Thursday, January 12, 2023

#1 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates team card

Per Topps tradition, the reigning World Champs take card #1....Beat the favored Orioles who were the seemingly invincible Goliath….upon inspection however Pirates did come in having scored more runs as their opponents….While the Bucs entered the fray with a middle of the road ERA, their bullpen corps was very advanced for time….Opposed to the Orioles pen corps possibly rusty.....Down to the wire Pirates took the 7th and deciding game....same two opponents would take the field to decide the 1979 champion....once again the 7 game series, their most recent title....Bucs have three other titles giving them 5 total....established 1882 Pirates are tied with the Reds as the third oldest team.... won the baseball championship in 1900 and 1901 before the World Series was established....A hitting club vs. pitching with multiple batting  crowns going to Honus Wagner(8), Roberto Clemente (4),  Paul Waner (3), and Dave Parker (2).....   Ralph Kiner ran a string of 6 consecutive home run titles....Willie Stargell captured two along with the Pirates mark for career homers.....Franchise as of the end of 2022 is 40 games above .500 having been 21,334 contests....A great franchise in the 70’s.....Since the start of the Millennium however, team has struggled on the field to establish consistent a winning record and is consistently relegated to second division status.

Friday, January 6, 2023

#2 Ray Culp

Veteran whose toe touched the rubber for 11 summers.....Servant to three teams, Phillies, Cubs, and Red Sox.....impressive as a member of 1963 rookie all star team, 14 wins, and 3rd in ROY voting....sophomore season developed arm trouble and sub standard 8-7 two years were a mirror of first two....14 wins in 1965 and then a diminution to 7-4 record with a ballooned ERA....traded to Cubs for 1967....his 8-11 record did not reflect a substantially lowered ERA and general effectiveness.....Red Sox trade was a god send and Culp armed with new pitch, the palm ball, racks up 50 wins in first three years....took up the slack left in the absence of Jim Longborg....1971 was still functioning member of the rotation sporting  14 wins and 16 losses....In 1972 arm troubles reduced effectiveness to a 5-8 Win Loss record, lost rotation position, innings cut in half....was released but game to start in AAA....showed enough in the bush leagues and in light of his past body of work was given one last shot with the Bosox.....his exit season yielded nine starts, two wins, and six losses.....All those years missed out on post season play....closest being a member of the 1964 W-L record 122-101.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

#3 Bob Tolan

Out of commission for 1971….absence was a cited reason why sports teams have contractual clauses prohibiting “recreational” teams into other sports.....a significant reason the Big Red Machine turned into Big Dead Machine after there juggernaut 1970....Started in the Cardinals system but never seemed to fully mesh with them.....traded to Reds the deal paid out with two great back to back seasons....hit carrer highs in homers and RBIs in 1969....led NL in stolen bases 1970 a formidable task given the golden age of Lou Brock.....Tolan came back as did the Big Red Machine in 1972 but the injury hasten career stat erosion....fortunately Reds were able to return to the WS for 1972.....batted .286 but his numbers went into free fall in 1973.....speed on the base path had exited too....traded to San Diego who were collecting veterans in hopes of recapturing passed glory for their 1974 campaign.... Tolan gave average results at best....travels to Philly mostly as a reserve in 1976 and a fraction of 1977....Still trying to find work, spends remainder of 1977 in Pittsburgh, then overseas in Japan (1978), and a stint in the short lived AAA Inter-American League (1979)....was able to finish career with handful of at bats during a return trip with the Padres.  

Sunday, December 25, 2022

#4 Checklist 1-132

Checklist 1st series....The last checklist of this blog….Per company tradition Card #1 is the defending world champs..... date range of reviews Dec 12 2020 to the end of this blog taking place on January 12th 2023......HOFers are plentiful with Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Mays, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Perez,  Joe Morgan, and Frank Robinson....Plus Red Schoendienst inducted as a player but was manager in 1972 . 

Monday, December 19, 2022

#5 John Bateman

Just this side of the law.....Traded in baseball for softball....and made a lot more coin doing so….after hanging up his MLB spikes joined fabled Eddie Feigner in a barnstorming fast pitch softball act...Team comprised of Eddy, John, and two others ...took on all local all star teams and way more often than not came out on top….Baseball life on the field a bit more pedestrian…..but not off it….. from accounts a tumultuous upbringing with baseball his only positive outlet….a case of arrested development: didn’t get traction towards organized ball until playing at a military base….folklore has it he wrote to all team and Colt .45 organization responded leading to a try out and signing….lied about his age to cover his dirty life and times….Played with one kidney, fabricated a story about losing it due to a football injury....truth was the kidney was lost from a bar fight injury....Also had trouble keeping his weight down, an issue for managers....First professional assignment, Class C California league….determined to make up for lost time put forth strong numbers….in an incredible leap made the Colts team holding down regular work for 1963….hit .210 but did show power and ability to drive in runs....Sophomore and Junior jinxes took over each hitting under .200....each resulting in trips back to minors.....Strong comeback 1966, his best year ever as a pro....going full throttle  17 HR, 70 RBI, and .279 overcoming small injuries with ease.....once again, slumped badly in 1967 with a minor revival in 1968....Initially thought his Astro position was secure but the addition of backstop Johnny Edwards made Bateman expansion draft fodder....quickly selected by the Expos but initial year was a disappointment....Given an ultimatum by Gene Mauch (notoriously known for his fitness demands), lost weight which limited another demotion to the minors....once up had two solid yet unspectacular  campaigns....In his last season Bateman starts by riding the bench in Montreal traded straight up for fellow veteran backstop Tim McCarver….Is the primary Phillie receiver but as Sept call ups roll in surrenders games to prospect Bob Boone….With Boone taking over the helm Bateman was released….No takers to continue his MLB days turning to fast pitch softball....confined to second division teams for career.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

#6 Fred Scherman

Unsung but brief star in Tiger’s fireman corps….a case of being Johnny on the spot….signed by Twins in 1963 but acquired in a first year by Detroit….and toiled in their system….cup of coffee in 69 but got first true light of bigs in 1970….part of bullpen committee that found limited success….Seized opportunity to become head closer in light of the vacancy left by John Hiller’s heart attack and mediocrity of others….a big reason for El Tigre's 22 game upswing in 1971 as he was second in games and third in saves for the Junior Circuit….1972 repeats strong effort but did share bullpen with Chuck Sheelback….status and career took a quick knee to John Hiller’s incredible comeback season in 1973… work, inflated ERA and never fully regained closer status….middle relief and mop up….traded to Astros for 1974 staying a season and a half….packed up his suitcase and in a cash deal headed to Canadian border June 1975….run of the mill work in mop up to finish out his playing days.

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 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… 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… 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.