Monday, June 26, 2017

#320 Steve Blass

Happily cruising along to an elite status among NL starters after 1972...image helped along by his WS heroics in stymieing the Oriole juggernaut in 1971 winning 2 complete games...1972 fell one game short of 20 wins....then poof it was gone, could not throw strikes....a mystery to this day with old school followers of baseball....AKA Steve Blass disease...Golfer like Johnny Miller has suffered similar issue.....a reminder that performers suffer psychological fates not just injuries....took a demotion to AAA with similar disastrous results...the tail end of Steve’s playing days follies should not cover up he was formidable member of the Pirates staff, sometimes the win leader in the late 60’s to early 70’s....his contributions somewhat covered up by Bob Veale’s strikeout totals and Dock Ellis’ controversy....after baseball reverted to broadcast booth to become the Pirates radioman...despite downfall positive about baseball career...earned his way up to Pirates permanently 1966, regular starter 1968. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

#321 Joe Lahoud

A power-first slugger who got caught in the numbers game in Boston’s deep outfield....didn’t help that Batting Average was well below par especially give the All Star quality Sox outfield at the time...fair to good OPS based on his ability to gather base on balls....New England born to Lebanese parents.... had clubhouse conflicts with Billy Coniglario who ironically was traded with Joe to the Brewers...Solomon-esque decision making by the Rouge stockings...his .205 BA with Red Sox did not improve greatly in Beer two season hit season far and away took place in 1974 after being traded to the Angels...offensively starved at the time, Joe hit .271 with 14 home runs, and 44 RBIs....returned to sub .200 ways in 1975 and then rode the bench for Texas and Kansas City up to 1978...Showed his batting eye in ALCS drawing 2 walks in 3 plate appearances....hit first home run against Denny three home runs were hit in one game against the Twin 6-11-69, a career highlight....had a career .290 BA in minor versus .223 at the MLB level.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#322  Jose Pena

Mexican League veteran trying his luck north of the border, surfacing with the Dodgers via rule 5 Fernando find, gave limited returns...7-4 record, 4.97 ERA as a reliever...started in Reds organization....Poor results in 5 games in June 1969 with the Reds....returned to Mexican League and excelled catching the eye of the Dodgers ....First professional game 1961 Mexican Minor League.... spent 1962 to 1966 with Mexico City Tigers....according to Wikipedia was married to a female professional poker player at the time in a Dodger uniform...Started out strong with Dodgers during 1970 then proceeded to melt down in June....1971 did mop up middle relief work. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

#323 Earl Weaver

Legendary Baltimore Skipper...definition of winner in a compact 5’ 8”package....Weaver’s Orioles were AL’s dominant team, 3 first place finishes, 3 AL championship series sweeps, in his first three full seasons....road to his MLB duties were long, making nearly every stop up the Oriole farm system in levels D to AAA....experience gave him a great knowledge of future Baltimore players...midseason replacement for Hank Bauer 1968....Career line: five 100 win season, 420 games above .500....primary body of work ended in 1982...retired briefly as Baltimore won another WS.....was lured out of retirement mid 1985....won again but the birds fell short.... never had a losing season, not even close, until his last year in 1986....fiery temper first manager to ejected from a WS game...only downside of a stellar career was a single WS championship 1970 out of four contests.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

#324  Mike Ryan

Defensive specialist catcher usually in a backup role...anemic with a bat... Career .193 BA in 2000+ at bats.....Introduced to the Red Sox was their regular catcher 1966....thrust into the spotlight 1967 as the Red Sox surged....lost starting job to veteran Elston Howard....outspoken about it and he may had a case....nobody calling themselves backstop hit very well....Ryan hit .199 while the ancient Howard hit a horrid .145...Ryan was vocal about too....Shuffled to the Phillies for 1968...a regular for a second time Ryan was able to put up his career best 12 hrs and 44 RBIs in 1969 but his .204 BA underlies his hitting futility....Ryan never regained significant playing time thereafter, due acquisitions of Tim McCarver, John Bateman, and then the development of Bob in 46 games twice in the remainder of his five season....was able to hit .232 in 79 at bats 1973, a personal best....squeaked in some time with Pirates 1974....remained in baseball for 21 more years; minor league manager, catching instructor, and bullpen coach....mostly for the Phillies organization.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

#325  Mel Stottlemyre   

Ace of the Bronx Bombers at the time........On par with the best of his MLB contemporaries but under looked unfortunately because it was at the nadir of Yankee franchise....odd given that his base of operation was media New York....Mel’s Yankee story begins by being pressed into service to replace an ailing Whitey Ford in 1964....prior he was blowing away IL AAA competition with 13 wins and league best 1.42 ERA....continued to  roll with a 9-2 record and a WS start....Excellent follow up at 20-9 1965 the silver lining as the Yankee juggernaut was exiled to an unfamiliar second division.... record was nearly reversed in 1966 as Mel went 12-20 and the Yanks finished last...Mel eventually regained his touch, putting back to back 20 win seasons 1968-69....Mel gave way to other NYY hurlers in next 4 years but he remained a consistent force...end essentially came with a midseason 1974 torn rotator cuff injury, a devastating injury ...had two sons who reached the bigs....a career of highest standards....especially racking up an solid 154 complete games and 40 shutouts which still ranks in the top 50 of all team career....long time coach after playing days over.   

Thursday, June 8, 2017

#326  Pat Kelly 

Handy to have around....beneficiary of expansion and made the most of it....prototype of lead off hitter...specialty getting on base and stolen bases....Brother of Football HOFer LeRoy Kelly....started out serving time in Twins bushes....selected by KC Royals and settled into the right or centerfield spot....first year highlight of 1969 was 40 stolen bases and a .264 off year in 1970 resulted in trade ChiSox...1971: started at AAA where tore up the opposition at .351 clip...Called up July 1st and transitioned nicely to .291 BA....gave the White Sox solid years thereafter hitting with a 273 clip....In 1977 took flight to Baltimore, where produced similar numbers prorated for diminished playing time....a born again Christian who became a licensed minister after his playing days were over in 1981...died of heart attack 2006