Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#375 Reggie Cleveland  

Consistently inconsistent hurler for the 70’s into early 80’s.....sometimes formidable, sometimes couldn’t buy a win ....A Canadian from Saskatchewan, Swift Current to exact....good hockey player and curler....Started with Cardinals redeemed himself after two less than impressive call ups to receive NL Rookie Pitcher of Year 1971....went 12-12 with 4.01 ERA which turned out to be his lifetime mark....won 14 games each of the next two seasons which turned out to be MLB highs....his decidedly mixed history continued in Boston, did get hot in time for Red Sox postseason run 1975....morphed into reliever in later years although his last significant season 1980 had 13 starts and five complete games for the Milwaukee Brewers.....Still in Milwaukee for 1981, voluntarily bowed out of the picture when he felt he had lost effectiveness.....career hampered by weight, injuries, and drinking issues....Baseball Hall of Famer—of Canada that is.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

#376 Andy Kosco

Product of Youngstown Ohio and Youngstown State...well traveled....signed by Detroit for 45K in 1959.....knocked around their system for a few years, nothing impressive....released by the Tigers and picked up by the Twins organization...then proceeded to win the Northern League Triple Crown 1964....Next year bypassed upper A ball and AA in a huge promotion....proceeded to lead the PCL in doubles and RBI while hitting .324....Made Minnesota’s roster in 1966 but played very little, buried by the Twins outfield depth....playing time came with joining the Yankees and Dodgers....hit 19 home runs in LA in 1969....gradually ousted as Dodger went with youth 1970....Trade to Brewers started a rent a player career path....stints in California, Boston, and then Cincinnati in two years time....was an excellent bench player for the 1973 version of the Big Red Machine....got in 3 hits in 10 at bats in playoff against the Mets....let go in 1974 over ten years later from his first release by the Tigers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

#377 Terry Harmon 

Blue collar....career long Phillie utility man....jack of all trades...never caught on a regular...best ever was appearing 87 MLB games....once called up in 1969 stayed with the Phillies until 1977....product of Toledo Ohio...Set a fielding record by taking 18 chances at second base in 1971 against the Padres....best batting average on the 1972 Phillies....consistency was a problem, several times his BA dropping to just above .200...first of his four career home runs was an inside the park job....hobbies were hunting, fishing, and all sports....achieved a bachelor's of education degree from Ohio University in off season.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

# 378 Checklist 395-525

It’s checklist for cards going from #395 Matty Alou to #525 Carlos May....The two 1971 Batting award winners are listed #500 Tony Oliva, #600 Joe Torre...One person already in Hall of Fame:  Ted Williams....Bob Lemon would follow in 1976....Future playing Hall of Famers #410 Fergie Jenkins, #420 Steve Carlton, #433 Johnny Bench,  #435 Reggie Jackson, #445 Tom Seaver, #446 Willie Stargell, #515 Bert Blyleven ...Torre a future HOF as a manager....player with best future Blyleven followed by Larry Bowa....least significant card:  Pete Hamm (never played in MLB after 1971)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#379 Ken Berry 

Not a star but handy to have around...exceptional fielder, great arm, saved a lot of runs....two seasons sans a fielding error with over 220 chances...Played parts of nine seasons with the White Sox most them as a regular....starting in 1962 saw the good times and the bad....his last season in Chicago, 1970, was his all around best at the plate despite being one of the worst in history of the club.....took his glove to California for three campaigns  hit .269 for the Halos and led the team in hitting twice...Finished career as a reserve in Milwaukee and Cleveland...He may not be Mayberry RFD actor but he is now a published children’s book author...hobbies while playing were hunting, fishing, and rock and roll records* quote taken verbatim from 1966 Sporting News Register.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

# 380 Earl Williams 

Somewhat unloved....a short career despite solid to sometimes excellent numbers at the plate....Controversial, outspoken, and sometimes vulgar traits that were a downfall....Rookie of the Year 1971 buoyed by 28 home runs....virtually repeated numbers next year....maybe the most interesting feat of career was not with his bat but an almost instantaneous conversion to Catcher without any prior experience....The quality of his defensive play had his supporters at first, then detractors later on....further problems came with Earl’s eventual public reluctance to play backstop....traded to Orioles had multiple conflicts while power numbers held at the par set with the Braves....upheavals did not abate in 1974...numbers suffered too starting a sequence of trades/releases....Returned to Braves for 1975....then split Braves and Expos 1976....released and picked up by the free agent decimated 1977 Oakland team...baseball’s version of  a refugee camp at time....chipped in 13 home runs for last place A’s.....Released afterwards and didn’t get picked up...not exclusively at catcher but played 1st and 3rd too...wanted DH duties upon his arrival to the AL and didn’t get the role until last his MLB season.

Friday, January 13, 2017

#381 White Sox Team

The  Pale-hose....Chisox....GoGoSox....Southside Hitmen....the Hitless Wonders....Black Sox....That other team from Chi-town...situated on the South Side...not revered as the cross-town Cubs, but nevertheless has endured since 1901 despite treats to leave, scandals, and infamous lows at on and off the field....As of this writing franchise is 151 games above .500, a winning average of a game and half per year ....team resume: three world series wins last one coming 2005....lost two championships.... team’s greatest period of success occurred in its first 21 seasons beginning at the onset of the American League 1901....concluding the 1920 season the team was 313 games above .500.... Starting in 1921, all the suspensions from the 1919 scandal hit home, namely the banning of Shoeless Joe Jackson....since then the Sox are 162 games under .500 ball....arguably the franchise did not recover until the 1950’s....good time kept up for most of the 60’s....a quick decline ensued that bottomed out with 56-106 record in 1970....the 1971 squad still had a losing record but made major inroads to respectability by improve by 23 games....Records:  the White Sox life long rep for less than stellar offense plus of presence of Superstars Frank Thomas, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, has opened the door for come close or set new team batting records....broken has been doubles, home runs (many times over!), RBIs, at bats, and total bases....Some pitching records have fallen but most have not.... Chris Sale and Jason Bere broke the team strikeout and win/loss percent records respectively....most surprisingly however Wilbur Wood 88 games set in 1968 still stands.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

#382 Joe Gibbon

Handy veteran picked up after being released by the Pirates....out of the Red’s pen tied for second in team saves with Wayne Granger with 11....a rare bright spot on Big Dead Machine that year...prior was an eleven season veteran for two tours with Pittsburgh and one in San Francisco...broke in with Bucs 1960 and chipped in some work for the eventual WS champions...got in an inning in WS game --....shelled badly but then again so was the whole staff....most productive season of career followed garnering 13 wins....four more season in Steeltown met with varying degrees of success....traded to Giants for 1966...kept a job but nothing spectacular....traded back to Pirates mid 1969....move allowed him to take a more significant role in bullpen...with 1970 came the arrival Dave Guisti, Joe lost status and effectiveness....1972 was not kind however...two poor outings and was released...resurfaced in Houston for short time with almost equally poor results...was an excellent college basketball player in his day and was number 2 in NCAA scoring his senior year 1957.

Monday, January 9, 2017

#383 Brant Alyea 

A short but not dull career....When his bat caught a glimmer of fire he could be very, very, good....Exhibit A:  1970....outstanding debut with Twins, 4 for 4 with two home runs in opener, exceptional April;  23 RBIs and .415 BA...subsequently cooled off but would finish with at a solid .291 and 16 home runs....First player with the name “Brant’ and was the only one until Brant Brown debuted 20 years ago...In a strange coincidence they both have nearly identical career stats....Needless to say the only player with the last name Alyea...worked his way up the Senator system....memorable, MLB, hit a home run on first MLB pitch one of very few to do so...played winter ball continuing his power surge....bottom dropped out with his career in 1971, hitting .177....offered up in Rule 5 draft and picked up by A’s...caught fire in minors getting a stint in Oakland, traded to Cardinals, and then returned to the A’s....suffered a series of injuries and subsequent comebacks to majors did not materialize...did not earn full pension so worked as a casino pit boss and car dealer before his retirement

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

#384 Dave Campbell

An inconsistent bat at the major league level spelled his doom for this educated chap...decent power and strong starts but tailed off to a  poor batting average was the repeated story....born and raised in Michigan...took his talents to the University of Michigan despite growing up in Lansing in the shadows of M. State....member of the winning College World Series team 1962....in conjunction with many others (see Mickey Stanley, Jim Northrup) signed with Tigers....up and down years in minors at first....when he finally found a grove he could not break the Tiger roster....trade to San Diego offered playing time....a regular at last at 2nd base in 1970, slugged 12 home runs but only managed a .219 BA ....returned to more utility man role in 1971...hit seven home runs but his .227 BA was decidedly substandard....played little in 1972...1973, his last year in MLB, once went of 0 for 45 in a stretch across three teams, Padres, Cardinals, Houston....a sign the end was near....did some managing but found niche as a highly acclaimed baseball broadcaster  on ESPN....one of off season hobbies; playing the piano.

Monday, January 2, 2017

My source

The Complete Handbook of Baseball books series that are the inspirational style of this blog   Thank you Zander Hollander.  It started with the Complete Handbook of Pro Hockey as a Christmas present 41 years ago.
Lets just say well loved...

#385 Mickey Stanley 

The Gold Glove award winning outfielder of Tigertown....Paul Blair class...but mostly known for taking over the Tiger’s Shortstop position late in the 1968 regular season and then WS....Mickey’s relatively good bat (11 HR, 60 RBI, .259 BA) was needed to bolster the offensive liability that was Ray Oyler (.135) and company and so that Al Kaline could be inserted in line up....it was felt his outfield skills could generalize to the infield....the move worked and the Tigers upset the Cardinals....Mickey played some shortstop next year but was firmly entrenched back in the outfield by 1970....great team player and manager’s dream with team attitude and work ethic....debuted in 1964, playing days ended in 1978...Finished with a career .248 BA over 15 season in Detroit....little known fact: real first name was Mitchell....home state player born and raised in Michigan.