Saturday, July 30, 2016

#445-446 Tom Seaver

Tom, to sum up his career one can use a word not used much anymore; Terrific.....A New York Met icon from the start....Unshaken, triumphed with grace under the scrutiny of the NYC media hyperbole....sometime called the Franchise, or specifically the man who changed a franchise....his list of awards are what most pitchers only can dream of ....ROY of year 1967... Almost invincible on his way to Cy Young in 1969...reclaimed the award in 1973 and then 1975....forte was winning 20+ games a feat which he did five times....the last time, in 1977, was memorable because he was traded to the Reds midseason....trade made national headlines and was mentioned on TV soap operas  (I can't prove this but I remember seeing this on TV).... never was quite as good in the Queen City but did have an outstanding strike shortened season in 1981...most likely would have won 20 had the strike not occurred... interesting times thereafter...injury plagued and ineffective in 1982....Return to Mets in ’83, result a record similar Mickey Lolich’s year in NY 1976....then a two strong season with the White Sox....two games stand out, 10 consecutive strikeouts vs Padres 1970 and pitching 8 1/3 perfect innings against Cubbies...five time strikeout leader, three time ERA....hung cleats up 1986....personable and mild mannered....mandatory admission to HOF with marks 311 wins and 3000 strikeouts....and married to same woman since 1966....named to All star team 12 times which spanned over three decades.




Monday, July 25, 2016

#447-448 Willie Stargell


Illustrious career of 21 seasons....whereas Joe Torre was baseball best hitter, Willie was probably most feared slugger in the MLB 1971 (I’d say the AL had an off year)....That year also starts a 3 year golden age, collecting 125 home run...but missed out on MVP, voted 2nd, 3rd, and 2nd.... Started out as a part timer in 1963, established himself the next seasons as a consistent 20+ homer muscle man....Power was enhanced by the move to Three Rivers Stadium in mid 1970, ggoing over the fence 31 times....So strong, so explosive with the bat....some home runs were monster shots, causing opposing teams to mark the landing area in their stadium....consistent seasons followed, until 1979....Willie win the triple crown of MVPs; season (shared with Keith Herandez), playoffs and World Series....best hitter in post season, but was most likely his leadership presence that gave him the award for the season...while the Pirates were very good in the 70’s, the 1979 was vindication since losing Roberto Clemente...it was his swan song, with playing a half season in 1980 and just a minority of next two seasons....HOF body of work, falling 25 home runs short of 500....hit over 40 home runs twice, 30+ four times, and 20+ nine times...overcame a very difficult childhood to become one of the great fatherly figures of the game....Pops passed away at very young age of 61.




Saturday, July 23, 2016

#449 Bob Lemon

Took over as manager in the middle of the second year of the expansion Royals...Did a great job in third year squad with a low key, laid back style....shrewd trades and strong farm system vaulted the team to second place in AL West with a 85-76 record in 1971.... 1972:  KC was mediocre at 76-78  and Lemon turned over reigns to Jack McKeon....Somewhat a minority a manager who was a star pitcher....HOFer too, with 207 career wins....Won 20 games or more in seven out of seven out of nine seasons...arm troubles spelled a quick exit from playing....turned to coaching and managing in minor leagues....After KC, returned to managing in 1974 for AAA Sacramento....fun time, for laid back helped because team gave up 1030 runs...Not Lemon’s fault, playing in a football stadium with a 250 feet left field was the cause...joined 1976 Yankees as pitching coach.... getting in on ground floor of the fabled Bronx Zoo....Took a detour with the 1977 White Sox steering them to 90 wins....almost identical to KC, team couldn’t repeat the bar set before in 1978, was let go....Enter Tony L from two cards earlier...Collected unemployment for only month....Ever the prodigal son to dysfunctional family returns to Yankees as Manager....Needless to say thing get weird....although team was above .500, when Billy Martin was fired, the Yankees surged under Lemon and take Boston in a playoff in game...Yankees end up winning the World Series on the bat of Reggie, and unexpected sources; infielder Bucky Dent and late season reserve Brian Doyle....Triumph me with tragedy when son dies in off season...while he stays with the Yanks, it was recommend he take time off....eventually works as a NYY scout...he is re-established as manager taking over from Gene Michaels for the tail end of 1981 split season....Yankees make it back to WS but lose....Bob started the 1982 season, but then replaced by the man he last replaced, Gene Michaels....passed in 2000.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

#450 Mickey Lolich

They don’t make them like Mickey anymore....Portly and popular left hander in the MoTown.... 1971 was a comeback from 1970, lowering ERA by a run per game and gaining 11 wins....showed that he and veteran Tiger teammates still had something in the tank....The best pitcher in the AL for the two years of 1971 and 1972 with 47 victories.... in this prime of his career, collected immense number of innings, over 350 on average....led league in strikeouts and innings 1971...personally thwarted the Bob Gibson led Cardinal onslaught in 1968 World Series, winning 3 games, and taking home MVP honors....Hit a home run against the Redbirds to boot.... established himself in 1964 winning 18 games...otherwise played in shadow of Denny McClain....post 1972 was still ace of the staff but was plagued by an aging Tiger team, losing more than winning....traded to the Mets in 1976...didn’t win much, 8 times, despite respectable 3.22 ERA.....disgusted in NY.... Sat out in 1977, resurfaced in San Diego 1978 as a free agent...took the role of a middle relief man in fits and spurts....1.56 ERA....could not repeat in more work, 1979....Impressive stats: He completed nearly 40 percent of his starts, and hurled 41 shutouts....missed out on outright Cy Young 



Sunday, July 17, 2016

#451 Tony LaRussa....

This is not about his playing career....Like him or hate him, he’s a great manager who gets the most out of his teams and psyches out the competition....HOF manager...as a player not even close...the best one can say is that he was doggedly persistent...played 16 seasons mostly in minors spanning 1962 to 1977, hit OK but never played long....Career MLB BA .199.in 173 at bats...played in one more game after this card came out that being the Cubs in 1973.......but off the field very intelligent....graduated from law school 1977....could have pursued the Bar but opted for managing White Sox AA club in Knoxville for 1978...A very young 34 when he was a mid season replacement for a floundering White Sox club best know that year for Disco Demolition....goes through growing pains but the Bill Veck led management  stays with him...The Southside Hitmen get better...patience paid off in 1983 with White Sox first post season play in 24 years....after a  poor start in 1986 is let go....  Promptly hired by A’s who stayed with him for the first decade of his playing days....during his time, A’s were 9 games over .500....Starting in 1988 oversees a AL West juggernaught with 3 pennants and WS win....A’s fortunes eventually wane and Tony is free once more after the 1995 season....St Louis comes calling...Captains the helm for 16 season, finishing first for 9 seasons...World Series wins in 2006 and 2011 his final? season.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

#452 Ed Herrmann

No, not the Actor and History Channel documentary narrator...But Spelled same way....Catcher for White Sox.then various other teams....oddly enough career best season was his sophomore campaign when the Chisox were at their worst, 1970....19 home runs, 52 RBI’s and .281 BA  in 294 at bats all career bests....Teamed nicely with Duane Josphepson giving the team a surplus of talent at backstop...like manny of peers of the time, clean cut at first later grew a beard and longer hair....power numbers were strangely consistent in subsequent years....10 home runs, near 40 RBIs...BA fluctuated to .214 to .259...was named to all star team 1974 despite semi regular status....1975 was sent to Yankees as mostly as a part time DH....kept moving on in 1976 splitting a season between Angels and Astros...got in regular work with Houston....relegated to backup for Houston next season and Expos in 1978....Passed away in 2013 a year before the Actor Ed.



Monday, July 11, 2016

#453 Barry Lersch

One of a multitude of Philly hurlers brought in from the farm system in late sixties, early seventies...met with mediocre success on struggling teams....couldn’t stick in 1969 and sent down....resurfaced 1970 and was able to claim six wins over three loses....Never really established himself as a starter or reliever, dabbling in both....1971 was his most prolific season, 30 starts, 200+ innings but non support by the Phillie bats doomed him to 5-14 record....also not helping were dooming stats of surrendered the 2nd most home runs in NL and 8th in walks per 9 innings.....Barry lowered his ERA in 1972 to a respectable 3.02 but again was beset by a hefty losing record of 2-9....Phillies improved in 1973 but Barry’s ERA went up to over 4.00 and a 3-6 record....passed away in 2009.


Friday, July 8, 2016

#454 Oakland A’s


The Swingin' A’s...pardon the spelling....White shoes, mustaches, reflective of California lifestyle of the time.....Starting the last dynasty before the age of free agency....Second franchise to move two times, after the Braves...Established 1901 in the shared AL-NL city of Philadelphia...from the get go considered one and same with business suit attired manager, Connie Mack ...Sometimes very good possibly great (5 World Series Championships) and sometimes very bad (10 years of +100 losses)....last 20 years in Philly could be called "lean" at the gate and on the field.....As time wore on took a cue from the successful move from Boston to Milwaukee, the A’s go to Kansas City....not as successful, team never has a winning record and aside from first two years they were perpetually at the bottom in attendance...enter Charlie Finley and the West Coast. Circa 1968....First year out team finishes over .500 for first time since 1952...starts an excellent run of winning teams peaking with 3 consecutive World Championships....Finley balks at participating in Free Agency market and team suffers depths  lower than the KC days with a totally revamped lineup....despite some success via Billy Martin the 80’s don’t get going until the arrival of Tony La Russa....The Free Swingin A’s are able to repeats the three consecutive World Series appearances of 15 year earlier but only win one....team has not returned to fall classic since, but has been the focus of interesting times...Reflecting on records:  As with all original team, old records most likely will not be broken...only total pitching appearances have changed, but John Wyatt’s record is now firmly in second...still using the same stadium since 1968.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

#455 Tommy Harper

Tough to figure out...very, very good at times, sometimes a disappointment....always changing....Small and light, sometimes speed was his game, sometimes power....was an original Seattle Pilot and swiped a league leading 73 bases....double his career SB mark to that time and very surprising in that he had only 11 for the Indians the year before....instantly changed next year to the Milwaukee Brewer’s first power threat, crushing 31 home runs, a season that is still talked about today with local...that year also maintained some of that 1969 speed with 37 stolen bases and a career best .287 BA....Spent first five full season with Reds starting 1963...Led NL in runs 1965 to compliment his 18 home runs....a trade to Boston for 1972 put him in the leadoff spot for two years...responded with second best season with 17, 71, and .281 numbers....was AL stolen base king for franchise not known for speed....a 44 point decline in BA in 1974 dropped his stock and trade....stole bases by wits rather than speed in later year...sold off to take detours to California, Oakland, and return to Boston in his last year and half...mostly an outfielder but dabbled with 2nd and 3rd base.



Saturday, July 2, 2016

#456 Mark Belanger

Fielder par excel lance... mainstay of career in Baltimore ....in his prime 1968 to 1978 he was prototypical of  shortstops of the time,  strong glove but had trouble hitting over .250 on consistent basis...the exceptions in Mark’s case were 1969 (.287), 1971 (.266), and 1976 (.270)....hitting lows were reflected in 1972 season when he hit a paltry .186 and lost half his playing to an up and coming Bobby Grich...up side of career: Eight gold glove with a streak of 6 in a row really marked his value...little power....still valuable to the O’s after becoming a back up teaching youngsters infield position...took his social skills to the Dodgers in a handful games in 1982, his last season....after playing days were over, he skirted the typical coaching/manager route to get into an executive position in exponentially powerful Player’s Union...eventually became Aide de Camp to Donald Fehr, sometimes softening his hard approach ....of French Canadian heritage...passed away in 1998.