Wednesday, February 25, 2015

#620 Phil Niekro

300+ wins  HOF Knuckleballer….Because of his speciality pitch results in Longevity and Durability….Racked up an incredible number of innings, 5404 a number only surpassed three others (one named Young and one Johnson) all who only pitched in 1920s or before…. “Catching Niekro’s knuckelball was great. I got to meet a lot of important people. They all sit behind home plate.” — Bob Uecker….Paired with brother Joe, they hold the #1 spot for career wins,  539, beating the Perry brothers figure of 529…Even though Phil played for four clubs he was overwhelmingly a Braves icon…Started career in Milwaukee as a reliever….moved with franchise to Atlanta and stayed for 16 seasons….Achieved effectiveness in 1967 leading the NL in ERA….averaged 16 wins per season in those years….Had a Career high of 23 wins in 1969…. Other years of 20 wins or more were 1974 and 1979…. …Conversely led the league in losses four years when Braves were in doldrums…. In his prime he was #1 in multiple pitching categories some good (games started, innings, complete games) and bad (hits, walks, home runs given up)….5 time All Star….1984:Took free agent route to NY and won 32 games and lost 20 in two seasons….Finish out career for two season in Cleveland…Had a few starts for Toronto and Returned to Atlanta to start one last game 1987….oldest player in league for his last five season.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

# 626-621 1972 Topps Awards

Baseball loves to give out awards....There are many parallel trophies...The next 6 cards represent an odd lot of accolades featuring the trophy over any particular  individual...While league MVP, ROY, and Cy Young fully exist to this day other are footnotes...Little is written for each card, leaving out teams and players...just a recognition of it's current status....

The Babe Ruth continues as somewhat obscure format, overshadowed by World Series MVP...the two awards are closely related but not the same as the WS MVP for instance Al Weis did not win the Babe Ruth award, Don Clendenon was WS MVP….Since 1949 the award was given 18 to players other than the WS MVP….Given out weeks after WS voted by NY Chapter of Baseball Writers association….

Rookie of the Year...Still going strong needless to say...

The Topps Minor League Player of the year...short lived and long extinct...In it existence, lived simultaneously with the Sporting News MiLPY award....Facing a similar state, SN MiLPY was discontinued in 2005....Media outlets Baseball America and USA Today have taken over similar awards to this day.

Like ROY, Cy Young lives...

The oldest of awards, started in 1931....

Soon after the publication of this card, the award was renamed in honor of Roberto Clemente....continues to this day...Two achievements now bear the name "Commissioner"...The Commissioner Trophy, given to the World Series Championship Team and Commissioner Historic Achievement Award (not an annual reward given out at the Commissioner's discretion) 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#627 Moe Drabowsky

A 17 year veteran who got significantly better in last half of career…Born in Poland four years before the start of the German Invasion... one only five MLB players from Poland…Without minor league experience, became a starter for the Cubs…Initially a starter for Northsiders as effectiveness faded was exiled to bullpen…After two unsuccessful stints in Milwaukee and Cincinnati picked up by the A’s….His time in KC marked a return to inning eater status, albeit win loss record and ERA were not good…A Kansas City fixture, first with the A’s and then with expansion Royals…Pitched better for the upstart Royals....Most fame was garnered in Baltimore when he first became a pure reliever…First season went undefeated at 6-0…more importantly replaced Dave McNally in the 3rd inning of game 1 of the World Series…Moe pitches the rest of the game picking up the win sparking the O’s sweep…Moe was the only reliever used by Baltimore in the Series...Employment in St Louis from 1971-72 was last as a regular aside from a few games with the ChiSox…3 Stooges fans: One of only 5 players with the first name Moe.... By all accounts should be in a prankster hall of fame…


Sunday, February 15, 2015

#628 Terry Crowley

My personal criteria of average hitter in baseball is hitting .250….Terry Crowley career average is .250....he was pretty much a fixture in Baltimore…Baltimore had high hopes for the outfielder/first baseman (along with others) but did not meet expectations…Spent the years 1969 and 1971 between the big club and AAA…Spent 1970 with big club….1972 on stayed in majors for next 5 season….Was traded to Cincinnati for 1974 beginning a 2 1/2 year trip in the NL…Was on the 1975 WS championship roster…Returned to Baltimore late June 1976 after spending first month with the Braves and failing to collect a hit…Continued to flounder, hitting under an already disappointing career average…Demoted to AAA Rochester for 1977….hit a career best 30 home run for the Red Birds....Reinstated to the majors for 1978 started to improve offensively in the following years in a pinch hitting role…acheived semi regular status in 1980 driving in 50 runs and hitting 12 homers…Hitting declined in 1981 and 1982…Released prior to 1983 and picked up by Expos…hung up playing spikes at end of season…Turned to coaching …made a name for himself as a long time hitting coach…Greatest turnaround was guiding the 1991 WS champion Minnesota Twins to a #1 rank in league offense

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#629 Paul Doyle

A lefty adding to his longevity…..Like Dick Woodson four cards before…Spent all of 1971 in minors…Started in the minors 1959….Ten seasons before he saw the light of a MLB park…Had long employment in both Texas League locales of El Paso and Amarillo plus a one year stint in Dallas/Ft. Worth…Trade to Atlanta was the key to future MLB employment…Called up late May 1969, made the most of time garnering a sparkling 2.03 ERA in 36 games all in short relief….Relieved a faltering Ron Reed for one inning in game 2 of first NLCS…It was his last appearance in a Braves uniform for he was sold to Angels on November 26th, 1969…Much less effective in Anaheim…ERA doubled…appeared in 49 games altogether for Angel and then Padres later in the 1970 season….Returned to California’s SLC club for 1971….Got in two games for the halos in 1972…a Interesting SABR... mostly written by Paul himself....known of his outstanding pick off move.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

# 630 Richie Hebner

Back in the day ballplayer had off season job, Hebner’s was most unusual…  Gravedigger….Solid but unspectacular third baseman…Played 18 season most notably for Pittsburgh…Replaced Maury Wills at 3rd, bringing power....Put in his first 8 years for the Bucs at the hot corner with a strong offensive showing in the 6 years...Had a 11 year stretch as a regular in the lineup for Pirates, Phillies, Mets, and Tigers spanning 1969 to 1980…Used sparingly afterwards but did return to Pittsburgh in 1982-83…Career .276 average and 203 home runs…hit .270 and had 4 home runs in 100 Abs in post season play….Average fielder at best once led NL 3rd basemen in errors…His season bests were 25 home runs and RBIs came 7 years apart, 1973 and 1980 respectively...Handsome chap during playing days.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

#631 John Strohmayer

Little is known about this right hander other he had a career season going 7-5 in 1971…Originally from South Dakota…is currently  #11 in career wins of pitcher from South Dakota…Started in A’s organization and pitched well in a very limited action …Taken by the Expos in the 1970 rule 5 draft …Required to stay the duration of season with big club…appeared in 42 games all in relief…Got in handful of starts and a total of 114 innings in 1971….Lost playing time thereafter…waived in 1973 and picked up for few appearances 1973-74 by the Mets..