Tuesday, December 6, 2022

#7 Enzo Hernandez

Memorable season but not in a good way....Came up in Houston then Oriole farm systems without a fall promotion….Traded for Pat Dobson who won 20 games for the Birds.....In return? much or his career near historic  futility at the plate..... A .222 BA and s puzzling paltry 12 RBIs in over 500 at bats in his rookie debut....is it the lowest percentage of RBIs to ABs ever recorded?….IDK for most baseball records go the other way….dubious title at best….Never got that much better….his sub .195 mark for his sophomore year made the year prior BA looks like league leading stuff….Despite the failure to steal first, Enzo is the undisputed stolen base leader of the Pads, and an efficient one at that ….undaunted Padres stay with Enzo….1973 is a shortened affair lost to back problems that will plague the rest of his baseball vocation…..1974 is comeback buoyed by a regular work livelihood, a then best .232 BA, and 37 stolen bases….1975-76 are both truncated effort brought on aforementioned back aliments….a humble bright spot, despite pain hits a MLB best of .256 plus one of his two home runs….is out for the overwhelming majority of 1977 with surgery….released after a minuscule handful of games…..signed by Dodgers and is placed in AAA PCL club….a very brief call up avoiding exclusive Padre employment….passed away from an apparent drug overdose 2013.... Venezuela born was a regular on the native winter leagues.





Wednesday, November 30, 2022

#8 Ron Swoboda

Known for “the play”....1969 Mets game 5 catch….in Met world no matter what happened before or after he is crowned forever a hero….A wunderkind associated with Mets franchise from 1964, being fast tracked to the bigs….sported a Topps Rookie Award for his 1965 debut….The card company possibly excited by his awe inspiring start of 9 home runs by May 8th…..overlooking his .228 BA in favor of his 19 dingers and 50 runs driven in….the accumulated four baggers in his debut were his career best….follow up year statistically near identical….career year 1967 was his third, hitting robust .281…..20 points better than any other effort and 39 points above his career mark of .242.….retains everyday status for 1968….come 1969 starts to wind down and settle into platoon staff as new kids with new and improved skills vied for his playing time….BA diminished accordingly to the .230 mark…..The island of respite comes in 1969 Series…..hits .400 based on 6 safeties but importantly was a double in game 5 that brought in the winning run….Maybe more significant was diving catch of liner that limited the damage of an Oriole rally in game 4….a redemption for years of being perceived as a defensive liability….target of roasting by Casey Stengle….A trade to the Expos and then Yankees within 1971 hammered home his confinement to reserve only role….did not benefit from new established AL DH rule which could have been key in more activity....BA floundered….last MLB at bat was 1973….Unsuccessfully tried out with Atlanta spring training 1974…..Balanced baseball and non baseball pursuits….notably the broadcast booth and sportscaster….appeared in 1999 episode of Everybody Loves Raymond with fellow 1969 Miracle Mets teammates….a writer too having wrote a memoir called “Here’s the Catch:….”     



 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

#9 Stan Williams

Old school....righthander professional introduction 1954 ....Product of Dodgers system….won 19 games for AAA St Paul but wasn’t called up for the last days in Brooklyn….Got the early season call up as a first year LA Dodger…..early on used his 6’5” frame as leverage to throw heaters and fireballs but control and walks were his Achilles heel…..swing man two years then enters the rotation in 1960….upside averaged 14 notches on the victory column 3 seasons placing him 3rd or 4th on team win list…..down side were the high walks, no more than in the case of blown lead on 165th game of 1962….Rival Giants opposed to the Dodgers in a three game set for title for  NL crown….Williams was the fall guy with two walks and a wild pitch participating in 9th inning bullpen melt down blowing game and championship….Possibly alienated LA sends Stan to NYY….while staying with a top flight his status is downgraded to 5th  starter and mop up assignments….Sold to Cleveland prior to 1965 campaign….stumbled badly out of the gate….accepted demotion to minors and stayed for nearly three years…..re-emerged back with Indians with strong efforts for the last third of 1967 and all of 1968…..a regression prompted a return trip to the twin cities…..had an exceptional 1970 effort going 10-1 with a 1.99 ERA....but age showed in 1971 splitting time between Twins and Cardinals….Second year with Twins a train wreck but a mid season restart in St Louis gave pause to critics saying he was done….AKA “Big Daddy” enter 1972  giving it one more shot to rekindle his career for final time….didn’t return to the Redbirds….passed along to Red Sox….reassigned to AAA but had enough in the tank to put in his farewell innings with Boston…..immediately went into an extensive career as a pitching coach in major and minor level…..50 years in baseball….Best friends with Indian teammate Luis Tiant supporting him when he appeared washed up….passed away 2021





Thursday, November 17, 2022

#10 Amos Otis

Sigh....The other Met trade gone sour....His acquisition gave a highly positive asset to fledgling KC unit for the decade…..Mets acquired one sub standard year out of bust Joe Foy…..setting them up for the trade in franchise history, Jim Fregosi…Stepping up in 1970 became instant offence for the Royals making them the early frontrunners towards success among the 1969 entries….led AL in doubles to go with his .284 clip and made all star team (too much time spent with Mets in 1969 disqualified him for ROY)….enhanced his stats and standing for 1971….allocated to another all star game adding a gold glove and 8th in MVP voting….career best .301….subsequent years brought three more All Star games, two more gold gloves, and some serious MVP consideration….decent power (sum total HR 193) but much more likely to get a double….or triple if ball was not cleanly handled…..A Royals fixture through 1982….on occasion BA was drift down to .250 mark, but Otis compensated either with more stolen bases or an outstanding post season….seceded to a part time player 1983…..next year a free agent signing by Pittsburgh failed to materialize a comeback….only knock on a great career….A long standing source of speed, fair power, and longevity he is considered Royals Royality.   




Friday, November 11, 2022

#11 Bobby Valentine

Photogenic....Another talented product of the Dodger star making factory....put together a historic PCL season in 1970 where he led the league in all batting numbers save home run and RBIs....But only translated to fair rookie season....Improved slightly in 1972 but MLB numbers did not match MiBL….a significant new opportunity change that came with a trade to crosstown Angels…..With the Halos in 1973 was hitting .302 and generating buzz early on when he crashed into an outfield wall, breaking his leg…..Devastating injury, out for the season and never really the same….His 1974 comeback while admirable was unexciting….fortunes regressed further in 1975….majority time spent with two minor league team and with a short split between So Cal and San Diego…..much of same for 1976 although a strong AAA season and hitting .367 in his Padre September call up improved his stock and trade….Split time between Padres and Mets in 1977…..Finished off playing career with sporadic servitude as a Mariner in 1979......While since ending his playing day, Valentine has run successful restaurant business but eventually returned to the game as a manager from 1985 to 2012….Stops as dugout chief included Texas, Mets, Norfolk (AAA) and Boston….also sandwiched between he in a unconventional move managed the Chiba Marines on two separate stints being the first foreign skipper to do so….second go round led Marines to a Japanese League Championship in 2004, also another first.....Last try as a dugout helmsman was derailed by an underperforming Red Sox squad…..Still in the hunt and mentioned for further managerial opportunities…..this may not be the end of Bobby Valentine.




Saturday, November 5, 2022

#12 Jose Cardenal

Sometimes controversial but always colorful…..Known to miss a game with the Cubs in 1972 reportedly because crickets in his room had kept him awake at night.....A 18-year odyssey through the big leagues with 9 teams....one of the last Cuban players to freely leave the island to pursue a career in the U.S. before Fidel Castro put his foot down.... But he could play. He hit .275 lifetime with 138 homers and 1,913 hits. He was twice in the top 10 in batting average and over .300 twice; 8 times in the top 10 in stolen bases, twice each in hits and doubles….Defensively, he 3 times led his league in left field or center in assists, 2 times led in fielding percentage in left or center, 1 time led leftfielders in double plays..... Beginnings in the Giants organization….a traffic jam of quality Giant outfielders set Jose to the trade winds…..landed down the California coast in Anaheim his first regular employment….surprised skeptics with power and speed (329 Stolen Bases) coming from his diminutive size….An off season Cardenal washed up on the shore of Lake Erie at Cleveland put up fair numbers as in his earlier days….Toodle-oo-ed  to St. Louis for Vada Pinson….put together his best season to date with a healthy .293 BA….offensive numbers benefited by evolving from traditional lead off to more of the meat of the batting order….Did not duplicate his output in 1971 and shipped to Milwaukee (deal involving Ted Kubiak)….was able to mildly steer his number up in Brewtown…..his split season quietly resulted in a career best 80 RBIs….Milwaukee tenure was short lived and was placed south of Wisconsin border with little bears of Chicago…..So begins a strong relationship…..Meat of his career was spent with the Cubs….fixture in the Wrigley outfield 1972-1976 hitting a robust .303…..career became more subdued starting 1977 initiating a trail of multiple cities as a bench reserve…..Philadelphia, Metropolitans, and KC Royals lay in wait over next three years…..released by the last-place Mets in August while hitting .167 appeared done….Picked up by KC and doubled his batting average…..added to the the WS roster for his one and only time….didn't go out in a blaze of glory starting out 0 for 10, but gave a good parting shot, on Oct. 21, 1980 getting 2 hits in his final at bats in the deciding game 6….Royals lost but made the climax interesting.….Post playing was a coach on 3 Yankee World Series Championship teams (96, 98, 99)….did garner a few far flung MVP votes but never named to an all star team….Still perceived as a Cubbie.




Monday, October 31, 2022

#13 Joe Grzenda

Lefty who wore a plethora of uniforms and rode many minor league buses....Like most of his trade began as a starter and settled in bullpen specialist.....a case of work late in his occupation   A model persistence, toiling for 20 years.....plied his vocation in 19 different cities....Brief work assignments for the Tigers (1961), KC Athletics (1964, 1966) and NY Mets (1967) gave him enough calendar time to exceed rookie status…..landed in Twins AAA Denver club in 1968 and met one Billy Martin…..Martin liked what he saw enough to give the 32 year old a spot on the 69 Twins….served court as a backup reliever added 3 saves…..late spring transaction sent him to the Nation’s capital in 1970….numbers regressed to +5 ERA and 6 saves….a rare instance of player liking skipper Ted Williams, who returned the feeling….Teddy Ballgame’s faith in Joe was rewarded the following year….1971:  armed with a new weapon AKA “slip pitch” Joe put together his best season by far…..In 52 games an ERA of 1.92 lowest on the staff…..plus added 5 saves…..6th save was in sight were it not for the forfeit of the Senator’s last game as fans stormed the field of play before the last out…..in the mayhem Grzenda personally kept the last ball used in play…..Joe relocated but not to Texas….One of several vets acquired by St Louis in an Over the Hill gang business model….However his effectiveness using the slip pitch significantly evaporated resulting in opponents hitting over .400 against….as the season progressed Cards reversed course and retooled with a youth movement in their bullpen….released but was game enough at age 36 to return to minors…..endured two more years of bush leagues before hanging up spikes…..flash forward 34 years later at the Nationals first home game, he caught the inaugural first pitch from George w. Bush using the same ball from retained from 1971…..Excitable, colorful and quotable, best quip focused on his long minor league career “I’d like to stay in baseball long enough to buy a bus,” pause “then set fire to it.”….after 21 years left baseball altogether opting to be a deputy sheriff….passed away 2019   




Tuesday, October 25, 2022

#14 Phillies Rookie Stars Pete Koegel Mike Anderson Wayne Twitchell

Close inspection on the back of the card shows the making of a formidable front basketball team....and maybe they should have tried.....Phillies of the early 70s were in full rebuild mode with a few stars and future HOFers in the wings, but aside from that some short it largely missed this crew.

Pete Koegel  standing at 6’ 6” was an applicant in the derby to be the regular Phillies backstop with offensive capabilities....A location of stop gap applicants....Slow start but built a solid body of work in minors during 1970-71....was able some MLB time with the Brewers and then Phillies but neither excited critics....was able to stay in Philly for the during of 1972 but was used very little....any chance of career enhancement ruined by the arrival of Bob Boone....bounced along a couple of farm systems with rapidly diminishing returns.

Mike Anderson Billed as the doppelganger of Greg Luzinski, who was just called up and would make inroads.....Sizeable man 6’ 2” .....Massive minor league stats seem to promise great things.... In the major leagues you could die of encouragement and like several other Philadelphia fledglings fell on his face in 1972....relegated back to minors....Anderson returns to Philly for next stint but lost time to injuries....relegated to 5th or 6th outfielder or pinch hitter....numbers passable at best but a near shadow of AAA figures....trail took him to St. Louis, Baltimore, and then a final return to Philly.

Wayne Twitchell  Another tall timber.....boyish looks on a 6 ’6 ½” frame..... Like Pete Koegel plucked from the Brewers system....In absence of other alternatives was thrown into the competitive MLB breech of 1972 and given a swing man role with an occasional start....Came out with 5-9 W-L record....followed up with an all star season in 1973 and 2.50 ERA good for 3rd best....13 wins put him a four way tie for club lead....but after last game injury altered the hopeful upstart was never the same....started 1974 on DL and once returned ineffective, a tract continued next year....ERA improved greatly but work load was shrunk to mop up only....pitching woes return and stay in 1977 splitting time between Phillies and Montreal.....released by Expos after next year....Signed by Mets for 1979 then sold to Mariners....both resulting in a inflated ERA....grant free agency but with no takers.




Close inspection on the back of the card show the making of a formidable front basketball team....and maybe they should have tried.....Phillies of 1972 were in full rebuild mode with stars and HOFers in the wing, but it missed this crew....Pete Koegel
 standing at 6’ 6” was an entrant in the derby to be the mainstay Phillies backstop with offensive capabilities....A location of stop gap applicants....Slow start but built a solid body of work in minors during 1970-71....was able some MLB time with the Brewers and then Phillies but neither excited critics....was able to stay in Philly for the during of 1972 but was used very little....any chance of career enhancement ruined by the arrival of Bob Boone....bounced along a couple of farm systems with rapidly diminishing returns.

Mike Anderson Billed as the doppelganger of Greg Luzinski, who was just called up and would make inroads.....Sizeable man 6’ 2” .....Massive minor league stats seem to promise great things.... In the major leagues you could die of encouragement and like several Philadelphia fledglings fell on his face in 1972....relegated back to minors....Anderson returns to Philly for next stint but lost time to injuries....relegated to 5th or 6th outfielder or pinch hitter....numbers passable at best and a near shadow of AAA figures....trail took him to St. Louis, Baltimore, and then a final return to Philly.


Wayne Twitchell  Another tall boy.....boyish looks on a 6 ’6 ½” frame..... Like Pete Koegel plucked from the Brewers system....In absence of other alternatives was thrown into the competitive MLB breech of 1972 and given a swing man role with an occasional start....Came out with 5-9 W-L record....followed up with an all star season in 1973 and 2.5 ERRA good for 3rd best....13 wins put him a four way tie for club lead....but after last game injury altered the hopeful upstart was never the same....started 1974 on DL and once returned ineffective, a tract continued next year....ERA improved greatly but work load was shrunk to mop up only....pitching woes return and stay in 1977 splitting time between Phillies and Montreal.....released by Expos after next year....Signed by Mets for 1979 then sold to Mariners....both resulting in a inflated ERA....grant free agency but with no takers. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

#15 Walt Williams

A member of the South Side Sox....line drive hitter, not usually one to go yard....came out of Houston’s developmental program only NL experience was as a Colt .45 for 10 games 1964....passed through via St Louis Cardinals farm without a promotion despite twice hitting .330 twice first in the Texas League then PCL (good for league best).....Surfaced with Pale Hose by way of minor trade....First two year a reserve hitting near .240 remarkable but slightly better than team BA at the time...a major upgrade in 1969 exceeding .300 and for the only time escaping the collar of part-timer.....thereafter a flurry of see-saw years; 1970 a downgrade in BA to .251 and playing time...return to proficiency in 1971...lost time again in 1972 plus .249 BA....traded to Cleveland for 1973....his one put up a solid BA and a complementary career high of 38 RBIs.....Often put in leadoff hitter which limited RBI production...demonstrated base skills in minor but it transferred the MLB....traveled on to NYY but mired on the depth chart....left American to extend career over the border and overseas in Japan....Utilizing the smaller Japanese ballparks hit 44 home runs, pop that he had never shown before in the states.... Dabbled in minor league managing mid 90’s for Texas farm system.....Passed away in 2016.....has a grandnephew Mason Williams, presently a MLB journeyman....his nickname same as his granduncle “no neck”              



   

Thursday, October 13, 2022

#16 Mike Jorgensen

Up and coming 1st baseman that could also play outfield....good glove but needed playing time.....outside of some regular work with early editions of the Expos, mostly a platoon player that quietly kept himself on MLB rosters for 18 years....Raised and cultivated in the Mets organization who engaged in back and forth transfers from minors then to the show.....a case of a quality, one individual Rusty Staub, swapped for quantity Ken Singleton, Tim Foli, and Jorgensen.....Gave the Expos solid remedies to positional aliments.....close to being regular 1st smacker and showed a little pop during first two years and gold glove award.....caveat being a BA hovering near .230.....standout season came in 1974 sporting a .310 BA and increased runs driven in....ensuing year brought career best in HRs and RBIs but a 39 point drop in batting was telling of downgraded future....hung on north of border until traded to Oakland in 1977....another franchise at the time with the help wanted sign out.....took the free agent route to Texas then a second go-around with the Mets and eventually the  Braves covering the period from 1978 to 1984....last stop St. Louis was fleeting although some endearment between him and took place...held several positions in the franchise up to an interim Manager spot in 1995....Only MLB player to be born on the day Babe Ruth died.....Last at bat came in the 1985 World Series.