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 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.