Wednesday, December 12, 2018

#154 Ted Simmons


Future star just starting to make his mark....registered a .304 BA one of seven full seasons to reach the .300 plateau.....1967 1st round pick by St Louis tore up minors everywhere he played...hit .373 in AAA before staying up for good  a month into 1970...never looked back....once wore his hair straight and long but curt it back after his locks caught fire while burning leaves in the off season....less power but a superior batting average compared to Johnny Bench and Carlton Fisk...only backstop with a compatible BA to his was Yogi Berra’s....had 246 homers but sometimes would go season long power droughts where singles and doubles where his offence offering of choice....a catcher for most of his career, 1771 games out of 2035....traded to Milwaukee in blockbuster deal along with Rollie Fingers and Pete Vukovich....steal of a deal catapulted Brewers to two straight post season years 1981-82..... 1981 was his worst year as pro but bounced back strong reaching a personal best RBI mark of 108 1983.....Well regarded in Milwaukee....spent his last three years 1985-1988 as a role player with the Braves.....still getting hall consideration with favorable comparisons to fellow HOFers.....added bonus was a switch hitter.  

Saturday, December 8, 2018

#155 Larry Dierker


Astro company man....13 out of 14 seasons under the Astrodome home field*...minimal minor league exposure round about 1964....age 18 at MLB debut in 1968....typical of his Houston peers a majority of whom were pressed into MLB service in first year of pro ball....starting 1965 gained more innings then starts....gained 7 wins that year...10 in 1966 then 6 1967 both could have been much better had not injury struck in the former and military service in the later....hit full bloom in 1969 with 20 wins and Houston reached .500 for the first time....strung along wins 16, 12, and 15 in the following years....injuries came back in 1973 and only able be active for three weeks....was able to get back into rotation next three years taking 11, 14, and 13 victories....threw a no hitter in 1976 his last as a ‘stro player....Finished his pitching arts with handful of unimpressive games for St. Louis....Eventually returned as Astro manager.... suffered a seizure in 1999 and missed 27 games... despite excellent five year run with four 1st place finishes, Houston brass was soured by his 3-12 playoff record 


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

#156 Minnesota Twins


Team Card....franchise entrenched in the upper mid west for the last 58 years....fixture in the society.....a team that has specialized in employing state grown talent to spend part or entire career....best examples, Kent Hrbek, Joe Mauer, Paul Molitor, Dave Winfield, Jack Morris, Terry Steinbach, Jerry Koosman, Dave Goltz....others out of state-ers are one word icons Oliva, Carew, Killebrew, Puckett....honorary royalty....said names belie hitting over pitching...Roots of team go back to 1901 born as the original Washington Senators, a charter member of the American League...Perennial also- ran franchise coining the phase “First in war, First in Peace, Last in the American League....In 60 campaigns in the nation’s capitol output was 5 100 loss seasons, 12 losing 90 or more all of which were under 154 game schedule....team was able to muster occasional respectability....one World Championship and one World Series appearance helmed by an aging Walter Johnson....another World Series appearance under the manager/player Joe Cronin, circa 1933 wedged in three lull in NY Yankee dominance....short lived glory Senators took a 33 game drop the following year...never fully recovered and D. C. Attendance suffered as well... team was sans league title until 1965.... five seasons removed since relocating....in the 22 years that followed performance results varied...appeared in the first two ALCSs but were swept away....middle of pack output during 70’s....major rebuilding in the initial and middle of 80”s....Twinkie loyalty and shrewd front office maneuvers were rewarded with an improbable WS win 1987....scenario repeated in 1991, both series Minnesota won all home games and lost all road games....since that time appeared scattered AL playoff stints but no return to WS  

     

Saturday, December 1, 2018

#157 Don Gullett

A ring barer....threw heat....A 20 year pressed into World Series service to face the Baltimore Orioles onslaught....accounted for himself well with a 1.35 ERA....coupled with Clay Carroll scoreless outing, the duo was the only pitching bright spot in an anticlimactic WS.....A year before, Gullett took an exponential jump from the Northern League, a lower single A circuit that disbanded shortly afterwards....Gullet took his WS momentum into a starter role with 16-6 record....the lonely bright spot for the Reds....future looked very bright....A set back in 1972 by hepatitis resulted in a 9-10 record, his only losing season from a specialist in high win %....took a good portion of season to get fully untracked but was called on to start WS game ... comeback complete in 18 wins 1973....followed up with 17 in ’74....next two years characterized by effective winning pitching (26 wins versus 8 losses) blemished by injuries....Gullet did walk away two WS rings...was content to stay with Red Legs for 1977, but NYY beckoned a longer 2 million dollar contract....year turned out to be a reprise 75-76.....stayed in enough games to collect 14 wins but spent several week on the injured list...culprit was sore shoulder....was able to get post game work with mixed results...with or without Gullett was secured his third successive championship....shoulder did not heal appeared in only 8 games in 1978.....diagnosis double torn rotator wiping out a possible Hall of Fame career....as a member of the Yankees got a fourth championship ring.....no longer pitched eventually released 1980....As it stands Gullet can take solace in that he has one of the top win loss percentages in baseball history with pitcher over 100 decisions....holds the 8th spot with HOF company bettering Koufax, Lefty Grove, a multitude of dead ball pitchers, and Babe Ruth....out of 1000s who played this is a high honor.

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

#158 Jerry Kenney


If there was ever a sustained low point for the Yankees before the free agent era, it was the latter half of the 1960’s....Mickey Mantle was ailing and nearing the end of the line calling it quits March 1st 1969....Jerry and teammate Bobby Murcer were both tabbed as the rays of hope for the franchise....both brought youth and promise and were fresh from coming off a military hiatus in 1968....As is well known Murcer wound up Mantle’s eventual CF replacement but initially he was inserted at 3rdbase... Jerry was the first real heir apparent to the Mantle's NY Centerfield....On May 13th Kenny deployed at 3rd and Murcer to the outfield mostly right...stayed that way for the rest of the season....Kenny’s rookie season was highlighted good speed and a .256 BA....liability: light hitting....a poor 1970 season demonstrated Jerry not even the the answer to the 1967 vacancy left by Clete Boyer....1971 nevertheless retained Yankee employment platooning 3rd base spot with Danny Cater....rebounded with a .262 average....1972;  lost time as Yankees were trying new avenues at 3rd....relegated mostly to SS....trade to Cleveland for 1973 resulted in a handful of plate appearences and his outright release one month into the season....returned to Yankee minor league system....never made a return call to the majors....stopped playing baseball 1978....hometown Beloit Wisconsin.



Friday, November 23, 2018

#159 John Boccabella


1st year Expo backstop....Of Italian heritage from the San Francisco bay area.... defensive specialist,  whose value was more invested by intangibles such his handling of pitcher, clubhouse leadership, and strong team ethic rather batting box herorics....came up in Cubs organization...could put up strong minor league power numbers and show promise with some late season call ups but by in large could not gain significant playing time in  Chicagoland....did get brief  shot to replace Ernie Banks at 1st base but languished at .228 BA in 1966....left in minor league limbo until taken very late in the expansion draft by Expos....played sparingly in Montreal but stayed with the big club 1969....hit .105 (combined with his previous year with the Cubs went 10 for 100 at bats)....was able to raise BA to .269 in 1970 a personal best....next three Expo accumulates more playing time but BA lands in a lackluster .230 range....still was Expos #1 catcher in 1973 a year they flirted with NL East crown reaching personal heights in home runs (7) and RBIs (46) ....with the promising Barry Foote and Gary Carter in the wings Boccabella is traded to hometown San Francisco for 1974....ware and tear of catching seems to have caught with him and hit a meager .135....release after the season.....was known more unique last name and Expo PA Announcer’s extended pronunciation than baseball talents.... clean living chap.


Monday, November 19, 2018

#160 Andy Messersmith


At his prime, a very formidable pitcher....most known for being one of the first free agents but it was more of a detriment to his long term hopes....it was not the big pay day other would reap a year later...although born a product of Orange County California the eventual local of his glory days of his MLB employment....After high school took his glowing reviews up the Pacific Coast Highway to U of Cal Berkley....From there made a return ride to So Cal being the 1966 1st round draftee by the California Angels....a short time in the minors MLB debuted 1968....from the git go in mid season;  effective...2.21 ERA and 4 win in a varied role....1969 quadruped win total establishing himself as ace starter....faltered with 11 wins 1970 but ERA was only up by half run a game....strong comeback with a 20 win season 1971, seemingly undistracted by a toxic Angel's clubhouse environment that year....1972 follow up was derailed by injuries 8-11 record although once again ERA a positive 2.81....never the less traded cross town to Dodgers....swap earns dividends with 14 win 1973....reprises 20 game winner status in 1974...voted #2 in NL Cy Young second only to teammate Mike Marshall bullpen dominance...wins 19 in 1975 in more dominant performance when compared to the year prior....ranked 5th in Cy Young voting....then the free agent that left Andy more legal cannon fodder than anything else....While fighting the reserve clause, did not get the money intended....only a few teams made offers that fell short of expectation (sounds suspiciously like the first case owner collusion)....the Braves contract: 1 million over 3 years was about twice the Dodgers long standing offer...missing out on spring training, Messersmith toiled to a 11-11 record ….wore the word Channel 17 on jersey in reference to Braves owner Ted Turner TBS cable TV station...things headed downhill quickly...over next three years played for Braves, Yankees and a return trip to Dodgers (who apparently held no hard feelings about Andy’s previous exit).... only won 7 games over in that time due to injuries....out of baseball by 1978 for the free agent pioneer.