Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#576 Leo Durocher

Known as the Leo the Lip…of French Canadian ancestry…caustic with the press and management and certain players…tumultuous personal life, married multiple times …Took his bumps as the new Cubs manager in 1966….Northsiders made a 28 game improvement next year….guided the team to also ran contender status for next 4 seasons….according to a preview guide it was somewhat surprising he was retained after 1971 season…all before that he was known as a competitive, great fielding, fair hitting infielder…Legendary fixture in New York starting with a brief stint with the Yankees 1927, the Dodgers in 1939….During that year he was a regular player in the field….Skippered the Bums thru the war years…was suspended for the year of Jackie Robinson’s debut but was candid in his support of him….Returned the following year but he had already lost favor….a below .500 record resulted in his dismissal....Quickly hired by NY Giants….Spent  8 years in the Polo grounds capturing 2 pennants and WS Championship in 1954….Let go after 1955, Leo starts a series of high profile, yet odd jobs….returns to baseball in 1961 as Dodger coach….After the Cubs let him go midseason 1972, took a gig with Houston for the remainder of the year and the whole of 1973….Enshrined in the Hall of Fame 3 years after his death in 1991.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

#577 Mike Paul

His 8-9 W-L record is not indicative how well he pitched in 1972…On an incredibly bad team,  quietly held fast with 2.17 ERA and surrendering the fewest  home runs per nine innings in the majors…prior to Texas spent four losing seasons with Cleveland… A fast start in the  California League in 1968 provided him to make a huge jump to get to the bigs…Never seemed to get the grove with the Tribe as indicated by a 14-33 record and 4.39 ERA….Similar story with his follow up season in Texas…5-4 record with ERA over doubled…traded to Cubs for their ill fated playoff push…took over a middle relief role for most of his 11 games….was shelled in two games in 1974 and spent that year and the next in the Phillies farm system. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

#578 Billy Garbarkewitz

One season wonder….Peer to future LA icon, Bill Buckner….Future looked so bright after 1970…That year he took over third base, a Dodger problem position for many years…displayed many skills;  hit .289, drove in 84 runs, showed pop with 17 home runs…lead team with 92 runs scored and stole 19 bases too….made All Star game and hit a pivotal single…Not bad for a .095 hitter in rookie season in 1969….Groomed for 2nd base for 1971 with the arrival of Dick Allen….Not to be….Injuries upon injuries and he appeared only 24 games….Was given another try at 3rd for 1972….just couldn’t hit…After a trade to Angels relegated to apart time utility man vagabond going from California, Philadelphia and the Cubs for 1973 and 74…tried to catch on with Oakland’s AAA Iowa club and got two at bats with a A’s….but oh man, what a year 1970 was.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

#579 Doyle Alexander

Extraordinarily well traveled….career would tank then he would resurface… In the beginning was a 6 game winner as 1st year pitcher in Dodger blue…was the top prospect given in exchange in the Frank Robinson deal…Did the most career wise…equaled his win total with the Orioles in a mix of starts and relief…despite a 2.45 ERA (career best) he had a tough time breaking in Baltimore incumbent quartet of 20 game winners….got more starts in 1973 and 12 wins with the departure of Pat Dobson….did not develop as expected in next season and a half…Midseason trade to the Yankees in 1976 was first of four he would have….Experienced first success in Texas with a 17 wins: 1977…after two mediocre follow up seasons found himself in Atlanta, then SF, back to NYY (big time fail)….Resurfaced with Toronto and put back to back 17 win campaigns….Mid season trade to Atlanta resulted in a year’s worth of subpar pitching…While toiling for the Braves 1991 was shipped to Detroit where he enjoyed 9-0 regular season run pushing them in the playoffs…Invincibility was broken in post season by the Twins who shelled him…played two more seasons in Tigertown….Won a total of 194 games in 19 seasons but went 0-5 in playoffs…top salary while playing was 1 million a year…should have made more given he pitched well into the free agency age.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

#580 Lou Piniella

Working class underdog….Few have done so much after having been passed on from franchise to franchise…Lou attitude was “I must be wanted for people keep trading for me”….wonderful example of expansion as opportunity rather than talent dilution….Cleveland (twice), Baltimore, Senators, all passed on him…taken by the Seattle Pilots in expansion draft…Traded to KC in the last minute and was their opening day CF….a few games later switched to Left field which turned out to be his natural position…Put up 11, 62, .282 number and took the Rookie of year honors in 1969….Proved rookie season was no fluke by driving in 88 runs in and raised his BA by 19 points in 1970….Finished 2nd in batting 1972….suffered a dip in average in 1973 and got traded to NYY….bounced back with a .305 playing in Shea Stadium…1975 turn out to be one lost season in a consistent career, failing to get untracked and hitting .196…came back in 1976 with .281 BA but reestablishment of full time status was yet to come….regular left fielder in 1978-9…1980 started the role of utility outfielder….despite loss of playing time Lou's BA did not dip…Started managing 1986 with NYY….Led Reds to WS upset of Oakland 1990….Moved to the Mariners bringing the franchise to 4 playoffs appearances…one of the few managers ever traded, acquired byTampa Bay but could not end their futility…Took over the helm of Cubs 2007-10…got them to 2 play offs but no wins…has .517 win pct as a manager and 3 manager of the year awards.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

#581 Wade Blasingame

Claim to fame...his name was once used in a SNL skit by Will Ferrell….it’s an obscure reference that most people do not get….Lefty...Came up Milwaukee Braves organization mostly through the Texas League alfiliate….mid season callup he won nine games in 1964….Had his career season in 1965 winning 16 games for a disinterested Milwaukee fans who knew their team was leaving for Atlanta….At the time it was considered Wade had one of the best curveballs in NL and one most promising futures….Hard luck followed, first a freak hand injury then shoulder tendonitis took over…never regained effectiveness…Traded to Houston mid season 1967 were he was relegated to the bullpen….Fortunes did not change greatly….Went to minors in 1970….regained curve ball and was able to make his way back to the Astrodome and regained starter status….Pitched 158 innings in 1971 best figure since 1965….Won nine games which equal the total for last four seasons combined…Poor start in 1972 quickly ended his MLB career.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#582 Expos Team

One of the expansionist visions of 1969 comes to life as Baseball moved to Canada….a bit of a rocky road for franchise had stadium trouble a throughout its existence in Montreal….Played in converted municipal ballpark, Jarry Field…A no frills facility that held 26 K seats… Achievements as of 1971:  The Expos were able to lift themselves from the basement of NL East despite losing two more games than 1970….problem with the season was 3-19 record in home games from June 11th to July 24th….One call of the franchise was to build a domed stadium…It occurred in 1977 but Olympic stadium was poorly suited for baseball and never very popular….The 37 years in Montreal was highlighted with one playoff appearance in 1981….Lost in deciding game 5 to Rick Monday’s home run….Montreal subsequently fielded good teams with 9 teams going over .500 in next 12 seasons…Arguable that 1994 team was the best baseball but the player Lock out nixed the playoff…In the 11 years that followed Montreal never had another winning record….Not making a profit, they moved to Washington for 2005….First season the Nationals were able to break even going 81-81….after multiple losing seasons the Nats finally were able to return to League division series in 2012 and 2014…First star and dominant stats leading of 1971:  Rusty Staub…Some pitching records still stand…Carl Morton’s hits surrended is still tops…his 18 wins is 8th best in franchise history…Bill Stoneman’s 5 shutouts is a franchise best with four others…Note able players in the Expos uniform were, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Tim Raines, Tim Wallach, and Steve Rogers.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

#583 Darold Knowles

Well traveled relief specialist who had extended, effective stints in Washington and Oakland….Started in Baltimore organization got in five games for the big club in 1965… season trade to Phillies allowed him full time work….appeared in 69 games rookie season and far and away the team’s best reliever…Despite the debut, Phillies oddly enough traded him to DC…Not missing a beat Knowles takes over in the Nats bullpen in 1967…..Pitched well in 1968 but season was cut short by injuries….Healthy in 1969, garners a 2.24 ERA and was named to the all star team….Next year was his best as a pro with paradoxical 2-14 record countered with 2.03 ERA and 27 saves…. Next season was traded mid season to Oakland’s bullpen by committee mix….First full season in west coast had a 1.37 ERA….did not pitch in Oakland first WS due to injuries….Stuck around in Oakland’s next WS run but did lose effectiveness…Acquired by Cubs for 1975-76 but never was the same as his Washington/Oakland days….shopped around as mid reliever with seasons in Texas, Montreal, and finally St. Louis…last game was 4/18/80.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

#584 Jerry McNertney

Claim to fame is that he was the #1 backstop for Seattle Pilots….First opening day starter for newly minted Milwaukee Brewers….Prior to Seattle/Milwaukee connection was a backup for the White Sox….drove in 55 runs in Seattle… Hit the same for the Brewers but lost playing time to Phil Roof….best year for average was while he was with St. Louis in 1971 with a .289 clip….Could not repeat in 1972 dropped to a .208….finish out career with handful of AB with Pirates in 1973…..Baseball Reference site is sponsored by Pat Kaduk who says “Jerry...thanks for four great seasons with the White Sox! Your piercing blue eyes lit up Comiskey Park on many of my favorite summer nights"….OK too much information Pat!