Thursday, December 14, 2017
Lefty had heaps of work….but not a lot to show for it….one of multitude of young, home grown arms brought into the fray that was the Phillies staff….made company with Lowell Palmer, Billy Champion, Mac Scares, Barry Lersch of the time....in 1971 his 5-9 showing was non memorable effort but it shone brightly compared 1972’s 2-15 debacle….Despite the descending record ERA actually improved by ¼ a run per game…one of the forgotten other than Steve Carlton starters of the Phillie squad…was traded to the Twins after 1972….flipped to Milwaukee before 1973 began….spent a majority of his year in AAA Evansville…a top winner with 15 games, kept in contention for MLB return….was able to have two consecutive winning AAA campaigns but earned only one cup of coffee…last real MLB time was with San Diego 1976 appearing in 19 games.....Career highlight might been sharing 1971 Rookie Card with Archie Reynolds and Bob Reynolds.
Monday, December 11, 2017
Good player, extensive career, but his sons garnered more fame…Catcher Sandy Jr was a multiple all star and Roberto was a great player with induction to the HOF…Sandy Sr. the first debuted in the early 60’s with the Braves….transferred quickly to the Mets (with a dubious 0-22 stint) then Chisox where he first able get semi-regular work….early in 1969 traded to Angels for fellow 2nd baseman Bobby Knoop…(interesting trade, Knoop was 30 years old and at the end of his career, Alomar was 25)….ironman for the next several seasons…hit consistently at .250-.260 mark (very good, for the pitching strong Angels)….made all star 1970… put in 648 consecutive games until a broken leg took him out in September 1973….lost regular gig to Denny Doyle but resurged in the remainder of season after a trade to Yankees…kept #1 2nd base status in 1975 but production declined…playing time in 1976 significantly cut with the introduction of Willie Randolph…acquired by Texas for 1977-78 who used him sparingly….has remained employed in baseball as roving instructor and third base coach.
Friday, December 8, 2017
Its never a good sign when your baseball card shows you bunting….In addition the name like Boots Day does not strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers…but in truth had a fair year as platoon player in 1971…career highs in production…but never progress more than than….played two and half more years in Montreal….Expos numbers were 8 home runs and respectable .258 BA…. formidable St Louis area high school pitcher….signed by Cardinals and made his MLB debut with the birds….irony got his first hit against the Expos when he was a Cub in 1970… traded to Montreal a few days later…. After his Montreal days, had a very long stint with the AAA Evansville Triplets.... not only a position player but used his southpaw arm on the mound….Boots’ pitching line was 7-5 record in 87 games (plus 9 starts) and 4.33 ERA over 6 years….real name Charles Fredrick…was named Boots by a older sister when he was a baby…Returned to Evansville as a manager 1995.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Essentially two careers….a rapid rise to stardom then demotion and tapered comeback….the centerpiece of the 1967 revival of the Boston Red Sox….Odyssey starts in 1965 and makes Red Sox roster…that year’s edition lost 100 games and he 17, but his presence represented youth coming out of the shadows of Ted Williams….improved to 10-10 in 1966…Jim and his surprising Bosox team jumped out of gate in 1967 to take the AL crown…earned 22 wins and Cy Young…held his own with a 2-1 WS record as the Red Sox fell to the Cardinals….all looked great until a ski accident in the off season…ligament damage surgery delayed 1968 start but faced further shoulder issues when pitching motion changed…end result was a frightful trial resulting in just 27 wins over the next four years including two demotions to the minors…his 10-7 record in 1971 did show promise…trade to Milwaukee for 1972 provided him with work and a higher pecking order in the rotation…responded with 14 wins…Nevertheless Milwaukee looking to steady their infield flipped Longborg to Philly at the conclusion of the season….Longborg stayed with Phillies for rest of career highlight being 17 and 18 win efforts in 1974 and 1976 respectively…playing days ended in 1979 but Longborg showing a strong adherence to continuing education eventually becoming a dentist in New England after playing days were over…still involved with Red Sox chairities….fun fact childhood friend of pitcher/outfielder Mel Queen and married Mel’s sister.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Special note: I'm taking a break for about a week and then I'll get back on track.
Sunday, November 26, 2017
Jim Foor, Tim Hosley, Paul Jata Tigers were going full veteran leaving no room for this trio…not much here only Hosley was able to hold for several years albeit in an exclusive reserve role…Foor show up for a few innings over three years ending with a 1-0 record….Jata hit .230 in 1972….could not break the Tiger outfield…Hosley has value as a third to second string catcher….started with Tigers, then shifted over to Oakland, got most of his playing time with the Cubs, then another trip to Oakland….hit over 200 home runs in the minors….had 12 in 368 major league at bats….appeared last big league uniform 1981…released during the strike that year….passed away 2014.
Thursday, November 23, 2017
Greatly missed by the Cubs….possibly the cause of the Cubs playoff failures post 1969….not even close to an adequate substitute…an innovative player whose contribution is the one hand approach to catching reducing injuries to the throwing arm…started in the Giants farm system…acquired by Cubs blossomed under Leo Durocher….1966 hit19 home runs to show pop in his bat….a bright spot in a rebuilding year…the Cub’s investment in the future paid off with 28 game improvement 1967…Randy improved his BA by 31 pts…after an off year in 1968 was to come back with a .255 and 18 home runs…Randy was named to the All Star team for the only time in his career….1970 started the run of injuries…never obtained solid BA but probably the greatest loss was in defensive skills…hung on with Cubs up to 1975 season…traded to Twins but injuries bug bit in the form of the knee injury from a confrontation with a teammate…traveled on to Padres, hit poorly, but was helpful in Randy Jones effort for 20 wins…in all probability the slowest player in baseball at the time…The Cubs feeling nostalgic brought Randy for a handful of games in next two years…father of Todd Hundley, also a catcher from 1990-2003.
Monday, November 20, 2017
No player from 1971 I can think of is more influential to today’s game than he…I look at two phases come to light; first his early years with Boston averaging an inning each game he appears then in 1972 record setting number of saves with the Yankees…put together it’s possible Sparky’s first true closer…at the time the top reliever completed usually closer to two innings per outing….his acquisition by the Yankees was the first in a line of imports that eventually resulted in two WS wins….over the years Sparky holds court in the Yankee pen…1975 decidedly an off year with 6 saves….bounced back with vengeance in 1976 leading the AL in saves with a somewhat small figure of 23….In 1977, Sparky was able add 3 more saves to his total but more importantly he’s the first reliever to win AL Cy Young…it was the end of his prominence as George Steinbremer imports Goose Gossage and Rawley Eastwick, effectively putting Lyle is a secondary role….a trade to Texas for 1979 resulted in moderate improvement but was becoming evidently clear time was catching up to him…his worst season to date came in 1980 with a 4.49 ERA….only redeemer was late trade to the Phillies…improved and appeared in two scoreless inning in the NLCS….continued to hang on in Philly for the most of two more seasons in middle relief….career ended with White Sox late 1982…career line was 238 saves…37th on the all time list….has written two books on baseball both based on his Bronx Zoo time.
Friday, November 17, 2017
The Road Runner….Fast that fact helped Ralph’s cause….used bunts, choppers, line drives to hit extremely well out of upon full time employment with a .342 clip in 1971….not edible for ROY for he had garnered too much time in multiple call ups over three years earlier…arguably a better replacement for Rico Carty, who was out for the year….Hits just kept on coming in 72, 73, and 74…the last year won the NL batting title…..had one of the best hit total of all time for his fourth full year beaten only by Ty Cobb….cooled off a bit to a still respectable .278 in 1975 as defenses adjusted….took his speed to the White Sox for 1976…bad team but good performance as Ralph rebounded to .300… repeated his .300 clip as Sox improved by 26 games in 1977…continued in Chicago as his imported teammates departed….hit at step lower .270’s for 1978 and most of 79…sold to Angels late 1979 but was inconsequential…poor 1980 resulted in release mid 1980. …if only the hits could have continued.
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Bullpen employment throughout career…Coming off a career year with a stingy 1.46 ERA….few of the 1971 Cleveland Indians crew can claim that…Steve’s 1972 resulted in an 0-6 record, a near tripling of this ERA, but led the team with 10 saves…a poor start in 1973 resulted in a trade to his native Kansas City...nice addition….a contributor but never became the top closer….as a Royal was generally consistent with ERA clustering around 2-3 runs a game…career ended in 1979 after ERA ballooned to 5.79….died at age 64 in 2009.
Saturday, November 11, 2017
Taking the name of the long time PCL franchise, established in 1969….All in all a futile franchise…small market overshadowed by the city 80 miles to the north…the 2010’s have not been kind…neither was their start…first five seasons starting averaged well over 100 losses a year….thing were so dire, attendance so poor that a move to Washington seemed imminent…to the point that a Washington prototype uniform was created and modeled….Enter Ray Kroc the founder of modern day McDonald's….success was not instantaneous but attendance rose….more talent was imported via free agency….went over .500 win pct in 10th season in 1978 …success short lived, reverting back to less than .500 play…did not rise again until 1984 World Series year…since then one return to the Fall Classic…both losses….Needless to say in 1972 all records on the backside of the card have been broken although Dave Robert’s ERA of 2.10 in 1971 should be the club record given he pitched 269 innings over reliever Luis De Leon 102.….Nate Colbert’s twice achieved mark of 38 homers remain in club’s top ten….Greatest player by far is San Diego native, Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn… Tony, an incredible 3rd round pick proceeded to win 8 batting crowns….most impressive season was at age 37 when he hit .372, and obtained career best figures for home runs and RBIs….Other HOFers (Dave Winfield, Gaylord Perry) have played with the Padres but the franchise only kept them them during the prime of their career…since their inception as it stands now the franchise win loss record is nearly 600 games below .500.
Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Dominican hero, a trailblazer….not the first MLB player from the country but the first to be born and raised from there….debut with the recently moved San Francisco Giants…held his own but playing was gradually acquired…production increased accordingly….reached his prime in 1961 received all star nod in 1962….around this time was accompanied by brothers Matty and Jesus…Felipe was a different player; stronger more power (3xs more) than his siblings combined….was traded to Braves before 1964 season…one bright spot for the few Milwaukee fans who knew of the move to Atlanta….upon arrival south, embarked on his career year, taking advantage of the close confines of Atlanta Stadium….led NL in runs, total bases, and hits, second in BA….chipped in 31 of the Braves 207 home runs… evolved into a line drive style hitter and reprised himself as one of the top NL hitters, leading the circuit in 1968…. never found the offensive numbers again but remained a regular for several years….handed around returning to the bay area with Oakland, then Yankees a year after….skills started diminish in 1973….placed on waivers and picked up by the Expos…finished as player with 3 at bats in Milwaukee, 1974…returned baseball as manager a couple years later….moving up and down different levels of ball….all within the Montreal chain…got his big league chance 1992 as the franchise was moving up….Skippered one of best teams never to have made the playoffs 1994 Montreal Expos….won manager of the year award in the season of no champion….subsequent years were not as kind…reached 100 win with Giants in 2003…managed 3 more years….Very respected figure in baseball world….fathered 11 children.
Sunday, November 5, 2017
At the time, a new phase of his career; now as a Dodger….had a career that was one of the longest on record spanning 27 seasons….the secret wasn’t overpowering stuff, just the man knew how to pitch….The odyssey starts in Cleveland where he was not used…trade to the W Sox brought a regular role in rotation…John responded in kind winning 14 games in 1965 and 1966 both times best mark on the club…as White Sox bats tanked so did John’s ability to win games…losing record going 10-13 in 1967 even though his ERA improved…rebounded of sorts in 1968 going 10-5 but his # of games were cut short by injuries…next three season John once again found himself losing more than winning…the addition of super coach Johnny Sain failed to light a fire as it did with others….1972 Trade to LA begins a new chapter…starts able to win and avoid losses going 27-12 over two years….cruises at the start of 1975 season as one of the leading pitchers in the league…feels a pop in his elbow and John is out for the year...so starts the legendary surgery and rehab process that bears his name….it wasn’t so much procedure that was extraordinary but the beyond the wildest dreams output shouldered by John….out 1975 his reappearance in 1976 record of 10-10 is tentative but promising…delivered the notice of miraculous event by going 20-7 in 1977….one more year in LA yielded 17-10 mark…took to free agency and was collected by the NYY… output was successive 20 win years….it was his pinnacle, for he never was as good but would continue to be used as 4th-5th starter with Angels, A’s, and return to the Yankees… was a veteran influence…In 1987 mired in the midst of a string of losing records was able to forge a 13-6 record based on sheer craftiness at age 44…played two more season picking up 11 more wins to give John 288 for his career….not in the Hall of Fame but has the most wins of any player not in the Hall….fate for HOF rests in Veterans committee.
Thursday, November 2, 2017
Went out still in his prime…a rarity…1972 was last year….paved the way for the full development of Steve Garvey….his career is 2 acts….first 4 years, 1964-68 was unremarkable at the plate…low ebb was the pitcher dominant year of 1968 drove in only 27 runs and .239 BA….did collect two gold gloves….became a more balanced player 1969…fielding skills remained at par excellent but drove up batting average nearly 40 points and well over doubled RBIs ….had career year in 1970 and showed himself as a major offensive force….319 BA and 111 runs driven in…next two years was contributor to Dodger offense with numbers high similar to his 1969 output….continued to win gold gloves to the end, giving him 6 consecutive awards....like so many of his LA peers did television appearances in off season....also dabbled in broadcasting and one year stint in the Nippon League.
Monday, October 30, 2017
A pitcher difficult to define but definitely successful…13 seasons mostly alternating in a dual reliever starter role, not settling until the very end ….started in 1961as a resident in the Giant bullpen….remained in that role but gradually took over to spot starting….elevated to starter in 1966 going 11-10 plus decent 2.89 ERA….consistency and control were sometimes elusive…when ON like 1968 took home 2nd place in NL ERA ranking with 1.99 figure…an elevated ERA in 1969 prompted a trade to the then Seattle Pilot…wore the uniform at spring training but morphed into a Brewer apparel in 1970….acquired by Red Sox late in the year….admittedly these were difficult years with ERAs that did not picture job security…sent to minors but regain his control…returned to Boston in a limited role started to regain past bullpen effectiveness in 1972….had his top fireman in season 1973 at age 34 with 15 saves and sparkling 2.70 ERA…no encore however for Bob was released after the season.
Friday, October 27, 2017
Not a star....yet….it almost did not look so at the time….skinny as a rail…was able to latch on the 1970 edition of the Big Red…OK season in a shortstop by committee situation…started to get more playing time in the next years but BA suffered mightily, just over .200…future uncertain for the light hitting Venezuelan …for no particular reason started hitting the ball in 1973…despite a midseason injury was efficient at the plate hit .286 and doubled production…showed the baseball world he was back with arguably his best season….stole 40 bases and garnered more power with 14 home runs in 1974…surprising given Dave hit a single home run in over 800 minor league at bats…for the next 11 seasons Concepcion plays and stays in Reds infield….last Red Machine Cog standing after teammates left….collects gold gloves and all star 9 out of 10 years…assumed role of team captain….becomes a role player in 1986 but astounds by using 104 to collect a BA of .319 in 1987 ….released after 1988 season but established as one of the best in position….like his idol Luis Aparcio played winter ball in Venezuela…served as an Aragua Tiger.
Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Neither Dwain Anderson, Chris Floethe amounted to much….what you see is what you get… Anderson did make some inroads in 1972 as a somewhat successful shortstop with the Cards…hit .267 and recognized as Topp’s rookie shortstop of the year….1973 Could not get a hit for love or money….was able to resurface briefly ….lower than the Marianas Trench as Dwain’s BA dropped by well over one half to a horrid .121.…was able to play a game for Cleveland in 1974 but was out of baseball in 1975… Floethe could not successfully make the advancement to AAA ball…his 1971 AA record in Birmingham was a career high…. That’s it.
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.