Thursday, April 27, 2017

#340 Roy White

Yankee through and through....MLB career born out of the their dark years mid 1960's....dedicated solid service rewarded with WS rings at the tail end of Yankee only career....very good at most aspects of the game, switch hitting, fielding, speed, power, quiet leadership....advanced the runners well...only asterisk was a weak arm...eventually gave way to more colorful NYY hand and reserve until 1968...that  campaign claimed regular status and was hands down the Yankee’s leading hitter....White and NY faithful were eventually helped out by reinforcements in Murcer, Munson, and crew of the Bronx Zoo....held serve to rank 1-2 in club BA in most years.... like Frank Howard never hit .300 but came Oh So Close in 1970 with .294 clip....which was also his career year with 24 home runs and 94 RBIs..... led the AL in runs 1976, very impressive given it was his 12th campaign....After his Yankee run end in 1979, spurned offers from other club and took to Japan....probably the best all-around American player to appear in the Nippon Pro League to that time...Did very well there too....bottom line:  6650 Yankee at bats, 160 home runs,.271 BA, and scored 964 runs.....Steady and healthy record.

Monday, April 24, 2017

#348-341 Boyhood Photos

Another collection of 8 stars as youngsters....very good lot that includes three hall of famers  #341 Joe Torre,  #343  the late Willie Stargell,  #347 Tom Seaver.....the rest are 342 Wilbur Wood 344 Dave McNally  345 Rick Wise 346 Jim Fregosi  348 Sal Bando....maybe a bit more humor in this set....Joe Torre’s Godfather-like backdrop...Wilbur Wood’s Whopper....Jim Fregosi channeling his inner Myron Florin, or possibly the future Weird Al Yankovich....and Sal Bando's slight resemblance to Alfred E. Newman.

Friday, April 21, 2017

#349 Al Fitzmorris  

A KC original....1968 expansion draftee from the White Sox system....spent most of Royal’s initial year at AAA Omaha negotiating a considerable from Single A the year before....made opening day roster 1970....hung around for several years neither establishing himself as a starter nor reliever....took a demotion to AAA in appeared to help however...came back with a new focus and established himself in the rotation...won 8 in the second half of 1973, then 12 in 1974...  #2 in Royals wins with 16 circa 1975....followed up with 15 victories next year the KC wins AL West....all this time as a starter however he butted heads with both Jack McKeon and Whitey Herzog....this was evident as Al was omitted from add insult to injury was exposed to the expansion and picked up by Toronto....immediately flipped to Cleveland....the tumultuous episode appeared to effect his play and was never the same....a very mediocre 6-10 record with a inflated ERA.....last season was 1978 with sparse work shared between Indians and Angels....was position player when started playing professional ball, as a result hit a respectable .242 at the plate.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

#350 Frank Howard

Offensive force of the farewell edition of expansion Washington Senators franchise...yet 1971 was a prelude to quickly fading star....a gentle giant at 6’7” except when he swung the bat....violence personified at the plate; pitchers, infielder, even own teammates on the base path had to be wary of his liners...the counter attack to power pitchers of the era like Sam McDowell....Hard to believe the story began in Los Angeles in LA Dodger Blue....two cups of coffee in 1958-9 were rewards for exceptional farm team numbers....made of first full early call up hitting 24 belts and collecting Rookie of the Year award...Press tabbed him as the threat to Babe Ruth’s record....unrealistic given the pro pitching philosophy of Dodger Stadium....Managed 123 home runs in Dodger blue...took his heavy bat to DC and career bloomed into power machine and brief glimpse of predicted superstar status....would get on history home run was 1968-70 when he led junior circuit in home runs twice and second by the narrowest of margin in the other....Got better under Ted William flirting with a .300 BA....slugged the first homer for Texas but that’s about it for highlights in Arlington....hitting was about in line with the meager Ranger attack....bat being nothing special his lumbering frame was becoming a liability in the field....very late in 1972 sold to Tigers....too late for ALCS....poised for comeback to take advantage of newly minted DH rules in 1973 eliminated position play....never materialized and was caught up in the numbers game as new guy in town in a team aged vets looking for work...released at conclusion of season....exodus to Japan, played in one game got hurt....afterwards did a lot of coaching in many locales...also tried hand at MLB managing but hampered by bad teams and "too nice" persona.....lived many years in Green Bay Wisconsin where he once was a minor leaguer....know as Hondo also known “The Horse” to LA teammate Bob Lillis to whom Howard retorted calling Lillis “The Flea”....did many commercial endorsements in prime emphasizing his size and strength.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

#351 Braves Rookie Stars

Not many players are known for catching a home run ball but Tom House was....House had a OK MLB career....appearing in 8 seasons, six of them full....had one full season under his belt and starting the 1974....on April 8, Tom caught Henry Aaron’s 714th home run on the fly...took coveted ball straight to Hank, rewarded with TV from a Atlanta TV dealer....the event seem to galvanize Tom, who proceeded to have his best season with 1.92 ERA....did serviceable yet declining work thereafter....had twin 11 save season in 1974 and 1975...traded to Boston for year and change, landing with expansion Seattle Mariners in their first year....experimented with being a starter with unremarkable results...turned to coaching after playing....Rick Kester, Jimmy Britton have little to show...Kester’s MLB career was one season past and Jimmy Britton never played in MLB....Interesting note however in a case of name doppelganger Britton is not be confused or related to Jim Britton who played for Atlanta 1967-1969 and Montreal 1971.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#352 Dave LaRoche 

Another case of a young player dealt often throughout his career....debut in 1970, collected a handful of saves, a 3.00 ERA, and 9-2 body of work over two seasons...imported by the Twins to bolster their deflated bullpen thereby dismantling the Angel’s relief corps....One season in the upper midwest and was traveling again...road took him to Chicago where fortunes floundered....came back with Cleveland, upping his value....returned to team of debut mid 1977-1980....finished up in Yankee pinstripes in a mop up role where he gained notoriety for his “La Lob” pitch a variation on Steve Hamilton's "Folly Floater"....Two sons, Adam and Andy were major league players, the former being a regular for 12 years, hitting 255 homers.....A case of doppelganger? is his profile on the 1972 any different from then Angel teammate Jerry Moses’?...are they both of the same person or was it a switch... maybe a bit more  hair on the sideburns. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

#353 Art Shamsky    

A platooning outfielder most likely identified with 1969 Miracle Mets....all other exploits need not apply even though Art once hit four consecutive home runs over two games....showed flashes of power (21 dingers in 1966 in just 234 at bats) but was dogged by injuries and inconsistency...had career .231 BA after first four season....was able to step up in 1969 and 1970 raising his career BA by 30 pts buoyed by averages of .300 and .293 respectively....hit very well in the first NLCS.....Injuries reappeared in 1971 effectively curtailing his career...Traded to the veteran collecting St Louis Cardinals for 1972 but was released before season started...picked up by Cubs and then A’s for a handful of unproductive at bats....Art got the hint and exited the playing field...Dabbled in restaurants ownership, writing and play by play since then....A Jewish player, has since worked hard to establish baseball in Israel...How great is the 1969 legacy  dog on sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond” was named after him


Friday, April 7, 2017

#354 Tom Murphy 

12 year veteran whose highlights can be summed up in two campaigns 1970 as an Angels starter, 1974 as a Brewers reliever....especially good in the later highlight, Tom surprised the AL by leading the circuit in games finished racking up 20 saves....could not sustain the success going 1-9 the following year but did repeat his 20 saves....the former highlight his only above .500 season, Tom won 16 games while losing 13....helped the Halos to 15 game improvement from his first full year...when Tom was much more mediocre, he traveled from team to team, Royals, Cardinals, Red Sox, and first three years of the Toronto Blue Jays were his line 68 wins 101 losses.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

#355 Bob Watson 

It took a few years but blossomed into an upper tier hitter in a pitcher’s park....Astro signed , first saw Big League action 1966...most kept in minors, stymied during MLB call ups...too good for AAA though....feasted on PCL pitching hitting .400 in two partial seasons...big break and permanent placement in the majors started in 1970....hit .272 as a part timer....BA raised to .288 1971 with more playing time....started hitting at or near a .300 clip for nine season stretch beginning 1972-1980...notable seasons were 1975 hit .324, 100+ RBI 1976 and 1977, and most unusually scoring baseball’s millionth run on May 4, 1975 in an early MLB publicity promotion...even though Watson may have been one of the slowest players in the league at the time, he beat out speedster Reds Dave Conception by an estimated 8 yards or an estimated second and a half....acquisition via Yankees gave Bob his only taste of post season play 1980-81...made the most of it, hit .371 in 67 at bats....worked in MLB front office after playing.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

#356 Jerry Moses   

All research indicates friendly approachable guy....Career took hold with the Red Sox as a teenager...2nd at bat was a home run 1965 the youngest Red Sox ever to do so....just a year out high school.......returned to Red Sox farm system for a couple of years...returned with an impressive late season call up 1968....shared catching duties with two others, Jerry far and away best of the Trio with a .304 mark....gained more playing time 1970 and got named to the All star team... traveled around thereafter and seemed to effect his play....California, Cleveland, New York, Detroit, were destinations in successive years...last year playing split time between Padres and White Sox....most closely aligned the Red Sox participating in reunions and charitable endeavors such as Mike Andrews chaired Jimmy Fund....hobby during playing days was waterskiing they  are golf and grandkids.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

#357 Woodie Fryman

Most often spelled with an “ie” than “y”....late comer to MLB debut at age 26....Just a year before, Kentucky native was content with weekend semi-pro ball.... actually lied about his age by three years when signed with away with it and after a short minor stint made Pirates starting roster 1966....Solid rookie season at 12-9....Sophomore slump with 3 wins 1967...Trade to Philly resulted in a rebound and possibly his best full season as a starter (also came clean about his age)...three more years in City of Brotherly Love yielded 12, 8, and 11 wins respectively....Started 1972 as did most Phillies hurlers (except for one Steve Carlton) mightily struggling...With a 4-10 record was put on the waiver wire...scooped by Detroit...On a contender, Instant turnaround, with 10 wins, 3 losses, supercharging the Tiger’s to the AL East crown, breaking the Oriole’s stranglehold on the pennant....Subsequently did not repeat his terrific half season...eventually landed Montreal...had a decent 13-13 record in 1977 and named to the All Star team for a second time....took detours to Reds, Cubs, before becoming the prodigal Expo in 1978....on reinstated in Quebec started a new role, closer at age 39....Top Expo relief man 1980-81....turn over closer reigns to Jeff Reardon in 1982 but firmly as #2 man...Ran out of steam 1983 at age 43 and retired....died 2011 and was declared “Kentucky Gentleman” by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 

Monday, March 27, 2017

#358 Sparky Anderson....

Seemingly came out of nowhere to helm the first edition of the big Red Machine...Start of long standing relationship with the Queen City.... then up north up I-75 to the Motor City....MLB managing career spanned 26 season winning record in both towns....As a player, year for Phillies appearing in all but two games...hit .218 sent to AAA and never called up again....spent remaining playing years a fixture in the AAA Toronto Maple Leafs...asked to manage 1964...even though he won, concerns were expressed over his temper and let go, found himself scrambling for skipper positions....enter St Louis farm system; Sparky learns temperament ...came in handy for the coaching the first year Padres 1969....for 1970 was hired by the Angels, as a coach;  for a few days when the Reds came a knocking with the top spot....Legendary run; took the Reds to two WS wins and five post season contests....Controversial front office move was let go after 1978 season two seasons removed from one of the most domineering WS wins ever....picked up by Detroit 56 games into the 1979 season...only one post season appearance in Tiger town but made the most of it; rolled up the competition and Padres in the World Series....managed to the 1995 season....passed away 2010...known as a nice man, jovial and friendly despite a sometimes aloof appearance.

Friday, March 24, 2017

#359 Don Pavletich 

Pronounce pav-LET-ic....A Milwaukee native, reserve backstop by trade, sounds a bit one Bob Uecker....acquired for 1972 to help out his hometown team... except he didn’t play in Brewcity.....Cincinnati debut in 50’s resulted in only  one at bat....started getting MLB time 1962......In his prime Don was one of the better reserves catchers in the NL....put together .300 BA over two seasons backing up Johnny Edwards 1965-66 as a member of the of his time was more inconsistent....barely played during his two year in Red Sox uniform circa 1970-71....given his career, it would have interesting if he ever would have been given a regular working schedule.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#360 Dave Roberts 

What does a three year fledgling expansion franchise do with the best lefty in the league circa 1971? him off of course....Roberts put together his career year in 1971 with an excellent 2.10 ERA good for second .... was picked 39th in the expansion draft..... Roberts had come a long way from being a Phi-Pit farmhand by leading the IL in wins 1968 (note top 5 league winners were all on expansion rosters) better despite persistent non support by Padres...Case in point his 1971 record to Houston brought him to an established club...note to Padres there was another Astro second baseman on the market; Joe Morgan...Spent 4 years in Houston with his best output being a 17-8 campaign 1973...After a couple of down years as an Astros, his acquisition by Detroit resulted in 16-17 season in 1976....achievement overshadowed Mark Fidrych’s one seaon wonder year.... stuck around for four more but relegated to the typical retread fill in role.... three of those years  Dave changed clubs mid season....Finished up 1981....Ironic fact; In 1972 Padres draft third baseman Dave Roberts and instantaneously assign him to a regular spot on the big relation however.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

#361 Mike Andrews

Above average 2nd baseman for 5 of 8 seasons...Rookie year of 1967 he was a contributor to the team’s road to the WS hitting votes for ROY....improved his hitting stats in 1968 when most of the league batsmen regressed in the year of the pitcher....around this time Andrews got involved with a Boston charitable organization “Jimmy’s Fund” for cancer research....numbers improved in 1969 hitting eight points short of .300...Average dropped to .253 in 1970 but Mike was able to improve power and RBIs figures.....Nevertheless traded to woeful Sox team in Chicago...Hit .282 in an admirable comeback....As in 1967, Mike’s new team made vast improvement from previous season....Andrews faltered in 1972 hitting a weak .220....Things didn’t get better in 1973 and Mike lost the starters spot to Jorge Orta....enter the bizarre ending of his career...sent to Oakland for their playoff run....made the post season roster....made two errors in game 2 prompting Charlie Finley to strong arm Mike into stating he injured so Rookie Manny Trillo could be called up....The stunt made headlines and Baseball Commissioner intervened and Andrews was reinstated to the roster....Finish from there on....had a brother, Rob play for Astros and Giants....for many years was  Chairman of the Jimmy Fund.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#362 New York Mets Team Card

Storied but relatively young franchise known  for the amazing and improbable 1969 championship run and their growing pains....A team born out for two reasons;  to be an NL replacement in Gotham City;  and an attempt to circumvent a proposed 3rd major circuit the Continental  League....In hastened expansion, the quality of players for draft was exceptionally poor....As a result first year Mets lost 120 games, a modern day watermark for four out of five seasons resulted in 100 loss seasons...first ray of hope came in 1967 with debut of Tom Seaver (team still lost 100) year enter Jerry Koosman and team ERA drops by a run per game....1969 Mets astounds the baseball with a 27 game in improvement....Took the first NL division series and overcame huge odds against the favored Baltimore Orioles...Subsequent years Mets virtually repeated above .500 seasons one after another...a scrappy 1973 team was able to return to WS only to lose to fortunes declined over the next 10 years....a mid to late 80’s resurgence culminated with second WS win and a franchise high 108 wins in past 30 years two return trips to WS but no crown.....Records: needless to say in the year 1972 this team was only starting to feel first division status and their hitting lagged behind pitching....eventually with better teams came more regular starters...add free agency and the NYC deep pockets;  superstars become available...hence all backside batting records have been broken many times over...Near opposite is found with pitching records buoyed by Tom Seaver’s glory years of 1969-1971...Tom Terrrific still hold team marks for wins, complete games, Innings, strikeouts....Tom’s ERA and win % marks has only been beaten by Dwight Gooden and David Cone...less esteemed records held by Roger Craig (losses, hits) and Nolan Ryan (walks) are intact.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

#363 Ron Klimkowski 

Career can be summed up as 1970...only time he stayed in the big for a full season going 8-7 with an 2.65 ERA....making the big club was logical for he was 1969 ERA champion and tied for the International League lead in wins with 15.....traded to Oakland where he was caught up in numbers games in the plethora of releivers...passable 2-2 record with 3.5038 ERA....nevertheless released and landed back with the such luck repeating 1970 numbers...0-3 record and 4.02 in last MLB season....passed away 2009

Friday, March 10, 2017

# 364 Johnny Callison 

A good player whose prime was two to four  years in the early to mid sixties....however was given such advance billing of superstardom his career is a bit a disappointment....Spearheaded the infamous 1964 Phillies pennant drive... hit bit below average during the team’s infamous swoon hit 3 homers one day against Milwaukee in a losing effort....became average player after his prime as the Phillies sank back into mediocrity ...took his bat to Chicago Cub where he became a regular working fill in 1970 a letdown in 1971....acquisitions of Rick Monday and Jose Cardanel prompted a trade to Yankees...Career moment was  hitting a 3 run home to win the All Star game....swan song came as a reserve outfielder with the Yankees 1972-73.