Sunday, March 30, 2014

#726 Dick Selma

A man of debuts…broke in with the Mets as a 1965 September call up as a hard throwing righthander….Wins pitching debut in 6-3 victory over the Cardinals…then second game ever shut out and struck out 13 Milwaukee Braves in a ten innings….Pitched three more years with the Mets interspersing starting and relieving roles…best season was 1968 where as mostly a starter he had a 9-10 record with 2.77 ERA ….Despite this was selected 5th in expansion draft by San Diego…then started the first official game ever for the Padres on April 8th 1969…In it Selma pitches a gem over the Astros for the fledgling team at San Diego Stadium…his line was 5 hits, one run and struck out 12….his Padres time was short lived, he only pitched three more games before being shipped off to the Cubs…While with the Chicago northsiders he became for leading cheers from the Wrigley field bullpen…Cubs rewarded the team loyalty by trading him to the Phillies…With the Phillies, Selma obtains a sense of permanence, becoming Philly’s mainstay bullpen man in 1970 with 73 appearences and 22 saves…toiled for the sub-par Phils for three more years battling injuries and reduced effectiveness….finished last mlb season in 1974 as a Angel and Brewer…nickname was “Mortimer” after the Edgar Bergen’s ventriloquist dummy ….Passed away in 2001.



Note:  This entry concludes my pre-written entries.  I started this project a couple years ago and it has pretty much ended with Mr Selma (I'd used his first name but it just wouldn't sound right).  I am continuing but the pace of 2-3 blogs week since I started in August may be slower.  Bear with me. DJH

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

#727 Jose Laboy

AKA Coco… A long time career minor farmhand, given an opportunity by the 1969expansion…One of the first Expos stars in 1969…Never had  played in MLB game before he set foot at Shea Stadium for the NY Mets home opener….Did well slugging a home run and getting 3 RBIs....Montreal picked him in the expansion draft…Came from St. Louis organization where had a 100 RBIs in the PCL…excellent numbers in rookie season (18, 83,.258) that was never replicated….Finished second in ROY voting....Had a disastrous sophomore season… part of the change is attributed to pitchers learning his weaknesses…subsequently was replaced by Bob Bailey at third… was a 29 year old rookie… injured early 1971 and struggled to come back although his BA return to near 1969 levels…split time in majors and minor in 1972.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

# 728 Gail Hopkins

Arguably the most educated MLB player of all time… Becoming an orthopedic surgeon obtaining both a M.D. and Ph.D after his playing day were over…. a serviceable hitter doing best in a platoon role for the White Sox and the Royals (as pictured above) with occasional power…A greater longevity than Mike Fiore, but less than Bob Oliver…he is my White Sox rep on a series of cards cut out and modge podged in 1972 (see below)…At the time of this spring training photo, Gail’s MLB swan song was near…in 1972, they acquired John Mayberry and KC was set at the first smacker…This severely curtailed playing time and batting average, hitting .211 in 1972…Did some DH work for KC in the following season...soon left for Japan where he did well for 3 years getting offensive numbers comparable to his best years in the minors.…Greatest achievements were after he hung up the glove and ball. 

Recently reviewed:  http://topps1971.blogspot.com/2014/03/no-269-gail-hopkins.html



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

#729 Bob Veale

Big man =Big Strikeout #=Big Bob Veale….One of the hardest throwers of the 60’, although in later years it didn’t always equate into wins….Reached  200 strikeouts four times …Led NL with 250 K’s 1964 but it wasn’t his career best (276 in 1965) …Also four time NL leader in walks…6-0 record in 1971 appears to be a winner on World Champion Team…but look closer…a whopping 7.04 ERA (6.99 ERA according to Baseball Reference …must have been beneficiary of timely Bucs hitting…once the number one pitcher on the staff …rolled up impressive strikeout numbers going over 200 four times…big man, an imposing figure on the mound…card photos often show him in a Letterman’s jacket…In the prime of his career the letter should be K not P…In 1958, played in Las Vegas, after a mid season move from San Jose;  it probably was interesting time to play in the fledgling Sin city…1971 brought a huge change in his role in the Pirates staff…relegated to the bullpen work….Split 1972 with Bucs and Red Sox…threw 8 shutout innings in Boston's bid for the 1972 AL pennant winning two and saving two….Hung up the Letterman's jacket in 1974.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

#730 Rick Monday

Since when did the Cub uniforms have a vest?....A personal favorite player…about the best player born on November 20th (my birthday) at least until J.D. Drew…a steady performer who played 19 years…Most famous exploit was not a catch or hit…On April 25th  1976, wearing a Cub uniform, rescued the American Flag from being burned by a “NOT so dynamic father son duo” <INSERT  Comment about parenting> at Dodger Stadium…Footage on his heroic act is included in greatest plays of all time on many web sites or sport highlight shows….1976 was also a career year with high water marks in runs scored, home runs, and RBIs ….It was for all apparent  purposes a pivotal moment….Dodgers must have liked what they saw on and off the field for he was traded to their organization for the 1977 season capped off  by his separate stints in LA broadcast both….A historic career too…was the first draft pick ever in the first amateur draft 1965 by the then KC Athletics organization as part of their “we’re not a Yankee farm club movement”…. Time with A’s was solid but but maybe a tad below expectations ….missed out on Oakland’s World Championship years by being shipped to the Cubs for 72 campaign….Did achive All Star status in 1968 a feat repeated 10 years later when he was a Dodger….Disliked in Montreal were his NL playoff home run ended the Expo’s only shot ever at the World Series…Thank you Rick.Since when did the Cub uniforms have a vest?....A personal favorite player…about the best player born on November 20th (my birthday) at least until J.D. Drew…a steady performer who played 19 years…Most famous exploit was not a catch or hit…On April 25th  1976, wearing a Cub uniform, rescued the American Flag from being burned by a “NOT so dynamic father son duo” <INSERT  Comment about parenting> at Dodger Stadium…Footage on his heroic act is included in greatest plays of all time on many web sites or highlight shows….1976 was also a career year with high water marks in runs scored, home runs, and RBIs ….It was for all apparent  purposes a pivotal moment….Dodgers must have liked what they saw on and off the field for he was traded to their organization for the 1977 season capped off  by his separate stints in LA broadcast both….A historic career too…was the first draft pick ever in the first amature draft 1965 by the then KC Athletics organization as part of their “we’re not a Yankee farm club movement”…. Time with A’s was solid but but maybe a tad below expectations ….missed out on Oakland’sWorld Championship years by being shipped to the Cubs for 72 campaign….Did achieve All-Star status in 1968 a feat repeated 10 years later when he was a Dodger….Disliked in Montreal were his NL playoff home run ended the Expo’s only shot ever at the World Series…Thank you Rick.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

#731 Baltimore Orioles

The team most people thought would repeat as world champions in 1971…Met up with Pirates’ strong pitching and excellent fundamentals and Roberto Clemente…The 1971 did something that no team has done…Four 20 game winners…Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Pat Dobson, Mike Cuellar…at this point they were highly formidable…hitting was steady with essentially the same lineup since 1966…Baltimore was known as being without a peer in fielding and defense...1972 brought change Frank Robinson was traded…Age appeared to have crept up on some, others were a disappointment all which hampered the incumbent offense… they score on average one run less per game plus a 32 point drop in batting average …The 72 birds break .500 however by virtue from a pitching staff that was even better than the year before....but the birds drop by 21 games and wind up third in the AL east. 

History:  Baltimore is an original AL franchise started in 1901.  If you are a purist they started as the Milwaukee Brewers for one year before moving to St Louis to become the Browns…For 51 years they were handmaidens to the NL Cardinals on the field and at the gate (despite Bill Veeck's creative tenure as owner)…the franchise is famous for its futility eight times they lost 100 games in the 154 game season… In that time one world series appearance in 1944 (largely attributed to the man power shortage caused by WW2)…the franchise moves to Baltimore were they were the only game in town and their fortunes changed with the dawn of the 1960's…they hit their stride in late sixties, seventies, and the first half of the eighties….AKA a golden age....Near consistent winning records....in a six year span 2 World Series championships and two more appearances…in another 11 years one more championship (1983) plus another bout with Pirates in 1979, a reprise of 1971 series.

Records:  As with the Giants many individual batting records still stand despite the poor performance of the Browns…

The offensive records that have been broken are:  Home runs Brady Anderson first eclipsed Frank Robinson’s record with 51, then followed by Chris Davis last year (2013)with 53.... BJ Surhoff had 673 AB, …Brian Robert in 2009 surpasses the mark for doubles in a season.

Pitching:  In the age of closer, many people have surpassed the games appeared mark. As it stands now, Miller's 71 games has since been eclipsed or tied 14 times by 11 players  ....The 1972 card recognize Dave McNally’s ERA as the record but baseball reference cite several hurlers most of whom pitched prior to 1919.  The only exception was reliever Stu Miller with an ERA of 1.89 gathered in 119 innings in 1965.  Bob Reynolds using 111 innings also tied McNally's mark in 1973.  It should be noted that McNally's 273 innings pales Reynolds and Miller.  

The win percentage a similar criteria issue occurs....McNally's 1971 and Arthur Crowder's 1928 marks represented both 21 wins and 5 loses.  The Baseball Reference leaders are Dick Hall (1964) and Arthur Rhodes (1996) with identical 9-1 records....It's a matter of where you draw the line. 




Friday, March 7, 2014

#732 George Culver

Journeyman…Well traveled with stops to Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Houston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia… mostly a situation relief specialist but dabbled as a starter when he was Red and Cardinals with some success…1968:  11-16 W-L record, and lead the league in hit batters*…Despite this threw a no-hitter against the Phillies on July 29th and his ERA was better than the team average and lead his team in starts…1971 was his best season setting personal best in ERA, games finished, saves…For a career did not garner a lot of saves, 23 in his 278 relief appearances and 137 games finished…1974 was his last active year…Managed and sometimes pitched in the minors 1978…and made appeared in six games in 81, 82, and 85 when served as a coach.…Managed AAA affiliate of Phillies thereafter....Not related to the fast food chain (although the franchise's co-founder first name was George too)  

*George's explaination of HPB  "I wasn’t really wild by the main reason I led the league in hit batters was because I was known for having a pretty good slider. So right-handed hitters would get caught leaning out over the plate looking for a slider and would get hit with a fastball inside."







Tuesday, March 4, 2014

#733 Jim Ray Hart

Something of a Mystery…a player seeming destined to be on a par with teammates McCovey and Cepada ….rumored to have problems with alcohol…Jim came up 1963 but was injured after nearly successive beanings by Bob Gibson and Curt Simmons…exceptional power in the four years of career starting 1964…Finished 4th, 6th, and 5th in NL home runs during 1964, 1966, and 1967 respectively…either an MVP candidate or all star during that span…experienced a slight decline in production in 1968…then it all unraveled… production, power, and playing time plunged in 1969, contrary to the expectation that expansion would dilute pitching resulting in increased scoring…3 hr, 26 RBI, .254 were the numbers in 1969…Started 1970 in Phoenix…Returned to the Giants July 7th…On July 8th had one his of greatest single games ever…hit for the cycle and drove in 7 runs…6 in one inning…According to 1974’s Who’s Who in Baseball Hart did not any time on the disabled list other than a month in 1971, a year which had very little playing time in either minor or major league level…1972 was spent mostly at Phoenix...all this time hitting never seemed to be issue, just didn’t play a lot….Sold to Yankees in first weeks of 1973, and made a modest comeback as a DH,  getting the most playing time in five seasons…released after a poor start in 1974…whereabouts today are unknown.



Saturday, March 1, 2014

#734 Bob Burda

Career could be called a AAA+...Periodic reserve role stints in the big leagues…could play 1st or the outfield…Product of the University of Illinois….Started with St. Louis in the late fifties…AAA farmhand for most of the sixties ….Got real first taste of MLB with the Giants, where he had his best power figures…Got the most playing time with the first year Milwaukee Brewers…In 1971 returned to St Louis organization hitting .296 ….his average was buoyed by the fact he had the most pinch hits in the NL that year with 14 …Traded to Boston on March 20, 1972 …. Had the odd occurrence of being released by team on August 25……then re signed by the team a month later with a week and half to go in the season but never played…Released for good on Oct 27….and left baseball …Card back drop  was Yankee stadium so it is probable the photo was taken when he was a Brewer.