Friday, June 23, 2017

#321 Joe Lahoud

A power-first slugger who got caught in the numbers game in Boston’s deep outfield....didn’t help that Batting Average was well below par especially give the All Star quality Sox outfield at the time...fair to good OPS based on his ability to gather base on balls....New England born to Lebanese parents.... had clubhouse conflicts with Billy Coniglario who ironically was traded with Joe to the Brewers...Solomon-esque decision making by the Rouge stockings...his .205 BA with Red Sox did not improve greatly in Beer two season hit season far and away took place in 1974 after being traded to the Angels...offensively starved at the time, Joe hit .271 with 14 home runs, and 44 RBIs....returned to sub .200 ways in 1975 and then rode the bench for Texas and Kansas City up to 1978...Showed his batting eye in ALCS drawing 2 walks in 3 plate appearances....hit first home run against Denny three home runs were hit in one game against the Twin 6-11-69, a career highlight....had a career .290 BA in minor versus .223 at the MLB level.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

#322  Jose Pena

Mexican League veteran trying his luck north of the border, surfacing with the Dodgers via rule 5 Fernando find, gave limited returns...7-4 record, 4.97 ERA as a reliever...started in Reds organization....Poor results in 5 games in June 1969 with the Reds....returned to Mexican League and excelled catching the eye of the Dodgers ....First professional game 1961 Mexican Minor League.... spent 1962 to 1966 with Mexico City Tigers....according to Wikipedia was married to a female professional poker player at the time in a Dodger uniform...Started out strong with Dodgers during 1970 then proceeded to melt down in June....1971 did mop up middle relief work. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

#323 Earl Weaver

Legendary Baltimore Skipper...definition of winner in a compact 5’ 8”package....Weaver’s Orioles were AL’s dominant team, 3 first place finishes, 3 AL championship series sweeps, in his first three full seasons....road to his MLB duties were long, making nearly every stop up the Oriole farm system in levels D to AAA....experience gave him a great knowledge of future Baltimore players...midseason replacement for Hank Bauer 1968....Career line: five 100 win season, 420 games above .500....primary body of work ended in 1982...retired briefly as Baltimore won another WS.....was lured out of retirement mid 1985....won again but the birds fell short.... never had a losing season, not even close, until his last year in 1986....fiery temper first manager to ejected from a WS game...only downside of a stellar career was a single WS championship 1970 out of four contests.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

#324  Mike Ryan

Defensive specialist catcher usually in a backup role...anemic with a bat... Career .193 BA in 2000+ at bats.....Introduced to the Red Sox was their regular catcher 1966....thrust into the spotlight 1967 as the Red Sox surged....lost starting job to veteran Elston Howard....outspoken about it and he may had a case....nobody calling themselves backstop hit very well....Ryan hit .199 while the ancient Howard hit a horrid .145...Ryan was vocal about too....Shuffled to the Phillies for 1968...a regular for a second time Ryan was able to put up his career best 12 hrs and 44 RBIs in 1969 but his .204 BA underlies his hitting futility....Ryan never regained significant playing time thereafter, due acquisitions of Tim McCarver, John Bateman, and then the development of Bob in 46 games twice in the remainder of his five season....was able to hit .232 in 79 at bats 1973, a personal best....squeaked in some time with Pirates 1974....remained in baseball for 21 more years; minor league manager, catching instructor, and bullpen coach....mostly for the Phillies organization.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

#325  Mel Stottlemyre   

Ace of the Bronx Bombers at the time........On par with the best of his MLB contemporaries but under looked unfortunately because it was at the nadir of Yankee franchise....odd given that his base of operation was media New York....Mel’s Yankee story begins by being pressed into service to replace an ailing Whitey Ford in 1964....prior he was blowing away IL AAA competition with 13 wins and league best 1.42 ERA....continued to  roll with a 9-2 record and a WS start....Excellent follow up at 20-9 1965 the silver lining as the Yankee juggernaut was exiled to an unfamiliar second division.... record was nearly reversed in 1966 as Mel went 12-20 and the Yanks finished last...Mel eventually regained his touch, putting back to back 20 win seasons 1968-69....Mel gave way to other NYY hurlers in next 4 years but he remained a consistent force...end essentially came with a midseason 1974 torn rotator cuff injury, a devastating injury ...had two sons who reached the bigs....a career of highest standards....especially racking up an solid 154 complete games and 40 shutouts which still ranks in the top 50 of all team career....long time coach after playing days over.   

Thursday, June 8, 2017

#326  Pat Kelly 

Handy to have around....beneficiary of expansion and made the most of it....prototype of lead off hitter...specialty getting on base and stolen bases....Brother of Football HOFer LeRoy Kelly....started out serving time in Twins bushes....selected by KC Royals and settled into the right or centerfield spot....first year highlight of 1969 was 40 stolen bases and a .264 off year in 1970 resulted in trade ChiSox...1971: started at AAA where tore up the opposition at .351 clip...Called up July 1st and transitioned nicely to .291 BA....gave the White Sox solid years thereafter hitting with a 273 clip....In 1977 took flight to Baltimore, where produced similar numbers prorated for diminished playing time....a born again Christian who became a licensed minister after his playing days were over in 1981...died of heart attack 2006

Monday, June 5, 2017

#327  Steve Stone

An interesting man on three levels....Somewhat of a renaissance man, well educated and articulate, a poet.....Post baseball career a longer White Sox colorman....As a baseball player on its own one milestone standout....A long career in broadcasting and ne season in a otherwise up and down career with wider range between the points than most of his like good in 1980 racking up 25 wins and the AL Cy Young.....lows: was the immediate career ending injury and loss of effectiveness....rookie debut 1971 San Francisco Giants....not fully ingrained with the rotation....traded to White Sox for 1973 with lesser results....took cross town flight to Cubs 1973-6 with mixed results... a two time free agent first was the reacquisition by the pale sox brought his first 15 game win season in 1977...lower ERA in 1978 but won 3 less games victim of the Sox being bled white offensively....Second free agency landed Stone in Baltimore....OK at 11-7 as a fourth starter in 1979 but blossomed into a force 1980....25-7 record, best in AL with a Cy Young award on a Faustian twist, an encore never materialized....developed arm trouble and never got untracked....retired from playing after 1981....A winning career line at 107-93 W-L, minus 1980 it would have been 82-86.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

#328 Boston Red Sox team card

Storied franchise from the junior original, established 1901....Wrestled ownership of Beantown away from the older .500 win pct. Braves...The only time an AL team would do so....Hall of Famers abound starting from the first year....Cy Young was on the first squad then known as the Boston Americans....A formidable team early on winning 5 World Championships and only 4 losing seasons in the first 19 years....then the pivotal moment that became part of folklore....the trade of Babe Ruth to the rival Yankees....Boston’s reels off 15 consecutive losing years the virtual opposite of the Ruth lead Yankees....buoyed by wise acquisitions, such Joe Cronin, Jimmy Foxx, and eventually Ted Williams (from the PCL Padres)....Red Sox enter into the world of a first division team but short of pennants....After William’s retirement the Red Sox languish but rebound nicely with a first place finishes in 1967 a feat repeated over two more decades....despite the achievement all three campaigns came up empty....hence the credence to the Curse of the Bambino....The 85 year championship drought was broken by the 2004 squad avenging the St Louis Cardinals...Red have proceeded to win two more World titles.....Several invincible team records for batting and pitching stand vanguard for eternity...Ted Williams .406 BA and 150 runs, Jimmy Foxx 175 RBIs and total bases....some have fallen however, Wade Boggs had 240 hits, David Ortiz 54 home runs.....untouchable pitching achievements are the 34 wins, 25 losses from the early 20th century, Cy Young’s 41 complete games...Young and Woods shutout mark of 10 is intact but has threaten by Roger Clemens eight.....New team titles include games appeared 81 by Mike Timlin, strikeouts 313 Pedro Martinez, win pct of .941 by Clay tally 8 WS titles and curse is hence broken.        

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

#329  Roy Foster

Example of strong rookie season then quick decline....A seven year farm hand who got a chance with Cleveland after developing in the Mets, Pirates, and mid winter acquisition by the Pilots/Brewer franchise....Never had even a taste of MLB work prior.....excellent rookie debut, exceeded expectations, 23 home runs, .268 BA ....Finished second in ROY to Thurman Munson.....Follow up season not as strong 16 home runs and .245 BA.... Ranger moniker on his 1972 card was façade for he never played for them....a case of reacquisition by the tribe just before 1972 contest began....His return to Indians was uneventful....Even though the Senator name is print on his card, Roy get a one team mention in the links section.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

#330 Jim Hunter

Known to all as “Catfish” because a myth made up by huckster owner Charlie O Finley....Hall of Famer a study in contrasts...Career spent with two clubs enshrouded in controversy....Joined the KC Athletics out of high school never played a day in the bush leagues....instantly pressed into rotation....wins were periodic as KC/Oakland collected prospects and Catfish was on a prolonged mend  from a teenage hunting accident to his foot....gave a glimpse of future dominance with a perfect game against Twins in 1968....Win totals doesn’t hit overdrive until 1970 logging 18....Joins the 20 win club in 1971 aiding himself with .350 BA....repeats 21 wins two more times ...Takes AL Cy Young with 25 wins as the A’s become three peat World Champs 1974....Bid farewell to the bay area as Hunter and the Players Union declared that Charlie O defaulted on Catfish’ two year contract by failing to pay promised insurance annuities....declared agent and wooed by nearly all teams....Donned Yankee pinstripes for 1975 by virtue of persuasion of the ex KC  then Yankee scout who got Catfish to sign as a teenager....The move spelled the end of A’s rule of baseball, next season many would follow by letting their contracts run out....Hunter took to NYY like a catfish to bayou water winning 23 games...No 2 in Cy Young voting....helped Yankees to WS in 1976 with 17 wins....contributed for two more years with a handful of wins as he lost out in the numbers game with new imported free agent arms....struggled thru a 2-9 record in 1979 which finished out his career at age of 33....In post season went 7-2 for Oakland,  2-4 with NYY....five consecutive year run of 20+ win seasons....sadly died from  complication of ALS at age 53.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

#331 Stan Swanson

A short unknown career , at least to this writer....Montreal farmhand who was able to get some big club experience in 1971....his single season MLB career line is on the back of the card....started as a Reds prospect....traded to Expos for 1971....not making the big club torched AAA pitching at the Expo's Winnipeg club with a .351 BA to earn his call up...nice debut with two doubles in five at bats...possibly his best game ever...hit two home runs both against Cardinals.....finished with .245 BA.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

#332 Buck Martinez

A KC extended to 17 seasons exceeding his 1969 expansionist teammates of Lou Pinella and Tom Burgmeier by two years and all the rest by a wide margin ...incredible longevity given he only shared catching duties at best and was a less than stellar hitter with a .225 BA....a testimony to the value of the Catcher position...not an expansion pick however rather traded to Royals by Astros....was #2 backstop for KC as a 20 year old rookie....Had trouble getting back to big club for entire campaigns until 1974 (8 hits in 55 at bats 1970-71, bypassed altogether relegated to minors 1972)....Took his reserve value to Milwaukee for three years, then Toronto for another six....played the outfield one game, DH for two, and pitched once....All other work in the field was as backstop.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

#333 Steve Barber 

Typical veteran story.....the once top starter hanging on in the majors with middle relief work occasionally getting to closing out games....Well traveled, seven teams in 15 years, most of them for only short stints...travels included the only year of the  Seattle Pilots plagued by inconsistency, sometimes top of line (1961 18 wins, 1963 20 wins), quickly followed by mediocre year....released five times then picked up by another club....took demotions to minors rather than retiring.....In the period of 1971-1973 he showed glimpses of past effectiveness and was not demoted at any time.....Came out of the Baltimore farm system....despite poor performance in the minor his prime time was his first eight years situated with the Orioles....the bulk of his wins and his personal best ERA took place there....One of his last acts as an Oriole however was to give up Mickey Mantle’s 500th home run in 1967….oddly enough he was on the Yankee roster by the end of the year….…passed away in 2007

Monday, May 15, 2017

#334 Rangers Rookie Stars

Interesting lot...all players got in a varying amount of MLB playing time....none graced with superstardom in fact quite the opposite....Bill backup catcher with late blooming slant.....came to 1972 Rangers with a AA experience.....his 7 home runs in AA suggested some pop but showed very little at the top....Stayed with Texas organization for 8 years, struggling for playing time or even to stay with the big club at times....Spent 1973 and 1978 exclusively in Ranger to Padres gave him semi regular status a decent .271 BA over 1979-80....sold to Detroit where he finished as a seldom used reserve much like days in Tex...Jim more playing time than Fahey but with very limited production....after two Rangers season of hitting barely .200 was acquired by Yankees....essentially snuck in as their regular shortstop 1974...mixed result;  25 errors counteracted his .250 BA which was a career high....failed at the plate thereafter....registered consistently near below .200 for rest of career which included return stops to Texas and highlight one World Series at bat, one home run, perfect OPS....with career BA of .201 in 1400+ at bats, (bear in mind Mendoza line is .215) possibly the worst player with that amount of MLB playing time...Tom Ragland...infielder most stationed at 2nd base....hit poorly in his Ranger days and was caught up in a glut of Texas infielder wantabes...Found himself in Cleveland 1973, passable job with .257 BA but did not get a return ticket for 1974.

Friday, May 12, 2017

#335 Bill Hands

If Bill’s career wins were graphed it would show a bell curve...with the pinnacle topping out with 20 wins in 1969...a workhorse that year logging in 300 innings, a good portion of it in the Wrigley summer sun....Hands never reached those heights again....followed up 18, 12, and 11 win seasons as his ERA  inflated.....a swap to the Twins failed to resurrect his career, won just 6 games 1973....last game in baseball was a particularly nasty shelling by Brewers while in a Texas uniform....Resulting pitching line: 111 wins, 110 loses....passed away recently 2017....started out with Giants organization, won 17 games in AAA Phoenix 1965....another case of a prospect traded rather than kept much to the benefit of the mid-1960's Cubs.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#336 Marty Martinez  

Switch hitting career reserve....never a power threat; failed to connect over the fence in 1038 MLB plate appearances....had a power outage in the minors too, 4 home runs in 2870 plate appearances....versatile, caught, played all infield spots and left field.... once pitched too....passed away 2007....Cuban born....came up through the Minnesota farm system,  got a morsel of work as a late inning replacement 1962....long, exclusive stints in minors thereafter....resurfaced with Braves 1967, getting a sizeable portion of his body of work 1968....collected 354 at bats and hit .230....a 1969 trade to Houston, he proved to be an asset with .308 BA in 196 at bats....unfortunately lost production and playing time in subsequent to Cardinals resulted in just 7 at bats, then took on stints in Oakland and Texas...combined stops resulted in .159 BA....released thereafter....did coaching jobs to earn a living....passed away 2007. 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

#337 Mike Kilkenny

Card collectors know of a wild premonition come true...the trivia questionon the of his back 1972 card asks the question of which pitchers had previously for four teams in a season....Low and behold started his bizarre 1972 in Detroit: pitched one inning, traded to Oakland:  pitched one inning, traded to San Diego whereas he fashions a 5 game, 4 1/3 inning NL career....the circus stopped with a trade to Cleveland, where he remains for the rest of the year...four teams in the span of May 9th to June 11th, 1972....still tied for the record for most teams in a season with 10 others....A Canadian who crossed over the Detroit River to Tiger eclectic sportsman...good golfer and has owned harness race horses....skinny as a rail....came up to Detroit with standard farm stops in Lakeland (Fla), Montgomery (AL), Evansville (ID), and Toledo....called up 1969 and his rookie season was head and shoulders above subsequent seasons....8-6 record, 3.35 ERA, and Tiger Rookie of the two seasons had similar win pct but with considerably engorged ERA and fewer wins....Once with the Indians, did OK for Indians;  4-1 W-L, 3.54 ERA....maybe tired from the previous year, maybe distracted by other interests, got caught up contract and playing time dispute in 1973 and left after a few days.....the great question with Kilkenny is however, is his favorite TV show South Park?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

#338 Bobby Grich

Steadily being groomed to star in the stalwart Oriole infield…In accordance to Oriole standards drafted as an exceptional fielder, plucked out of UCLA….the next big thing in the eyes of Baltimore’s front office and MLB onlookers….teeming with talent as evidenced by three progressively excellent, consecutive, stints in the minors…was hitting .383 in AAA when called up in 1970….jacked up the offensive numbers in the return visit 1971 with 32 home runs and .334 BA best in the IL circuit…right man at the right time, called up for good in 1972, his .278 BA came to rescue of anemic production by both SS Mark Belanger and 2nd baseman Davey Johnson….hit a 100 and 58 points better than his teammates respectively…with Johnson’s exit in 1973 took over 2nd,  allowing him to settle into one position….start of 4 straight gold gloves and consistently solid batting…tested the free agency water and returned to his native So Cal as the California Angels invested heavily via Gene Autry’s bank account…an early on injury as a Halo put a two year delay on the investment return….came back with a vengeance 1979 with career year based on 30 home runs and 101 RBIs…achieved this while batting 8th propelling the Angels into the playoffs for the first time…that year jump started a resurgence exceeding his early Oriole days…was AL leading slugger and in four way tie for home run crown in strike shorten 1981….continued to contribute for the Angels up to being released after 1986 season, wrapping up a 17 year career.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

#339 Ron Cook 

Already done with MLB....obscure, medicore footnote..... Lone Star born and raised playing the only Texas team of the time…1970 started out nice getting in middle relief but gradually lost effectiveness in association with sporatic starts…Lost all 4 games he started in August 1971 ....made one more appearance (in his last game) to finish the season 0-4 with a 4.91 ERA....proceeded to languish in minors briefly for two more virture of very short career, Ron is included one team group.

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.