Friday, December 30, 2016

#386 Jim Colborn 

Achieved a first within the Brewer franchise whose accomplishment is more significant every year...first Milwaukee pitcher to win 20 games in 1973....since then only twice have others achieved the same mark...started with the Cubs...used very little...thrown in as an add on in trade with the Brewers...scored big dividends exceeding expectation by going 7-7 in 1972...spearheaded the pitching  staff with a 20-7 record on a Milwaukee squad that improved by 9 games....following 3 seasons Colborn returned to earth, averaging 10 wins per season....found short lived rejuvenation with Kansas City 1977....won 18 as the Royals cruised to their second straight AL west title...added a no hitter to boot...did not pitch in playoff despite record....bottom fell the following year...split season with Royals and fledgling Seattle Mariners....won 4 and lost 12...Stayed in baseball in multiple roles...most overseas managing in Australia and scouting Asian countries.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

#387 Horace Clarke 

His name identified with the Yankees as their years of dominance were ending...was the feeling at the time, and still lingers to this day....Case in point:  ”When the Yankees Were on the Fritz:  The Horace Clarke Era” is the title of a book written by Fritz Peterson...such comparisons were unfair because the Yankees had so many holes in their lineup at the time that put them in unfamiliar second tier status...Third base position in the time after Clete Boyer and before Craig Nettles, Catcher in the time after Elston Howard and before Thurman Munson, Right field at various periods were more to the prime of his career, attributes were durability, excellent strikeout and stolen base ratios...debuted in 1965 and was up and down with the big club and farm system....firmly established as a part time shortstop 1966....took over as the regular 2nd baseman thereafter from 1967 to year 1969 when he hit .285...took a backseat in 1973 with the acquisition of Sandy Alomar....hitting dropped and sold to Padres two months into the resurgence occurred, hit only .189 and released immediately after the season....consistent  and durable player....Led AL in at bats two years running.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

# 388 Charlie Williams 

Very quick claim to frame and answer to a trivia question....Only player traded for Willie Mays....took place at the tail end of Mays’ career a month into 1972....even though the trade made headlines, Charlie spent a majority of that year in the minors....journeyman at best...started his MLB body of work in 1971 with Mets coming off a fine 12-5 W-L record at AA Memphis.....Staying with the Giants, was stuck in spot starter middle relief mop up roles up to 1977....268 total games and only 4 saves....a slight winning career at 23-22....most active season was 1977 when he was 6-5 in 119 innings....middle name is Prosek....passed away in 2015.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

#389 Bill Rigney Manager

Assumed the role of manager over for 17 consecutive seasons serving three mark at the time next to Walt Alston....Twins were his 3rd club....Was a player in NY Giants organization....and regular for a couple of seasons...eventually lost playing and was offered the skipper spot in the Giant’s AAA team in Minneapolis...won the league championship in second year....earned the dugout executive spot for NY Giants 1956....two losing records despite the return of Willie Mays...Went west with the team....More success came with the emergence of young new talent; McCovey, Cepeda, F. Alou....unfairly, despite winning record, was dismissed midseason...took his talents down US Highway 1 to expansion Los Angeles Angels....the typical rocky first year struggles blossomed to an exceptional sophomore season...based on strong pitching finished third with 86 wins....a high point...continued for most of the 1960’s....his 1970 season was the only one to make postseason although the Twins were easily shot down in flames by the Orioles in the ALCS....Breakdown in pitching and injuries eliminated subsequent the 1971 edition of the Twins...fired mid 1972....took on Bay Area scouting...brought back by Giants for 1976....met with very little success with a 74-88 season...A glib and talkative story teller who also suffered stomach ulcers

Sunday, December 18, 2016

#390 Willie Davis

Gee Willie,  I can hold two baseballs at one time too...hard to figure out the situation the photo was taken, was the picture was in-action card or taken during batting guess is batting practice because of glove on the ground)....Now getting back to the player....was fixture in the Dodger outfield for most of the duration of the 60’s and early 70’s...started regular work mid 1961 but had a bit of an uneven career until 1969...brought speed, good power....fortes were extended hitting streaks (separates ones of 31 and 26 games) triples, twice led NL and once hit 26 in the minors.... won Gold Gloves twice but was know drop too many fly balls....made 3 errors in one inning during game two of 1966 World Series....exceptional seasons were 1971 and 1973 were he captured all star berths...despite his above par efforts of 1973 was traded in the off season to Montreal....put up better than average numbers for the 1974 Quebec squad but subsequently toiled in light of multiple  changes of scenery...played in  Texas and St Louis the following year....then in 1976 wore San Diego Padres Brown and Yellow, which was Willie’s last full season....continued to work going to the far east (or is it west) to the Japanese leagues....tried to come back for a short spell with Angels 1979....last season was spent in Mexico 1980....highly conscious of his batting stance and was of the most physically fit players in the league.....passed away in 2010.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

#391 Ken Sanders  

AL fireman of year 1971....the pinnacle peak of up and down career....led AL in games, games finished, and saves...Milwaukee years were an island of stability and minor stardom in a sea of vagabond-ish fate....Started with KC A’s...first full year was strange, drafted by Red Sox and then returned mid-season to KC....appeared in 62 games, good for 6th in AL...then returned to A’s minor league system for three years, surprising given the increased demand for pitching due to expansion...Big break came in 1970 as he was added as a throw in a trade to the Pilots (not yet Brewers)....Still started in AAA but was very effective in the PCL and earned a call up...not missing a beat, established himself as the top closer....After the 1971 season, success was more elusive, but still was leading Brewer fireman in 1972....An offseason trade to Phillies lasted all but a month (did not stop Topps from put him in an Airbrushed Phillies cap for 1973)....shuffled to Twins and washed out...put up on waivers mid season and picked up by the Indians...salvaged the season with the Tribe....reencountered problems similar to the year before in 1974, a poor start, released, picked up (by the Mets) with better results...was able to stick around, putting in stints in California, New York (Mets), and Kansas City ending in 1976....lives in Milwaukee and worked in real estate....his 77 finished games in a season is presently the 4th best all time mark, next to Mike Marshall twice, and Billy Koch. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

#392 Pirates Rookie Card

Two Pirates with divergent paths....Cambria is just a foot note having seen all the MLB action he would see by the time this card came out...marginal AAA player at time and declined further in 1972....finished with a 1-2 record in the bigs....Richie Zisk was to become a distinguished slugger in both leagues for over 10 campaigns ....stayed in minors 1972 soreal chance came in 1973 as he was pressed into service with the tragic loss of Roberto Clemente...acquitted himself well hitting .324....was able gather 100 RBI in second season.... 1977 traded to join Chicago’s Southside hitmen....output was 30 home runs, 101 RBIs....Joined Texas and took the free agent money...did OK but maybe not up to expectations....after three years in Lone Star State, took his bat to the Pacific Northwest....staged a slight comeback in 1981-2...hit .242 in 1983 and was released thereafter.

Friday, December 9, 2016

#393 Curt Motton 

Career reserve with a pinch hitting niche....hit well in the minors first in Cubs farm system then in Baltimore’s... made it into the big club in 1967....most prolific season was 1968 appearing in 85 games....hit 8 home runs but failed to break .200 with a .199 mark....came back with an outstanding part time 1969.....hit .303 in 89 at bats, winning the heart of manager Earl Weaver...never met up with the same success....hit .227 in 1970 then failed to reach .200 for rest of his career....his Milwaukee stint represents a short one year detour from the Baltimore city limits....also played for Angels that year...returned to Orioles for last two seasons of 1973 and 1974....passed away in 2010

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

#394 Ken Forsch

Another brother act.... eventually....Ken secured a starting spot with 1971 Astros....Brother Bob would eventually surface in 1974....the only brothers in MLB history to both throw no odd career  after a late season call up in 1970 began as a starter for three years....took a four season exile to bullpen....returned to starting in last portion of career and had the best returns....played 11 seasons in Houston then three full ones and two fragments of seasons in Anaheim....never a big winner, topping out at 13 victories in 1982....finished with 114 wins, 113 losses, in 521 games...decent 3.37 ERA mark....never the less made two all star teams something Bob never did who once was a 20 game winner....went into Houston Astro’s front office after his playing days.

Friday, December 2, 2016

#395 Matty Alou

The middle brother of the three Alous ....Coming off his all around best season where he showed greater pop (6 homers) and more RBI production (72) than ever before....Famous early for having two brothers on the SF Giants...performance was definitely inconsistent hampered by injuries and sibling or superstar wasn’t until a trade to Pirates that Mateo made his name....1966 astounded the baseball world with a .342 best in NL....the cause was totally new batting approach that emphasized choking up on the bat, hitting downward, and bunting when 3 seasons more of same, a .330+ average, finishing 3rd, 2nd, and 4th in successive years...1969 was especially effective leading the league in at bats, hits, doubles plus was starting all star....1970 BA dropped to .297 a figure still very good for most....still led NL in at bats....hit .307 in 1972 splitting time in St Louis then Oakland....Traded to Yankees for 1973 where he hit .296 good for 10th place in AL....made a brief return to Cardinals at the end of season addition for an intended playoff berth....1974: sold to Padres but could not get untracked and was released mid season....finished with a .307 lifetime BA....passed away in 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

#396  Paul Lindblad

Save for 7 games with the Yankees at the very of his career, spent his career alternating between Athletics and Senators/Rangers organizations...good reliever but not #1 at any one time....just part of the effective phalanx of Oakland fireman.....season best  total of saves topped out at 9....Career span from 1965 to 1978....dabbled with starting at first but was fast stationed in a whole collected 64 saves bringing an average of 6 a year....high point was leading the AL in games 1972 with 66 with the first year Texas Rangers....two less than his career best during 1974 as a Oakland A’s

Sunday, November 27, 2016

#397 Philadelphia Phillies team card

New stadium bad team....1972 squad scarcely put out a .387 win pct....a low that has not been reached since....Season would have been far worse if not Steve Carlton.... It been a tough go for the Phillies:  133 season as a baseball playing entity....Over 1100 games under .500 closest is Baltimore being 843 games below .500....despite the futility the Phillies, since 1972, have appeared in 5 World Series, winning started in 1893 known as the Quakers in first 7 settled into Baker Bowl Stadium in 1895, the Shibe park/Connie Mack Stadium from 1938 to 1970....Veterans Stadium was the home 1971 to 2004....Since this card several sluggers have broken the Phillie mark for home runs...only pitching record that has fallen is total games....otherwise Phillie records stand tall on the shoulders of Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chuck Klein.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

#398 Larry Hisle

To me  this one greatest returns on a minor league trade ever by the Twins....Seemingly had two careers maybe three...Broke in as a highly touted, can’t miss Phillie....Strong Rookie season with good power and decent average...batting average crashed the  next 2 seasons in Philly...was sent to minors 1971...hit well there so he was still considered a prospect....traded to LA for 1972....spent entire season as one of the top AAA hitters....but no fall call season was traded to Cardinals and then quickly flipped to the opportunity at the right right in and each season was an improvement from the previous....1977 was his best and last year in Minnesota when he led the AL in 117 RBIs….took the free agent route to land across state lines in Milwaukee….1978 produced nearly identical numbers from the year before, propelling the Brew Crew to the upper echelon of AL East ….fast start to 1979 derailed by a torn rotator cuff and lost for the season….never had a recovery of any significance…short comebacks marred by re-injury ending in 1982…..continued with baseball related employment but has remained in the Milwaukee area….manufactures and markets bat grips.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

#399 Milt Wilcox  

A late bloomer....didn’t reach full effectiveness until 1978 his 9th season after his MLB debut in 1970.... Had consideration for Comeback Player of the Year and then quipped  “How can I come back when I’ve never been anywhere before?”….Milt was right about himself…. On the margins of Reds pitching staff and the minors…traveled cross state to Cleveland….got plenty of work but never overwhelming….fortunes rode parallel to that of the Indians….a jump in ERA started a period of re-tooling in AAA….that road led to Evansville Indiana home of the top farm club of the Tigers…an impressive start there in 1977 got him a call up to the big club…6-2 record in 14 starts….for next five seasons had winning record and a consistent starter winning either 11, 12, or 13 games….stepped it up in 1984 with career best pitching line of 17-8 as Tiger bulldozed the competition to the World Series….with an injury in 1985 bottom dropped out and quickly….went 1-11 over two seasons….has dabbled in many activities since retiring….was scheduled to pitch the second half of a doubleheader of Disco Demolition Night….most everybody knows the rest.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

#400 Tony Oliva 

A Minnesota Twin through and through....End of one phase of an amazing run......a career rescued just in time by the new DH rule....injured an already fragile knee at the end of June 1971.....story has it he fell on a sprinkler head... still held on to be AL batting champ...the lingering effects however virtually wiped out 1972 season.....Amazing 1964 debut, taking the AL batting crown and Rookie of the Year honors....Repeated batting crown in three years (falling in the second dead ball era) Tony finished in the top 10 in batting...nifty run of 8 consecutive all star games....starting in 1969 racked up three consecutive .300+ seasons...lead AL in hits five times...taking over exclusive DH duties for three seasons hit .291, .285, .270 respectively...robbed of higher numbers because he had lost all speed similar to Orlando Cepeda...had more knee surgeries after 1975 season....retired mid season 1976...A Minnesota icon and the Minnesota populace vehemently support his induction to the HOF....achievements of note:  hit first DH home run...continued with the Twins in a variety of roles too numerous to mention....hit from the left side with so much intensity that the bat flew off his hands sometimes landing in the stands....Has visited his native Cuba many times....his statue stands at Target Field. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

#401 Jim Nash 

Rookie one half season wonder....oh so good in 1966 with a 12-1 record in 18 starts....2.06 ERA too...part of the early stages of a youth movement that ushered the A’s franchise out of perennial loser column....never achieved those heights again but was able eke out a regular rotation spot for A’s and Atlanta...mixed results took on 17 losses along with teammates Lew Krause and Catfish Hunter in 1967...had an excellent 2.28 ERA in 1968....regressed to 8-8 in 1969....subsequently went 22-16 over two season in Atlanta but a rising ERA highlighted a loss of effectiveness....With a ballooning ERA was traded by the Atlanta Braves with Gary Neibauer to the Philadelphia Phillies for Joe Hoerner and young Andre Thornton...negating trade, Nash lost all eight games he started...while Hoerner who was having a decent season also floundered in his new digs.

Friday, November 11, 2016

#402 Bob Heise 

Reserve infielder never holding one position...well traveled with 7 teams over 11 seasons...light hitter in the Duane Kupier mode; one home run in a 1000+ at bats....last name pronounced Hi-see like the kid’s drink......Started with Mets, most of his work came in travels to San Francisco and Milwaukee, ….Did short stints with Cards, Red Sox, Angels and Royals…. at his best was 1972 when he hit in .266 in over 271 at bats…..nearly twenty points better than his career .247 mark....played 2nd, 3rd, and to keep a roster spot up to the 1977 season with KC…. after baseball worked in law enforcement…has battled Cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

#403 John Cumberland 

Glory was gone after this card was of several candidates struggling for multiple vacant spots after Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal in the Giants’ starting rotation….was able to begin 21 games, 17 in middle relief, and finished 7....his 1971 9-6  record was a career pinnacle....second on team in ERA....bottom dropped out 1972 with 1-5 record starting with the Giants then the Cardinals...had beginnings  in Yankees organization... never did break through to regular work....most significant output in pinstripes was 3-4 record over 15 games covering 64 innings....had a brief resurface with Angels in 1974.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

#404 Jeff Torborg   

Sold to cross town to Angels for 1971...known mostly for catching no hitters by Dodger pitchers Sandy Koufax, Bill Singer, and the Angel's Nolan Ryan ... Took the express route to the Dodgers based on his college days at Rutgers.... Always a backup, behind Roseboro, Haller,  never could hit well enough to justify more work...His time with the Angels was closer to a regular gig having to compete with the likes of fellow cast offs John Stephenson, Art Kusnyer, Jerry Moses to name a few....suffice to say at this time offensive output at catching was not an Angel strong suit...closest he came to regular status was 1973...220 At bats, 18 RBIs, .220 BA, 56 hits all career highs....oddly enough last season as a player...Broke on the managerial scene 1977 and became the skipper for Indians, White Sox, Mets, Expos, and Marlins....high point being two second place finishes in 1990 and 1991 in Chicago.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

#405 Ron Fairly

Be fair in an overview; a Canadian fixture and a veteran influence on both their fledgling teams...a talented hitter with good consistency....Started as Dodger fixture 1960’s...his offensive status enhanced by the team philosophy of pitch definitely, hit maybe....drove in six of L.A.’s 21 runs in the pitching heavy 1965 World Series....with the departure of Sandy K went into offensive funk for t he rest of his L.A. days....One theory, the Dodger infield grass was longer to slow up ground ball, problem was the home team lived or died via the line drive... Trade to Montreal allowed a new start and rejuvenation...Hit well despite cold northern air....Veteran presence and consistent home run and RBI numbers....was tops in many offensive categories along with Rusty Staub or Bob Bailey....With Staub’s departure takes over team hitting honors 1972...Road eventually led to St. Louis and late season acquisition to Oakland 1976... Trade to Toronto starts his second go round with a Canada expansion team...put up numbers that rival his best Dodger or Expo days....first Blue Jay all star rep....his last season 1978 finishes back in So Cal with the Angels....21 seasons in all

Saturday, October 29, 2016

#406 George  Hendrick  

Teemed with talent but was branded lackadaisical and socially evasive by some....minor infractions but still clouds the fact he had above average stats as a whole over 18 seasons…first pick in 1968 amateur draft by Oakland A’s following the train of thought of drafting hard hitting outfielders to rebuild the franchise...climbed quickly up the ranks...played parts of 1971 and 72....highlight of that his time on the West Coast was replacing an injured Reggie Jackson in 1972....a trade to Cleveland allowed him to get playing time...George responded in kind by averaging over 20 home runs over 4 seasons....hit over .300 for the first time in one full season in San Diego, 1977....with a slower start in 1978 was traded to St Louis where he did his best body of work...122 of his 267 career home runs were hit in a Cardinal uniform....Finishes up career in Pittsburgh and California 1985-1988 with part time work.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

#407 Chuck Taylor 

The man not the shoes…An eight year MLB career essentially in two three year acts with a two years of obscurity sandwiched in the middle.....Act 1: Secured a spot on Cardinal staff 1969 after an eight year farm club odyssey....performed in a  mixed bullpen/spot starter role...worked his way reliever for 1970-71….His trade was decidedly unsuccessful in the Big Apple...picked up on waviers by Brewers for the end of the season where he redeemed a bit of his season...Also released by Milwaukee just be but picked by the Expos....Act 2:   Played AAA most of 1973 but was able to share the #1 Expo fireman role with Dale Murray after Mike Marshall’s exit the following season…played two more seasons in Quebec, gradually losing effectiveness similar to his days in St Louis....left game in 1976 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

#408 Jim Northrup

High concept plotline:  home state Michigan boy hits Grand slam in the big game…In 1968 hits four grand slams in the regular season and a game breaking one in the World Series....his blast off of Cardinal Larry Jaster offering seemingly turned the tide of the series....all in all had 8 grand slams in his career...hit 153 home runs in career....strung along several consistent seasons but 1968 stands out because of his good numbers in a pitcher dominated year...his prime time continued through 1971....started to take a back seat thereafter but still a valued reserve...last season in Detroit was 1974....played most of season but was passed off to Montreal then Baltimore in the last two months of the campaign....Oriole made the playoff but Jim did not play....stuck around with the birds one more season as a reserve hit .273 which was 6 points above his career BA so many of 1972 Tiger teammates, began with the team in the sixties and worked his way up....distinct feature; a prematurely gray head of hair....passed away in 2011.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

#409  Frank Baker 

Groomed as heir apparent to Yankee Gene Michael’s shortstop spot…never materialized….fielding appeared to be there but not the bat ….couldn’t even match Gene’s banjo numbers….A career closely aligned with that of Tom Shopay ....Both started in the Yankees chain then becoming fixtures in Baltimore farm system.....a couple of September call ups for the Orioles to finish out his career.... played at the same time as another Frank Baker who was an Cleveland Indian outfielder in 1969 and 1971....played against each other in 2 games....neither player should be confused with Frank “home run”  Baker the dead ball slugger who had a whopping 96 career homers and a place in the Hall of Fame....Cleveland Frank had 4 home runs and this Frank 3.

Monday, October 17, 2016

#410 Ferguson Jenkins 

Overpowering, workhorse Canadian….6 straight seasons of 20 game wins on the North side…easy ticket to the Hall of Fame….trade from Phillies may have the Cub’s best trade ever at a time when Chicago was famous for getting taken in the Lou Brock deal….has a 6’5” frame.... could also hit for power…13 home runs and twice was summoned to the plate in the DH era….NL Cy Young winner 1971 although award was somewhat overshadowed by the Vida Blue/Mickey Lolich duel for AL honors….many years Fergie surrendered league highs in home runs, but his  few walks minimizes the damage….if teamed with Sam McDowell could have been the intimidating stare down staff ever….20  game win streak busted by a subpar 1973, prompting a trade to Texas….new digs paid huge dividends…career high 25 wins…instrumental in the Ranger’s ascension from baseball worst team to 2nd in the AL west in one years….one more year in the Lone Star State and then moved on to Boston….Stationed on the east coast his two stint could best be described as pedestrian… 1978:  strong in a second return to Texas by going 18-8….continued winning for another year and .500 record in the next…took a second return to Cubs where he had so much previous success for last three years ending in 1983….favorite story:  picked up a hitchhiker in route to Texas Spring Training so he wouldn’t drive alone….unfortunately there is no post season story whatsoever in Fergie’s storied career….awesome combo control and power resulting in an outstanding walk to strikeout ratio.