Sunday, August 1, 2021

#100 Frank Robinson

HOF career and historic trailblazer….Big powerful and in this writer’s opinion the largest hands I’ve ever seen.....Collector of major awards....ROY, 2X MVP, 2X All Star game MVP, batting crown, WS MVP to name 7 of 10....led respective circuit in OBP, runs, OPS. Slugging, doubles many times over...in addition led in HBP, Sacrifices, and IBB adding to run production....named to 14 all star games...Product of Oakland’s McClymond’s High School a breeding ground for sport stars....By passing higher rungs in the farm ladder, started as a Red out of the gate....instant star....a propellant in a franchise turnabout from also rans to first division competitors...both Robinson and crew hit pay dirt in 1961....Reds took the NL crown, Robinson MVP....King of the Queen city for 10 years....seemingly a great relationship....shockingly traded after 1965 season when Robinson completed his 4th 100+ RBI season and solid body of work....reason he was predicted to be “an old 30” in the upcoming year by the powers that be....Lucky recipient of this “living elder”;  the Baltimore Orioles, an improving squad looking for an added agent of change to ascend past the aging Yankee dominance....Robinson already known for intense play was galvanized for action....to prove the Reds wrong....no better way to do than taking the 1966 AL Triple Crown, leading the birds, slicing away to make short work of the LA Dodgers in the WS....Provides the O’s with strong offence for next 5 years.....a leader in the second resurgence 1969-71....three world series and one win coming aptly against his team of origin the Reds....Despite the impressive run Orioles flipped Frank to Dodgers for young prospects....Orioles missed him in 1972 and age seemed to gain on him in Chavez Ravine...traded to the other So Cal lineup, the Angels....deposited 50 balls over the fence for the most of two campaigns and impressive given he had few peers to assist him....in a minor deal is acquired by Cleveland just before the conclusion of the 1973.....the true motive of the deal was to break a racial barrier by naming Robinson skipper for 1974....Robinson wasn’t done playing however and retains a roster spot....reminds the Cleveland populace he has still have something left in the tank by homering in his first at bat as player manager helping out in opening day win...proceeds for 16 more years as a skipper....mostly with rebuilding teams....San Francisco, Montreal/Washington, and a return to Baltimore....No pennants or playoffs were reached.....Robinson’s greatest achievement was 33 game improvement to the favor of O’s in 1988....has few peers that reached equal levels of success....his trade to the Orioles is considered one the all time steals close to Lou Brock and Nolan Ryan deals....first ballot hall of fame....passed away early 2019.




Sunday, July 25, 2021

#101 Astro Rookie Stars

A mixed bag of careers....starting with Bill Greif…..by this time already gone from the Astros…..and exiled to San Diego….no run support, plus a losing mentality but there was plenty of work to be had…..1972 was a difficult year, 5-16 and ERA at 5.60….the Friars meekly armed with .227 team BA most likely were not going to bail Bill out....Bill toiled in Padre Brown and Yellow....showed inconsistent signs of improvement....1973 Greif lowered his ERA by 2 runs a game and doubled his win total....limited backing lost one more game from year prior...took step back with 4.66 ERA in 1974 losing a career high 19 games....a new tact for the rest of career reassigned to bullpen....mixed results....out of the majors after 1976 season and out of baseball after 1978....known as the "Texas Tiger" from an early career on the field incident....an eccentric given his interest in psychic phenomena  and hypnosis.  

A Fire-baller  J.R. Richard 1980 was riding a dominant wave....sub 2.0 ERA midseason with 10 wins....seemingly HOF bound.....career came to an abrupt end by a stroke shortly after appearing in his first all star game...Debut in 1971 was exemplar vs. Giants KO’ing  15....despite the record tying debut Richard is prone to pedestrian numbers in both call ups and minors....sometimes invincible as evidenced by 4 wins in 4 starts, shutting out the competition in 33 innings....Stayed with Astro all year in 1975....a modest winning record but struggled with control....led league in wild pitches and walks....Put game in high gear in 1976 winning 20....proceeded to rack up 18 wins in next three years....supremacy in any given year was measured by averaging over one strikeout per inning....he was improving each year toping the circuit in ERA and strikeouts in 1979....Did try to come back in the minor but such efforts were futile.... One of the tallest pitchers ever standing at 6’8” giving him superior leverage...had a difficulty with being out of baseball but has bounced back to work in baseball’s community relation....had a TV movie made about the abrupt change in his life.

Ray Busse  obscure SS-3rdbaseman....ordinary minor stats point to his best case scenario being destined for a deep reserve.....spare MLB work....traded to Cardinals for 1973 and quickly returned back to the Astros.....final line 2 home runs, nine RBIs, and a .148 BA.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

#102 Lloyd Allen

1971 far and away prime season….headed a greatly improved bullpen….one of few bright spots on an underachieving squad distracted by team discord....High spot of career....1972 was a setback and the wheels fall off in 1973....a brutal 0-6 between the Angels and Rangers....9.43 ERA....arm troubles....never to return to form....earlier the wunderkind was fast tracked....youngest player in big leagues in 1969....bounced around minors through the 1979 season even trying a turn in the Mexican League.




Sunday, July 11, 2021

#103 Checklist 133-263

Hall of Famers in the series Ted Simmons, Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock, Rollie Fingers...HOF manager is Dick Williams.....date range of reviews Nov 8 2017 to Dec 6 2020.....in that time the following have passed away Lou Brock, Richie (Dick) Allen. Grant Jackson, Jay Johnstone, Lee Stanton (from Mets Rookie card) plus Manager Frank Lucchesi




Sunday, July 4, 2021

#104 Toby Harrah

Palindrome last name....Future Ranger fixture that present for the franchises swan song from Washington….valiant effort  to make the DC crowd forget about losing the left side of their infield in the infamous Denny McClain trade...tough trick fresh out of AA ball....was the last Senator to bat although never registered a plate appearance for Tom McGraw was caught stealing while Harrah at the plate, next inning the crowd took over the field while the Yankees were at bat....result forfeit ending a truly bizarre contest....As a Ranger does a rare thing improves his numbers for five straight seasons evolving from a banjo hitter to a power threat....exceptional batting eye accelerating his on base % much in the mold of peer Gene Tenace....a keen batting eye over a pitcher reluctance to surrender a hittable offering....a subpar year of 1978 promoted a traded to Cleveland....regained his plate skills along with being united with fellow “walker” Mike Hargrove....also made for many a long game, sometimes referred as "human rain delays".....continues standard work past 1983....traded to Yankees for 1984....a decided flop in the Bronx....returns to Arlington for a comeback albeit a more limited role....at age 36 hits .270 and garners 113 walks in 521 plate appearances....personal best in walks and good for 2nd in AL...1986 was last year as time caught up....4 time all star but did not play in 1972 due to shoulder injury.....Adaptable in the field, starting at short, middle career at 3rd, and finishing as at 2nd base....Did extensive managing and coaching both at minor and major league level....would be better known if he played in media centers rather than obscurity of cellar dwelling Cleveland or Texas....a practical joker....never spent a moment in a post season but remained a romantic and philosophic about participating in 2155 games.




Tuesday, June 29, 2021

#105 Gary Gentry

Unsung 1969 WS hero…. a secret weapon against the favored Orioles....facing the most potent lineup in baseball at the time, the rookie put a shut down on the O’s in a harrowing performance aided by two miracle catches by Tommy Agee and relief by Nolan Ryan...but game 3 conquest put Mets in control....native of Phoenix....born, raised, played HS, Community College and at the fabled player factory Arizona State University....Led Sun Devils to 1967 NCAA championship.....Unfortunately his WS win will always be a high point.....Won 13 in his first season and career high...barely above 500 win % in first 3 years.....Achilles Heal; owned a fiery temper which eroded the relationship between teammates, management, and fans alike....known for flipping his glove and angry stares to teammates on the field....despite having a break even year in 1971 he made progress with anger issues in a report per skipper Gil Hodges.....Gil would never live to see if his prediction  of progress would continue as he would expectedly pass away during 1972 Spring Training at age 47....Gentry's value dropped with a 7-10 record in 1972....traded and started a two season comeback with the Brave....Braves hoped for duplication of Nolan Ryan's turn of career with the Angels....They didn't get it ...fared no better only winning 5 decisions in a handful of games ....Braves released him mid 1975 season and signed by the Mets in a desperate hope of a comeback, but failed to register an out in only minor league appearance....steered clear of game in his day afterwards opting a real estate career in hometown Phoenix....When he was "on" drew raves from one opponent, Astro Jim Wynn, who said he had better stuff than Seaver.



 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

#106 Milwaukee Brewers Team Card

Baseball’s return to the once home of the Braves…recent residency was Seattle….this team would have started in 1971 but at the insistence of political figures in KC set the wheels in motion for 1969 birth….The prematurity of the Pilots resulted in a bankrupt franchise and one year stand in a city and facilities that wasn’t quite ready…franchise was snapped up by car salesman Bud Selig a few days before 1970 season….it is said the moving trucks from AZ spring training paused in Utah to receive the call to go Northwest or Northeast…as all expansion franchises of the time struggled no matter what locale….Brewers would not exceed .500 until 1978…at that point buoyed by budding superstars, the newly formed free agent market, and shrewd trades the team entered a competitive age that remained up to the 1993 season….the high points of glory included the 1982 World Series berth and ALDS appearance a year prior….Upon losing a slew key cogs the Brewers decline to sub .500 for 12 consecutive season….since then hit and miss; a few playoff runs but no return to the World Series…best chance was taking Dodgers to 7 games in 2018….A new stadium in 2001 was vital for survival in Milwaukee…. But still suffers from being in a small market, so free agents available need to be chosen wisely....The face of the franchise is HOF Robin Yount whose motorcycle riding exploits endeared him to the blue collar locals....Paul Molitor, Yount’s sidekick for many years would be second although many indigenous Milwaukeeans felt betrayed by his free agent departure....Remains to seen how long Christian Yelich will stay but he might surpass all other Brewers....to date team has had only one no hit game; Juan Nieves 1987.