Thursday, July 31, 2014

#681 Bobby Pfeil

Second consecutive “never appeared in MLB game again” card, Bobby Pfeil last MLB at bat was with the Phillies in 1971…However short his career, he was involved in the history of 1969 Miracle Mets…Called up to replace Bud Harrelson…statistics were not spectacular but he impressed Gil Hodges with  fundamentals and intelligence…best fielding third baseman that year…Did not appear in the historic post season…Started 1970 in AAA Tidewater…. Traded mid season to the Phillies who hauled him cross country to Eugene…Made the parent club for 1971….Little used but versatile… line drive hitter with very occasional power…oddly enough hit two home runs off Larry Dierker in the same game….the game was also unusual because he played catcher for the entire game for the first time ever…Acquired by the Red Sox for 1972, he finished his playing days at AAA Louisville. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#682 Mike McCormick

One last shot in his third return to the bay area….Not to be, never played again in big league ball*….A holdover the Giants days in New York…was a 50K bonus baby….went from high school to Polo grounds in a week…a start of a career of  two ascendancies…Gradually gained effectiveness peaking in 1960 by winning 15 games and ERA crown…After another season of 200+ innings arm troubles developed…Eventually a trade to Baltimore was made and Mike’s fortunes continued to wane even further resulting in a demotion to AAA Rochester…Traded to Washington for a low minor leaguer and cash…In two years with the Nats, Mike reestablishes himself as a starter albeit on bad teams…His return to the bay, Mike wins the Cy Young award in the sans Koufax year of 1967….His record of 22-8 outpitches future Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichall…. In 1968 and 1969 McCormick returns to a more natural order in rotation as 3rd or 4th starter winning 23 games and losing 24…In 1970 Mike starts to show signs of age and his ERA balloons…mid season trade to NY did not change matters around…released by NY, he picked up by KC….Makes a few appearances in May then released in June…Signed for 1972 by Giants…*spent the year splitting time at AAA Phoenix (Giants) and Hawaii (Padres)….both franchises are baseball’s “I still want to play” retirement homes…went 14-9 combined…played one more year in PCL going 8-14...Career figures, 134 wins, 128 loses, 3.73 ERA with no post season play. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

#683 Steve Hovley

Player benefiting from the 1969 expansion…drafted from the Angel’s organization, started out with the “Ball Four” Seattle Pilots…Familiar with Seattle scene having played AAA ball there in 1967….In 1969 Hit a respectable .277 and led the AL rightfielders in double plays…best hitting rookie on team…Started equally as strong with the fledgling Milwaukee Brewers hitting .281 and 16 RBI’s…The native Californian was traded to Oakland midseason where his BA dropped 89 points and had only one RBI…hit a paltry .111 the following year in 26 AB s….Later in  1971, he was demoted to the minors where he regained his batting stroke hitting .337 over 69 games in AAA Iowa…Acquired by KC for 1972 via rule 5 draft….Move resurrected his status of backup outfielder…Drove in 24 RBIs in both 1972 and 1973 while hitting .270 and .254 respectively…Finished career at AAA Rochester in 1973...Nicknamed Orbit by Jim Bouton because, he was, in his words “Way Out”.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#684 Hal Breeden

Big redhead…Slugging minor league player with limited big league success…Long time minor leaguer…Tore up the I.L. in 1970 as a Braves farmhand…Sparingly used by the Cubs in 1971 stacked behind Joe Pepitone and Jim Hickman and Ernie Banks….and his production suffered…only saving grace was that he played with his brother Danny who got time at catcher…. Danny didn’t fortune much better….Trade to Expos provided a majority of his career playing time backing up another carrot top, Rusty Staub…In 600 Abs, he accrued two interesting achievements…hit two pinch hit home runs in one day in a double header…plus hit one double, two triples and one home run in a game, a feat not repeated until 2014…. Played in 4 seasons north of the border… Poor start in 1975 resulted in a demotion to the minors…Eventually went to Japan and hit 40 and 37 home runs respectively…returned to states in 1979 playing for the Miami Amigos in the short lived AAA Inter-American League.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#685 Joe Horlen

Sometime mistakenly called Joel….The once formidable ace of mid sixties White Sox pitching staff….but hard luck; possibly one of the best pitchers ever with a career losing record …could have sued the Chisox offence for non support….Entered into starting rotation in 1962 ….number starts limited with injury…Achieved effective status following year…1964 was first great season with a 1.88 ERA…. Was although he did not win a lot of games….ERA champion and shutout leader of 1967 plus 2nd in win pct and Cy Young voting….experienced a horrible 1970 mirroring the fortunes of the franchise…went 1-14 in his last 15 decisions….1971 started with injury but he was able to cut down his losses and improve his stats….late in his career Horlen became the White Sox player representative…henceforth he was released before 1972 season…picked up by the veteran hungry Oakland…became a long reliever…made two post season appearances both ineffective…After retirement became a renaissance man, working in construction, coaching baseball and starting a college golf program 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

#686 Steve Garvey

Interesting case of a player and human being…Let’s start with Player…Squared jawed All American guy…Quintessential symbol of West Coast California…Product of Tampa Florida…went to Michigan State where he also played football…Came up in usual Dodger way with farm stops at Ogden, Albequerque, and Spokane…1971 was first season in the show as the Dodger third base candidate dejour…Disappointing season that year but did not give up…gradually got more playing time and results improved…Started to play first base in 1973 as Ron Cey took over at third…Breakout season was 1974…won MVP honors and became a household name… Made All Star game as a write in candidate in 1974….Was Dodger’s model of consistency and endurance for the remainder of the decade…4 Gold Gloves and 10 All star games…The 1980’s saw a gradual drop off….went to San Diego via free agency….helped Padres to first World Series…all in all had 222 post season at bats and .338 average…now the other side…

The cartoon about marriage is a prelude…They were called Ken and it the trappings of fame…Marriage ended after 12 years...Garvey has three children out of wedlock…The multiple incidents ruined his reputation and an implied political career… virtue of events in my life I cannot pass judgment….maybe nobody can.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#687 Del Unser

Prototypical lead off hitting, hustling, player with a solid 15 year career….Son MLB player Al Unser…Drafted by Senators…Spent a 1 ¼ season at AA York…circumvented AAA to become starting Centerfield for 1968 Senators squad… No sophomore slump best season was 1969 with a .286 BA and lead the AL in Triples…Was a Senator mainstay for four years…traded to the Tribe for 1972…circumventing wearing a Ranger uniform in the hot Texas sun…but atlas, time with Tribe was disappointment…Trade to Phillies resurrected his career and he became a regular…Primarily a line drive hitter with occasional pop…Then traded to Mets for 1975 and then Expos mid season 1976…Strong arm and was a leader in outfield assists for several years…With diminishing playing time and production in Canada, Del opts for free agency and returns to Philly….becomes a valued pinch hitter….Hits well in both 1980 NLCS and WS…after playing days are over became a fixture in Philadelphia’s front office.

Note to the Topps 1972 writer…Proofread please…looking at the back of card his 5 for 5 game was August 20, 1968…his 118th game of the year…not opening day in Washington...In reality he went 1 for4 on opening day.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

#688 Cardinals Team

Last team card was one who languished significant amount of time in St. Louis…here is the card of Cards the more successful St Louis franchise….At the time of publication the Cards had won 12 NL pennants…out of those 8 they came out World Champs…Since 1972, 3 World Championships and 4 more WS appearances have taken place….Back of card show team records identical to the 1971 card....Many team records still hold up with the exception of home runs (thank you modern medicine and Mark McGuire)…Bob Gibson 1968 season still holds many of the pitching marks….Records now eclipsed are games appeared (by multiple closers), Win Pct (based on baseball reference has a different # decision criteria than Topps)….Birth of the team took place in 1882 when they known as the Brown Stockings, then shorten to Browns (not to be confused with the AL Browns)….Over 132 years team holds over 10,000 wins hovering about 700-800 games over .500….The 1971 Cards buoyed by Joe Torre’s career  year, Ted Simmons ascendency, and HOF pitchers Steve Carlson and Bob Gibson….finished with a 90-71 record good for second place in NL east….1971 was a comeback of sorts from a losing 1970 season…. Cardinals could not repeat the upsurge and settled back to 75-81 record in 1972…to this day a highly formidable franchise since 2000.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

#689 Eddie Fisher

Not Princess Leia’s real life dad / famous crooner…knuckleball reliever…premier fireman of the early to mid sixties for the stingy White Sox pitching staff…Product of University of Oklahoma….Started in the Giants organization, effective starter in the minors but never really caught on in the City….Trade to Chicago made his career….gets full time work interspersing relief and spot starts…has a career year in 1965 garnering 15 wins, 24 saves, and appearing in 82 games then a major league record….Starts 1966 even stronger but is shipped to Baltimore after 18 games…appears in 44 more games for the Orioles on route to the World Series…Does not play in the WS but then again Baltimore only used four pitchers in a four game sweep…After one more year in Baltimore he was traded to Cleveland for 1968…was acquired by the Angels for 1969…Started a four year stint with the halos in a bullpen by committee situation….Returned to the White Sox for the tail end of 1972 mostly pressed into a  starter….Finished the season with a 4-6 record his only sub .500 year…returned to the pale hose the following season as part of pitching coach Johnny Sain’s vision of a three man (mostly) knuckleballer rotation….Experiment failed and Fisher’s ERA went up by a run per game….finished off the 1973 season and career by appearing in six games with St Louis....had a career total of 85 wins and 70 losses.