Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#331 Stan Swanson


A short unknown career , at least to this writer....Montreal farmhand who was able to get some big club experience in 1971....his single season MLB career line is on the back of the card....started as a Reds prospect....traded to Expos for 1971....not making the big club torched AAA pitching at the Expo's Winnipeg club with a .351 BA to earn his call up...nice debut with two doubles in five at bats...possibly his best game ever...hit two home runs both against Cardinals.....finished with .245 BA.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

#332 Buck Martinez

A KC original...career extended to 17 seasons exceeding his 1969 expansionist teammates of Lou Pinella and Tom Burgmeier by two years and all the rest by a wide margin ...incredible longevity given he only shared catching duties at best and was a less than stellar hitter with a .225 BA....a testimony to the value of the Catcher position...not an expansion pick however rather traded to Royals by Astros....was #2 backstop for KC as a 20 year old rookie....Had trouble getting back to big club for entire campaigns until 1974 (8 hits in 55 at bats 1970-71, bypassed altogether relegated to minors 1972)....Took his reserve value to Milwaukee for three years, then Toronto for another six....played the outfield one game, DH for two, and pitched once....All other work in the field was as backstop.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

#333 Steve Barber 

Typical veteran story.....the once top starter hanging on in the majors with middle relief work occasionally getting to closing out games....Well traveled, seven teams in 15 years, most of them for only short stints...travels included the only year of the  Seattle Pilots existence...career plagued by inconsistency, sometimes top of line (1961 18 wins, 1963 20 wins), quickly followed by mediocre year....released five times then picked up by another club....took demotions to minors rather than retiring.....In the period of 1971-1973 he showed glimpses of past effectiveness and was not demoted at any time.....Came out of the Baltimore farm system....despite poor performance in the minor his prime time was his first eight years situated with the Orioles....the bulk of his wins and his personal best ERA took place there....One of his last acts as an Oriole however was to give up Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run in 1967….oddly enough he was on the Yankee roster by the end of the year….…passed away in 2007

Monday, May 15, 2017

#334 Rangers Rookie Stars


Interesting lot...all players got in a varying amount of MLB playing time....none graced with superstardom in fact quite the opposite....Bill Fahey....career backup catcher with late blooming slant.....came to 1972 Rangers with a AA experience.....his 7 home runs in AA suggested some pop but showed very little at the top....Stayed with Texas organization for 8 years, struggling for playing time or even to stay with the big club at times....Spent 1973 and 1978 exclusively in Ranger AAA....trade to Padres gave him semi regular status a decent .271 BA over 1979-80....sold to Detroit where he finished as a seldom used reserve much like days in Tex...Jim Mason...got more playing time than Fahey but with very limited production....after two Rangers season of hitting barely .200 was acquired by Yankees....essentially snuck in as their regular shortstop 1974...mixed result;  25 errors counteracted his .250 BA which was a career high....failed at the plate thereafter....registered consistently near below .200 for rest of career which included return stops to Texas and Montreal....career highlight one World Series at bat, one home run, perfect OPS....with career BA of .201 in 1400+ at bats, (bear in mind Mendoza line is .215) possibly the worst player with that amount of MLB playing time...Tom Ragland...infielder most stationed at 2nd base....hit poorly in his Ranger days and was caught up in a glut of Texas infielder wantabes...Found himself in Cleveland 1973, passable job with .257 BA but did not get a return ticket for 1974.


Friday, May 12, 2017

#335 Bill Hands


If Bill’s career wins were graphed it would show a bell curve...with the pinnacle topping out with 20 wins in 1969...a workhorse that year logging in 300 innings, a good portion of it in the Wrigley summer sun....Hands never reached those heights again....followed up 18, 12, and 11 win seasons as his ERA  inflated.....a swap to the Twins failed to resurrect his career, won just 6 games 1973....last game in baseball was a particularly nasty shelling by Brewers while in a Texas uniform....Resulting pitching line: 111 wins, 110 loses....passed away recently 2017....started out with Giants organization, won 17 games in AAA Phoenix 1965....another case of a prospect traded rather than kept much to the benefit of the mid-1960's Cubs.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#336 Marty Martinez  

Switch hitting career reserve....never a power threat; failed to connect over the fence in 1038 MLB plate appearances....had a power outage in the minors too, 4 home runs in 2870 plate appearances....versatile, caught, played all infield spots and left field.... once pitched too....passed away 2007....Cuban born....came up through the Minnesota farm system,  got a morsel of work as a late inning replacement 1962....long, exclusive stints in minors thereafter....resurfaced with Braves 1967, getting a sizeable portion of his body of work 1968....collected 354 at bats and hit .230....a 1969 trade to Houston, he proved to be an asset with .308 BA in 196 at bats....unfortunately lost production and playing time in subsequent seasons....trade to Cardinals resulted in just 7 at bats, then took on stints in Oakland and Texas...combined stops resulted in .159 BA....released thereafter....did coaching jobs to earn a living....passed away 2007. 
  
    

Saturday, May 6, 2017

#337 Mike Kilkenny


Card collectors know of a wild premonition come true...the trivia questionon the of his back 1972 card asks the question of which pitchers had previously for four teams in a season....Low and behold started his bizarre 1972 in Detroit: pitched one inning, traded to Oakland:  pitched one inning, traded to San Diego whereas he fashions a 5 game, 4 1/3 inning NL career....the circus stopped with a trade to Cleveland, where he remains for the rest of the year...four teams in the span of May 9th to June 11th, 1972....still tied for the record for most teams in a season with 10 others....A Canadian who crossed over the Detroit River to Tiger town...an eclectic sportsman...good golfer and has owned harness race horses....skinny as a rail....came up to Detroit with standard farm stops in Lakeland (Fla), Montgomery (AL), Evansville (ID), and Toledo....called up 1969 and his rookie season was head and shoulders above subsequent seasons....8-6 record, 3.35 ERA, and Tiger Rookie of the Year....next two seasons had similar win pct but with considerably engorged ERA and fewer wins....Once with the Indians, did OK for Indians;  4-1 W-L, 3.54 ERA....maybe tired from the previous year, maybe distracted by other interests, got caught up contract and playing time dispute in 1973 and left after a few days.....the great question with Kilkenny is however, is his favorite TV show South Park?