Saturday, October 21, 2017
Line drive hitting Mets outfielder who fit in the team’s small ball/defense/pitching philosophy…unfortunately many line drives fell into opponents gloves…career highlight was playing all games in Met’s 1973 post season….took over for a rapidly ailing and aging Willie Mays….hit at or near his regular season BA in 46 at bats…started out as Montreal rule 5 draft pick…big jump had only played class A ball up to then….played starting Centerfield in the Expos first game…fielded their first ball in play…a couple more games and Don was sent to AAA Vancouver…was able to move up to Quebec side of Canada 1970…hit career best .255….acquired by Mets for 1971…spent next three seasons shuffling between NYC and AAA…1974 spent entire year with Mets without demotion…1975 his last year in MLB, was used sparingly accruing 39 at bats over 3 teams; Phillies, Cards, and Padres…hit .179.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Great pitcher with male model like looks…a movie like life that could be described as American Dickens story…..born in NYC in 1945…adopted into a wealthy NYC family, then raised in California/Arizona after his father died….Jim’s mother married a movie actor by the name of Palmer hence Jim's last name…was high school athletic phemon in several sports….drew the notice of Baltimore front office…signed and assigned to Northern League for 1964…scaled up many rungs as Jim made the 1965 Orioles roster as a 19 year old…emphasis was learning not performance…paid off with 15-10 record as Orioles took the 1966 WS crown…Jim’s portion was a shut out win…Things were looking good for 1967 when Palmer felt a pinch in his shoulder…suffered indignities or being benched and demoted to AAA to be shelled (fun fact has AAA level career ERA over 12 runs per game) …repeated in 1968…So low that he was put on waivers and left available in expansion draft…no takers…carried on nevertheless…responded with 16-4 record….an amazing comeback…Starting in 1970 proceeds to win 20 games or more for 8 of 9 subsequent seasons… the winningest pitcher of the decade despite a hard luck 7-12 record in 1974….in that stretch 3 Cy Young Awards…at age 30 started a 3 season run of most innings pitched…starting 1979 took a more secondary starter role but was still able to shine with 16-10 and 15-5 records in 1980 and 1982 respectively…limited work and 5-4 record in 1983 was offset by his last World Series win made in relief…that feat gave him one WS for 3 decades another record....went winless at the start of 1984…at age 45 attended Baltimore’s spring training…hamstring injury shut down his long shot comeback…In broadcasting and commercial endorsement namely Jockey Underwear…can sport 3 WS championship rings….HOF first ballot.
Sunday, October 15, 2017
Cubs backup back stop…at the time part of a catching by committee in the wake of Randy Hundley’s injury…Did not work out and Cubs suffered for it…prototypically poor hitting backup 2+ string catcher….Career BA .213….in his Chicago stint, 1969-73, bounced around from team to team….SF Giants, Cardinals, Giants again, and then Orioles…Final stop had 4 hits in 14 at bats in 1977…did get picked up by Cards (again)…failed to make the big club with demotion to AAA…final line 6 home runs and 64 RBIs in 743 at bats.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Speed...future mainstay of the Yankees…in 1972 starting his third year of trying to break into the Angel’s outfield…hitting .349 in limited work filling in for an injured Bobby Valentine told the baseball world he was ready….finally got a full chance 1974 hitting .284 in 500 at bats…nice follow up hitting nearly the same while leading AL in stolen bases with 70 swipes…a trade to NYY in 1976 brought out his best two years….Vocal member of the Bronx Zoo, but never due the attention of a Reggie or Billy… evolved as a player less speed a bit more pop…able to maintain BA ranging in upper 260s to well above .300….performed exceptionally in 1978 after a trade to the more sedate confines of Texas….333 BA….his farewell season 1984 was strong; hitting at .300 clip….twice lead AL in triples.
Monday, October 9, 2017
Like so many of his peers, like Al Severinsen, a player stuck in either the Oriole bench or bush league system due the big club’s on the field success….was able stay the year in 1969 but was the 25th man on roster but on got in 39 contests mostly as a late inning sub…Did get $14K for WS spot…Played on 4 teams in 1970; Baltimore, AAA Rochester, KC Royals, AAA Omaha…hit really well in September call going 14 for 43…could not follow up in 1971 and wound up back in Omaha….1972 was similar splitting time with Royals and Omaha, although his 134 at bats was the most work Bobby had in a season...Bobby was able stay in KC for the duration of 1973…best season too, got a hit out three at bats, a .333 BA….surrendered his spot to young Frank White in 1974 just after chipping a few at bats….would play in AAA but not return to the show….became a long time coach/manager
Friday, October 6, 2017
Not much is known….product of Baltimore’s abundant farm system of the time…had one win and one loss in a 1969 call up for the birds…. Resident of the Padres Pen…. Chipped in with a team high 8 saves and 3.47 ERA in his only full year of service….Padres weaknesses were more at the plate being last in hitting and 11th in fielding while sporting 3rd best mark in NL ERA ….moving on to 1972, it was a strange ending with no postscript giving a rationale for his departure…records show 12 games in AAA Hawaii two wins and 1.35 ERA….first game with SD was June 26th…used sparingly did not give up an earned run until Aug 25th…appeared in 6 more games finishing with 2.53 ERA...died in 2015.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Had his best batting average in 1971 .311 BA and leading the AL in hits….but the team around him had a bullpen implosion…Twins icon who brought durability, speed, excitement and versatility…how versatile? Played all nine positions in 1968…in that game it was the only time he pitched, caught, and played 1st base…. Developed as a player in the Reds organization but was buried in the farm system glut of 2nd baseman…traded and one year inserted in the Twins infield circa 1966…a fine succession of playing lead off…stole bases on the basepath and hits away from opponents in the field…..BA and SB declined in 1972….with still some value traded to Phillies for 1973….moved on to Texas in 1974 reunited with old minor and major league manager Billy Martin…hit .292 in a performance reminisce of early Twins days….play most of another year in Texas then shipped Oakland for a playoff drive 1975 and then to NYY for their 1976 flag quest…not done played 3 more years in Mexican League hanging his spikes 1979 ….During his playing days was second best Venezuelan next to Luis Aparacio….Was the 8th Venezuelan to play as of 2017 there are now 107 MLB countrymen playing just this season…died in Venezuela 1994
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Stymied Manager…greek tragedy saga….two foiled, highly, documented endings snatched defeat from jaws of a World Series berth….nevertheless interesting and long career….as a player appeared in 9 separate campaigns from 1944 to 1957 strictly as a reserve….odd fact most used and had best production in last season….First taste on the helm one season 1953 was Atlanta Crackers player-manager…Started managerial life 1958 with Minneapolis Millers…Success led Millers to Little World Series again Havana Sugar Kings in series that defies description…The Millers lost but more aptly surrendered to baseball crazed revolutionaries…graduated to be the Phillies leader….rough going lost 107 games in 2nd season 1961 his worst win %…significant turnaround in 1962 edging a winning record at 81-80 and 34 game improvement…team continued to improve and led the NL most of the 1964…then the infamous breakdown, losing out to Cards for the pennant….subsequent Phillie teams had winning records but could not break the NL top stop…shown the door mid 1968 (given the W-L records of future teams it may have been for the best….Moved on to the newly minted Montreal Expos…typical of first year team terrible at 52-110…vowed improvement and 1970 the Spo’s won 73…trouble was Montreal would not reach 80 wins in the rest of Gene’s time there…let go after 1975…Took the reins at Minnesota in return to the Twin Cities…was able have two winning seasons but no AL west crown…remaining three years the Twins were crippled by free agent losses and bad front office practices…Ushered out in 1981….resurfaced in have native California…resume sported two playoff appearances both close but losing effort…particularly heartbreaking he and the Halos were one strike from WS berth in 1986…only to spoiled by obscure outfielder Dave Henderson…In shadow of the upsetting events the Angels were not the same in 1987…Gene was let go after a 75-87 season… passed away 2005.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Aspiring prospect who was well traveled…Native and draftee of Detroit the product of U of Michigan…Big Ten Batting champ…After two years in low minors took a huge jump to Tigertown…fared OK but could not break the veteran laden roster…tagged as promising but shipped off to Washington in the Denny McClain trade…Washington/Texas stretch was a mixed bag....sold to NYY 1974 in a minor transaction…Began to reach his potential hitting .304 making his mark as a line drive hitting and an amazing fielder…garnered some MVP votes….Good stuff continued into mid 1975….hitting .307…On June 13th slipped on a rain slicked field…out for season with knee tear and Maddox was never the same player…in the questionable effort sued the city of New York for Shea stadium conditions….suit was torn out of court….never the less a comeback was long and extended…barely played in 1976 and 1977 when Elliott donned an Oriole uniform…Return to NY was by way of joining the Mets…odd in that the Mets were also named in his lawsuit against the NYC….regained more playing time for three years averaging 112 games per season and pulling down a .255 BA…career consisted of three quarters time in outfield one quarter in infield…Oh what could have been.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Below the radar career reliever….actually an unsung hero as the 1969 Senators rose from AL bottom division to win 90 games….lead team in saves with 16…..A 1970 trade to Indian turned out bad for both Dennis as a player and Senators as a team….The result Senators returned to the basement and Higgins’s ERA with the Tribe rose….acquired by St Louis but was non factor at this point, spending most of 1971 in an ugly AAA stint going 2-11…called up regardless by the terminus of St. Louis….was able to log in 15 games for Cards in 1972 his final pro season….started with ChiSox 1966…appeared in 42 games and career best 2.52 ERA in debut season…sidelined most of 1967 with eye problems but came back in 1968 with the Nats.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Player once starting AL shortstop now faced with a declining workload…majority of his 1963 to 1974 career was spent in Cleveland….debuted with the tribe….Started strong in 1964 and 1965 but had trouble hitting above .240 thereafter.....still held regular or near regular status until 1970.....In 1971 spent most of as an Oakland A....part of their veteran journeyman acquisition program, a team policy which was the law of the land for several years on….still retains non demoted MLB employment without fanfare…after the A’s took flight to Baltimore and then Texas….appeared in the 1973 playoff for the Orioles, something he was not able to do with two prior years in Oakland.... known for sure hands, strong arm, and defensive versatility….not so much his bat given his .233 BA…had a brother in the big leagues Dick Brown, a lifelong catcher.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Take your pick of titles; Stretch or Big Mac….The water outside of the Giants PNC field right field wall is known as McCovey cove a testimony to the man….HOF with incredible bulk that put the fear of God in pitchers…a natural swing know for making laser shots making infielder and pitcher alike to ask for hazard pay….Rookie season was mostly spent in AAA….Nevertheless took rookie of the year honors with .354 BA in essentially two months work after call up…despite this had to compete for playing time with fellow 1st baseman and prior ROY Orlando Cepeda…neither were proficient in other positions leaving a Giant quandary…hence next 3 season averaged 260 at bat, with 17 HRs, and 50 RBIs…seeing the glut of slugging McCovey gets the nod in the outfield in 1963 with the sacrifice of defense for offense…Willie responds with NL best 44 home runs…..1964 is a down year hitting .220 a pattern eventually repeated over the course of his career….Returned to his 1st base position in 1965 with Cepeda mostly on the DL return Willie to prominence…1966 with two compromised player incapable of outfield work, Cepeda is traded….McCovey enters a five year prime including two home run/RBI titles and an MVP award 1969…1971-72 were lost years as injuries equated to DL time….bounces back in 1973 (but not to the degree as in his prime years)….seeing high value is traded to the Padres…puts in two full years but stumbles in 1976….winded up in Oakland and failing .204 BA….a free agent took a flyer across the bay back to the Giants….Responded with his 3rd major comeback in 1977…28 home runs and .280 BA….was able to contribute for a couple more Giant campaigns ….made 500 home run club 1978….HOF first ballot 1986.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
The problem with players in expansion teams is not they can’t have good season or two, they just can’t do it consistently….in most cases….Bill's arm troubles are to blame during 1973 after two successive 13 win seasons….was #2 AL rookie of the year voting and named AL rookie pitcher of the year for 1971….that year his 13-17 mark was offset by a sparkling 3.20 ERA….could have sued the Brewers for non support…7th round armature draft pick in 1968 by the Seattle Pilots…1972 won 13 games again....1973 was 3-6 with 6.79 ERA but somehow stayed with Milwaukee…demoted to Brewer AAA farm club in Sacremento in 1974 then traded to Oakland AAA club…his 5.05 ERA was high but playing with Sacremento was in a converted football stadium ….the team ERA mark was 6.70 so it could be called a Pyrrhic victory….resurfaced briefly with Oakland’s big club….another go round in AAA 1975 sputtered out.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Team Born as the politically incorrect Colt .45’s complete with smoking gun logo….Circa 1962 Houston and the Mets were made to cut off the intended rival Continental League at the pass….first year 24 wins better than their expansion siblings the Mets….and better than the Cubs too…subsequent years always seem to have a slight edge over the Mets but no major climb upwards ...major event in 1965 moniker Astros took over with the move to Astrodome adjacent to original home and provisional Colt Stadium….reached .500 in 1969 but the Mets surpassed them and everybody by being World Champs….sad to say on the subject; one World Series for 55 years of work, plus team has yet to win a game in the WS….team has fielded strong squads during the1979-1981, most of a 10 year span 1995-2005…and bad one stretch of 100 loses in 2009-11…on losing end of an incredibly close 1980 NLCS playoff…moved to American league in 2011…Two hall of famers that stayed with franchise for the duration…Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell….HOFer who spent 9 seasons Nolan Ryan…HOFer who started and spent 9 years plus adding one more Joe Morgan…other notables Jim Wynn, Lance Berkman the unfortunate J R Richard and tragic and Don Wilson.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
Don't look for Darrel's name in Baseball Reference, type in Bucky Brandon instead....Changed teams eight times three franchises before first game in majors…An odd career missing a beat on some teams highs and a positive landing in other’s team’s lows….Once in majors played for Red Sox (but was not effective in 1967 WS year) was an expansion draftee by Pilots, acquired by Twins…found a home with Philadelphia….claim to fame is three .500 seasons in debut year of 1966, 1971, and 1972….the last is most interesting for by going 7-7 he was #2 in Phillies wins just barely edged by Steve Carlton who had 19 more…without this dynamic duo chipping their records the Phillies went 25-80….dubious claim to fame…mediocre 973 spelt the MLB end for Bucky although he played another year in AAA.
Wednesday, September 6, 2017
One MLB team: Tigers…but gained notoriety as being one of last negro league players along with Hank Aaron and Paul Casanova….Signed by Detroit in 1962….worked his way up until he finially saw MLB light of day in 1969…career bench reserve….a pinch hitter…some pop with employment span of 1969 -1973….not be confused with teammate Gates Brown who also served as a good hit reserve….passed away 2006.
Sunday, September 3, 2017
A mound craftsman and crafty character….HOF shrouded in the spitballer label….reporters went so far as to ask his 5 year old daughter if he threw a greaseball, without hesitation replies “it’s a hard slider”….The fun started in 1966 after an extensive development running four years….That year established as a starter went 21-8….then taking the win in 15, 16, 19, 23 contests in four seasons….the later being good for 2nd in 1970 NL Cy Young….maybe felt a twinge of jealousy as brother Jim took the AL Cy Young with 25 victories….1971 his last SF year won 16 games....through his SF years the better his ERAs was the smaller his win total…That all changed after trade to Cleveland for 1972….proceeded to set the baseball world on its ear with 24 wins and the AL Cy Young award….Equally incredible was the record in light how bad Cleveland was at the time….A massive steal for Indians and Giant sunk quickly....Mystified AL audiences as to where he was hiding his grease…Neighbor of mine swore gunk was hidden in Craig Nettles shoe….had OK follow up in 73 with a 19-19 accompanied by a 3.44 ERA…note Nettles was gone….must of got someone to take the Nettle’s role in 74 when he reached 20 games for the fourth time….However ran into conflicts with new manager Frank Robinson in 1975….Traded to Texas…had good years but not the heights reached with Giants and Indians….a trade to San Diego another steal....Gaylord's last great season in an impressive career….at age 39, went 21-6 and took the 1978 NL Cy Young….Career thereafter was a continuation of a workhorse load but wins became more elusive….traveled often SD, Texas, NYY, Seattle, and KC were his homesteads….won 300th game 1982 in a Mariners uniform….one of the most dominant pitchers to have played for both leagues….he and brother Jim are second in the all time win list by siblings to Joe and Phil Niekro.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
A big deal at first, relegated to semi-obscurity later on….Pirates his only team…excellent glove man and proficient at small ball….after one season of getting his feet wet in 1964 career started to take off…hit .252 in 1965…reaches personal highs in 1966-67 hitting .299 and .287 winning gold gloves and is possibly the best shortstop for the time…because the best NL shortstop Maury Wills was playing about 30 feet to his right….starting 1968 settled into .240ish batting numbers and losing playing time to Fred Patek….played into 1973….major fails in post season…a fact not lost on skipper Danny Murtaugh who replaced him with sub Jackie Herandez in 1971 WS who hit worse than Gene’s pale .227 regular season mark…final post season tally of 1 for 27....Ouch.
Monday, August 28, 2017
One and one half year wonder out of the gate 1967-68….coasted to stick around for five more years with limited effectiveness…aloof and sometimes distant from teammates…oh so good in 68, went 17-8 with five weeks left in season..Ran out of gas and only won one game thereafter giving Jim 18 wins….Indicative of his career too….Could not get untracked in 1969 and 1970….Won 6 games each year and totally eclipsed by Bird Hill Ace peers….trade to mid-year 1971 Yankees was highly unproductive..Released and was taken off the retread pile by the Braves….Was able to reach 5 victories with 2 losses in last season...his 4.50 ERA indicate record was buoyed by Atlanta run support….Died in plane crash 1991…it was said about the tragedy that Hardin fought the controls of the plane to avoid crashing into children playing on a baseball diamond.
Friday, August 25, 2017
On a personal note, I thought this guy would be a star…speed and power guy ala Bobby Bonds who was mired in talent laden Pirates outfield….Getting a chance to ascend the chronically rebuilding Padres… read the back of the card lead I.L in steals and hits….plus hit .320 at September call up in San Diego….I was wrong ….while some power showed, struck out frequently and clunked to a .228 BA….Traded to White Sox…rose his BA a bit but not enough to become an incumbent to the next year….stolen bases never materialized and failed when given more playing time….wound up in Cleveland for nearly a dozen and a half at bats in his last year of 1974.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Short uneventful career….at this point three years three clubs Red Sox, White Sox, Angel….hit OK with some pop….brutal in the field….25 errors cumulated over three positions in 1970 soured any offensive asset brought to the table by his bat….then a .199 BA with Angels was pretty much the nail in the coffin….was able to start 1972 in Anaheim but midseason was shuffled to Milwaukee…two clubs combined for .193 BA.....last MLB season...one of three and the most recent player with the name Syd.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Cog in the Red Sox veteran starting staff…was quite old for a rookie (27) in 1964...two reasons, attended college and started pro ball as an infielder…..Once he established himself as a starter with Indians was reach back to back 16 win seasons plus a no hitter….lowered ERA but win output declined to thereafter to 12 and 10 wins….Started 1969 with the tribe after two starts was traded to Red Sox for the very popular Ken Harrelson….took awhile to earn Boston affection…started with 14 wins 1969, then 15, then 16 in 1971 best on the team….effectiveness due to control and breaking stuff rather than speed and power... record diminished to 12-12 1972 as the Sox looked forward to the rejuvenated Luis Tiant and Marty Pattin and company….Sonny started 1973 in Boston but played very little and was traded early on to Texas desperate for help…registered a 7-11 record….took diminished skills to St Louis 1974 to 8-8 record…last stop on train was 1975 when he was acquired by the Padres looking for veteran help…at age 38 not much was given…traded to Oakland for a few starts ended season and career….two time all star.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Gifted player whose talent was mired in Red’s outfield depth…then a lynchpin in a savvy trade that catapulted KC into contender status far before their 1969 expansion siblings….latched on with Cincinnati 1970 in a limited role….got more opportunity in 1971 as Bobby Toland was out of action….hit .266 but the Reds faulted without Tolan….sat on bench most of 1972,,,,went west to KC 1973….first suffered from jitters, hitting .234….Kicked into overdrive 1974 starting with .310 BA….1976 participated in a heated batting Championship race….finished second to teammate George Brett…controversial in Hal’s opinion….morphed into an excellent run producer in the following years slightly lowering BA….Best year was 1982 when tallied a league leading 133 RBIs and personal best 27 home runs…twice took top honors of in doubles…slowed up gradually but still an asset….15 years in KC end in 1987…. Still had skills last season hit .313 in 72 at bats…fiery, hard working competitor who took that modality to managing….above .500 at KC but no flag…took over at Tampa Ray 2002…wasn’t able to right that ship….known for tirades about losing.
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Vagabond reliever who had an up and down career overshadowed by his tragic unusual death while driving a dune buggy outside his Phoenix home…took place Jan 1 , 1977….his beginnings were as a Mets prospect….worked his way to the big club splitting time with AAA club 1967-68….got in enough work to lose Rookie status….sent to AAA for near duration of the 1969 missing out on the Championship run….got big league staying power beginning 1970 after learning forkball from Diego Segui…had best season 1971 with 12 saves and below 2.00 ERA….1972 was able to get 9 saves but arm troubles limited effectiveness…trade to Braves for 73-74 was not fruitful and production regressed…..Resurfaced in San Diego 1975 where his numbers improved but went to St Louis as his next stop….after limited work was sent to Brewers mid season….decent number in what would be his final year.