit where he attracted tons of looks from MLB teams due to his pretty awesome fastball and excellent control. His senior year at Cooley High School he went 7-0 with a 0.50 ERA and during the season Milt and his dad reviewed all the AL and NL pitching staffs to see which one was oldest and therefore had better potential to open up a roster spot to him. The winner was Baltimore and that spring of ’57 Milt signed for a $4,000 bonus, finished his American Legion season, and then joined the Orioles for whom he made his debut in August, throwing a couple shutout innings at the Yankees and calling out Mickey Mantle in the process. He threw another inning against NY, got three starts in A ball which would be his only time in the minors, and finished the season back in Baltimore. In ’58 he stayed there as a spot guy until he missed some games in May due to an injured shoulder. He came back to go 7-3 with a decent ERA through mid-year but then reversed that record the rest of the way as his ERA fattened. In ’59 he joined the rotation full-time with his new pitch, a slider, which would help his control considerably as he became the first official member of the Orioles “Kiddie Korps.” In ’61 he again missed most of May to an injury but then in ’62 rode a fast 9-4 start to his first All-Star game before cooling off the rest of the way. He bounced to record his best seasons in Baltimore in ’63 and ’64 and then in ’65 took another fast start – 9-3 with a 1.74 ERA – to another All-Star game though he missed some more time to injury, of course in May. By the end of that year he was only 26 with 110 wins under his belt with an excellent ERA and great control numbers on a team that seemed on the cusp of greatness.

By the end of ’65 Baltimore had a pretty impressive team with an excellent infield anchored by Brooks Robinson and a new bunch of young starting pitchers developed in the highly-touted farm system. The only missing ingredient, it was generally agreed, was another big power guy, preferably an outfielder. And one of those was on the market in Cincinnati’s “aging” Frank Robinson. Unfortunately for Pappas he would be the main piece of the big trade that hooked Robinson and in December he, Dick Simpson, and Jack Baldschun went over to the Reds in what would become one of the most lopsided trades ever. Milt’s ’66 started off well enough but he would have a hard time finishing games and a lousy summer moved his ERA to nearly two runs higher than the prior year. His numbers improved substantially in ’67 but after a slow start to the ’68 season the Reds decided to cut their losses and sent Milt to Atlanta in June with Ted Davidson and Bob Johnson for Tony Cloninger, Clay Carroll, and Woody Woodward. For the Braves Milt had a pretty rocking second half, shaving over three runs off his ERA. His good fortune did not carry into ’69, though, as some nagging injuries restricted his mound time late in the season and his record deteriorated followed by a not great post-season. Then, as in ’68, his ’70 season kicked off with a bad run in limited use before a June trade to a new home in Chicago, this time in a sale. Again, Milt went 10-8 in the second half while posting another excellent ERA for a new club. This time he remained on track with two successive 17-win seasons. In ’71 he led the NL with his five shutouts and in ’72 he had arguably his best season, certainly his best August-on run as he won his eleven games in a row. Game number six of that run was pretty special: a no-hitter against San Diego that was only spoiled by a two-out walk in the ninth inning about which – according to many sites – Pappas still fumes. After his discounted ’73 season he was done. Milt finished with the record on his card back supplemented with 129 complete games, 43 shutouts, and four saves. In the post-season he put up an 11.57 ERA in a few innings. As a hitter he wasn’t so hot with a .123 average but he did clout 20 homers, including two in one game (though they were gimme’s).

In off-seasons Pappas had returned to Baltimore in a business sense to open and run his restaurant. After playing he also returned to the Midwest where he was a distributor and salesman for a wholesale beverage company. Then in ’83 he became a salesman and then officer at Prime Source, a building supplies company, with which he is still affiliated. He has done some pitching coaching work as well and does the card show circuit. There are a few recent interviews with him around the web.

Milt has zero space for star bullets so he only gets the cartoon. As usual the player rep gig was the kiss of death career-wise.

The big Watergate-related news is coming to a climax in the summer of ’74 now:

7/29-7/30/74 – The last two Articles of Impeachment are adopted by the House Judiciary Committee on these dates (I erroneously said they were all adopted July 27 on my earlier post). On the 29th, the Committee adopted the Article charging President Nixon with misuse of power and violation of his oath of office. On the 30th, the Committee adopted the Article charging Nixon with failure to comply with House subpoenas. The Committee was made up of 21 Democrats and 17 Republicans. On each of the first two charges all Democrats and six Republicans voted for the Articles; on the last one all Democrats and two Republicans voted for the articles.

8/4/74 – in a last ditch effort to appease the Committee and the Special Prosecutor, President Nixon released six specific tapes he’d withheld until then in spite of the subpoenas and later the decision by the Supreme Court. All six were made shortly after the ’72 break-in and the subject matter was nearly exclusively the break-in and its aftermath. One tape, from June 23, 1972 – which would earn the nickname the Smoking Gun tape – includes a specific discussion regarding the FBI investigation into the break-in. H.R. Haldeman suggests, and Nixon then reinforces, the notion of having the CIA tell the FBI to back off the investigation with the implication that those orders came from the White House. Once details of the tape are made public, all Republican members of the Committee who’d voted against the first two Articles of Impeachment indicated they would now change their votes to for as well.

Another kid and old guy hook-up, though Pappas was only 34 when his card came out:

1. Pappas and Fergie Jenkins ’70 to ’72 Cubs;
2, Jenkins and Joe Lovitto ’74 to ’75 Rangers.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

#639 - Joe Lovitto

This appears to be a spring training shot of Joe Lovitto at home, which I believe would back then make it Pompano Beach. If I am correct in the time then Joe here should have a more hopeful countenance than he shows since he had a good enough spring to be named the Rangers starting third baseman. Granted that status didn’t last too long and after hitting .152 in that role in April Joe suffered a back injury that took him out of the line-up a couple weeks and then after a month or so of back-up work contributed to a return to Triple A where he spent time at both third and center, hence his card designation. Joe was the first in what would ultimately be six guys who had significant third base time for the Rangers in ’73, just another one of a list of elements that would lead to another horrible finish in Whitey Herzog’s only (partial) year of managing the club. Whitey was an optimist, which was hard to be for this team back then and it looks like Joe agrees with that assessment.

Joe Lovitto was a San Pedro, California kid who attended a couple high schools and was a football and baseball star at both of them. He was good enough in the latter sport to get drafted as a first rounder by the Senators in ’69 and that summer got off to a bit of a slow start in A ball, though he did steal 22 bases while splitting time between the outfield and catcher. He picked up his average significantly at that level the following year when he moved to second base supplemented with a bit of outfield time. In ’71 he lost time to his reserve military hitch but when around did well in Double A and even better at Triple A Denver, where he put up an OBA of .414 while again playing second and center. In ’72 he came up in time for the team’s move to Texas and to be managed by Ted Williams in his last season. Joe won the starting gig in center but had a tough time cracking Mendoza levels the first half of the season and would give up some at bats to Elliott Maddox. But Joe put up a .254 average with twelve stolen bases in the second half which looked real good next to that team average of .217 and he seemed to be on the way to some good stuff until ’73 stepped in. In ’74 he returned to the regular spot in center but nagging shoulder and back injuries kept his average low and reduced his playing time just when the team was making a real run for the division title. He would pretty much split time in center that year with the rejuvenated Cesar Tovar and the next year give way to Lenny Randle and David Moates when the low average and a summer missed to injury really crimped his playing time. In December he was traded to the Mets for Gene Clines but his injuries were pretty debilitating by then and he was released before spring training was over. Joe finished with a .216 MLB average and hit .266 in the minors.

I am not clear at all as to what Joe Lovitto did after playing but it appears that whatever it was he did it in the Arlington area. I want to say it was something related to sports fishing because I have seen photos of him in that activity. Unfortunately one activity that took up a large chunk of Joe’s time in the Nineties was his battles against various cancers. Initially nailed by testicular cancer in ’91 Joe spent the better part of that decade fighting that and successive diseases, battles he ultimately lost when in 2001 he passed away at age 50.

Joe is another seemingly warm weather guy who liked to hit the slopes. He seems to have received a bit of face time in a book called “Seasons in Hell” by Mike Shropshire which may be excerpted in a few sites on the web. The book appears to be pretty hilarious and in one instance during his ’72 rookie season Joe is told by manager Ted Williams that he could be a great hitter if he worked harder. Joe politely responded to Ted to “F___ off” and slammed the door on him. He certainly had guts.

Watergate goings on were happening miles from Arlington, but they were happening:

7/24/74 – The Supreme Court finally handed down its decision in United States v Nixon and ordered the President to turn over all the requested White House tapes. “The Court held that neither the doctrine of separation of powers nor the generalized need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified, presidential privilege. While there was a limited executive privilege in areas of military or diplomatic affairs, preference must be given to the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of justice. The President must obey the subpoena and produce the tapes and documents.” Nixon reluctantly complied.

7/27/74 – Partly emboldened by the Supreme Court decision, over the next three days the House Judiciary Committee adopted three Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon. The three were: obstructing the Watergate investigation; misuse of power and violating the oath of office; and failure to comply with House subpoenas. The Committee’s vote this day was televised and the call was actually quite stirring, particularly that of Committee Chairman Peter Rodino who looked close to tears when voicing a quavering “Aye.”

Sanders didn’t have any Texas time but he was an AL guy, which helps here:

1. Lovitto and Clyde Wright ’75 Rangers;
2. Wright and Dave May ’74 Brewers;
3. May and Ken Sanders ’70 to ’72 Brewers.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#638 - Ken Sanders

This is one of the rare cards photographed at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium and boy, does it make that place look huge. And dreary. Ken Sanders seems to be channeling the weather with an expression that lives up to his “Bulldog” nickname. 1973 was about as bi-polar a season as Ken had experienced. It began in Minnesota and his first four games he got three saves and a win, though his ERA was around 6.00. By the end of May he had eight saves though his ERA didn’t move too much. By the end of July his record sort of stalled and he wasn’t getting used too much and after a couple painful outings – ironically against Cleveland - the Twins placed him on waivers. Then the Tribe grabbed him and in his 15 games the rest of the way Ken pitched awfully well, adding five more saves to his record. So though he looks pretty lonely here in stormy weather he probably didn’t feel that way on the mound.

Ken Sanders graduated St. Louis University High School in that city in ’59 after a pretty robust athletic career in soccer, football, and baseball. He then gave the university itself a shot but was signed by Kansas City the next spring before he got to play an inning. He went 19-10 with a 3.21 ERA in D ball and the next year 13-8 in A ball with a similar ERA. But ’62 was tough as he went a combined 3-18/5.26 between three levels, at none of which he pitched terribly well. In ’63 he moved to more of a spot role and improved a bunch in A and Double A, going a combined 6-7/3.65. In ’64 he moved to the bullpen pretty much exclusively and there he posted some nice numbers at the higher level, going 9-1 with a 2.28 ERA and nearly a K an inning before getting called up to KC in August where he threw pretty well from the pen, adding a save to his stats. But ’65 was all Triple A where Ken put together another good season, going 8-6 with a 2.74 ERA in 57 games of relief. After that season he was selected by Boston in the Rule 5 draft.

In ’66 Sanders made the cut out of training camp and got his first Topps card. With the Sox all that year he again threw pretty well in middle relief and put up a couple saves before a mid-June trade back to KC in which the Sox picked up Jose Tartabull – Danny’s dad – and John Wyatt, two guys who would be instrumental in the ’67 pennant run. With the A’s Ken continued to throw pretty well in the same role, adding another save. But he would get scarce work up top the next few seasons and wouldn’t see another Topps card until ’71. He spent nearly that whole time in Triple A. In ’67 he was 9-6/2.04 in 50 games and in ’68 2-4/3.41 in 35 games as he spent some time in Oakland but was rarely used. In ’69 he moved back to a swing role, going 6-7 with a 3.39 ERA in ten starts among his 29 games. Following that season he was involved in another big trade, going to the Seattle Pilots with Mike Hershberger, Lew Krausse, and Phil Roof for Ron Clark and Don Mincher.

The Pilots were in the midst of some financial difficulties when Sanders got there early in ’70 and would relocate to Milwaukee before the season started. Ken relocated as well, back to Triple A, and put on a nice show, going 4-1 with a 1.06 ERA and a couple saves in the pen before being recalled in late May. Finally allowed to get some regular work he continued his excellent Triple A run, adding twelve saves as he moved to a closer role from a setup guy as the season progressed. Ken didn’t really have a curve and his two out pitches were a cut fastball and a slider. In ’71 he occupied the stopper role all season and delivered, putting up seven wins and 31 saves as he won the AL Fireman of the Year award. After the strike ’72 started off pretty well for Ken and he didn’t give up an earned run until May. But he went into a bit of a cold streak just when the Milwaukee batters stopped hitting and the poor run support and higher ERA pulled down his record, though he did record 17 saves and so still had a hand in nearly a third of the team’s wins. But his relationship with new manager Del Crandall wasn’t great and after the season Ken went to Philadelphia with Ken Brett, Jim Lonborg, and Earl Stephenson for Don Money, Billy Champion, and John Vukovich. His ’73 Topps card would have him in an air-brushed Phillies cap even though a month after that trade he was off again to the Twins with Joe Lis and Ken Reynolds for Cesar Tovar.

Sanders remained with Cleveland to start the ’74 season but once again got off to a poor start in very little use and after going 0-1 with a couple saves in just 14 games he was released that June. He was picked up nearly immediately by California and the Angels sent him to Triple A where Ken went 3-1/3.44 with a couple saves in 19 games, including a couple starts. By mid-August he was up in Anaheim where he again pitched sparingly but well, putting up a 2.79 ERA with a save in his nine games. The next March he was on the move again, going to the Mets for catcher Ike Hampton. Ken again returned to Triple A and dazzled there, going 6-1 with a 1.34 ERA and nine saves before coming up to NY in late June. With the Mets he continued his good work as part of a trio of stoppers with Bob Apodaca and Skip Lockwood, a former teammate with the Brewers. Ken went 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA and five saves in his 29 games and then in ’76 was 1-2 with a 2.87 ERA and a save before a late sale to Kansas City for the Royals stretch run during which he threw three shutout innings. In ’77 he signed back with Milwaukee as a free agent and spent his final season in Triple A. Ken finished with an MLB record of 29-45 with a 2.97 ERA and 86 saves. In the minors he was 90-76 with a 3.39 ERA.

By the time Sanders was done with baseball he’d established himself as a real estate agent in the Midwest with his home base in the Milwaukee area. He was an executive VP for a long time for Coldwell Banker and GMAC and was the selling representative for the “Field of Dreams” property a few years back. In the Nineties he ran his own fantasy camp on that farm for a few years and he has been actively involved in fund raising for the Baseball Assistance team and other charities.

Ken’s big ’71 season absorbs all the star bullets and that year he led the AL in games as well. One winter while pitching in Venezuela he handled 13 chances in one game. There is a pretty good “Where are they now” type interview with Ken that I have linked to here.

Sanders seems to be a guy interested in a good fight so lets get to that with the Watergate standoff:

4/30/74 – A day after his televised speech President Nixon formally releases 1,200 pages of transcripts to the Special Prosecutor and the House Judiciary Committee. He also released transcripts he’d made available to those recipients earlier to the public. Ironically most people were more concerned with the amounts of “expletive deleted”’s in those transcripts than with anything concerning Watergate. Still, neither release did much to assuage anyone’s desire to see unfiltered documentation of the White House tapes and both the Prosecutor and the Committee demanded the actual – by now – 64 tapes originally requested instead of the redacted transcripts. The President continued to refuse.

5/9/74 – the House Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings in the wake of President Nixon’s continued refusal to submit tapes for which he’d been subpoenaed. It is only the second time in history – the first being for Andrew Johnson – in which impeachment proceedings against a sitting President had been initiated.

Skipping the checklist card, Ken needs to get hooked up with fellow pitched Dave Goltz. This one’s easy:

1. Sanders and Dave Goltz ’73 Twins.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

#637 - Checklist: Cards 529-660

The final regular checklist of the set is topped off a bit but other than that nothing jumps out at you about the front. This checklist happens to be much closer to the end of its card range than the beginning so it doesn’t offer much of a preview. There are quite a lot of guys whose names don’t fit. But it is the back of the card where things get pretty interesting.

About three quarters of the way down the left side things get a little wiggy. Card 613 is completely obliterated and in its place goes card 618. In the latter card’s normal spot goes card 681 which of course doesn’t even exist in this set and at the end of the column Topps does another transposition with card 632 following card 622. It was this whole snafu that made it a bit arduous to track down the true 613 card – it belonged to Dan Monzon – which was mentioned on that card’s post. We have seen this checklist’s special set, the Rookie cards, and are now coming down to the wire on the set as a whole. On the back the Pirates Team Photo card is unchecked but I always had that one. I guess I got a bit lazy.

On to the Watergate recap, late April would be a busy time:

4/16/74 – Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski issues a subpoena for 42 additional White House tapes. To date portions of 19 tapes and nearly 700 pages of transcripts had been turned over.

4/29/74 – President Nixon makes his third nationally televised speech regarding Watergate. The immediate theme of the speech is his response to the subpoenas which is that he has prepared roughly 1,200 pages of transcripts from the requested tapes but he will not be turning over those tapes themselves. Instead he invited House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino and ranking minority member Edward Hutchinson to the White House to personally review the tapes. Nixon also reiterated the sensitive security-related nature of the tape contents as his primary reason for not releasing the tapes themselves. He reiterated his innocence of any knowledge regarding the break-in’s significance to his inner circle or the cover-up until a March 21, 1973 meeting with then White House attorney John Dean, contrary to Dean’s testimony from that same year. Nixon then opined that the tapes, while potentially embarrassing to him and his staff and subject to various subjective interpretations, would validate his stance that he was not involved in the planning or subsequent cover-up on the break-in.

No hook-up for the checklist cards.

Monday, February 3, 2014

#636 - Dave Goltz

It’s February 3 and the subject of this post looks very unhappy so maybe Dave Goltz was a Denver fan. He is in Oakland, though, the home of the team against which he threw his first complete game – a win – but I guess that wasn’t doing anything for him then. ’73 was a tough season for Dave though it was his first one of all MLB work. He began it in the pen and after a particularly impressive game against Chicago – six no-hit innings of relief with six K’s – he had his ERA down to its ’72 levels and he seemed primed to re-join the rotation. But that didn’t happen and after a flip-side outing against Cleveland – 13 hits and eight earned runs in just three innings (ouch) – his ERA got a bit stratospheric and it never really came down. He did have some encouraging moments, though. He finally got a start in mid-June and went seven innings on three hits and finally did get a regular spot in mid-August that he more-or-less held onto the rest of the way. In the end he had a winning record and a save to add to his stats though that ERA stayed pretty fat. He’d fix that though and for the next few seasons would be one of Minnesota’s most consistent starters so maybe during that time he found cause to smile.

Dave Goltz played every sport he could while growing up in some tiny rural towns in Minnesota. In high school he played the big three sports plus track and he was a star in both hoops and baseball. Some interest had developed at some local colleges for him to play football but instead he signed a $10,000 contract to play baseball for the Twins as one of the franchise’s first home-grown guys. That was in ’67 when he was taken in the first round and then went off to Rookie ball where he threw excellent ball and then continued to do so the next season in A ball. In ’69 he joined the military, missing pretty much the whole season to do stateside work as a helicopter mechanic. When he got back to baseball in ’70 he injured his arm during spring training and again missed just about the whole season. He then split ’71 between two A teams, going a combined 14-3 with three shutouts in the rotation. Dave was by then mastering a knuckle curve, which would become his out pitch from then on. In ’72 he was throwing decent ball in Triple A when an injury to Jim Kaat got Dave called up to the Twins.

After a couple early relief outings Goltz joined the rotation and in a spot role he put together a pretty good rookie year, keeping his ERA low and looking like a solid rotation guy. After his uneven ’73 Dave did a bit more Triple A work in ’74 during which he was 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA in four starts. Those numbers helped get him back to Minnesota where he spent most of the season in the rotation and went 10-10 with a 3.25 ERA. It was a herald season for the next couple years as Dave became the first pitcher to throw exactly .500 ball for three years running in that many games. In both ’75 and ’76 he went 14-14 with slightly premium ERA’s each season. Then in ’77 he had a breakout season, going 20-11 to share as the AL victory leader while posting a 3.36 ERA. He followed that up with another nice year in ’78 when he recorded his best ERA of 2.49 while going 15-10, despite missing some time to a burned hand. In ’79 an initial bout of rotator cuff issues raised his ERA a bunch but he still posted a 14-13 record in his final season with the Twins.

With the end of the Seventies came the end of Goltz’s time with the Twins and he became a free agent, signing with the Dodgers. While Dave got his first post-season appearance with the team, nothing else about his stay in LA was terribly great. Speculation was that he was hurt much of that time and given his future issues he may have been, but after signing a relatively big contract – six years for $3 million – Dave was pretty much a flop. Over two-plus seasons in LA he went a combined 9-19 with an ERA of 4.25 and early in ’82 he was released. He was picked up shortly thereafter by California, now coached by Gene Mauch, who’d been Dave’s manager in Minnesota. With the Angels Dave went 8-5 for the division winners in a spot role the rest of the way while getting his ERA down to league levels. After some not great post-season work he returned to that role in ’83 but by then his rotator cuff was a serious impediment and Dave was 0-6 with a 6.22 ERA by his early July release. With his arm being pretty much toast he retired with a record of 113-109 with a 3.69 ERA, 83 complete games, 13 shutouts, and eight saves. In the post-season he put up a 6.43 ERA in his three games, all in relief.

After playing, Goltz returned full-time to his spot in rural Minnesota, becoming a real estate agent and then an insurance agent, specializing in farms. He has coached some local ball and done some work with the Twins as well but for the most part has stayed away from professional ball since then.  

Dave’s career got off to a slamming start. He was an 800 relay guy in track as well as a field guy (shot put and discus). When he was with LA so was Burt Hooton which had to be the first time two guys with knuckle curves as their out pitches were on the same team. He has a SABR bio which was very helpful for this post.

Most of the milestones in Watergate from this point on are legal ones:

3/1/74 – Shortly after the Watergate break-in became public knowledge, the main group of known conspirators – the five burglars, G Gordon Liddy, and E Howard Hunt – were nicknamed “The Watergate Seven.” Since then a new group had earned that distinction and on this date they were indicted by a grand jury for their roles in the scandal. The big news was that the grand jury also identified President Nixon as an unindicted conspirator which was the first time that ever happened to a president. Named in the indictment were the following:

John Mitchell, former Attorney General and then head of CREEP, faced 30 years and fines of $42,000. Found guilty in early ’75 of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury, he would be sentenced to 2 ½ to 8 years and end up serving 19 months.

John HR Haldeman, former Chief of Staff, faced 25 years in prison and $16,000 in fines. On the same date as Mitchell he was found guilty of conspiracy and obstruction of justice and received an 18-month sentence which he served.

John Erlichman, former Assistant fro Domestic Affairs, faced 25 years in prison and $40,000 in fines. Convicted of the same charges as Mitchell, as well as others, he served 18 months.

Chuck Colson, former White House Counsel for Political Affairs, pleaded guilty later in ’74 to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to one to three years in prison and $5,000 in fines. He served seven months.

Gordon C Strachan, Haldeman’s assistant, faced 15 years and $20,000 in fines but charges against him were dropped prior to the trial.

Robert Mardian, Mitchell’s assistant as Attorney General and later counsel to CREEP, faced five years and $5,000 in fines. Initially convicted, his sentence and conviction were overturned on appeal.

Kenneth Parkinson, another counsel to CREEP and a Nixon attorney, faced ten years in prison and $10,000 in fines. He was acquitted during the trial.

Back to baseball, these two guys probably never even saw each other:

1. Goltz and Jerry Reuss ’80 to ’82 Dodgers;
2. Reuss and Johnny Edwards ’72 to ’73 Astros.