Sunday, October 23, 2016

#408 Jim Northrup

High concept plotline:  home state Michigan boy hits Grand slam in the big game…In 1968 hits four grand slams in the regular season and a game breaking one in the World Series....his blast off of Cardinal Larry Jaster offering seemingly turned the tide of the series....all in all had 8 grand slams in his career...hit 153 home runs in career....strung along several consistent seasons but 1968 stands out because of his good numbers in a pitcher dominated year...his prime time continued through 1971....started to take a back seat thereafter but still a valued reserve...last season in Detroit was 1974....played most of season but was passed off to Montreal then Baltimore in the last two months of the campaign....Oriole made the playoff but Jim did not play....stuck around with the birds one more season as a reserve hit .273 which was 6 points above his career BA so many of 1972 Tiger teammates, began with the team in the sixties and worked his way up....distinct feature; a prematurely gray head of hair....passed away in 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#409  Frank Baker 

Groomed as heir apparent to Yankee Gene Michael’s shortstop spot…never materialized….fielding appeared to be there but not the bat ….couldn’t even match Gene’s banjo numbers….A career closely aligned with that of Tom Shopay ....Both started in the Yankees chain then becoming fixtures in Baltimore farm system.....a couple of September call ups for the Orioles to finish out his career.... played at the same time as another Frank Baker who was an Cleveland Indian outfielder in 1969 and 1971....played against each other in 2 games....neither player should be confused with Frank “home run”  Baker the dead ball slugger who had a whopping 96 career homers and a place in the Hall of Fame....Cleveland Frank had 4 home runs and this Frank 3.

Monday, October 17, 2016

#410 Ferguson Jenkins 

Overpowering, workhorse Canadian….6 straight seasons of 20 game wins on the North side…easy ticket to the Hall of Fame….trade from Phillies may have the Cub’s best trade ever at a time when Chicago was famous for getting taken in the Lou Brock deal….has a 6’5” frame.... could also hit for power…13 home runs and twice was summoned to the plate in the DH era….NL Cy Young winner 1971 although award was somewhat overshadowed by the Vida Blue/Mickey Lolich duel for AL honors….many years Fergie surrendered league highs in home runs, but his  few walks minimizes the damage….if teamed with Sam McDowell could have been the intimidating stare down staff ever….20  game win streak busted by a subpar 1973, prompting a trade to Texas….new digs paid huge dividends…career high 25 wins…instrumental in the Ranger’s ascension from baseball worst team to 2nd in the AL west in one years….one more year in the Lone Star State and then moved on to Boston….Stationed on the east coast his two stint could best be described as pedestrian… 1978:  strong in a second return to Texas by going 18-8….continued winning for another year and .500 record in the next…took a second return to Cubs where he had so much previous success for last three years ending in 1983….favorite story:  picked up a hitchhiker in route to Texas Spring Training so he wouldn’t drive alone….unfortunately there is no post season story whatsoever in Fergie’s storied career….awesome combo control and power resulting in an outstanding walk to strikeout ratio.

Friday, October 14, 2016

#411 Bob Montgomery  

A testimonial to the longevity of a reserve…if you are a catcher…a rarity for non starter; one team for his entire career almost perfectly spanning the 1970’s….mostly under the shadow on one Carlton Fisk…sometime Carlton dominated all the playing time 1972, sometimes they formed into an awesome pair like 1973 teaming for 33 home runs and 97 RBIs.... got the #1 position when Carlton got hurt in third and fourth seasons of 1974 and 1975....played sparingly thereafter average 22-23 games and 8 RBIs per season in his remaining four years.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

#412 Dick Kelly 

An 1969 expansion original still hanging on….short lived however refused assignment to AA ball and was released by the Padres….tough road at times….1970 season consisted of pitching on 1 game 4 innings in AAA ball…Started as a Milwaukee Braves…got call ups in 1964 and 65…pitched very well for AAA Atlanta in the later year…stayed in town as the parent Braves moved south for 1966….responded with most productive season 7-5 record and 3.15 ERA….hung on as a small time bit player….his Padres represented an opportunity to play more….reached personal bests in innings, starts, strikeouts, and lead team in ERA with 3.57….birthing pains of the expansion were evident in a 4-8 record…Finished with 2-3 record out of the bullpen….passed away in 1991.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

#413 White Sox Rookie Card

The card shows two short timers….Don Eddy and Dave Lemonds; non descript hurlers that were both done with the majors in 1971 and 1972 respectively…. Eddy never got out of rookie status….had two great minor league seasons to his resume…an 18-3 record in Class A ball 1969…In characteristic White Sox fashion (see Rich Gossage) makes the 1970 White Sox team….returned to minors and a had 1.06 ERA in AAA….prompted another opening day roster in 1971 stayed with the club the first three months … returned to minors and had a 6.84 AAA ERA…. Given this probably didn’t deserve spot on a rookie card…Time with the White Sox decent in a limited role 2.36 ERA…Lemonds' claim to fame is one at bat, one hit 1.000 BA….Dave stayed with the club for duration of 1972…relief initially leading to spot starts....4-7 plus a 2.95 ERA…general assumption is injured in 1973 because he pitched 8 innings total in AAA....failed in comeback 1974 toiling in the White Sox then Cubs farm summary minor league body of work was run of the mill…first worked in the Cubs system and was a pitcher of record in 1969.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#414 Bob Miller

Did not have a nickname but it could have been suitcase, vagabond, or traveling man…or threesome (see below)….One of three Bob Millers who played in the late 1950’s early 1960’s….this Bob Miller was the most successful of the group…Played on 10 different teams over 17 years, seven of which occurred over three seasons…it all started with the hometown boy makes Cardinal pitching staff…given up to expansion, landing in the Polo Grounds ....first pick by the infant Mets….rude awakening went 1-12 and 4.89 ERA….maybe found solace via a teammate Bob Gerald Miller….In 1963 was traded to LAD…initially a starter then reliever with good results…275 games later in Dodger Blue spent 2 years in Minnesota 1968-69….started the 3rd game of ALCS playoff which was odd because he was mostly a reliever and ace Jim Kaat was available….Maybe Billy M or Cal G had money on losing the series….1970 starts in Cleveland, then White Sox, then finishing with crosstown Cubs….1971 is another tri fecta…Cubs, Padres, and Pirates….hidden in the many uniform changes in 1971 was possibly his finest season with a 1.45 ERA….stays with Pirates 1972 and released at the end despite a decent season…again embarks on his third trifecta in 1973…. Padres, Tigers, Mets….one more season with just one team; the Mets in 1974….a long, strange career....passed away in 1993.