Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#638 Ken Wright

A marginal pitcher who never established himself as a starter or reliever…alternated years as a reliever then as a reliever/starter…five year player who spent most of his time, four seasons, in KC…started in Red Sox organization a year before the amateur draft…came to KC in rule 5 draft …last professional season he started with the Yankees along with Lou Pinella in trade for Lindsay McDaniel…had a month stint in NYC then traded …Played the last part of 1974 at AAA Sacremento in a converted football stadium resulting in all offense scenario…had 10.05 ERA on team with a 6.70 ERA… finished mlb career with  11-15 W-L record and a 4.53 ERA

Saturday, December 27, 2014

#639 J. C. Martin

Long time Chicago crosstown reserve catcher now in backstop by committee that was the northside in 1971…Career is more defined by a would be WS sacrifice bunt as a New York Met, instrumental in winning game 4…the throw to first by Pete Richert hit Martin in the back and the ball ambled away allowing Rod Gaspar to score the winning run…never was an offensive weapon…a career .222 batting and career highs in home runs and RBIs were 5 and 31 respectively…Started in 1959 with White Sox…Platooned with other catchers of the time on the Southside...From the Mets he was traded to Cubs for Randy Bobb in a catcher for catcher transaction…1970 used very little as backup to Randy Hundley and then Jack Hiatt after Hundley went on the DL…Garnered more playing in 1971 as Hundley continues to be out…One of six catchers on the club…that year hit .264 which was best among backstops with more than 20 at bats…ended career in 1972 with a .240 mark.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

#640 Joe Coleman

Second generation of a three generation baseball family…started in the Senator organization and lost far more games than he won…Nevertheless impressive in two and one game call ups in sucessive years…Became a Nat regular in 1967 with a 8-9 record…He was involved in more decisions but lost more than he won… 12-17in 1968…12-13 in1969...Career appeared to be sinking by going 8-12…traded to Tigers in a transaction that would have profound impact on both teams…Blossomed under Billy Martin as was not the case with Ted Williams…won 63 games over three season in Tigertown…Got a all star nod in 1972…Won 23 games in 1973…then won 24 games in next two years but lost effectiveness each year…ERA ballooned to 5.55 in 1975…stayed in Detroit for 1976 but not improve stats…Shipped mid season to Cubs who turned him to a reliever…Became a journeyman spot starter/reliever for the next two seasons for four team…workload becoming increasingly sporadic, …as a batter hit .102 in regular season but went 1-2 in only post season at bats.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

#641 Mike Lum

full name: Michael Ken-Wai Lum…significant player: the first American of Japanese Ancestry to reach majors…followed by Bob Fenwick…Mostly a reserve but was able to appear in more than a 100 games a year in 9 of his 15 seasons…far and away best season was 1973 he put up 16 home runs, 82 RBIs, and .294 average…current holds Hawaiian record for games played… no longer hold the Hawaiian record for home runs but is second for now…records will most eclipsed in the next few years…Adopted as a baby by Chinese couple…was Braves mainstay appearing in their uniform for 12 seasons…Took a three year detour with the Reds and finished his MLB career with Cubs...A baseball lifer and he continues to coach.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

#642 Dennis Riddleberger

Participated of the last official completed game at RFK stadium for over 30 years…short career but had adequate numbers for Senators and then Indians 1970-1972…worked middle to late relief, never starting a game…finished 33 games but saved only one…1971 went 3-1 for Senators, 1972 had an inverse 1-3 record for the Indians…Career line 4-4 W-L and niffy 2.77 ERA…a brief stint at AAA Oklahoma City in 1973 indicates he probably suffered arm problems….drafted and started in Pittsburgh organization…trade to Senators provided him with first MLB time in Sept 1970.

Monday, December 15, 2014

#643 Russ Gibson

Boston local (Fall River, MA), minor league veteran makes Red Sox…debuted at age 27…was back up or platoon catcher for majority of career…rookie season was 1967 just in time for the Red Sox’s ascendency to the WS…had the dubious distinction of being the best hitting catcher on the squad with a .203 average…Red Sox won anyway despite the offensive abyss that was the catcher position…stuck around Boston for next two seasons…high water mark was 1969 when he hit .251 in 287 Abs…sent to Giants for cash…Achieved 2nd catcher status but was buried behind Dick Dietz career year…1971 lost more playing to Dietz and rookie Fran Healy…had minimal work in 1972 splitting time between AAA Phoenix and Giants…Passed away in 2008

Friday, December 12, 2014

#644 Bernie Allen

exceptionally good college football player…a second baseman by trade…signed by the Twins out of Purdue University…First pro season hit .246 in AA…Twins took a chance for the 1962 season…responded with a solid .269 and showed some pop with 14 home runs…second in ROY voting…turned out to a career season…production declined in subsequent year…spent most of 1965 in AAA Denver missing out on the Twins World Series run…returned to big club for 1966 as a part timer…Traded to Senators for 1967 so the Twins could make room for up and coming Rod Carew…debut year was unsuccessful hitting .193…Nats stayed with Bernie and he was able to upgrade to a .241 average over next three seasons and mostly being the regular starter…1971 brought a split of work @ 2nd or 3rd base sharing time with a multitude of others…hit .266 in his final year with the franchise…Traded to Yankees for 1972…had his second best slugging years but poor on base pct resulted in loss of playing time…production diminished further in 1973 splitting time with NYY and Montreal Expos…released at the end of the season...despite sentence in back of card never did manage a team at any level.


Monday, December 8, 2014

#645 Jim Maloney

Nice run as Cinncy’s number one starter in the 1960s…pictured at the twilight of his career…in his prime a hard thrower nearly on the scale of Gibson, Veale, Koufax…also wild being in the top 10 of walks most years running and first in wild pitches twice…author of two no hitters…first in 1965 with a ten inning outing against the Cubs….then again in 1969 his last effective year…after three season of spot starting, Jim came into prominence in 1963 with a 23 win season…good follow up season with 15-10 record in 1965…repeated 20 game winner status in 1966 and had career best ERA…solid seasons followed with an excellent win loss record…early in 1970 season (and career) came to abrupt halt via Achilles Heal tear…injury occurred while legging out a hit to the shortstop…out for 5 months and had meek comeback attempt in September…a trade to the Angels brought some promise of the comeback but it was not to be…Picked by Cards for 1972 but wound up in AAA Phoenix…pitched reasonably well but was released early in the season…finished with 134 wins all with the Reds verse 81 losses. 


Friday, December 5, 2014

#646 Chico Salmon

Panamanian pinch hitter and jack of all trades…master of none, and sometimes detrimental when taking the field…eccentric and superstitious…shuffled through several farm systems before a nice debut in 1964 with Cleveland…hit .307 and had 17 doubles in a part time gig…never came close to matching that figure…Salmon did achieve “regular” status in 1966 getting in 126 games…results were OK but unremarkable…diminished playing time followed… Was put on the expansion block and picked by Seattle Pilots…Just prior to the initiation of play was traded to Orioles…played in a substitute role for rest of career…First season with hit .297 in 91 at bats…production generally declined thereafter…hit .179 in 1971....Last season was 1972, ending his career going 1 for 16...Got a hit in only World Series at bat; 1970.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

#647 Bob Moose

Like Clemente four year earlier a Pirate who died too young...on his 29th birthday October 9, 1976 from an auto accident…for five years a solid 3rd-4th starter for Pittsburgh Pirate…Became a Pirate regular in 1968….his record is unspectacular at 8-12 but a had career best ERA of 2.74 …Breakout season was 1969 when he achieved the highest NL win pct of .824 or 14-3….Also had a no hit game against eventual World champions NY Mets in the heat of the pennant race…Following 4 seasons, Bob’s win total ranged from 11 to 13 with 3 post season appearances…Career hit a wall in 1974 to go 1-5 with 7.57 ERA….Bob had difficulty coming back in 1975 splitting time between Pittsburgh and two month stint in AAA…Return to majors in September and gained some respectability two strong starts…Final season 1976 Bob turned regular closer and led the Bucs in saves.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

#648 Jim Lyttle

Left handed hitting pinch hitter and career reserve outfielder…traded by Yankees to White Sox for Rich Hinton…played 1969 to 1976 never appearing in more than 87 games in a season…Far and away best season was 1970 when he hit .310 and hit 3 homers and drove in 14 runs for NYY…Failed to follow up in 1971 dropping his average by over 100 points to sub .200…From 1972 on Jim traversed some time in the majors and mostly the minors…Eventually found steady employment in Japanese Central League for 7 years, teaming several seasons with fellow American Adrian Garrett in Hiroshima….slugged 166 homers and hit .285 overseas.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

#649 Pete Richert

Like many other pitchers like him coming out of the early 60’s was a starter to begin and reliever in the end…The switch took place in 1968…Journey of 13 years with near career bookend stops in LA…skinny as rail…playing weight is listed at 165 pounds… first real opportunity and most wins came out of the Washington Senators camp...was a two time all star with the Nats…Shipped down the interstate to Baltimore after a subpar start circa 1967…effective reliever and had a 2.83 ERA in his time with birds…sharing the top fireman status with Eddie Watt in1969 and 1970…paradoxically he was most stingy during years of high offense and ERA rose during years of lower league BA…bowed out with the Cardinals/Phillies and respectable 2.27 ERA in 31 innings 1974.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

#650 Sal Bando

Was a vital cog in the swinging A’s glory years…Drafted from the A’s seemingly college farm club, Arizona State in 1965… as steal in the sixth round…Teamates Reggie Jackson and Rick Monday was also ASU Alumni…After a bit of seasoning in the minors and some intermittent work in KC, became a everyday player in the team’s new Oakland home in 1968…Finest season was 1969 when he slugged a career high 31 homers plus drove in 113 runs,…had a slightly subpar year in 1970… Surprisingly was second in AL MVP voting 1971 (losing to teammate Vida Blue)… Put up 24 Hrs, drove in 94 RBIs and hit .271….Season was strong but not near his best seasons of 1969 or 1973…provided Oakland with generally consistent play up to 1977…4 time all star…tested the early free agency age by signing with the Milwaukee Brewers…for three year never quite put the numbers as he did out west but he was a part of the team climb from the AL east cellar…skills declined in 1980, relegated to the bench…despite a handful of plate appearances during 1981, hit .291 in Milwaukee’s first playoff appearance…his playing Swan Song…eventually became GM for the Brewers 1991-99…not fondly remembered by the locals, free agency departures, poor draft choices resulted in a poor play on the field.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

#651 Reds Team

Oldest NL franchise starting out in the American Association in 1882…in 1970 turned the baseball world on its ear with their incredibly fast start start…Named the Big Red Machine…Turned little red wagon as they were quickly dispatched the Orioles in WS…the malaise continued for the entire 1971 seasons by dropping 23 more games…injuriesand sophomore slumps were at fault…1972 was return to prominence winning the NL west and playoffs…Many hitting marks were reset with Pete Rose and George Foster stats set in 1973 and 1977 respectively…HRs, total bases,  Team pitching records are segued to 100+year ago because of the dead ball era…Wayne Granger’s 1969 record for games still stands… Mario Soto set the Reds records for strikeouts in 1982…Since card came out franchise has won 3 WS and lost one.

Just one note:  This is 136th card covered exceeding the person who started profiling the 1972 Topps set.  I wonder what ever happened to the originator.. I'm going to keep going. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

#652 Marcelino Lopez

A situational reliever transferred from Orioles to Brewers…Born in Cuba and played against Fidel Castro…Had a impressive rookie season for the 1965 California Angels…Won 14 and was second in rookie of the year in a starter role…Experienced a sophomore slump losing twice as games as he won…A record of 7-14 in 1966...last episode of regular work…used sparingly in 8 games splitting time between Angels and later Baltimore….spent 1968 in Oriole farm system…resurfaced  in 1969 for the birds as a middle reliever…his 4.43 ERA was a bit high but won 5 games while losing 3…1970 was huge improvement, up to Oriole standards, with a 2.08 ERA…A 1971 trade to Brewers represented a brief but unsuccessful return to starter going 2-7…finished out career by tossing a few innings in 1972 after being sold to Cleveland …subsequently employed by the minors and Mexican league…passed away in 2001

Saturday, November 8, 2014

#653 Jim Fairey

Excellent minor league hitter...hit .307 over 3660 ABs in West Coast stops like Santa Barbara, Spokane, Vancouver, and Albuquerque…Hitting skills didn’t quite translate to majors but was a fair hitter holding his own for the expansion Expos…Started out in Dodger’s system…Got to the big club in 1968…taken in 52nd round in expansion draft…Spent most of year in AAA Vancouver, getting a look for Le Expos 135 games into the 1969 schedule…was a semi regular in Montreal for next 3 season pinch hitting or platooning…hit over .300 against Gary Nolan, Bob Gibson, Gaylord Perry, and Ferguson Jenkins…0 for 10 against Phil Niekro…hit well on the west coast registering a +.319 clip vs. Padres, Giants, and Dodgers…Had a very brief return to the Dodgers in 1973...played until 1977 where finished career in AAA Hawaii (where else) hitting .319...Sometimes was confused with fellow Expo teammate Ron Fairly.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

#654 Horacio Pina

Reliever of Latino heritage whose career was interspersed between the Mexican League and the big leagues…appeared in only 9 games total in major league farm system…when in the MLB journeyman fireman whose bulk of career was with cellar dwelling teams…Started in Cleveland as a late season call up in 1968…Became a regular the following season, just in time for the tribe's 62-99 record…Horacio was less than impressive with 5.59 ERA…traded to Washington/Texas franchise just in time for 187 wins and 288 losses over 3 seasons…Pina’s on the field performance improved as registered 3.11 ERA over those 3 years ….Garnered 23 saves, 15 of which came in the Ranger’s first year in Texas…Horatio’s respite from basement dwelling was 1973 when he was traded to the eventual WS champs, Oakland A’s…As part of a four man bullpen committee went 6-3 with a 2.76 ERA…Two post season appearances, pitched 5 innings gave up 9 hits but no earned runs…By virtue of his Oakland time, became first Mexican player to be on World Series winning team…1974 traded to Cubs in off season then Angels during the mid-season when both teams were on the down swing…Returns to Mexican leagues for 1975 and rest of his career outside of two game stint in 1978...in Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

#655 Jerry Grote

Another vital part of the miracle Mets…The primary backstop for many years…A serviceable contact hitter at times, but never gained big power or RBI numbers….forte was defense and throwing out would be base stealers…Started in Colt .45 organization in 1963…like many other Colts took a fast track to debut to majors that same year…gained a part time spot in 1964 but failed to hit weight…When arrived with the Mets in 1966 Grote immediately secured the starting spot albeit his hitting continue to be subpar…started to come into own in 1968 hitting .282 and getting an all star nod…1969 was to hit career highs in home runs (6) and RBIs (40)… 1972 Grote was injured…other than that year he was primary Mets catcher for eight years…lost starting position to John Stearns and was traded to Dodgers for a minor leaguer…was buried in plethora backstops in LA but make some WS plate appearances…Finished career with Royals and one game back with the Dodgers 1981.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#656 Rudy May

16 year veteran workhorse…logged in 2622 big league innings…mostly a third or fourth starter but sometimes relegated to 2nd based on performance…first signed by Minnesota and other organizations…Traded to Angels who gave a first chance in 1965…mixed results prompted a demotion to minor for next 3 seasons…resurfaces with halos in 1969…started and ended season as a starter but banished to bullpen in between…took over a starter spot in the next 3 season…was able to improve ERA but only translated to an average of 10 wins per season…1973 was brutal with a 7-17 mark…Started 1974 and was ineffective and winless until trade to Yankees revitalized his fortunes…went 8-5 mostly in a starting role…1975 wins a then career high 14 games…May is then traded to Orioles in a 10 player deal mid season 1976…between Baltimore and NY garners 15 wins, then 18 wins next year…May is traded to Expos for 1978 in a two year stint hampered by reduced starts reminiscent of his Angels years…Returns to NYY via free agency for 1980 and takes AL ERA mark in a dual role…Plays two more full season with Yankees in a gradually diminished role…released mid season 1983.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

#657 Bobby Wine

The NL answer to Ray Oyler (OK, not that bad)…Most good field bad hit players have limited careers…Bobby was able to participate in 12 MLB seasons with the Phillies and Expos…made 3467 plate appearances...never traded in his career…started out to get regular work in 1962 and hit a career best .244…won a gold glove at shortstop in 1963 after playing 132 games at the position…subsequent seasons were a mixed bag…at the end of 1968 Wine was hitting a career .218…was going to protected from the 1969 expansion draft by the Phillies but Larry Jackson decided to retire instead of go Canadian…Bobby was his replacement…move reunited him with manager Gene Mauch….best overall season was 1970 establishing personal bests for games, hits, RBIs…set a then MLB record for double plays (137) by a shortstop, which still stands as the NL record…last full season hit .200 the same figure as a first year Expo...lost starter rank to Tim Foli and released mid season 1972.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#658 Steve Dunning

Straight out of Stanford U to the Mistake on the Lake…1st round draft pick in 1970…which turned out to be a mistake too…immediately pressed into service with the big club…winning pitcher in debut and was solid in next two games…subsequent poor outings inflated ERA to low 5’s or high 4’s…Finished season 4-9 and 1971 with 8-14 record...highlight of 1971 was hitting a grand slam and would be the last AL pitcher to do so in more than 37 years…Best season was 1972 where he went to the minors for the first time and was a mid season call up with a 6-4 record and 3.26 ERA….Pretty much went downhill afterwards…A bad start in 1973 prompted the Tribe to send him to Texas…things didn’t get much better, going 2-6 with ERA over 5.00….Spent next two years almost primarily in AAA and changing organizations…Did win American Association pitcher of the year award in 1975…Didn’t translate to for big success…despite appearing 36 games in 1976 Steve drifted through four teams in two years...White Sox, Angels, Expos, Oakland…finished career in 1978 with Hawaii.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

#659 Bob Aspromonte

Brother of Manager Ken…A Houston Colt .45 orginal…drafted out of the Dodgers organization was the opening day 3rd base starter and first hitter ever for the franchise…got a single in that At Bat scored the first run…capped off the day going 3-4 and a walk in the Colts 11-2 slaughter of the Cubs…faithfully served the organization at the hot corner thereafter for seven years…Great fielder and set errorless games records for a short time…power numbers diminished after move to Astrodome but was able to hit over .260 four times…Sent to Atlanta for 1969 and backup to either Clete Boyer or Sonny Jackson…1971 was acquired by the Mets as a stopgap measure for Wayne Garrett’s early season injury…as an early season regular hit .225 in 342 At Bats…Released by the Mets after conclusion of the season…Apparently invited to 1972 Reds Training camp although this not acknowledged in Baseball Reference...did not play in 1972…was the last original Brooklyn Dodgers to take the field.

Friday, October 17, 2014

#660 Paul Blair

Formidable player...Superior defensive whiz…in his prime, hurt opponents in so many ways speed, arm, good power, fundementals, and defensive skills…First signed by the Mets in the first year of their existence later picked up by the Orioles…synonymous with the later 1960's Baltimore franchise, came into club in 1965…expertly trolled centerfield for the birds during 12 full years earning 8 gold gloves… Best year was 1969 when slugged 26 home runs, 76 RBIs, and hit .285….he also was third in at-bats despite he did not play in 12 games.. although he never significantly lost playing time, a 1970  bean ball incident resulted in head injury that seemed to downgrade his play for the rest of his career…hitting consistency sometimes a problem…down years were 1968, 1972, and thereafter 1974…last three active years relegated to the bench on other teams, two with the Yankees, then one with the Reds…passed away 2013.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#661 Bill Virdon

Bespectacled Pirate turned skipper of the incumbent champion…Only 40 years old at the time…Big shoes to fill after Danny Murtaua move to farm director after taking the WS…fell one game short of the previous regular season’s mark but lost to the Reds in playoff…Next year the Pirates suffered greatly from upheaval caused by Clemente death and Steve Blass mysterious drop off…had a losing record with a month remaining and was let go….Resurfaced with Yankee in the early Steinbremer era…moved on to Astros where he made his name… presided over 1066 games over 8 seasons, and made the playoff twice plus two manager of the year awards…his clubs were tailored to the Astrodome, small ball and pitching…A losing record in 1982 prompted a mid season firing…Resurfaced in Montreal the next year where he helmed for 1 4/5 seasons…Has coached in various organizations since then…As a player he was rookie of the year with St Louis…but it Pittsburgh where he was a regular feature player…unspectacular but steady and above par defensive skills.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

#662 Stan Banhsen

Hard throwing, workhorse, Midwest born starter…Taken in the 4th round of historic inaugural 1965 draft by the Yankees…that year started in AA and added two more years in AAA in the farm system before being ready… Rookie of the year 1968…Sparkling 17-12 record and 2.05 ERA, a career mark…Suffered from considerable sophomore jinx…9-16 record and nearly doubling his ERA…Multiple reports attributed the slide to a lowered pitcher’s mound…moderate come back in 1970 and 1971 winning 14 games in both years for the Bronx Bombers…Was traded to White Sox for Rich McKinney…Career took off in Chi-town under the philosophy of coach Johnny Sain …won 21 games in 41 starts…1973 Banhsen returns and by poor run support nearly inverses his record by losing 21 and winning 18…The season had its cost…Stan pitched 282 innings in Sain’s “less is more” belief…Banhsen’s arm was taxed and never achieved the same level…1974 saw a losing record and his highest ERA to date…after a slow start was shipped to the A’s in 75 and then to the Expos in 1977…product during this time was fair but remarkable…Took a turn to the middle relief  in 78 and continued in that path until his last MLB season with California and Philedelphia…1983 comeback bid with AAA Portland was disastrous…never an all star despite the excellent years of 1968 and 1972.